‘I HAVE A HOLE IN MY STOMACH!’ An open letter to #Twitch

Dearest Twitch:

bathingsuit2pieceSo you have a hole in your stomach. Let’s think about how you got that, shall we?

A few weeks ago, we got word that YouTube (Google by extension), wanted to buy you. The gaming community immediately took notice and split not so evenly with the majority of the community taking on a “meh, saw that coming…” approach and the vocal minority taking a “LOMFG you fucking sold out, KKTHXBAI!” trollish attitude.

As you can see by my blog entry on the matter, I was very much in your corner. I support your endeavor to grow and evolve and make a better service because that’s what the gaming community deserves. I even wrote a small guide on how to build an audience. While we never got word that your acquisition was final, pending, had fallen through, or well, anything at all…what we saw then was what we ended up seeing earlier today — the implementation of a policy that would affect a lot of users relatively quickly.

So your content filtering system which automatically detects copyrighted audio and mutes it for Video On Demand (VOD) content was something smarter broadcasters knew would be coming; especially if you were/are in line to be scooped up by YouTube which has a similar if not deeply annoying system. I think I should make this clear before continuing:

I FULLY SUPPORT YOUR SYSTEM AND THE REASONS FOR IMPLEMENTING IT.

I realize that you’ve grown far beyond your means and as such the evil eye of Sauron the recording companies had fixed their gaze upon the millions of streamers broadcasting copyrighted music. I further realize that you needed to protect yourself AND your users from the consequences of such a powerful gaze. As a still-yet small company with gamers who likely couldn’t afford the myriad of lawsuits they could have been faced with should they continue to freely make video content with copyrighted material, I understand your need to derive a system that would enforce people to THINK about the law and apply it to their content as they create it.

But, Twitch…what I don’t understand is:

HOW COULD YOU NOT WARN PEOPLE WHEN THIS SYSTEM WAS GOING TO BE IMPLEMENTED?

I understand the need for swiftness in this matter. But YOU KNEW this system needed to be implemented, probably even had internal mandatory deadlines (perhaps to stave off pending litigation threats?), but those are things that NEEDED TO BE COMMUNICATED TO YOUR USERS.

We use Twitch because it’s awesome, ok. I said it. It’s awesome. And believe it or not, some of us want to help YOU as much as you want to help US. We gamers…we’re a family. Sure there are trolls (what family doesn’t have them?) but the majority of us, we tend to help each other out. We’re capable of great things when we combine our efforts.

So how could you not trust us with telling us you were going to implement this system on a relatively quick timeline? Some users could have started making preparations and changes long ago. Some could have removed the content, cleaned it up, and replaced it so their channels and content wouldn’t be affected. The transition could have taken place with as little interruption as possible (though I can’t promise with little resistance — some people would still whine about it). I mean, it goes without saying that when your new system is implemented so quickly that even YOUR OWN content is flagged…

…something broke down terribly in the communications process. Face it, you let this state of existence perpetuate and allowed your users to get comfortable streaming and archiving content with copyrighted material. It’s an environment you harbored so you owed it to your users to allow them an opportunity to make changes when it became apparent this new policy was going to HAVE to be implemented.

To make matters worse, your vaguely written blog about the policy which didn’t warn people about the impending policy, but rather said “SURPRISE! IT’S LIVE, #SRRYBOUTIT!” left more questions unanswered. Couple this with your silence in the community to legitimate policy questions on social media channels makes for BAD juju in the way of community management, engagement and public relations. Scheduling AMAs and other community discussions not on the day you suddenly implement a controversial policy isn’t how you handle public communications, just, you know, FYI.

So Helen, if you want us to fix that hole in your stomach, you better speak up. This policy (while not exactly desireable to many) is manageable and in the end, is something that is needed. We honestly, in the bigger picture, will adapt and adjust because quite frankly a lot of us don’t care…but treating your community like a strung out Felicia, especially when people have serious questions about that system, is not on the options list.

Change your communications policies because clearly THAT is what needs more work. Otherwise YOU will be become the Felicia and WE the community will simply say…

byefelicia

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