In this blog post, we’ll be going over the “how”s and “why”s of providing feedback to our various bots.

Why do we need to give feedback to our bots?

One of the reasons we send feedback to the bots is to help us keep track of which reports have already been handled. We also collect some statistics, and then we can improve the filters used in the bot based on this feedback. Some of the bots are also built using machine learning, and so they need this feedback to improve.

The continuous improvement of the bots is one way to see how your feedback has affected the bot. We are also planning to start using SOPlotics to generate graphs and visualisations of the data.

The bots do log this data. Some bots, like Guttenberg, send the data to a dashboard like CopyPastor, which stores the data on its behalf.

Which bots accept feedback?

Additionally, our guest, SmokeDetector, posts possible spam or rude/abusive posts, and it takes tp (k, v), fp (f) or naa (n), among others, as feedback via replying to its report messages. See Feedback Guidance on the Charcoal website.

There are some bots which do not take feedback, but can be replied to. These include:

  • GenericBot tracks the posts you have flagged and reports edits to them. It takes an untrack as a reply command to stop tracking that post.
  • Notepad pings you back as a reminder, and takes a snooze value as a reply.
  • OpenReports lists the reports of Natty and Guttenberg, and takes an ignore as a reply command to not show you the same reports again.
  • TagWikiEditMonitor reports tag wiki edits and takes a tp socvr as a reply and then posts the same message in SOCVR.

When should we take action on a particular report and provide feedback to the bots?

We should be providing feedback to the bots whenever we take any action on a particular report. Action on a particular report means making actions such as flagging, commenting, or rolling back certain edits, on that particular Stack Overflow post. Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to act on each and every report that is presented to you in chat. The bot reports are just a reminder that the bot has detected something in that particular post, which may or may not warrant action.

If you are not knowledgeable enough to judge that particular report, feel free to leave it to the others in the room. The reports can always wait, and none of the reports are urgent or require immediate attention. Whenever you are not sure of what action to take on a post, and want to learn about the rules governing it, do make sure that you ask others in the chatroom.

In all cases, we are using Meta Stack Exchange and Meta Stack Overflow as our reference rule book. Please adhere to the policies described there whenever you take any action on a Stack Overflow post, and follow the appropriate guidelines described above while providing feedback to the bot.