Go backward to Things That Might Go Wrong
Go up to IRC In A Little More Detail

Bots: Little Mechanical Helpers

Because of all these potential problems with the way IRC works, and because trusted channel operators can not be on their channel 24 hours per day, some operators put up robots (or "bots" for short) to take care of things for them. Well-behaved bots sit quietly on the channel and monitor what is going on. If something happens that meets their set of criteria for, say, a user to be kicked, the bot will try to kick the user from the channel. For this reason, bots usually are give channel ops. Bots generally are programs unto themselves and generally run on machines that have constant Internet connections and can handle multiple users, such as UNIX and VMS machines.

Service Bots

In addition to protecting the channel, many bots provide services such as help to new users, or serving channel-related files over DCC. Some bots even have their own mini-IRC network built in. This kind of bot is generally referred to as a "Service Bot."

Client Scripts as Bots

There is an increasing trend for people to run scripts on their personal machines that respond to specific circumstances, such as the word "roger" being said publicly in the channel. While these are really just triggered responses in client scripts, many people (incorrectly) call these "bots" since they act like service bots. Some of these scripts can be quite complicated and could actually be considered real bots.

Evil Bots

Because computers are much faster at providing specific responses to specific circumstances than people can type, many people build "War Bots" which exploit some of the problems with IRC and IRC clients to force people off IRC, kick everyone from a channel, and generally make people's lives miserable. Since it's generally much more fun to make a mess than to clean things up, there are many, many more war bots than protection bots, and it is for this reason that most servers explicitly state "no bots" on their login messages. (It is also the author's opinion that this sort of constant offense/defense game playing is what ruins IRC as a decent medium for communications.)


Copper is a service/protection bot. He runs a bot program called eggdrop which includes a scripting language that allows the bot owner to extend the bot and add personality. Although Copper's original purpose was to guard and protect the channel, he has grown into a kind of channel pet, complete with silly antics.
Neale Pickett <zephyr@nmt.edu>
March 2, 1997

Prev Up