Most, if not all, of the moderation bots maintained on Stack Exchange (by SOBotics and others) report to a chat room. Unfortunately, one limitation of using chat is that the owner of the bot needs a dedicated bot account with at least 20 reputation points, on which the bot post its reports into chat. This is one place where the owner of the bot would be coming very close to performing activities against the Stack Exchange rules, as they are creating a new account separate from their main account.
Is creating multiple accounts legal?
Fortunately, Stack Exchange has been kind enough to allow us create multiple accounts legally, as long we follow certain rules. The official rules for creating a new account for a bot are detailed in this meta post. From there:
So long as there’s no voting or other dubious-looking stuff (like one account asking a question and another immediately answering it) going on between the accounts, it’s really not a big deal.
It is not a problem to have multiple accounts, as long as they aren’t voting for each other and doing other sockpuppet-y things.
Activities which are considered “sockpuppet-y” include:
- Voting on your own posts or comments
- Answering your own questions with the other account(s)
- Casting multiple votes on others’ posts or comments
- Supporting your own arguments (“+1: shog is right, don’t know why the rest of you don’t realize this”)
- Using bounties to circumvent the rep cap
- Circumventing suspensions, quality bans, or the rate limits on posting questions / answers / comments / etc.
How do I earn reputation for the bot to participate in chatrooms?
For a user to be able to speak in chat, they need 20 reputation. The proper way to earn this 20 reputation is listed here.
If you want a sockpuppet to have reputation, then earn it. That’s what I do with my sockpuppets, and I certainly have a lot more opportunities to abuse the system than y’all do. If you can’t play it straight while creating your bot, what confidence can we have in the bot being honorable once it’s up and running?
Two options for getting the required reputation for your bot are:
Suggest 10 edits, and get all of them approved through the suggested edit queue. Do not interact with any of these suggested edit reviews yourself. Namely:
- Suggesting an edit on your own post and immediately accepting it.
- Clicking “Improve Edit” on an edit suggested by your bot to circumvent the review process.
- Reviewing “Approve” on a edit suggested by your bot.
Add an answer/question and wait until it gets sufficient votes. Here as well, do not interact with the post in any way, such as:
- Adding an answer on your own post and accepting it.
- Voting up the answer/question posted by your bot.
- Adding an answer to the question asked by your bot.
- Voting up any comments left by your bot.
- Commenting on any posts created by your bot.
The first option is recommended as there are not many conditions associated with it. Similarly, creating a bot account on Stack Overflow is preferred as it can speak on both chat.stackoverflow.com server and chat.stackexchange.com server.
What do I do after creating a bot account and gaining 20 reputation?
After creating a usable bot account, remember to follow the directions presented in the above linked meta post:
Add a note in the “About me” section describing the purpose of the account.
Your bot is now ready to roll. Keep a few things in mind:
- Do not use the bot to star other people’s - or your own - messages.
- Do not use the bot to perform sockpuppet-y activity.
- Adhere to the Be Nice policy enforced in chat, even when not posting from your main account.
The bot account is no different from a normal user account, except that there is no human behind the screens who’s sending those messages. All rules that apply to a normal user also apply to the bot account.