As I mentioned previously, lurkers are the backbone of Twitch and I frankly figured this wouldn’t be worth talking again… but I wanted to elaborate more on what a lurker-friendly environment is and why you don’t want to call out lurkers. This prompt was sparked by some bad advice Ninja, the biggest (?) streamer alive (not sure, fact-check me there please), gave in the trailer for his master-class streamer course. This sparked a “debate” on Twitter about whether you should call out lurkers but in essence, everyone’s just saying that you shouldn’t and that it’s bad advice for a plethora of reasons. Lurkers are people that watch streams but don’t interact with them. They typically are what make most big streams such big streams. A lot of people like having streams on for background noise, for instance. The trailer for Ninja’s course on how to become a streamer includes a clip of him saying that you should always “have your viewer list open and greet people that come into the stream”, which is like bad advice. After all, lurkers shouldn’t be called out. They’re there, watching, lurking, hanging out and unless they chat themselves, calling them out is like forcing them to interact/engage with your stream without their consent.
But I didn’t want to talk about Ninja and his overpriced course but rather about what a lurker-friendly environment is. To give context to this term, I strive to create something like that so that people have a nice time lurking away.
One thing you should do if you want people to be comfortable around your stream is… remove shoutouts from follow alerts. I frankly hate it when I find a new streamer that I like and drop a follow and suddenly they shout out my name, it pops up on the stream, a big alert pops open, and it gets spammed in the chat as well and everyone knows I’m there. It makes me uncomfortable. Now, obviously, everyone can do whatever they want with their streams but I personally hate that and I’ve unfollowed people for stuff like that before. My follow-alerts play a sound and a gif, which is alright, but they don’t mention the person’s username, meaning that it really only says that someone followed. People don’t get shouted out in chat or anything like that and even though I know who followed, I thank them for the follow and don’t mention their name either. “Thanks for the follow. I appreciate it!” is pretty much how it goes usually. This way people can stay anonymous/lurkers until they decide to come out of lurk themselves, which is pretty great.
Another thing I try to do is to moderate the sound of everything on the stream to keep it at a similar level. To do this, you can set up a noise gate on your microphone (which makes highs in volume quieter and lows in volume louder). You can also try to balance out your music, game sounds and microphone in OBS to make sure that it doesn’t spike a lot. I feel like that’s generally how you can keep people comfortable. When I watch videos and an ad suddenly plays, the ads tend to be incredibly loud while the video itself was just fine before. That often scares me. Similarly, sound effects in streams sometimes can be too loud and hence kill the comfortable environment present before. If you still want to use scares, you can make it so that they’re louder on your end but not as loud for your audience. Naturally, that means you’ll get scared shitless while they won’t… which is nice? It makes scares less punishing for everyone involved.
Alas, I’m relatively new to streaming and there is much that I need to get better at. For starters, I want to make sure that what I talk about on-stream doesn’t require people to see what is on stream. After all, I feel like I’d have to be able to watch my own stream in order for me to consider it “good”. I only watch good streamers after all – so if I were to lurk to my own VODs in theory, I wouldn’t want to have to interrupt my work-flow in order to catch what’s happening on the screen right now. Similarly, I try to always read out messages before answering them and while it may sound redundant, it can help with people not watching at the moment who still listen to the stream. Similarly, I gotta figure out other ways to increase the comfort level of people that aren’t actually watching but are still there. I want them to feel included, appreciated and comfortable. I want them to have a nice time while listening in. If you have any suggestions for that, I’d be more than happy to take them in and potentially work on them. Let me know!