What Makes A Chat Bot?

What Makes A Chat Bot?
Photo by Mohamed Nohassi / Unsplash

It’s a simple question that many of us simply don’t ask. What is a chatbot? Is it a mix of algorithms that take random commands from viewers in chat and blends them together to spit out a coherent replay that was preordained? The answer might surprise you as it's quite simple really. These little bits of code have been with us for many many years. Taking on some of the more mundane tasks a content creator could ask of. From displaying responses that a viewer has triggered by entering a command to collecting names within a queue so that the creator can pull from them to add as the next player in a game. 

To put things simply, there are at least two different flavors of a chatbot. There’s the online version in which most if not all of the user experience is hosted on a website with a user-facing dashboard. The creator would sign up on the website and all of the options and features would live within the site. There’s no need to download software onto your computer and the creator is free to work on just the content they make. You don’t need to make sure to start up a program before you start your streaming encoder. There’s also another reason to look into web-based chatbots as the bot doesn’t touch any of the resources of your computer. The only effect it has is that if you have the browser tab open, then only the browser is the one using the computer resources. 

The other method is to use a bot that is installed locally on your computer. The positive initiative of having your bot on your computer is that you have access to more control over what the bot is capable of. You can set up a series of actions that when a viewer redeems a channel point, the bot triggers OBS to change a scene to another. Random sound effects would play or even multiple gifs will play as an overlay. There are a lot of options that can be presented to you as a creator using a locally installed chatbot. The bot has access to your OBS install that a web-based bot would not be able to reach. Again, the locally installed bot has many positives but, you have to make sure you start it up before you stream. True, you can set it up within your OS to have it start when you first turn on your computer. The issue is that your computer resources are now also being used by the chatbot and your streaming encoder. Potentially giving you and your content less to work with, depending on the power of your computer.

Another con that a locally based bot will have is that out of the few bots available, only one that I know of is cross-platform. Meaning I can install the bot on a Windows-based machine but also on macOS or even on a Linux machine. All of the other bots are only Windows capable as I can’t fault the developers of these programs as the majority of creators are using a Windows computer. As someone that utilizes both operating systems with a dual pc setup, my options were very limited. My use case is extremely rare but is essential for me and there are others in the same position as well. This is mainly the reason why I rely on a web-based bot. For this, I’ve been using Beepbot for quite a while and even became an ambassador for them. They are a small development team that works on continuing to improve the bot and offers options that can be used on Twitch, Trovo, Kick, and Picarto. Now, not making this post into an ad but I do want to disclose my association with them. In the end, you as a creator ultimately have to make the choice of what fits with your workflow. We can bring attention to the chatbots and all of the options found within. You should go out and try them all. See which one makes your life easier and is still being actively worked on as well.

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