Backup of David's Livejournal

Introducing Karma Medic

If you use Plurk, you know how fun the service is. It's one of the most addictive sites around. But I'm not here to convince you to try it. I'm here to help those who are already there.

Plurk utilizes a point system called Karma. It's a finely tuned system that appeals to those personalities that are competitive or like to collect. I love the reward system associated with karma. I despise the penalty system associated with karma. For example, if you're away from the service for a few days, you lose karma.

If you're already on Plurk, you need Karma Medic. Karma Medic's plurk user name is dblumebuddy. Karma Medic watches out for all her friends. If they're away from the service for too long, Karma Medic administers Karma in their absence.

Finally, you're allowed to leave Plurk and return to it without feeling like you've been unduly punished.

[Edit 07/28/2009] It's been over a year now, and Karma Medic has discontinued her distribution of karma.  She's decided to continue singing, though.  Many thanks to Plurk itself, for making the Karma system less punitive than it was a year ago.


1. Friend (not Follow) dblumebuddy.
2. There is no step 2.

Karma Medic will* accept the friend invitation, and will begin watching out for you in about two hours.

What Happens

Karma Medic is a cron daemon that watches out for her friends every hour. She notices the following sorts of things.

  • If you been plurking, that's great.
  • If you Karma isn't going too far into the negative, that's OK, too.
  • If she's helped you recently, she'll move along.

But, if you haven't been plurking, and your karma's going dangerously low, she'll administer a little karma love in the form of a plurk response.

Also, she likes to sing.

Leaving Karma Medic

There are two ways to leave Karma Medic's services.

  1. Unfriend Karma Medic. Karma Medic will forget everything she ever knew about you within an hour.
  2. Stop plurking. If you leave Plurk by just walking away for a few weeks, Karma Medic notices and stops watching out for you.

The Details

Karma Medic is a completely transparent service. You can see everything she knows. She was written in Python and uses YAML and JSON.

She can only see public plurks.

I intend to release Karma Medic as open source under the MIT license at Google Code. I just need some free time. She uses the Python variant of the Unofficial Plurk API.

*She's only accepting up to 20 35 55 80 111 friends at the moment.  But if any of them leave plurk or unfriend her, she'll accept new friend requests.

So what are you waiting for?  Go friend her!  Help her help you!


 crazy_musiklux on Jul 18th 2008 at 8:02 PM

 bunnyhero on Jul 18th 2008 at 8:02 PM

 dblume on Sep 22nd 2008 at 10:35 PM
I'm taking this suggestion very seriously. For what it's worth, the best solution is to simply retire the bot completely, once the A-Team has heard our pleas, and they no longer reduce Karma in a such punitive way that could take weeks to restore once you return to Plurk. (I think their policy should be that the first plurk after a protracted absence should restore karma to its previous high. Sort of a "welcome back!") I've changed her so that she only sings once a day, now. But I still enjoy seeing some of the comments she gets. (And some of those comments are mine.) So I'll leave comments open for a while. As soon as I get tired of the noise, too, I'll close comments. (Or, even better, when Karma is less punitive, I'll retire the bot completely.) What can I say? She lives and dies primarily at the whim of the A-Team, and at my own whim. Nobody's paying me for her, and I alone incur her expenses.

 bunnyhero on Jul 18th 2008 at 8:02 PM

 (no name) on Dec 4th 2008 at 11:49 PM
I left and came back and am still waiting for my friendship response to be accepted. Where art thou? I miss you. I promise not to leave again! :) Joonie

 bunnyhero on Jul 18th 2008 at 8:02 PM

 dblume on Jul 29th 2008 at 5:45 PM
I know! The thing is that she runs on a shared server at Dreamhost, and I want to play nicely. (They monitor CPU usage.) And she's just a personal project. She's got code to send a private plurk to people who friend her but are on the waiting list, but it turns out Plurk doesn't allow private plurks unless you've already friended them. Darn!
for friend in postponed_friends:
  if friend not in pending_friends:
    # Let them know they'll have to wait.
                             content='I currently have my maximum number of friends, '
                             'but your request will be accepted as soon as space opens.',
                             limited_to=[friend, ] )
So her private plurks never got out! Aww! When I get some time at home, I'll see what I can do about this.

 dblume on Jul 29th 2008 at 5:48 PM
Oh! And in case you're wondering about the 20 friends, PlurkBuddy and KarmaTrends don't count. Only humans. So don't be surprised that her Plurk profile says she has 22 friends. :)

 dblume on Aug 8th 2008 at 6:34 AM
She's been behaving, so I've been allowing more people in. Go ahead and request friendship, and I'll open another round of 20 people or so soon.

 pastilla on Jul 19th 2008 at 3:41 AM
Oh, great name! Hope she's up for the challenge. If I ever needed someone to do that, it's right now. :)

 dblume on Jul 19th 2008 at 3:47 AM
Thank you! She's already administered a little karma for you! I think she'll work out fine. You and I both need to be able to leave Plurk for days, and to return to it without feeling put upon. Who needs that sort of pressure? I can't believe you didn't use your "nurse mary" user pic when you commented.

 pastilla on Jul 19th 2008 at 4:18 AM
"I'm Nurse Mary and I approve this message." :: grin ::

 sjonsvenson on Jul 20th 2008 at 3:42 PM
I know Python, I have heard about YAML but JSON ... that's almost me ^_^ I hope I don't confuse her to much. I am not adicted to Plurk nor to it's Karma, I only come on about once or twice a week.

 dblume on Jul 21st 2008 at 6:49 PM
YAML is great, too. Really easy to read. If you only come to Plurk once a week, then you're not the typical candidate for Karma Medic. It would probably be better for your other Plurk friends if you un-friended Karma Medic, so that she doesn't spam your plurks with responses. She's mostly useful for Plurkers who are regular on the site, but want the freedom to be away for a couple of days without being punished.

 tpederson on Jul 21st 2008 at 10:35 PM
Sounds like a nice idea. When you first described Plurk's karma thing I winced in pain. Back when I was playing way too much yahoo hearts, there was a ladder system in place. If you went on vacation other players would be leapfrogging you, slowly knocking you rung-by-rung way down the ladder. I don't think I could stomach the Plurk karma system, as it would probably really bother me, but perhaps with your medic I'll give it a try.

 dblume on Jul 22nd 2008 at 4:06 PM
To Anonymous: I deleted your technical question because the sample code seems to have had a password in it. Please direct technical questions to the appropriate project repository at Google Code / SourceForge / etc. For what it's worth, your exception was in urllib2. Search the web for the exception string (including "XXX what error?" and you should get some clues.) Good luck!

 (no name) on Jul 23rd 2008 at 12:51 AM
thanks for delete it. I realize it after hit "post comment". I've change my password. As for XXX error, I'll have a look again Thanks for suggestion though.

 dblume on Aug 3rd 2008 at 4:44 AM
I opened up another round allowing 15 more friends in. Let's see how it goes. Currently, she's not allowing in more than her current 35 (+2 bot) friends. I really want to release her as open source, but she's not ready yet. Soon, soon. (And I can't wait for people to hear her second song.)

 (no name) on Aug 13th 2008 at 11:42 PM
Karma Medic is extremely annoying. >:(

 dblume on Aug 13th 2008 at 11:46 PM
I'm making changes tonight! What do you recommend? Also, if you just don't like seeing old abandoned plurks getting updated by Karma Medic alone, you can mute that particular plurk. Keep in mind that even Karma Medic stops administering Karma after a couple of days. So it's not like she keeps replying to the same plurk for a week. Suggestions are welcome!

 (no name) on Aug 14th 2008 at 8:39 AM
More variations in the responses would be good.

 dblume on Aug 14th 2008 at 2:35 PM
Heh, that was the first thing I asked for help on. Feel free to suggest some. Just last night I included most of the existing suggestions.

 (no name) on Dec 21st 2008 at 4:42 PM
to the point that I've blocked the user - not that it has a direct benefit, but I will also be blocking users who follow it. It's stupid and annoying.

 dblume on Dec 22nd 2008 at 1:38 AM
I've made subtle changes to her to be less annoying. Where she used to respond as often as every 6 hours up to a total of 8 times, it's now only as often as once every 12 hours up to 4 times. I appreciate your passion. But "blocking" people who follow it is irrational. Preventing them from seeing your timeline does absolutely nothing to further your cause. It actually makes the medic more popular, because now people can't see your account, and they can't see how you feel. You're only isolating yourself. You're not bringing down the medic. What you should do is either simply not follow/friend people who use the medic, or tell them that she's annoying and that you'd prefer that they unfriend her. They might listen to you. But if you block them, they can't listen to you, can they? So there you are: All unhappy about the medic. You're angry! But nobody knows, because you've prevented them from knowing, because you've blocked them. So now you're just as unhappy, but you're moreso alone than before. How is that any better?