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Introduction: Hacks #44-50

IRC is strongly oriented around communities. Each channel is essentially a community in which everybody knows one another and everybody shares a common interest in the channel's topic or theme. Lots of IRC communities run a bot so they can access useful features specific to that channel.

One fun application is to use a bot like PieSpy to monitor messages being sent within a channel. This can be used to infer a social network in the channel and draw pretty diagrams that show the main players and how they interact with other users. While you could argue that this is not strictly useful, it is certainly entertaining, and most people find this kind of use interesting. A more practical use of social networks is employed by TrustBot, which can be used to determine how much you should trust a stranger on IRC.

Infobots are a useful way of storing factoids, which can be accessed later by asking the bot about a particular factoid. Not only is this useful for forgetful people, but you can introduce channel newcomers to factoids stored in the bot without having to do all the typing yourself.

The final hack in this chapter shows you how to pass notes to other users—an answering machine for IRC, if you prefer. This will allow messages to flow promptly and smoothly around your community, even if the recipient isn't online when the message is sent.

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