In mid-2012, I saw a fellow artist using a monitor-sharing service from LogMeIn.com called Join.Me. It is much more efficient than any video-streaming service and has far superior picture quality. Viewers can watch from their browsers and enter the chatroom without having to sign up or register.
The service has it's limitations and problems, but I was so happy with it, I became a paying user in December. I assumed the paid service would have better controls, which might alleviate or even eliminate certain problems. I was wrong.
And then, the same week I signed up and started my holiday art marathon, A TROLL FOUND MY STREAM AND DECIDED TO MAKE AN EXAMPLE OF ME.
All artists out there need to know that Join.Me has some GLARING issues that will make your stream a miserable playground for trolls. They will run rampant over your meeting and bring a complete halt to your show AND TO YOUR INCOME. They can do this because Join.Me GIVES THEM EVERY TOOL ON A TROLL'S WISH LIST.
The following list of problems will seem like fiction. You will not believe what you're reading. Who designed this program?? The outrageous stupidity, the complete lack of forethought, the colossal ignorance... GAHHH! Just read on!
THE BIGGEST PROBLEMS WITH JOIN.ME :
1) THE "TAKE-CONTROL" BUTTON
As hard as it is to believe, Join.Me actually provides a REQUEST CONTROL button TO EVERY VIEWER.
When any viewer presses that button, the presenter (YOU) is faced with a pop-up window that stays on top AND WILL NOT GO AWAY until you press "NO." In the time it takes you to press "NO" and get back to the viewer list to identify and boot the offender, he can press the control button again. A determined troll can (AND WILL) do this all day and all night. Your stream is over.
YOU THINK THAT'S BAD? GET THIS:
If a troll presses the "Request Control" button at the same time you happen to press ENTER on your keyboard... CONGRATULATIONS! You have just given him control of your computer! (You think this is unlikely? Keep thinking it while you wrestle for control OF YOUR OWN MOUSE.)
2) BOOTING TROLLS DOES NOTHING
When you kick a viewer out of your Join.Me session, there is NOTHING keeping him out. He just comes back in. SERIOUSLY! You can lock the stream, but... and again, I know this is hard to believe... every new visitor is provided with a button that requests entry. And, YOU GUESSED IT, a REQUEST ENTRY window pops up and forces you to select YES or NO. Any troll can just keep pressing that button, taking over your stream WITHOUT EVEN BEING IN THE ROOM.
Furthermore, the troll can make up a new name each time he requests entry. These "names" can take the form of curses and threats. The troll not only takes control from outside, HE CAN USE THE ENTRY BUTTON TO HURL THREATS AT YOU. AND YOU ARE FORCED TO SEE EVERY ONE OF THEM.
3) TROLLS CAN IMPERSONATE OTHERS
Yes, that's right. As unbelievable as it sounds, there is nothing barring any viewer from changing his name to the same as any other's. This means you can't tell who is making the offensive comments, and you have to kick innocent viewers. AND THEN the troll repeatedly requests re-entry using names you recognize. (see #2)
4) TROLLS CAN HARRASS OTHERS PRIVATELY
Any viewer can send private messages to any other viewer without you seeing or knowing. A troll can not only threaten the other viewers, HE CAN CHANGE HIS NAME TO YOURS SO THEY THINK YOU ARE DOING IT. (see #3)
All of these things happened to me. All of these things happened to me in the FIRST WEEK. After that, I simply got lucky, and the troll didn't come in for weeks. But on Feb 6, he returned. And this time, he wasn't playing.
If I am to continue to use Join.Me, I will simply have to HOPE a troll doesn't attack. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Join.Me could make a few simple change:
1) FOR THE LOVE OF BABY JESUS IN HEAVEN ABOVE, GET RID OF THAT FUCKING "REQUEST CONTROL" BUTTON! HOLY FUCKING SHIT, WHY IS IT EVEN THERE??
Same goes for the "Request Entry" button. Holy fuck, guys!
2) Add a MUTE or IGNORE option to silence trolls. They can spew all the insults and threats they like without knowing they're invisible. It works. It's a commonly used function in other chatrooms. Why doesn't Join.Me have it?
3) Bar viewers from using other viewers' names. Seriously.
4) Allow the presenter to block IP addresses. This is not a perfect solution, but it's a start.
OTHER STREAMING OPTIONS
Those of you who wonder why I don't use Livestream, JustinTV, Ustream, etc. First of all, I've done that, and I've been banned from some of them. Overzealous corporate censors are always a serious problem for us artists. They also require me to install special video drivers, like ManyCam, which sometimes use heavy resources and have caused crashes.
Also, the video streaming services often force the viewers to watch very loud TV commercials OVER AND OVER AND OVER. I HATE that. My viewers simply won't put up with it, and new visitors often bail before the first commercial is done. I don't blame them. These services also require visitors to register, or use FaceBook, to enter the chatroom. Not cool.
The best video streaming service BY FAR was WatchTail, which included all the advantages and none of the problems. But the host ran out of money, so it's gone now.
What will I do? I don't know. If Join.Me makes those simple changes, and helps me identify that troll, I'll go back. If not, I won't.
Meanwhile, EVERYBODY PLEASE REPOST THIS.