Twitch etiquette, some things I’ve learned

I’ve been using Twitch both as a watcher and broadcaster for a little while now, and I’ve learned a few things in that time that I’d like to share with y’all. This isn’t a scolding, just some tips and observations that could help to brighten your Twitch experience as a viewer and/or a broadcaster.

ETA: I had the privilege of going to Twitch HQ to give a talk on safety & streaming for marginalized broadcasters. Here’s the VOD from the Twitch Office channel:

Tips for viewers:

Don’t backseat! That’s rude, and unless the broadcaster asks for help in a game, it’s not helpful. Especially if someone has [BLIND or FIRST RUN] in their broadcast title, meaning it’s their first time playing, don’t give tips unless they ask for them. Also, if a caster asks you not to discuss the game in chat due to potential spoilers, respect that. We get that you love [GAME] they are playing, but don’t ruin it for them.

Read & respect the broadcaster’s rules: If the broadcaster has panels on their rules, how to support the stream, etc. Please read them so you don’t cause a problem in the chat. If there are rules present, it’s for a reason.

Read the title for basic info first!: Oftentimes the same question that comes in can be answered by spending 30 seconds on looking at the title. If you want to know what game the streamer is playing, or what the difficulty is, etc. If you’re on mobile and can’t see that, say so. Otherwise it seems like you can’t be bothered with basic courtesy.

Be respectful of others in chat: If another viewer asks you not to discuss certain things, or notes that something you’ve said has made them uncomfortable, acknowledge it, apologize and move on. Note: if the broadcaster says something to you in addition to one of their mods, don’t argue. It’s not your stream and pushing back is disruptive, which makes it less fun for everyone. See point above about rules!

Don’t beg for Gift subs to a channel you’re watching: Now that Twitch has the option to gift a subscription in channels; an unfortunate side effect is that people are now begging for gift subs. It’s poor form and can put people off gifting, which is a kind gesture and helps the broadcaster for that month. Don’t ruin it for everyone else!

Don’t ask to be made a moderator: I’ve seen this in channels and it’s awkward when people, especially new viewers ask to be made mods. If you become a regular and the broadcaster comes to know you, you might be granted a sword.

Don’t go on about the chat being dead: Trust us, if the chat isn’t popping the broadcaster knows! No need to rub salt in especially if the caster is new and already worried about follower & viewer count. That’s a quick way to tank a caster’s day and to make yourself get a quick time out or ban.

Do not self-promote in someone else’s channel: This is a huge issue for streamers, especially when someone wanders in that isn’t there to come and hang out, enjoy the stream and meet others. A lot of streamers will insta-ban if you come into their channel to promote your own stream, or other work.

It’s like going to see a movie, then sneaking in to add your demo reel to replace part of the movie. If a broadcaster wants to promote others, they will usually use a !Follow or !ShoutOut command to tell others about your stream.

Don’t ask to be shouted out during a stream*: It’s begging for attention and taking away from the broadcaster people came to see. Another thing, don’t ask a mod to shout out your friend who also streams in someone else’s chat. Again, if the broadcaster knows you and wants to give you a shout, they’ll do it. * = this applies to broadcasters & viewers

Host others when you can: Hosting means sharing someone else’s stream on your channel if you’re not live. You can also do this if you’re not a streamer. It helps spread word about streams you enjoy and is a nice gesture to show you like what a broadcaster is doing.

Don’t ask a broadcaster why they aren’t playing X or Y game: Broadcasters pick the games they want for their own reasons, or maybe subscribers (if they are partnered/affiliated or are using Game Wisp) got to pick the game but the decision wasn’t made for you. There’s a search function, you can find someone playing a game you want to see.

Don’t spam a broadcaster with friend requests: Sometimes broadcasters will do open play or lobbies with viewers, and request gamer-tags. Unless a broadcaster has asked for viewer info, please don’t spam them with requests to be added. It interrupts the stream and it’s rude.

Be patient if a broadcaster doesn’t reply to you right away: Chat can move quickly! Don’t get upset or aggressive, threaten to unfollow or unsub if the broadcaster doesn’t respond to you immediately. Also, in busy channels sometimes moderators will answer questions the broadcaster gets often. If you have a relevant question, @ the broadcaster so they will have a better chance of seeing it.

Don’t complain that you aren’t partnered/affiliated or have the same follower count: Another person’s stream is not the place to complain that you don’t have the same audience or follower count that they do. Also, if someone is partnered/affiliated and you’re not? There’s a reason probably and your complaining won’t change that. If you’d like tips from the broadcaster on growing your audience, send a message or whisper but don’t fill chat with complaining about your lack of followers or partnered/affiliated status.

Tips for Broadcasters:

Have a schedule, be consistent: If you want your stream to grow, people should know when you’re going to be on so they can catch your streams. If you can’t be on a schedule, let folks know that. If you are usually on a schedule, and something comes up let viewers know, using both social media or the announcement section on your panels.

Don’t self promote in other channels: If you are in another broadcasters channel, don’t make a point of saying you stream too. Or that you’re leaving to go stream X game. It’s self promotion, bad etiquette and often a mistake newer broadcasters make. Network but not in other people’s chats. If the broadcaster asks who in chat streams? Fine speak up then.

Interact with your viewers: A broadcaster may have no viewers on a stream, and fifty the next time they go live. It doesn’t matter if there’s one person in your chat, they came to watch you so you should interact with them. It means a lot for viewers to be acknowledged, to know the broadcaster sees them there. Interaction can make or break a stream for a new viewer, so keep that in mind as you try to grow your stream community.

Don’t assume your viewers are all dudes: You don’t know who’s watching your stream, so don’t make assumptions on the gender of your audience. There are plenty of women, non-binary, agender and others who stream and watch broadcasts, so don’t assume. If a viewer corrects you, apologize and move on.

Don’t be an asshole, really: Being an asshole may be a brand for you, or an act but it can alienate viewers really quickly and turn them off your stream and you. Viewers often come by a channel to have a good time, enjoy the game you’re playing and if you’re chill they’ll probably stay, follow and become a regular.

Don’t tag a bunch of people on twitter, or use a bunch of hashtags when you go live: No one likes to be tagged along with 10–20 other people in a go live tweet. No one. If someone wants to watch you, they will. They will follow you and tick off know when this person goes live on your channel. It will get you muted, maybe blocked and definitely won’t help your channel grow.

Let’s chat about why people leave streams

A while back, I put out a survey on streaming, one of the questions being “If you ever unfollowed a streamer, what made you do so?” The number one response? “The streamer did/said something that was offensive.”

Survey options for unfollowing a streamer
Unscientific poll conducted via Google Form

Don’t speak poorly about other streamers on air: You never know who’s lurking in your chat for one thing. For another, it’s immature to shade another streamer if you have a problem with them. Whatever problems you have with other streamers should be handled off the air, don’t bring your drama to the viewers. If people in chat try to stir the pot, time them out and remind them that it’s just drama mongering to keep talking about it.

This one is for partnered & affiliated streamers — Acknowledge everyone, not just subscribers. This is important because you got to be a partner or affiliate, grew your audience through everyone who watched, donated, hosted and talked up you and your stream. Only acknowledging those who can afford to subscribe to your channel makes other viewers feel unwanted, and unwelcome. I’ve seen people leave streams after seeing broadcasters only interact with subscribers and not new viewers.

Get a bot to help manage your channel: When starting out, you might not have friends who can be online when you are streaming so a bot designed to moderate your channel can be a great help. There are plenty out there, like AnkhBot, NightBot, MooBot, BraneBot and others that can time out folks if they violate rules like too many emotes used, too many caps,or a word on your banned words list was used in chat, etc.

Moderate your chat so viewers are comfortable: A lot of times a good time in chat can make someone stay, hit that follow or subscribe button or run off and never return from your channel. No matter your set up, you can take time to peek at chat to be sure things are ok, that no one is getting out of hand if you don’t have a human moderator on hand, that you can take care of spammers or troublemakers. Have human moderators too, since a game can sometimes pull your full attention away for the split second trouble can crop up.

Use the panels on your profile to give viewers info: You can let them know your schedule, social media (that you’re comfortable sharing!) and if you have a tip jar, Patreon, Game Wisp or other ways people can support the stream, it’s easy to have that info there. Remember to update your schedule when it changes! If you can, make graphics that have the same look and feel.

My panel set up for reference, graphics done by kessel_runs

That’s all for now, hopefully you found something useful in this post to make your stream experience better as a viewer or broadcaster. Twitch is a platform with great potential, and if we all do our part to make it a nice, chill place to watch people sharing their love of games, cooking, dancing, art or other creative endeavors, it can be even better.