Newcomers to Twitch sometimes have a rude awakening. Depending on which stream you blunder into, you will either find a group of friendly people telling jokes or, often in the case of women streamers, a collection of would-be misogynists commenting on the streamer’s looks and the things they would like to do to her.
It’s been more than two years since Jason “”MANvsGAME” Love has decided he had enough of hearing from viewers about how terrible he looked that day or how badly he sucked at a particular game. One of Twitch’s most popular streamers, Love made a very unpopular move. He limited his chat to subscribers only.
“The sub-only chat was such a brilliant, albeit double-edged, solution to the chat issue,” he recalled in a post on Reddit. “ It got rid of the spammers, the random blatant racist/homophobic comments, and generally made the chat room a MUCH more enjoyable place to hang out. And yes, it also was a huge boost to my channel financially, as subscriber numbers went way up. On the other hand, making the chat room sub-only full time, basically made me into Twitch Hitler in the eyes of many viewers. I received many complaints through email, Twitter, Facebook, even in other Twitch chatrooms. While watching another Twitch broadcaster, one guy even linked me this wonderful cartoon he made regarding the issue.”
In response to the feedback, Love opened up chat again. He went through another cycle of trying to ignore negative comments. And then he closed the chat for good.
Other popular streamers have followed Love’s lead, and he no longer feels the need to apologize. “A big reason my chat is cool is that I choose to use subscriber-only chat all the time,” Love recently told Philip Kollar from Polygon. “The paywall is the most fantastic filter for keeping out the worst people. Open Twitch chats in channels of a certain size, like, once you get past 3,000 viewers, it becomes just as bad as YouTube comments.”
Twitch knows chat needs to be fixed. Until it does, plenty of Twitch viewers have decided the price of being part of Love’s community is worth $4.99 a month. Just call it the troll tax.
Photo courtesy of Jayson Love.