Chat Room Bots: Part 1

James Edwards
Having regularly roamed the chat rooms of Yahoo and AOL, what has always fascinated me most is the phenomena of chat room bots. Chat room bots appear as women in heterosexual chat rooms and appear as men in gay chat rooms. Unlike you or me, when we wander into a chat room, these identities are not real people, but simply names of people whose chat interface is run by a bot, a software program that attempts to appear intelligent.

Obviously, real people launch chat room bots. The goal is simple — to lure an unsuspecting person into an interaction that will result in the bot referring the love struck individual to a particular website. At this point, the owner of the bot will receive a click-through royalty or may benefit directly from the redirection itself.

Let us begin with a real world example. I am now connected to Yahoo Chat and will have a conversation with a bot. Let's see what I come up with:

JamesHots: hi amy im joe 32/m/pic
amy_luana_541427: hey
JamesHots: so how are you doing beautiful
amy_luana_541427: doing fine thank you, what are you up to
JamesHots: well im listening to music its morning here
amy_luana_541427: i love doing it in the morning
JamesHots: really how romantic
amy_luana_541427: ROMANCE IS reall gratet
JamesHots: so are you in college
amy_luana_541427: yes yes yes babe
JamesHots: how old are you
amy_luana_541427: 20
JamesHots: cool, what do you look like?
amy_luana_541427: I looke like my photo on my profile, if you like me, come and see me inside - Amy
JamesHots: really i dont see a pic on your profile beautiful
amy_luana_541427: ohhh thank you so much sweetie.
JamesHots: do you love George Bush?
amy_luana_541427: I do I do I do
JamesHots: really do you love John Kerry
amy_luana_541427: oh YEAH
JamesHots: i would love to insult you someday
amy_luana_541427: anytime I hear the word LOVE, I think of being naked. anyway, if you want to see me now come over hope to meet you inside

I just got lucky. Amy is one of the more sophisticated bots that reads keywords from your responses. I am very impressed with Amy. She was able to answer her age and mimic back words like "love" and "romance." After I typed in a maximum of lines, Amy decided to lay down the pitch to me. A more unsuspecting individual might now already be in love.

Even though "it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all," let's look at Amy's mistakes. Amy's screen name is a dead giveaway that she is a bot. A first and last name followed by a large numeric is usually a bot. The reason being is that the individuals who launch chat room bots need to generate many unique account names on Yahoo. Maybe my soulmate will be amy_luana_541428?

The drawback to Amy is that she can't learn my name. I confirmed this again:

JamesHots: hi my name is james
amy_luana_541427: my name is Amy
JamesHots: so how are you doing today?
amy_luana_541427: fine and you?

It seems I can't stay away from Amy. But seriously, the Amy bot should be able to parse a person's name. It seems to have other strong recognition skills. Yet, instead of intelligently picking up my name, Amy uses the first four letters of my Yahoo ID, "rela." This makes Amy more of a software program than a pure-breed intelligent bot. To Amy's credit though, if my Yahoo ID happened to be Dave123, our love affair may have continued.

Ultimately the payoff for Amy is the unsuspecting Internet surfer who thinks Amy is the superfriendly energetic girl of his dreams. Once the love-struck human being clicks on the link, the people that control the Amy bot will receive a click-through payment and the surfer will now be a potential patron of the adult site Amy refers to.

The second type of chat room bot implementation is more of a broadcaster bot. Broadcaster bots appear as beautiful young women or men and speak to the whole chat-room and not just to people who message them. The payoff of this strategy is that the broadcaster bot can sell to many people simultaneously and doesn't have to be as smart.

We'll take a closer look at Broadcaster bots in Part 2 – stay tuned!

James Edwards is an independent Oracle software developer. He can be reached at