Tutorial: creating a Twitterbot

TL;DR

Although it sounds like a lot of effort, creating a Twitter bot is actually really easy! This tutorial, along with some simple tools, can help you create Twitter bots that respond when they see certain phrases, or that periodically post a tweet. These bots work with Markov chains, which can generate text that looks superficially good, but is actually quite nonsensical. You can make the bots read your favourite texts, and they will produce new random text in the same style!

All code is available on GitHub

The examples on this page use a custom Python library, written by Edwin Dalmaijer (that’s me). This library is open source, and available on GitHub for free. You are very welcome to download and use it, but I would like to kindly ask you to not use it for doing evil stuff. So don’t start spamming or harassing people!

Step 1: Create a Twitter account

This is an easy step, no code here yet. Simply follow the instructions to create a new Twitter account.

  • Go to Twitter’s sign-up page.
  • Fill out all details, and make sure to include your phone number. This is a requirement for remote access, and you will need that to make the Twitter bot work.

Step 2: Create a Twitter app

Not all Twitter accounts are created equal. You will need developer access to yours, if you want to use it via a Python script.

  • Go to apps.twitter.com
  • Click on the ‘Create New App’ button.
  • Fill out the details on the form. You have to give your app a name, description, and website (this can be a simple place holder, like http://www.example.com)
  • Read the Developer Agreement, and check the box at the bottom if you agree. Then click on the ‘Create your Twitter application’ button.

Step 3: Keys and access tokens

This is an important step, as you will need the keys and access tokens for you app. They allow you to sign in to your account via a Python script.

  • After creating your new app, you were redirected to its own page. If you weren’t, go to apps.twitter.com and click on your apps name.
  • On the app’s page, click on the ‘Keys and Access Tokens’ page.
  • At the bottom of this page, click on the ‘Create my access token’ button.
  • Make sure you make note of the following four keys, as you will need these later. (Just leave the tab open in your browser, or copy them to a text file or something. Make sure nobody else can access them, though!)
Consumer Key (API Key) [ copy this value from Consumer Settings ]
Consumer Secret (API Secret) [ copy this value from Consumer Settings ]
Access Token [ copy this value from Your Access Token ]
Access Token Secret [ copy this value from Your Access Token ]

Getting a Python Twitter library

Before being able to log into Twitter via Python, you need a Python wrapper for the Twitter API. There are several options out there, and I haven’t excessively researched all of them. This guide will go with Mike Verdone’s (@sixohsix on Twitter) Python Twitter Tools library, which is nice and elegant. You can also find its source code on GitHub.

  • If you don’t have it already, you need to install setuptools. Download the ez_setup.py script, and run it with the Python installation you want to have it installed in.
  • BONUS STEP: If you don’t know how to run a Python script, read this step. On Linux and OS X, open a terminal. Then type cd DIR and hit Enter, but replace DIR by the path to the folder that contains the ez_setup.py script you just downloaded. Next, type python ez_setup.py and hit Enter. This will run the script that installs setuptools. On Windows, the easiest thing to do is to make a new batch file. To do this, open a text editor (Notepad is fine). Now write “C:\Python27\python.exe” “ez_setup.py” on the first line, and pause on the second line. (Replace “C:\Python27″ with the path to your Python installation!) Save the file as “run_ez_setup.bat“, and make sure to save it in the same folder as the ez_setup.py script. The .bat extension is very important, as it will make your file into a batch file. Double-click the batch file to run it. This will open a Command Prompt in which the ez_setup.py script will be run.
  • After installing setuptools, you can use it to easily install the Twitter library. On Linux and OS X, open a terminal and type easy_install twitter. On Windows, create another batch file, write “C:\Python27\Scripts\easy_install.exe” twitter on the first line, and pause on the second line. (Replace “C:\Python27″ with the path to your Python installation!)
  • If you did everything correctly, the Twitter library should now be installed. Test it by opening a Python console, and typing import twitter. If you don’t see any errors, that means it works.

Setting up

Time to get things ready for your Twitter bot script. You need to things: a dedicated folder to store things in, and the markovbot Python library. The markovbot library is written by me, and you can easily grab it off GitHub. You’re also very welcome to post any questions, issues, or additions to the code on GitHub.

  • Create a new folder, and give it a name. In this example, we will use the name ‘TweetBot’ for this folder.
  • Go to the markovbot GitHub page.
  • Click on the ‘Download ZIP’ button, or use this direct download link
  • Unzip the ‘markovbot-master.zip’ file you just downloaded.
  • Copy the ‘markovbot’ folder into the ‘TweetBot’ folder.

Getting data

To establish a Markov chain, you need data. And lots of it. You also need the data to be in machine-readable form, e.g. in a plain text file. Fortunately, Project Gutenberg offers an excellent online library, with free books that also come in the form of text files. I’m talking about . (Please do note that Project Gutenberg is intended for humans to read, and not for bots to crawl through. If you want to use their books, make sure you download and read them yourself. Also, make sure that you have the right to download a book before you do it. Not all countries have the same copyright laws as the United States, where Gutenberg is based.)

  • Download a book of your choice, for example Sigmund Freud’s Dream Psychology. Make sure to download the utf-8 encoded text file! (At the bottom of the list.)
  • Copy (or move) the text file you just downloaded to the ‘TweetBot’ folder, and name it ‘Freud_Dream_Psychology.txt’.

Writing your script

You should have everything now: A Twitter account with developer’s access, a Twitter library for Python, the custom markovbot library, and some data to read. Best of all: You’ve organised all of this in a folder, in precisely the way it is described above. Now, it’s finally time to start coding the actual Twitterbot!

  • Start your favourite code editor, and open a new Python script.
  • Save the script in the ‘TwitterBot’ folder, for example as ‘my_first_bot.py’.
  • Start by importing the MarkovBot class from the markovbot module you need:

  • I’m assuming you are familiar enough with Python that you know what importing a library means. If you are not, maybe it’d be good to read about them.
  • The next step is to initialise your bot. The MarkovBot class requires no input arguments, so creating an instance is as simple as this:

  • The next step is important! Before he can generate any text, the MarkovBot needs to read something. You can make it read your Freud example book.
  • The bot expects you to give him a full path to the file, so you need to construct that first:

  • At this point, your bot is clever enough to generate some text. You can try it out, by using its generate_text method. This takes one argument, and three (optional) keyword arguments (but only one of those is interesting).
  • generate_text‘s argument is the number of words you want in your text. Let’s try 25 for now.
  • generate_text‘s interesting keyword argument is seedword. You can use it to define one or more keywords that you would like the bot to try and start its sentence with:

  • That’s cool, but what about the Twitter part? Remember you generated those keys and access tokens? You’ll need them now:

  • Replace each set of empty quotes (”) with your own keys and tokens (these should also between quotes).
  • First note on the codes here: It’s actually not very advisable to stick your crucial and secret information in a script. Your script can be read by humans and machines, so this is a highly unsafe procedure! It’s beyond the scope of this tutorial, but do try to find something better if you have the time.
  • Second note: Now that you are pasting your secret stuff into a plain script, make sure you paste it correctly! There shouldn’t be any spaces in the codes, and it’s really easy to miss a character while copying. If you run into any login error, make sure that your keys have been copied in correctly!
  • Time for the bot to log in to Twitter:

  • Only one more thing to do before you can start up the bot: You need to decide what your bot should do.
  • There are two different things the MarkovBot class can do. The first is to periodically post something. This is explained further down.
  • The second thing the MarkovBot class can do, is to monitor Twitter for specific things. You can specify a target string, which the bot will then use to track what happens on Twitter. For more information on the search string, see the Twitter API website.
  • The target string determines what tweets your bot will reply to, but it doesn’t determine what the bot says. For that, you need to specify keywords. These can go in a big list, which the bot will use whenever he sees a new tweet that matches the target string. Your bot will try to find any of your keywords in the tweets he reads, and will then attempt to use the keywords he found to start a reply with. For example, if your target string is ‘#MarryMeFreud’, and your keywords are [‘marriage’, ‘ring’, ‘flowers’, ‘children’], then your bot could find a tweet that reads I want your flowers and your children! #MarryMeFreud. In this case, the bot would read the tweet, find ‘flowers’ and ‘children’, and it will attempt to use those to start his reply. (Note: He won’t use both words, this is a very simple hierarchical thing, where the bot will try ‘flowers’ first, and ‘children’ if ‘flowers’ doesn’t work.)
  • In addition to the above, you can also have the MarkovBot add prefixes and suffixes to your tweets. This allows you to, for example, always start your tweet with a mention of someone (e.g. ‘@example’), or to always end with a hashtag you like (e.g. ‘#askFreud’).
  • Finally, the MarkovBot allows you to impose some boundaries on its behaviour. Specifically, it allows you to specify the maximal conversational depth at which it is still allowed to reply. If you are going to use your bot to reply to people, this is something you really should do. For example, if your bot always replies to people who mention ‘@example’, they are likely to wish to talk to Edward Xample. It’s funny to get one or two random responses, but as the conversation between people and Edward Xample continuous, you really don’t want your bot to keep talking to them. For this purpose, you can set the maxconvdepth to 2. This will allow your bot to reply only in conversations with no more than two replies.

  • The MarkovBot’s twitter_autoreply_start method can start a Thread that will track tweets with your target string, and automatically reply to them using your chosen parameters.
  • If you want to stop your MarkovBot from automatically replying, you can call its twitter_autoreply_start method.
  • How quick your bot replies to tweets is highly dependent on how many tweets are posted that match your target string.

  • Another thing the MarkovBot can do, is to periodically post a new tweet. You can start this with the twitter_tweeting_start method.
  • The keywords, prefix, and suffix keywords are available for this function too. The keywords work a bit different though: For every tweet, one of them is randomly selected. You can also pass None instead of a list of keywords, in which case your bot will just freestyle it.
  • One very important thing, is the timing. The twitter_tweeting_start method provides three keywords to control its timing: days, hours, and minutes. The time you specify here, is the time the bot waits between tweets. You can use all three keywords, or just a single one. If you don’t specify anything, the bot will use its default of one day.
  • If you want your bot to stop, you can use the twitter_tweeting_stop method.

Spamming and trolling

Although Twitter bots can easily be used to spam and troll people, I kindly ask you not to do it. You gain absolutely nothing by doing it, and Twitter’s API is built in such a way that it automatically blocks accounts that do too much, so you will be shut down for spamming. Nobody likes spammers and trolls, so don’t be one.

Conclusion

Creating a Twitter bot is easy! If you want to use my software to create your own, please do go ahead. It’s free and open, and this page lists the instructions on how to download it. I would love to hear about your projects, so please feel free to leave a comment with your story.

UPDATE: Join competitions with your bot!

Stefan Bohacek was kind enough to point out the existence of a monthly bot competition that he organises. Have a look at his Botwiki website to learn about this month’s theme, and how to compete.

88 Comments:

  1. Hey,
    This is a great tutorial.
    However, I tried implementing this into my own bot and i keep getting errors telling me no module named markovbot?
    Any help?

    • Hi, and thanks!

      It sounds like you might have misplaced the markovbot folder. You can get it from GitHub. Press the Download ZIP button, download the zip archive, and then unzip it. After that, copy the ‘markovbot’ folder to the same folder as where you keep your script. (Alternatively, you could copy it to your Python installation’s side-packages folder.)

      Sorry if that was a really basic explanation; it’s definitely not intended to be condescending! If the problem persists, could you try to give me some more info to work with? E.g. what you did to get the markovbot library, what you’re trying in your code, etc.

      Cheers,
      Edwin

  2. I am having the same issue with importing the module. I downloaded the markovbot-master from the link provided. Then placed the “markovbot” folder into the directory where my script it. But when I try to import I am given:

    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File “markov.py”, line 2, in
    from markovbot import MarkovBot
    File “D:\tori\markovbot\__init__.py”, line
    from markovbot import MarkovBot
    ImportError: cannot import name ‘MarkovBot’

    • Hi Kyle,

      Unfortunately, I can’t replicate your error. Would you be able to provide some additional info?

      1) What version of Python are you running? On what operating system?
      2) What’s the contents of your ‘markovbot’ folder? Is there an __init__.py and a markovbot.py? Anything else?
      3) Did you use an archiving tool to unzip the markovbot-master.zip archive?
      4) Is there an error if you try the following? from markovbot.markovbot import MarkovBot

      Cheers,
      Edwin

      • Got the same error. 1) I’m running python 3.5 on windows 7 64bit. 2) There’s an additional folder called “__pycache__” in the markovbot folder. 3) Used winrar to unzip. 4) I get the same error.

        • Weird! You could try explicitly importing the module:

          Python 2

          import imp
          markovbot = imp.load_source('markovbot', 'C:\\Users\\Name\\Documents\\Example\\markovbot\\markovbot.py')
          my_bot = markovbot.MarkovBot()

          Python 3.5 (and higher)

          import importlib.util
          spec = importlib.util.spec_from_file_location('markovbot', 'C:\\Users\\Name\\Documents\\Example\\markovbot\\markovbot.py')
          markovbot = importlib.util.module_from_spec(spec)
          spec.loader.exec_module(markovbot)
          markovbot.MarkovBot()

          (Obviously, change the paths in the examples to the path to your markovbot.py location.) Does that work for you?

          • spec.loader.exec_module(markovbot)
            throws syntax error

          • I am also getting the same import error running Python 3.5 on Windows 7 64bit. I do not get any errors when I import all of “markovbot” but when I use from markovbot import MarkovBot I get the same error. I also tried explicitly importing the module and was also unsuccessful.

          • So it works when you use import markovbot? In that case, simply initialise a MarkovBot instance by using my_bot = markovbot.MarkovBot. I’m not sure why the direct imports aren’t working, as I can’t reproduce the issue. Sorry!

          • I managed to get it working by commenting out your ‘from markovbot import MarkovBot’ from __init__.py file. Any ideas why that would cause it to work?

            Now working on resolving issue to do with ‘str’ object has no attribute ‘decode’

  3. Edwin,

    Thanks for this great Python library and very well-written tutorial. I was able to get a bot up and running and correctly outputting trained text on the first try.

    I have a question: How would I approach adding emojis to the suffix of the tweet? I tried use both emoji shortcuts and Unicode, but the bot tweets them as plain text. Thanks.

    • Thanks! That’s a good question, and I guess it depends on what kind of emoticons you’re using. Are they unicode characters? Does Twitter automatically turn some combinations of characters into an emoticon, or do they have their own encoding?

      If I remember correctly, the entire library is unicode-safe. So you should be able to update a Tweet with unicode emoticons.

  4. Hi, how do I start the twitter bot script? I have everything but running the file in the terminal does not yield any results; it only prints the tweet content.

    • There is an example script on my GitHub page: https://github.com/esdalmaijer/markovbot/blob/master/example.py

      If you use the ‘generate_text’ (or ‘_construct_tweet’) method, it will only create a string. You need the ‘twitter_autoreply_start’ or ‘twitter_tweeting_start’ methods to actually post random text to Twitter (they use sub-threads that monitor tweets and post replies, or that periodically tweet). Make sure that you use the ‘twitter_login’ method before calling the other twitter-related methods. Also, you want to make sure that the main thread is doing something, otherwise you will end the sub-threads if the main thread runs out of things to do. (You can, for example, use the ‘time.sleep’ function to keep the main-thread busy for as long as you’d like. Or you could turn on/off the auto-replying depending on what time it is, for example to make the bot only reply during business hours.)

      • Thanks so much for this tutorial it’s the most comprehensive i’ve found so far and i’m a complete newbie so it helps a lot.

        unfortunately i have the same problem. when i run the script in terminal it seems to be working fine as it prints out the generated text. only there’s no tweet being generated in the actual account. I was just using the periodical tweet so as to try out if it’s doing anything but so far it stays silent.

        this is what it looks like it:

        import os
        from markovbot import MarkovBot

        tweetbot = MarkovBot()

        dirname = os.path.dirname(os.path.abspath(__file__))

        book = os.path.join(dirname, ‘google_privacy.txt’)

        tweetbot.read(book)

        my_first_text = tweetbot.generate_text(25, seedword=[‘privacy’, ‘account’])
        print(“tweetbot says:”)
        print(my_first_text)

        cons_key = ”

        cons_secret = ”

        access_token = ”

        access_token_secret = ”

        tweetbot.twitter_login(cons_key, cons_secret, access_token, access_token_secret)

        tweetbot.twitter_tweeting_start(days=0, hours=0, minutes=2, keywords=None, prefix=None, suffix=None)

        I’m sorry for this idiot request. but I’m completely new to this and would like to implement it somhow for a school project.. so i would be very thankful for your help.

        • Thanks for the positive feedback! :)

          Your code looks fine, really, but there’s two potential issues:

          1. I assume you’ve removed the access codes for obvious reasons, but just to confirm: In your actual script, the cons_key etc. are the keys you generated with Twitter’s Dev website, right?
          2. If you’re running this script using a terminal, it will terminate directly after starting the bot. This means it’ll never really tweet anything. You’ll need to keep the main thread alive for the bot to remain active in the background. The simplest way of doing this, is by simply sleeping for a while: import time; time.sleep(86400) (This will keep it active for 86400 seconds, which should be 24 hours.)
  5. Hi.
    In your step where we install the twitter library by writing the bat file giving the path “C:\Python27\easy_install” that actually is C:\Python27\Scripts\easy_install” is what I found out. Hope its the general settings in all python 2.7 installed windows setup

  6. Hi Edwin, this is a great writeup.

    I have a quick question, what does the bot do when it finds a tweet to reply to but that tweet doesn’t have any of the keywords? I can’t seem to get the autoreply function to work, and that seems to be a commonality.

    • OK, I found the open item on github, implemented your suggested fix there.

      • Hi Will,

        Sorry about that, the issue was with selecting a database. Databases within a bot are a new feature, and they allow for using a single bot with multiple Markov chains, for example to allow it to reply in different languages. (Or to make it seem like your bot has multiple personalities.) The issue should be solved with the updates I made today. Grab the new code of GitHub, and you should be fine :)

        As for your actual question: If the bot can’t find a usable keyword, it will simply not use one at all. That means the text will be generated at random, without keyword prompting. This should never lead to any crashes, though!

        Cheers,
        Edwin

        • Can the text not be random, but specific and not simply used as keyboards, or is that not the point of Markov?

          • I mean keywords.

          • Also, can this upload images along with text?

          • Unfortunately, it’s not clever enough to actually understand the tweets it’s replying to. That’s kind of the point of a Markov chain: it describes the statistical regularities in language, and uses those to generate text. The keywords are a poor man’s way to get them in the right direction, sort of.

            If you do want replies that make sense, you might have to turn to natural language processing, for example with NLTK (a Python package). In addition, you’ll probably want to use a different algorithm to generate responses (Markov chains are too simplistic for this kind of functionality).

            As for the images: Yes, in theory. You can use the Twitter Python package that I reference in the article to upload media. See the Twitter dev site for more info (here).

  7. Hi Edwin,

    How do you continue to run the bot once you’ve closed your terminal?

    Apologies if that is very basic. I’m still new to programming.

    Many thanks,
    Byron

    • Hi Byron,

      That’s actually a very good question! Once you initialise the bot, log it in to Twitter, and activate the auto-reply and/or auto-tweeting, there will be a Thread running in the background. When your script terminates, this Thread will also terminate, thereby stopping the automatic Twitter activity. To get around this, you need to keep the main Thread busy. You can do this, for example, by sleeping. In the example script on GitHub you’ll notice that in line 90-93 the script waits for a week, before stopping the Twitter stuff and terminating. In this way, your terminal will stay open, and the bot will stay active.

      Cheers,
      Edwin

  8. What a wonderful tutorial and letter perfect too!

    My new artbot: The Internet of Things, Lost and Found, is up and running.
    it finds some thing that has been lost on the Internet about every 22 hours, then it looks for the owner.

    But, a real place too, for when real objects are found. A tall black cylindar that opens for itś function of capturing the lost and returning the found. The brains of the Bot is a Raspberry Pie 3 v. B. mounted in the head in an little used room in the centre of the capital of New Zealand. Trigger: Lost&Found

  9. Hey Edwin,

    first of all, thanks for the code sources and the work. I’ve ran into a problem with the updated markovbot.py script. Im not able to import it. It throws this error:

    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File “C:\tmp\tweetbot\example.py”, line 5, in
    from markovbot import MarkovBot
    File “C:\tmp\tweetbot\markovbot\__init__.py”, line 21, in
    from markovbot import MarkovBot
    File “C:\tmp\tweetbot\markovbot\markovbot.py”, line 5

    ^
    SyntaxError: invalid syntax

    Do you have any idea? With the older version it constantly says that my database is empty and it dont do anything.

    Greetz

    • Forget the first part…it was a copy paste error 😀

      But i still get the error with the database

      line 1207, in _error
      raise Exception(u”ERROR in Markovbot.%s: %s” % (methodname, msg))
      Exception: ERROR in Markovbot.generate_text: No data is available yet in database ‘default’. Did you read any data yet?

      • Thanks, and great that you sorted the first error out!

        As for the other error: It seems you’re using a database that doesn’t have anything in it yet. Before you can generate text, you need to train your bot. Example:


        # Initialise a MarkovBot instance
        tweetbot = MarkovBot()

        # Get the current directory's path
        dirname = os.path.dirname(os.path.abspath(__file__))
        # Construct the path to the book
        book = os.path.join(dirname, u'Freud_Dream_Psychology.txt')
        # Make your bot read the book!
        tweetbot.read(book)

        This will put the text in the ‘dafault’ database. You can also add it to a specific database, by using the database keyword:


        tweetbot.read(book, database='dreams')

        You can use the same database keyword for generating text, auto-replying and auto-tweeting:


        # Generate some text, using the 'dreams' database
        tweetbot.generate_text(20, database='dreams')

        # Automatically reply to tweets, using the 'dreams' database
        targetstring = '#whatWouldFreudSay'
        tweetbot.twitter_autoreply_start(targetstring, database='dreams', prefix=None, suffix='#DreamPsyched!', maxconvdepth=5)

        If you leave the database keyword empty, it will fall back to ‘default’.

  10. Pingback: Some Like It Bot

  11. Hi there, is there anyway to get your great bot to trigger replies on multiple keywords?

    e.g. +space +mars

    Thanks

    btw – I tried out multiple bots on Github, yours was the only one I could get to work out the box – Kudos!

    • Hi Mark, and thanks for the feedback; it’s much appreciated!

      Unfortunately, multiple keywords are not supported at this point. Feel free to have a crack at implementing it, though. Pull requests with new features are always welcome :)

      EDIT: I just realised your question could be interpreted in two ways! The first is answered above: Can the bot use two keywords in the same tweet to generate a response (answer is no; one keyword will be chosen at random). The second interpretation is: Can the bot reply to tweets that contain two words, e.g. “Mars” AND “space”. The answer to that question is yes! To do so, you can set the bot’s target string to 'Mars space'. If you would like your bot to reply to tweets that contain “Mars” OR “space”, your target string should be 'Mars,space'. More info can be found on the Twitter Dev website.

      • Thanks so much for your quick and descriptive reply. I am going to dig into the twitter dev documentation and get my feet wet with some python learning. I want to be able to get the bot to auto-reply only to a certain list of twitter users & have the options to not use Markov chain but rather match a list of single line tweets based on keywords. It’s either going to be a great learning opportunity or an opportunity to keep frustration at bay 😉

        p.s. If you do paid script work, feel free to ping me.
        p.p.s . Hope your health is back on track, permanently now.

  12. Hey,

    I found a few syntax errors with python 3.5.2, I think (I wouldn’t say I’m a good programmer so very likely wrong) that its from specifying Unicode, as from a bit of research i think the latest version has str as Unicode regardless.
    I ‘think’ that i’ve fixed it by removing the instances of [str, unicode] and replacing them with [str].

    But now I receive and error that it can’t generate a tweet?

    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File “C:\Users\MoonMoon\Documents\CarbonKatie\markovbot.py”, line 215, in generate_text
    random.shuffle(keys)
    File “C:\Users\MoonMoon\AppData\Local\Programs\Python\Python35-32\lib\random.py”, line 272, in shuffle
    x[i], x[j] = x[j], x[i]
    TypeError: ‘dict_keys’ object does not support indexing

    During handling of the above exception, another exception occurred:

    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File “C:\Users\MoonMoon\Documents\CarbonKatie\TestBot.py”, line 13, in
    my_first_text = tweetbot.generate_text(25, seedword=[‘dream’, ‘psychoanalysis’])
    File “C:\Users\MoonMoon\Documents\CarbonKatie\markovbot.py”, line 312, in generate_text
    self._error(u’generate_text’, u”Made %d attempts to generate text, but all failed. ” % (attempts))
    File “C:\Users\MoonMoon\Documents\CarbonKatie\markovbot.py”, line 1222, in _error
    raise Exception(u”ERROR in Markovbot.%s: %s” % (methodname, msg))
    Exception: ERROR in Markovbot.generate_text: Made 100 attempts to generate text, but all failed.

    Last thing, is it possible to test the bot by tweeting manually from python? Or any way I can use the commands and my own bot to just tweet out a string. (If this is possible, if you could point me where you’re code is looking for the strings specified so i could try and understand then replicate this that’d be really helpful)

    Sorry for the lengthy query

    Thanks

    • **UPDATE**

      After using the very high tech method of running the code, copypasting the error into google and finding what the issue is (I love stack overflow), I’ve got it to work in the latest update!! It was just silly things like next is now __next__. However I still don’t know how to make it tweet a string I pass it, and how to search for keywords in other tweets, then use this to reply.

      Thanks

  13. Cheers for the tutorial.Since I am using Python 3, I was having some issues with the original markovbot.py, so I created a fork on github and made a version adapted to Python3+ .

  14. Thank you very much for this! Very helpful,
    Although I keep getting:

    MSG from Markovbot._autoreply: Using database: default
    MSG from Markovbot._autoreply: I found seedwords: ‘None’.
    Exception in thread autoreplier:
    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File “C:\Python27\Lib\threading.py”, line 801, in __bootstrap_inner
    self.run()
    File “C:\Python27\Lib\threading.py”, line 754, in run
    self.__target(*self.__args, **self.__kwargs)
    File “C:\Users\User\PycharmProjects\twitterbot\markovbot\markovbot.py”, line 974, in _autoreply
    seedword=None, prefix=prefix, suffix=suffix)
    File “C:\Users\User\PycharmProjects\twitterbot\markovbot\markovbot.py”, line 1196, in _construct_tweet
    database=database, verbose=False, maxtries=100)
    File “C:\Users\User\PycharmProjects\twitterbot\markovbot\markovbot.py”, line 312, in generate_text
    self._error(u’generate_text’, u”Made %d attempts to generate text, but all failed. ” % (attempts))
    File “C:\Users\User\PycharmProjects\twitterbot\markovbot\markovbot.py”, line 1222, in _error
    raise Exception(u”ERROR in Markovbot.%s: %s” % (methodname, msg))
    Exception: ERROR in Markovbot.generate_text: Made 100 attempts to generate text, but all failed

    and I was unable to solve this problem.

    And I actually had to manually loop with a while loop tweetbot.twitter_autoreply_start(), I don’t know why It kept closing

    • Thanks for the feedback!

      How large is the database that you’re using? If it’s very limited, it’s not going to be able to generate bodies of text. (Your error message indicates that your bot attempted to generate a new message, but couldn’t.)

      • Thanks! I was able to fix it with a larget file.
        Because my TwitterBot uses PT-BR as default language I also had to change from ‘UTF-8′ to ‘ISO8859-1′ and modify the lines that automatically makes ‘suffix = preffix’ if it’s note Unicode on the markovbot.py.

        It’s still closing automatically sometimes and I’m looping tweetbot.twitter_autoreply_start inside a While-Loop, I don’t know if that’s appropriate either.

        Thanks so much not only for your post but your help!

        • It would probably be useful to publish your code on GitHub, so that other people (including myself) can see what you changed to make TwitterBot compatible with different languages!

          As for calling twitter_autoreply_start within a while loop: That won’t do anything, other than keeping the main Thread alive by continuously looping. The bot works by launching two Threads in the background, one for automatically tweeting and one for automatically replying to certain tweets. The only thing that the twitter_autoreply_start method does, is telling one of these Threads to start auto-replying, and what parameters to use for this.

          The thing is, those two Threads will stop running in the background when your main Thread stops. So you’ll need to keep the main Thread busy to prevent the bot from stopping. This is explained and demonstrated in the example script.

  15. Hi, thanks a ton for this tutorial, it was really useful. I’ve managed to get the bot to generate text in the terminal. I’m very new to all this, so please excuse me if my questions are very basic.

    I wasn’t able to use easy_install twitter directly (it kept saying that I didn’t have root folder access even though I was using an administrative account), so I instead used sudo easy_install twitter. No error showed up, but is this an effective solution?

    Secondly, can I use XCode or Idle as a console to test with import twitter? If so, how? When I entered it in Idle as follows
    import twitter
    and hit enter. The prompter appears as follows:
    >>|
    I don’t know what I should be doing or how to run this (its a shell), or if the error should have appeared upon hitting enter.

    And finally, I tried incorporating the sleep timer in the example in the script, but the following error showed up:
    NameError: name ‘time’ is not defined
    What should I do to fix this?

    Thanks again!

  16. Also, is it possible to make my bot read from multiple sources? What would the syntax for that be like?

  17. Pingback: Cloud Text Experiment: Finnegans Ache | Clouds

  18. Pingback: Finnegans Ache: The Worst Twitter Bot Ever Created – Digital Relay

  19. Thank You so much for this tutorial..

    i have a query.. what to do if i have to make my bot search a particular phrase on twitter and then reply them with my choice of reply.
    for example.. i created a new text file.. wrote 4-5 sample tweets of my choice.. and replaced it with .txt file of book u mentioned to download.. but it doesn’t work..

    sorry ,if my question sounds bit dumb.. i have zero knowledge of programming.. still learnt while going through this post of yours.. whatever u have mentioned here.. i have tried it works for me.. my bot searches certain string and then replies them with quotes of that book..

  20. Traceback (most recent call last):
    File “C:/Users/Knight/Desktop/New folder/TweetBot/my_first_bot2.py”, line 14, in
    my_first_text = tweetbot.generate_text(10, seedword=[‘SRK’])
    File “C:/Users/Knight/Desktop/New folder/TweetBot\markovbot\markovbot.py”, line 312, in generate_text
    self._error(u’generate_text’, u”Made %d attempts to generate text, but all failed. ” % (attempts))
    File “C:/Users/Knight/Desktop/New folder/TweetBot\markovbot\markovbot.py”, line 1222, in _error
    raise Exception(u”ERROR in Markovbot.%s: %s” % (methodname, msg))
    Exception: ERROR in Markovbot.generate_text: Made 100 attempts to generate text, but all failed.
    >>>

    this is the error i am getting after replacing that freud_dream text file with my text file.. my text file has about 5800 lines..
    please help

  21. Hi there,

    I am having problems when attempting to install the twitter library. When I run:
    easy_install twitter I get the fooling traceback:

    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File “/usr/local/bin/easy_install”, line 11, in
    load_entry_point(‘setuptools==29.0.1′, ‘console_scripts’, ‘easy_install’)()
    File “/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/Extras/lib/python/pkg_resources.py”, line 357, in load_entry_point
    return get_distribution(dist).load_entry_point(group, name)
    File “/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/Extras/lib/python/pkg_resources.py”, line 2394, in load_entry_point
    return ep.load()
    File “/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/Extras/lib/python/pkg_resources.py”, line 2108, in load
    entry = __import__(self.module_name, globals(),globals(), [‘__name__’])
    File “build/bdist.macosx-10.10-intel/egg/setuptools/__init__.py”, line 10, in
    File “build/bdist.macosx-10.10-intel/egg/setuptools/extern/__init__.py”, line 1, in
    ImportError: No module named extern

    Any idea on how to solve this problem?

  22. Thanks for the tutorial, this was very informative and helpful especially for a newbie like myself. Is there anyway to edit the bot so that it can tweet a .txt in sequence, word by word instead of generating random text?

  23. Nice tutorial, used your code and @DeepThoughtBot1 is online. It uses the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy as a book. This bot also takes a image and a thought from reddit and makes a new pic to post. Thank for the Markov chains code now it is really cool.

    • Just had a look at it, and it works beautifully! I wouldn’t have predicted that Douglas Adam’s work would be so suitable for Markov chains, but it turns out to be really good! I also really like the Reddit interaction. Is it a high-karma /r/showerthought superimposed on a high-karma /r/pics post?

  24. Pingback: Un algoritmo que escribe texto y nos entretiene - Deusto Data

  25. Thank you for this excellent tutorial. It worked so well that my app was banned after about 2 hours of use – they removed it’s write permission :)

    So rather than it seeking out keywords and adding replies to other users’ tweets, which is not permitted in Twitter at all, I am trying to adapt it to simply post a tweet and only reply when somebody responds to that tweet. Does that sound possible?

    • Hahaha, I did warn about this! 😉 As another note of caution, also for others reading this: Be careful about which keywords you pick to respond to! For my bots, I use #askFreud and #askBuddha, which are clearly intended to actively ask something from either entity. Moreover, they are almost completely unused, so the only thing my bots do is answer to people who actively seek them out, and only occasionally they will give an unsuspecting tweeter a funny surprise.

      To answer your question: It’s definitely possible to reply only to tweets targeted at your handle, and it’s actually very easy! You could do it by simply using @MyBotName as your search string.

  26. I am a total noob at python…. didn’t know what i was getting myself into. Stuck at the “Getting a Python Twitter library” step. Could anyone please help?

  27. Any idea what would cause this?

    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File “twitterbot.py”, line 4, in
    from markovbot import MarkovBot
    File “c:\twitterbot\markovbot\__init__.py”, line 26, in
    from markovbot35 import MarkovBot
    ImportError: No module named ‘markovbot35′

    • Nevermind, I got around that with the updated files in the comments above, but now I’m having the issue with:

      Traceback (most recent call last):
      File “twitterbot.py”, line 4, in
      from markovbot import MarkovBot
      File “c:\twitterbot\markovbot\__init__.py”, line 21, in
      from markovbot import MarkovBot
      ImportError: cannot import name ‘MarkovBot’

      which someone said was solved by commenting out a line in the __init__ but i haven’t been able to make it work.

  28. Enter the script and press Run Modyle to reveal “Traceback (most recent call last):
    File “D:\nodeproject\markovbot-master\my_first.bot.py”, line 2, in
    from markovbot import MarkovBot
    File “D:\nodeproject\markovbot-master\markovbot\__init__.py”, line 26, in
    from markovbot35.py import MarkovBot
    ModuleNotFoundError: No module named ‘markovbot35′” .Is there a solution?

  29. Beautiful tutorial and hilarious choice of a first book for the bot to read

  30. Hey there!

    I’ve got my bot running and I’m having a ton of fun. I’m curious whether there’s a way to get the autoreply feature to accept keywords from tweets. If, perhaps, somebody tweets #targetstring *new_keyword*, could the bot input that somehow?

  31. h el p !

    When I first initialized the bot a couple of days ago, it was totally able to reply. Now, I’m not able to get it to work. I shut terminal down, then I copied out the code above verbatim, but still nothing works!

    When I restart the bot, it tells me:

    MSG from Markovbot._cpr: _autoreplythread died; trying to revive!
    MSG from Markovbot._cpr: Succesfully restarted _autoreplythread!

    What am I missing?

    Thanks!

    • Those messages indicate that reviving a Thread worked, so there shouldn’t be a problem with that. Do you have any other info at all? Error messages, anything else you did? You’re saying you had your own bot up and running, but then you said you copied the code from above; which one was it?

  32. I was curious if there was a way to get it to read from multiple sources and how would one implement that?

    • Answer

      This is already possible! The read method adds the content of a source to an internal database (you can even specify which internal database!). So the following would add the content of two sources to the default database:

      To be clear, the overwrite keyword argument’s default input is False, so the following would be equivalent:

      Additional info

      And the following would add the contents of the two example sources to different internal databases:

      As a final example, the following code first adds ‘example_1.txt’ to the default internal database. But the second call overwrites the existing database, and then adds the content of ‘example_2.txt':

  33. Pingback: Finnegans Ache: The Worst Twitter Bot Ever Created – Gregory Rocco

  34. This is freaking awesome! Thank you so much for developing the library and providing such detailed example of implementation.

  35. Maybe quick easy help? I’m trying to do this in Windows 10.
    Followed instruction for creating run batch file but get error for
    python ez_setup.py script:

    “filename, directory name, or volume label syntax incorrect”

    I have Python 2.7 installed, but also Python 3.6.

    I want to run it with 3.6. The python.exe file location for 2.7 is in c:/Python27, but for 3.6 is in c:Users/Me/AppData/Local/Programs/Python/Python36-32.

    What do I need to do to make this work?

  36. Edwin – Thanks for this great script. Wondering if you could help me understand how to improve the variety of the output. Currently, I’m using MarkovBot to mix together lyrics from two different artists – however I find that the bot tends to simply quote whole (or near-whole) lines of lyrics from just one of the artists, instead of mixing up the lyrics between the two artists.

    For example, see https://twitter.com/Full_of_Bot/status/857682792305627136 — the bot’s output is word-for-word the sequential lyrics of one Smiths song.

    Is there a way to reduce how much of any particular lyric is used? (The equivalent in your sample bot would be to avoid just quoting an entire sentence from Freud’s book). Also, how to ensure that it generates tweets using material from both artists?

    I’d prefer the tweets be more like “A couple words from Artist #1″ + “A couple words from Artist #2″ + “A couple words from Artist #1″ etc. Or at least feel a little more mixed up, and not directly from just one or two songs from the same artist.

    I’ve tried combining lyrics into paragraphs in the txt file, so they are more “book-like.” I’ve tried further randomizing the seed in markovbot27.py by putting the randomized seed through a second “random.randint” function. I’ve tried tweaking the triples function. I’ve tried mixing the order of the songs in the txt file so they flip-flop from one artist to the other. I’ve also tried putting each artist in their own txt file, w/ two separate bot.read functions per your description above. None of it has really seemed to make a difference, and I think I’ve about reached the end of my limited coding knowledge.

    Any thoughts on how to address this?

    • Dear John,

      That’s simply a bi-product of how Markov chains work: The probabilities of a particular word following two other words is assessed for all successive words in your two songs. Because there’s so few of them, it’s very likely that each word pair in your songs only occurs with one successor. This means that the probability of that one particular successor to come out of the Markov chain is 1. The remedy is simple: You need more data than just two songs.

      Good luck!

      • Sorry I wasn’t clear — I have more than two songs. I have multiple songs from two different artists.

        • I’m afraid that’s still too little data. For this concept to work, you generally require a large corpus.

          • Thanks, I can see what you’re saying, and I can try to work with that. But also – looking at the example tweet I posted, I can find hundreds of places in the corpus where words like “and” “it” “is” “a” etc are used in various songs from both artists. Is there a reason why the Markov chain didn’t break at one of those words and skip to a new location in the corpus, instead of staying within one linear lyric?

            Is there a way to force breaks at words like “and”/”is”/etc so that whenever the bot encounters one of those words, it looks elsewhere in the corpus for the next word?

          • Yes, you’re right, those are common words! But as I said, the chain looks at pairs of successive words, so it also takes into account the word either before or after the “and”/”it”/”is”. In the end, there might be fewer common combinations than you think.

            There isn’t a way to force the chain to “break”, i.e. switch between corpora when generating new text. That’s because within a database, no information is retained on the origin of the words: If the bot read data from multiple sources, it forgets where it read what.

          • Ah, got it. Thanks! I appreciate you taking the time to walk me through that!

          • No worries! :) Thanks for your interest in the bot code!

  37. Pingback: A spectre is haunting Twitter — the spectre of bots. – Lloyd Tudor: Blog

  38. Hello @Edin

    Thanks for such a great tutorial.

    But my requirement is pretty simple like i have to retweet one line on a loop which i am not able to do. I had also tried to change the text of the feed file but still it wont work.

    Could you please guide ?

  39. help me with this
    error message:
    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File “my_first_bot.py”, line 4, in
    from markovbot import MarkovBot
    File “C:\Users\u_name\Desktop\TweetBot\markovbot\__init__.py”, line 26, in
    from markovbot35 import MarkovBot
    ImportError: No module named ‘markovbot35′

  40. Edwin,
    Absolute newbie here when it comes to bots but proficient with Py. Okay, I’ve had tons of classes about Py, but never ventured out on my own. So, I’m wanting to create a bot to help me with Twitter and a research project I’m involved in. I’m excited to use your tutorial and code but I have a question about the data source. Can I create my own text file that contains the data I want the bot to “read” and use in place of a book? Is there a special format I have to use other than just making it a plain text file? Any insight, including criticism, will be accepted.
    Thanks again,
    Joey

  41. Thanks for the tutorial. As a follow up is there an easy way to alter this bot so it can create a list of the users who posted a tweet including the target string?

    • Hey, so if you look in the markovbot.py, the autoreply code (around line 868) captures the user and screen name. You could create an array outside of this function and populate it here or append the data to a file.

  42. I was able to set up a twitter bot today with this guidance. Next step: figure out how the underlying Markovbot works and then write my own.

    Thanks so much!

  43. Hey Edwin,

    I am having a similar error to Chris’ from January 30th

    “Traceback (most recent call last):
    File “twitterbot.py”, line 4, in
    from markovbot import MarkovBot
    File “c:\twitterbot\markovbot\__init__.py”, line 26, in
    from markovbot35 import MarkovBot
    ImportError: No module named ‘markovbot35′”

    Do you know if either you or any of the people who commented have found a solution to this error? Have been messing with it for 3 hours now.

    Thanks for the tutorial,
    Tanner

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