I follow the Twitter accounts of the sites where I moderate. Over the weekend I noticed that they were Tweeting meta questions. These questions were really esoteric questions that only someone very interested in the site or a CM/Developer would be able to answer.

Recent examples:

https://twitter.com/StackWebApps/status/1069516622975696896

https://twitter.com/StackDIY/status/1069426346588348417

In fact if you look at the last three posts from both accounts they're all meta questions. If I wasn't involved with the sites on a daily basis and saw these I'd be really confused. It wouldn't encourage me to visit the site - except to satisfy some sort of morbid curiosity.

If this is a bot, why is it looking at meta?

If this is a human, why are they Tweeting these questions? Can they please stop.

This was raised nearly 7 years ago and does appear to have stopped for a while. This is new behaviour and therefore appear to be a new problem.

  • Another example off SU twitter.com/super_user/status/1069380846698811397 and I didn't even know that was ever a thing – Journeyman Geek Dec 3 at 14:48
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    Isn't it the same as meta.stackexchange.com/questions/118055/…? (Which got official reply saying it's done on purpose) – Shadow Wizard Dec 3 at 14:51
  • Interestingly, the question you linked doesn't show a "tweeted" item in the revision history, and @JourneymanGeek the one you linked shows it, but it doesn't link to the tweet; just to the Twitter account. – Sonic the Inclusive Hedgehog Dec 3 at 14:57
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    The proposed dupes are quite old, this deserves to be brought up again if only for the sake of relevancy. The only answer was from someone that hasn't worked here in quite a while and, to my knowledge, we actually shut off the Twitter bots for the most part because of Twitter issues. Let's get this a 2018 version. – Tim Post Dec 3 at 14:58
  • @Tim thanks, Post your answer and I'll close the old one as dupe of this one for sake of... correctness? :-) – Shadow Wizard Dec 3 at 14:59
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    We're figuring out what's going on with it now. It's a bit of a disjointed mess because we stopped creating new twitter accounts per-site because Twitter kept shutting them down immediately, despite us having plenty of similar (benign) accounts. So we'll figure out what the behavior should be for those that remain. Rebecca's answer isn't incorrect, but let's figure out what's still deliberate and why. Looks like there might be a bug at play, too. – Tim Post Dec 3 at 15:18
up vote 11 down vote accepted

This was fun. As we're preparing for the eventual switch to .NET Core, we're tearing out dependencies that aren't compatible. One of those is DotNetOpenAuth which, among other things, was used to authenticate sites to Twitter. So, that got replaced.

Tweeting is done via a scheduled route that runs on all sites, and we rely on per-site config to determine whether or not there is a Twitter account to post to. The thing that changed was how we create a Twitter "client" on our end. Now we pass the site the question comes from to it, and if it's a child meta, the client grabs the parent site's Twitter config. This is relevant for the times when we tweet the occasional "hot" meta question. You can probably see where this is going.

Everything works great right up until the scheduled route runs on a child meta site. :) So, technically speaking, the tweets are entirely correct in the sense that the posts they're referencing meet the criteria for the tweet type (unanswered question, great answer, etc)... but they happen to be pulled off the wrong site.

I pushed a change to restrict the route to main sites only, so things should go back to normal in about an hour.

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    Why not just shut down the Twitter bots entirely at this point? They really serve almost no purpose, bring very little traffic, and often Tweet the worst questions. IMO, they should have been shut down when you realized they weren't worth it and stopped making new ones. – Mithrandir Dec 6 at 16:42
  • @Mithrandir That's up to the community team. I don't have a strong opinion on it one way or another. I believe the last time we considered it, we decided that there was some value in them... but it was years ago and my memory may be faulty. – Adam Lear Dec 6 at 16:43
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    @Mithrandir to be honest, I did see several useful questions tweeted. Those who follow can find it helpful. So it's not entirely pointless, IMO. – Shadow Wizard Dec 6 at 16:43
  • "the posts they're referencing meet the criteria for the tweet type (unanswered question, great answer, etc)" The Movies&TV twitter account featured ancient meta-questions about "identification" questions, a "genre" of questions that was abandoned nearly a year ago. I cannot imagine how these old questions were deemed worthy of being promoted. – BCdotWEB Dec 11 at 10:27
  • @BCdotWEB Automatically. :) If the question was unanswered, for example, we don't do age checks to see if it's worth tweeting it out. None of this was supposed to run on metas, however. – Adam Lear Dec 11 at 16:29

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