Triggered by the question How should a bot earn enough reputation to perform the actions necessary for that bot?
Spam is increasing, and it appears current efforts towards it are linear – they require human action and interaction.
We have, up until now, allowed users to moderate the site through voting and flags, but this is a linear solution which cannot match the fact that spammers are using bots to abuse the system.
Our users are smart enough, trustworthy enough, and, gosh darn it – adorable enough – that we should permit them to create bot accounts to fight spam posted by bots.
I don't know what this would look like, but in my experience posting such questions without some proposed solution results in lackluster debates, so here's one possible solution:
A new account type that is meant only for robots. It's "owned" by a real user account, and is allowed to do everything that user is allowed to do, but with additional rate limiting and oversight, and statistics on its user page about its performance and correlation with real user voting.
This ability would only be given to users with, say, 50k reputation (so the number of robots is limited) but they could be running whatever code they want. so others can contribute at lower reputations, they just have to coordinate with a high reputation user.
If a user repeatedly deploys robots that fail spectacularly it should affect their reputation, probably significantly, as a measure of community trust and to encourage significant debugging and testing prior to deployment.
Bot source code must be available and open somehow to the stack overflow team.
Perhaps a simpler solution would be to allow "robot" slots on each user account, with more slots the higher the user gets, and not actually create a new user, just a new API key. Slots can be enabled and disabled, statistics are kept and tracked.
So, while the SO team screams in horror at the thought of such a big change to the system, let's discuss what problems this solution holds, and what other ways we might implement robot accounts and hold their owners accountable?