The Soapbox: #DayOffTwitch illustrates how good intentions break under bad planning

    
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Those of you reading this probably know me as someone who wears one of three hats here at MOP: a news writer, the Choose My Adventure columnist, and one of MOP’s streamers. It’s that third job that I wanted to talk about here today, specifically about the recent #DayOffTwitch boycott that happened this past Wednesday, September 1st. I want to talk about the impression it’s made and my thoughts on the whole ordeal.

First, the impact: There’s a story out there that notes viewership of Twitch on the boycott date dropped somewhere between 7% and 12%. On the whole, that’s not really much of a dent in the grand Twitch scheme, and it sort of illustrates my concern that this boycott was not a particularly good idea, even if it had the right intentions. And this is coming from someone who took part in the boycott for MOP’s own streaming group with the full support of our lead editors.

The thing about a boycott is that it needs a huge, critical mass of people to send a message to really make anything close to resembling any sort of impact, and that demands a significant level of coordinated effort. This boycott didn’t have that. It’s hard enough to get a group as varied as livestreamers to agree to anything en masse, on the internet or otherwise. So in that regard, I’m not really surprised that this didn’t really place the smoldering crater on Twitch’s landscape that some had hoped.

It’s important to note that it’s very obvious Twitch itself has serious problems. As a company and a platform, it has been demonstrably lacking in addressing the plights of marginalized content creators in spite of it claiming it wants to be a platform for all. The problem of hate raiding and harassment is so proliferous that one of Twitch Gaming’s own broadcasts suffered the same fate. And Twitch’s “answers” barely qualify; one video succinctly illustrates that automated moderation – particularly with the current restrictions the platform has in place now – is not an answer. This has to be addressed by actual humans with blood running in their veins.

That said, I think it might’ve been better idea to have people flood the platform with talk about the problem. It could’ve been a day for multiple creators – especially the large ones – calling out the problem, talking about it, or maybe even discussing ideas to combat it, and others spreading that around by hosting or flooding social media, making the hashtag trend on Twitch and elsewhere. That probably would have made a stronger impression on both the industry and on Twitch, or at least had a better chance at making an impression and putting pressure on the company. But then, that would have required just as much coordination if not more.

So that brings up the question of why anyone should even bother, and to that I’d say it’s because everyone, no matter the race, gender identity, or sexual orientation, should be denied the fun of sharing gaming or art or other things on Twitch, and the fact that some folks are being denied by assholes circumventing the piecemeal protections that are in place needs immediate attention. Seriously, streaming is a good time, and everyone should be allowed to engage it in, despite what certain dank corners of the internet would prefer. That’s worth raising a stink about.

And why did I participate in the boycott if I felt so strongly that it wasn’t the right angle? Because MOP, and by extension OPTV, is nothing without the readers and viewers. We are supported by our readership, quite literally. And while I felt like it was better to talk about it during my planned broadcast on the 1st, I thought it was more important as a writer for a reader-supported independent website that I defer to what those readers and viewers thought. Considering the results of the poll I put out posing the question, I think it’s clear that there is a semi-split opinion on what to do about Twitch’s lackadaisical moderation efforts.

So I took part. But I’m not happy about it.

What’s more upsetting is that this whole matter already seems to be sort of slipping out of range of the greater discussion radar, at least perceptibly. Most people feel as if passive activism is enough, and perhaps there are some who feel that they can pat themselves on the back, but as a guy who loves his husband and enjoys feminine things, I’m far less proud of what happened. And I’m not even in the major target of hate raids; I can’t even begin to get close to how Black people, POC people, and openly proud trans people and LGBT+ streamers must feel now. I can hide in plain sight if I need to. I’ve had to before. I know how to “play it straight.” Not everyone can. And frankly nobody should.

This isn’t to say that the idea was bad or that people who did take part or didn’t take part were bad. I’m also not saying the readers and viewers were wrong in asking OPTV to join in the boycott. And it should be noted that Twitch has reportedly put out an email to casters promising new tools, while Streamlabs has included a “safe mode” that disables recent events and shuts off raids and alerts, so the issue is at least starting to make some waves, even if I’m still suspicious that Twitch is just serving up more empty platitudes here.

I suppose what I’m saying is that this reaction was poorly thought out, and the fight against this shouldn’t stop with just one measly little day of going dark on Twitch, especially if such a small percentage of streamers doing so still managed to prompt a PR email. It’s going to take something greater than a hashtag and a boycott attempt to combat this issue. It’s going to take much more, from many more, and for a far longer span of time.

Everyone has opinions, and The Soapbox is how we indulge ours. Join the Massively OP writers as we take turns atop our very own soapbox to deliver unfettered editorials a bit outside our normal purviews (and not necessarily shared across the staff). Think we’re spot on — or out of our minds? Let us know in the comments!
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WayTooLateTV

To the people out there saying they didn’t hear anything about this?

I don’t know how to put this gently, but… your twitch viewing habits? May need some diversification. Watch Black streamers, or other streamers of Color. Watch Queer streamers. Watch Disabled streamers. Watch Neurodiverse streamers. The tags exist. We’re the ones getting hate-raided because we’re the minorities, and the people that aren’t part of our demographics don’t care enough to be accomplices with us and help us along. THAT’S part of the problem.

Diversify your stream watching, there’re whole new worlds out there. Here’re some good places to start:

Cypheroftyr – The QUEEN HERSELF. Tanya DePass, Black Queer variety streamer, TTRPGs (Into The Motherlands, D&D), MMOs (FFXIV, New World), Shlooters (The Division), painting miniatures, she does it all, and runs We Need Diverse Games, dedicated to making the entire world of gaming more diverse and inclusive.

PleasantlyTwstd – Black Queer streamer that plays indie games, speedruns, is an amazing artist, and an amazing leader in TwitchDoBetter and many, many more things.

ImQuazii — Quazii Modo, Asian streamer, former WoW player that’s enraptured with FFXIV now, and his adventures with his Lalafell, Potato-Chan

Urbanbohemian – Brian Gray, Black Queer streamer, Destiny, Animal Crossing, TTRPGs, cooking streams from his kitchen, a deeply inclusive streamer with a velvety voice and some of the most amazing audience interactions.

NNESaga — NNESAGA, Black British content creator that’s just just beginning to blossom into a huge media empire. She’s getting endorsements left and right and putting out amazing content.

Start there.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

Um, yeah, I didn’t hear anything about it, and I’ve been watching a regular streamer play Hades for the past week or two? and some other games before that on Twitch…(Vagante, 12 Minutes, some other unique games.) He did go play that ugly New World monstrosity, and I stopped watching him for a week or so while he did that because I won’t support it, so maybe I missed the boycott ‘happening’ during that? Otherwise, yeah, don’t think it was received well.

And yes, I agree most of the people on there are complete swear words I cannot say on this website. I never got an account so I can’t confront them, I just watch, and don’t ‘support’ by throwing money at them either. (Not like the whales don’t do enough as is…in some channels.)

The guy I watch is relatively tame compared to your average shock jock, but he’s also expressed things I don’t necessarily agree with himself. (They apparently ‘dick raided’ a ‘friend’ with a ‘joke’…one of his co-streamers had a clip of it up on his twitter and I was bored and looking through both of their streams while I waited for him to get on one time.) This type of ‘fun’ isn’t amusing, or at least SHOULDN’T BE to grown ups.

It’s the type of stuff little children would do. But it’s like a lot of these Twitch streamers never had a person in their life to teach them ‘right’ from ‘wrong’, so they just do whatever amuses them at the moment…usually for clicks, and hopefully for money to be showered on them.

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KoboldWhite

The cynic in me says that the only thing that could instigate some change is some shocking tragedy – which I hope doesn’t actually happen, because the ultra-cynic in me says that Twitch wouldn’t react even to that.

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wjowski

A well organized boycott can force businesses to sit up and take notice…unfortunately any kind of organization beyond one-and-done retweets and hashtags is beyond most social media ‘activists’.

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Jim Bergevin Jr

The problem with this, like Amy other boycott in a similar vein, is that you have a handful of random people trying to herd cats.

It would have been much more successful had their actually been planning and organizing, including getting big names and celebrities on board, months before the planned date. A bunch of people tweeting out a hashing a couple of weeks beforehand does little to nothing.

It’s the difference between Hands Across America, and a bunch of random people in different states standing on a street corner with a bullhorn.

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Utakata

#ADayOffTwitch may help raise awareness, but it will need to go far beyond that if wants to hit that ball home, IMO.

Great write up though!

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Rndomuser

The whole thing was pretty useless. EACH and EVERY streamer (from the ones with 20k viewers to the ones with 10 viewers) I care to follow – they continued streaming and I didn’t notice significant decrease of viewers on their channels (yes, yes, the particular streamer YOU might be following did participate in it, but it’s still meaningless if most others did not support it). And slight drop of active viewers in Twitch stats page – it wasn’t significant enough for Twitch to take it seriously and it was only a temporary thing. The only way to encourage Twitch to take any action is to switch to a different platform. YouTube provides this option already. It’s not as good as Twitch in terms of discoverability – it’s hard to find streamers on desktop and on mobile app if you’re not already following that person, but it’s still an option and it’s the only thing that will encourage Twitch to take action in meaningful way. Sadly most streamers are either too lazy to do this or too greedy to do this, including the streamers who supported this boycott by not streaming for a day and by retweeting it but then returning back to streaming on Twitch after this boycott.

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Castagere Shaikura

None of these platforms have ever been good for the non-white community. I wish people of color would invest in their own platforms instead.

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Bruno Brito

I don’t think they have enough resources or power to inject investiment in these platforms. It’s quite sad, really.

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Hikari Kenzaki

I do not agree that giving Amazon more tracking data and ad revenue is in any way helpful for a cause.

The boycott WAS effective. Every creator I follow was offline save for one who had a sponsored stream he couldn’t cancel. And it got the attention of several Twitch Ambassadors and Twitch itself.

This was better than a gas boycott, for example, because it didn’t hurt the creators themselves without their consent, and (for the most part) people were understanding if they couldn’t participate for financial/contractual reasons.

If it will end up causing actual change, we’ll have to wait and see, but we made the discussions more pressing.

PlasmaJohn
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PlasmaJohn

There was supposed to be a boycott?

Seriously I’m not trying to be flip here but this is the first I’ve heard of it. It’s not a service I use but I’m on enough adjacent platforms that I’d think I would have heard something. As much as I’m loathe to blame marketing there was definitely a failure to socialize the effort.

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cursedseishi

There was yeah, though it isn’t terribly surprising that casual audiences or those not in or are aware of or around those particular circles affected by the recent ‘hate raids’ might not have known about it. The games media in general didn’t really talk much about it until the day of the boycott at the earliest (from what I’ve seen and recall) either.

Like Chris said though, the biggest issue and roadblock it had for it was a lack of organization. I’d have to look it up, but largely speaking those participating in the boycott mostly were those in the groups being targeted. But like it’s also argued here–and much like the black square movement on twitter/instagram–not everyone would even be in agreement with the movement.

Yes, Twitch did see a(n apparently) noticeable dip and year low so far. But these hate raids are done to harass and push people off the platform. So much like how some felt that ‘going dark’ on Instagram/Twitter was a disservice and instead should have been spent talking about the racial+police issues around it last year? There’s inevitably going to be Trans/Minority creators who’d rather stay on Twitch and talk about these issues rather than going silent.

A more organized and concerted effort would inevitably draw more eyes sooner to it. Hell, creating a standardized video/thumbnail that the participating streamers could put up and have playing instead of streaming might work better. And then planning to do it regularly (first of the month, first day of the week, or the like) til issues are resolved.