Automating /r/MapPorn with a bot

On /r/MapPorn we run a monthly contest of user submitted maps. This is a fun way to allow users to showcase their work. The contest is a great place to get ideas for new maps. There are many different styles and ways to display geospatial information.

The Process

In the past the contest was all processed manually. Users would submit a map to the moderators and we would keep track of all submissions in a plain text file. This meant a lot of tedious copying and pasting and occasional errors and blunders in the process.

I’ve dabbled in using Python in the past and was looking for a new application when I decided to make a Reddit bot for /r/MapPorn. My goal was to automate most of the process of creating the map contest every month.

In this blog I’m going to go over some of the tools used in automating the map contest. This shows how useful Python and bots are in moderating a subreddit.

Reddit Bots

Anyone who has used Reddit for a decent amount of time has probably seen bots in the comments. There are many kinds of bots. They often parse a comment and reply with something useful, like a Wikipedia link, Amazon prices, haikus etc.

Bots have been around for awhile and there has been a bit of a backlash as they are often seen as a source of spam. Some implementations are not executed very well and only annoy other users.

The /r/MapPorn bot works behind the scenes. It receives map submissions, creates contest posts and tabulates votes and awards the winners of the map contest.

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