Streaming online has absolutely exploded over the last few years. Whether it is playing video games, crafting, or even just chatting, streaming is big business. Many platforms such as Twitch.tv have emerged, making streaming more accessible than ever to cope with demand. Some streamer can make hundreds if not thousands by streaming content for hours at a time to a set schedule for their community. But what is streaming?
Streaming is the act of recording a live session on camera of a specific task for an online audience. Popular streaming genres include video games, crafts, and ‘coffee and chats’, but if you can think it, someone has streamed it. Streamers work hard building a community and doing self-promotion on top of recording themselves working for hours at a time. Followers can talk to their favourite streamers through the chat while they watch in real time, allowing a certain level of communication between a streamer and their community. That being said, there are certain rules that streamers need to follow. Some rules are official guidelines laid down by their set platform or contract and others are unsaid rules set by viewers and followers. The act of streaming has a lot of restrictions on it that non-streamers do not necessarily think about. But what are these secret rules? This list breaks down just some of the most common things that streamers cannot do while they are live on camera. Will any of these rules surprise you? Read on to find out.
26 Give Away Personal Info
No-one likes an uninvited guest. Celebrities and online stars have been plagued by unexpected ‘visits’ from fans who figured out their home address. This, while well-intentioned, is not the best way to make a good impression on your favourite streamer. Because of security and safety issues, streamers cannot give away their personal information such as addresses and phone numbers on camera. If they film outside or by a window, the streamer will do their best not to show anything distinctive to avoid people figuring out where they are.
25 Dress Inappropriately
Most streams cannot be age rated, meaning that anyone of any age can drop into a streamer’s chat. With this in mind, streamers need to dress age appropriately while on camera. You have no control over who your audience is at a given time; it could be a room of twenty-year-olds or older or a bunch of ten-year-olds wanting to watch your game. Because of this, covering up curves or potentially sensitive areas is a must just in case. Simply wearing a t-shirt and long shorts is fine, just double check any graphics or slogans.
24 Allow Negativity On Stream
Not everyone out there will like what you stream. While the logical thing to do would be to find someone else to watch, some folks feel the need to start something in the chat. Whether it is to rile up the streamer or pick a fight with their followers, sometimes negative things and insults are spread around. No matter what happens, a streamer must remain positive and cannot call this behavior out in a negative way while on camera. This means no debates, insults, or calling out can be done on stream. Instead, blocking, banning or reporting is encouraged.
23 Beg For Bigger Donations
While most streamers do not get paid by the platform or a company, they can put up a donations or tips button for their followers. Most prefer calling them tips rather than donations and it is generally considered rude to ‘beg’ for donations or ask for bigger tips after someone gives you a tip. It can come across as ungrateful or rude, so most people just put up the button and say thank you if someone tips them.
22 Play Certain Games Or Activities
Many sites like Twitch have a list of certain forbidden games that cannot be played on stream. Whether it is due to scenes of a graphic nature or over a certain age-rating, there are some games that are a no-go for gamers. Likewise, certain adult activities are not okay to do on stream. This goes back to the fact that you have no idea how old the people watching your stream are. You can do those things in your own time, just maybe keep it off your channel.
21 Promote Products And Companies
This one can be confusing. Officially speaking, streamers cannot sell a specific product or company to their viewers. They also cannot promote other accounts on other sites on their streaming channel. That being said, if you ask a streamer about what they use in their setup or makeup routine, they can answer you. The difference is in the intent; information vs persuasion. Instead, streamers who are sponsored find other ways to show fans their sponsor’s products.
20 Show/Play Copyrighted Content Without Permission
Copyright laws are confusing and often need some work. Some sites have worse copyright systems than others, but most streaming sites take a different approach. As a way to avoid issues, there is a ban on streamers showing or playing copyrighted content in general. There are exceptions to the rule of course; eSports players can show trailers or videos for their official teams and some gurus can show copyrighted content. For most average Joes, though, it is best to stay away.
19 Promote Competitor’s Sites
When streaming on a site, particularly if you are successful, the folks who run that site do not want you promoting their competitor’s. It makes sense as they don’t want to lose business. For example, if you regularly stream on YouTube, it is a no-no to start promoting Twitch instead. While you may think that other sites are more beneficial for you, it would be better to move to that site if you can rather than trash-talk the one you are on.
18 Stream Betas Or Demos
Nobody likes spoilers. With that in mind, it is often a rule that streamers cannot play betas or demos of games on stream. Sometimes streamers maybe sent the demo or pre-release version of a game, but it is not worth playing it on stream. Playing it in your own time will save you a lot of hassle in the long run. By all means, play the full game after release, just save the headaches and keep demos off of the stream.
17 Publicly Call Out Lurkers
When watching a stream, sometimes people do not necessarily want to interact with the stream. Maybe they have had a long day or get anxious when they do interact. People who just watch streams and do not interact are called ‘lurkers’ in the community. Calling lurkers out as a streamer is incredibly rude and can make them feel uncomfortable at best and leave the channel at worst. Sometimes people just want to take a back seat, don’t pressure them to interact if they don’t want to.
16 Have Greeter Bots Enabled
Greeter bots are an automatic message that greets viewers as they enter the stream. While they can help you say hello to everyone on stream, they are a controversial system. Most viewers are there to watch you play a game; they like your reactions and your personality. To just greet them with a bot instead of a friendly ‘hey’ can feel impersonal and isolating for viewers. Because of this, it is better to greet people yourself to create a closer connection with your followers.
15 Take Up Time Doing Other Things
Titles of streams are really important. They promise the reader a specific kind of activity or content; it is this promised content that makes them click on your stream. Spending a bunch of time just talking or making coffee instead of doing what you said you would do is annoying. Nobody wants to watch you make a sandwich when they came to watch you play a game. By all means, have a quick chat at the start but keep it brief and get to the point of the stream.
14 Heavily Promote Yourself On Someone Else’s Channel
Nobody likes it when people barge into the conversation for no reason. The same can be said during streams. If you are watching a specific streamer’s stream, it is incredibly annoying seeing someone heavily promoting their channel in the chat. Not only is this annoying for viewers, but it is insulting for the streamer whose chat you invaded and makes you come off as obnoxious and desperate. If you are on another person’s stream on camera and they ask you to tell their viewers where they can find you, that is acceptable. Shoving your links in strangers’ faces on another channel is not okay.
13 Eat On Camera
Eating while on camera can be really uncomfortable to watch, especially if you have your mix sensitivity up high. You have no idea how you look on camera while going to town on a sandwich and viewers may not be into it. That being said, the online trend of mukbangs, or eating a huge amount of food live on camera, has changed things. This streaming trend originated in South Korea and has spread like wildfire online. Mukbangs are just normal people eating insane amounts of food and talking to their viewers. Sounds cool but is not wholly accepted just yet.
12 Talk About The View Count On Stream
It is more than okay to be proud of your channel. Growing your channel and gaining more viewers is an amazing achievement that deserves praise. That being said, an unsaid rule is commonly known and obeyed; do not mention the view count on stream. Talking about your view count can come across as boasting or showing off, which is not a good look and can make your viewers uncomfortable. Talking about the view count on stream is an excellent way to make followers feel that you care about numbers rather than them as people.
11 Say How Much You Make
Because streaming has become big business in recent years, there is a lot of curiosity around it coming from outsiders. It is well-known that there are all-star streamers who have made successful careers from streaming. People are going to ask how much you make streaming. Sometimes it comes from a good place and wannabe streamers, but sometimes it is just a rude question. Letting your followers know how much you make is telling them your personal information and can also be considered a breach of contract between the streamer and the platform.
10 Have Potentially Offensive Backgrounds
Backgrounds can be tricky. Streamers do not want to have a boring background that might put off viewers but also do not want to accidentally offend someone. Having the wrong image, symbol, or slogan behind you can lead to some really big issues if streamers are not careful. Most streamers have their home in the background, but others put up a screen to keep their privacy and stop anyone from seeing something wrong. It’s all in the presentation, folks.
9 Unnecessarily Putting Down People Or Games
People often watch games to see if they are worth spending money on. Seeing someone else play a game can help you decide if you will like the game and if you will enjoy playing it. Having a specific streamer whose opinion you respect play a game can be even more helpful. However, while everyone’s opinions are valid, nobody wants to listen to a barrage of unnecessary dislike. Unnecessarily putting down a thing or person is not a good look for you and is not what your viewers want to hear.
8 Requesting Gifts
Once streamers reach a certain number of followers, they may start receiving letters or gifts. These little presents are ways for followers to show their love and appreciation for what they do. If a streamer gets a lot of gifts on the regular, they may start a PO box to keep track of them all and keep their privacy at the same time. Gifts are supposed to be spontaneous acts of love, so asking fans to send gifts is not great.
7 Explicit Language
Anybody can be watching a stream at any time. Because of this, streamers need to be careful and watch what they say and when. Many streaming platforms have a list of forbidden words that streamers are not allowed to use while they are on camera in case underage people hear them. As always, sometimes accidents happen and streamers let one or two of these words slip, but unless you are on an age-restricted stream avoid cursing just in case.
6 Catering To A Specific Audience
Many streamers start out doing what they love. Whether it is gaming or making art, they love it so much that they want to show other people. Doing what you love and staying consistent play a big part in channel growth, but catering to a specific audience in a no-no. Trying new things can help boost your stats and encourage new folks to watch, Do not be afraid to test out a new trend if you want to, just be careful not to just cater to one audience.
5 Just Look At The Chat
Streaming as all about balance; balancing your time with streaming, your mental health and your busy schedule, and more. One of the biggest balances happens on screen. Your followers want to talk to you and get responses, but also do not want you to just talk and not play games or craft. It is a juggling act to do the activity you wanted to do but also greet your viewers and answer them. It can be even harder if you are doing something that requires concentration or have a particularly busy chat going. Do your best to balance things out.
4 Allow Links In Chat
Sometimes viewers will send links in chat. These links could be to a relevant article or video, or maybe something worse. Streamers have no way of knowing if these links contain malware or viruses which could cause issues for them and anyone who clicks on them. Even if you have moderators watching the chat, it can be difficult to decide what is good and bad. Because of this risk, most streamers follow the rule and do not allow links to be posted in their chat.
3 Put Chatbox On Screen
Both the viewer and streamer can see the chat. This is usually built into the site purposefully, or streamers adjust their setup so that they can see the game and the chat at the same time. Because seeing the chat is automatic for viewers, it is frowned upon to have the chatbox on screen. Putting the chat on screen clutters an already busy screen and often gets in the way. Some streamers can make the chat notifications come up on the screen in more subtle ways, but a good rule is to not do that at all.
2 Be Quiet
Some folks want to be streamers or show people their skills at a specific activity. However, they may not like how their voices sound when recorded or they may be shy. Those people often opt to not use face cam or microphones and just show the game or activity with music over it instead of commentary. People who do choose to have microphones have one rule; they cannot be quiet. Non-stop talking is annoying, but not saying anything when a microphone is right there is not okay either.
1 Hangout With People Not Contributing While Streaming
Collaborations are great; they can spice up a streamer’s schedule, provide a new form of entertainment for their followers, and introduce fans to new channels. Collaborations help form friendships and connections for streamers and give people new ideas for who to follow. However, if you are playing a game intended for solo play, having some random friend who does not stream in the background is not fun to watch. No-one wants to see some randos on your stream. If you want to include your friends, pick a multi-player activity to do together.