This project as been added to GitHub the current planning board is on PivotalTracker

With the recent addition of this question: Gwibber and OAuthcalypse I began realizing an opportunity to help spread Ubuntu StackExchange. I began monitoring Twitter and replying to users complaining about that very issue. (It's progress can be tracked on Bit.ly)

Which brought me to another idea. Using StackExchange API we could target Social Media outlets by pulling certain posts containing keywords (Like Ubuntu) and running that post through a search to see if a relevant question appears. If a high enough Percentage match exists then reply to that user with the URL.

I'm not one to go off making bots to destroy users life and fear this may have some backlash - but I think it might be a possibly helpful endeavor for both unknowingly new users and this site's success.

I'm looking for feedback and ideas regarding this. I've outlined the following possible steps:

  • Need to create a Twitter account (Possibly AskUbuntu - based on our Domain Name)
  • Got to hook into the StackExchange API
  • Monitoring for replies should probably go to someone

I've continued my caffeine fueled adventure and decided to start some base line tests to see how effective this might be.

The AskUbuntu twitter account has been registered by someone other than me (If you're a community member let us know - that account may come in handy) in the meantime I've registered UbuntuExchange and continued my efforts outside of my personal Twitter account. I've begun digging into the Twitter API and StackExchange API to become more familiarized with the kind of effort needed for a project like this.

I've also asked some of the other MODs on StackExchange sites (The Cooking site seems to have taken a hold of the opportunity) Which may mean there's more merit in this idea than I initially thought.

Some additional parameters I've been muling over to help prevent this from being a negative attraction:

Rate Limit

  • The bot needs to be aware of who it directly @ replies and limit how many replies a user gets in X amount of time (Something like 1 every week max, etc TDB)


  • Bot will need to run a comparison of each word to the question (and accepted answer for that question) as well as the tags and calculate a percentage based on how related the twitter post is to the match.
  • A threshold will need to be created (something like 100%-90% Auto-reply, 89%-75% Hold it - like an outbox, where human review is needed to say "Send" or "Deny", <74% Ignore)

Community Promotion

  • In addition to question matching, perform keyword searching (Like if Help & Ubuntu exist in the same tweet simply reply with a generic-ish "If you need help with Ubuntu, try our Q&A Site: http://bit.ly/askubuntu") again subject to aforementioned rate limits
  • In addition to replying to users it should also post "Hot" questions regularly (bi-daily, or whatever rate makes sense) to help showcase some of our excellent community work!

Of my torrent of replies there are a few people who were happy from the outcome:

Prajwalit: Thanks! RT @ubuntuexchange: @Prajwalit Gwibber will work with the new OAuth - The update instructions are here: http://bit.ly/gwibber

Prajwalit: @nxD4n thanks! but I fixed Gwibber n its working now. thanks to @ubuntuexchange :)

t_koeppen: @ubuntuexchange thanks for the tip. Gwibber is a good interim solution.

WoundedLilies: @ubuntuexchange THX!! Now it works!!

spiky7: @ubuntuexchange Thanks, that won't take a minute :)

daw50n: @ubuntuexchange Will give a go, thanks for the tip.

So of the all the tweeting and gentle pushes towards strangers it was somewhat successful test. There was increased foot traffic to the site (as gauged by my Bit.ly links) and a positive response from users being interacted with. I still very much desire the communities feedback on this, but barring any major objections I think this is a worthwhile - and potentially successable - endeavor.

Your thoughts, opinions, and feedback are most welcome.

  • 2
    This is a great idea! Sep 2, 2010 at 7:33
  • Just to say I registered @Ask_Ubuntu - more than happy to "give it up" if something worthwhile is created.
    – 8128
    Nov 18, 2010 at 19:56
  • Update: we got @askubuntu in twitter
    – Tachyons
    Nov 16, 2012 at 18:10
  • The github repo link is broken. @marcoceppi Has the repo been deleted? Dec 1, 2021 at 7:37

3 Answers 3


I'm wary of anything that is completely automated.

With the number of users we'd like to have, an intermediate step that requires human approval might be feasible, not to mention much more personal. There could perhaps be something similar to blog comment moderation where human eyes would make sure nothing too spammy or stupid is sent out:

blog comment moderation

Suggested answers could be provided at the ready for approvers to include. A minimum reputation score could be required before a user is allowed to approve messages.

I don't know enough about the StackExchange platform to know if it would be possible, but it would be awesome if something like this could sit in a box on the sidebar for users to keep an eye on.

  • Thanks for the feedback - this system would have to exist outside the StackExchange network - but there may be a way to extend functionality using similar OpenID Authentication schemes Sep 9, 2010 at 17:20
  • Why do you say "this system would have to exist outside the StackExchange network"? Obviously it would at first, but my hope is we could get the StackExchange team involved...
    – 8128
    Sep 11, 2010 at 14:31
  • I think that's unrealistically ambitious. Ubuntu SE is probably the only StackExchange site that has an incentive to actively seek out external users in need of assistance. This idea is something the Ubuntu SE community would have to create and host on its own.
    – ændrük
    Sep 12, 2010 at 15:18

SE also has leagues, for example:


I think it would be great if the twitter account announced the user of the week or something.


I think this is an excellent idea. I think it would be great to get the main StackExchange team involved in this, and have something that can be used across all the StackExchange sites. Of course it would be great for the Ubuntu site to lead the way...

  • I've begun development of a script to facilitate most of this using George Edison's stackPHP library. Once it's up I'll have it released to StackApp, etc Sep 12, 2010 at 17:54

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