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What’s it like to moderate Twitch chat for Logan Paul?

The difficulty in stopping a troll army

Fortnite - dropping in Epic Games

Kanthes, a professional contract moderator and former Twitch employee, knew within five minutes of Logan Paul’s first Twitch stream it was going to be a stressful endeavor.

Paul is one of YouTube’s most notorious creators. He amassed worldwide criticism in January for uploading a video that featured the body of a man who committed suicide, leading to disciplinary action from YouTube — including the loss of YouTube Red projects and serious ad revenue. Paul returned to YouTube with his daily vlogs, but announced a couple of weeks ago he was looking to increase his streaming presence by joining Twitch to stream Fortnite.

The Twitch community reacted to the announcement immediately, divided over what Paul’s presence on the platform would do to the community. Kanthes, whose real name isn’t being disclosed for privacy reasons, told Polygon he knew Paul’s first stream was going to attract some of Twitch’s most notorious troll communities. Although he and his two affiliates thought they were prepared for the influx of traffic, it took some time to get the chat under control. Not even they could stop the first wave of obscene imagery — including emoticons made to look like male genitalia — from hitting the chat.

“We wanted to have control of the chat from the very beginning,” Kanthes said. “That first hour went just fine, really. We did a lot of fine tuning of the moderation bot that we use and figured out a lot of what the community was going to be like, but once the stream started — actually, about five minutes ahead of start — chat started getting more and more active. To the point where neither chat clients nor the moderation bot could actually keep up. It started lagging behind. So things that would have normally been filtered by the moderation bot, were getting through. That is when we started having the issues.”

Kanthes and his team tried a few different countermeasures: backup bots, using slow mode to try and reduce the speed of chat’s activity and even applying a special filter that blocks duplicate messages. Nothing helped. Implementing these countermeasures helped to an extent, but it didn’t solve the problem, according to Kanthes.

“Eventually we turned on the follower-only mode and set it to 30 minutes and that immediately solved any problems,” Kanthes said. “It allowed chat to get down to a manageable level of activity again, the bot could catch up, timeouts were being issued in the correct timeframe.”

Kanthes used to be a member of Twitch’s Admin program, which started off as a team of volunteer moderators that eventually grew into a team of employees that handle moderation. Kanthes left Twitch earlier this year to effectively go freelance, operating as a contract moderation expert, and was put in touch with Paul through Discord. When asked if moderating Paul’s chat was one of the more stressful situations because of the attention he gets from the Twitch community, Kanthes said it was certainly up there.

“I tend to measure the difficulty of an event depending on how stressful it is,” Kanthes said. “The most stressful one was Feminist Frequency. It was the hardest moderation job I’ve ever had to do so far. Logan Paul, it was pretty stressful, but it wasn’t the worst I had.”

During his stint at Twitch, Kanthes learned to moderate some of the platform’s biggest events: the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, Penny Arcade Expo, Nintendo events and, of course, Feminist Frequency streams. Kanthes said experience working on these events, and coming up with procedures to handle an influx of trolls, helped him prepare for Paul coming to Twitch.

“I have experience for three years of event moderation for some of the largest companies on Twitch,” Kanthes said. “That is what allows me to handle a situation like Logan Paul. I have the experience to know how to react to what chat does.”

There are other options that Paul is looking to explore as his streaming career continues on Twitch. Paul’s most aggressive tactic, and one that many streamers argue can potentially drive subscriber growth, is turning sub mode on for chat participants. This greatly decreases the number of people who can participate in chat, and it’s a frequently used tactic for when things get out of hand or overwhelmingly toxic.

Speedrunning for charity event Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ), for example, made the controversial move to make its chat subscriber-only as a way to prevent trolls from spamming the chat. A statement from the AGDQ team at the time specifically called out moderation measures as reasoning behind the decision, arguing that trying to moderate 150,000 viewers was extremely difficult.

Paul announced during his first stream that once he received his Twitch affiliate status, he was going to make his chat subscriber-only. It’s a decision that will help the moderation team, Kanthes said.

“The way I view subscriber-only mode is kind of as a nuclear option,” Kanthes said. “Sure, it works. It drastically reduces activity and, as such, it raises the initial hurdle for trolls to start being trolls. But it also has a strong impact on the regular user base. It’s going to hit people pretty hard. Nuclear option. It works but at a cost.”

Paul’s first stream capped at 200,000 concurrent viewers. He’s currently streaming everyday.