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09 January 2013

The Gun Bots Are Elusive

Several of the blogs I follow (too many to link to here) mentioned getting inundated with comments from trolls attempting to derail reasonable conversation about gun violence in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings. Some speculated that many of the comments might be from bots and not humans. I realized that one could easily test this so, three weeks ago, I began an experiment. I started a blog I titled Bot Experiment Blog. I simultaneously published 13 posts. Each began with an image (so that it wasn't readable by a bot) that read:

The posts themselves consisted of a search term that I thought might trigger such a bot repeated 50 times to increase the relevancy to such bots. These terms were "Gun Lobby," "Gun Control," "Guns," "Gun," "NRA," "National Rifle Association," "Firearm," "Firearms," "Gun Violence," "Gun Rights," "Second Amendment," "Gun Ownership," and "Gun Regulation." I didn't do any advertising for the blog (e.g. tweets or Facebook posts). The blog got 64 hits almost immediately and then none since. No one (or thing) has commented on any of the posts.

I am quite shocked, actually. I was pretty sure that I would attract some bot attention or, at the very least, a human or two who just couldn't resist posting comments. This certainly isn't definitive evidence that there aren't pro-gun bots crawling around the interwebs. It's entirely possible that I used the wrong terms or that the bots are more sophisticated that I had imagined.

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