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 put this out on July 13th, 2020 for folks to give some updated tips as this original post is nearly 4 years old! :O

Also the link to my September 2017 talk at Twitch HQ was broken. So until I can find, download and link to the talk, I’ve taken that out of the post.

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, NO BACKSEATINGor FIRST RUN] in their broadcast title or tags, 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.

Don’t ask the broadcaster to promo your content: No one is visiting your island, running your Mario Maker levels or otherwise showing content on their stream. It’s rude AF to come in to a stream, especially as a new viewer asking (and in some cases demanding) a broadcaster check out your levels/island/mixtape/YouTube or whatever you do.

Listen to the channel moderators!: If you see someone with a sword by their name? They are a moderator of the channel you’re watching. They can answer questions, and are there to help both you and the broadcaster” section. Friend @dasbif offered this on twitter: included in my personal channel rules: “Debating YOUR interpretation of MY rules with me or my moderators is against the rules.”

Don’t say you’re leaving to go watch someone else stream: It’s rude to announce that. Just leave, and if you don’t stay in that stream and come back? No need to announce you’re back from X or Y’s stream. If you aren’t feeling the stream you’re in, or went to and came back? No one cares, really. Maybe just dip and say nothing.

Don’t ruin the surprise of a Raid: When a streamer is ending and is going over to raid someone else, especially if it’s a bigger raid it can be a fun surprise for the streamer getting raided. So, popping over to go X is going to raid and it’s A LOT OF PEOPLE! Can a) ruin the surprise and b) give someone anxiety about a huge raid, especially if they aren’t someone who gets a bunch of views when they are live.

Once a streamer knows there’s an issue, multiple people don’t need to keep repeating it: If one or two people have mentioned an issue with the stream, 10 more of you don’t need to chime in too. The streamer is highly aware when issues happen & I can assure you they are frustrated too. Sometimes they are working behind the scenes to fix it, and having people continually mention it, can be incredibly annoying & distracting.

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.

Don’t keep talking about view count: This is especially true if the broadcaster has gotten a huge raid or host, or if they are on the front page or doing an event. Some people don’t care but often it can irritate the broadcaster, ESPECIALLY if you do it often. Mods will often ask you to stop, and hey if you don’t follow what a mod asks then you can find yourself timed out or banned. It’s also just tacky, and irritating to go on about it. This goes triple if the person you’re watching is doing a Twitch Front Page stream the day you happen to visit.

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: Twitch has an option to gift a subscription in channels; an unfortunate side effect is that people sometimes start 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

Don’t come in and ask the broadcaster to host you or your “friend”: Especially if you are brand new and just wander in to ask for a host, etc. Broadcasters often know who they want to host or raid when they are done. Or they may just let it go to auto host when done. If you want to suggest a place to visit after stream is done, become part of the community and a regular in the stream. Too often broadcasters can get burned by one off suggestions.

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. To host: go to your Twitch chat and type in /host (streamer handle) without parenthesis

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) 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 that has nothing to do with the person you’re watching; 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/have just finished streaming. It’s self promotion, bad etiquette and a mistake newer broadcasters often 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. Dude, bro, etc are not gender neutral. No matter how many times you claim that? it’s not true and you can push a viewer and potential regular, and eventual subscriber away with insisting it is. Respecting someone’s identity and pronouns cost you literally nothing.

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 the “know when this person goes live” notification for your channel. Constantly tagging people when you go live, or asking for people to come through with these tags will get you muted, maybe blocked and definitely won’t help your channel grow. Follow for Follow does not work as a growth strategy.

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
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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 Streamlabs Chatbot, NightBot, MooBot, Muxy, Stream Elements (their bot is tied to their overlays) 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. However , if the chat is like the wild, wild west; it can make folks run off and never return to 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.

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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.

Written by

I Need Diverse Games Founder, cast Rivals of Waterdeep, games critic, diversity consultant, freelance games journalist & public speaker.

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