Community Education Interviews

10 Rules of a Positive Community

Ended soon

  1. Your mods are an extension of you. Choose mods who are responsible, mature, and willing to uphold your ideals.
  2. Positivity is hollow without enforcement. There should be repercussions for repeated negative behavior. Positivity isn’t weakness. Just because you’re committed to a positive experience doesn’t mean you have to be a walkover. You can vigorously defend your chat from those who would disrupt it.
  3. Don’t make all your main chatters moderators. 1-2 active, trained moderators is enough to last you well into the hundreds of chatters. Too many mods is as bad as not enough.
  4. Starting positive is easier than fixing it later. Many starting streamers don’t want to ban anyone because they feel like they need each chatter/subscriber. This is a mistake. Those watching on will be attracted/repelled by how you handle yourself. If you manage to scale the channel up, trying to correct a year down the road will cause a major divide in your audience.
  5. Establish rules and stick to them. “Don’t be a jerk” may sound like a great rule, but it leaves all enforcement decisions up to personal taste and also relies on the chatters to have common sense. More descriptive rules, such as.. “No links without approval. PG-13 chat.” may get more across to potential chatters.
  6. A healthy, positive chat talks to each other. You want to foster a community that eventually will self-police (“bro, we’re not like that here”) and will show up in chat to talk to other community members as much as the streamer. Spark discussions that can let the chat have a friendly debate. Introduce chat members to each other. Act not just as the entertainer but also the welcoming host of your community.
  7. Brag on your community. Positive reinforcement of the good behavior works better than constantly blasting for bad behavior. Make memes about your community. Praise them on Twitter.
  8. Follow what you preach. If you make jokes on cast that you don’t allow in your chat, this undermines you. If you are strongly anti-harassment and you are seen harassing others on Twitter, this is going against your brand. You established your community but you are also, hopefully, a model citizen of the community you made.
  9. Communication. “But I talk to them every time I stream”. It’s more than that. Idle chatter isn’t communication. Directly communicate to your community your expectations, your vision, what positive and negative things you’re observing, and what they can expect from you.
  10. Shared Vision. If you and your community have successfully established trust and communication, open up for feedback after you share your vision for the channel. It’s possible some of the best ideas will come from trusted community members who may even pitch in to offer to help shoulder the burden of new ideas for the channel. This gives them equity in your community and now you are pulling together towards a common goal.

For better or worse, your chat becomes a reflection of you. If you don’t like the reflection shining back at you, you can change it. But you have to be committed to the new directions and sell the vision. Nothing happens overnight. But in the long run, it’ll be so worth it.

Till next time,


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1 Comment

  • As someone who once built and maintained a community of over 100k, I can’t stress how much I agree with the importance of establishing and enforcing a set of rules out of the gate are. I stress this to people any time they ask about it. I made the mistake of having the philosophy that I would not censor people whatsoever, unless it was spam or illegal content. Adults can treat each other like adults and if someone says something someone else doesn’t like, that person can just deal with it – because it’s simply words.

    That does not scale very well. It’s very difficult to communicate online without being taken out of context or the wrong perception being presented. And for each person that you add to a community, you are multiplying the number of possible interconnections and interactions. Statistically, there will always be some amount of interactions that go poorly and people that don’t get along. Once you reach a tipping point, the only way to facilitate this in a tolerable and non-destructive way is to have a set of rules that are enforced.

    For example, it’s not that people couldn’t have decent calm rational discussions about religion, politics, and sports. But it is going to be nearly impossible for dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people to simultaneously engage in such topics in real time via text-based chat. And since it’s rarely relevant to these communities – why allow such potentially caustic situations?

    I definitely also agree on the “mature” moderators bit. I witnessed the mods of a community that prides itself on being “positive” once simultaneously raid their own streamer, by spamming the message “I’M BREEDING AIDS!”. Inappropriate, offensive, very off-putting. And of course, no negative repercussions, because they were the mods.

    The same community had such conflicting implementation of rules, too. There were no posted rules, but the statement repeatedly made was to just be nice to each other. Actual words weren’t going to be censored (so you could swear, for example), as long as they weren’t used to attack another person. You could say “What the F happened?” but not “F you”. But then the bot began to time people out for swearing under all conditions. And then even things that weren’t quite swearing. You had many people being timed out every night without really being sure why (and nobody else being sure why, either).

    I’m not sure about the “eventually be able to police themselves” point, though. I’ve seen some communities like Cohh’s, where this is not only done and encouraged, but is where they eventually determine who to draw future moderators from. They pull them from people who have demonstrated the ability to help enforce and spread the community’s policies to other chatters.

    On the other hand, I’ve experienced first-hand a “positive” community where doing so was chastised. Only moderators were to be concerned with what people say or do in chat, no matter what.

    I think that is hard to avoid, though. The reason communities start to police themselves, is because the people *in* your community *care* about your community and their experience. They’re not chiding someone for spoilers or being creepy or saying something awful to score magic points with the streamer or be a totally-rad-internet-cop. They’re almost certainly doing it because they want the chat and community they’re part of to stay great.

    Also, I wish we had another word to describe communities than “positive”. When I see someone tout themselves and their community as “positivity”, I immediately think “shallow”. I think about depressed people trying to out-happy each other on social media and Twitch with GIF’s emblazoned with frivolous platitudes, because they think they have to come across as happy and super optimistic and life is just full of kitties and rainbows. I think “nice” or “kind” is a more important descriptor. I’d rather be known for having a nice and kind community than a “positive” one. I know a lot of positive people who are not nice or kind.