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Designing Feminist Chatbots to Tackle Online Abuse


What we made
Here are the chatbots! You can interact with them — but bear with us while we polish them up — these were coded in 2 days ❤

Helping people call out toxic internet culture, by Calie Calatayud, Kyoungmin Kim, and Georgia Hughes. You can chat with Womansplain here.

Pocket of Joy
Helping bring happiness to people experiencing online rudeness, Eunah Lee, Hannah Seddon, Tilly Cullen. You can chat with Pocket of Joy here.

Cyber Smart Buddy
Helps teenagers who are experiencing or know someone who is experiencing cyberbullying, by Judy Chyou and Janet Choi. You can chat with Cyber Smart Buddy here.

A chatbot informing young women and users of social media platforms about online abuse, by Elizabeth Connor and Ipek Demircioglu. You can chat with Ayla here.

Ms Leaky Pipes
Informed, sexy, confident, safe, empowered sexting, by Ana Blumenkron and Ellie Stanton. You can chat with Ms Leaky Pipes here.

This was an intense week, but it was an absolute honour to be in a room with a group of such curious, critical, creative and talented young people, all willing to absorb feminist methods, and take on the wicked problem of online harassment. Some final reflections on what went well that folks might want to try out for themselves:

  • Starting the workshop by hearing from subject experts and those who have experienced online abuse was crucial, and we would recommend this for any design sprint tackling a topic you or your team are not experts in.
  • Having a range of creative disciplinary expertise allowed some extremely visually appealing and expressive chatbots to emerge — having creatives on development teams is a must!
  • You don’t need to have sophisticated coding skills to start making chatbots — we had a range of coding skills in the room, and this allowed people to teach each other and share knowledge in a supportive environment.
  • Our feminist design tool allowed participants to articulate their feminist design choices, from the purpose of the chatbot to its tone of voice. The tool can be adapted for any design process — you don’t have to be making a chatbot to use it!
  • Rituals create a sense of community. At the beginning and end of everyday, we form a circle and check-in with people to see how they were doing, what their expectations were and what they have learned. This creates an atmosphere of openness and goodwill, as well as giving facilitators live feedback about participants’ experiences.

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