What is a Bot?

A "bot" is an automated trading strategy that runs inside your portfolio. Bots automate your stock or options trading strategies. Here is what you should know to get started.

A bot - short for “robot” - is simply a tool that helps you execute and manage a trading strategy inside your portfolio. Bots help automate certain tasks, decisions, and actions that a trader would otherwise perform manually.

Bots are powerful because they can run entire trading strategies, entry to exit, all while being faster, more efficient, and more accurate than manual traders.

It’s true, bots are amazing, and you’ll love trading with them. Before we get too far ahead, here are some high-level concepts you should know about bots as you get started:

Bots are under your total and complete control.

You tell the bot when to turn on, what to look for, when to open positions, when to exit positions, and much more.

Bot actions and decisions

All bots follow strict limits and safeguards.

A bot runs inside your account but does not have to use all of your account’s capital. You are in charge of setting allocation and position limits when you create a bot.

Bot limits

Automations tell the bot what to do and when.

Automations are the bot's instruction manual and tell the bot what to do and when. Automations can tell the bot what to scan for, such as new position opportunities or when to close existing positions. Automations can be as simple or complex as you like.

Automated decision actions

You can run one bot or many bots simultaneously.

You can run one bot or multiple bots, each trading different strategies, different ticker symbols, and different allocations.

Bots homepage

Bots are scalable, flexible, and customizable.

Bot automations move through a framework of decision criteria in a logical progression. Automations can run continuously, on a defined schedule, or at the push of a button. Automations can be saved, cloned, and reused in other bots.

Automation editor

You’re already using bots, just not for trading yet.

You use bots when you book airline tickets, search for the fastest route when driving, find music you might enjoy based on other interests, and more. Why not leverage the same power in your trading? 

In the articles that follow, we’ll focus on all the amazing features and use cases for bots. As always, we highly encourage you to take your time and move at your own pace.

To learn more about bots and their features, continue to explore the Help Center. You can also visit Bots 101 and our Autotrading Resources.


Does a bot have to connect directly to a trading account or can I use it for signals only?

A bot can be connected to one or more trading accounts and even connected to accounts at different brokerages. All brokerage accounts must be accessed through a single log-in at that firm.

A bot does not need to be connected to a trading account. Bots can stay in paper mode and still provide notifications and signals when certain conditions are met.

Is a bot an "algorithmic trading strategy?"

Bots are not an algorithmic trading strategy. You must manually input (or clone) a specific set of instructions that the bot will follow and subsequently send an order to your broker for execution.

Bots do not use any form of machine learning or artificial intelligence.

Can a bot have multiple strategies running at the same time?

Yes. A bot can have different trading strategies and position types within the same bot. Different automations can be used to execute different strategies and use different ticker symbols.

Can bots execute trades in my IRA or Margin Account?

Yes. All bots will initially be risk-defined trades and can therefore be traded in an IRA account.

Is there a list of bot templates to help me get started?

Yes, there are a number of templates available to view on the Option Alpha website. You can also access shared templates in the Community. Templates can be cloned and saved to your personal library.

How complex can or should I make my bot?

The best thing about Option Alpha’s autotrading bots is that you can make them as simple or complex as you like. Your bot’s complexity is up to you, but we recommend starting simple and paper trading. As the bot's designer, you have a significant amount of flexibility when creating automations. 

When should I use a bot and when should I trade manually?

A bot is designed to perform repetitive tasks, so if you have a routine strategy that follows predefined rules, bots are an efficient way to offload scanning and management responsibilities.

You should trade manually when the functionality of the Bot Platform is not sufficient for properly executing or monitoring your strategy.

You can always manually override a position opened inside a bot to regain management in your brokerage account.

Can bots run paper trading and live trading at the same time?

Yes. You can connect different bots to different trading accounts, or leave them in paper mode at your discretion. Each bot gives you the option of choosing your desired account.

Why haven't I heard of bots before, are they a new thing?

The word "bot" derives from the word "robot", which, traditionally, is a word used to describe a physical machine used to automate repetitive processes in manufacturing. 

A "bot" is a digital version of a robot used for web applications, like stock trading. Automating trading strategies is not new, but has historically been limited to programmers with a unique skill set. The Bot Platform brings automation to more people by leveraging an "easy to use" UI so you no longer need to master a unique programming language to automate your trading strategies.

Will my broker allow a bot to have access to my account?

In order for your bots to connect to a given brokerage account, that broker has to offer an API for the Bot Platform. Some brokerages currently have this capability and others do not.

This list of compatible brokerages will be updated as connections are added.

How much control do I have over a bot?

You have complete control over your bot. You input the bot’s settings, create the automations with your desired decision criteria, assign ticker symbols, and tell the bot when to turn on and off.

Do bots follow the instructions and limits I set so it doesn't "over-trade"?

Yes, a bot performs based on your parameters. You input the bot’s allocation and position limits, and can even use decision recipes to monitor your ticker symbols and positions.

Do I need to know any level of programming in order to build and use a bot?

No level of programming skill is required to build a bot. What is required is the ability to logically think through the steps that you would like your bot to follow and to structure those steps in a specific order to achieve your trading objectives.

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Ryan Hysmith
Chief Market Strategist
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