Sep 162013
 

Sorry to all our users for the bot being offline all this time. Unfortunately there was a false flag campaign (Bottom of post) orchestrated by Cathy Brennan to report the application to Twitter for breaking its Terms of Service (ToS). So @The_Block_Bot account has been running and new people added but no blocks have been applied… Most of what was in that cut and paste message was complete rubbish but Twitter did feel the bot broke the rules on two points ->

1. User surprise. There is not enough notification to the user on sign up exactly who will be blocked, this is only seen after signing up. Also if the user wants to leave the bot there is no automated way of unblocking the blocks applied.

2. Spam detection. We established with them we do not report for spam but Twitter say their spam algorithm will be tripped if and when the block bot scales, with just blocks alone.

So to be clear for the hard of reading, Twitter are not saying it causes suspensions, they are saying it could, at scale, contribute to their spam algorithm in the future. So they unfortunately decided to suspend the application while we worked out these issues.

We have agreed on how to solve these issues and I’ve added new features to the bot. These code changes will be finished in the next week and passed by Twitter, this could take a couple of weeks in total. So by issue above …

1. User surprise.

  • All the blocks to be applied by level will be displayed on the sign_up page and the user will need to click a tick-box at the bottom to say they have reviewed and are happy these will be applied and will follow the block bot to review any subsequent additions.
  • An unblock bot will be created that when you select a level all the blocks at that level will be unblocked. This is GLOBAL so regardless of if the bot applied them, or you applied them, all the blocks for users at that level will be destroyed. Effectively blank-slating your account and you can block-away at will!
  • The bot will track all the blocks applied by the bot and if you unblock someone it will never try and re-apply that block. (Not asked for by Twitter but it is an issue with the bot currently)
  • Someone removed from the block bot, a mistake, will be unblocked for all users who applied a block via the bot (Not if they have personally blocked that person – hence why the bot is tracking this). Also not asked for by Twitter but obviously a flaw in the current bot.

2. Spam detection. To counter the issue of the bot scaling to 1000′s of users and it starting to suspend accounts we have made it so no more than X blocks can be applied to a person on the block list in a 15 minute interval. Twitter are happy X is a number that couldn’t cause suspensions regardless of how far the app scales, X to be fully signed off when they review the changes. So hopefully that will be the end of the meme that the bot causes suspensions!

So look out for a newer, bigger, better block bot in a couple of weeks! One passed by Twitter as NOT causing suspension and NOT being against their ToS

On that suspension note the conspiracy theorists like @D4M1ON and various recently added skepto-atheists have been complaining about suspended accounts… I’ve made it clear the bot is DOWN, you idiots (Even if I didn’t say exactly why)! Any accounts suspended since the bot has been down – over 2 weeks ago – are not due to it blocking because it hasn’t been blocking any accounts. So it seems that the “skeptic” community is happy to believe the bot causes suspensions when it isn’t even blocking, maybe they have been homoeopathic and hence super strong blocks! Not to mention Twitter thinking this *could* be an issue at scale, hence not something we have been doing or they’d have kicked us off as spammers.

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UPDATE:

There are a couple of other improvements not described above post coming / finished …

1. The Unfollower: As a result of the bot being spammed with fake followers there is a tool to unfollow everyone on your account that you are not currently following back. This was used to remove all the fake followers on the block bot and is available here -> http://www.theblockbot.com/theunfollower/

This currently only unfollows people you are not following, but in future versions there will be the ability to choose to unfollow people you are following but who are not following you back as well.

2. Blocker review: Some criticism of the bot is around the lack of review so there will be a step introduced for all new additions where if the user is not currently in the block list (Level 1/2/3) they are temporarily added to an invisible level 4. Only if another blocker comes in and approves the suggestion to block this person will they go on the list. The bot will tweet a review on an addition is required, all blockers/users/followers of the bot can comment on that person’s suitability to be added.

This lowers the possibility of people being added in haste. Also the second blocker gets to determine the actual level they are added at so if blocker1 adds a new person at Level 1 and blocker2 reviews and decides they are a Level 2 block then that second add has the effect of putting them in Level 2 and over-riding blocker1. Admins of the bot will always have their blocks put straight in the level they choose with no review necessary.

NB: Blockers, if you issue two consecutive #block commands for the same block addition this review will be bypassed, please do not do this unless there is haste required in blocking the user (They are a #level1 troll purposely attacking users of the bot) … Breaking this trust will likely lead to the admins removing blocking privileges.  If you want to report on multiple tweets for a block, issue a #block +screen_name then #report +screen_name and the tweets will be saved.

3. The UnBlocker: Part of the requirements for getting the application unsuspended is a tool to unblock all the users added by the block bot. This is available here -> http://www.theblockbot.com/theunblocker/connect.php

This can unblock all #Level3/2/1 and even every block on your account to totally blank slate it in terms of blocks.

 Posted by at 10:21 pm

  10 Responses to “The Block Bot Application Suspended …”

  1. “We have agreed on how to solve these issues”
    Good good now what about YOUR issues? Reading this gives an example of how out of touch you are with reality. –
    “Twitter says bot does X. We deny bot does X. Bot does Y Twitter says bot can’t do Y. Well bot doesn’t exactly do Y. Twitter says bot does Z. We don’t agree but it may do Z in the future. (we know twitter better then they know themselves) Now we are gonna improve the bot by doing what twitter tells us to and pretend it is better than ever!! Everyone who disagrees is wrong NONE of critics have any valid points keep that in mind.”
    At least you made some friends oolon even though they are dysfunctional cry-babies. You go play with your little bot now , run along

    • Your reading comprehension is not so good, I admit there are problems with the bot. Biggest from Twitters objections being the option to unblock, thing is no one has ever asked for that or complained about the inability to do that. So while an unblock bot has been a plan for a while, I’ve never implemented. I tried to get the block list members to write it for me at one point, but they never took to the idea.

      The user surprise stuff is subjective, I’d say again no one has ever complained about Twitters view that you don’t get enough notice of who is to be blocked. But I’m not going to argue with Twitter, it’s quite easy to change and stops that ever being an issue.

      Then there are two improvements that Twitter did not ask for, so no pretending it’s better than ever, it is!

      If it makes you feel better that people who want to ignore you are “cry babies” then good for you. I would point out you came here to play though, so its you who can “run along” now, little troll.

  2. Am I reading the last paragraph correctly – are you saying that the bot has not actually been operating correctly for over 2 weeks due to Twitter disabling it?

  3. Will we need to re-sign up for the Bot, and check the box? Or are current users grandfathered in?

    • Hopefully they will unsuspend the current app so everyone signed up will continue as normal… That does mean there will be at least one little bug –> If you manually unblock someone the bot will block them as it has no record you blocked them yourself. So there will need to be a second unblock, which will stick! Only applies to current users and blocks they already have applied.

  4. [...] The Block Bot Application Suspended … [...]

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