13 Jun 2016


What is VIMbot?

VIMbot is a Twitter bot that checks current issues of certain political science journals (via RSS) for content authored by Visions in Methodology participants. It then automatically tweets out the article’s link and a “congrats!” to the VIMmer (or VIMmers) in question. All of VIMbot’s tweets also push to its Facebook page.


Did you say “automatically tweets”?

Yes. The bot wakes up, tweets, and goes back to sleep all on its own. The humans check the back-end code output for errors and spot check the Twitter output occasionally. Otherwise, we don’t regularly monitor the Twitter account for RTs and DMs. If you need to get in touch with a human, we recommend you email.


Why make VIMbot?

One of the common topics during VIM is self-promotion of one’s own work. VIMbot takes some of the onus off scholars, particularly junior scholars, by doing the promotion for them.


How frequently does VIMbot tweet?

VIMbot checks for new journal content every Sunday night, Eastern time. If any of the new content’s authored by a VIMmer, the bot begins tweeting on Monday at 8am Eastern. If there’s no new content on Sunday night, or none of the new content involves a VIMmer, VIMbot stays silent the entire week.


Does your “congrats!” tweet at VIMmers?

We have the functionality, yes. We can tweet at you if you have a Twitter and fill in your Twitter handle on your VIM profile page in full URL form1 (log in here2). Otherwise, we’ll give you a prose-only shoutout.


How do you know who’s participated in VIM?

The VIM website maintains a list, located here. The VIMbot code pulls from that list every week, right before it queries the journals’ RSS feeds.


I’ve participated in VIM, but VIMbot’s missing my articles.

There are a few possibilities to check first:

  1. VIMbot checks every Sunday night (Eastern) for new articles in the journals listed below, and then tweets them throughout that week. The bot may not have pulled the article yet, if it was just posted.
  2. Make sure you are listed on the VIM participation page. If you are not, get in touch with the VIM webmaster.
  3. Make sure your name on the VIM participation page is the one you publish under. This is important. Otherwise, the VIMbot code won’t pick you up. To edit your name, and other aspects of your VIM profile, log in here.3
  4. Names with special characters (e.g., umlaut, diacritic, apostrophes) do not always parse properly from the RSS feeds. We’ve fixed the encodings for all the troublesome feeds we’re aware of so far. If there’s a troublesome feed we haven’t discovered yet, please let us know.

If you’ve checked **everything** above, and you still can’t figure out why VIMbot’s missing your article(s), shoot us an email. The more details you can give to help us debug, the better (e.g., link to the “missing” article).


What journals does VIMbot check?

At present, VIMbot checks the “current issue” RSS feeds of:

  • American Journal of Political Science
  • American Political Science Review (both FirstView and current issue feeds)
  • British Journal of Political Science (both FirstView and current issue feeds)
  • Comparative Political Studies (both EarlyView and current issue feeds)
  • International Organization (both FirstView and current issue feeds)
  • International Studies Quarterly (both FirstView and current issue feeds)
  • Journal of Politics
  • Legislative Studies Quarterly
  • Political Analysis (both FirstView and current issue feeds)
  • Political Behavior
  • Political Communication
  • Public Opinion Quarterly (both FirstView and current issue feeds)
  • World Politics (both FirstView and current issue feeds)


For journals with two RSS feeds, does the article get tweeted twice?

Yes, potentially: once when the article appears in the Early/FirstView RSS feed, and once when the article appears in the current issue RSS feed.


How did you decide which journals to include?

We went for the Big 3 + PA and then (attempted to pick) the top ~2-3 journals from each subfield.


I think there’s a journal you should include.

Feel free to send the suggestion along, along with a link to the journal’s RSS feed. We’ll take a look when we get a chance (disclaimer: it might take a while). Some RSS feeds mesh easily with the VIMbot code, whereas others take less trivial amounts of effort.


Who made VIMbot?

Shawna Metzger wrote all the VIMbot code, with a timely cameo from Jane Lawrence Sumner for the author-matching segment of the code.


How did you write VIMbot?

Everything’s written in R. The bot automatically checks all the journal RSS feeds once a week on Sunday night (Eastern), sees if there’s any new content since the last time it checked, and then spreads out any new article tweets across the work week.


  1. E.g.: https://twitter.com/PSci_VIMbot 

  2. The login page also has a link to reset your password, if you are unsure what it is. If you don’t get the password reset email, contact the VIM webmaster

  3. The login page also has a link to reset your password, if you are unsure what it is. If you don’t get the password reset email, contact the VIM webmaster