All hail the welcome bots

New members of online communities are more likely to stick around if they’re welcomed by fellow members — but Nickerson and his team found that new Wikipedia users who interacted with advisor- and protector-bots were significantly more likely to become long-term contributors than those greeted by humans. That remained true even when the bots were contacting users to point out errors or delete their contributions, as long as the bots were cordial and clear about their reasons.”

Rise of the bots (Science Daily)

Since 2017, Discourse — an open source forum platform that’s an absolute delight to use — has welcomed new members via Discobot. You can think of it as a customizable autoresponder taking on the form of another user.

This sort of automation, when used transparently, can offer a good deal of scalable utility to help with new member onboarding. It acquaints users with the platform and sets expectations out of the gate.

It’s kind of like the introductory levels or tutorials in a multiplayer game. You learn the gameplay mechanics in a safe space before jumping in with real players.