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  1. The digital patronage model provides content creators the opportunity to receive sustained financial support directly from their fans. Patreon is a popular digital patronage platform that represents a prime site for the study of creators’ relational labor with their fans. Through in-depth interviews with 21 Patreon creators, this study investigated different types of creator–patron relationships and the perceived benefits and challenges of carrying out relational labor. We found that creators construct a variety of relationships with patrons, ranging from purely transactional to intimately familial. Creators benefit from relational labor in that it encourages patrons to treat the creator as a person rather than a product, resulting in both financial and emotional support. However, creators face difficulties in maintaining appropriate relational boundaries with patrons, some of whom control a substantial part of a creator’s income.
  2. Live streaming is a form of interactive media that potentially makes streamers more vulnerable to harassment due to the unique attributes of the technology that facilitates enhanced information sharing via video and audio. In this study, we document the harassment experiences of 25 live streamers on Twitch from underrepresented groups including women and/or LGBTQ streamers and investigate how they handle and prevent adversity. In particular, live streaming enables streamers to self-moderate their communities, so we delve into the methods of how they manage their communities from both a social and technical perspective. We found that technology can cover the basics for handling negativity, but much emotional and relational work is invested in moderation, community maintenance, and self-care.
  3. Live streaming is a unique form of media that creates a direct line of interaction between streamers and viewers. While previous research has explored the social motivations of those who stream and watch streams in the gaming community, there is a lack of research that investigates intimate self-disclosure in this context, such as discussing sensitive topics like mental health on platforms such as Twitch.tv. This study aims to explore discussions about mental health in gaming live streams to better understand how people perceive discussions of mental health in this new media context. The context of live streaming is particularly interesting as it facilitates social interactions that are masspersonal in nature: the streamer broadcasts to a larger, mostly unknown audience, but can also interact in a personal way with viewers. In this study, we interviewed Twitch viewers about the streamers they view, how and to what extent they discuss mental health on their channels in relation to gaming, how other viewers reacted to these discussions, and what they think about live streams, gaming-focused or otherwise, as a medium for mental health discussions. Through these interviews, our team was able to establish a baseline of user perception of mental health in gamingmore »communities on Twitch that extends our understanding of how social media and live streaming can be used for mental health conversations. Our first research question unraveled that mental health discussions happen in a variety of ways on Twitch, including during gaming streams, Just Chatting talks, and through the stream chat. Our second research question showed that streamers handle mental health conversations on their channels in a variety of ways. These depend on how they have built their channel, which subsequently impacts how viewers perceive mental health. Lastly, we learned that viewers’ reactions to mental health discussions depend on their motivations for watching the stream such as learning about the game, being entertained, and more. We found that more discussions about mental health on Twitch led to some viewers being more cautious when talking about mental health to show understanding.« less
  4. Content moderation is a critical service performed by a variety of people on social media, protecting users from offensive or harmful content by reviewing and removing either the content or the perpetrator. These moderators fall into one of two categories: employees or volunteers. Prior research has suggested that there are differences in the effectiveness of these two types of moderators, with the more transparent user-based moderation being useful for educating users. However, direct comparisons between commercially-moderated and user-moderated platforms are rare, and apart from the difference in transparency, we still know little about what other disparities in user experience these two moderator types may create. To explore this, we conducted cross-platform surveys of over 900 users of commercially-moderated (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube) and user-moderated (Reddit and Twitch) social media platforms. Our results indicated that although user-moderated platforms did seem to be more transparent than commercially-moderated ones, this did not lead to user-moderated platforms being perceived as less toxic. In addition, commercially-moderated platform users want companies to take more responsibility for content moderation than they currently do, while user-moderated platform users want designated moderators and those who post on the site to take more responsibility. Across platforms, users seem tomore »feel powerless and want to be taken care of when it comes to content moderation as opposed to engaging themselves.« less
  5. As more viewers become interested in watching authentic personalities as opposed to artificial, crafted performances, Twitch streamers have begun to discuss personal issues such as mental health to form a closer bond with their community. This paper seeks to further explore how a live streamer's choice in game affects their viewers' perception of their stream's content. We interviewed 24 Twitch viewers and found that the pace of the game a streamer chooses to stream is a key factor in what viewers expect to see during the stream. These expectations at least partially determine whether viewers want to hear conversations about mental health.
  6. Digital patronage refers to the act of singular and sustained financial support to a content creator as a form of appreciation for their work and occurs within unique sociotechnical systems that support financial exchange in addition to creative expression. In this paper, we present a competitive analysis of five patronage platforms-- Twitch.tv, YouTube, Patreon, Facebook, and OnlyFans. We describe the financial ecosystems of the five platforms and the perk systems embedded in each of the systems that incentivizes patrons to give support. Digital patronage represents an emerging form of sociotechnical practice that offers an alternative to advertisement-driven business models.
  7. The digital presentation of gender and sexuality has been a long-standing concern in HCI and CSCW. There is also a growing interest in exploring more nuanced presentations of identity afforded in emerging online social spaces that have not been thoroughly studied. In this paper, we endeavor to contribute towards this research agenda in yet another new media context – live streaming – by analyzing female and LGBTQ streamers’ practices to present and manage their gender identity and sexual identity. Our findings highlight streamers’ gender representation and sexual representation as a demonstration of controlling their own bodies, an awareness of the audiences and the resistance to their expectations, and an exhibition of the affordances and power structure of the specific online social space. We extend existing studies on live streaming by exploring the understudied gender identity and sexual identity aspect of the streaming practices. We also highlight the less audience/performance-oriented but more self-driven aspect of digital representations and the importance of affirmation and empowerment in this process.We add nuance to the existing HCI/CSCWstudies on gender and sexuality by investigating a highly dynamic, interactive, and multilayered self-presentation mechanism emerging in live streaming and point to the need for potential new lenses tomore »analyze technology-supported identity construction.« less
  8. Live streaming is a unique medium that merges different layers of communication by facilitating individual, group, and mass communication simultaneously. Streamers who broadcast themselves on live streaming platforms such as Twitch are their own media entity and have the challenge of having to manage interactions with many different types of online audiences beyond the translucent platform interfaces. Through qualitative interviews with 25 Twitch streamers, in this paper we share streamers’ practices of discovering audience composition, categorizing audience groups, and developing appropriate mechanisms to interact with them despite geographical, technological, and temporal limitations. We discuss streamers’ appropriation of real-time signals provided by these platforms as sources of information, and their dependence on both technology and voluntary human labor to scale their media entity. We conclude with design recommendations for streaming platforms to provide streamer-centric tools for audience management, especially for knowledge discovery and growth management. .