Home State of the Chatbot - Woebot

State of the Chatbot - Woebot


Whereas Replika aims to be an engaging conversation partner purely for entertainment (there are some chat topics related to mental health but they feel very half-hearted and a bit of an after thought), Woebot’s entire purpose is to be a mental health ally.

Woebot is available only as a mobile app on the Apple App Store and Google Play store.

Woebot uses a mix of free text entry and buttons providing a fixed set of choices.


The free text comprehension doesn’t seem as good as Replika.

Not quite

In this case removing the reference to woebot was enough to proceed


A large part of woebot is walking through scenarios designed to teach you something, for example:


In most of these cases there are 1-3 buttons to move forward with the dialogue - this works well on a mobile device where free text input is a little clunky. Despite the interaction with woebot being largely multiple-choice button pushing it’s surprisingly engaging. I’ve found that when using woebot I focus on the dialogue and what it’s trying to tell me and not on how I’m interacting with it. The fact that I have to type very little keeps the dialogue moving and keeps me engaged. The fact that I have to keep interacting, even if it’s clicking some variant of “OK” or “tell me more” means that the experience feels very different than if a couple of paragraphs of text were just thrown at you to read. Finally, the dialogue is well-crafted and engaging.

Woebot’s website does not give much information about the technology used for woebot. However, I’ve read elsewhere that all text presented to the user is human-written. It seems likely that much of the dialogue is modelled as a static graph traversed according to the user’s choices. Although the web page claims woebot is powered by AI it’s unclear how much is actually used besides whatever is used for intent / sentiment detection in free text input.

What sets woebot apart from other chatbots is that the material is grounded by psychological research (the woebot health website lists a number of publications in peer reviewed journals).

Another difference between woebot and, for example, Replika is that there is no customisation - woebot is what it is and you don’t get to change that. I think that helps give a sense of character to the app.

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