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Internet Relay Chat Bots

@erwinvanlun .. FYI, just noticed @chatbots seems to have no Directory listing for Platforms => IRC .. Sat Jun 11 17:19:36 +0000 2011

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I’ve been researching IRC bots lately, above link.  I have noticed that very often IRC “do-engines” are erroneously referred to as “chat bots”.  This has lead me to postulate a new theory for the origin of the term “chat bot”.  I believe that “chat bot” may have come about in reference to “Internet Relay Chat” shortened to just “Chat”; therefore any IRC bots may have been referred to as “Chat bots”.  I found it peculiar that so many “do-engines” were apparently erroneously being referred to as “conversational agents”; natural language commands to not a “chatbot” make….

What do you think about this?  Can you confirm or deny my supposition?

See also “N-gram Timeline”:



  [ # 1 ]

Oops .. Dave can you correct the topic title to “Internet Relay Chat”, and maybe in the body too ??  I guess it’s still too early in the morning here .. ;^)


  [ # 2 ]

I got your back, Marcus. All fixed. cheese


  [ # 3 ]

Bitnet and IRC addiction ruined my college GPA back in the early to mid 90s, so I consider myself an expert on that piece of history. I don’t recall ever referring to the channel bot a ‘chat bot’. I coded my own back then, and they were always just “bots”, “channel bots” or “IRC bots” (pron. “erk-bots”), so “chat-bot” must be a more modern affectation (2000 and later).

I stopped using IRC in 1999 and so did most of the people I used to associate with. When I popped back into the old haunts in 2002, the demography changed. IRC was populated almost exclusively by bots - hardly anyone chatting. I wondered where they all went since (at the time) nothing had really sprung up to replace real-time chat. Twitter (2006) and Facebook (2004) were still years away. A game addict friend said that a lot of chatters went to Everquest (1999). That made sense for the younger guys, but I always wondered what happened to the ordinary non-gamer folk I used to talk to.

I have a feeling “chat-bot” in the IRC context is the misapplication of an overheard term rather than something that was consciously derived. It is reasonable to posit that “chat-bot” as a synonym gained traction because IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat.


  [ # 4 ]

I still use irc; in my experience, chat bot there has the same meaning as chat bot here.


  [ # 5 ]

I’m not so sure, Robert. I’ve used IRC quite a bit over the years, and while I’ve seen a few actual IRC bots that are designed to chat, by far the overwhelming majority of IRC bots are scripted tools, designed to assist with moderating a given channel, or performing useful tasks such as rolling dice or acting as an automated FAQ, or even the KOL (Kingdom of Loathing) Buff-bot series, that gives players of that particular game certain in-game advantages if they visit certain IRC channels. The thing is, though most people that I’ve run across in IRC just lump both of these categories of IRC bot together, and just call them chat bots. Of course, everyone’s experiences are their own, so I can’t/won’t gainsay you. I just wanted to offer a different perspective, though. smile


  [ # 6 ]

Yeah, most people I’ve run across in IRC don’t call channel bots chat bots. Simple “bot” is used for that kind of program.

Another usage of “bot” I’ve run across frequently on IRC is to insult a human chatter who’s disagreeing with you: “Is X a bot?” means something like “I don’t like X’s comments.” My analysis is that X is not responding to the first chatter’s emotions, therefore X must be a machine…


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