We use Campfire a lot – it’s our main way of communicating as a team that’s more than half remote. We’ve shared what happens inside our Campfire rooms before, and today I’ll share a peek at how we use our statistics robot, “Tally”, in Campfire.

Tally sits in a few of our Campfire rooms all day and answers questions people have, whether it’s about how signups for a product us doing, how a feature is being used, what the latest results for an A/B test are, or what the weather in Chicago is. Tally also sends SMS messages, searches the internet and more:

Tally grew from a couple of desires:

  1. I wanted an easier way to answer easy questions that come up frequently – how is this A/B test going? How many people have used custom fields since we launched them? None of these are hard questions to answer, but Tally makes these simple questions completely self-serve.
  2. I wanted to explore our API more. In the course of doing analyses at 37signals I end up interacting with a lot of different APIs, and have seen some great ones and some terrible ones. I wanted to see how ours stacked up, and also have a chance to write and test some new wrappers for other APIs as well.
  3. I wanted to add some fun features to our Campfire room. Tally knows how to tell a joke and has some funny images at the ready. These don’t add any practical value, but are occasionally good for a laugh.

One of the most common uses of Tally has been to check A/B test results. We use and are big fans of Optimizely to run A/B tests, but also use Clicky to measure the results. Tally makes finding the overall results a one-line affair:

Tally was inspired in part by Github’s Hubot. For the technically curious, Tally is implemented in R using the Campfire streaming API.

Have an idea for something we should teach Tally to do? Are you doing something interesting with the Campfire API? Tell us about it in the comments!