Lurking is basically when users watch your stream but don't interact with it. There are a few reasons for them to do this, but usually, it's because they're shy, multi-tasking, or have multiple streams open with yours muted.
If you're a newbie streamer, you'd want your chat to be as interactive as possible. So, lurking is definitely something that you wouldn't want. I especially struggled with it when I first started out. However, I eventually got smart with it by having polls and asking my audience to answer questions on my chat.
Along with what exactly lurking means, I also took a look at additional information, like how you can get Twitch lurkers to talk on your chat, and what Twitch's official stance on lurking is.
Lurking is when viewers watch the stream but don't chat or interact. It isn't just a Twitch term, as it's used on a bunch of different sites whenever someone doesn't interact whatsoever.
Twitch doesn't have any rules against users lurking, but they do take action against anyone that uses bots to lurk (view bots). This isn't surprising, as the bots add fake views to the stream, which ultimately dupes advertisers.
So, why do people not talk on streams? One of the reasons that I regularly am guilty of is using the Twitch streamer as background noise while I work on other tasks. On that same note, the lurker might really like the streamer and have tuned into them to only add to their viewcount (and have the browser tab muted).
Of course, some viewers might just be shy. Unless you push them, they'll keep ignoring the chat.
There are bots that your audience can use to tell everyone that they're there and lurking. I think these third-party tools are great for anyone who's shy and don't want to talk. From my experience, Nightbots and Streamlabs are 2 of the best choices out there.
To use these bots, a lurker has to send a designated lurk command. This will prompt a custom response to the chat telling everyone that they're silently watching. You'll have to set these custom Twitch lurk messages yourself. A few examples that you can use include:
Here's how you use Nightbot:
Now whenever a Twitch lurker types in the designated lurk command, the custom message that you set will pop up.
Here's how you use StreamElements:
Whenever a user wants you to know that they're not actively watching the stream, they have to type the StreamElements command for the message that you made to send.
Streamers can't really tell whether a user is lurking for sure, unless they check their chat history.
Here's how you can do that:
If you don't have a specific user in mind, you can go through your stream's viewers to see anyone who might be lurking, and then check their chat history to see if they've been silently watching.
Here's how you can check your view count list:
I'd recommend asking your viewers to reply yes or no to questions. If they're paying attention, this should tempt them to send their answer on the chat, especially if the question you asked was important.
On that same note, you can create polls for them to vote on. Although this won't get them to talk, they'll be forced to be more present, which would help if they're just using your stream as background noise.
Keep in mind that not all streamers can add chat polls. You'll first need to be a Twitch affiliate or partner. You probably already know what an affiliate is, but it's basically when you have enough channel viewers that you're able to monetize your content.
Here's how you can create a Twitch chat poll:
I don't think Twitch streamers should call out lurkers. Plainly speaking, it's rude and is just not Twitch etiquette. I actually know a couple of lurkers who have left streams because they've been called out for not interacting before. So, it's potentially a huge mistake.
As I said, you won't get in trouble for lurking, but you will get banned for viewbots. Twitch's whole reasoning behind this is that they inflate viewership.
You can't just end up with viewbots on your channel. Someone has to pay for them to show up on your Twitch community. Most likely, it's one of your active viewers behind this. Although you won't get in trouble for this, you might end up ruining your reputation, as anyone who stumbles on your channel might realize that there are viewbots and think that you bought them.
Now, how do you know if you're dealing with bots? You'll have to go through your lurkers count for anyone who looks suspicious, and then make an educated guess. If you're sure someone is a bot and not a real person, you can ban them. Here's how you do this:
Twitch defined lurking as watching a stream but not interacting with the chat whatsoever. There are a couple of different reasons why viewers lurk. But usually, it's because they're busy with something else while having the stream running in the background.
Although Twitch doesn't have any issues with users lurking, they do take action against anyone that users viewbots. These bots bloat your viewer count, which essentially dupes advertisers.
Hopefully, you found everything that was discussed useful.