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Good messages create conversation, and good conversations are a source of knowledge for the whole community.

Knowing that, why isn't any of the big social platforms allowing for live chat message replies on Video Live Streams? (I'm talking here at YouTube / YouTube Gaming / Twitch / Facebook)

They allow replies after the Live Chat has ended in form of comments (Top Comments on Facebook / Comments on YouTube)

What's the logic behind not allowing replies on chats during the live videos? And how can one go in surfacing good comments from Video Live Chats?

  • Hold on, you're asking why twitch and youtube dont have live chats. Those platforms have live chats, and if the stream has > 500 viewers the chat is practically nonsense. – Shadetheartist Oct 24 '17 at 21:12
  • All of them have live chat, I'm asking why the differences between UX/UI choices – Eek Oct 25 '17 at 11:48
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Short answer: replies and voting in live chats is pointless due to the speed of delivery and amount of information that is generated there.

There are two basic yet very important issues when it comes to live chat during streams:


What is a good and what is bad comment?

I have to say that most of the messages you get in a live chat in a stream are garbage. In order to outline good messages first you need to specify what good actually means. And this is the first and biggest problem - how do you define something that in its nature is subjective?

In a live chat with video there are usually three big parties - the streamer (can be multiple), the moderator (can be multiple) and the audience:

  • streamer - provides the content. The role is obvious - create the content, present it and interact with the audience
  • moderator - the man in the middle. Some think this role is optional but looking around you can see that it's actually become quite mandatory. If present, this is where the bad comments are filtered out. If not present, this task is done by the streamer. However not having an explicit moderator will create a huge burden on the streamer who not only has to provide the content but also take care of all the garbage that is posted in the chat. Moderators need to be invisible
  • audience - unless you have just a few people in your audience the amount of comments per second that can be generated is impossible to handle even by multiple moderators. The role here is obvious too - consume the content and interact with the streamer. Sometimes audience can also become a moderator.

A good comment can be viewed by 2 out of the 3 parties as bad (obviously 3 out of 3 is best case scenario but it will probably happen 0.0001% of the duration of the whole stream). If you have a voting system in place what does a thumbs up or thumbs down mean here? Does it reflect the opinion of the audience, the moderator and/or the streamer?

Example: a streamer shows how to place an SMD resistor on a PCB. A problem arises from the fact that it's a female streamer. Some people from the audience won't care about the sex of the streamer. Others will. So rude comments such as "No need for this. Show us your ..." are to be expected. Streamer- and moderator-wise such comments fall into the bad category. But what about the audience - the actual consumer of the content? Should you neglect those who want to see the mounting of the resistor on the PCB or perhaps those who want to see some...flesh?

Naturally basic filters can take care of cursing and insulting but anything beside that is something that only people are currently able to do. And they still suck at it because - as I've written above - the very definition of good and bad is subjective. So moving a chat message to the top of the history since it got voted up the most doesn't actually mean that all parties involved actually think it's a good one.


Even if we know what good is what about the amount of messages and their speed of delivery?

Let's say you have created an elaborate statistical model which defines your perfect audience and anything that doesn't fit is censored in some way (for example message is not outlined as good and thus disappears along the way as the chat history increases).

As mentioned above a streamer has three tasks - content creation, content presentation and interacting with the audience. However these three tasks have very different priorities.

  • Content creation and presentation - top priority. Unless the format is Q&A the streamer needs to devote most of his/her attention on these two tasks.
  • Interaction with the audience - mid to low priority depending on the stream format. After all the streamer needs to concentrate on the creative and delivery part. If things go the other way, the streamer will be producing a different kind of content which probably is not what the audience is there for.

Even if we have a Q&A stream format the amount of messages (even only the "good" ones) is too big for the streamer to be able to handle. Speed of delivery is also insane. Even a small amount of people can generate a lot of messages. Just watch a live stream chat on YT, Twitch etc. - it's basically a non-stop bombardment, a waterfall of words and (if available) emoticons. How can any human being cope with this insane flow? You will often witness that even people from the audience can't do that. Should a viewer concentrate on the streamer and what he/she is doing or on the chat?

If we get a lot of good messages and outline those somehow we can still create a large enough amount of such messages that it will become difficult to go through. So what's the point?

A comment (like in a forum) is a much better way to ask for and respectively receive information on a certain topic. And even that form isn't without its problems. Things like grammar, way of expression etc. are not something many people view as important when it comes to chat since 1)they have an subconscious expectation that their message will "disappear" (due to the way chat works) and 2)time is of the essence. If you want important knowledge (good messages) to be preserved/outlined in a way, shouldn't their structure also be of good quality?


Adding an additional layer of interaction in such type of chat creates unnecessary overhead. The chances that someone goes through a chat history of over 100 000 messages and says "Hmm, message 458 133 seems like something worthy of remembering!" are slim to none. This is just the way people think.

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*This is not research-based answer, but my own opinion.

There are many different communication channels used for their own specific purpose. Chat is supposed to be informal communication between two or more people. Chat groups usually consist of many different people, with different interests, age groups and so on. Therefore it would be very tough to dwell on a certain topic to have a meaningful conversation... and it would lose the whole purpose of chatting. Live chats are always moving forward, changing topics constantly. Consider it as a small-talk.

In most cases, if you see a person you could benefit (gaining or sharing knowledge in this case) from, there are direct messages for that. Also, there are support groups and forums for almost any imaginable topic. This is where you can take your time to construct a decent message to share your knowledge and there are no constantly moving chat windows that distract you from composing your message.

  • I’m trying to understand the discrepancy of user experience between chatting on live videos on different large social platforms. The issue is that maybe in the bulk of all chat messages there are some interesting ones, but for example, YouTube doesn’t allow for upvoting of a chat message during a live video, and after the live video ended, the chat is deleted and comments are enabled. – Eek Oct 20 '17 at 15:14
  • On Facebook, you can like chat messages, and when the live is over, they are transformed to comments and sorted by Top Comments based on likes. Also, replies are now enabled (you can reply to a comment but not to a chat message), you can also change from Top Comments to Live and see comments appear as they appeared during the live. – Eek Oct 20 '17 at 15:14
  • On Twitch, chat is preserved (after the live), and if you replay the video, the chat is as it happened, and you can comment at that second in the video even though the video is over. – Eek Oct 20 '17 at 15:14
  • Why the discrepancy between them, and what’s the best way to surface good comments? As Facebook does? Apparently, they are the only one that do something in that direction… – Eek Oct 20 '17 at 15:14

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