A plugin-wielding, IRC-style Telegram bot.
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The plugin-wielding, multipurpose Telegram bot.

Public Bot | Official Channel | Bot Development Group

otouto is a plugin-based, IRC-style bot written in Lua for the Telegram Bot API.

otouto (including all plugins and documentation) is free software; you are free to redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU Affero General Public License, version 3. See LICENSE for details.

The Manual

For Users For Coders
Setup Plugins
Configuration Bindings
Control plugins Database
Group administration Output style
List of plugins Contributors


To get your bot running as soon as possible, see Quick start.

otouto uses Lua (5.3 is recommended) and the following Lua libraries: luasocket, luasec, multipart-post, dkjson, and lpeg. If you are using Lua 5.2, luautf8 is also required. It is recommended you install these with Luarocks. This can be done easily on Ubuntu with the install-dependencies.sh script.

To get started, clone the repository and set the following values in config.lua:

  • bot_api_key as your bot authentication token from the BotFather.
  • admin as your Telegram ID.

Some plugins are not enabled by default. If you wish to enable them, add their names (sans file extension) to the plugins table in the configuration file.

When you are ready to start the bot, run the launch.sh script. This script will automatically restart the bot five seconds after being stopped. If this behavior is undesired, start the bot manually with lua main.lua.

To stop the bot, send "/halt" through Telegram. You can exit with Ctrl-C (or two Ctrl-C if using launch.sh), but this is not recommended as it risks data loss.

Note that certain plugins, such as translate.lua and greetings.lua, will require privacy mode to be disabled. Additionally, some plugins may require or make use of various API keys and/or other configuration values not set by default. See Configuration for details.

Quick start

  1. Clone the repository. git clone http://otou.to/code otouto
  2. Install dependencies: Lua and the following Lua libs: luasocket, luasec, multipart-post, dkjson, and lpeg.†
  3. Add your bot token and Telegram ID to config.lua.
  4. Start the bot with ./launch.sh.

On Ubuntu, this can be done easily with the install-dependencies.sh script.


otouto is configured in the config.lua file. It is the single point of configuration for the bot, and contains any necessary user-specific variables, such as API keys, custom error messages, and enabled plugins.

This section includes an exhaustive list of possible configuration values for otouto and official plugins.

Bot configuration values

Name Default Description
bot_api_key nil Telegram bot API token.
admin nil Telegram ID of the bot owner.
log_chat nil Telegram ID of the recipient for error messages.
cmd_pat "/" Character (or string) to be used for bot commands.
lang "en" Two-letter ISO 639-1 language code.
about_text ... Informational text to be returned by /about.

Error messages

These are the generic error messages used by most plugins. These belong in a table named errors.

Name Default
generic "An unexpected error occurred."
connection "Connection error."
results "No results found."
argument "Invalid argument."
syntax "Invalid syntax."

Plugins table

This table is an array of the names of enabled plugins. To enable a plugin, add its name to the list.

Plugin configuration values

Name Description
google_api_key Google API key for google_images.lua and youtube.lua.
google_cse_key Google CSE key for google_images.lua.
lastfm_api_key last.fm API key for lastfm.lua.
owm_api_key OpenWeatherMap API key for weather.lua.
biblia_api_key Biblia API key for bible.lua.
thecatapi_key The Cat API key for cats.lua (optional).
nasa_api_key NASA API key for the apod.lua (optional).
yandex_key Yandex API key for translate.lua.
bing_api_key Bing Search API key for bing.lua.
drua_block_on_blacklist Whether to block blacklisted users, if tg-cli is in use.
cli_port The port to use for tg connections.
hackernews_interval The lifespan, in minutes, for each set of results hackernews.lua before refreshing.
hackernews_onstart Whether hackernews.lua should fetch articles at load (rather than waiting for demand).

Some plugins have many configuration values which warrant their own section of the configuration file. That section will be the name of the plugin, without the file extension. They are listed below.


Name Default Description
interval 60 The time, in minutes, between refetching links.
on_start false Whether to fetch links at load time.
private_count 8 Number of links sent in private messages.
group_count 4 Number of links sent in group chats.


Name Default Description
persist true Whether reminders should be saved if they fail for send.
max_length 1000 The maximum length for reminders, in bytes.
max_duration 526000 The maximum duration of a reminder, in minutes.
max_reminders_group 10 The maximum number of reminders for a group.
max_reminders_private 50 The maximum number of reminders in private.


Name Default Description
cleverbot_api "https://brawlbot.tk/apis/chatter-bot-api/cleverbot.php?text=" Cleverbot API endpoint used by cleverbot.lua.
connection "I don't feel like talking right now." Generic response for connection errors.
response "I don't know what to say to that." Generic response for when the API has no response.


The greetings table is a list of custom responses for the greetings plugin. Each value is an array of triggers, and the key for that array is the response. The default values are inserted by the greetings plugin if there is no user configuration. In the responses, #NAME is replaced with the user's name or nickname. The bot's name is automatically appended to all triggers. Triggers are not case sensitive.


The reactions table is also a list of custom responses, for the reactions plugin. Each value is a key/value pair, where the key is the trigger, and the value is the reaction. The reactions plugin differs from the greetings plugin by how it is triggered: A reaction command must be at the beginning or end of a line. Reactions may be formatted with HTML. Configuration values should be pre-escaped.


The eightball table is an array of custom responses for the eightball plugin.

Control plugins

Some plugins are designed to be used by the bot's owner. Here are some examples, how they're used, and what they do.

Plugin Command Function
control.lua /reload Reloads all plugins and configuration.
/halt Shuts down the bot after saving the database.
/script Runs a list a bot commands, separated by newlines.
blacklist.lua /blacklist Blocks people from using the bot.
shell.lua /run Executes shell commands on the host system.
luarun.lua /lua Executes Lua commands in the bot's environment.

Group Administration

The administration plugin enables self-hosted, single-realm group administration, supporting both normal groups and supergroups whch are owned by the bot owner. This works by sending TCP commands to an instance of tg running on the owner's account.

To get started, compile the test branch of tg-cli. On Ubuntu and Debian, this can be done easily with the tg-install.sh script.

Once the compilation is finished, enable the administration plugin in your config file. You may have reason to change the default TCP port (4567); if that is the case, remember to change it in tg-launch.sh as well. Run ./tg-launch.sh in a separate screen/tmux window. You'll have to enter your phone number and go through the login process the first time. The script is set to restart tg after two seconds, so you'll need to Ctrl+C after exiting.

While tg is running, you may start/reload otouto with administration.lua enabled, and have access to a wide variety of administrative commands and automata. The administration "database" is stored in administration.json. To start using otouto to administrate a group (note that you must be the owner (or an administrator)), send /gadd to that group. For a list of commands, use /ahelp. Below I'll describe various functions now available to you.

Command Function Privilege Internal?
/groups Returns a list of administrated groups (except the unlisted). 1 N
/ahelp Returns a list of accessible administrative commands. 1 Y
/ops Returns a list of the moderators and governor of a group. 1 Y
/desc Returns detailed information for a group. 1 Y
/rules Returns the rules of a group. 1 Y
/motd Returns the message of the day of a group. 1 Y
/link Returns the link for a group. 1 Y
/kick Removes the target from the group. 2 Y
/ban Bans the target from the group. 2 Y
/unban Unbans the target from the group. 2 Y
/filter Configures trigger-terms for autokicks. 2† Y
/setmotd Sets the message of the day for a group. 2† Y
/changerule Changes an individual group rule. 3 Y
/setrules Sets the rules for a group. 3 Y
/setlink Sets the link for a group. 3 Y
/alist Returns a list of administrators. 3 Y
/flags Returns a list of flags and their states, or toggles one. 3 Y
/antiflood Configures antiflood (flag 5) settings. 3 Y
/mod Promotes a user to a moderator. 3 Y
/demod Demotes a moderator to a user. 3 Y
/gov Promotes a user to the governor. 4 Y
/degov Demotes the governor to a user. 4 Y
/hammer Blacklists and globally bans a user. 4 N
/unhammer Unblacklists and globally bans a user. 4 N
/admin Promotes a user to an administrator. 5 N
/deadmin Demotes an administrator to a user. 5 N
/gadd Adds a group to the administrative system. 5 N
/grem Removes a group from the administrative system. 5 Y
/glist Returns a list of all administrated groups and their governors. 5 N

Moderators may only use these commands if the modrights flag is enabled.

Internal commands can only be run within an administrated group.

Description of Privileges

Title Description Scope
0 Banned Cannot enter the group(s). Either
1 User Default rank. Local
2 Moderator Can kick/ban/unban users. Can set MOTD. Local
3 Governor Can set rules/link, promote/demote moderators, modify flags. Local
4 Administrator Can globally ban/unban users, promote/demote governors. Global
5 Owner Can add/remove groups, broadcast, promote/demote administrators. Global

Obviously, each greater rank inherits the privileges of the lower, positive ranks.


Name Description
1 unlisted Removes a group from the /groups listing.
2 antisquig Automatically removes users for posting Arabic script or RTL characters.
3 antisquig++ Automatically removes users whose names contain Arabic script or RTL characters.
4 antibot Prevents bots from being added by non-moderators.
5 antiflood Prevents flooding by rate-limiting messages per user.
6 antihammer Allows globally-banned users to enter a group.
7 nokicklog Prevents kick and ban notifications from appearing in the designated kick log.
8 antilink Automatically removes users for posting external group links.
9 modrights Allows moderators to set a group's title, photo, motd, and link.


antiflood (flag 5) provides a system of automatic flood protection by removing users who post too much. It is entirely configurable by a group's governor, an administrator, or the bot owner. For each message to a particular group, a user is awarded a certain number of "points". The number of points is different for each message type. When the user reaches 100 points, he is removed. Points are reset each minute. In this way, if a user posts twenty messages within one minute, he is removed.

Default antiflood values:

Type Points
text 5
contact 5
audio 5
voice 5
photo 10
document 10
location 10
video 10
sticker 20

Additionally, antiflood can be configured to automatically ban a user after he has been automatically kicked from a single group a certain number of times in one day. This is configurable as the antiflood value autoban and is set to three by default.

List of plugins

Plugin Command Function Aliases
help.lua /help [command] Returns a list of commands or command-specific help. /h
about.lua /about Returns the about text as configured in config.lua.
ping.lua /ping The simplest plugin ever!
echo.lua /echo ‹text› Repeats a string of text.
bing.lua /bing ‹query› Returns Bing web results. /g
google_images.lua /images ‹query› Returns a Google image result. /i
location.lua /location ‹query› Returns location data from Google Maps. /loc
youtube.lua /youtube ‹query› Returns the top video result from YouTube. /yt
wikipedia.lua /wikipedia ‹query› Returns the summary of a Wikipedia article. /w
lastfm.lua /np [username] Returns the song you are currently listening to.
lastfm.lua /fmset [username] Sets your username for /np. /fmset -- will delete it.
hackernews.lua /hackernews Returns the latest posts from Hacker News. /hn
imdb.lua /imdb ‹query› Returns film information from IMDb.
hearthstone.lua /hearthstone ‹query› Returns data for Hearthstone cards matching the query. /hs
calc.lua /calc ‹expression› Returns conversions and solutions to math expressions.
bible.lua /bible ‹reference› Returns a Bible verse. /b
urbandictionary.lua /urban ‹query› Returns the top definition from Urban Dictionary. /ud
time.lua /time ‹query› Returns the time, date, and a timezone for a location.
weather.lua /weather ‹query› Returns current weather conditions for a given location.
nick.lua /nick ‹nickname› Set your nickname. /nick - will delete it.
whoami.lua /whoami Returns user and chat info for you or the replied-to user. /who
eightball.lua /8ball Returns an answer from a magic 8-ball.
dice.lua /roll ‹nDr› Returns RNG dice rolls. Uses D&D notation.
reddit.lua /reddit [r/subreddit ¦ query] Returns the top results from a subreddit, query, or r/all. /r
xkcd.lua /xkcd [query] Returns an xkcd strip and its alt text.
slap.lua /slap ‹target› Gives someone a slap (or worse).
commit.lua /commit Returns a commit message from whatthecommit.com.
fortune.lua /fortune Returns a UNIX fortune.
pun.lua /pun Returns a pun.
pokedex.lua /pokedex ‹query› Returns a Pokedex entry. /dex
currency.lua /cash [amount] ‹cur› to ‹cur› Converts one currency to another.
cats.lua /cat Returns a cat picture.
reactions.lua /reactions Returns a list of emoticons which can be posted by the bot.
apod.lua /apod [date] Returns the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day.
dilbert.lua /dilbert [date] Returns a Dilbert strip.
regex.lua /s/‹from›/‹to›/ Search-and-replace using PCRE regexes.
remind.lua /remind ‹duration› ‹message› Reminds a user of something after a duration of minutes.
channel.lua /ch ‹channel› \n ‹message› Sends a markdown-enabled message to a channel.
isup.lua /isup ‹url› Returns the status of a website.
starwars-crawl.lua /sw ‹title ¦ number› Returns the opening crawl from the specified Star Wars film. /sw
chuckfact.lua /chuck Returns a fact about Chuck Norris. /cn
catfact.lua /catfact Returns a fact about cats.
wait.lua /wait ‹duration› ‹command› Runs a given command after a given span of minutes.


otouto uses a robust plugin system, similar to yagop's Telegram-Bot.

Most plugins are intended for public use, but a few are for other purposes, like those for use by the bot's owner. See here for a list of plugins.

A list of standard plugin components:

Component Description
name Name of the plugin. Matches filename.
action Main function. Expects msg table as an argument.
triggers Table of triggers for the plugin. Uses Lua patterns.
init Optional function run when the plugin is loaded.
cron Optional function to be called every minute.
command Basic command and syntax. Listed in the help text.
doc Usage for the plugin. Returned by "/help $command".
error Plugin-specific error message; false for no message.
help_word Keyword for command-specific help. Generated if absent.

No component is required, but some depend on others. For example, action will never be run if there's no triggers, and doc will never be seen if there's no command.

If a plugin's action returns true, on_message will continue its loop.

When an action or cron function fails, the exception is caught and passed to the handle_exception utilty and is either printed to the console or send to the chat/channel defined in log_chat in config.lua.

Interactions with the bot API are straightforward. See the Bindings section for details.

Several functions used in multiple plugins are defined in utilities.lua. Refer to that file for usage and documentation.


Calls to the Telegram bot API are performed with the bindings.lua file through the multipart-post library. otouto's bindings file supports all standard API methods and all arguments. Its main function, bindings.request, accepts three arguments: method, parameters, file. Before using it, initialize the bindings module with its init function, passing your bot token as the argument.

method is the name of the API method. parameters (optional) is a table of key/value pairs of the method's parameters to be sent with the method. file (super optional) is a table of a single key/value pair, where the key is the name of the parameter and the value is the filename (if these are included in parameters instead, otouto will attempt to send the filename as a file ID).

Additionally, any method can be called as a key in the bindings table (for example, bindings.getMe). The bindings.gen function (which is also the __index function in its metatable) will forward its arguments to bindings.request in their proper form. In this way, the following two function calls are equivalent:

        chat_id = 987654321,
        text = 'Quick brown fox.',
        reply_to_message_id = 54321,
        disable_web_page_preview = false,
        parse_mode = 'Markdown'

    chat_id = 987654321,
    text = 'Quick brown fox.',
    reply_to_message_id = 54321,
    disable_web_page_preview = false,
    parse_mode = 'Markdown'

Furthermore, utilities.lua provides two "shortcut" functions to mimic the behavior of otouto's old bindings: send_message and send_reply. send_message accepts these arguments: self, chat_id, text, disable_web_page_preview, reply_to_message_id, use_markdown. The following function call is equivalent to the two above:

utilities.send_message(987654321, 'Quick brown fox.', false, 54321, true)

Uploading a file for the sendPhoto method would look like this:

bindings.sendPhoto({ chat_id = 987654321 }, { photo = 'dankmeme.jpg' } )

and using sendPhoto with a file ID would look like this:

    chat_id = 987654321,

Upon success, bindings will return the deserialized result from the API. Upon failure, it will return false and the result. In the case of a connection error, it will return two false values. If an invalid method name is given, bindings will throw an exception. This is to mimic the behavior of more conventional bindings as well as to prevent "silent errors".


otouto doesn't use one. This isn't because of dedication to lightweightedness or some clever design choice. Interfacing with databases through Lua is never a simple, easy-to-learn process. As one of the goals of otouto is that it should be a bot which is easy to write plugins for, our approach to storing data is to treat our datastore like any ordinary Lua data structure. The "database" is a table accessible in the database value of the bot instance (usually self.database), and is saved as a JSON-encoded plaintext file each hour, or when the bot is told to halt. This way, keeping and interacting with persistent data is no different than interacting with a Lua table -- with one exception: Keys in tables used as associative arrays must not be numbers. If the index keys are too sparse, the JSON encoder/decoder will either change them to keys or throw an error.

Alone, the database will have this structure:

    users = {
        ["55994550"] = {
            id = 55994550,
            first_name = "Drew",
            username = "topkecleon"
    userdata = {
        ["55994550"] = {
            nickname = "Worst coder ever",
            lastfm = "topkecleon"
    version = "3.11"

database.users will store user information (usernames, IDs, etc) when the bot sees the user. Each table's key is the user's ID as a string.

database.userdata is meant to store miscellanea from various plugins.

database.version stores the last bot version that used it. This is to simplify migration to the next version of the bot an easy, automatic process.

Data from other plugins is usually saved in a table with the same name of that plugin. For example, administration.lua stores data in database.administration.

Output style

otouto plugins should maintain a consistent visual style in their output. This provides a recognizable and comfortable user experience.


Title lines should be bold, including any names and trailing punctuation (such as colons). The exception to this rule is if the title line includes a query, which should be italic. It is also acceptable to have a link somewhere inside a title, usually within parentheses. eg:

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)

Search results for star wars:

Changelog for otouto (Github):


Numerated lists should be done with the number and its following punctuation bolded. Unnumbered lists should use the bullet character ( • ). eg:

1. Life as a quick brown fox.

2. The art of jumping over lazy dogs.


• Life as a quick brown fox.

• The art of jumping over lazy dogs.


Always name your links. Even then, use them with discretion. Excessive links make a post look messy. Links are reasonable when a user may want to learn more about something, but should be avoided when all desirable information is provided. One appropriate use of linking is to provide a preview of an image, as xkcd.lua and apod.lua do.

Other Stuff

User IDs should appear within brackets, monospaced ([123456789]). Descriptions and information should be in plain text, but "flavor" text should be italic. The standard size for arbitrary lists (such as search results) is eight within a private conversation and four elsewhere. This is a trivial pair of numbers (leftover from the deprecated Google search API), but consistency is noticeable and desirable.


Everybody is free to contribute to otouto. The most direct way of doing this is to fork and start making pull requests. If you have an idea and are not sure how to implement it, feel free to open an issue.

The creator and maintainer of otouto is topkecleon. A list of contributors can be found here.

If code or ideas aren't your thing, the project does accept monetary contributions. Bitcoin donations are accepted at the following address: 1GJGke82JthhcEcpgnC9qNp7B4sfsGsQSN.

Here's a list of donors:

Donators (in chronological order)
n8 c00