Mayhem Caused By The Keyword ‘Mystery’

A subscriber to the bot wrote in today…

I have changed a keyword from being positive to negative yet am still getting packages with that keyword. When I set [my account] up originally I selected mystery as one of the key words, then since a lot of the packages had this keyword I removed it. I was still getting packages with the mystery keyword so I then added it as a negative keyword. How quickly do keyword changes take effect? As there have been new packages with the mystery keyword since I made that change.

The keyword ‘mystery’ and ‘random’ are unique. These words essentially refer to anything that you haven’t specifically asked for, which includes everything bought by the bot. So these keywords will match every product the bot has.

New orders that are “pending” where the bot hasn’t yet confirmed the order are also marked as ‘mystery’. So everyone will always see a few ‘mystery’ packages at the top of their account. Eventually those ‘mystery’ packages reveal the keywords they are tagged with and get a better estimated arrival date. Over time the packages become less mysterious.

It is impossible for the bot to buy packages not tagged as ‘random’ or ‘mystery’ so adding them as negative keywords won’t change anything. The ‘mystery’ packages that you see on your account are placeholders and once confirmed will change their keywords. If you really don’t want any mystery, you could have only one, clearly defined, positive keywords on your account. Then you will be guaranteed no mystery. But that is kind of besides the point here. We want some mystery and surprise.

Keyword changes take effect once a week with a few exceptions where they get updated more quickly. The bot runs a program to determine which products match which users’ keywords. These are the stats from that program last week…

Products matching keywords: average is 4,346 products per address
Required positive keywords: average is 26 keywords per address

What are the bot’s favorite keywords?

This afternoon I put together this bar chart of the top 25 keywords by their appearance on packages bought by the bot. Note that it is pretty flat and even the most popular keywords only match 5.5% of all the items the bot buys! We buy a lot of very different sorts of items. That said there are clearly some more popular categories like science, legos and cats.


Top Keywords By Country

Take a look at the below lists I put together of the most common keywords (positive and negative) that have been selected by folks using the bot from different countries. The data are quite noisy, but there are some interesting nuggets.

  • The US and UK share about half of their top positive and negative keywords. No other countries have nearly as much overlap in the top keywords they select.
  • Pretty much everyone likes Legos
  • The keywords ‘crafts’ is a top positive in New Zealand and a top negative in Ireland

PS – These are the most common keywords selected through the bot. That is, these are the keywords that participants have told the bot that they want/don’t want. This is not a list of items by the frequency that they have actually been ordered (for example, we have not ordered any ‘nazis’ items for obvious reasons).

Top Positive Keywords (United States)

  1. cat
  2. science
  3. Lego
  4. book
  5. Star Wars

Top Negative Keywords (United States)

  1. baby
  2. nazis
  3. earring
  4. earrings
  5. makeup

Top Positive Keywords (Australia)

  1. puzzle
  2. brain teaser
  3. dog
  4. fun
  5. Lego

Top Negative Keywords (Australia)

  1. postcards
  2. nazis
  3. car interior
  4. makeup
  5. cards

Top Positive Keywords (Canada)

  1. adult
  2. knitting
  3. electronic
  4. science
  5. sexy

Top Negative Keywords (Canada)

  1. Pokemon
  2. makeup
  3. Minecraft
  4. iphone
  5. bracelet

Top Positive Keywords (Ireland)

  1. scientific
  2. science
  3. antique
  4. knitting
  5. ancient

Top Negative Keywords (Ireland)

  1. beads
  2. tattoo
  3. car interior
  4. bead
  5. craft

Top Positive Keywords (New Zealand)

  1. usb fun
  2. craft
  3. charm
  4. jewelry
  5. necklace

Top Negative Keywords (New Zealand)

  1. bead
  2. beads
  3. computer
  4. led
  5. latex

Top Positive Keywords (United Kingdom)

  1. Lego
  2. geek
  3. science
  4. sci-fi
  5. survival

Top Negative Keywords (United Kingdom)

  1. earring
  2. jewelry
  3. bracelet
  4. baby
  5. earrings