Twitch Chat: 5 Things That Confuse Streaming Newbies

A Twitch channel's chat can be confusing but it doesn't have to be

Man in glasses being confused with a computer
Robert Daly / Caiaimage

Twitch chat is one of the streaming service's most popular features. It allows for communication between the streamer and viewers and is often integral in building a community around a single Twitch channel.

Despite being so prominent, Twitch's numerous chats can be rather intimidating due to the number of hidden features and specific lingo used by their power users. Here's seven things about Twitch chat that everyone should know before diving in.

You Don't Use Your Microphone in Twitch Chat

A common misperception about Twitch chat is that it's a form of verbal communication. This misunderstanding comes from the fact that most Twitch streamers wear headsets during their streams which they use to have conversations with other people they're playing with. This is called voice chat or game chat while Twitch chat refers solely to the text-based chatroom on the channel's main page and in the numerous Twitch apps.

Twitch Whispers and DMs are Different

Twitch has two separate ways to privately communicate with other users via text and new users often get them confused or are completely unaware that more than one method exists.

  • DMs (Direct Messages) are the traditional private messaging feature that most people will recognize from other services such as Facebook and Twitter. DMs can be accessed by logging into the Twitch website, clicking on the drop-down menu in the top-right corner, and selecting Messages. From this page, Twitch users can compose new messages to other users and also read ones they've received. DMs are often used to send important information such as a private phone number or mailing address.
  • Whispers are a way to chat with someone in any channel's public Twitch chat but in a way that prevents other users from seeing your private conversation. To begin a whisper, simply type /w into a chat followed by a Twitch username. Only this user will see your message in the chat. Whispers can be useful for when you're watching a stream and want to ask other users something private quickly.

Twitch Emoji Are Weird (but They Have History)

In addition to the usual emoji (emoticons) that most internet users would be familiar with such as the generic happy face and wink icons, Twitch chat also uses special emoji called emotes that are specially made by Twitch staff and Twitch affiliates and partners.

These emotes can be activated by typing their name into the chat and they feature actual photographs of streamers or artwork created by artists. Emotes often carry with them a special meaning associated with an individual or a reference to a joke. Here are two of the emotes you'll see the most in Twitch chat.

  • Kappa: Easily the most-used emote on Twitch, Kappa looks like an image of Bill Pullman's head but it's actually a photo of a former Twitch employee. This image and word have come to represent trolling (having fun, playing a joke) on Twitch and is unrelated to the mythological Japanese creature of the same name.
  • PJSalt: This emote is literally just an image of a pack of salt and is a reference to the phrase "salty" which means "sore loser" or "upset" in the gaming community.

Some Twitch Chat Commands Activate Special Features

There's actually a lot of hidden extra functionality in Twitch chats that can be activated by typing in a specific word or string of characters. Here are some of the more useful chat commands worth experimenting with.

  • /host: To begin hosting a channel (broadcasting it to your own followers), simply visit the channel you wish to host and type this command into its Twitch chat.
  • /mods: Type this command into the chat to display all of that channel's moderators. This can be useful if you need to report someone.
  • /ignore: Using this command will let you mute another user in the chat. Simply type /ignore followed by their username. For example /ignore Mario would mute a Twitch user with the username, Mario.
  • /unignore: If you want to unmute a muted user, use this command followed by their username.

Twitch Chats are Open 24/7

A Twitch streamer doesn't have to be live for their chatroom to work. In fact, anyone can join a Twitch chat at any time of day and begin communicating with anyone else who happens to be around. This can be particularly useful when waiting for a streamer to go live on a popular channel as it allows for viewers to get to know one another before the chat is flooded with other users.