Shutting down our preprint bots

We started running Twitter bots in 2017, when Liberate Science was only a side project. First we launched the PsyArxiv bot. Later, we launched bots for the MetaArxiv (2020) and EdArxiv (2021) preprint servers.

Six years in, we are shutting down these Twitter bots. You may have already noticed they are no longer posting any new preprints since February 13th (previously 9th).

There are several things that motivate us to stop the preprint bots’ operations. It includes the exodus from Twitter overall; it includes the recent announcement that Twitter API access is no longer free. It includes that the community has taken it upon itself to offer replacement bots on Mastodon.  

We offered preprint bots for free all these years, but that does not mean it was free to run this. We had to run a custom RSS feed service (based on Jeff Spies’ osfpreprints-feed; run on Glitch for $99/year). Automating a bot is free and easy if there is relatively little volume. Especially for PsyArxiv, the amount of preprints grew so rapidly that we had to upgrade our automation and costs went up to ~$600 per year (using Zapier). This is also why the 1,500 free post limit proves too uncertain in the long run.

Running preprint bots is not enormously expensive and could probably be run cheaper too. With Twitter now all of a sudden requiring paid API access (eleven days notice for what looks like $100/month!), this was a forcing factor for us to shut down the bots. The decision and how it was communicated by Twitter provides too much uncertainty for us to keep investing in what is not our core work at this point (it is part of Liberate Science Labs, where we experiment with things).

It was great while it lasted. I realize a lot of people relied on these bots to provide them with the latest - I am sorry this is the current situation. We’re happy to discuss transferring the accounts if somebody wants to run them in a serious manner, with respect to how they have been run until now, and who is capable of dealing with the shenanigans of Twitter reliably.

# Labs
Shutting down our preprint bots
Liberate Science GmbH February 20, 2023
Co-host introduction for the Open Update (Season 3)