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Ask a question. Give advice. Share resources. Looking for software or hardware recommendations? Want to know how others are using text messaging in their work? Trying to find examples of IT policies? The NTEN Discuss forum is a great resource for all of the above and more! It's the general discussion list for the NTEN community, and folks all over the US (and the world) are sharing their questions, answers, and news about nonprofit technology.

Web-Based Chatbot Recommendations

  • 1.  Web-Based Chatbot Recommendations

    Posted Apr 26, 2019 17:20
    Hello! This is my first time posting in this community.

    I am working on adding a web-based chatbot to my organization's website. The bot will start with fairly simple questions related to advertising on and utilizing our jobs and opportunities board, and evolve to be able to answer more complex questions from individual artists. We plan for the chatbot to be an extension of our phone and email hotline, which an artist of any discipline can contact and ask questions like, "How do I price my artwork," or "I need emergency assistance for artists in a specific area."

    Does this group have recommendations on developers/platforms? We are looking into a variety, including IBM's Watson, Live-Person, Aivo, and others. We are hoping that the bot will have sophisticated NLP and be somewhat affordable or open to a non-profit rate. Thank you!

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    Mirielle Clifford
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    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 2.  RE: Web-Based Chatbot Recommendations

    Posted Apr 29, 2019 09:04
    We recently had to make this same decision. We're going with Google's DialogFlow (https://dialogflow.com/). I'm optimistic that it'll work out well. The only significant down-side I expect is getting it to work with Siri. Other than that, I think it'll work out well.

    Good luck!

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    Jonathan Leistiko
    Webmaster
    The TexVet Initative
    Round Rock, TX
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    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 3.  RE: Web-Based Chatbot Recommendations

    Posted Apr 29, 2019 11:12
    Hi Jonathan, thank you so much for your answer! We are looking at Dialogflow, too, as one option. Would you mind sharing what made you choose dialogflow over other options? I'm assuming this is for your Veterans Crisis Line? By the way, I'm from Georgetown, TX originally!

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    Mirielle Clifford
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    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 4.  RE: Web-Based Chatbot Recommendations

    Posted Apr 29, 2019 11:54
    Edited by Jonathan Leistiko Apr 29, 2019 12:12

    What we're using it for:

    TexVet.org is an information and referral service – If you think of us as a specialized "Google for Veterans in Texas" that's accessible by phone, email, and web, you've got about 80% of what we do. We have an extensive, vetted database of resources for Texas' active duty, veterans, and their families. We want to build a chatbot to make this information more accessible.

    Why we (I) chose DialogFlow:

    I started building the chatbot with a different tool that (interestingly) crowdsourced the phrases for your intents (which was nice), but its documentation was utterly abysmal. I switched to DialogFlow for several reasons:

    1) It was relatively easy to import the intents I'd already built from {other tool} into DialogFlow.
    2) It's well documented.
    3) It's using Google-level Natural Language Processing. It's very good at doing what it does.
    4) It's dirt-simple to publish it to all Google Assistant platforms – every Android device, Google Home Assistant, Google Auto, etc...
    5) It's dirt-simple to embed it as a chat dialog on your website, or other (partner) websites.
    6) It does a great job of understanding spoken language as well as text.
    7) It has decently good documentation for how to integrate it and/or implement it on Alexa and Cortana, and with many other platforms (Slack, Facebook, etc.).
    8) It was pretty easy to set up a wide array of intents. It was also easy to set up "static" (unchanging) responses to intents, where appropriate.

    Etc...:

    I can't write the code needed to connect the chatbot to our database; we have a contractor working on that right now. That same contractor is also writing code to empower the chatbot to send emails in response to various requests and situations. When the chatbot is finished, I look forward to sharing it - It'll be a fantastic expert system for veteran resource referrals (possibly the best one in existence! :) ).



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    Jonathan Leistiko
    Webmaster
    The TexVet Initative
    Round Rock, TX
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    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 5.  RE: Web-Based Chatbot Recommendations

    Posted May 01, 2019 13:51
    Hi Jonathan, thanks so much for sharing that information. I've been watching the Dialogflow demos and it looks like a great option. I look forward to seeing the TexVet bot when it's live, and thanks for the work y'all do to support veterans!

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    Mirielle Clifford
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    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline