Inside Skepticon – I Like Big Bots!

Inside Skepticon – I Like Big Bots!

In this modern age, everything depends on the interwebs, and Skepticon is no exception. We have a resident Tech wizard on the board, and his name is Bart! And do you know how we got Bart? He told Lauren that our website was a giant pile of [censored]. Yes, gentle people of all genders, this is how volunteer organizations work. Tell us that we have failed at something, and you too can be in charge of fixing it!

Bart was definitely up to the task, and now we have this awesome website you see all around you! (Note to readers on the Facebox® and Twittars®: we do not own these websites. There are some limits to the powers of Bart. Go to skepticon.org, that’s where the real magic happens.)

Most of the year the Tech role is pretty laid back. But during the conference, it is a very busy time. Bart is in charge of making all of the live video and audio work, including livestreaming and closed captioning. We also need to give a big shout out to Rob for literally putting his butt on the line every year doing the camera work. We salute your aching glutes, Rob!

In addition to the website and work at the conference, the Tech role is responsible for the safe and secure storage of our documents and passwords, and the configuration of team communications apps. We use Google Apps for our shared documents. Google gives us free access to the apps (nice) since we are a non-profit. Our passwords are stored and updated via an online password management system and/or a shoebox under Bart’s bed.

For talking at each other and sharing more gifs than you could ever imagine, we use Slack. And this is where the bots come in. The Skepticon slack channels are filled with all the great behind-the-scenes info we need to put on the show. To liven things up, Bart has added several chat bots. One, named Doug, is primarily there to post memes at anyone who says “don’t know” or “no idea”:

Troweling doggo has no idea what they're doing.

This doogo has no idea. Thanks, Doug.

Another bot is not interactive. It just posts “Cat Facts”, like:

Cat Fact 16: Similarly, the frequency of a domestic cat’s purr is the same at which muscles and bones repair themselves.

I don’t know what this even means. Muscles and bones repair themselves at a frequency? What sort of woo is this?

Cat Fact 34: In the 15th century, Pope Innocent VIII began ordering the killing of cats, pronouncing them demonic.

Lauren may agree with Pope Innie, but I had to respond to this outrage.

Human Fact 34: Despite numerous attempts to clean it dating back to the early 16th century, Pope Innocent VIII’s grave smells strongly of cat pee.

Take that, Cat Facts!

P.S. Your donations are what make Skepticon 10 and giant robots possible! And if you really want to lighten our stress levels, please donate to our legal defense fund!

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