The term bot is short for robot. It is also known as Internet bot, web robot, or WWW bot. All the terms refer to the same thing: Software that is meant to run automatically on the Internet.
The tasks that bots perform are quite varied, although the common denominator is that the tasks are usually routine and repetitive. As you can imagine, these tasks would be completed in a faster and more efficient manner by bots as compared to humans.
Bots are used for a variety of commercial purposes. One common commercial use of bots is for gaming sites. In various online games, players may actually be bots – much like the other participants in offline computer games. Poker rooms and other similar sites make use of bots regularly.
Some people use bots for personal purposes, although the goal is somewhat of a commercial nature. They do so by employing bots to play games for them 24 hours a day. In doing so, they reap the rewards of playing (leveling up, gaining virtual loot, or gaining money) without having to exhaust themselves physically.
Another commercial use is for auction sites. Some people use bots to scour auction sites for bargains. This practice has attracted its fair share of controversy, however.
Unfortunately, bots are also being used for malicious purposes. Some examples of these malicious bots are:
• Spam bots – these gather e-mail addresses from various sites
• Web site scrapers – these “scrape” or copy content from web sites for illegal reproduction
• Viruses and worms
In general, bots are used to replace humans when response or processing speeds need to be faster than what the latter is capable of.