What Does A Stream Moderator Do?

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A stream moderator plays an essential part of any stream which has more than 30 consistent viewers and so it’s important to understand their role in general.

A stream moderator removes offensive or spam posts from chat, keeping the stream quality to a high standard set out by the owner of the stream. Stream moderators are also active in the stream and their presence is a huge benefit to sustaining a welcoming environment.

Every stream is different though and even if a moderator is managing multiple streams, it’s likely they will need enforcing in different ways – let’s take a look at what a stream moderator does.

Agreeing What’s Expected

In general, all of our personalities are different even if we hold similar beliefs, so it’s important for the stream owner and mods to agree ahead of a stream being moderated what the rules are.

One of the main things the stream owner needs to decide is the style of moderation that they expect.

They could decide that they want an “iron fist” sort of moderation where absolutely no violations of the stream rules are broken and actions are taken without discussion with the viewer.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the stream owner could decide they would like very few bans or purges handed out and the moderators are essentially a part of the chat with very occasional use of their powers.

Most of the time it will be somewhere in the middle of those two scenarios with the stream owner deciding which topics are instant bans, which need a stern word with the offender and which topics are completely fine to take place.

Decide What’s Considered Spam

One thing which should be very clear between the stream owner and stream moderators is what’s considered spam, here are some things to discuss and agree on:

  • Are large passages of text considered spam, or are those ok?
  • Should links be allowed? as chat will try and get around bots and post links with spaces.
  • If someone in chat posts ASCII blocks to make an image, is that spam?
  • Repeated text can be annoying to read through, so is that considered spam? for example “lololololololololololololololololol” doesn’t contribute much, but a decision needs to be made if it’s allowed.

What Tasks Does A Stream Moderator Do?

While it’s important for a stream moderator to understand the full range of commands available to them, the following are the most common tasks a stream moderator will find themselves doing.

Time Out Users

We’ve all been in streams where there’s a lot of excitement with the streamer hitting a large milestone in a game or they get lucky and pull off a PogChamp move!

Some viewers however let the excitement get the better of them and they accidentally break some of the stream rules. It’s best in these situations to time them out rather than ban them.

Ban and Unban Users

Stream chat can resemble a battleground at times and if someone in chat does something very clearly in violation of the stream or even platform rules, the stream moderator should hand out a ban.

On occasion though, the offender will realize their mistake and will reach out and ask to be unbanned, at which point the stream moderator can decide if they should be unbanned or not depending on how severe the offense was.

Manage Chat

An invaluable tool to stream moderators when there’s a lot of hype is the sub-only mode for chat as well as also, depending on the platform, making use of the slow chat feature.

Stream moderators should work alongside the owners of each stream they moderate though and decide if those tools are acceptable, as not all stream owners agree with slow or sub-only mode.

Support Fellow Mods

The stream mods should not be fighting with each other to see who can slam the ban hammer on someone the quickest, they also shouldn’t be working with each other to form an “inner circle” where things very quickly devolve into mods vs chat.

The stream mods should work with each other to make sure quick decisions can be made as well as make decisions on the tougher subjects, such as if the chat should be slowed down, then be there for each other to cover a high volume of chat as needed.

What A Stream Moderator Does During A Stream

It’s easy to take the time to discuss things before and after streams, but it can be completely different when you’re in the heat of the moment and can’t get in contact with the stream owner as they are deep in the game.

Let’s take a look at some of the main things a stream moderator should do during a stream…

Take Time Making Decisions

This one’s at the top of the list as it can be difficult to take a breath, but take the time to take a step back for the more difficult decisions – you don’t need to make immediate decisions most of the time and the extra breathing space will help you make better decisions.

When you have made a difficult decision, take a note of it and speak to the stream owner afterward to get guidance on how they would like it handled going forward.

As an example, if there’s someone in the chat being a jerk to someone else take a minute to get the context of the conversation before taking action – that could range from banning both of them temporarily or just direct messaging both. Then catch up with the stream owner afterward to see how they would have handled it.

Be Present During Stream

As a stream moderator, you’re obviously giving your time up for free but you should also take the role seriously. The owner of the stream will have had to make a difficult decision in choosing you, even if you’re close friends.

With that in mind, try and be as involved in the stream and present as you can be, rather than for example watching YouTube in the background and passively monitoring the stream.

Take the time to interact with the chat and be helpful, from welcoming new viewers to stimulating discussions that others can get involved in.

Use Your Powers As A Last Resort

As a stream moderator, try and enforce the rules of the stream by guiding discussions or direct messaging users rather than slamming down the ban hammer like it’s going out of fashion.

Most people in chat will respect you for your role and will listen, only bolstering the respect you have. Give people a chance to fix their behavior and also keep your direct messages open, it’s an important channel for people to try and reach you through if needed.

Specific Advice For Stream Moderators

Here are some quickfire bits of advice for stream moderators…

  • Try and find specific tools which will help you on your platform, for example BetterTTV is a great tool in Twitch to clean up the chat and make moderating the channel WAY easier. There are similar tools on most platforms.
  • Have the chat commands for your specific platform handy, you’ll be using them and don’t want to be wasting time hunting them down. The Twitch commands are here and Mixer can be found here.
  • Don’t start arguing with people in the chat, you need to be the better person as you’re representing the streamer and their brand. Don’t fall to their level.
  • If you know you can’t be there for the full stream, let the stream owner know so you don’t leave them stuck if they get a surge of new viewers.
  • Don’t disagree with the steam owner live in the stream, take the time to cover that after the stream in private.

What To Do Outside Of The Stream

While the isn’t a lot to do outside of streams, the best stream moderators do like to see how they can improve themselves and so it’s a good idea to catch up with the stream owner and ask them if they noticed anything during the stream which could be improved.

Those things don’t have to be specific to the performance of the stream moderators, but rather could be things they experienced during the tream in general.

For example, the stream owner could say something along the lines of “Oh when I got owned by that boss in Dark Souls I was feeling pretty triggered, the chat started trying to trigger me even more. How could we stop that?” and then a discussion takes place around that.

Stream moderators should also work with each other to make sure moderating during the actual stream is as easy as it can be. That could be as simple as making sure there’s a Discord group set up through to creating a Wiki explaining some of the topics discussed in this article already, saving the stream owner having to repeat the same things.

Other Things To Keep In Mind

While this article will clear up a lot of what a stream moderator does, here are some final things to keep in mind…

Watch For Burnout
It’s common in the working world to experience burnout, which happens often when someone throws themselves at a job and does way too many hours – only to notice too late that they have lost all passion and they start to resent their job.

This can (and does) happen with stream moderators too, so make sure you don’t try and moderate every stream but rather set a schedule for what days you can do and let the stream owner know those days. You won’t be helping anyone if you crash and burn.

Know When To Part Ways
Most people moderate a stream anywhere from a couple of months around the holidays through to years, there’s no set amount of time and that’s down to each individual.

It is important to know when the time has come to an end between a stream owner and a stream moderator and it doesn’t need to be sad, we all go through life at different paces and moderating a stream is essentially an unpaid job.

When the time does come, keep things amicable and never burn bridges on either side. No benefit comes from that and often both of you will be thankful for what has been a great experience.

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