Moderators Building Community

Have you ever shown up to a party where you may not know everyone and as soon as you walk through the door are welcomed with open arms, are given a drink, and then are told to make yourself comfortable?  It’s like heaven, right?  That’s the kind of party you want to stay at for hours and just relax with fun conversion and great entertainment.  Now picture the exact opposite.  You open the door to a party and everyone is talking amongst themselves.  You’re not offered anything and if you do open your mouth to say “Hello” no one even acknowledges you.  What happens?  You end up shifting your weight to a corner and watching the party for a few minutes and then—poof—you’re gone.  There’s no need to stick around that atmosphere, when there are numerous parties happening on the same block.  Well this thought process can easily be carried over to your streaming channel.  Your chat environment (the party) can make or break a new viewer wanting to stay.  Sure, some parties are extremely large (the bigger streamers) and people will put up with not being noticed just to see what all the fuss is about.  But when you’re just starting out as a streamer, your chat environment should be welcoming for everyone new.  And this is where great Moderators come in.

You may be thinking that you can Mod your channel yourself—and that is possible—but with a little help from fantastic Mods, you’ll see your channel grow even faster.  Why?  Because they are the backbone of your community.  They are the perfect viewer and chatter.  They help facilitate the rules.  They help keep the conversation flowing.  And they also help keep your environment free of trolls.  And when you’re a small channel, these wonderful people do all that without asking for anything in return.  They are an integral part of building a community and should be thanked daily.

QUICK SIDE NOTE:

Everyone knows that streaming is all about having fun and enjoying company while you play your favorite games.  And if everyone was kind and respectful on the Internet there’d be no need for Mods or bots.  But as everyone knows, both are essential to having a smooth running chat.  With that being said, the rest of this article may sound serious and may make choosing a Mod seem very difficult.  But in reality it’s really not.  Sure there are a few traits that make some people fill the role of Mod easier than others, but you don’t have to follow anything listed below.  Your channel is your channel.  But if you’re looking for a few ideas, then give the following paragraphs a read, because you never know, they might just help you in the deciding process.

WHAT EXACTLY DOES A MODERATOR DO?

A lot of viewers on Twitch want to be Mods.  Some will even ask every stream.  Why?  Because all they want to do is bring down the Ban hammer on someone’s head.  And as exciting as that sounds, that’s not the main reason for Mods.  Sure they are there to vanquish the undesirables that pop into your channel, but your Mods shouldn’t be in your chat just to ban people or tell them what they can’t do.  Why?  Because all this does is bring negativity into your chat.  You want to have a friendly atmosphere that welcomes all kinds of gamers.  So the true job of any Mod isn’t to smack people with a ban hammer, it’s to help build whatever kind of community the streamer is trying to achieve.  They are there to encourage fun conversations and build friendships.  They are there to ensure everyone is having a good time and no one is being left out of the fun.  This is a true Moderator.  Anyone can just swing a ban hammer and hit their target, but only a special few can help bring kindness and fun to a community.  So if you’re thinking of picking Mods, look for those individuals that are always adding to the entertainment in chat.  Because here’s the secret: you want your Mods to be the ideal perfect viewer, leading by example and not with an iron fist.

PICKING YOUR MODS:

When you first start streaming—news flash—no one will probably be there.  You’ll barely get one or two viewers on a good day.  So having a Moderator at this point is probably not needed.  Just the friendly Moobot hanging out is enough in the very beginning.  But when people do start to show up and you begin to have a chat that flows, a Moderator will be necessary to keep your channel running smoothly.  But how do you pick a good Moderator?  The best Moderator will have several personality traits that make them perfect for the job, like outgoing, talkative, funny, knowledgeable, etc.  But the simplest and number one reason to choose someone is by the amount of time they spend in your channel.  Start right there.  See who shows up the most, this way you’ll almost always have a Mod to help when you’re streaming.  Then once you have that narrowed down to a handful of people, you can then move onto other traits you’re looking for.  If for some reason you don’t know who will be a good Moderator, you can always have a temporary rotating Mod system.  Every month choose someone new from that handful of regulars and watch to see who fits the title the best.  Then you can pick a permanent Mod afterwards.

In some instances you may have to start off with making a real life friend or family member a Mod, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but you and your chosen Mod have to understand that you’re entrusting them with your channel’s growth.  Streaming is all about community and sharing your gaming highs and lows, but if your Mod is a jerk or abuses their title, then viewers will not want to stick around.  So choose your Mods carefully and make sure they understand their duties.  You may also get the temptation to make everyone a Mod because you can’t choose out of respect or you don’t want to upset anyone, but that won’t look inviting to new viewers if all they see are Mods in chat.  That’s like walking into a club and everyone inside is a bouncer.  You’re less likely to chat or feel like you belong.  It may be hard to choose only one or two Mods, and some regulars might feel like you’re playing favorites, but it’s essential to only have a few at the most until your channel grows.  The last thing you want is a wall of swords in your chat.  It’ll look like you’re going to war instead of trying to make friends.

Now not everyone will make the perfect decision when picking a permanent Mod.  But here’s another secret: there’s no such thing as a permanent Moderator.  Your Mods must never forget what a Moderator is supposed to be.  They’re supposed to be the ideal example of a viewer in chat.  They’re supposed to follow and know all the rules and never, ever break any of them.  So if by some strange accident, you happen to pick a Mod that doesn’t care about the rules or doesn’t know them or never communicates with you or viewers, don’t be afraid to relinquish their Modding duties and pass them onto someone more qualified.

STEERING THE SHIP:

So why is it vital to pick the very best Mods for your channel?  Because when you, the streamer, are busy, your Mods are now running the party.  See we’re all capable of some multitasking.  But sometimes when you’re playing a game like Bloodborne or Dark Souls or any other numerous complicated games, you may have to have at least a smidgen of focus.  And this is why picking the right Mods comes in handy.  They are now captains of your ship.  You’ve turned the wheel over to them, so that you can focus on getting to the next level or area or destroying a hard boss.  Now, most people may not take their streaming that serious and won’t have to worry about choosing the right Mod or any Mods for that matter.  But if you want your channel to grow and want people to keep coming back, then having friendly people controlling your chat is key.

COMMUNICATION:

In every good relationship, communication is vital.  And it’s the same rule with a Moderator.  Your Mod has to and should want to know all the rules of the channel.  Everyone is different, which makes every streaming channel different.  And having a Mod you can trust to enforce your rules makes the chat less toxic.  Do you not want any spoilers in chat?  How about curses?  How about political or religious talk?  There are so many things you may or may not want in your chat.  And the only way to enforce these rules—besides a streamer having to stop play to state them—is having a Mod that understands the channel and can explain these rules in chat.  This also goes for giveaways.  Communicating with your Mod about what you’re planning that day will help you during the stream.  That way when you’re busy with a Boss battle, your Mods can share the information with anyone new in the channel.  And of course when you do have that one bad egg pop in your chat, the Mods can easily bring down the Ban hammer so you don’t have to stop play to take care of it.

Also, your Mods should (as a courtesy) let you know when they won’t be in your stream.  That way you can plan to have another Mod that day or just be prepared to go it alone.  This is bare-bone professionalism.  Again, Modding isn’t as serious as this sounds, but having someone tell you they’re not going to be there is just a form of kindness and respect that everyone including the streamer should try to achieve.  So if you get picked as a Mod, let the streamer know if you can’t be there.  Not only will the streamer appreciate it, but it’ll also help keep the channel running as smooth as possible.

KEEPING CHAT FLOWING:

This is a very important duty of a Mod, especially in smaller channels.  You may be the type of streamer that thrives off of conversation, but at some point you’re going to go into hardcore focus mode, and this is where only the best Mods will succeed.  If you’re lucky enough to find yourself a talkative Mod, then you’ve hit the jackpot.  Keeping new viewers in the channel can be as easy as keeping them chatting.  When someone new says “Hi” in chat, it’s the Mod’s duty to instantly say hello back.  And when the conversation starts to wind down, the perfect Mod will jump back in and start it up again by asking questions, saying something funny, or even chatting about the game.  If you’re a smaller channel and want to keep people coming back, find those funny, gracious people that are outgoing to take charge of your channel when you can’t.

As another form of courtesy, your Mods should also say goodbye to those viewers that are leaving and even give a “welcome back” to those that had to run a quick errand while you were streaming.  And all of the above can also go for a viewer too.  Because if you’re at a party and someone you’ve been talking to is leaving, you don’t leave the goodbye only up to the host, do you?  No.  You say goodbye yourself.  It’s just good manners.  For example, have you ever said hello or goodbye in Lowco’s stream?  You’ll get at least a half a dozen responses (most of time many more) from viewers, subs, and Moderators.  Why?  Because her community is friendly, well mannered, and welcoming.  This is the level that all channels should strive for when attempting to build a community.  And how did she achieve this?  By treating all viewers with respect and also picking the right Mods to be shining examples of the ideal viewer.  Because if you didn’t know, just like the streamer, Mods will also attract like-minded individuals.  So if you pick respectful, friendly Mods, then that’s what kind of personalities your chat will consist of the most.

ANSWERING QUESTIONS:

If you’re lucky enough to have people interested in you as a streamer or in the games you’re playing, then questions will start to pop up in chat.  And answering each and every one is a joy for a streamer, yet sometimes getting to a question in the middle of a difficult part of a game is almost impossible.  But not to worry, this is where your wonderful Mods come in.  If any questions are asked like what platform the game is being played on or your streaming schedule, the Mods should be the first to answer.  This not only keeps the viewer involved, but it also has the remarkable ability to setup more conversations.  A Mod can then ask what platform the viewer plays games on and what their favorite games are.  This keeps viewers interested in the channel, and also allows a streamer to continually focus until they are ready to read chat again.

MOD COMPENSATION:

Now you may be thinking, “But I don’t have any way to pay a Mod for all that they do?”  And that’s okay, because most Mods help out of kindness and love for the streamer.  But there are also other ways to say thank you to your Mods.  For example, if you so happen to acquire some online codes for a certain game, you could offer some extras to your Mods.  If you’re having a play-with-viewers-day, show your Mods some love by asking them to join.  There are always different ways to acknowledge the wonderful Moderators of your stream and you should strive to do so every time you broadcast.  Because you have to remember, these kind and generous people aren’t only giving you their precious time, but they’re also helping you build a community and no matter what anyone else says…that’s a tough job.  So remember to always give your Mods love whenever you can.  They’re worth it.

SUMMARY:

Moderators are an important building block to a successful channel.  With the right kind of Mods behind you, it’ll be easier to grow and hold an audience.  So remember…if you want your chat to be friendly and respectful or maybe funny and goofy, then start by selecting Mods that fit that exact criteria.  Good luck streaming and if you have any questions, you can find me on Twitter or leave a comment below.

twitch.tv/hankbananas  Gaming with a hint of sarcasm.