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Design is ©2002 Abe Othman
aothman at fas dot harvard dot edu
Hosted by:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is program designed to take string inputs and return other strings, producing a "conversation".

How does Anna work?

Anna works by analyzing the input string passed to her, and attempts to generalize the input. Basic substitutions for mistypings may be performed. In the best case, Anna will have an exact response for the input passed to her, but Anna has enough generalization to give a response (no matter how bad) to any input. For more information, please read about coding AIML.

What is AIML?

AIML is an XML specification designed for artificial intelligence chatbots. It strongly supports features such as generalization and symbolic reduction. For more information, please read about coding AIML.

What is the "Prize" in "Loebner Prize"?

The best chatbot of the competition will win 2000 dollars, and if that bot passes the Turing Test, then 25,000 dollars. Since money and open source mix poorly, all proceeds generated from the contest will be donated to charity. Each developer will get the opportunity to donate a portion of the prize money to a charity of their choice - the size of the portion being determined by the amount of work that developer put into the project.

Why does ZoneAlarm say the Bundle starts a trojan?

We have had several concerned e-mails from folks about this. I would like to assure everyone that the bundle does not include a "trojan". What happens is that the included interpreter startes a Web Server on port 2001. This web server provides a pleasant interface to Anna. You can check it out by starting the program and going to No information is being sent back to anybody.

Why does the site look bad in Mozilla?

Because the site is built using XHTML and CSS and no tables, we have a few rendering issues in browsers other than IE. If you have any tips, they would be appreciated.

How do I help the project?

The best way to help the project is by editing the files yourself. After learning AIML (takes only a few minutes if youve ever done anything like HTML), you can go ahead and make edits to the aiml files that power Anna. They are located in the anna_brain/ directory of the files. Until the .5.0 release, all edits that are done should be rewriting of the original ALICE engine. Please consult the Change Log for more information on Anna's current status.

What is the best way to edit the AIML files?

The easiest way is to use a tool such as XMLSpy (for windows). This editor provides highlighting and checks for well-formed XML. But editing can also be done in any traditional text editor. After editing the AIML files, simply compress (zip) the changed files and send them to

Where do I send comments/questions/concerns?

To me, Zheng Xu: