Viewer Etiquette

I’ve been in the Twitch community for little over a year now, and I’ve learned a thing or two about the social norms of the streaming community. This guide is not to call out or scold anyone. In fact, I’m guilty of having done several of these things myself when I was new to Twitch. I learned the hard way, but you don’t have to! It is my hope that it might bring to attention some things that you might not think about as a viewer, and help you better enjoy yourself when you watch your favorite casters. This is meant to be a compliment to the Streamer Etiquette guide.

Follow the Rules

Twitch, YouTube Gaming, and Mixer have their own Terms of Service. However, these platforms also provide content creators a chance to post their own channel rules. If the broadcaster went through the trouble of adding rules to their chat/profile, it’s probably for a reason. They’re not trying to be authoritarian, they’re trying to set guidelines to ensure everyone has good time. Most streamers just ask for basic common sense and to avoid talking about certain topics. If you can’t follow their rules, find another streamer to watch.

self-promotion is bad Promotion

The is the golden rule of streaming – don’t self promote on another streamer’s channel. It’s the most common social taboo. Pro tip: shut up about your stream. It’s like going to the movie theater, and halfway through, shouting out to the audience that your movie is playing down the hall. This is especially abrasive when you’re not a regular in the community of the stream you’re watching. Many streamers put a lot of time, effort, and emotional energy into their streaming career. Self-promotion is nothing short of distasteful, so don’t be surprised when you get banned for doing it.

On a similar note: Don’t ask for a shout out or a host on stream. It’s just as rude as talking about your own stream. Also, don’t ask a mod to shout out your friend who also streams in someone’s chat. If the broadcaster knows you and wants to give you a shout, they’ll do it. When it comes to hosts, a streamer will generally host creators with content similar to their own, and generally it will be casters that mesh well with their own audience. Don’t expect a streamer who doesn’t know you or your content to drop you a host.

Stop nitpicking

“Your camera quality isn’t great”
“Your volume for the background music is too high”
“You should upgrade your overlay”

What do you want the streamer to do, fix it right now? Nitpicking a streamer is incredibly rude, and throws off their focus. It’s one thing to call out that you can’t hear a streamer at all, but it’s another thing entirely to try to coach them and tell them they’re doing things wrong – especially in front of an audience. If a streamer wants a critique, they will likely ask their regulars or subscribers for feedback. If you notice something critical and want to help, send a private message. People are receptive to constructive feedback, but the time and place are crucial.

Oh, and the viewer either already knows how many followers and viewers they have, or they’re making a point to not focus on it. You don’t need to point out the stream stats to them.

Don’t be a Backseat Gamer

Most broadcasters are doing one of two things: Playing a game for the first time, for the audience’s sake, or playing a game they already know how to play. When a viewer tells the streamer how to play the game better, or what to do next, that’s called backseat gaming. In most cases, backseat gaming is not helpful and not wanted. Unless a streamer asks for help, don’t try to tell them how to play better or what you think they are doing wrong. It is worth keeping in mind that the streamer is juggling game play, chatting, and reading the text chat. Their attention is being pulled all over the place, so they might not be playing the game as well as they would off-stream.

Respect [BLIND] or [FIRST RUN] streams. You may LOVE the game and want to talk about the death of a major character or the importance of a plot point, but the streamer or the audience might be witnessing the game for the first time. Don’t detract from the experience by spoiling the game.

Don’t ask the streamer why they won’t play [insert game here]. They’re playing what they want to play. If you don’t like it, use Twitch’s search function to find someone playing the game you want to see.

Don’t expect an immediate response

Have you ever asked your parent a question, and they responded with “hang on, I’m in the middle of something.” Streaming is kind of like that. The streamer is almost -always- in the middle of something. Many streamers will take breaks to read the chat, or wait for a lull in the action (such as a respawn timer) to respond the the viewers. If a streamer doesn’t immediately respond to your comment or question, don’t throw a fit and assume they are ignoring you. This is especially true for larger streams with a fast moving chat. In cases like these, a streamer is going to focus on responding to their regulars and welcoming new viewers, rather than giving every single comment a response.

If a streamer doesn’t respond to your comment after multiple attempts, there may be a reason for it. Your joke might not have been funny, or your question may have been too off-topic. They have to cater the conversation to the whole audience, not just one person, so if they aren’t responding to you posing the same question over and over, it might just be best to drop it. Read the room a bit, and jump back into the conversation on topic.

No, you can’t be a mod

Being a moderator is a privilege. Moderators are community ambassadors for a streamer – they welcome new viewers, keep the chat in line, and help encourage the type of community the streamer is trying to build. It’s really awkward when someone new to the stream joins in the chat and asks to be a mod. For one, why would a streamer hand over that much power to a stranger? That’s dangerous. Two, why do you deserve that power? It just doesn’t make any sense.

If you watch a channel regularly, and you make yourself a reliable member of the community, there’s a chance a streamer might reach out to you about being a mod. However, it’s something that should be earned, and not easily so.

Stop whining about your own channel

Hey, I thought we were not gonna talk about our own stream?

It can be frustrating when your channel isn’t doing well. However, another streamer’s chat is not the place to talk about it. If you idolize a streamer and want their advice on how to grow your channel, send a private message to that streamer to ask for tips. Complaining about it in the chat won’t help, and it comes across as low-key self promotion. Keep in mind that no streamer is obligated to help you, and they might not even have the time to do so.

That’s all for now! I sincerely hope that this guide will help you have a better experience as a viewer. The streaming is unique in the sense that we play a big role in shaping the community, even as viewers! Keeping the above rules in mind is a great way to ensure that everyone involved can enjoy themselves and get the most out of their experience!

If you also use Twitch, Mixer, or YouTube as a streamer, be sure to check out the Streamer Etiquette article!