Lurking on Twitch

In my beginning days on Twitch, I did a lot of things wrong. I’m kind of cringing at that one time where I just started streaming and would chat in a stream before that before eventually saying “Okay, I’m going to stream now. See you later” only to then be told that that counts as self-promo and that other streamers would ban me for it. I didn’t quite get that as it wasn’t my intention and I immediately apologised for it. I just figured that basically everyone on Twitch is streaming… but yeah, I think I covered that in my first ever post on Streaming on Twitch and… yeah, it’s bad. Don’t do that. But apart from that, I also did other things wrong like keeping quiet when nobody is watching and suddenly starting to talk when the viewer count went from 0 to 1. I’d also look up people’s names when they were lurking and would call them out… and… that sucked. For obvious reasons: Hence, a post on lurkers.

Lurkers are the backbone of Twitch. A lurker is someone who’s counting as a viewer but who isn’t actively participating in the chat. By having the stream open, you count as a viewer, but if you have more than four streams open at the same time, your views don’t count at all for any of them. Hence, #NoMoreThanFour! 

A lurker may be doing something else while working on things or gaming or whatever. I tend to lurk in a lot of streams while writing blog posts, studying or while I cook, for instance, as it fills the silence with someone’s voice and potentially some nice conversations. At the same time, I get to support the streamers as viewers – an important thing for discovery on Twitch. 

Lurkers are the backbone of Twitch. Without them, you wouldn’t see as many streamers at the top every day. Sure, there’s also viewerbotting and embedded streams and that kind of stuff going on, but if you’re reading this, you probably aren’t using any of those, right? Lurkers are so important because they count as viewers even when you’re on your break or whatever. They may be sleeping or working or doing anything else, and they’ll still support you with that view, which is great. On Twitch there isn’t that much discoverability, really. There are categories and tags, for starters, as well as recommended channels… but generally speaking, you’ll browse a category for a stream to watch and you’ll probably look at the big viewer numbers first since a lot of people go that way. “When there are many other people, there must be good content. Meanwhile, there must be a reason that nobody is watching this one guy at the bottom.”

There is this so-called 5-viewer barrier on Twitch with a huge percentage of the streamers on Twitch being at 0-5 viewers on average. If you sort the Just Chatting streams from lowest to highest, for instance, it takes ages to get past these streamers with no viewers at all. If you open up one of their streams, it already catapults them so much in the rating… to the point where more viewers may find their streams. The more viewers there are, the easier it is to find the streamer with these numbers.

A lot of people on Reddit or in small streams complain about not getting any chatters on Twitch while they rant about lurkers and whatnot… and I don’t get it. I’ve seen it plenty of times when I was searching for new or smaller streamers, and it was a bit of an iffy situation as I didn’t feel that comfortable about supporting someone like that. If you’re not engaging, people don’t have a reason to chat with you, or do they? If they say hi and you don’t react to it for five minutes, they won’t stay either. If people want to support you or are just there to watch your gameplay, that’s 100% fine. You shouldn’t complain about it when people are lurking as they are enjoying what they’re seeing. Lurkshaming is such a petty thing, really… ugh.

As of late, it’s been hard for me to actually keep up with chats, as a lot of the streams that I’ve been watching have started to grow in size, resulting in a less pleasant experience for me. I still watch the content or lurk there, but I don’t chat anymore as I feel a bit overwhelmed with the chat messages that pop up and stuff. There are probably ways of stopping that overwhelming feeling from happening… but effectively there isn’t really a need to. After all, lurkers are gonna lurk. It’s in their nature. They’ll chat every now and then and get into the !lurk mode again when they feel like it.

And to keep lurkers in your chat, you need to try your best to make the experience good for them. Have a good grip on your audio balance, for instance, and keep your content engaging and fun to listen to are great ways of doing exactly that. Adding a noise gate to your microphone or a compressor, for instance, helps out as well. There is also a lot of other things you can do with your voice but I’ll post something on that another time. Generally speaking, you want your content to be good, even when people are only listening to it. At least I want that and a lot of people I’ve talked to wanted that. If that’s not your jam and you want to scream every five seconds in meme-language, you can do that… but some people may not like having to re-adjust the volume level all the time or being scared shitless after opening a stream to support someone small.

There are probably other things as well to make your stream more lurker-friendly but usually, you’ll figure stuff like that out as time goes on and as you know exactly what you want to do with your stream. 

What you really shouldn’t do is calling lurkers out by stalking their names and speaking to them specifically even though they haven’t talked in chat yet at all… that’s kind of weird and in a way… scary. I mean, you don’t like being stalked because that’s creepy as fuck, duh. Looking up someone’s name and calling them out is bad and shouldn’t be done. It scares people away. The examples I mentioned in the introduction of this post, for instance, are why I was stuck at 0 viewers for the first few streams: Nobody told me that that’s weird… and I didn’t know that it was weird to do that because I didn’t think that much about that behaviour.

But then again, take everything with a grain of salt. What I do with my stream and what others do with theirs, isn’t necessarily what you wanna do with yours. If you wanna scare people away by stalking them, do that. It’s your own thing after all. What is your experience? Do you shame lurkers or do you rant about them or are you like me and thank everyone who’s lurking without calling them out at the end of the stream? Did you ever call anyone out for lurking and if so, how did it go? Let me know!

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken. If you like what you see here and want to see more, you can check me out on Twitch and YouTube as well.

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