Recently, I began pursuing a goal of making a chatbot for our AskUbuntu General Room. One of the features I added to the bot was a filter that would run every minute, attempting to find any undesirable posts, like those containing the word mint. If a post matches a keyword, the bot will post a message with the link to the question and the matching keywords.

Now, this feature is working pretty well, all things considered. Due to some magic and the community, we managed to get the false positive rate to drop a decent amount.

Given this, one of the issues that now surrounds the bot is where it should go. At the moment, there are two dissenting opinions:

Both of these options obviously have their upsides and downsides, but the bot can only technically be in one room because I am not a good coder. Therefore, I've opened this discussion up to the community as a whole, as this bot exists to help the community (while occasionally being fun?).

So... provided the bot should even move to an official room/position, where should it go?

  • @Zanna There was another post (can't find the link right now) explicitly saying that such a thing would be better in Regulators.
    – Kaz Wolfe
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 8:04
  • 7
    Could you explain what the bot does in a bit more detail? Does it only look for things like "mint" and "elementary" and leave a message when it finds them or does it also have other functionality? Also, is this really worth it? The community is already pretty good at closing non-Ubuntu questions. One could even say it's a bit too good and will sometimes close questions that are perfectly on topic just for the crime of mentioning another distro. Is this really something we need?
    – terdon
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 9:17
  • @terdon Right now, the bot monitors the incoming question feed for anything mentioning a blacklisted word (as set by a room owner), provided the bot also finds no whitelisted words. It also has a bookmark feature to quickly grab relevant links from a codeword. I have plans to add more, but I'm not sure what to add (if any). As for it being worth it, that's something that still needs to be decided.
    – Kaz Wolfe
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 14:27
  • 2
    What happens when the bot makes a mistake? Not all question that say mint or eos are of topic and people make mistakes with this all the time. Would this not encourage mass closing of any post that dears to mention another OS? If people are already closing questions wrongly that mention these key words, surly having them presented by a bot is encouraging people to read the questions less than they do now, or am I missing something here?
    – Mark Kirby
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 12:47
  • @MarkKirby This is an argument for people to actually read the post instead of just blindly doing stuff. The bot only acts as a flag to show there could be an issue. However, there is a way for privileged bot users to delete a post if it's invalid.
    – Kaz Wolfe
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 16:35
  • 1
    So, basically, this would just collect the questions and then present them in a chat room, to a group of users who have agreed they will read the post properly? That actually sounds quite good :) I can see the benefit of this, perhaps the best place to put it would be in its own dedicated room? So as not to flood chat, then we could just pop to the room and vote on what is there. +1
    – Mark Kirby
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 16:39
  • @MarkKirby This is the argument for putting it in Regulators (or keeping in the test room) and letting users come to it for data when they want. Ideally, then, we'd get more people into those rooms too.
    – Kaz Wolfe
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 16:41
  • 1
    @MarkKirby As far as I can tell, the volume of posts by the bot isn't much at all, so I don't think there is a risk of the bot flooding the chat.
    – edwinksl
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 16:42
  • I did not know you had gone as far as testing :) Just looked in the room and it seems to be doing well, only one false positive I could see askubuntu.com/questions/831254/… but that is acceptable. As it only seems to find a few (less than I would of guessed), then I think @edwinksl is right and it would be fine in normal chat, seems no more intrusive than smoke-detector.
    – Mark Kirby
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 16:51
  • @MarkKirby If you go back in the archives a bit, there are a few false positives, but they typically are the kind of "I tried it on mint, elementary, and Ubuntu" posts, which are still good to be flagged so they can be edited. The issue with things like "kali tools" has since been fixed because of a whitelist, so that should cut back on spam from the bot a bit,
    – Kaz Wolfe
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 16:56
  • I like it, anything that assists in finding off topic question, can only be good :) How extensive is the list of terms it looks for? Could you expand it to perhaps look for eol question by giving it eol versions like 13.10 or saucy, they are quite rare but hard to spot sometimes.
    – Mark Kirby
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 17:03
  • @MarkKirby Privileged users (room owners or moderators) can add terms at any time. I can add tag searching in a new update if need be.
    – Kaz Wolfe
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 17:17
  • @KazWolfe Love to see the code of your chatbot / roombot / OneMinuteMintSnooperBot thingy. If it is less than <32K you can source block insert it into your question right? You claim to be a <good coder which I doubt but perhaps others can prune it right? Besides I've never seen a Wolf in Robot Silicone and it would be interesting :D Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 0:26
  • @WinEunuuchs2Unix There's a link to it in the test room. Or just click the first link in this post.
    – Kaz Wolfe
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 0:28
  • @KazWolfe Yikes that looks like a github screen. I always get lost there. Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 1:11

2 Answers 2


I would say that where it should live depends on what it's used for.

If the idea is to filter off-topic posts (difficult at best for a bot to do accurately) then Regulators might be the better spot.

If the idea is to help the average user find good answers and /or guidance (likely to be a more successful approach which won't result in erroneously closed posts and could feasibly result in better questions and less duplication) then the General room makes more sense.


Knowing that you have 12.7k and have been around for a while it is unlikely there will be Much trouble if you put your bot in the AskUbuntu General Room. Your keyword feature (eg mint, elementary, etc.), are very useful features, similar to SmokeDetector. I would be very surprised if that particular feature causes an issue. And the moderators seem to be in approval as far as I know. So I am in favor of having the bot in AU General Room.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .