The BBC News Labs and the BBC Visual Journalism team are trying to solve both issues with a single solution: a custom bot-builder application designed to make it as easy as possible for reporters to build chatbots and insert them into their stories. In a few minutes, a BBC reporter can input the text of an article, define the questions users can click, and publish the bot, which can then be reused and added to any other relevant article. BBC reporters can even repurpose existing Q&A explainers into bot-based conversations.
So, on this story about a typo on State of the “Uniom” tickets, a “Catch me up” module says: “Donald Trump came into office promising to change the face of American politics and transfer power ‘back to the people.’ This BBC chatbot lets you ask: what has President Trump achieved in his first year?” Three potential questions are offered. (How are the President’s approval ratings? How is the economy faring under President Trump? And has the President changed immigration numbers?) Pick one and a chat interface expands with answers. (“He’s one of the most unpopular presidents in the modern era.”) With each answer, one or more new questions pop up as options; the Trump chatbot contains more than a dozen in all.)