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Alastair Coote

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Alastair Coote

  1. 1. Publish controlled by emoji
  2. 2. Publish controlled by emoji
  3. 3. Separate emoji for in-person publish
  4. 4. MIRRORED
  5. 5. /asknate
  6. 6. /asknytelection

Editor's Notes

  • a small experiment with the R&D team, an installable bot that bring election coverage into your Slack room
    intended to publish to a small number of friends and techies
    well meaning colleague tweeted it out, and…
  • Nieman Lab found it
    before we knew it, in some 500 Slack rooms
    large audience made it more daunting
    started doing live coverage on primary nights
    how did we do that workflow? we used Slack itself as an admin
  • inspired by other work we’d done for live chats on live blogs
    Separate room dedicated to bot posts
    Publishing was controlled via emoji responses
    Or at least, it was until the incident…
  • - put an extra layer of security over it
  • - put an extra layer of security over it
  • CMS for the Slackbot was actually Slack itself
    Separate room dedicated to bot posts
    Publishing was controlled via emoji responses
    Can see these highlighted posts…
  • …are then seen in the output room
    Names of authors stripped out, posting “as” the bot
    But this wasn’t always the case
  • there was a separate emoji reaction
    using that posted as the user…
    Paul Volpe - Deputy Washington Bureau Chief
  • … like so
    primary night coverage was OK, but most Slack audience at home
    also very busy, difficult to carve our resources
  • instead, let’s make an event - office hours
    Nate Cohn - Reporter for the Upshot
  • a live chat broadcast on our site
    and mirrored by the Slack bot
    one problem, though…
  • there was a lot of it
    live for an hour. some users loved it, some hated it
    realized we don’t know the context of our bot, what room is it in? how many people?
    one success, though…
  • one success, though: questions
    added a slash command, /asknate, piped questions into our Slack room
    which we could then select to publish back out again as Nate answered.
    Got us thinking about questions - existing command just forwarded to the newsroom
  • worked again with R&D to try natural language processing of questions
    they created a dataset with some candidate positions and election calendar
  • used wit.ai, an NLP service bought by Facebook
    has a mix of entities, intents and expressions
  • put them all together and you can see how it pulls out various terms from questions
    this structured data is then sent back to us to process
  • worked great
    for the first five minutes or so
    very quickly realized that people’s questions would be numerous and diverse
  • some of them are answerable - for example, get donation data, good to go
    most are not, kind of questions people asked Nate. Requiring deep analysis - which is why we’re here!
    this does. not. scale.
    supreme court example: is that an election question? what comes after that? is “I don’t answer that” a valid response?
    you would need a full time team answering questions, and even then, would maybe fail
    nature of news means dataset is always changing. Apple can afford to tweak Siri endlessly, we’d be starting over and over
  • within the confines of the experiment we weren’t able to do that justice
    so we shut it down for now. Excited for the future, but a chat experience like this has to be very, very focused. Maybe Olympics - data-driven event, lots of people in the office during the day

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