Orchestra Bots

Below, we’ll walk through the various bots available in Orchestra.



StaffBot provides a simple way to ask/automatically staff a group of Workers to work on a particular Task. The goal is reduce the human load when finding a Worker for a Task. StaffBot staffing begins in one of two ways:

  • A user clicks on the Staff button in the project management or team information card in the Orchestra user interface.

  • A Task has an Assignment Policy that calls on StaffBot. allows a user to interact with Orchestra.

Once StaffBot becomes aware of a task to be staffed, it tries staffing qualified Workers in two ways:

  • First, it looks for Workers who have requested work hours in the Work availability tab of their account settings but have not yet worked or been assigned their desired number of hours of work that day. It automatically assigns these workers the highest-priority tasks for which they are qualified.

  • If a task can not be automatically assigned to a Worker, StaffBot reaches out to qualified Workers and offers them a Task to work on via Slack/email and the Available tasks interface. Workers can then either accept or reject the task and start working on it.


When multiple tasks can be staffed, Orchestra prioritizes them in descending order of priority.

To staff a task, StaffBot considers candidate Workers who have WorkerCertification objects for that task. It narrows those Workers to ones with the WorkerCertification.staffbot_enabled field set to True (it is True by default). If there are multiple candidate Workers, Orchestra prioritizes in descending order of the WorkerCertification.staffing_priority integer field (0 by default). If Workers have the same staffing_priority, StaffBot will prioritize them randomly.

In priority order, StaffBot first looks for any Worker that has a WorkerAvailability for today. It considers three numbers:

  • The number of hours the Worker is estimated to work that day if the task is assigned to them. This is the sum of the number of hours the Worker has tracked on their timecard, any hours it has already assigned the Worker that day, and the estimate of hours of work for this Task (estimated by the Task.assignable_hours_function).

  • The number of hours the Worker can work. This is the minimum of Worker.max_autostaff_hours_per_day (the Worker’s assignable limit) and WorkerAvailability.hours_available_DAY (the maximum hours the Worker requested for the day).

  • The maximum number of automatically assignable tasks per Worker per day (settings.ORCHESTRA_MAX_AUTOSTAFF_TASKS_PER_DAY), which is a failsafe to make sure an error doesn’t cause an out-of-control assignment condition.

If the hours the Worker can work is greater than the hours the Worker is estimated to work including this new Task (and the number of tasks assigned to them isn’t more than the day’s maximum), the Task will be automatically assigned to the Worker.

If no Worker meets the automatic staffing condition, then StaffBot sends requests to Workers to see if any prefer to pick up tasks rather than be automatically assigned a Task. Specifically, it sends requests in order of staffing_priority to settings.ORCHESTRA_STAFFBOT_WORKER_BATCH_SIZE Workers every settings.ORCHESTRA_STAFFBOT_BATCH_FREQUENCY. These requests are send via Slack and email, and appear in the Available tasks list in the Orchestra user interface.

Utility functions

There are several utility functions to help operationalize StaffBot. You should call these through cron or some other scheduling utility:

  • orchestra.communication.staffing.address_staffing_requests runs the automatic staffing and staffing request functionality described above.

  • orchestra.communication.staffing.remind_workers_about_available_tasks sends a reminder to any worker who has unclaimed task still available.

  • orchestra.communication.staffing.warn_staffing_team_about_unstaffed_tasks warns administrators on the internal Slack channel ORCHESTRA_STAFFBOT_STAFFING_GROUP_ID about tasks that have not been staffed for more than ORCHESTRA_STAFFBOT_STAFFING_MIN_TIME.

Assignment Policy

StaffBot can automatically staff projects by specifying an Assignment Policy. Orchestra supports custom logic for assigning Workers to tasks, and StaffBot leverages this by asking qualified Workers if they would like to work on a Task as soon as the Task is available. To specify the StaffBot auto-assignment policy, which uses the same logic as the /staffbot staff command, add the following to the Step configuration in your version.json file. Following the Journalism Workflow Example we have:

[...step definition...]
"assignment_policy": {
    "policy_function": {
        "entry_level": {
            "path": "orchestra.bots.assignment_policies.staffbot_autoassign"
[...step definition...]

Now, for entry-level tasks within the defined step, StaffBot will automatically try to staff this Task. If the task requires review, manual assignment is necessary unless we add a reviewer key to the policy function:

[...step definition...]
"assignment_policy": {
    "policy_function": {
        "entry_level": {
            "path": "orchestra.bots.assignment_policies.staffbot_autoassign"
        "reviewer": {
            "path": "orchestra.bots.assignment_policies.staffbot_autoassign"
[...step definition...]

Detailed Description Function

The detailed_description_function is used to dynamically describe a Task when StaffBot makes requests to Workers, offering them the opportunity to work on the Task. The function is given a task_details dictionary and can be passed extra kwargs as shown below:

[...step definition...]
"detailed_description_function": {
     "path": "my_project.orchestra_helpers.get_detailed_description",
     "kwargs": {
         "text": "Task text"
[...step definition...]
# my_project/orchestra_helpers.py

def get_detailed_description(task_details **kwargs):
  return '''A new task is available!
            Find out more about {} at example.com/projects/{}!'''.format(
            kwargs.get('text'), task_details['project']['id'])


Automatic Task Staffing in Orchestra

StaffBot allows interaction with Orchestra via Slack to assign or reassign an expert to a task. To use StaffBot, simply type /staffbot into your slack window, and will see an autocomplete similar to:


You can send two different commands to StaffBot: 1) staff, and 2) restaff.

Using the staff command

To use the staff command, you need to specify a <task-id> of a task that is unassigned. You can find the <task-id> in the project view (shown below) or from notification emails/Slack messages about a project.


In this example, you have just finished the client_interview task and need to add someone to the communication_delivery task with id 4 (shown in red), so you can type:

/staffbot staff 4

Staffbot will then reach out to eligible experts asking them if they would like to work on the task. Once one of them accepts, they will be added to the private Slack channel for the project and can begin working on the task.

If a task has a review step, you can use StaffBot to assign an expert to the review step once the first expert has submitted their work for review.

Using the restaff command

You can also use the restaff command to offer a task to a different expert. This will be useful if a expert is unable to complete the task. Following the example above, assume that the worker joshblum accepted the task 4. To restaff this task you can type:

/staffbot restaff 4 joshblum

This will offer the task again to eligible experts, and once a new expert accepts, joshblum will be removed and the new expert will be added.



SanityBot periodically looks at the state of a project and reminds the project team about various things that seem off. For details and motivation, see the original project description. SanityBot currently warns project team members in the project team’s Slack channel.

Project Configuration

To specify which sanity checks to run, and how frequently to run them, update version.json for the workflow you are sanity-checking with an optional sanity_checks entry. As an example:

[...workflow definition...]
"sanity_checks": {
  "sanity_check_function": {
      "path": "path.to.sanity.check.function"
  "check_configurations": {
    "check_slug1": {
      "handlers": [{"type": "slack_project_channel", "message": "<message here>", "steps": ["step_slug1", ...]}],
      "repetition_seconds": 3600

Here’s a walkthrough of the configuration above:

  • sanity_check_function is called periodically and generates SanityCheck objects. The function prototype is def sanity_check_function(project: Project) -> List[SanityCheck]:.

  • check_configurations maps SanityCheck.check_slug values to a configuration, which consists of a list of handlers and a repetition interval.

  • in v1, the only handler is slack_project_channel, which messages the team slack project, tagging the experts assigned to the tasks specified by in steps.

  • An optional repetition_seconds contains the number of seconds to wait before re-issuing/re-handling a SanityCheck. If repetition_seconds does not appear in the map, that SanityCheck is not repeated.

Scheduling function

To operationalize SanityBot, you should call orchestra.bots.sanitybot.create_and_handle_sanity_checks through cron or some other scheduling utility. This function will look at all active projects with sanity_checks in their workflow definitions, and call the appropriate sanity_check_function to trigger sanity checks.