A Twitter bot with the mission of congratulating those being congratulated
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…for improved Twitter citizenship.
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README.md

congratsbot

A Twitter bot with the mission of congratulating those being congratulated.

Notes

This is the code which powers @congratsbot. You can read its birth story at https://medium.com/@isaach/the-birth-of-congratulatron-ba9fb313e543.

It uses the Twitter Streaming API to gather all tweets containing the words 'congrats' or 'congratulations'. It discards those which aren't replies; with the remainder it tallies up which tweets are being replied to with messages of congratulations. When it sees a tweet which has garnered five congratulatory replies it throws in its own congrats (with a few heuristically determined exceptions).

Some things:

  • obviously the reply_count dictionary grows without limit. In practice the bot will stall (see below) before that becomes an issue. Nonetheless it'll probably offend your sense of properness like it does mine;
  • by design the bot shrugs at most exceptions and just moves on. The main priority of the bot is staying connected to the stream and processing messages as best it can;
  • we start the bot with a blacklist of users comprising those which have been recently @-replied. Ideally this blacklist would expire; in practice, though, it mostly doesn't matter because of stalls;
  • the Twitter stream will occasionally "stall", ie. remain connected but deliver no more messages. I use an external process to monitor this condition and restart the bot as necessary; and finally
  • this is the most Python I've ever written in one place. I'm keen to learn about Pythonic idioms I missed, and so much more, but be gentle.

Some ideas:

  • this thing obviously generalizes into a "wtf-bot" or a "omg-bot". From my early tinkering these seem harder to get right (require more heuristics) but are perfectly within reach; and
  • bot-as-a-service.

Important

Twitter bots which spend their life @-replying users who aren't following them enjoy a precarious existence on Twitter—this is a behavior pattern which, surprise surprise, looks like spam. If users commonly mark you as spam, or block you, you will get suspended. Be respectful, delightful, and fun… and perhaps you won't.