Other writing Things

I built 5 stupid Twitter robots and they failed to fill the void in my heart

My name is Ed, and I have a problem. My problem is that I can’t stop making terrible Twitter accounts, of which I have approximately 7,000. One time I pretended to be some sandwich spread and it got a bit out of hand and I ended up writing for the Guardian about it.

But, because I am quite lazy, another thing I do is make robots to do the terrible Twitter accounts for me. For example:

1. The Sausages Robot

@allthesausages was the first Twitter account I ever created (well, excepting my actual Twitter account). It searched for every mention of the word ‘sausages’ on Twitter and retweeted it (manually, it was all we had in them days). I didn’t really know how to write code back then so I bodged it together with a now defunct service called ‘Yahoo Pipes’ but once it was working it was easy enough to copy, so I made a few more.

First was the broadly similar @allthecheeses, then someone I worked with suggested @allyourmums, which searched for and retweeted anything containing the phrase ‘your mum’, and turned to be an effective way of creeping people out for no particular reason.

There was also @houseofsausages which tweeted every time someone in the UK parliament said ‘sausages’. They don’t say ‘sausages’ in parliament very much it turns out.

2. The Competition Robot

This happened because Ste Curran suggested it to me while we were drunk in a park. You know how companies do marketing exercises where they tweet something to effect of ‘Follow and retweet this and you could win a DVD of Tron!’? Well, what you can do is write code to search for those kind of tweets, and then automatically follow and retweet them, thereby entering competitions without even having to know that they existed in the first place.

So I did that. Even splitting our winnings 50/50 it seemed reasonable to assume that we would soon be very rich men! Well, it was not even as successful as this guy’s similar but more fruitful version, but over the course of a year or so we won:

  • A Call Of Duty poster
  • The latest in a series of alphabetical crime novels called something like G Is For Gun
  • 2 tickets to an event at Ministry Of Sound (I missed the message about this, sorry Ste)
  • 3 books of video game art (if anyone wants these I believe they are currently in a drawer in the offices of The Daily Mirror newspaper)

3. The Josh Whedon Robot

Once upon there was a man named Joss Whedon who invented space cowboys and lots of people on the internet cried because a) the space cowboys had their television programme cancelled and b) he would get referred to as Josh Whedon by people who were either less interested in space cowboys or specifically wanted to wind up the space cowboy fans. This eventually resulted in a Twitter account called @itsjossnotjosh that would look for people who said ‘Josh Whedon’ and correct them.

Because I am an actual child, I set up an account called @itsjoshnotjoss that did exactly the opposite. It’s gone now. It was probably kicked in by some nerds.

4. The French Robot

When I was first learning to tinker with Twitter robots I created a few accounts to test things, so I now have a series of intermittently functioning accounts that respond to my own tweets in different ways – there’s one that tweets them again, but in reverse and one that tweets them again, but with every word turned into a #hashtag (I read in a #webinar that this was #good for #twitter #SEO).

But my favourite one is the French Ed, who sounds a lot classier and more intelligent than me even when he’s talking about the bloke from Smash Mouth eating eggs.

It’s not working right now, because of something to do with Bing, I expect.

5. The “Annoy Alain De Botton” Robot

Remember when for a bit the hot new thing on Twitter was mashing up celebrities and philosophers, e.g. @KimKierkegaardashian?

Well if someone else is doing something amusing on Twitter you should obviously immediately start doing the exact same thing except worse, so I decided to mash up jumper merchant Alain De Botton and George Costanza from Seinfeld. But I couldn’t actually be bothered to write funny tweets, so I made a Twitter robot called @GeorgeDeBotton that just took De Botton’s tweets and changed the nouns to words like ‘Jerry’, ‘Kramer’ and ‘airline food’. I’m not sure it amused anyone else but me, but it definitely ticked someone off as it was eventually suspended.

Oh, and one time I made an account also copied Alain De Botton’s tweets but just transformed them all into capital letters so it looked like he was SHOUTING ALL THE TIME. That one didn’t last very long at all. Sorry Alain.

Anyway I guess the moral is that automating Twitter accounts is an excellent way to annoy Alain de Botton and get free stuff that you don’t actually want. If any venture capitalists want to help me monetise one or both of those things, let me know!

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