IRC statistics bot

Should there be a bot in the IRC channel that collects statistics?

  • Yes! I think it would be helpful.

    Votes: 9 56.3%
  • No! I think it invades privacy.

    Votes: 2 12.5%
  • No, for some other reason (post below)

    Votes: 2 12.5%
  • I don't really care.

    Votes: 3 18.8%

  • Total voters
    16
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DannyTheNinja

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Update: Statistics are now world accessible. See this post for more information.

I've seen a few requests lately for a way to tell how many people are currently in IRC, and how many are active. A while ago I wrote an extremely annoying and useless IRC bot called dannybot that provided psychiatric help and greeted you when you entered the room. I was thinking, what if I modified the bot to instead record statistics about current activity, such as number of members in the room, number of messages seen in the last 10 minutes, etc. and show those on a public web page for all to view? Would it be a good idea or just useless, and would it spur more people to enter the chat?

Edit: A few concerns about privacy have been raised. dannybot only records your nickname and the time of your message, but at this point archives the data indefinitely for the purpose of long-term statistics. Opt-out instructions are shown below. Opinions are welcome.

--Danny :ninja:
 
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Martin

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Moved to administrative forum anyhow as it still is administrative

I don't see a problem with this, as long as it loses the old greetings feature and doesn't log (well at least that they aren't public). Other then that I don't have a strong opinion on this.
 

DannyTheNinja

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I'm actually working on modularizing the bot code. e.g. there's a doctor module, a greeting module, a snippets module, etc. The greetings function was really just for (stupid) fun and the module wouldn't be enabled in the production version of the bot because I understand how annoying it is. (That and people were abusing it.) That said, all chat mods will be whitelisted for elevated privileges by the bot and will be able to say things through it, but there is a word censor in there that is used on all outgoing messages.

--Danny :ninja:
 

recovery

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I was thinking, like the icechat, Would it be possible to integrate it into the forum somehow? Where it would display who was in the chat. But as most people idle for ages, it seems it might be an idea to place the last 4-5 messages said?

I don't really see the point in it. I can't see it being used much. I am mostly logged in anyway, so I'll conduct my own stats as I need. Which isn't often. Usually when someone last said something.
 

DannyTheNinja

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I'm planning to make an API available so that the bot's data can be pulled from my server in a computer-readable format, say a serialized PHP array. That way if Moo ever wants to display stats on the forum, he can just set up a cron job to pull the data from my server every 10 minutes and show them in the forum. Or I could just give him the source code and he could run the bot from the ADISC server. Up to him I guess.

--Danny :ninja:
 

kite

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I was thinking, like the icechat, Would it be possible to integrate it into the forum somehow? Where it would display who was in the chat. But as most people idle for ages, it seems it might be an idea to place the last 4-5 messages said?

I don't really see the point in it. I can't see it being used much. I am mostly logged in anyway, so I'll conduct my own stats as I need. Which isn't often. Usually when someone last said something.
i think if it showed who was in the chat or if or when the days and times of peak hours would really boost the activity in the irc chat. it would give it what i found the best about flash chat without all the lags and hang ups.
 

DannyTheNinja

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A few people have been complaining that the bot raises privacy concerns. That's understandable and I'm developing a modification to the bot's code that allows you to anonymize your nick in the database or delete it entirely. Either one will alter the validity of statistics, and your nick will technically still be in the data file because it has to be listed as anonymous, so I request that the feature be used sparingly. In the mean time here's the bot's privacy page:

dannybot is designed to collect IRC statistics. It does this by recording raw data and then letting the frontend (index.php and a few backend functions in stats-fe.php) look at the data and draw graphs and measurements based on it.

The only information dannybot collects is

  • The time of each message
  • The nick that posted that message
  • Whether that nick has certain flags, like operator/voice
Hope this clears up some questions. I'm open to hearing what people think since this is still a new idea, so please post if you have any comments or concerns about it.

--Danny :ninja:
 

ayanna

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You fail to mention it also logs IP addresses. *smiles sweetly*

Anyway..I believe that the requests were regarding the flash chat as the # of people chatting and a list of participants in the flash chat used to appear in the top left of every page of the site.

The following is PERSONAL OPINION!

I personally don't see the point, or the need, for 'stats' from the IRC channel. But if such stats were required I would think it would be necessary only to have the number of users in the channel at any given time (as was listed for the Flash Chat)

Now, I notice that this feature is not 'on' any more for flashchat, so one presumes that either it's not compatible with the new forum software (upgrade from previous version), or 'the powers that be' have decided it wasn't a necessity.

I personally feel that the monitoring of activity within the channel by any individual is an invasion of personal privacy, especially when such monitoring involves logging of personally identifiable information such as user names and IP addresses.

On a side note: There is always someone in the IRC channel, unlike the flash chat, and usually there is someone there willing to chat. The vast array of time zones within the ADISC community pretty much guarantee that.

In the old days (of #TBDL) there were fewer members, thus fewer users of the IRC channel, and the channel was most active at a specific time of day. Thus, it would have been nice to know if there were people there and/or activity happening at a given time, that is no longer true!

For instance...I've been logged into IRC for the past 15 hours..there is not one hour of time in which there has not been some activity in the channel!

A 'stats bot' is redundant!
 

Martin

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You fail to mention it also logs IP addresses. *smiles sweetly*
It doesn't I've looked at the data myself and you can do too.


Anyway..I believe that the requests were regarding the flash chat as the # of people chatting and a list of participants in the flash chat used to appear in the top left of every page of the site.

The following is PERSONAL OPINION!

...

Now, I notice that this feature is not 'on' any more for flashchat, so one presumes that either it's not compatible with the new forum software (upgrade from previous version), or 'the powers that be' have decided it wasn't a necessity.
No longer compatible

I personally feel that the monitoring of activity within the channel by any individual is an invasion of personal privacy, especially when such monitoring involves logging of personally identifiable information such as user names and IP addresses.
The only thing that is logged is you username and the time you said something. The username you can also get from this forum.
 

DannyTheNinja

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dannybot doesn't log IP addresses. It only logs the nick and time, and whether the user was an op or not. In fact, even if the logging module is loaded (it's not with dannybot, only with a different version i run on a different channel on a different network) it only logs the nick, timestamp, and message. I would only have dannybot log messages if I was ordered to do so by a member of ADISC's administration team, and that doesn't look like it will happen.

In the past I've had dannybot do stupid things like greet people ("Hi, dannytheninja." and "Welcome back.") and echo things that people say. I must reiterate that all of this functionality is disabled now. To be honest, I was messing around when I did that before but it was still immature of me because I didn't take it down when people said they were annoyed by it. I'm sorry for that. I rewrote dannybot because I wanted him to be a useful addition to ADISC, not so that he can annoy people. Furthermore, all of the IRC mods have control over the bot and can shut him down if he malfunctions or is being abused.

Mods - to do this, type "/msg dannybot Shutdown". To suspend dannybot and keep him from logging statistics or responding to requests, type "/msg dannybot Suspend". Sometimes if I'm running him in daemon mode he restarts automatically if you shut him down, but I'm working on fixing that and in the mean time suspending him will effectively keep him shut up.

For everyone, I've added some privacy settings. dannybot now gives you the ability to disable recording statistics about you. To clear all your past statistics, type in any channel:

Mods can delete a user that was spamming or flooding from the logs with "!deluser | username".

You can also prevent yourself from being logged in the future with:

/msg dannybot anonymize
Remove yourself from the anonymization list with:

/msg dannybot denonymize
--Danny :ninja:
 

recovery

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As, so far the stats are no longer processed or used after 24hours, would it be best for privacy concerns for the old 'out-dated' stats to be destroyed? Or at the very least not to be held longer than what is necessary?
 

DannyTheNinja

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UnMarth: I'll try to get that implemented. You're right - it is probably better that data no longer needed should be destroyed or at least archived in way that it is inaccessible to the frontend script. I was hoping to make the statistics also work over a long-term period so that we could watch daily/weekly/monthly growth or shrinkage of the channel. What do you think would be the best balance between privacy and long-term statistics? Would you feel better with all data more than, say, 48 hours old being destroyed, or would you consider the statistics anonymous enough to be safe for long-term record-keeping?

--Danny :ninja:
 

recovery

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Also, you might want to think about putting a robots.txt file in the root directory of the stats. So most of the crawlers won't crawl it. Not that its working at the moment :p
 

DannyTheNinja

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Stats are moved to a different server. That's why they don't show up on scribus. Had to start hosting the bot from my main server because scribus is at school with me every day now. I have to sanitize WHOIS info and hopefully I'll be able to eventually post a public link. The only way to keep it anonymous though, will be to buy a whole domain or use a free DynDNS account, and I'm not sure I will be able to reliably do either.

EDIT: I've moved the bot to a different server with a static IP. The statistics are now accessible at http://dannybot.webhop.net/. Please PM me if you have any privacy concerns. All requests will be considered.

--Danny :ninja:
 
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