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Guardian launches Twitter bot for story searches

Guardian introduces Twitter bot

The Guardian has begun testing a Twitter bot to help users search for news through the social media platform.

Users can send @GuardianTagBot a tweet containing a query or topic, such as “News about Google”. Within seconds, the TagBot will reply with a tweet containing a link. This takes users to a simple list of 30 of the latest Guardian news stories relating to that topic, sorted into categories and by date (pictured). Of course, it’s not just the news that can be searched: the right query could return recipes, features or blog pieces. The bot then asks for feedback as to whether the results it returned were accurate or not.

Of course, as the TagBot is still in beta, the Guardian warned in a blog post that it could make mistakes, and that clarity is important. There is also a 3000 tweets-per-day limit, as with most accounts, so if too many queries are made it will “fall asleep”. Furthermore, “TagBot will also struggle with personal requests like ‘Will you marry me?’. It’s not Siri.”

Bot bonuses

This search bot will allow users to jump straight from Twitter to the news story of their choice, cutting out the middle man. The process of finding a relevant story is therefore quicker and easier (as long as the bot gets it right), particularly for mobile browsers. Another benefit is that as busy timelines often drown out important news tweets, users can now simply ask the TagBot for the latest news on the topic they want to know about.

Adrian Mursec, senior developer at theEword, said: “It’s relatively easy to build a Twitter bot; however, the way the TagBot interacts so effortlessly with the main site’s content API is pretty special. Of course, the most interesting thing is what the Guardian is planning to do with this, and whether other news sites follow suit. Due to its simplicity and speed it could conceivably become the main way that we find news stories in a hurry.”

Written by Rachel Hand

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