This is the beginning of a call for developers, but I probably need some help fleshing out the spec first.
It started with the sign-up page on the wiki falling into disuse – maybe it will recover, but I think it’s served it’s purpose – most people just turn up, or they don’t.
However there’s still a need for information about who’s going. Some people want reassurance that there’s going to be *someone* else there. Others may want to know which people that they know are going. It’s also useful to know after the event who was there so that you can follow up conversations or connect in a non-spammy way with people you didn’t get to see.
The non-spammy bit is very important, I want the information to be available, but I want to maintain the trust of people who come to twitter that their data won’t be harvested by unscrupulous folk. Of course it’s been possible to snaffle data from the start using the wiki, but it doesn’t seem that anyone’s bothered yet.
So I want you to treat this post as a draft specification for a new tool, a bot for which the principal user interface is twitter. I imagine it working like an irc-bot. I send messages in a pre-specified form with certain parameters and I receive a message back which either confirms an action I’ve taken or gives me some information (where that information won’t fit into a tweet it will need to be stored somewhere readable and linked to).
The core functions I have imagined so far are:
Going – defaults to adding you to the list of people coming to the next tuttle but with optional date parameter, returns a confirmation that your message has been recieved.
WhoIsGoing – returns a list of people already signed up, records (somewhere – where?) the fact that you asked.
IsTuttleOn – returns “yes” except when it doesn’t 🙂
WhatTime – returns 10am except when it doesn’t
WhatIsTuttle – returns standard description. Can take username as a parameter so you can let someone know (for the scenarios where a n00b asks “dude, wtf is a tuttle?”
WhoWent – takes date parameter, returns list of people who signed up.
You get the idea.
As a user, can you think of other functions you’d like to use? Can you think through the implications of such functions and let me know if there’s something stupid in there? Let’s throw this around for a little while – I’m particularly interested in understanding ways in which it could be simplified or abstracted from for use by other meetups or else extended for us to perform other functions than Friday meetups.
As a developer, what are the holes? What else do you need to know to be able to start building a prototype? I’m language or environment agnostic at the moment and would like outputs to be available in multiple forms, not just the existing wiki. Beyond the twitter API you might consider getting this bot to talk to the pbwiki API (perhaps “Going” writes some details from your twitter profile to a wiki page) or you might look at it talking to the Eventbrite API or whatever.
I hope it goes without saying that all parts of the development process should be Open Source – you should be prepared to share your code with others for the benefit of the Tuttle community and anyone else who wishes to use it.