Alright, so you have a great channel, great graphics, and you’ve been streaming for awhile. But you just got a couple spammers or rude people, and it’s a real pain to time them out because you have to tab out of your game and…
Guess what, it’s time for a Moderator!
That’s OK. Moderators are awesome. I’m so biased when I say that. But think about it… here are people that can be almost as crucial to the stream experience as you are who are donating their time for free just to keep your life as a streamer clear of issues! Appreciate them, form bonds, and look for ways to use the skills they’re offering you.
First, find a mod.
Some people take applications for the position. Other people just observe over time, and ask any existing mods they may have for feedback. But here’s what you’re looking for…
The mods for your channel should be:
- Not asking for mod. Seriously. The people who ask for it are the last ones who should get it. Power-hungry mods ruin chats.
- Regulars already. Probably among the MOST regular attenders.
- Not jerks. Able to agree with you most of the time, but also give you helpful feedback
- Able to hold a conversation. They don’t have to be super-chatty (there are various kinds of mods, more on that in a minute), but it does help if they can keep chat from completely dying by helping start/restart conversations
- Bonus: Bot experience, art skills, community building skills, and prior mod experience
Does that sound like someone you know? Good, now mod them, but make sure you ASK them first (many don’t want to bear the responsibility, at least not right away).
Second, train that mod.
Your bot probably has channel commands already. You have those in a list or somewhere for them to look up? Your commands should be so relevant that mods know the commands and use them frequently to quickly answer questions coming in from chat. It helps if they know how to enter those commands on their own too, so teach them the basics of your bot.
Your mods will echo your behavior. Don’t do things that you’d have other people timed out for. Be consistent, fair, but don’t take it all too terribly serious.
Teach your mods to watch out for early warning signs, such as asking questions that are too personal, trying to determine your exact physical location, and asking what streamers will do for tips.
Also, rules. Let me just give you a template of what your rules could look like, and I think this is an excellent template of how I also operate:
Rules, courtesy of twitch.tv/JessyQuil:
We purge at first offense. Next, we 10-minute timeout. And finally, a perma-ban.
- Not following the Twitch TOS or ROC.
- Spamming messages more than three times
- Debating unfriendly topics or personal issues after being asked to stop
- Direct and malicious insults to anyone in chat without jest
- Self promotion without permission
- Extreme vulgarity and excessively sexual comments
- Backseat gaming like commands
- If any of the above is repeated after a purge.
- If any of the above is repeated after a timeout
- Repeated or vulgar Sexual Harassment
- Spam bots
- Super offense of the TOS/ROC
Moderators have to follow all of these rules, and are also held to the following standard:
- Insulting or purposely mislead viewers (Jesting with friends aside of course)
- Purging, timing out, or banning without proper violation
- Overly debating reasons for timeouts/bans
- Threatening with purges, timeouts, or bans for no reason (not jesting with friends or reminder of rules)
- Acting “better” than others due to mod status
- Engaging in pointless debates or trolls
Third, build up your mods.
“A rising tide lifts all boats”, as the saying goes. As you help your mods get better, your community will get stronger, and thus your stream will continue to grow.
Praise them. People need to hear “good job” sometimes. Especially free labor.
Talk to them as a group off-stream in your mod-chat. You should have a private mod+streamer chat in a Skype group or Slack group. And you should try to keep them in the loop about what you’re playing, working on, and feedback on how they’re doing their jobs. It shouldn’t be a place for general spam conversation, but some team-building chat is fine.
I suggest allowing them to enter giveaways on your stream, but that’s subjective, but make sure to determine that and state that ahead of time.
Some people say that you shouldn’t show favoritism, but I guess that depends on what you mean. I personally believe it’s totally fine to have a bit of a hierarchy with “main mods” who are teaching the junior mods or doing things that you need quite a bit of trust for.
Fourth, types of mods.
There are various types of mods. Learn to recognize which they are. For example:
- We call the basic level mods the Spam Crushers. They have one task only: clean up chat. They just have to be there, be aware, and hit spam/trolls with a stick.
- The next more-advanced mod are the Door Greeters. These people are just the nicest. They know everyone’s name, they say hi, spread the love, and make your community a better place.
- The next more-advanced mod is the Personal Assistant. They seem to know more about your stream than you do. They keep you straight on tasks, with reminders, schedule help, technical setup help, and are just generally useful people.
- Next we have the Hype Machine. They can get people pumped about events. Heck, they’re probably organizing the events, making the poster, and inviting the people. And they run giveaways like it’s their jobs. Somehow there seems to be more donations when they’re around.
- Now we have the Tech Genius. They wrote the custom bot you’re using. They did all your overlays. They may have even built your PC, setup your audio, and made your website. They don’t talk much, but their work speaks for itself.
- Then we have My Other Arm. Sometimes actually given the title of “Stream Manager”. This is a growing category, but still rare. They usually have a mixture of the above, and write guides to train other streamers, and help setup dual-streams, and help with networking, but now we’re almost talking like it’s a full-time job, although it’s tough to be paid for this as a full-time job currently. This level of helper you may not have for long. Either because they’ve been recruited elsewhere or the stress of trying to do it all burns them out.
Fifth, avoid these common traps.
- Don’t just mod your buddies from real life. They may not be the best candidates because I often see situations when they think they don’t have to mind you in chat, and often will walk all over you and be a disruptive influence. And they frankly may not be qualified. I don’t recommend handing out swords to them just because you can.
- It’s better to mod too few people and grow slowly than mod too many people. There is something that happens to small channels with an all-mod attendance. I call it “Green Wall”, when the swords stack up one on top of each other, and this effect is known to scare off first-time visitors who don’t want to intrude on something which looks like a private conversation that they’re not invited to. A good rule of thumb is one mod per maybe 50 visitors if you’re small. Larger streams, that number drops to maybe 1 mod per every several hundred chatters. You’ll notice a problem if it’s all mods that are talking and no one else, so avoid that.
- If you mod other streamers for visibility, you need to make it very clear to those streamers that the sword is for SHOW ONLY. These other streamers are not there to work for you, and may not know your rules or hierarchy. Do not allow other streamers to actually apply mod actions to your chat.
- If a mod moves on to other channels, isn’t there at all times, or is on vacation, don’t be upset. It’s not their actual job. They’re volunteers. Consider bringing on temporary mods, potentially (although it’s hard to UNmod people).
And there you have it. Mods can be powerful assets to your channel. You can have the kind of channel you want to have, free from trolls, jerks, and disrespectful people. Culture the kind of channel you want to have, and always remember that your mods will help you achieve your vision, but you’re ultimately in the driver’s chair.
Keep it classy.
Another great perspective on the topic can be found here: Managing Moderators