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After a big gaming streamer’s suspension, Twitch community demands answers (update)

Streamers and viewers want more transparency from the platform

Trainwreckz YouTube

Two Twitch streamers came into the spotlight this weekend after Twitch suspended their accounts, reigniting questions about how the company doles out punishment.

Trainwrecks, a streamer on Twitch known for playing a number of games, including World of Warcraft, received a five-day suspension following a hateful rant against a community of female streamers on the platform. In the video, Trainwrecks calls out a group of female streamers whom he feels have taken over Twitch, referring to them with pejoratives like “sluts” and accusing them of stealing other streamers’ subscribers.

A Twitch representative told Polygon that the company doesn’t comment on terms of service violations when asked for more details on the terms of Trainwrecks’ suspension. Trainwrecks account was still down at the time of this writing.

Trainwrecks later addressed the situation on Twitter, where he apologized for his rant against women, calling his actions inexcusable.

I’d like to apologize to all those that were negatively affected by my actions, in no way was this content meant to demean, bash, or hate on the entirety of the female community. There are amazing female streamers that provide great content, it was not my intention to discredit them all in any way, and I understand that this content did exactly that, and I am embarrassed.

With all of this being said, I want to reiterate that none of this justifies, or excuses my behavior and actions. I take full responsibility, and I want to apologize to Twitch, Twitch Staff, and most of all to those that I have offended including the entire community.

But after his apology, Trainwrecks retweeted multiple people calling out “bikini streamers” (women whose popularity is based around their looks), before reiterating his misogynistic comments that he made in the video. A couple of days later, another streamer, Nyakkj, was caught streaming sexually explicit content and received a 24-hour suspension.

Both Trainwrecks’ and Nyakkj’s suspensions have led to a larger conversation in the Twitch community over how the service handles offensive streams. Why does one streamer get a 24-hour ban when another may be suspended for five or 30 days? What about personalities, like IRL streamer IcePoseidon, who receive indefinite bans? (Polygon reached out to Twitch for further explanation on how suspension lengths are decided for streamers; a representative declined to comment.)

The issue for the community comes down to transparency. Twitch doesn’t answer direct questions about terms of service violations, and the terms of service page doesn’t offer much more information, either.

“Most typical violations will lead to a first or second suspension that lasts 24 hours, and a third suspension enacts an indefinite suspension on the account,” the terms of service page reads. “After the 24-hour period is complete, you will be able to access our site. Some severe violations may result in an indefinite suspension, regardless of a lack of previous suspensions.”

In the case of Trainwrecks, this wasn’t the first time that he’d been suspended. The streamer told multiple people on Twitter that over his three years at Twitch, he had been suspended once before, about a year-and-a-half ago. This was Nyakkj’s first suspension, however. The number of violations may have played a part in Twitch’s decision process, but without comment from the company, it’s impossible to say for certain.

Streamers’ confusion over suspensions and bans doesn’t stop at how long they last. One of the most popular terms that has come up in conversation is “non-endemic content,” which refers to content that “doesn’t belong” on Twitch. There are four categories for non-endemic content, but non-gaming is the biggest. Here’s what that constitutes, according to Twitch:

Non-Gaming: You may not stream non-gaming content as the focus of a stream. Please keep your broadcast content related to a gaming theme. While not all of your stream must be directly gaming, we do not allow extended periods of non-gaming content to be broadcast on Twitch.

Sexually explicit content, which Nyakkj’s video falls under, is also barred.

“Nudity and other forms of sexually explicit material is prohibited,” according to the company. “Violations of these types can end in indefinite suspension.”

Numerous streamers have complained of not understanding why certain personalities received longer suspensions — let alone outright bans — while others were left with a warning. Twitch has been criticized in the past for not being transparent with the community when making big changes, including to its terms of service, but the recent events sparked the debate once more over how streamers are supposed to operate.

Twitch’s lead community manager has addressed these complaints on Twitter, pointing out that corrective action doesn’t always come in the form of a ban or suspension. The community manager went on to say that, as much as Twitch would like to further discuss with the community the reasoning behind its actions, the company can’t comment on why certain actions are taken.

Suspension length is just the tip of the iceberg for the Twitch community’s issues with the platform. Many women who stream on Twitch fear harassment. Those who stream games full time take issue with the number of non-gaming, “IRL” streamers that also exist on the site. Toxicity among the community is rampant on Twitch, and as streamers get more hostile in their videos, Twitch doles out more suspensions.

As for an all-out, permanent ban? A representative declined to tell Polygon just what someone would have to do to receive a lifetime ban from the platform. Upon further request for comment, a Twitch representative pointed to the site’s community guidelines page.

Update: A Twitch representative told Polygon that changes are being made to the non-endemic section of the guidelines, which will remove the non-gaming portion. The update is currently being worked on, Twitch said.

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