We Need To Talk About Bots... 🤖 (a plea to reduce the spam w/ steem-robots.txt)

in #hive-1365788 months ago

Let's Talk About The Bot Comments

Anyone is able to setup and run a bot here on Steem. This isn't unique to our platform, Reddit has bots, Twitter has bots, Facebook + Instagram has bots. The issue that is uniquely ours is how the bots & their associated comments are cluttering up our posts.

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First Things First: I Am NOT Opposed To Bots

I actually like them! I think they can be helpful, fun, useful, and they add variety and character to our community ( y'all remember @themarkymark & his !pancakes bot? ). This is not an issue with bots existing, this is an issue with how they currently behave.

To be perfectly clear for this post: My problem is not with the presence of bots, but instead with the wild-west nature of how they behave.

What Is Wrong With Bot Behavior?

Think about when a brand new user hops onto Steem, and makes use of the "Introduce Yourself" tag to talk a bit about themselves & showoff what they do. These posts, without fail, get overrun with bot accounts from brands & people alike. It's all the same copy & paste comment -- If it's from a brand it says something about "Use our app for the 'best' Steem experience!", and if it's from a person its usually along the line of "Use my ref code for this game, and follow my blog, and delegate to my bot, and blahblahblah... Welcome to Steem, btw!"

Now think about when you call a token bot ( like !BEER or !TRDO ), these accounts show up to announce the token transfer, but the comments can be all over the place. Sometimes they reply to the comment that called them, other times they reply to the main post, it's a bloody mess!

If you're new to Steem this comments will look spammy & odd. And if you're not new to Steem, they still look spammy but they also get annoying.

And What's The Solution?

As I said, I'm not calling for a ban on these comments, I'm calling for etiquette in how they behave. Make whatever type of bot you want, but do your best to follow "Steem-Bot-Etiquette".

Websites have text files they sometimes upload to instruct webcrawlers how to interact with their site, this file is often known as robots.txt. Here is my template to how different bots should post, a sort of steem-robots.txt, if you will:

Brand Accounts accounts for apps, games, services

  • In Response To New Users / Introduce Yourself Posts:
    • Don't. Unless your account is posting a link to helpful on-boarding tutorials, or something that'll actually help the new user get acquainted with this community. Don't spam new users about your game, app, site, blog. Be genuine & helpful.
  • In Response To Achievements / Awards:
    • Keep your message as small & concise as possible. I understand the want for flair & pretty formatting, but try your best not to take up half the screen with you automated post. In the footer, clearly readable, offer a non-annoying way for the author to stop your bot from replying to them in the future. Honor this request.
  • In Response To Command Calling:
    • If your account replies based on commands one can call, like !ROLLDICE, reply to the comment that called you & don't tag anyone else that isn't involved in your calling.

Novelty Bot Accounts things that post funny pictures, or roll dice, or write haikus

  • In Response To New Users / Introduce Yourself Posts:
    • Don't.
  • In Response To Achievements / Awards:
    • Keep your message as small & concise as possible. In the footer, clearly readable, offer a non-annoying way for the author to stop your bot from replying to them in the future. Honor this request.
  • In Response To Command Calling:
    • Reply only to the comment that called you & don't tag anyone else that isn't involved in your calling.

Curation Accounts curators that reply letting the author know they've been curated

  • In Response To New Users / Introduce Yourself Posts:
    • Keep your message short, don't take up too much screen real-estate. Let the new user understand what curation is, and how your particular account curates. Also, be nice & welcome them to the community.
  • In Response To Achievements / Awards:
    • I don't foresee curators doing this, but if you do just keep it short & offer a way for the author to opt-out.
  • In Response To Command Calling:
    • Same as above, don't be annoying, offer opt-outs.

People real people that automate their comments

  • In Response To New Users / Introduce Yourself Posts:
    • Don't.
  • In Response To Achievements / Awards:
    • Don't.
  • In Response To Command Calling:
    • Don't.
If you're a "real" person: then just stay real! Don't become a bot & fake your comments.

Are You Some Kinda Commie Dictator?

Gee whiz, I hope not. I honestly don't see this simple request coming off as too "controlling". I'm in favor of bots, I like the funkiness & fun that they provide, but there needs to be a spotlight shined on how they're potentially ruining some people's experience.

Reddit has bot etiquette. Twitter has a pretty strict set of rules on what's allowed with their bots. I think it's time we here on Steem set out a simple & non-restrictive set of guides to make sure bots can prosper, but not pester.

Bots are fun, let's not have them be annoying.

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Footnote:

I hope my request doesn't fall on deaf ears. Take a look at the #introduceyourself tag, when new users come to our community they are bombarded with... Let's just be honest, spam. Partiko, eSteem ( who is at least active unlike Partiko ), even regular users flood the comments with the same template.

This is not a done-deal. This is my RFC ( request for comment ). Feel free to share any changes to the above outline as you see fit. I encourage discussion on this issue.

Let's all agree: Spam bot comments don't add value. I'm not saying ban them, I'm saying "contain" them.

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