What Are Bots & How Does Each Type Work? [2020]

By November 6, 2020 November 10th, 2020 Bot

What are bots and is there more than one type taking over the internet? With AI technologies interfering in our virtual lives, it’s important to know what bots are. And the different types of bots we face on a daily basis.
A bot is an automated software application that carries out multiple repetitive tasks without human intervention. It is made from sets of algorithms that program it to perform designated tasks. Or simulate human activities. Bots started out as speedy human substitutes that operate over networks to fulfill a range of purposes. However, they are presently responsible for more than half of the internet’s traffic. Considering that there are plenty of different types of bots operating at the same time. So, now that the “what are bots” question is covered, the sections below will briefly explain the 5 main types of bots dominating the web.

Social Media Bots

Social media bots or social bots operate on social media networks to generate messages, infiltrate groups, and provide daily reports, such as weather and sports updates. Although social bots are designed to mimic human behavior, they typically aren’t programmed to converse with users. Therefore limiting their influence to likes and follows. 

Although their basic function seems rather harmless, malicious social media bots operate beyond that. Disguised as human users, “bad” social bots aim to manipulate the public opinion to their advantage. Through increasing the popularity of users or corporations and flooding platforms with biased content regarding financial markets. In order to benefit from stock prices and create long-term success for their owners. Moreover, malicious social bots spread spam and increase phishing attacks on social media platforms. Which occur when a bot, in this case, gains the trust of its victim through faking accounts and engagement. 


Ticketing Bots

Illegal in the US since 2016, ticketing or ticket bots help users purchase tickets online with the aim of flipping them for profit. These sophisticated programs are automated to check inventory and purchase tickets faster than humans, and at larger quantities. Ticketing bots either mass create new accounts for their users to pose as “different people” or take over existing accounts. Which drops the first hint as to why they’re against the law.

During ticket onsale, bots use their superhuman speed to beat regular buyers to the inventory. If you’re familiar with the sneaker bot industry, you might be drawing connections between ticket bots and sneaker bots. Since they both mass create accounts and tasks to beat regular folk to limited inventories, mainly for the purpose of reselling them. But here’s how ticketing bots are different from sneaker bots: they are capable of sabotaging public events and businesses. 

Here’s an example: a 5,000 seat concert opens its ticket onsale. A ticket botter scoops up 1,000 tickets in the first minute and another ticket botter buys 500 of the remaining tickets in a few seconds. If more than one ticket botters are operating at the same time, it’s unlikely there will be any tickets available at retail. Desperate fans will either have to pay more for tickets that should rightfully be sold to them at retail. Or they’ll drop the event after realizing they can no longer afford it. Either way, the event either flops or the planners are made to deal with raging customer complaints. 

How Are Ticket Botting & Sneaker Botting Different?

Ticket botters act like they OWN an event. They are capable of jeopardizing businesses and putting people out of work. Sneaker botters, on the other hand, claim ownership over the pairs they cop. Which is their full right considering that they paid for them and are competing against other sneaker botters. The sneaker reselling industry is a booming market and a side hustle, or even a full-time occupation for thousands of people. It’s a game: you attempt to beat the competition for what you came for and set your price on the aftermarket. If you expand on that “transaction” from a business perspective, you’ll find that the hype around sneakers wouldn’t have existed were it not for sneaker reselling. Hence the laws of supply & demand. So bottom line, sneaker botting is a fair game since anyone can play AND no businesses are being negatively affected by it.


SEO or Spider Bots

Popularly known as web crawlers, SEO or spider bots are automated to browse the web. A web crawler’s main function is to copy and process web pages on search engines. That includes downloading and indexing HTML, CSS, Javascript, images, and content. It’s basically like creating a hyper-organized library card for all the books in the world! With the benefit of retrieving them to your search engine needs and inquiries. 

What are bots for other than lending a superhuman helping hand, right? Well, you’ve likely picked up that to every “good” type of bot that follows the rules, there’s a bad or malicious bot that functions to break them. In this case, they’re called web scrapers. Good spider bots crawl across the web retrieving and optimizing useful information. Whereas web scrapers download web content without permission for malicious and possibly illegal purposes. There is ONE main way to label a spider bot as a crawler or scraper: robots.txt protocol. Robots.txt is a file hosted by a web page’s server, indicating rules of access. Meaning, if a web page’s robots.txt does not give crawling permission and a spider bot abides by that, it’s a good bot. However, if a spider bot goes ahead and scrapes the web page regardless of its robot.txt, it’s a malicious bot. 



Hey Siri, why am I emotionally constipated? Has it ever occurred to you how dependent we are on chatbots in our daily lives? Chatbot, short for chatterbot, is an AI feature that simulates human conversations mainly through voice command or text. An example of a highly common chatbot, other than the one on your phone, is the “How May I Help You?” pop-up on the bottom right corner of web pages. Basically a robot with a knack for conversations and factual support!

Chatbots interpret the words they receive and provide pre-formulated answers. They gather information, support, and assist. The only downside to operating a chatbot is that it’s not human! It is only capable of answering straight-to-the-point first level questions. So, you might face the challenge of having to break down your questions to your chatbot’s understanding. 


Game Bots

The gaming community typically frowns upon this type of bot. Which is why players rarely ever use bots on their main characters, in case the game found out and banned them. It’s also pretty important not to leave game bots running 24/7. Since no human player is that tough! Game bots are usually hired for First Person Shooter (FPS) and Mass Multiplayer Online games (MMO). Whereby players hire them to increase their scores and power through game levels. Without spending too much time or money. In FPS games, bots automatically shoot the enemy in the head. In Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (MOBA), they avoid spells from opponents. Other famous types of game bots are farm bots. Which comes as no surprise considering that games like FarmVille and HayDay would suck a lot less if consistent harvesting was an option! Farm bots not only harvest resources but also collect currencies and tend to livestock. 

The frowned upon side to game bots is their negative impact on in-app economy. Let’s say an online game charges you $30 per month to play. If you hire a bot to replace your human wits, you might end up winning a level (that was supposed to take you a full month) in less than a week. Which decreases your monthly fees. AND all the money you’ll be urged to buy weapons and updates with. That way, the money that is supposed to be spent on the game is instead spent on hiring a bot. Which reflects negatively on the game’s brand and player experience.

Here’s a fun list of game bots for you to check out!

GAME BOTSRetail/Sneaker Bots

Retail bots, also known as shopping bots, are the “new apps” to a fulfilling shopping experience. Whereby bots offer real-time customer service, transaction processing, and personalized product suggestions. A retail bot is, in short, an effective combination of your favorite shopping assistant and AI technology.

Sneaker Bots: The Big Picture

Zooming into the world of sneakers might lead up to the following question: what are bots used for in this case, buying…shoes? YES! But not just any shoes: hyped and super limited sneakers by leading brands like Nike, Adidas Yeezy, Air Jordan, and many more. Hundreds of thousands of sneaker fans, known in the industry as sneakerheads, aim to buy as many hyped and limited pairs of sneakers as they can on retail. Due to the high demand on popular sneaker releases and collaborations, sneaker bots help users score the sneakers they want. To either flex, keep crystal clean in their sneaker museums, or flip for higher values on the aftermarket. Through operating one or more sneaker bots, sneakerheads increase their chances of buying their target sneakers. That is, after they load up on sneaker proxies, connect to reliable servers, and take full advantage of their sneaker bot features.
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Feeling Foggy About all This? 

Every beginner on the planet is standing where you are right now. That is, if you consider yourself at a beginner stage with the potential to become more than just that. We get it. It’s new, it’s competitive, and there are a bunch of technicalities you need to learn to get the hang of it. Keep in mind that the sneaker resale market alone is worth at least $1B. And every pro reseller was at some point a rookie who couldn’t tell the difference between Nike and Adidas, were it not for the Swoosh. Sounds a lot like someone you know? Well, if you’re interested in taking a shortcut that lots of sneakerheads had to build on their own, click on this ultimate sneaker guide and join the game where soles matter.