What is Lurking on Twitch?

Want to know what lurking is on Twitch? We'll explain everything, including how to lurk as a viewer and how to convert lurkers to followers as a streamer...
What is Lurking on Twitch?

Lurking is commonly known on Twitch and other platforms, however, you might be wondering what is lurking on Twitch?

Lurking is passively watching a stream on Twitch without interacting with the chat or engaging with the streamer. It’s a common practice for most viewers, from people who watch multiple streams simultaneously, to people who use Twitch streams in the background whilst studying or working.

Lurking is considered a very common way for many viewers to enjoy Twitch streams, so much so that in October 2019, Twitch administrators defined lurking on a Twitter tweet as “viewers who are watching, but may not be chatting, have the stream or browser tab muted, or maybe watching a handful of streams at one time.”

Is lurking acceptable on Twitch?

Lurking is an acceptable way to view streams and there is no reason why Twitch would force users to actively engage with a streamer. Lurking is legal on Twitch, and if you have any doubt, you can always check out the Twitch terms of service guidelines that clearly define the difference between passive viewing (lurking) and artificial engagement practices. 

Over the years, Twitch has developed tools that remove or filter out fake and artificial engagement such as ‘view-botting’, which is the practice of inflating live view counts. In this regard, your view is counted whether you are lurking or actively engaging with a streamer via the chat, subscribing, or following the streamer’s channel.

Is lurking on multiple streams legal on Twitch?

Yes, under the Twitch terms of service, it’s totally fine to watch multiple streams at the same time, as long as you’re not actively attempting to generate artificial engagement by using bots or other methods. 

Do streamers like lurkers?

Most streamers won’t mind if you lurk on their stream, as your viewer count still helps them increase viewership and gain recognition within the Twitch platform. This in turn helps them gain sponsorship and goes a long way to indicate how much a streamer will get paid once they are operating a sponsored streaming channel. 

Many streamers would prefer people to passively enjoy their streams rather than being a nuisance in the chat if they use inappropriate language or behavior toward other viewers. Established streamers will have moderators whose role it is to keep the chat safe and respectful to all users, so being a pest on the chat just makes their job harder and will likely get a user banned from the channel. 

Twitch is first and foremost an entertainment platform committed to facilitating vibrant communities within its platform, so having fun and providing an enriching viewer experience is the primary concern for streamers, moderators, and the viewer (lurker or otherwise). 

Is lurking supporting the streamer?

Yes, as we mentioned, lurking is increasing their viewer count which goes a long way to improving their recognition on Twitch. Many lurk on Twitch as they don’t have the money to subscribe, or simply move between so many Twitch streams that subscribing to many channels isn’t feasible. In this case, lurking is a great option while still supporting a streamer. 

If you ever get bored of lurking and want to support your favorite streamer, you can always begin interacting with the stream chat, follow the streamer, or subscribe (aka “sub”) to the channel for a small monthly fee. Alternatively, you can ‘gift sub’ to another viewer in the chat, giving them a monthly subscription to the stream channel. 

All of these engagement methods are hugely rewarding and are a fantastic way to support your favorite streamer and engage with the lively and artistic Twitch community. 

Can Twitch streamers see lurkers?

Yes, Twitch streamers can see the names of lurkers by simply scrolling down the names of active viewers on the list. The accuracy of this feature does vary considerably, and some streamers have reported missing views or seeing an ‘active’ viewer who actually had left the stream already. 

How to lurk on Twitch as a viewer

OK, so we’ve now covered that it’s totally fine to lurk on Twitch streams and if you do it, you’re not alone. Here’s how to lurk on Twitch, and how to go next level and show a little love to your favorite Twitch streamer whilst lurking at the same time. 

Lurking on Twitch is as simple as tuning in to your favorite live Twitch stream and passively watching the stream. This is also the same if you mute the audio and watch only the video, or have the audio of a stream playing in the background while you work or study. 

Using the “!lurk” command on Twitch

If you want to let a streamer know you are there and lurking in the background, Twitch has the “!lurk” command, and by typing this into the chat, you’ll give the streamer a heads up that you’re there watching the stream live, but not actively engaging in the chat during the stream. Once a streamer has set up the “!lurk” command, the chatbot in Twitch will notify them.

One way to think of how the “!lurk” command works is like when you’re watching a theater production and you catch the actor’s eye momentarily, giving them a nod to show encouragement. It’s a great way to show the streamer you’re supporting their stream as nobody wants a totally silent chat room. 

Using the “!lurk” command is also used by many experienced or well-known viewers to notify others in the chat that they are watching and supporting the streamer, but won’t be available to chat for a period of time. 

Muting the browser tab

Another way that’s common for lurking is to mute the browser tab, and either passively watch a video or listen to the audio-only portion of a stream. This is a great way to enjoy a Twitch stream by lurking in the background whilst studying or working. Muting the browser tab instead of the stream itself will mean you count towards the viewer numbers, supporting your Twitch streamers.

How to create a “!lurk” command for Twitch streamers

For those that are actively streaming on Twitch, setting up a “!lurk” command is a great way to get a little more notification of who’s watching your streams. Here’s how to set up the “!lurk” command and how to create a custom message to appear that fits with your stream brand. 

Setting up a custom “!lurk” using Nightbot

Check out this list of the Best Nightbot commands to see if there are any other commands you might want to add at the same time.

  1. Log in to your Nightbot account (if you’re new to Nightbot, click on the ‘join channel’ button on the top right. 
  2. From the menu bar on the left, click Command > Custom
  3. Edit a command and name it “!lurk” in the popup box. 
  4. In the ‘Message’ section, write your custom message that will appear when someone types the “!lurk” command. Some good examples can be found here within the Twitch community support. 
  5. Keep the user level set to ‘Everybody’.
  6. Set the cooldown setting to around 10-30 seconds. This will prevent people from activating “!lurk” repeatedly, with the time limit setting the amount of delay between “!lurk” command attempts by the user. 
  7. Keep the ‘Alias’ setting empty.
  8. Click ‘OK’.
  9. To test it worked, go to your Twitch Stream and in the chat type “/mod nightbot”, then type “!lurk” and you’ll see your custom “!lurk” message appear in the chat. 

Setting up a custom “!lurk” using StreamElements

  1. Open your StreamElements dashboard.
  2. Scroll down in the left menu bar and find ‘Chat commands’.
  3. Click on the ‘variables’ tab and find the user variable “$user” and copy it.
  4. Click on the ‘Custom command’ tab and click ‘Add New Command’.
  5. In the ‘Command name’ field, add “!lurk”, and keep the ‘User Level’ field set to ‘Everyone’.
  6. In the ‘Response’ field, paste the code “$user” and insert your custom message after pastingit, then click ‘activate command’. 
  7. To test it worked, go to your channel and type “!lurk” into your chat and you should see your custom lurk message appear. 

Setting up a custom “!lurk” command using StreamLabs

  1. Open your StreamLabs account and dashboard.
  2. Click on ‘Commands’ on the left menu.
  3. Click on the ‘+’ symbol in the top right.
  4. In the ‘Command’ field, type “!lurk”, and in the ‘Enabled’ field, select ‘True’ to turn the command on.
  5. Keep ‘Permission’ setting to ‘Everyone’.
  6. Set the ‘User Cooldown’ to 5 minutes, this will mean that a user cannot repeatedly use the “!lurk” setting. 
  7. In the ‘Response’ field, enter your custom message followed by the code “$username”.
  8. Click the green ‘Submit’ button at the bottom.
  9. To test it worked, go to your channel and type “!lurk” into your chat, you should see your custom lurk message appear. 

Converting your lurkers to chatters

Converting your lurkers to chatters will take some patience and time. Setting up the “!lurk” command is a great first step to getting those lurkers to come out of the bushes and into the chatroom. 

The most important thing to consider is to always operate an open and engaging stream and be communicative with your audience. Ensure that viewers who enter the stream chat are greeted, either by using a good quality microphone to vocally acknowledge them mid-stream or by writing back to the streamer in the chat directly. 

Remember, no one wants to feel like they are ignored, so any small engagement should be recognized. 

Create polls and stimulate the chat room

Another great way to stimulate the chat room is by preparing some engaging content to discuss while you stream. This works particularly well by creating polls that promote viewers’ engagement over a poll-based decision, either of an in-game decision or even a real-life situation such as, “should I order Thai or Indian takeout tonight?” 

Converting lurkers to followers

Like anyone, lurkers will return and support engaging content they enjoy, and eventually may follow your channel. A great way to get people to subscribe or follow your channel is by communicating effectively with your audience alongside having great content that people will want to return to. 

A great way to get followers is to have a highly engaging alert when you get a new follower. You’ll want to create your own emotes and also add small catchy sound files to your follow alert so that it captivates lurkers and gets them following, or even better subscribing. 

You’ll also want to set up your chatbot to have regular calls to action, prompting new or returning lurkers to follow, subscribe, or comment in the stream chat. 


So now you know what lurking is on Twitch and as viewers, it’s a completely acceptable practice. In fact, you’ll actually be supporting streamers by adding to their view count.

For all those streamers out there, you have all the ins and outs of lurking and how to set up your Twitch stream to promote lurkers to generate that little bit more engagement. With some patience along with killer content, you’ll have a thriving twitch community all of your own in no time!