Goodbye Swear Clock

As they say, all absolutely fucking terrible things must come to an end.

I started up an ersatz “Swear Clock” on Mastodon in November 2022, primarily because I missed it from Twitter (particularly the sessions where I’d just sit and dump a bunch of intrusive thoughts into the submission form, most of which I used to seed my version) and partially as a way of learning Python.

Over time I spent far, far more time than I rightfully should have bolting stuff onto it. Over the course of over a year it blossomed – or perhaps metastasised – from a simple bot that just read incremental lines from a text file and ran a couple of Mastodon API calls to push it out, to a frankly ridiculous set of Python scripts and personal function libraries that shoved stuff out to both Mastodon and Bluesky simultaneously, had its own markup language for “madlib” style status creation, and had a fairly comprehensive logging system with multiple different levels of logging (that I never actually switched off the first setting I put it on) to periodically check, save and clear Mastodon notifications. Literally yesterday I’d spent far too long refactoring code and moving it out of the main script so I could reuse some of the code for my other stupid bots, while also keeping code in the “swearclock” file purely for Swear Clock. Given another year it would probably have become sentient.

Remember, this was for a deeply unoriginal bot whose purpose is posting rude things followed by the time, that had a total of about 400 unique followers. I have wasted my life.

Tragic.

I’d dropped Rob Manuel, who owns the original bot, a DM on Twitter, and @mentioned him a couple of times using what used to be the Joobly Crooblins account on there, asking if he was OK with it, and got no reply. My assumption then as now is that he is just a very busy person who does an awful lot of shit, and some dickhead on an also-ran social network isn’t something he cares all that much about. But I’ve always been very clear (and personally keenly aware) that it wasn’t my idea, it was his, and publicly stated that if he expressed any kind of unhappiness about it at any point in the future, it’d get shut down.

The inevitable happened yesterday, and Rob finally got wind somehow and asked me to delete both accounts totally. He appears to be in the process of getting his own Clock accounts set up on Mastodon and Bluesky, and good luck to him.

So, this is the upshot:

  • My shoddy “Swear Clock” bots are gone from Mastodon and Bluesky – the accounts are totally deleted (Rob was offered the passwords and asked for them to be nuked instead). If one appears under the names @swearclock.bsky.social or @swearclock@mastodon.social, it isn’t mine and I’m not responsible for it.
  • I still have the “Swear Clock” code and “mad lib” word lists but won’t be publishing them. (Rob was offered these also and declined.)
  • The Google form is closed and the submissions list is now inaccessible.
  • I’m also, after a brief bit of hesitation, not going to publish the “queue” file that includes all the submissions the Clock referred to (because honestly reading it back, it’s fucking awful.) It’s not like I can use it for anything else, anyway.
  • Swear Chart, an offshoot which wound up being less funny than I thought it would be, wasn’t mentioned – but that’s gone too.
  • My other bots are still going to run as is. I might make more if some other idea strikes me. Who knows?

Thank you to everyone who submitted awfulness to the bot, and thank you to everyone who followed and boosted my stupid, unoriginal knock off labour of love. As noted, reading back that file of all the things you faved and boosted was terrifying, and all of us clearly need urgent psychiatric treatment to fix our diseased minds.


* This is also why I never tried to monetise the bot – not that I monetise any of my stupid bots.

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