Small Realities

Inside the mind of Lance Schonberg

Gambling Twit-Bots

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I work in a small casino and have for a bit more than four years now.  It’s a strange job with vampiric hours and plenty of opportunities for people watching.  Not always exciting, but that’s okay since excitement often means a major problem, whatever field you work in.

On an about to be tied in topic, I’ve been on Twitter since very late 2007.  It’s a fun little social networking site that’s hit the mainstream now.  I’ve posted thoughts on Twitter previously and encourage everyone to check it out.

So, the Gaming industry and Twitter:  how are they related?  I occasionally Tweet from work.  On breaks, of course.  There’s no internet access from the Floor.  And I should say frequently.  Some weeks, most of my Twitter time is on breaks at work.  Okay, most weeks.  Tweeting from work, I do sometimes Tweet about work.  Nothing detailed.  Things like, “Busy Craps game tonight” or “Stranded in the Poker Room”.   Don’t read too much into that last statement – from a supervisory perspective, there’s very little to do in a Poker room unless two (or more) people are fighting about something and you don’t really want that.

Like so many other things in life, tiny actions on Twitter can have unanticipated consequences.  Some good, some bad, and some irritating.  Case in point, because I occasionally use the word “Poker” I’ve had a couple of people follow me on Twitter whose main recreational focus is Poker.  This doesn’t bother me and won’t stop me from following them back unless I check their Twitter page and find that the vast majority of their posts are about Poker websites, tournaments, and so on.  I’m not on Twitter for advertising; you need to be a human being.  If you want to post about your favourite site once in a while or your favourite bad beat, go ahead, but don’t drown me in it please or I might think you’re a bot and block you.

Which I guess brings me to the thing that inspired this post.  Twitter bots.  They seem to be getting more common in the last little while, or maybe I’m just noticing them more as I get more active and have a larger group of Following/Followers (no, I’m not playing the numbers game; Twitter is not a contest and my ‘larger group’ is only in the vicinity of 120).  I traditionally block bots.  I’m not interested in being advertised to by living beings, why would I want it from automated computer programs?  (The difference between promotion and advertising is a whole other discussion which I’ll leave for some other time, but a certain amount of promotion is cool.  If it’s the only thing you’re doing though, it’s called advertising.)

This morning, I found a new kind of bot on Twitter.  Maybe I should say a new kind of bot found me.  Probably, it’s just new to me.  The first one appears to have picked the word Craps out of a couple of last night’s conversational Tweets and offered me advice on Craps information.  I’m not sure what the second one picked up, but it wanted me to play Poker.  The ‘new’ thing about these bots is that they appear to be picking me out due to deliberate search mechanisms of some kind and Tweeting directly to me without bothering to follow me first or casting general Tweets into the ether to those who have been silly enough to follow them back.

This doesn’t bode well for advertising density.  Fortunately, Twitter has a ‘report Spam’ function that I expect gets a serious workout on a daily basis.  But what I really wonder about is how much response bots on Twitter actually get, exclusive of the people who set up auto-Follow and so wind up following them until they figure out they’re being spammed.  The risk/reward ratio must be infinitesimal for a Twitter bot to pay off, kind of like Nigerian banking.  I wonder how few hits it takes to justify the tiny expense of setting one up.  I do know none of those hits will be coming from me.

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