Before presenting our new requirements, we will first explain our rationale. TL.net is an important source for all things Starcraft, and our featured stream list is consider an important part of Starcraft streaming culture. Being featured on TL helps aspiring streamers receive more attention, and it is considered by some as a milestone in their progress. Our original purpose for featured streams was to separate pros and famous community members from regular streamers, but our priorities have shifted since the early days of SC2 streaming. Aside from including pros and community members, we would like to do a better job of promoting streamers that provide high quality entertainment or commentary. We would like to adjust our requirements to aid smaller streamers who we believe deserve more attention.
Since we've only just begun to make this change, we're definitely going to miss a couple of people. We are considering featuring several good streams, but you can help identify which streams to keep our eyes on.
The following are our revised guidelines for featured streams. Only one of the requirements must be met.
Updated Featured Stream Requirements:
- Full time or part time progamer that has made a Premier League appearance
- Full time or part time progamer that is currently in Challenger League
- Full time or part time progamer that has reached the bracket stage of a premier tournament
- Full time or part time progamer that has won a major tournament
- Full time streamer on a professional team that has at least 100-150 constant viewers
- Content producer or community member that has contributed a lot to the scene, who has at least 100-150 viewers
- Full time or regular streamer that is considered insightful and informative who plays at a high level, with at least 100-150 viewers
- Full time streamer with at least 250 constant viewers
Grounds for De-Featuring:
- On-stream conduct determined unacceptable to Team Liquid. This includes acts of racism, homophobia, hate speech, and general assholery
- Inactivity for more than a year
- Elimination from Challenger League if the streamer does not meet any other requirements
- Proof of viewbotting or artificially padding one's viewing numbers *
- Proof of stream cheating or hacking
- Being permanently banned on teamliquid.net for unacceptable posting
- Consistently low viewer count below 100
We hope that our more lenient requirements will encourage more streamers to work on their streams and get featured. Our intention in relaxing our requirements is to help boost streaming numbers and recognize those that do a good job. Supporting our streamers is important to the health of the scene, and we will continue to look for better ways to promote the deserving.
Here is the previous thread for our last revision.
* Regarding Winter
Evidence has recently surfaced that indicates that Winter's stream has been the target of viewbots for at least the past year. Winter's public explanation for this is that other users have been paying for the service against his wishes. While we concede it is impossible to prove who exactly paid for the viewbots on Winter's stream, there is no question that Winter has benefited from viewbotting. The evidence is clear, and an analogous situation can be inferred from our protocol on hacking from TSL. Though it is very difficult for us to prove whether anyone was actually hacking or was just very lucky, we choose to act once sufficient proof was provided. We believe that placing the burden of proof on the accused when seemingly damning evidence is presented is the correct course of action, and we're willing to accept that someone hacked beyond reasonable doubt as sufficient justification for condemning them.
Given that viewbotting actively harms and undermines the efforts of legitimate streamers, we think a similar test is justified in this instance. For those people who do not believe viewbotting harms legitimate streamers, consider that in a world where sponsorships are finite, those with high viewer counts are likely to get sponsorships ahead of those with lower view counts. A viewbotter then has an advantage over a legitimate streamer and is more likely to pick up one of those sponsorships. For a more elaborate explanation of these harms we'll refer you to Avilo, who has a pretty extensive breakdown.
As such, in the face of the evidence previously cited, we think that Winter is almost certainly viewbotting as the alternate scenarios don't add up. If someone was doing this with malicious intent (i.e. to defame Winter), we find it difficult to understand why such a person would pay in excess of $1000 to viewbot Winter for over a year. Particularly when the drama surrounding Winter died out after the first set of accusations. Surely someone viewbotting Winter with malicious intent would have used that opportunity to boost him in order to amplify the accusations. Similarly, the situation right now is another instance when someone with malicious intent would attempt to amplify the strength of the accusations against Winter. As such we conclude that the extensive history of Winter viewbotting is inconsistent with a third party doing this with malicious intent.
The alternatives is that a sympathetic party to Winter (including the possibility of Winter himself) is paying for the viewbotting services in an effort to promote him in the community. This fits the viewbotting pattern observed in the evidence much better than the scenario where the viewbotting is malicious. In this scenario Winter is the benefactor and not the victim of viewbotting, and the responsibility to stop that viewbotting rests on Winter. We find it quite likely that a genuine appeal from Winter to his anonymous benefactor to stop the viewbotting would be successful particularly in light of sanctions from TL (in the form of defeaturing), community backlash causing damage to Winter's name and possibly further action from Twitch. We find this action likely because in this scenario the viewbotter wants to help Winter, which clearly the viewbots are no longer doing. To our knowledge, no such genuine appeal has been launched by Winter.
Our position is then clear. Beyond all reasonable doubt, Winter has been the benefactor of viewbots. Moreover it is highly likely that the person responsible for purchasing the viewbots was someone sympathetic towards Winter, and possibly Winter himself. Given the damages that viewbotting causes to the community, given that the standard of proof relative to previous actions by TL has been met, and given that having a viewbotter on the featured list compromises the integrity of our featured stream list, we have decided to de-feature Winter.
We recognise that Winter, as a direct consequence of being boosted by viewbotting services, has attracted a legitimate viewerbase and even some legitimate subscribers. But it is impossible for us to measure the strength of that legitimate viewership in relation to our normal featuring standards while viewbotting continues on Winter's channel. We will be reviewing this decision in six months time, where if Winter is able to show us that his channel is no longer supported by viewbots and his viewership meets our minimum standard for featuring, we will re-feature Winter.
*** Update: A decision at the end of Winter's probation
Another streamer that was subjected to viewbotting is HTOMario. However, the streamer came forward himself regarding the matter on his twitter (without prompting by the community), suggesting that he was not involved in the viewbotting on his stream. He also asked Twitch to find a way to remove the viewbots. He had no reason to announce the viewbotting on his stream if he personally tried to inflate his stream numbers, and we are inclined to believe that he is innocent.
However, it is still true that his stream was featured due to an inflated viewer count. We have looked at his historical numbers, and it appears that his viewers prior to being viewbotted and featured hovered around ~80. This means that he did not meet our featured stream requirements prior to being botted and featured. Therefore, we have decided to de-feature him for the time being.
However, this is not an accusation against HTOMario. We firmly believe that he acted against viewbotting by announcing it on his twitter, and we are glad to see a streamer being open about something that could potentially ruin his reputation. This decision is based entirely on viewer numbers before the incident, which do not meet our revised requirements. We have also advised HTOMario to clear up the viewbotting issue with Twitch, and to try to find a way to eradicate his stream of bots. Once he his stream has been cleared by Twitch and his numbers reach the viewer threshold, he will be re-featured immediately.
It is unfortunate that viewbotting has become a problem that the community must deal with. Team Liquid is vehemently against the use of viewbots, and we will try to make decisions in the best interest of SC2. We hope that streamers will be more vigilant in inspecting their own numbers, seek Twitch's help, and speak out against viewbotting in the future.