Designing Chatbots for Crises: A Case Study Contrasting Potential and Reality

Piccolo, Lara S. G.; Roberts, Shadrock; Iosif, Anna and Alani, Harith (2018). Designing Chatbots for Crises: A Case Study Contrasting Potential and Reality. In: Proceedings of the 32nd International BCS Human Computer Interaction Conference (HCI), ACM.



Chatbots are becoming ubiquitous technologies, and their popularity and adoption are rapidly spreading. The potential of chatbots in engaging people with digital services is fully recognised. However, the reputation of this technology with regards to usefulness and real impact remains rather questionable. Studies that evaluate how people perceive and utilise chatbots are generally lacking. During the last Kenyan elections, we deployed a chatbot on Facebook Messenger to help people submit reports of violence and misconduct experienced in the polling stations. Even though the chatbot was visited by more than 3,000 times, there was a clear mismatch between the users’ perception of the technology and its design. In this paper, we analyse the user interactions and content generated through this application and discuss the challenges and directions for designing more effective chatbots.

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