What comes to mind when you see the sword icon in a Twitch channel? What is its purpose? The goal of this article is to help you understand that!
You’ve followed all the guides and your stream runs great, but you’re tired of link spammers and trolls. You could use a bot to moderate your chat, but bots can be more of a nuisance than a help at times. The truth is, the best way to moderate your chat is with an actual moderator.
What is a moderator? Well, a moderator is your sword (and shield). They are the people that will aide in keeping your chat an enjoyable experience for all viewers and keep trouble-makers in line. If someone breaks a channel rule, your moderator handles the situation so you can keep the show going.
So the first big question: When should I get a moderator? This is determined by a few things. It depends on the amount of traffic your channels gets and your preferred method of dealing with trolls. If you prefer to banish them immediately, then you might want to consider finding a moderator sooner rather than later. If you get amusement out of trolls, then you can wait until your channel grows a bit more. Regardless of your approach, you will want to get a moderator eventually, because they are essential to the long-term growth of your channel.
How do I decide on a moderator? This is mostly subjective. The person you hire to moderate your chat will need to be someone you trust, but also needs to be someone who you feel can represent your channel to your standards. They must also know when to take a step back and appropriately assess a problem situation, even if they are having a good time. This comes with a certain level of maturity and awareness. If you don’t see eye-to-eye with the person in question, then chances are that they will not be a good mod for you. Remember: Twitch is a business. Your stream is the product. In this way, your moderators are the people (aside from yourself) who represent your product, and you want them to do a good job!
Note: Be sure to ask the person if they would like to be a moderator before promoting them!
So now you have a moderator, but your job is not over! Running your channel is a team effort and it is good practice to communicate with your mods to make sure everything is running as intended. A new moderator will not know how to appropriately moderate your channel without help. The best way to help your moderator grow is to instruct them on how you would like them to handle various situations as they arise. If a moderator does something that you disagree with, then you should tell them immediately so they can improve. No one can read your mind!
This topic ties into the previous one: channel commands. Now, channel commands are a convenience to you, as it allows you type a keyword to command a bot to perform a certain action. What does this have to do with moderating? Well, a moderator’s job is not only to help regulate your chat, but also to supply your viewers with various information while you’re occupied with your game. It’s a good idea to make easy-to-remember commands that your moderator can use to quickly post important links or messages without much effort on their behalf. Whether the commands are links to your social media profiles or a shortcut to the rules page, it makes a moderator’s task much less intrusive.
If your moderator does well, then it’s natural that you should want to reward them. Praise for a job well done is a huge boost to morale and will give your moderator motivation to continue doing their best. This begs the question: Should moderators be allowed to enter giveaways on your stream? This is completely subjective and will vary. I strongly believe that it should be encouraged. After all, your mods spend their free-time making your job easier and are as much a viewer as the next guy. Oh, and who doesn’t enjoy free loot?
Note: Your mods will do a lot for you.. just remember not to show favoritism towards them. Favoritism is not a good behavior to express and will hurt your channel!
If you were confronted by a streamer and asked to moderate for them, then you should feel proud! This is the start of a new adventure and you will want to do your best. Along with the fancy sword icon, you will also notice that you now have to ability to purge, timeout, and ban other users. A purged user will have all of their messages deleted from chat. This is useful for quickly removing unsavory text from sight. When you use a timeout on someone, their messages will be deleted and they will not be able to engage in chat until the timeout expires. (This is not to be confused with purging a user, as purging does not prevent the affected user from typing in chat!) The timeout feature will likely be your most used. The option to ban a user is self-explanatory and should not be taken lightly.
When is the right time to utilize my moderator powers? You should use direct punishment when a user breaks a rule set by the streamer. However, the punishment will vary based on the severity of the offense. One does not simply begin moderating with all of the knowledge he or she will need to be an effective moderator, so consult with the streamer if you are unsure. The streamer needs to inform you on how they would like for you to handle each situation. If they don’t, then you should ask! Remember, warnings can be just as effective as a purge or timeout, so don’t be too quick to use them. Trolls can sometimes be quelled with the right words, and banning people should be a last resort as it often isn’t necessary. If you are the only moderator present in chat, then you should tell the streamer that you are stepping away from chat so that they can take up the task of dealing with trolls directly until you return.
Aside from delivering due punishment, what else can be expected from a moderator? As mentioned in the first half of this article, moderators strive to make the channel an enjoyable place for everyone. This means keeping conversations going in a positive direction, posting links for the streamer, or simply greeting people who enter the chat. Viewers want to feel welcome when they join a channel. Being able to keep conversations afloat also means knowing what makes a good conversation piece. Political/Religious topics are not good conversation topics, and should be omitted from chat. Other topics will vary and the streamer can decide if it’s appropriate. You might also be asked to provide links for other viewers as per request by the streamer. This is normal, and the streamer should have a list of pre-made commands that you can use to quickly post useful information when needed.
As a moderator, how should I behave? This was mentioned earlier in the article, you want to be mature and aware at all times. If conversation in chat begins to slip into inappropriate territory, you must be the one to notice and put an end to it. You wear the sword icon as a badge and your actions represent the quality of the stream. You are also a role model to other viewers and your behavior should reflect how you would want them to act. If they see you posting ascii art, then they will think it’s okay too. You can still have a good time in chat, but just keep it tasteful (based on the streamer’s taste) and be mindful of how others might perceive what you say. Keep in mind that you’re acting upon the will of the streamer and you should not let your personal bias alter your judgement when handling situations. If there is a problem, contact the streamer.
This brings us to the next topic: Your job as a moderator doesn’t end with the stream. It’s necessary to periodically talk to the streamer about how things are going in the channel, and also entertain any questions or concerns you may have. Input from multiple perspectives will ensure the streamer runs the show to its utmost potential. As a moderator, you might spend as much time working in the channel as the streamer. In this regard, your opinions will have bear some weight. You should never feel afraid to communicate with the streamer on important topics. It’s a team effort and your opinions matter!
Whether you are the streamer and prefer to moderate yourself or you’re a moderator working for a streamer, you will want to take shortcuts to make your job as easy as possible. To help, I highly recommend the use of a program called Chatty. What is Chatty? I thought you’d never ask! Chatty is an IRC program that is made exclusively for use with Twitch streams. It allows the user to have several stream chats open at once in the same window, but in different tabs. It’s easy to use and is convenient to anyone that uses Twitch frequently. What does this mean for moderating? Well, I moderate several channels and being able to have all chats open and in one place makes my task a lot easier. Also, clicking on a username in Chatty will open a small window. Contained in this window is a listing of all previous messages made by the user as well as buttons useable only by moderators. These buttons are quick shortcuts to varying lengths of timeouts and even ban/unban buttons. The Mod button is exclusive to the owner of the channel only. No longer will you struggle to type in “/ban <username>” in a timely fashion!
Many people in the community know that I have taken to moderating channels full-time. It can be stressful at times and there are situations that even I can’t handle at times. Regardless, it is overall a very fulfilling and rewarding experience…but it isn’t for everybody. Although I often feel an obligation to be present in chat, there are days when I need time to myself. If this happens, I just let the streamers know and they are very understanding. If I moderate for your channel, I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to do so, and I look forward to the next adventure!
If you found this article helpful, or you have any questions, please let me know! Thanks for reading.