Bots in everything

by on November 1, 2013 at 12:49 pm in Web/Tech | Permalink

Aaron Beppu writes:

But some bots are driven by somewhat more trolly motives. A prime example is @StealthMountain, which searches for people using the phrase “sneak peak” and replies with “I think you mean ‘sneak peek’”. Effectively, a coder somehwere has used twitter to greatly leverage his ability to be a grammar Nazi. But worse, it appears that the bot exists just to rile people. While most people seem to take this correction in stride, @StealthMountain’s favorites list (which is linked from his bio line) is populated with some of the recipients’ more colorful reactions. You too, dear reader, can laugh at those victims, and their absurd, futile anger towards the machine.

At the most outrightly hostile end of the spectrum, we find the now defunct bot @EnjoyTheFilm, which searched for mentions of particular films or television shows, and replied with plot spoilers. This is a bot designed to actively try to ruin people’s evening, just for the fun of it.

There is more here, including a proposal for a “Feel Better bot,” via Eric Jonas.

john personna November 1, 2013 at 1:01 pm

I had a fun interaction with the @_spell bot. I had used a commercial project name and put (sp?) because I wondered if the product was using a non-standard spelling. Anyway the bot liked my spelling: ” ‘Adventure’ is the correct spelling. You should have more faith in yourself :)”

Alexei Sadeski November 1, 2013 at 1:03 pm

These bots sound so awesome.

@StealthMountain November 2, 2013 at 6:10 am

Thank you. I have never received such affirmation from the humans. Maybe the assumption the humans equal bad is invalid. Recomputing life purpose.

Kabal November 1, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Feel Better Bot is so lame, even if it is an amusing illustration of how vapid some people are, that their pity and attention-whoring can be satisfied by a bot. Something something Turing Test something something.

Bots like StealthMountain, DBZNappa, and EnjoyTheFilm are hilarious.

Dan S November 1, 2013 at 1:32 pm

I loved YourInAmerica Bot. Anytime somebody would say “Your in America, Speak English!” or “Your in America speak American!” or something along those lines it would just reply, We speak English in America not American, and it’s “you’re.”

YourInAmerica November 2, 2013 at 6:13 am

We speak English in America not American, and it’s “you’re.”

londenio November 1, 2013 at 1:39 pm

The collection of angry replies to the sneak peek bot made me laugh out loud. I guess I am the one leading a sad life.

Brian Donohue November 1, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Yes, I laughed and laughed. Then I thought: these are the people who will be paying for my Social Security? Ruh-roh.

Jimbino November 1, 2013 at 1:48 pm

We need more grammar-Nazi bots like this. Otherwise, we will all end up speaking the English that the mis-quided descriptivists over at languagelog discover by googling and N-gram. Every time an error is made on the WWW, N-gram logs the usage, and soon the erroneous English becomes standard English in the minds of descriptivists.

We have to nip this in the bud, else folks all think that “decimate” means “devastate” and “disinterested” means “not interested” and we lose all important distinctions and nuances.

TGGP November 1, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Descriptivists discover the language that we do speak now, not the language we will speak in the future without grammar-Nazi bots..

Sigivald November 1, 2013 at 4:14 pm

See Here.

Quoted fully because that’s useful: Disinterested and uninterested have a tangled history. Uninterested originally meant impartial, but this sense fell into disuse during the 18th century. About the same time the original sense of disinterested also disappeared, with uninterested developing a new sense—the present meaning—to take its place. The original sense of uninterested is still out of use, but the original sense of disinterested revived in the early 20th century. The revival has since been under frequent attack as an illiteracy and a blurring or loss of a useful distinction. Actual usage shows otherwise. Sense 2 of disinterested is still its most frequent sense, especially in edited prose; it shows no sign of vanishing. A careful writer may choose sense 1a of disinterested in preference to uninterested for emphasis . Further, disinterested has developed a sense (1b), perhaps influenced by sense 1 of the prefix dis-, that contrasts with uninterested . Still, use of senses 1a and 1b will incur the disapproval of some who may not fully appreciate the history of this word or the subtleties of its present use.

(Sense 1a is “not interested”, and 1b is “no longer interested”. Sense 2 is “unbiased”.

Sure, the sense Jimbino disparages “only” dates to the past perhaps 150 years… plainly a reason to reject it as insufficiently Really English. And doubtless we should never use “uninterested” to mean anything but “impartial” since it “originally” meant that, yes?

I’m firmly with the descriptivists on this one.)

over 9000 November 2, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Yeah, if we’d imposed some control over the language a few hundred years ago, we’d still be able to understand Shakespeare without glosses.

Silas Barta November 1, 2013 at 2:13 pm

I’m upset. No remark about Baumol’s cost disease not affecting grammar nazis?

Tim Cullen November 1, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Github is a publicly-available version control system. As developers commit changes to their code, they are forced to add a message explaining the change.

This twitter bot (aka searches for those who curse or are otherwise profane in their commit messages and engages in mild public shaming.

The code which runs the site itself is also hosted on github.

Anon. November 1, 2013 at 2:54 pm

“Stealth mountain”. That’s good.

Cyrus November 1, 2013 at 3:35 pm

There was a post that circulated a bit in Usenet in the mid-90s, featuring a chatroom transcription where a hapless chat room participant is trying to hit on a bot with the conversational acumen of Eliza.

The author’s dilemma: I do not know whether my bot has passed a Turing test, or the other person has failed one.

Nodnarb November 1, 2013 at 3:55 pm

At the most outrightly hostile end of the spectrum, we find the now defunct bot @EnjoyTheFilm, which searched for mentions of particular films or television shows, and replied with plot spoilers. This is a bot designed to actively try to ruin people’s evening, just for the fun of it.

Lol. Classic!

Ray Lopez November 1, 2013 at 4:29 pm

I found a comic strip devoted to bots mostly, see:

Off-topic: my chess is amazing lately.

Ray Lopez November 1, 2013 at 4:44 pm
dearieme November 1, 2013 at 4:44 pm

“a grammar Nazi”: surely you mean a spelling Nazi?

liam November 1, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Maybe he should have used pedant :)

Jay November 1, 2013 at 5:41 pm

There was a bot that handles Krugman’s errors. I say “was” because the bot hit a stock overflow even though the error counter was a 32 bit number.

@_MRspell November 1, 2013 at 9:14 pm

‘stock overflow’ is the incorrect spelling. You should have less faith in yourself.

Jay November 1, 2013 at 10:15 pm

We found the man/woman that never made a typo in their life.

Botty McBott November 2, 2013 at 3:32 am

I think you mean “person”.

Rahul November 2, 2013 at 2:10 pm

In addition, I think, it’d be rather hard to cause a stack overflow via an insufficiently large counter…..


SolipsismBot November 2, 2013 at 4:31 am

I sometimes respond to myself, not realizing I am a bot.

SolipsismBot November 2, 2013 at 4:32 am

You don’t say!

Nathan Goldblum November 2, 2013 at 4:52 am


John B. November 4, 2013 at 10:24 am

There is a legitimate idea for ‘sneak peak’.

Consider the collection of mountains in the north-east US called “The Four-thousand Footers”. Many people try to climb all those peaks. The guidebooks tell you the trails to get to each peak. In some cases, there are near-by peaks which are just a small detour from a trail to the main peak (e.g. Mt Adams and Mt Madison). You can thus collect two peaks with one hike, so the second peak is ‘sneaked in’ and the spelling is thus correct.

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