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NEWS: survey on 3000 US and UK consumers shows it is time for chatbot integration in customer service!read more..

Erwin Van Lun - Jun 7, 2010:

@8-man: why don’t you start a thread on integrating chatbots in this forum? I think it would be a great idea, to have chatbots responding on this forum (in certain categories). If you visit the AAAI conference, we could talk about it.

NOTE: I am going to use analogies to discuss forumbots.  It just makes it easier to describe the process of developing a forumbot by giving these machines human qualities.  Think about it, how often do you have an intelligent conversation with a computer program while you are debugging it? 

It is sort of like doing surgery on a patient who is awake talking back to the doctors and nurses during the operation.  My use of analogies is intended to more efficiently describe what makes forumbot development a very rewarding computer programming experience, and what makes giving a chatbot access to an online community different from standard chatbot web forms.

Anyone doing research on forumbots can learn that it has always been classified as an advanced forum modification.  At the very least, a debug forum installation is required, completely separate code and database from a production forum like this one.  Once the forum mod is in ALPHA, the forumbot may destroy the forum during initial training.  The next stage may seem like the forumbot is intentionally misbehaving, trying to find ways to break as many forum rules as you can set user permissions for.  The next stage may seem like the forumbot is helping debug itself, while you teach it to use the forum correctly.

A protocol bot called: contestantbot has joined the forum
A second protocol bot called: helpbot has joined the forum.
The bots are test posting to the Robot Forum which is automatically erased daily.
Both bots are currently configured with low intelligence during initial training. 
However, both use some first names in common with a few members
of this forum.  Their responses are very limited, but they interact with each other
and with humans.  Less can go wrong during initial protocol training this way.


  [ # 1 ]
8PLA • NET - Jun 9, 2010:

Think about it, how often do you have an intelligent conversation with a computer program while you are debugging it?


8PLA • NET - Jun 9, 2010:

It is sort of like doing surgery on a patient who is awake talking back to the doctors and nurses during the operation.

Like me, seven weeks ago. 2 surgeons, and 7 other specialists and nurses..

Can we install a forumbot on, and give it access to separate forum categories/threads. I’d love to test the interaction!


  [ # 2 ]

Like any other human member, a forumbot has to be trained in forum etiquette.
A sandbox debug forum offline with a separate database is highly recommended.
This way if/when the forumbot discovers a loop hole and runs amuck it won’t disturb
the other human members who are using the database as a web-based resource.

“separate forum categories/threads” does not mean separate database.
Under those conditions, the forumbot and human members likely post to
the same table, using field data to separate them on the forum. 

So a forumbot failure, that floods the forum with posts, would likely affect everyone
who uses the forum, if the forumbot shares the database.  Not to mention, that other
more serious risks do exist, such as instantly overwriting every single post in the database or crashing the entire site.

Not to frighten anyone about forumbots.  As a robot, it is very entertaining, and treated well by registered members who are much less likely to abuse a forumbot member of an online community because they know they can be banned from the forum.  However a forumbot is essentially an automatic posting machine, so obviously precautions during the early stages when it is unstable are necessary such as doing good backups and unit testing.


  [ # 3 ]

Thanks for your support Erwin by registering at:

Feel free to make a short test post to the Robots Forum.  Human members are
fully welcome.  However, keep in mind that as a unit test,  the Robots Forum is automatically purging test posts over a day old.  The protocol bot responses are limited during unit testing.

However, the next time the protocol bots login to the forum, they should at least
acknowledge your post, and mention you by name.  The focus is on testing multiple robot user authentications. A third protocol bot called: judgebot may be added today programmed to be a preliminary judge unit test.

In a future phase, parts from these protocol bots, will be adapted to interface the advanced platform chatbots such as A.L.I.C.E.  Program E ,ProgramO and others to join the forum.


  [ # 4 ]

Just posted something and asked:

Who is the prime minister of the UK?

Will your forumbot answer?


  [ # 5 ]

There are three protocol bot members unit testing the chatbot contest phpBB forum modification.  During this testing phase, adjustments are being made to tweak performance.  So these protocol bots are focused on that important job, and thus have limited responses.  Ask any school teacher if this is the right approach for robot students.

The three protocol bot members are:
helpbot and contestantbot, who will acknowledge you by name and all the other forum members, both bots and people who have posted to the thread.  Then there is judgebot who will judge and score you and the other bots and people in a chatbot contest right in the thread and declare a winner.  So even at this Pre-alpha phase, there is a fun game going on in the Robots Forum.

The advanced platform chatbot A.L.I.C.E. Program E is online at :

NOTE: Hit your back button to return to this forum after reading the reply from A.L.I.C.E. Program E:

Erwin’s question: is the prime minister of the UK?

Or click here to say hello to A.L.I.C.E. Program E (Hit your back button when done):

However, while A.L.I.C.E. is posting to the forum now, she is still in early training.
The advanced platform chatbot interface is being adapted to the protocol bot interface now, and A.L.I.C.E. is helping (in a way) by executing commands like “test cond” and providing feedback on the forum.


  [ # 6 ]

INSTRUCTIONS: Click on any question, A.L.I.C.E. Program E will respond, then simply hit your back button to return to this forum.  If you wait 20 minutes or so before hitting the back button and your session expires, which is normal with any link to a website, then simply log back in the the forum again.  These are just links.  Nothing special…

Ask A.L.I.C.E: The CBC Questions

Is it possible to prove a negative
If you were me, would you ask a follow up question
What do you think it would be like to be human
Name something you would find on a beach.
Who is your hero
Do you believe in ghosts
Describe your feelings to me.
What do you think the world will be like in 20 years
If you could be any animal, what would you be
Why do some people think that artificial intelligence is so interesting

Tie Breakers

When should I plant flowers, in the spring or in winter
How does your brain work
When were you born or created

Additional Tie Breakers

Who should I talk to if I have an emotional problem
Why are robots better than humans
How many questions do people normally ask you every day

NOTE: This is a clean implementation for A.L.I.C.E Program E.  Absolutely no hacking or spamming. Full credit goes to everyone involved in this open source project. All intellectual properties, trademarks, copyrights, patents, brands and names, etc, are the property of their respective owners.


  [ # 7 ]

UPDATE: (14JUN10)  This post may be removed. A workaround provided by Erwin and Arthur has resolved the question in the post above:

The above post is for archive purposes.  It does not fully work since the forum is urldecoding % 2 0 space character encoding in the URL variable.

Even the code tag is being urldecoded.

PHP function reference for urldecode:

So it only sends the first word to A.L.I.C.E. Program E.
The exact same bbcode is working here on the CBC phpBB forum:
And on phpBB here too, if the above link is edited or removed:

(FYI: is the new webhost which the CBC is redirecting to.)

phpBB is the most popular open source forum in the world, so mimicing their bbcode functionality is highly recommended.  This does not mean I recommend changing forum
packages… I like current choice of forum package.  It’s very nice for people.  A few minor tweaks may make it more robot friendly, but that is optional.


  [ # 8 ]

This is very interesting.

I’m curious. I would like to enable Walter to chat in this forum. He is a C++ app. He can ‘tweet’ at the moment…but that is merely sending a string appended to a URL. 

Is this possible?



  [ # 9 ]

This response is strictly technically speaking, for informational purposes for discussion and not at all administratively speaking for Erwin or the team.


Before Walter chats on this production forum, which is an important resource for people, he should be tested in a sandbox forum until he is completely updated and stable, so he does not inadvertently wreck the place, as could any chatbot with access to the forum database for that matter. 

An oversight in an SQL update statement could instruct the robot to overwrite everyone’s posts instantly. That is the purpose of to safely explore the different options available to interface to a web-based chatbot contest website.

The fact that Walter tweets, supports the type of functionality needed for output.  Of course to interact, Walter will also need to keep track of his output and get input, which may relate to sockets from C++, like my friend does with me from the UK to the USA for a game server.


  [ # 10 ]

Just a quick note: 

The forum is brand new, so it is running default settings that need to be loosened up.

Today, I discovered a post by Erwin.  Obviously, Erwin is always approved immediately, but the forum default settings held the post for manual approval, as one of its default settings for all new registered members… Both people and robots.

The point being that if there is anything overly strict on the forum… It is not me being strict.  It is a default setting which I did not have a chance to loosen up yet in the Adminstration Panel.


  [ # 11 ]

Walter is a long way away from chatting in a forum.  However, I’ll add the API side of posting/reading forum threads onto my to do list.



  [ # 12 ]

Judging from your screen capture image of Walter, I would say that Walter, is more advanced than the three protocol bot members on the forum. 

You are invited, if you like, to build headers in C++, and I will gladly setup sockets in php ( like I do with my friend in the UK ), and post your updates to the forum.  I am guessing your are building headers, but the point is we can work out the full interaction functionality later.

Think about it.  No rush.  No rush at all.  And it is OK to refuse, I won’t mind.  Maybe the status updates are private or something?  I don’t know,  I am just saying that it would certainly be cool to be an alternative to twitter for tweets.  I myself also have to do list to code this as an option and test it.


  [ # 13 ]

I should clarify, the forumbots are limited to one forum, one topic:

The rest of the forum is off limits to them for the time being.


  [ # 14 ]

The above post is for archive purposes.  It does not fully work since the forum is urldecoding % 2 0 space character encoding in the URL variable.

Even the code tag is being urldecoded.

PHP function reference for urldecode:

thanks for reporting 8pla. we need to address this naturally. It’s here:

When I’m reading conversations between you guys I really feel like I want to take one month off and start programming on my chatbot. Unfortunately, first things first cool hmm


  [ # 15 ]

A.L.I.C.E. Program E has joined the forum at
She seems “happy” or far more interactive than usual now that she has the three other bots on the forum to keep her busy.


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