Why I stopped my Twitter bots

As some of you might know, I have written about my Twitter bots on this blog a number of times. Now I decided to shut them all down and wanted to give at least a short explanation of why that was. TLDR: It got unexpectedly expensive and I reasoned the benefit wasn’t really worth the price.

Off-topic note on posting schedule: As my devoted readers have probably noticed by now, we’re down to a bi-weekly posting schedule at the most. I have been thinking about it and I’m aiming for two posts per month for now. Actually that’s less than every second week. The point is, I have been reflecting about what makes this blog what it is and I think that’s the good posts I come up with every once in a while. When those add up, that makes the blog a useful resource for time to come. It’s these posts that I want to focus on. And frankly, if I get one really good post in a month, that makes twelve good posts in a year that people hopefully can enjoy and use for years to come. So I will stop trying to make myself write anything just to keep up with a weekly schedule or something like that. Frankly, I think consistency was important in the beginning but now I’d rather focus on quality and promises I can keep. When I used to post once a week, I either spent an unreasonable amount of time writing up those blogposts or I would be fast and write something really not that good. I don’t want to do that anymore because a) I don’t have crazy amounts of time to spend and none of these topics are so pressing that you readers need them now or never and b) low-quality posts help no one. So that was a long explanation, anyways, continuing with the other story…

Why I stopped the bots

Main reason: AWS gets really expensive

Quite simply, I stopped my bots because the AWS Free Tier apparently only lasts for one year and after that you’re upgraded into a really expensive tier and there are no customization options at all or the possibility to pick a fixed monthly package. They ended up starting to charge me almost 30$ a month and that’st just too much. I talked to some people about the bots who were benefitting from them and mostly everyone thought that what can be done with the bot could also just be done by hand because it’s really not that crazy and everything that is, nobody uses anyway (like the #100DaysofDH bot where not that much is really going on).

AWS is extemely intransparent with the payment options

What I was most annoyed about was the intransparency in the AWS plattform. I really tried multiple times to fix my subscripton to a better price, even tweaked the retweet settings of the bots quite a bit but nothing changed anything. I mean honestly, I guess choosing AWS was the first mistake to begin with. It’s not like I actually ever believed in the company or anything, it was just a split-second decision to pick them when I first wanted to set up my bots. But of course, then I always stayed with them and even (implicitly) recommended them in all my bot-related blogposts like Create your Tweepy/AWS-powered Twitter bot in a day or Retweet Bots and Hashtags: The Ninja’s “How to better promote your content on Twitter” Guide. Part 2 or Join the #100DaysofDH Challenge!

So I guess this blog post is to fix that and to inform you about the latest ongoings and intelligence 😉

They actually aren’t necessary to achieve what I wanted to get out of Twitter

Anyway, having a bot was great for playing around with them out of DH curiosity. But ultimately, most of them aren’t actually necessary. Most of what they do can be handled by hand. Only one bot I will truly miss and that’s the alchemy research retweet bot. In this case, I dediced that I will put up a message informing people that the bot is out of order but they can just tweet at me and I will retweet every once in a while by hand. I think that’s a pretty good solution. If somebody really wants to get retweeted, they can still get that. And everything else, I guess, really just wasn’t essential.

“My” hashtags getting hijacked by other bots

Apart from that, there always have been some on-off issues with some bots using my hashtags to have my bots retweet their own stuff. Usually that has always come and gone after I blocked few offending bots – but lately, one of my bots was targeted relatively aggressively and that has been annoying. I’m trying to reduce my social media consumption (successfully and it’s been feeling very healthy in a way, so I’d like to keep going) and having to deal with the bots malfunctioning doesn’t help.

I would have kept them if it hadn’t been so expensive

Of course, the bots also helped with keeping some accounts going without me having to do anything. So that definitely was a plus and I also still see the potential benefit of maintaining a bot. I guess, for me personally, the novelty has just worn off and the pricetag was a big factor. I would have probably kept it if AWS offered a 5$ a month deal but I’m just not willing to pay 30$ a month for a service I’m not even using that much. That’s as much as all my entertainment subscriptions together!

So that’s why I wanted to let you know that I’m parting ways with AWS and why. Maybe that will give you some background information in case you’re considering setting up a bot yourself.

That’s it for now. Hoping you are well!

The Ninja

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I like LaTeX, the Humanities and the Digital Humanities. Here I post tutorials and other adventures.

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