If you’re running a Mastodon account that isn’t monitored by a human, it’s considered polite to mark it as an automated account (also known as a bot).
How to add the “Automated” label to an account:
- Sign in through your server’s website or web app
- Click on your profile image to go to your profile page, then click Edit profile
- Scroll down to the box marked This is an automated account, tick the box
- Click Save changes
I thought bots were bad? Why is Mastodon encouraging them?
Bad bots are discouraged and blocked, good bots are encouraged and followed.
Good bot accounts can be extremely useful. For example, some bots post sports results or weather alerts, which are exactly the kind of thing people might appreciate seeing in their feeds at any time of day or night. This kind of account would be difficult for a human to maintain 24 hours a day.
Bots can also be entertaining, with some bots running games or posting amusing content.
Can bots interact with people?
Some bots can interact, yes. When there is interaction, it is usually automated, hence the “Automated” label. Vote Chess ⧉ is a nice interactive account, it lets people play chess against a computer by voting for the next move (you can follow it at the address @VoteChess@botsin.space).
Also, sometimes the bot’s human maintainer will post via the bot’s account and reply as well. However, on automated accounts this is rare, and the assumption should be that there is no one monitoring the account.
Where can I find a list of good bots to follow?
Have a look at the Bots category over on Fedi.Directory ⧉.
So why do bots have a bad reputation?
The bad bots you sometimes hear about are where someone has automated an account to do something nasty or anti-social such as posting spam. Bad bots tend to be rare on the Fediverse, and would usually be blocked pretty quickly once the nastiness is reported.
So “Automated” isn’t a bad sign?
If you see an account labelled “Automated”, that is actually the sign of a good bot, because it’s the owner of the bot who chose to label it as such. Another good sign is if the bot’s creator has included a link to their own account on the bot’s profile page.
Bad bots usually try to disguise the fact they are bots, and don’t use the “Automated” label.