What Is a Bot in Online Dating?

By Contributing Writer

Online dating is an interesting aspect of modern Internet technology. In particular, one intriguing phenomenon is known as an online dating bot. In some cases, people may think they are having an online conversation with is an actual person when it is actually a kind of software.

Basic Bot Concept

An online bot is basically a piece of software that has been written to have conversations with online computer users. The conversations are generally in text, though some bots can also speak. Some online bots are sophisticated enough to convince a user that she is having a conversation with an actual person.

Early Online Bots

The concept of a software "bot" that has been programmed to respond in a certain way to replies from people communicating in online chat forums has actually been around for many years. Users of IRC (Internet relay chat), an early kind of online text communication, have used scripted bots in virtual chat rooms for more than a decade. Such basic bots have been used for various purposes, such as providing trivia quizzes to chat room participants.

Fun Online Dating Bots

There are online dating bots, such as the MSN online dating bot, that are intended to be entertaining while helping people with relationship and dating. This is a more positive use of an online dating bot and has been used to promote Internet dating sites.

Questionable Online Dating Bots

Other online dating bots have reportedly been used for the purposes of collecting information about people who did not know they were bots. There is at least one documented case of such bots in Russian chat forums. Bots were said to have collected photos and personal information about people.

Online Dating Considerations

As online dating bots get more advanced, it is more and more challenging to know if a computer user is having a conversation with an actual person. Computer users are advised to be careful when offering personal information to people they have only met in a chat room.