A computer engineer has won 1,000 competitions on Twitter by coding a bot to search for tweets offering prizes. Hunter Scott, an engineer at Motorola, wrote a script using the coding language Python to enter approximately 165,000 contests over a period of nine months.
The Twitter bot won an average of four contests per day, every day, for nine months. Prizes included tickets to events, virtual currency for online games and a cowboy hat autographed by the stars of a Mexican soap opera.
"I ended up not claiming the majority of the things I won because I wasn't able to use them or attend them," Scott said in a blogpost that detailed his endeavours. "In those cases I just messaged them back and told them to give the prize to someone else."
The most valuable prize won by the bot was a trip to New Work Fashion Week that had a retail value of $4,000. This was one of the prizes that went unclaimed as Scott does not live in New York and did not want to pay the taxes on the prize.
Scott also adapted the bot to help raise money for charity. Twitter users telling their followers that they will donate money for every retweet that they receive were picked up and dutifully RTd by the bot.
According to Scott, the hardest part of the project was preventing the bot from getting banned by Twitter for breaking retweeting rules aimed at stopping spam. As Twitter does not reveal the exact numbers, Scott was forced to work it out through a process of trial-and-error.
"I'm not sure if anyone else has done this before, but I didn't see any evidence of other bots that were behaving like mine," Scott said. "I did however see evidence of real people who were manually doing the job of my bot by retweeting hundreds of contests over several hours.
The full list of items won by Scott's bot can be found here.