British World of Warcraft content creator Taliesin (pictured right) has criticised American streamer Asmongold (left), opening up a debate on influencer responsibility.
Taliesin, half of popular YouTube channel Taliesin & Evitel, went on an emotionally charged rant on stream, calling out the behaviour of some of Asmongold's viewers and Asmongold himself for not keeping them in line.
Taliesin referenced a few times where he claims people have received negative comments from Asmongold's viewers, including the likes of Blizzard developers, WoW community manager Josh Allen (aka Lore) and Bay from FinalBossTV. He also made the point that developers' and many other content creators' wages are lower than what Asmongold earns.
"With great power comes great responsibility," Taliesin said. "Asmongold has great power, but he doesn't accept that gives him great responsibility.
"Asmongold is punching down and you must never punch down. We need to be better than that. I have no respect for people that punch down.
"When he slagged off Bay from FinalBossTV on his stream, Bay had to leave social media for a couple of days because there were so many fucking idiots giving him shit."
I'd like to thank all the Asmongold viewers currently filling up our mentions and DMs and totally proving our point.
— Taliesin & Evitel (@TaliesinEvitel) July 13, 2019
Asmongold responded: "So I can't disagree with somebody about a game? I made no personal attacks, I just said he was sucking up to Blizzard. And he comes at me with patronising bullshit and I can't respond to that?
"I don't believe in [punching down on people]. I don't punch down, I don't punch up. I punch back. If somebody comes at me, I think that I should have the right to respond to them. If someone willingly antagonises me, I should have the ability to come back and say: 'No, you're wrong.'
"I am not a punching bag. People don't just get to say negative shit to me and be rude to me and patronise me and talk shit about me, say things and sub tweet me etc. I'm not going to be bullied into taking patronising, rude behaviour by other people.
"But then the moment I say 'wait a minute, that's not even true', and I respond, now I'm the bad guy. Give me a fucking break."
Asmongold also said that Taliesin has himself criticised other people before (including content creator HeelvsBabyface) and has spoken to Josh Allen and appreciates the community manager reaching out to him.
How should influencers manage their community?
Esports News UK watched Taliesin's rant on stream and Asmongold's response in full, and a lot of it touches on the wider debate of influencers managing their followers, and whether they are responsible for their actions to other people (based on what the influencer said about them).
This is something we often see in esports and gaming in general, especially in terms of how a specific influencer's fans or followers might react similarly to said influencer's views on someone else. There have been instances where someone might receive abuse afterwards, based on what the influencer has said.
"It's the nature of analysing content and having conversations. This isn't something that's unique to me or anybody, this is what happens when you have a conversation about something that people are passionate about," Asmongold added.
"I don't punch down, I punch back. If somebody comes at me, I think that I should have the right to respond to them. I am not a punching bag."
Taliesin said that even if Asmongold tells his viewers not to go after someone, he knows they still will.
"That's why I ban them," Asmongold responded. "I never promote attacking or harassing people personally. And disagreement is not harassment.
"I'm an asshole, but that doesn't make me responsible for people getting harassed."
"Me reigning in my community is passively accepting parts of it are out of bounds. There are many reasons why I've wanted to reign people in. I wanted to create a better atmosphere for my community."
To /spit or not to /spit?
Taliesin also called out Asmongold's recent reactions to Blizzard's increase in the amount of paid-for mounts in the WoW in-game store.
Asmongold has previously encouraged his viewers to use the /spit emote whenever they spotted someone in-game riding around on a paid-for mount.
Asmongold said: "If you consider being spit on in a video game harassment and abuse, then yeah, I guess I'm a harasser and an abuser. Keep spitting on them, I fully stand by that."
"With great power comes great responsibility. Asmongold has great power, but he doesn't accept that gives him great responsibility. You must never punch down. We need to be better than that."
Taliesin added: "If people are getting fucking harassed, because of shit that Asmongold says on his stream, cos he won't accept how much responsibility he's got, he'll happily accept all the fucking money. Because if he's not a millionaire right now, he will be soon."
"I hate the store, but I don't hate people who buy stuff from the store. Some people like it. And I'm glad Blizzard is making money from store mounts. If the game starts being less profitable, we get less shit in the game. You have to take responsibility with stuff like that as well."
Asmongold retaliated: "No you don't. I find it extremely offensive that people consider me responsible for the behaviours of people I don't even know. I've never said to harass people, I've done everything I can to prevent that harassment, and I've been that way since day one."
'Stop acting like the little guy'
Taliesin said that streamers like Asmongold have more responsibility because they have more followers and more power, adding: "Luckily, we're so small, there's pretty much no one we can punch down."
"What a bunch of bullshit," Asmongold responded. "You have over 250,000 subscribers, 46m views, your videos each get over 100,000 views. Stop acting like the little guy, you're not the little guy. Your channel is extremely popular, everyone knows who you guys are and you get over 1,000 viewers on your streams.
"You literally put my tweets on there and you're talking about them. It's completely hypocritical."
More angry rants
Taliesin's stream became heated. He later said on stream: "I can tell Asmongold isn't streaming because there are some fucking idiots in my chat today.
"Spongo, are you purposely being fucking stupid right now? Are you not listening to what I'm saying? Are you stupid or are you being a twat?"
Asmon, some of his viewers and one of Taliesin's viewers said that was an example of Taliesin punching down, to which he responded: "Of course I'm not punching down, I'm having a discussion with someone on stream."
Taliesin proceeded to go on another angry rant towards the end othe clip, and after being called 'sensitive', a 'snowflake' and 'SJW' (social justice warrior), saying he'll happily ban anyone who uses any word he doesn't like.
"Fucking test me, boys, I'll fucking ban you," he said. "This isn't a free speech arena, this is my Twitch channel."
What if streamers are putting on an act?
Some streamers have an on-stream alter ego, or persona, they tap into. Like Dr DisRespect for example.
Taliesin claims that Asmongold "is just a stupid character" played by Zack. "I'm not calling Zack stupid, it's just a character!"
Asmongold responded: "I'm not calling Taliesin stupid, it's just a character! It's not like I'm playing DrDisrespect."
So there we have it. If they're both playing characters, then feel free to just disregard this entire article.