Writing IRC bots with Perl's BasicBot

Bot Netiquette

Bots can be helpful, but they can also be very intrusive, especially if a bug is triggered. As a matter of consideration towards other IRC users and towards the IRC administrators, keep the following common sense rules in mind.

First, your bot should not flood channels. You must limit the rate at which your bot posts messages and prevent it from posting too many in a row. Bot::BasicBot has flood protection built in, so this should not be a big problem. The hellobot.pl example presented in this article has flood protection disabled for testing, as you can see in line 30 (Listing 1).

Second, ask permission from the channel operator before letting your bot join their channel.

Third, some IRC servers don't allow bots, or do so only under certain conditions. Most IRC administrators will be fine with bots as long as they are not wreaking havoc, but you should read the rules of the server you are accessing. Don't connect a bot if it is unwanted.

Bots that log the activity on a channel or relay messages towards other networks are particularly troublesome. Some people might consider them a threat against their privacy. Be sure people know you are running the bot for the sake of transparency.

Conclusions

The BasicBot Perl module allows you to create quick and dirty IRC bots in a matter of minutes. Anybody interested in developing bots using this module should have a look at the documentation [2]. It is quite easy to mix BasicBot with other Perl modules in order to achieve more complex goals, such as fetching and posting news from websites. I have a small set of bots in my gopher site [3], which you can look at if you want more examples. See Table 1 for notes on the IRC channels referenced in this article.

Table 1

IRC Systems Used in the Examples

Server

Network

Comments

irc.colosolutions.net

EFnet [4]

For general chat

irc.canternet.org

Canternet [5]

Built by and for My Little Pony fans

chat.freenode.net

freenode

For computer chat and free software projects

Infos

  1. Manage CPAN modules with cpanminus: https://www.linode.com/docs/development/perl/manage-cpan-modules-with-cpan-minus/
  2. Bot::BasicBot at Metacpan: https://metacpan.org/pod/Bot::BasicBot
  3. Rubén Llorente's gopher site: http://gopher://gopher.operationalsecurity.es
  4. EFnet IRC network: http://www.efnet.org/
  5. Canternet IRC network: https://www.canternet.org

The Author

Rubén Llorente is a mechanical engineer, whose job is to ensure that the security measures of the IT infrastructure of a small clinic are both law compliant and safe. In addition, he is an OpenBSD enthusiast and a weapons collector.

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