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Bot

A bot is common parlance on the Internet for an automated web agent. It is an abbreviation of the word "robot". Bots are typically employed to gather information, when they are usually referred to as spiders, such as that used by e.g. Google to gather web-page information, or they may be used to interact dynamically with a site in a particular way, for example to exploit or locate arbitrage opportunities for financial gain.

The term bot can also refer to an interactive agent/program that communicates with users. For example a program that communicates with people via IM or web interface. These often allow people to ask questions in plain english and then formulate a proper response. These bots can often handle many tasks including reporting weather, zip code information, sports scores, converting currency or other units, and much more.

There has been a great deal of controversy about the use of bots in an automated trading function. eBay has been to court in an attempt to suppress a third party company from using bots to traverse their site looking for bargains; this approach backfired on eBay and attracted the attentions of further bots. The UK based betting exchange Betfair believe they have also experienced some difficulties with bots on their site but are taking a more "hands off" approach in the light of the eBay experience.

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