What is a bot?

So, what is a bot?

Posted 5 years ago in

There are many ways you can define what a “bot” is; see for yourself in our Essays section. For the purposes of Botwiki, a bot is a program that uses an online forum, social media website, or other online communication tool or network for its output and, optionally, also for its input.

We asked the Botmakers community how they’d define the word bot. Here’s what they had to say.

A “bot” is repeatedly-run bit of code that does something. It’s also a derogatory term for humans posting disingenuously.

Kate Compton

For me a bot is essentially a machine contextually programmed to interact with users or serve a community of users with specific content for a specific purpose.

Rick Mendes

A machine (instead of human) powered intelligent automated service.


A bot is a program that runs repetitive tasks on a repeated basis; I would say they tend to be part of three categories: automating tasks that need to be done at a rate faster than a human can (web crawling, purchasing items like event tickets), mimicking human behavior (chat bots, spam bots, etc) and art bots (bots created for the sake of being bots, bots that disrupt our normal relationship with the technology, that sort of thing).

Of course, bots can blur the lines of these categories, and even challenge our ideas about what bots are or how to recognize them.

Liz Rush

A program that does something automatically, usually something a human would otherwise do.


A persistent process that generates multiple outputs.

Sam Raker

A machine that does something normally done by a human, particularly related to communication


A bot can be basically anything that automates functions for a person.


Anything that you converse with, interact with, or simulate conversation or interaction with. Anything made that tries to emulate human intelligence in any way.


In the physical world, a bot or robot is a machine that moves autonomously or semi-autonomously. In the online world, a bot is a software process that has an autonomous or semi-autonomous interaction with other services.

The autonomy can come from timers or event detection or somesuch, the services can include any protocol (SMTP, HTTP, NNTP) and/or hosted site on the Internet.

Bots usually (but not necessarily) have some generative aspect to them, i.e. they take advantage of the publication aspect of protocols and services on the Web to create and post content.

Bradley Momberger

An interactive text/voice based tool that performs a predefined set of actions.

A small automated program that does something useful or fun.

A bot is a tool that helps a person or people do something. In this case, a bot refers to a hosted entity that can help me do something within an infrastructure.

Text only interface that responds to natural language input.

Technology that is designed to perform an automated function for people, one layer up from a simple “tool” I suppose.

I define two kinds: automated bot that doesn’t interact w/ people, it just gathers data. The other type is the one we’re all excited about and is redefining how people interact w/ applications via text as an interface.

Any script that interacts with a user.


Creator of Botwiki and Botmakers, Botwiki editor, and Botmakers community manager.

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