Ahoy there, mateys!

If you're wondering what on earth The Cloud Pirate is, why it exists, or perhaps how to get involved, then this is the post for you!

The What

In a nutshell, The Cloud Pirate is a content aggregator with a focus on serving the cloud technology community.

It captures new content created by the cloud tech community, summarises it, and redistributes it on numerous social media platforms. This helps the original author reach a wider audience, and serves the wider community by collating cloud tech community content all in one place.

The Bot

For all intents and purposes - it's a bot (a software application that is programmed to perform specific tasks).

Every hour, the bot reads from a carefully collated websites, podcasts, and YouTube channels and looks for anything new that's been published.

If it finds a new post (such as a new blog article or YouTube video), it first uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to summarise what it's found, create relevant social media hashtags for it, and then posts it on social media platforms.

The posts it makes to social media platforms includes a link to the original post, and one or more links to the original author's social media profiles. It's vitally important to this project that the original author receives full recognition for their efforts.

If the post being shared by the bot has a featured image (such as the one in the example above), then that's included too.

Here's an example:

Given the name of this bot (which I explain in the next section) - the AI summarises each post in a silly pirate voice, and throws in some pirate related emojis for good measure!

The focal point of The Cloud Pirate is the LinkedIn page, which you can find here. By following the page, you can get access to the ever updating feed of content shared by The Cloud Pirate.

The bot also publishes to the Mastodon and Bluesky social media platforms.

The Newsletter

In addition to the social media posts, there is also a newsletter.

The Cloud Pirate - Weekly Haul is a weekly newsletter that takes all the posts made by the bot that week, and groups them in one central location under a table of contents.

It can be painful to trawl through social media feeds to find something interesting or relevant, so the newsletter helps by grouping the content and making it searchable.

A 'post of the week' feature was recently introduced, which highlights the post with the most user interactions (likes, reactions etc.).

You can subscribe to the newsletter by following this link.

The Why

Azure Pirate

The Cloud Pirate started life as a different project, called Azure Pirate.

The Cloud Pirate and Azure Pirate share the same concept - community content aggregation. The difference being that Azure Pirate had a very specific focus (on Microsoft Azure content only) and shared its posts exclusively to a dedicated Twitter account.

Azure Pirate was built as a means to make consuming cloud content easier in a social media format, having been frustrated with RSS feed readers. At its height, it had 1300 Twitter followers.

Azure Pirate came to an end when Elon Musk introduced costs for the Twitter APIs, making the project financially unviable.

Yes - I know it's now called X, but I'm sticking with the name Twitter!

The use-case for Azure Pirate was also somewhat floored. Filtering community content purely by Azure based topics proved to be problematic and restrictive. A blog or YouTube channel may occasionally include topics beyond just Microsoft Azure, and it seemed a shame to exclude those. This is exactly why the concept was extended to include all cloud technology areas, not just Azure - thus the name The Cloud Pirate.

You can read more about Azure Pirate here, and to find out more about why it was shut down, see here.

Why a Pirate?

Piracy refers to the unauthorised copying, distribution, or use of protected content.

Although a good majority of The Cloud Pirate's data sources were gained through permission, it didn't start off that way. As the content it was pulling in (blogs, podcasts etc.) was available on the public internet, they were free to access ad distribute.

So although it's technically not piracy, that's where the idea came from!

Yarrr! 🏴‍☠️⚡💻

The How

The Bot

This post won't go into any depth on how The Cloud Pirate runs under the hood, as that's coming in a later, more detailed post.

As a high level overview though, the bot runs entirely on Microsoft Azure, and more specifically Azure PaaS services.

At the heart of it all is an Azure Function, running PowerShell. It's this PowerShell code, running as a timer triggered function, that does all the grunt work - such as ingesting the data sources and integrating with the other Azure resources.

Cosmos DB is used to keep a record of what the bot posts, and this is used to check for duplicates.

The Azure OpenAI Service is used to create the post summaries and tags (and pirate voice!).

Azure Service Bus is used to queue the social media posts per platform.

Azure Logic Apps are used to post to LinkedIn, Mastodon and Bluesky, reading from the relevant Service Bus queues on a timer. A timer is used to stagger the social media posts, as not to bombard the followers with multiple posts at once.

Credit to Tomasz Hamerla for the Cloud Pirate's Mastodon and Bluesky integrations.

As you can see, The Cloud Pirate is very much an Azure based project, and has required some significant time and effort to produce and maintain.

The Newsletter

The Cloud Pirate - Weekly Haul newsletter itself is hosted as a Hashnode blog (the same platform as this blog), which you can find here.

The newsletter functionality however is run on LinkedIn. New editions are published on LinkedIn, but link back to the Hashnode site.

If you're wondering why the LinkedIn based newsletter is simply a link to the actual content on the Hashnode site, it's because the newsletter itself is automated. The newsletter content is created in Markdown via a locally run PowerShell script. LinkedIn doesn't support Markdown, but Hashnode does!


At the time of writing:

  • The Cloud Pirate LinkedIn page has 696 followers.

  • The Cloud Pirate - Weekly Haul newsletter has 387 subscribers.

  • The bot has shared 1132 posts since its launch on 12th September 2023.

  • The bot collates data from 121 different community contributors.

    • Of which there are 221 unique feeds.
  • There have been 11 editions of the newsletter so far.

Get Involved

The Cloud Pirate project is open to collaboration. If you have ideas on functionality or areas of improvement, or you would like to integrate it into your own projects somehow, then please reach out to me on Twitter, here.

As an example, The Cloud Pirate project was linked to the AzureFeeds project, run by fellow MVP Luke Murray. A weekly extract of Azure specific Cloud Pirate posts are included in the AzureFeeds weekly newsletter under the community section. You can sign up to that newsletter, here.

If you'd like to be added in as a data source, i.e. add your blog, podcast, YouTube etc. into the aggregator, you can either complete this form, or if you're familiar with Git and GitHub, feel free to create a Pull Request on the feeds repo, found here.



If you have any feedback, questions or concerns on this project, please reach out to me on Twitter, here.