C. Bots - TalkIRC Blog

C. Bots

8527 | 12.01.2024 | IRCGuide

“Want to run your own channel? Just get a bot!” That advice is hugely irresponsible and just plain wrong, especially when the person probably doesn’t even know what a bot is. Even if they had the patience to learn and got a bot set up, a lot of people don’t realize a simple fact: Other than simple accidental op of a stranger, bot problems are the most common reason that channels get taken over or shut down. Also, if you had enough real live humans (at least 10 as described previously), you wouldn’t have much need for bots anyway. After all, the whole point of IRC is to chat, and if you didn’t have enough people to keep your channel going without mechanical help, then as we said in earlier sections, you should seriously rethink whether it’s worth the hassle of trying to run your own channel right now.

We assume you have already read our FAQs about IRC roBOTs. The following provides additional advice.

What can go wrong with a bot? If not set up properly, they can be annoying or cause problems. It can be hard to get them to leave the channel to get ops back. They are not real users. Many people who join a channel with lots of bots do not understand why there are so many users in a channel, and nobody will talk to them. Bots take time and maintenance. They need to be secure. If someone gets access to passwords, or “hacks” into a bot or the account it is on, and takes control of the channel, the channel can be lost. If a bot is put on a server that does not allow them, it is subject to being k-lined (banned), and losing ops in the channel. Sometimes an attacker will get your inappropriate bot k-lined in order to take over your channel. The list goes on.

If you have decided you want to go through the effort of putting up a bot on a shell, you have a lot work to do. First, you have to find a shell account (an account on a UNIX system) which is secure and which will allow you to run “background processes” like bots. Some ISPs claim to provide “free” shells, but ask yourself what is in it for them? More specifically, how do they make money, since after all that is the only purpose of being an ISP? Consider these facts: Running a bot costs real computer resources - computer processing time, memory, etc. Also, bots tend to be the target of denial of service attacks which can cost a lot in wasted bandwidth or even shut down the whole ISP. So given all that, ask yourself why somebody would claim to give you all that for free? That’s why you should just shop around for a reputable, cheap provider that would probably give you an account for US$5-10/month. Shellreview.com has information on shell providers, and TheList.com helps you find local providers in the US and Canada.

Second, it is assumed that users who use UNIX and bots will learn how to use them by reading on their own. Get library books on UNIX. Read the ‘man’ help files on the UNIX system. Ops on help channels are not paid. They do not have time or interest in tutoring each new user on the complexities of UNIX or configuring a bot, or how to use their computer. Read your manuals, read the help files.

The “Eggdrop” bot is by far the most commonly used for IRC. There are many websites that describe how to set it up properly, including Egghelp.com and many others you can find on Google and elsewhere. If you join some channels, like #egghelp or #bots or #bothelp on EFnet and other large networks, they will usually have a website in their topic or announce it in an autogreet message. Read everything you can on those sites. If you do not understand it, keep reading, then go back and read again. Eventually, things fall into place. Asking in a channel for basic help like “How do I set up a bot?” or “How do I get/run a shell?” will just get you kicked probably, because that’s what lazy people do all the time. If after reading the documentation you still have some specific questions, they are more likely to be willing to help.

Third, if you must use a bot, be sure to use /motd servername for each server on the bot’s server list to make sure it is allowed or tolerated there. Also check from time to time, since server policies do change.

Finally, it’s up to you to configure your bots, especially if you have more than one of them, so that they behave. This means deciding whether or not to use “+bitch” mode to control who gets ops. Not using that feature can result in accidental manual ops of outsiders and thus takeovers, but having it can lead to accidental bot wars where bots/ops fight over who should have ops. Use your email list to communicate changes in the user@host masks of the ops, so that everybody is on the same page. Never loan your bots out to other channels where you are not actively chatting yourself, you’re just asking for trouble, and remember if those bots become the target of an attack on those other channels, the damage will spill over into your own channels.

That’s really the bare minimum, as we said there are many other sites devoted to the subject of IRC bots, if you really care about the stability of your channel, happy reading. Just remember what we said at the beginning of this section: there is no substitute for real humans. Rely too much on your bots and you will regret it.