If you’ve ever been brave enough to express a closely held belief online, you’ve undoubtedly run into somewhere between one and 1,000 people willing and waiting to fight you about it. In fact, there are some people who enjoy arguing online so much, they’ll deliberately search for hot-button issues just so they can insult and attack whatever person was foolish enough to have an opinion on them. We know, we know… It’s disheartening to learn that the internet is not always the modern-day agora of ideas we believe it to be.
But thanks to a new Tumblr called Botsplaining, it no longer takes two to perform the tango of online quarreling. Botsplaining collects tweets and responses from a “troll honeypot on Twitter” that are meant to attract and infuriate people with randomly generated tweets. It accomplishes this by posting “opinions on a couple dozen topics, then, when people respond to it, [it] responds at random from a list of 18 possible replies,” writes the blog’s creator. “Assholes like to mansplain to it, and I like to laugh at them.”
The bot’s pre-scripted opinions range from the blunt, fish-in-barrel antagonizing of “MRAs are horrid” to the delightfully riling “chemtrails are fake and that’s dandy.” Each are designed to attract a slew of outrage from various egg avatars and other professional opinion-havers. And for some of them, it doesn’t take long to realize they’re not arguing with a real person.
Still, others continue to dig themselves deeper and deeper.
Certainly there’s some vicarious fun to be had in watching people get upset with a machine for having an opinion they don’t agree with. But besides such cheap entertainment, and the further evidence that it’s pretty easy to find angry people on Twitter, it’s not exactly clear what the creator of Botsplaining is hoping to achieve here. They’ve filled a bot with opinions they knew would annoy people, then they revel in the fact that people are getting annoyed. If you troll a troll, is that really a win? It’s the eternal question of internet life—but hey, at least now we have robots to do it for us.