Rob Manuel's Comedy(ish) Bots FAQ
Stuff I want to say but shoved into a Q&A format for readability init
What language do you use to code bots?
PYTHON. It’s like Lego - there’s libraries for anything you’d like to do.
How do I code a bot?
I started by googling for some code that posts tweets (Tweepy library in Python) and once you can send a tweet using code, well, what it actually posts is up to you isn’t it?
Isn’t there an easier way?
This will allow you make a bot that posts randomised phrases - if that’s all what you want to do, then that’s the easiest way to do it.
Will you make me a bot?
Absolutely. Pay me. My day rates are pretty average as a coder and a simple bot can be dashed out in a day.
I’ve got a great idea for a bot but I don’t want to pay…
Hold on sunshine. I build my own bots for my own amusement, I’m not building your idea unless you’re a client.
God you’re a miserable bastard - anyway - can you list your bots?
You should make a bot that looks for [x] and replies [y]?
This type of bot is explicitly forbidden by Twitter unless the account it is replying to has authorised the interaction. I don’t want to waste my time making stuff that gets banned in a day.
But I saw [insert bot name] and it does it?
Maybe they got lucky. Maybe you’re talking about something from ten years ago. Maybe Twitter admins have a hands-off attitude to some historical bots that feel part of its culture.
Building new ones in this format is at best a massive gamble and at worst a waste of time.
Also, generally, ideas in this area are bit bullying. “Reply to people saying X and tell them they’re wrong.”
If you want a perfect way to make sure a bot is reported then pissing random people off by @ing them with insults is absolutely the way to do it.
Will you train me to make a bot?
Yeah I’ve done training via Zoom. Again basically a day rate split over two half days. You’ll get knowledge and get to hang out with me on Zoom you lucky fucker.
Trainees include photographer Paul Clarke, for whom I made a bot that picked photos from his Flickr account and reposted them on Twitter. The code is on GutHub.
What about building a really boring bit of Python code - will you do that?
If you like and it’s within my ability and it you want to pay me - why not? I sometimes do this - I’ve ended up quite good at website scraping and bits of data processing. And also I’m a true believer in talking to people on the phone to actually understand your brief - which is experience that comes from age.
Who is the best Beatle?
The Beatles were a collective who were greater than the sum of their parts.
When should have Duran Duran split up?
After the second LP.
What’s the meaning of life?
Having a go.
What’s the best joke?
Right - back on subject… Do you make up all the fesshole stuff?
You do realise that there’s been over 47,000 confessions added to the damn thing? Honestly, it’s easier to run these projects for real than to fake them. I wouldn’t have the patience or energy to make it up.
That anon_opin one is a list of your terrible opinions though, isn’t it?
No. It’s a list of opinions submitted by the public that I think are okish to publish.
Isn’t moderating cheating?
No. It would go to shit without moderation.
Couldn’t you do it all by AI?
Not well. Content moderation can be done BADLY by AI or done better by me. The future, things might change, but whilst meaning remains subtle you really want a human checking this stuff.
Where do you run the bots?
I run them in the cloud on Amazon AWS. But you could run them on laptop if you’re prepared to have your fan whizzing up randomly in the night - I did this for a bit and then realised this wasn’t much fun. But it’ll do to get you started.
What are the names of the dogs you own?
Leonard and Majel. They don’t care about bots.
Why do you reply to your own bots? They don’t understand anything, it’s a stupid thing to do.
Because YOU read it you big dummy.
I made a bot and it only has one follower, it’s not fair
Making stuff and promoting stuff are different skills but the simplest thing is to a. try and make the best thing you can, something you are absolutely certain YOU would follow if someone else made it, and b. pal up with someone more popular than you who can mention it. Oh and whatever platform you have - talk about your work.
Can you monetise bots?
Oh shut up Chris.
If you want to make money then I wouldn’t suggest you start by making comedy bots. They’re for art and for fun. However, of course, if you do build a significant audience for ANY Internet project then there’s probably ways to generate *some* money.
But really, don’t come into this looking for cash. It’s not a shortcut to money, believe you me.
What’s the secret of comedy?
I have no idea but I do know if you do stuff that YOU find funny then chances are your brain isn’t unique and some other people will be amused too. Not all of them, of course, but some. Oh, and stick an unexpected word at the end of the penis.
How can I get in touch with you?
r\o\b\m\a\n\u\e\l at g*m*a*i*l dot c/o/m (YOU can work out how to fix this email address, hopefully a bot looking for email addresses won’t bother) or DM me on my Twitter account: twitter.com/robmanuel
Can I subscribe to Rob Manuel Fuck Yeah?
Of course. It’s just meant to be a place for extra bits of text, to give them some kind of permanence outside of social media so don’t expect it to be coherent thing, like I dunno, a newsletter about alarming sausages of the day or something.