A Different kind of community bot

(This post was first published on the Alpha Group’s Medium).

Please welcome to the world our new bot…. Pigeon.

It’s a different kind of chatbot. It isn’t a personal assistant. It won’t tell you the weather or make you a dinner reservation. It’s not a service bot of any kind. This is a bot built to foster community around sharing information.

The Opportunity For News and Information Bots

Much like the move from print to the web and the web to mobile, most news organizations are repurposing their content for a new medium (bots) instead of thinking about how the medium can change interactions entirely.

Most bots from news organizations provide content from one source, the organization that built it. As refreshing as its interface is, the Quartz bot only serves me Quartz content, and I have a better way of satisfying that need.

Pigeon doesn’t belong to any one media entity. It will belong to the users. It’s a content sharing community, akin to Reddit. We asked ourselves; “what would a social news community like Reddit look like if a bot became the main conduit for ‘browsing’ and ‘voting’?” Pigeon is our answer.

HOW IT WORKS

‘Read,’ ‘Post,’ and ‘Stats’ are the Main Actions on Pigeon

There are no profiles to create or users to “follow.” There are no likes or messages from your weird uncle. Once chatting with the bot there are two main activities — you can “read” or “post” content.

What’s different about posting on Pigeon?

On Pigeon everything you post is guaranteed an audience. It’s a small audience to begin, but it’s a promise we make for every post. If you’re a level 1 user, a post will be seen by at least 5 people. Those readers decide to “Spread” or “Bury” the content. An example below.

Think of it like posting to Reddit with a guarantee to be on the front page for a moment. The quality of the content will determine from there how long it will stay up on the front page, or if it will drop off. Every decision counts.

A Post that gets a lot of “Spreads” will find more readers and get more exposure.

The bot lets a user know the consequences of a vote and keeps the initial poster up to date on its progress.

Keep in mind, these numbers are from an internal alpha with only 10 users.

The more active and successful you are on Pigeon, the larger your audience will get. Rise in the ranks of the community and future posts will get a larger initial audience and more chances to spread.

Anonymous? Really?

Because submissions are anonymous, it doesn’t matter who submits the content, everything is based on merit. A celebrity with millions of followers on Twitter will start at the same level as everyone else on Pigeon. Pigeon is a meritocracy for the content and the user.

The bot will inform a user who regularly submits and curates good content for the community that they’ve “leveled up.”

There have been other anonymous communities before. And yes, they can quickly degrade into gossip or worse. But that’s where the community vetting of Pigeon comes in. Somebody that regularly submits bad content that is never “Spread” could see their influence diminished. We guarantee an initial audience, but it’s up to the quality of your content to keep and grow your audience.

Join A Pigeon Corps

Pigeon will foster an anonymous community to help surface what that group believes is the most important information to share on any given day. This can be links, videos, images and ideas. As we grow, we hope to expand this so that Pigeon will be in the service of many different communities around a variety of topics. Let’s call these “Pigeon Corps.”

While our community is about broad interests to start, we want to know what topic(s) you would like to see in the future. What future Pigeon Corps. would you like to join? Maybe you want one dedicated to Game of Thrones, or a specific hobby you have. Future Pigeon Corps could be dedicated to a geography (your town/city) or a specific business interest (technology, stocks, etc). There are no limits and we envision users belonging to multiple Pigeon Corps and switching between them.

We hope to devise a simple way in the future to determine when we have enough interest around a topic to launch a new Pigeon Corps. For now you should feel free to get in touch at: pigeon@advance.net