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is this a real thing or is this an urban legend

bc i definitely had this thought before but i didn't think anyone else had

actually! i know this isn't true because when you stream to zero viewers, your little preview on the dashboard counts as one viewer, and it's muted by default

though i wonder if more complicated viewer count heuristics kick in once you get out of the sub-10 viewer count zone. which i do not

i still remember when you could "bot" people on twitch to add a few hundred thousand viewers to their counter

well 20 minutes of investigation did not uncover a tracker flag that changes when a stream is muted (which honestly surprises me) so unless it's obfuscated somewhere in requests to video-edge-* or video-weaver-*, i dont think they care

what i did uncover however is that twitch has private APIs just for FFZ

before you ask yes this is going out to gql.twitch.tv, no as far as i can tell there is no request interception in ffz turning it into a query to somewhere else

there's also a FFZ_GetClipInfo and a FFZ_GetVideoInfo

twitch sleuthing 

i don't like that i cant definitely say "they are not doing this" because there are half a dozen ways they could obfuscate it, but the only things going out after initial load are
1) beacons to scorecardresearch
2) gql queries refreshing presence, stream id, stream tags, stream access token
3) pings (and chat) on the chat websocket
4) pings on the pubsub websocket
5) HLS requests

none of them have anything that changes when muting or unmuting

twitch sleuthing 

youd think the scorecardresearch beacons would be the most obvious culprit but if they were then twitch wouldn't count any viewers using some form of tracker blocker. also i doubt they'd get near real time numbers like they do

anyway the only thing in there that seems to change ever after the page is done loading, regardless of muting status, are a bunch of monotonically increasing timers, i assume counting time on page

twitch sleuthing 

in the end i think the worry is that they *can* do this. i am fairly confident that they're not doing this, to me and my browser at least, but nothing stops them from flipping a switch one day to make a muted player add a new flag in hls traffic (which i suspect is where they are doing their beancounting) so that it is ignored in counting

twitch sleuthing 

and they can do this quietly. they could keep the public numbers unchanged, including muted players, but take the muted status into account when deciding which streams bubble up to the front page

I swear I did not spend two and a half hours looking at captured traffic I just get distracted easily by things like "lunch" or "funny video"

@codl no it's a common thing people say, not sure if anyone's actually tested it tho

@codl are you sure that this isn't because you have FFZ on? (Just asking I may be wrong)

@Siph it is, but the query is going out to twitch's servers

@codl read this sentence twice before I realized you weren't distracted by a video of lunch

twitch sleuthing 

@codl Things might look dramatically different when using the app, where they have full control over the state of every UI control, and probably tons of telemetry to report on those?

twitch sleuthing 

@galaxis possible! although if they really are interested in that information, i don't know why they wouldn't collect it on the web as well

@codl it's definitely something you can't check and claiming either side is probably wrong
it probably depends on wether you use the vanilla twitch player or a replacement like bttv, too!

@codl twitch has said this isn't true and they still count people with the stream muted and backgrounded etc but idk how much their word is worth

@monorail i mean i trust twitch more when it comes to numbers than when it comes to uh, community management. so that's something

@codl the only thing I can think of is that browser tabs that aren't playing any audio and aren't the foreground tab and aren't using websockets or webrtc are eligible for unloading

@ben @codl oh, it may be that the video element is optimized out if it's out of focus and muted, but I think it would still poll and download the stream, so it should count as a view unless there's some js guarddog

@ben hmm. well, even if you close the chat, twitch constantly has a websocket open and pinging

also i haven't seen it happen on firefox

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