There’s nothing worse than attending a party where you do not know anyone there except the person who invited you. You sit off to the side, having idle chit chat with anyone who is willing to accept the new person. Yet, you never quite feel like you fit in. As you survey the room, you notice people forming groups, sharing inside jokes that will not make sense to anyone outside the clique. You dare not ask origins of the joke, it’s a social taboo. Your only port in the storm is the person who invited you. The one who can bring you into the fold, introducing you to people and creating inclusive conversations. If all goes well, you’ll find yourself right in the mix, and the awkward moment where you didn’t know anyone will become a distant memory. Joining a new Twitch chat is similar except you don’t know anyone, and even worse you barely know the person who invited you.
Twitch makes it easy to join anyone’s stream and jump into the conversation. The platform has tools to combat spam, and many streamers institute a group of moderators (aka mods) to police the chat. What most streams don’t have are welcoming committees. Joining a stream chat is like joining that party. There’s already a group of people who have formed friendships. There’s history, inside jokes and if your streamer is popular there’s a strong chance your message will go unseen. So what is there to do? For most people, it’s shooting your message off into the ether and hoping for a response. Or just lurking, never joining the chat. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
There are a few solutions that come to mind. For starters Twitch as a platform can begin to promote mod training for welcoming new visitors into the chat. I’ve witnessed mods becoming the eyes and ears of the chat when a streamer is focusing on the game. Instead of focusing solely on rule breaking, take the time to introduce a new visitor in the conversation. If someone new makes one friend, there’s a strong chance they’ll return and make more friends. The second idea is for streamers to update their bio. The most common information in the bio are the links to their social profiles, hardware specs and a simple bio. But why not use that space not only to welcome but give them a lay of the land?
As streaming continues to grow during the quarantine, it’s time to begin welcoming new people into the chat. There will always be people who have no need for a welcome. They’ll jump in chat and find their own way. But for everyone else, it’s always good to have that port in the storm.