We’ve all had those days — the kind where you find yourself knee-deep in assignments or lectures (or both) and just can’t seem to get the time to catch a breather.
It was in the thick of one such day that Eusoff Hall resident, Gordon Lim, found himself faced with a full day of classes and impending deadlines. Too swamped to even think about getting lunch, he thought to himself: wouldn’t it be nice if someone — just anyone — could deliver food to me, just as a nice favour?
And kids, that’s how the idea for the Eusoff Favours Bot was born.
As part of a mini Hackathon set up by the Eusoff Hackers (a coding club in Eusoff Hall) during the winter special term in December 2020, Gordon mooted his proposal to the rest of his team – all Year 1 Computer Science students and members of the club – Vimuth Mendis, Lim Hern Fong Jared and Chan Yi Juan. All were immediately taken with the idea and couldn’t wait to get started.
Since the advent of the Eusoff Hackers, club members have come up with novel ways to improve current hall systems — namely, the Gym Bot and Laundry Bot, which indicates the usage traffic in each location to avoid clashes.
The Eusoff Favours Bot now joins this collection of bots that makes life in Eusoff just a bit more…favourable.
How Does It Work?
The Eusoff Favours Bot is a Telegram bot that allows Eusoffians to request for favours, and then complete favours for others. The system is gamified such that one receives 8 base points upon signup, and points are awarded when you complete a favour for others.
“I’m a bit shy to ask for favours in a group chat, and I’m sure others have felt the same way too,” Gordon shared. He explains that the task-oriented nature of the bot makes it much easier for those who may be new to a hall to make the ask.
A leaderboard system was also set up to incentivise users to complete favours — with attractive food prizes being given out at the end of every week, to the most active users of the bot. The team gave out bubble tea and donuts to the prize winners in the first week that prizes were given out, using funds provided by the hall.
The team took three days in December last year to build a prototype, and worked throughout this semester to refine and debug the project. The current version of the Eusoff Favours Bot was officially rolled out on 15 March 2021.
The Impacts of the Mighty Bot
The bot was created with the intention to nurture greater community engagement within the hall, and encourage residents to network outside of their existing circle of friends. Although the team notes that Eusoff Hall already has an inclusive and friendly culture, the bot serves as a platform where the Eusoffian spirit can be amplified.
Since its launch, the bot has gained favourable responses from Eusoffians — with over 180 sign-ups within the first month. Today, the bot is still actively being used by Eusoffians, helping to spread the culture of sharing and caring in the Eusoff community.
“I was completely amazed when someone came knocking on my door a minute after I made a request on the bot, and delivered the coffee that I asked for,” Juan said. “We’ve truly also gotten to know more people by using this bot,” Vimuth adds. Besides encouraging greater community spirit, the bot is also a great time saver, because it’s not just for hall favours. If you need something all the way in town and you don’t have plans to go there anytime soon – enter the Favours bot again! Someone who could already be there can simply pick it up for you when you request via the bot — so you’ll never need to make an extra trip again.
Bots Gone Awry
However, as with everything new, not all has gone exactly to plan. Over the course of the semester, the team has noticed funny situations that have popped up — challenging their original intentions for how the bot should be used.
Jared mused: “People do ask for weird stuff on the bot. Once, someone asked for help with cutting their bangs? I also saw another funny request recently where someone asked if anyone knew how to pick the lock in the pool room…”.
To tackle this issue, the team may look into developing a new function where spam and inappropriate requests can be filtered. Other new features may also be added, in its relaunch next semester.
Having created the Eusoff Favours Bot, the four are now primed to take on more advanced projects in the future. They have started to observe many ways in which campus life can be improved and plan to fill these gaps by automating some aspects of daily life around them.
Among these plans are a “Jio Bot”, where people can Jio (invite) friends to join them in various activities — like mahjong — and possibly even a Eusoff Tinder Bot to help Eusoffians find love within their close-knit community. Watch this space and follow the Reslife Instagram (@nusresidentiallife) for more updates! Know any interesting people or stuff you want to read more about? Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org, or drop us a DM on Instagram.