Bots! Making them work for you. Part 1: Choosing a bot and basic commands

When it comes to moderation and community engagement, chat bots are an excellent place to start. Bots can automate tasks to ease the burden not only on yourself as a streamer, but on your mod team as well. We’re not here to tell you which bots are the best, as each bot can bring something unique that might be a better fit for your channel than others — but we are going to help you figure out what you need from a bot and give you the tools to get started working with a bot.

So let’s dive in!

Client-side or online

A big factor in choosing a bot is where that bot is hosted — where it lives as well as how and who can access the bot’s interface. Client-side or self-hosted bots are ones that live on your PC. These bots only run when they are activated on your PC, meaning they won’t be in chat if you decide to do a mobile stream or use a different computer (unless you leave your PC on with the bot connected to your channel). These bots are connected to a user account, often a secondary account made specifically for the bot.

Online bots, however, are hosted on a server. Most often this is through the bot’s developers. If you have the tech-savvy, or a tech savvy friend, you can take a client-side bot and host it on an online server. That technical guide will be coming later. Typically, with online bots you cannot change the name of the bot in your chat — though some, like Moobot, offer that as a paid feature. Online bots are great because they often have a web-interface dashboard that you and/or your mods can use to add commands. This will reduce chat clutter.

A little perk about some online bots? Nightbot is extremely popular, which means it is often subbed to many streamers — giving you access to their emotes in your commands! But as always, use them responsibly!

Connecting a bot to a Twitch Account

To connect a bot to an account, you will need to sign into that account and get the AUTH token to connect the bot to the account. This will allow the bot to have agency over that account. It’s up to you whether you create a new account for the bot, or allow it to have access to your account.

Below is an example from StreamLabs ChatBot. The process might be different if you are adding a bot to other platforms.

Some bots, like StreamLabs ChatBot and StreamElements even connect to your broadcasting software, like OBS, to integrate it and your alerts in one window.

Features, features, features!

When looking for bot features, you will find yourself in a veritable smorgasbord of options. Most will have more features than you will ever need. This is when you will need to decide why you need a bot — what are you wanting the bot to do for you?

A partial list of features from PhantomBot

When it comes to features, the best advice will always be to test out the bot, look into it’s features and see if it’s something you like and will work for you. Sometimes a bot will have that one feature you absolutely love, but maybe the quote system is formatted in a way you don’t prefer. Is that a compromise you can live with?

Are you looking for more auto-mod features? Maybe you want a robust quote system. Or the ability to have multiple counters. Or a bot to greet people, maybe with a custom sound effect, when they enter chat. All of these are possible — and yes, there are bots which can do all of these things. Maybe the feature you really want or need is a VIP feature that requires either a one-time payment or a subscription. Bots cost a lot for developers to upkeep, so you have to ask yourself if this is a service you can afford to pay for financially, or in features to keep the product free.

Basic Commands

Hopefully you’ve decided on a bot (or maybe a couple to test out) — now it’s time to get your bot setup. This means you should familiarize yourself with your bot’s documentation and variables.

A bot’s documentation should give you everything you need to use your bot. Sometimes this is formatted as a PDF to scroll through, other times it might be a wiki. Searching for “[your bot’s name] documentation” should give everything you need.

Deepbot uses a wiki to show all of the possible commands and features.

Variables are the unique qualifiers that pull information for your commands and timers. This can be user names, a word or string of text after the command’s name, dates, times, or even random messages pulled from a list (as with most magic 8-ball type commands). Each bot tends to have their own variables and format for variables. Just to call a username, Nightbot uses $(user), Phantombot (sender), and Deepbot @[email protected].

If you are a moderator who has to work with a variety of bots, a tip is to bookmark each bot’s documentation and/or variable list with the link renamed for each stream. If the bot is hosted online, you can keep the link to its dashboard with the documentation in your bookmarks.

If you’re curious about some common commands for streamers, you can check out our post on this! Some bots might have commands that are built into bot-based game or loyalty systems that you cannot delete, or a “standard” command like !poll or !followage. If you have commands for your social media, or maybe about a charity you’re supporting, you can put these commands on timers so that they are automatically sent into chat at certain intervals.

Like all moderation in chats, be mindful of your frequency as to not spam your own chat.

Developers are constantly working to improve their bots. If you like the bot you end up with, consider donating to help support the developers and keep the bot running.

We’re always looking to hear about new and amazing bots! You can send your recommendations to us on Twitter @StreamerSquare.