discord bots are terrible. bot developers are worse. bot lists?

preface

This article is based on assumptions about consumer behavior that are not necessarily backed by fact or study (i wasn’t wasting time on real research.)

I encourage you to use this reading for inspiration, not argument.

user experience

bots bad.

i want to use bot?

bot developer: he say cool!! use mine

what bot devloper don’t know? bot developer not always good at the user experience. many bots have convoluted commands that can be hard to use - especially without reading some form of manual.

this problem is not aided by discord’s abysmal support for improving user-bot interactions. long ago we were promised access to slash-commands, a user-first feature that would allow for feedback with commands while you were typing them (this is surely a principle of UX) - but unfortunately, other features with better interest to Discord as a company have taken priority.

despite this, many users will eventually learn how to use a bot of their choice - and they will not be restrained by the usability of the application itself.

discovery

bot developer work hard on a bot.

in fact, some developers work so hard on their bots (or work so little) that they are able to sustain a livable income off of them. good for them!

but in order for a bot developer to reach this stage of popularity, he has to pick up momentum.

Discord does not have first-class support for bot discovery. the only way users would discover a bot from within the platform are via means of direct contact with a bot - such as seeing one being used in another guild they frequent.

as a solution to this, a good man wrote carbon bot list, a directory of discord bots. however, this bot list was first published back in 2015 - when there were relatively few bots being developed, and less competition for discovery.

carbon is a great example of writing a site that is targeted towards users - it does a good job of listing trusted bots in a space that is easy to digest. informational blabs - a type of advertisement designed to draw in initial engagement - is forefront on this bot list, and developers can create pretty rich looking advertisements.

carbon got a lot of things right, but it doesn’t seem like it was ever designed to handle the quantity of bots that it sees today.

there is no filtering the bot list, and it loads the entire directory into a single HTML page - which makes it hard for users to find a more specific bot.

bot dev make bot list

carbon might be great for users that want to discover new bots. but it was not so great for bot developers making bot communities (they are truly excellent communities).

so, a big bot man decides to build a big bot list. his bot list is not bad, from the perspective of other bot developers and anime lovers.

his site is fast, minimal, and solves some of the problems found with carbon bot list - importantly that it knows how to paginate data and make the list more feasible to use.

it seems possible that this list was never intended to be used by the public, ‘average user’ - but rather, by other bot developers.

this notion holds up if you actually view the site - it prides itself on displaying a bot’s server count, prefix, and the API the bot was developed with. these records are great - if you’re a developer. but if you are an end user, odds are, you couldn’t care less about how the bot was developed or what its prefix is.

bot man make bot list

“bot dev list Suck!”

a nice boy had this idea. he decided that he could revolutionize the discovery of bots by making his own bot directory.

his bot site is okay. its borderline good. its not bad.

it does not suffer from the same flaws as the bot dev list. he has gone out of his way to try and make his list more user-friendly. it now includes tags and searching to help users find and discover the bots they want.

as a user, this bot site is probably the one you would want to use. but like carbon, it suffers from general “slowness” - in an era of smooth single-page applications - and can be clunky at times.

tags are less than perfect: there is no good way for the user to search for multiple tags at once, and/or change the ordering of bots in the directory.

it defaults to sorting by the number of votes the bot has, and doesn’t allow you to change this (at least from my experience). voting is a good idea in theory, but due to only partial adoption by particular bot developers, it is unbalanced.

some bots require a user to vote to use its features - these bots tend to plague the top of the bot list, with thousands of votes more than the rest. other bots don’t make their users aware of a voting system at all - and as such, have virtually no votes at all.

qualitative analysis

qualitative analysis is a big word that sounds cool and is being used in the wrong way in this section.

when a user is looking for a bot - no matter what type of bot - they will be overwhelmed with a mass of bots that do the same thing.

like any normal person, this user will try to find something about each bot that sets it out from the rest of the field. this is where all bot sites fail: they give the user meaningless numbers.

traditional bot sites display the bot’s server count front and center, as if the number of servers a bot is indicative of its quality. yes, if a bot has many thousands of guilds, it is probably a safe bet.

but is the bot with 100,000 guilds really twice as good as the bot with 50,000 guilds? seems unlikely.

most bot lists have handled this problem in a respectable way - they don’t sort results by server count. however, they still very clearly display the server count front and center.

voting is a good experiment at trying to improve the selection process - but as explained previously, unbalanced adoption and interaction with the voting process makes these numbers imbalanced, and hard to make a well-informed decision off of.

removing these numbers from bot directories altogether would probably be a good step in the right direction - or at least, something to experiment with.

discovery, revisited

after exploring these bot lists, we now have a few mediums of discovery for a bot:

  1. Direct Interaction or Word-of-Mouth
  2. Carbon Bot List - (mostly dead these days, though)
  3. Discord Bots
  4. Discord Bot List
  5. Search Engines

Google Analytics results from a popular music bot [dabBot] show the following:

dabbot analytics

Unsuprisingly, the top sources of traffic are from users searching specifically for a music bot. It looks like bot’s actual websites are doing better in search results and discoverability than bot directories, which makes sense.

Most users probably wouldn’t search for a bot listing to then search for a type of bot - and as such, I wouldn’t espect to see general bot listing websites gain significant popularity unless Discord begins linking to them directly.

Oddly enough, Discord Bots appears lower in our traffic than Discord Bot List, despite Discord Bot List having better SEO and usability. I assume this is the case only because of seniority, and DBL should? overtake Discord Bots eventually.

a more ideal bot list

based on these findings, an excellent very big bot man has developed a bot list that intends to resolve all of these problems.

it is specialized for music bots only, so it should fend off much better in search queries for music bot than traditional bot listing sites.

it does not display server count or votes, so users should no longer base their clicks off of the bigger number.

the list is ordered randomly on every visit, so every bot should get “equal” exposure.

this bot highlights bots by their feature set first, making it easier for users to choose the features they want in a bot when searching for one.

check it out lol