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The discussions about social media bots can be quite passionate... The different point of views are usually completely opposed.

robotThe opinions on the use of bots in general - not only on Twitter - are well divided. We could sort them in 3 categories:

  • Those who think that bots are only for spammers and scammers.
  • Those who are actually using bots to spam and possibly scam people.
  • Those who think that bots can be used cleanly, reasonably, and honestly.

I'll be direct: I'm part of the third category. And as such I've been involved once or twice in some very animated discussions... People from the first category can be quite aggressive. I can't blame them for that...

FACT: there are people who use bots to mass-spam Twitter (or other social networks, really... I'm using Twitter as an example here as this is the one I know best but the idea applies to Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn...). It is the cold hard truth.

FACT: bots can help you manage your accounts, sort information, and communicate with people efficiently. This, also, is true!

So in the end, it all comes down to one factor... The human factor. The users are responsible for mis-using the software. This is my point of view. Now some people will tell you that these bots are built from the ground up with the spamming objective in mind... I see where the idea may come from, but I have to disagree. This is the same argument that some huge industries I won't name (but everyone knows who I'm talking about...) have used to fight the peer to peer networks. One of the main counter-arguments has always been: these tools can be used to share files legally (there are some free contents out there, they're not so hard to find), and one should not make a confusion between the tool, and what the users are making of it. Well, the same thing applies here...

I remember being called a "spammer who has convinced himself he's using a bot responsibly". This is quite a harsh statement, especially when you don't know how I'm using my bots... Oh well, wait, that person knew how I'm using my bots because he had read my article entitled "Pinterest automation code of conduct". In this article, I am clearly explaining that there are things that should not be done with a bot - in this case on Pinterest, but remember, the idea is the same elsewhere.

So I'm saying it loud and clear: yes, I do use bots. And yes, I pretend to be using them the right way. I do interact with people, I don't post automatic comments (or auto tweet @replies) - instead, I do that manually - I don't post 20 links an hour, I reply to people who tweet @me, etc...

If you intend to use a bot, please read my Pinterest article above. The social networks should be friendly places, nobody wants to see them full of spam... Except the spammers themselves maybe, who can really ruin them for everyone else.

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