What I learned while building my first chatbot on Facebook messenger platform…

Few days ago I launched my first chatbot on Facebook messenger platform. I was surrounded by the buzz regarding the chatbots and I said to myself: “why not”. I just needed to come up with something my chatbot would be about. Luckily I am guy with a hand full of projects, so I just needed to pick my brain and I remembered that I still have that old horoscope web page and since 100 million Americans are reading their daily horoscope every day, I decided to build Anny — first fb horoscope chat bot.

Coding itself was not a problem. I picked PHP to start with. I know it’s not some fancy new language like node but I’m most familiar with it and I needed quick solution, not a learning course on a new language. But that’s a whole different story — not even a topic of this article -so I will just move on…


Anny — first horoscope chatbot

What I learned from the chatbot Anny?

1.People are naughty & rude. But that’s nothing new. Topics will soon or later get to that kinky point. I am not sure what’s inside of us but not only teenagers, also adults close to their 50s will ask you about sex and that kind of stuff. So I had to find someone who is educated in that kind of area. My chatbot is not THAT smart yet — so when people ask her that sort of questions, Anny just ignores them and tells them a funny and random joke instead.

2. Natural language processing is awesome but people are not quite use to it yet. Anny has already made more than 1.000 conversations and she has already got a lot of improvements. I found out people are still used to things like command from IRC bots. They don’t know what exactly to ask her or how to start a conversation with her. I will see how things go when younger generation, which is not familiar with mIRC, starts talking to her.

3. Structured messages can be quite handy but don’t overload people with them. At the beginning I made a mistake. Anny was replaying with those kind of structured and fancy messages to much and people were not sure what to think of it. So I changed it a bit. I still use them but not so much as in the beginning.

4. Promoting your chatbot is hard. The thing is that the conversations in chatbots are private and others don’t see what’s happening. So you have 2 options here — invest in advertising or try to ask people if they are willing to share your chatbot. And the best way to do it, is from your bot directly. Anny will soon ask you if you’re willing to share her with her friends. For that I used structured message button and fb dialog share via URL. We will see how that’s going to work out.

5.Give your chatbot a name & personality. First I started with Zodia.cc bot but I quickly found out that bot needs a name and persona so people are able to connect with it. They don’t want to talk with the brand — they want to talk with “a person” who represents the brand.


That’s basically it for now. It’s not much but it’s something. I am curious how others are getting along with their bots. I will see how things go from here and I will update you. Meanwhile, you can try and talk to Anny or help me by sharing this article.


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