There are plenty of technical issues that can “break” a stream: it buffers too much, it’s too blurry, the webcam has a poor angle, the microphone is picking up the noise of your spouse beating the family dog with a wrench.

These are all specific nitpicks which are solvable by some direct method. Usually there’s a pay gate involved: get better internet, get a better computer, buy a foreclosed property for an underground dog fighting arena.

Sometimes the caster just set their shit up weird and it’s just a few mouse clicks to fix it.

Criticisms of these things are rarely construed as personal attacks because they are so easy to deflect, “oh, I just have a really bad connection where I live. I can’t do anything about it, I’m sorry.”

Most of the time the caster is a little embarrassed, and that’s probably gratifying for some of the viewers. Others might sympathize. It tends to be beneficial to admit weakness in this case.

However, criticism about the caster’s person is obviously directly personal.

u look like smackass w/o  beard lol

Maybe your microphone quality is fine but you have the misfortune of sounding like the final few gaseous expulsions of a corpse, because that’s just the way you talk.

These are things you probably know you can’t change (facial structure, the tonality of your voice) without severe consequences, but your chat believes are well within your immediate control. They’re merely demanding appeasement, they want that embarrassment.

Fuck ’em.

There are three breeds of dropouts stumbling into your channel:

  1. The Desperate.
    • They’re going to stick around if you have your shit together, technically speaking. You have a face cam, turned a light on in your room, and we can hear you over your otherwise awful Spotify playlist without strain.
    • Your chat isn’t too busy, so they’ll get noticed if they talk.
    • There’s probably a limit to how much you can abuse these people, which makes them worth testing on.
    • If you’re nice to them, they’ll watch you play anything.
    • They’re the least likely to make demands, but most likely to notice something unfamiliar, which is an important distinction.
    • Most likely to donate.
  2. The Rejects.
    • They were just banned from another channel, so here they are.
    • Some of these people feel gratification by being banned, and generally it’s worth the effort to give it to them.
    • Hecklers in a live/in-person show are traditionally kicked out of the venue, even if the entertainer is well-known for dealing with horseshit.
  3. The Curious.
    • Distinct from the Desperate in that they don’t feel the need to be noticed (so the curious often are lurkers.)
    • Distinct from Rejects in their ambivalence to being banned (neither excitable as a Reject nor offended as the Desperate.)
    • They usually will have the clearest, but also the most diverse, set of ideas of what they’re looking for when they enter a stream.
    • Whereas the Desperate just wants to connect with somebody, and the Reject wants to upset somebody, the Curious might want to see how you play the game.
    • Part of their enjoyment is trying to figure out what the hell you’re doing,  on their own. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explain your plays if you’re already doing that. This means that if you are explaining your plays, they’re the ones who appreciate that most, because it’s information they can use to quietly judge you.

The Curious are most commonly the ones to be bouncing around many channels. If they are streamers, they are the type to tell a heckling chatter “there are thousands of other streams you could watch,” rather than banning anyone outright. If they were at a buffet they probably put a bunch of small samples on their plate before committing to anything.

If they see a problem they’re less likely to just point it out (Reject tactic), but instead offer a suggestion, or at least frame the criticism as a question:

  • Curious: Is the stream buffering for anyone else? Are you disconnecting or is it twitch? Why did you trade?

These are the most worthwhile people to have around. They are indicative of you being chosen by taste rather than convenience. That you’re doing something right rather just doing something.

If you’re just trying to climb the viewership rankings and are just letting any cancerous louse into the fray, that’s your call. But who you allow to abuse you is part of your identity as a streamer. It’s a property of your stream that is simultaneously immediately possible to control (who you ban) and completely impossible to do anything about (who shows up.)

But because you can control some of it, the perception will be that you control all of it.

If a buzzard sees another of its kind circling you, yes, you’ll eventually have a flock of birds to look at before you die. Congratulations.

But rather than slowly dying in plain sight, it might be worthwhile to just put out bits of stale bread and see if anything that doesn’t smell like death wants to flutter around you.

It won’t be as predictable a result, but when the predictable outcome is strictly negative, why not give something else a try?