The cheeriest of elves 


Simple bots have their place

Globe Elf is the second chatbot experiment I led in 2016. It followed the successful run of our first experiment, GloBot, a U.S. election focused bot. 

Where GloBot offered a variety of content formats ranging from links to complex in-app conversations, Globe Elf only offers a curated selection of links to niche content. 

Modelled on the classic advent calendar, the Elf was designed to help our audience get through the holidays in one piece. It sends one message a day to subscribers between Dec 1 to Dec 25. Messages include two or three links to gift guides, holiday recipes and advice columns. 

One of the benefits of keeping the Globe Elf build as simple as possible was that I could populate it almost entirely in advance. I was able to build out 20+ days of content in late November, using evergreen content from The Globe's rich back catalogue. Logistically, December is often a challenging time for the newsroom, as big end of year projects ramp up and staff head off on vacation. With some effort put in up front, Globe Elf was able to run itself. 

Here's the text from our launch article

Introducing Globe Elf, our holiday helper bot.

The Globe and Mail is continuing our experimentation with chatbots. We gained valuable insights from our U.S. election chatbot and are applying those lessons to a new holiday experiment.  

Why should I sign up for Globe Elf?

Globe Elf is an advent calendar bot designed to help you get through the holidays in one piece.

If you sign up, Globe Elf will send you a daily treat from Dec. 1 to 25. Messages will include a mouth-watering recipe and something to help you survive the holiday season, ranging from how to entertain with ease, how to buy great gifts on a budget and ideas on what to buy for that family member who has everything.

How do I sign up for Globe Elf?

To sign up for Globe Elf, simply send it a message here.

For the best mobile experience, please open Globe Elf in your Facebook Messenger app. Many of our links won't appear when using messenger in Facebook mobile browser.

What’s new about this chatbot?

We’ve streamlined our opt-in and opt-our processes.

Your first message from Globe Elf will ask you if you wish to receive daily messages. If you change your mind at any time and wish to stop receiving messages, you can select “Manage Subscriptions” from the message menu. You can also send Globe Elf a message containing “stop,” “quit,” or “Manage Subscriptions.”

This bot is also less complex than our election chatbot. You won't be able to ask it questions and it won't ask you to play games. We’ve kept the design simple so we can focus on the quality of your experience.

Why is The Globe experimenting with chatbots?

Personal messaging is predicted to be the next online frontier, outpacing social networks in the number of users and the attention that they invest. Globe Elf will help us learn the best ways to interact with our users in this space. As always, we want to deliver our content to you where you are.

What is a chatbot?

Chatbots are computer programs designed to mimic human conversations through messaging apps like Facebook Messenger. Artificial Intelligence, with a healthy dose of human oversight, plays a big role in making the conversation feel real and the responses genuine.

How do I unsubscribe from Globe Elf?

If you wish to stop receiving messages from Globe Elf, simply select “Manage Subscriptions” from the message menu. You can also send Globe Elf a message containing “stop,” “quit,” or “Manage Subscriptions.”

Tell us what you think and share Globe Elf

This is an experiment and we’re learning something new every day. We’re eager to hear your thoughts on Globe Elf’s content offerings and delivery style.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with questions or feedback via e-mail ( or Twitter (@Busta_). And help us spread the word by sharing this article on social media.