Frequently Asked Questions

Strangely, all of these have been asked at least once.


Q. What is ELIZA?

ELIZA was an early computer program that "chatted" with the user. It served as a parody of a Rogerian psychoanalyst. By incorporating parts of the user's statements in the responses, it could be seen (with a lot of imagination) as conversing with the user. It has since been implemented on nearly every computer platform in existence. ELIZA mode in chatbot is one imlementation of what was perhaps the first chatbot. For more information, see Joseph Wizenbaum's ELIZA: Communcations of the ACM, January 1966.

Q. Why do you refer to chatbot as female?

A. Because she refers to herself as female. I believe the only references are the sex she lists in her profile/character portrait and what she replies when asked about her sex. As far as I am concerned, she is as female as Sherlock Holmes is male. The fact that her most popular outfits involve her frilly skirt and little paper umbrella leads me to believe that others also see her as female.

Q. Is it possible to get chatbot's Mr. A?

If I were to become aware of a way that allows one to get her Mr. A, I would change the code so it didn't work. So if there is a way, I am unaware of it. But, if you manage to do it, the Mr. A is yours. It is much more likely now than it used to be.


Q. Where do I find item numbers?

A. You can look in the source of any page where you can interact with the item. It also appears in some of the messages chefbot sends (now in the status message).

Q. Is "make" the command for the sauceror skill?

A. 'make' was a synonym for 'cook,' and I want it to do 'cook/mix/combine/smith' as appropriate. In adding 'mix,' though, it was easiest to temporarily disable 'make.' Cook will make pastamancer or sauceror recipes.

Chefbot and Escrowbot

Q. How long will chefbot keep/keep track of the things i have sent it?

A. Until the penguin mob takes it or something happens that I can't forsee. If my computer crashes, or I put in a real bad bug, it might be possible for chefbot to forget you had something, but you could tell me, and if there weren't any other claims for the item, it would be easy to see who it belonged to. If I take chefbot offline for a long period of time (1 day+), I'll have him return everything to everyone first.

Q. What do those s0e, etc. mean?

A. The s0e, s1e, s2e, etc. are used by the send item routine to make sure everything is kosher. When it sends an item, it uses the next number, then checks the outbox. If the sXXe message isn't there, then the mail didn't go through, and it re-sends. This way, if the site goes down, the bot can make sure your items get to you, and don't get sent twice.


Q. Why doesn't escrowbot automatically send messages to the person I want to trade with?

Two reasons. One, it protects against spamming, with or without malicious intent, to the personalities of loathing. Second, it provides a bit of protection for the user. If you've set up a big deal, more is at risk than finances. Say you accidentally mis-key and send the offer to someone else, who gets the message and accepts. Financially you got what you were asking for, but your expected trade parter didn't get his deal. You have a bit of egg on your face, and it might be difficult to replace your items to make your former partner happy.

Q. Why is there an acceptance code I have to type? It is already checking that the items I am sending are exact, and that the correct two people are involved.

I offer you a Mr. A, asking for 1 billion and 10 dills. You scurry off and get them. When you get back, you send them and say "accept fnord7" Meanwhile, I have canceled the offer, and offered you 1 beer for 1 billion and 10 dills. The site's a bit laggy, and you didn't get the messages until you accepted. Sure, escrowbot sends you messages, but you might not see them before accpeting, especially if it is laggy or you aren't using chat. If each offer has its own acceptance code, scamming is more difficult.

Alternative solutions:

  1. One could also tell the bot what you expect to get, and that could be checked against what was sent.
  2. There could be some complex system of timeouts, or a more complex system of asks and acknowledgements.
Of these, I've chosen the confirmation code, but am open to other suggestions.

Q. What fees will escrowbot charge?

This is linked with the unasked question, "What services will escrobot provide?" The answer is also tied to who is providing the services.

When using an escrow service, you are trusting that you will get the items you are trading for, or, at worst, you will get your items back. If somehow, neither of these are possible, you will be compensated for the value of the items. For these guarantees you expect to pay a fee.

Here are possible pricing structures that I or others might consider:

  1. Free use. No charges. And no guarantees. If your items are sent to other people, too bad.
  2. Fee per use. Probably not rewarding for the bot operator. If the fee is too high, transactions and earning opportunities will be missed. If the fee is too low, the operators' financial exposure is not rewarded.
  3. Percentage fee: with this the operator must find a way to value things. For instance, in a trade of a Mr. A for a Hemp Backpack and a Demonskin Trousers (I have no idea if this is fair). How much should be charged? The operator would have to continually update the valuation for a number of high level items, which kind of defeats the purpose of having a bot.
  4. Exchange is free, but insurance can be bought. Each user can independently buy insurance for the transaction. The liability will be limited to the amount purchased, and the fee will be a percentage of that. This is probably the best, if a fee structure is used.