Random countries Twitter bot


September 16, 2017

Being able to recognise flags and locate countries on a map is the kind of general knowledge I that feel I ought to have. This project was a kind of productive procrastination towards that goal. There are quizzes on Sporcle I could have practiced with but somehow that seemed too brute force and not technically over complicated enough! Besides, I wanted an excuse to learn about serverless technologies and Twitter bots.

So the idea was that I could make a Twitter bot which posts flags and maps of random countries along with population and capital city facts. That way I could learn this knowledge while I’m procrasta-scrolling on Twitter. Here’s the result: @randomcountries

The bot is built on the python library Tweepy. The data is from Wikidata accessed via their SPARQL query service, and the images of flags and maps are from Wikimedia Commons using the MediaWiki API. AWS Lambda is used to host the bot which is scheduled to run every 1301 minutes resulting in 404 tweets per year (~2 per country).

To create the package for AWS lambda the Tweepy library dependency is installed in the project directory so it can be uploaded with the rest of the code:

pip install tweepy -t .

To fit in the 50MB AWS lambda limit the images are compressed with OptiPNG. The whole directory is then zipped before uploading.

You can see the code at the Github repo.