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Tyler Smith

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August 14, 2021

What does it mean to Lurk on Twitch?

Lurking on Twitch is a common practice by many viewers. But what does it mean? And is it ok to do it? We'll answer this and more!

Screenshot of Dictionary definition of the word "lurk"

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Sometimes viewers go into a Twitch channel hoping to not interact, but purely have the channel up to watch as they do other tasks. Maybe they’re surfing the internet and want some background noise or just want something on the screen while they do other tasks. Twitch viewers who watch or leave streams up without interacting have a name. They’re called lurkers.

What is Lurking on Twitch? Lurking on twitch means to be in a twitch channel, but without interacting or chatting. Lurkers passively watch or sit in a twitch channel without chatting or engaging with the streamer or other viewers. 

There’s many reasons why someone would want to lurk. Personally I lurk in channels while working throughout the day. I have work to do, but I like to pull up a stream on my second monitor to listen in and occasionally watch as I complete the day’s tasks.

Many people assume that viewers who aren’t talking are view bots, but this isn’t always the case. The majority of twitch viewers could be classified as lurkers, because they want to enjoy the channel without having to interact with the channel. While there are bots that crawl through channels you should never assume that a viewer who isn’t talking is a bot.

What is the !lurk command?

The !lurk command is a command that the streamer has created in their channel that allows viewers to announce that they are present in the stream, but lurking. Usually this command prompts a message in the channel such as “John is now lurking in the shadows!”

Viewers often use the lurk command to show the streamer that they are there to support them, but unable (or don’t want) to type messages in chat.

How to make a lurk command for Twitch

Creating the lurk command is very easy to do, but will depend on the chatbot that you use for your channel. Chances are that you utilize one of these popular chatbots.

1) StreamLabs

To make a lurk command with StreamLabs bot type into chat:

!addcommand !lurk *insert lurk message*

2) StreamElements

To make a lurk command with StreamElements bot type into chat:

!addcommand !lurk *insert lurk message*

3) NightBot

To make a lurk command with Nightbot type into chat:

!addcommand !lurk *insert lurk message*

The lurk message can be customized to whatever you want to be displayed in chat when someone uses the !lurk command.

Examples of Twitch Lurk Messages

Here are a few examples of messages you could use for your !Lurk message:

As you can see, it’s up to you to get creative with the lurk message and personalize it to your stream’s brand. Of course, you don’t have to have a !lurk message, but they’re fun to have.

Where did the Twitch jargon lurk come from?

The word “lurk” was first used in the 14th century, but has been adopted into the lexicon of online communities. There isn’t any evidence to see when online communities first started using it, but the meaning is clear. It’s someone who observes, but chooses to not participate.

How to Lurk on Twitch?

Lurking on Twitch is very simple to do. Join the channel that you’d like to lurk in, and don’t do anything! Leave the stream running, but at no point chat with over viewers or the streamer. If you’d like you can even type out the !lurk command if you’d like everyone to know that you’re there lurking in the shadows.

Why do People Lurk in Streams?

There’s a variety of reasons why someone would choose to lurk in streams. Like mentioned earlier the viewer may be doing other tasks, and not want to engage with the streamer, but just consume the content.

Some viewers don’t like talking with streamers or other viewers, but prefer to watch the stream without ever chatting. These longtime lurkers may have favorite streamers that they’ve been watching for years, but never talked with.

Another reason why some people lurk is that they want to support their favorite streamer with a view (to boost streamer’s statistics), but don’t have time to actually watch the stream. Many streaming communities may hop into an individual’s stream to help boost their average view count, but not actually interact with the stream itself.

Keep in mind if you’re trying to support a streamer by lurking in the channel your view will only count if you’re watching two or less streamers. You can’t open up 30 streams and have all of them recognize you as a viewer number.

In addition, you cannot naturally mute the stream (or mute the site) or your viewer number won’t count. If you use Firefox you can mute the tab and still have your view count. If you watch streams through Google Chrome you’ll need to download a mute tab extension to have the stream muted, but your view still count. This one is highly recommended. https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/tab-muter/bnclejfcblondkjliiblkojdeloomadd?hl=en

Is Lurking on Twitch Legal?

If you’re watching a channel on twitch you’re not legally bound to interact with the channel. Feel free to hang out with no pressure to chat, interact with predictions and polls, or talk with the streamer. Lurking is not breaking Twitch’s terms of service.

The only reason you would be breaking Twitch TOS with lurking is if you’re using bots to lurk in channels. Utilizing bots in your or other channels to inflate viewership is completely against Twitch’s rules and you will be punished.

It’s also a terrible way to grow a channel. Stick with the organic, natural methods to grow on Twitch over shortcuts!

How did a streamer know I lurk?

Were you lurking in a stream, and have the streamer say hello, when you never sent a message in chat? If you’re logged into a Twitch account, the streamer can easily see who is in their stream at any given moment. In fact - even other viewers can see who is in a stream’s chat.

users in chat on twitch

Streamers can see who is in their chat by going into the “Stream Manger” and by clicking the 3 dots on their chatbox and clicking “Users in Chat”

Users in Chat Icon on Twitch Channels

Viewers can see all of the other viewers in a chat by going to the top of the chat box and clicking on the people icon that when hovered says “Users in Chat”

As a streamer - should you mention lurkers?

The ONLY time it is OK for a streamer to mention a lurker is if the lurker typed in the !lurk command. Otherwise Twitch etiquette is that the streamer doesn’t mention, call out, or try to engage the lurker.

Lurkers are lurking for a reason, and for the streamer to call them out (especially by name) is considered to be extremely rude. I have known some lurkers to leave and never come back to a channel after they’ve been called out by the streamer.

This also goes for bot commands that call out lurkers. While it might seem like a fun way to engage the lurker, it does more harm than good and should be avoided.

How to Turn Lurkers Into Interactive Chatters

Lurkers are streaming for a reason. They’re either introverted, shy, or too busy with another task to chat in a stream. With this said - there are techniques that a streamer can employ to move a lurker to the type of viewer who is not only engaged, but participating with the channel.

The first tip is to ask viewers a simple question and have them type “yes” or “no” in chat. For example, you can ask “Do you think mayonnaise is gross? Hit me with some No’s or Yes’s in the chat”. You’ll be surprised how many people answer including those who rarely chat. These type of questions give them an easy way to engage without feeling the pressure to write a longer message.

Another easy way to have lurkers engage with the chat is by creating a prediction or poll in your chat. This will allow them to vote or bet on scenario or question that you’ve proposed to the entire chat. While they might not chat, they’ll be actively present as they choose the answer/prediction.

In Conclusion

Lurkers will always be part of streaming, and they’re not a bad thing in the slightest. Some of your biggest fans may be lurkers, and to dissuade people from lurking in your channel would be a huge mistake.

The best scenario is for lurkers to transform into chatters over time, but that can happen over time as they feel more comfortable in their channel or perhaps have the time to engage in chat. I hope this article helped you understand lurking on Twitch!

If you’re looking for more content like this join the Streamer Growth School email. It’s chock full of news, advice, strategies, and tips to grow your channel in a healthy way. Don’t worry this isn’t a spam email that you’ll regret later on. I hand write each email and only send it out when I feel like it’s loaded with actual benefit to everyone on the list. You can join the mailing list here.

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