• Designer and Pintupi-Luritja man from the Northern Territory Matthew Heffernan said the bot will reply to any user the who lowercases ‘Indigenous’. (AP)Source: AP
Frustrated with seeing many newsrooms failing to capitalise 'Indigenous', a Northern Territory software developer launches a new bot to assist journalists to lift their game.
Brooke Fryer

23 Jul 2019 - 1:05 PM  UPDATED 20 Aug 2019 - 9:28 AM

Users across Twitter will receive a helpful reminder whenever they fail to uppercase the word 'Indigenous' thanks to a new bot that was launched on Sunday. 

A bot is a software application that runs an automatic task over the internet and in this case, Indigibot, will send a generic message with a link to a First Nations terminology guide to any Twitter user who Tweets ‘Indigenous’ with a lowercase 'i', said the designer, Pintupi-Luritja man, Matthew Heffernan. 

“I’m hoping that the bot annoys enough journalists – mainstream journalists– to say, ‘alright, I’m sick of this bot, I’m going to start capitalising [Indigenous],'” Mr Heffernan told NITV News. 

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Indigibot is not just restricted to Australian Twitter users but is a universal automaton. 

“That’s the awesome thing about it, Indigenous people from other countries are now following it and re-Tweeting about it… it has that universal appeal,” said Mr Heffernan.

Mr Heffernan, who is currently studying IT at Charles Darwin University, said the idea came from a Twitter exchange thread between Twitter users Gulwanyang and Anastasia Kanjere.   

Bundjalung and Gamilaroi man Brian Martin, Associate Dean, Indigenous of Monash University's Art Design and Architecture Faculty, told NITV News that using a lowercase 'i' for Indigenous "devalues" the word.  

As a lecturer and someone who marks hundreds of papers, Mr Martin said he ensures his students are always uppercasing 'Indigenous', 'Aboriginal', 'Torres Strait Islander' and 'First Nations'. 

Mr Martin said it should not only be his students uppercasing 'Indigenous', but all news sources. 

"If I'm reading something in the newspaper and it's lowercase, it diminishes the importance of that word", he said. 

The Guardian Australia decided to make the change in 2013 when they launched, with journalist Helen Davidson telling NITV News the decision was "about respect and proper recognition". 

"While it is obviously still part of the global Guardian, and deeply connected to the UK, Guardian Australia was a new masthead, in Australia, for an Australian audience, and with a lot of Australian journalists. It was the right change to make," she said. 

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