Zoltar the Conversationalist

Earlier this week, I added in some more functionality to my Skype bot, Zoltar. Previously, it would only respond when a user requested a fortune (a search on Twitter for a prediction).

I adjusted things so that when he is invoked (when someone begins a sentence with ‘z’ and a space), he will try to respond by pulling in a comment from Twitter.

There’s a lot of fun stuff at work, under the hood. I’m using RiTa.js to determine which words a user types are nouns and verbs. I then have a sprinkling of logic that checks for specific keywords (if you use ‘why’ in your message, I will add the word ‘because’ to Zoltar’s search).

For previous bots, I used to search for complete tweets, and use them 100% start to finish. For this approach, I decided to look for the occurrence of a phrase – and just grabbed the text that began with that, until the end.

This opens up a lot more possible responses. Granted, some of them don’t quite make sense, but they seem to hit more often than they miss. It’s a pattern I may end up tinkering with more, in the near future.

Woah, Zoltar!

Since I’m using Twitter as my source material, I’m also making sure to clean things up by employing wordfilter, by Darius Kazemi. I don’t think it catches all the crazy, but weeds out a lot.

For now, I think I’ve hit my limit for what I want to do with Zoltar. Functionally, he mirrors some basic Slack actions I wanted to have in Skype. And beyond the fortune and responses, there’s not a lot more I could see him doing.

I still have a few Easter Eggs hidden in the code, and I’m waiting for them to get triggered. I have to say – even after a week or so of having this bot be part of my work chat room, I’m not tired of him. I still get delighted watching my coworkers interact wtih him, asking for GIFs and fortunes. It’s really fun.

If you want to try things out, you can add Zoltar as a contact in Skype.

I Made a Skype Bot – His Name is Zoltar

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