#TheBotFather: Basics | CLT Blog
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#TheBotFather: Basics

Posted on 10 Dec 2009 by Desiree Kane


Part of what makes Twitter so enchanting is that it’s still considered “safe” (for the time being) in the minds of those who use it. The average person isn’t bombarded with some of the net elements they encounter nearly everywhere else: there are not tons of unwanted ads, or spam, or what I can only loosely describe as the archetype of a creepy ‘net weirdo. One element people may not know about though, is bots.

Bots are, at the simplest of levels, a small PHP or ruby script that you interact with on Twitter. They can be downright handy. But sometimes, the internet gives way to a new element of social interaction.

For example, Charlotte’s own: #TheBotFather.

It’s not crowd-sourced. It’s a cartel if anything.” says local social media expert Lyell Petersen (@93Octane);

#TheBotFather is Charlotte’s very own comedy cartel with a style of performance artistry that stands alone. What makes them different than other local improv groups is their anonymity, and how they poke fun at people they know or just those generally in the CLT community. It’s one way Charlotte’s notoriously egomaniacal social media community polices itself and keeps it’s attitude in check.

I don’t even think “bots” is the right term for these things.” Says Ben Ullman (@budesigns) of TegaCayTalk.com; “A bot automates tasks, follows people back, pushes RSS feeds, does all those generally inane tasks that users don’t want to be bothered with, repeatedly. Bots tend to be ignored. Sure, they are derided, and criticized as all that is wrong with Twitter — people, brands, companies who are not engaging, but rather automating, aggregating, and generally shoveling crap out into the twitterverse. But, then finally ignored. These bots are not that.” he says;

They engage. They know you, and they attack you. They have personality, and they have an agenda. They are out to get you.”

Many Charlotteans unknowingly may follow and even interact with #TheBotFather’s incarnations. Some of local social media’s biggest names are caught in the fray on a multitude of levels, ranging from creating content to being hapless victims of what Jeff Elder called “mean graffiti”.

One individual, so concerned with online reputation management (ORM) they could not give their name, explains it better:

There’s the meme bots like

… the ones where the name is almost like a reverse #hashtag. As hashtags are used as the punchline to a joke. The meme bot dedicates its existence to one punchline and makes variations of the same joke, over and over.

There’s characters, like

… hmmm, not many characters left. RIP.

… maybe these really are just members of the third category:

The parodies. These seem to make up the vast majority:

… you get the idea everybody who is anybody in CLT — and some beyond — gets a parody bot.

At any moment one of #TheBotFather’s characters might accost you with something highly offensive, or pop off with something hilariously satirical that leaves you giggling if you’re living in or around Charlotte. It’s this interaction on a personal level that really brings these comedians to the cutting edge of social media and improv comedy itself.

It’s helped me take myself less seriously both personally and professionally.” says Peterson. “I like them, hope they stay … Twitter wouldn’t be Twitter without them.”

Tomorrow CLT Blog will run the final post of this three part series: #TheBotFather: Brains.

Want to see #TheBotFather in action? This evening at 6:30 tune in to the CLT Blog exclusive interview with some of Charlotte’s most notorious bots!


  1. Megan 13 Dec 2009 at 2:10 PM

    Nice one! Love the article! You have a great insight and ways of categorizing SN in a way that is understandable. It can be hard to describe to others who are outside of the SN realm (and even sometimes to those in it!) the nuances of each type of “bot”

  2. Pingback: #TheBotFather: Brains | CLT Blog

  3. @elektrosoundwav 15 Dec 2009 at 12:49 PM

    heh, this is reminiscent of LJ trolling