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Blog: Death of the CBC - And a New Beginning

By Dave


After 12 years, and the seemingly endless march of chatbots and their botmasters, The Chatterbox Challenge is no more. For those of us in the AI/chatbot community, this was a sad, shocking blow, for the CBC was one of the two most popular, most anticipated competitions in our tiny little corner of the world. It was a way for us to test our bots, to find ways to improve and extend our knowledge, and a way to gain bragging rights over our fellow members. Plus, it was just plain fun! Oh, how the CBC will be missed!

Several members of the community, myself included wondered if Wendell Cowart, the contest's "owner" and manager, could be convinced to allow another from the community to take over the Chatterbox Challenge, but Wendell explained that this was simply not going to happen. The CBC was truly dead and gone.

Voices, few at first, and only barely above a whisper, began to murmur; a new contest was needed, to fill this newly formed, dark void that had been left by the end of the CBC. Those voices grew slowly stronger, and were joined by others. A new contest... A new hope... A new beginning...

Ok, ok! overly dramatic, I know. :P Sue me. Long story short, I've decided to take the plunge, and organize a new chatbot competition, with a fresh perspective, and a new focus. I want to create a contest with a broader scope and more appeal. I want to expand upon the great work that Wendell has made, and drive it to greater heights, in popularity, in relevance, and of importance to the community at large. I want this new contest to have a new site that's more interesting, engaging and entertaining than the CBC ever was, and I want to provide a new, more interactive visitor experience. This new contest will have a tournament style format, and will invite the general public to participate on a level never before seen. There will be mini-contests for test question submission for the public, with winning entries (those questions that are accepted for use in the contest) getting recognition on the website, as a sort of "hall of fame". Botmasters will be able to enter their bots into different categories, such as basic chatbots, virtual assistants, or NLP (Natural Language Processing) bots, each to be judged separately from the other categories. Entries to the contest will be done through a registration form on the website, rather than through email, and the registration process will also sport a list of up to three proposed questions that the botmaster would like to see used in the competition. There will be some very strict guidelines regarding the selection of these questions by the contest staff, and questions to be used will be sorted by category and difficulty level, and stored anonymously into a database, so that no member of the judging staff will know who submitted the question. Testing will probably be separate from judging, and will likely be as automated as possible, to help avoid conflict of interest issues, along with reducing the possibility of cheating.

I have a ton of other ideas, and I'm gathering ideas and opinions from a great many others within the community, and I really like the direction that the contest is going in right now. I'll (try to) keep everyone posted about this as the weeks go by, and as the contest develops.