Strictly Message Board: What Happened Update
On Wednesday after John Sargeant announced his decision, between noon and ten p.m., we received 12,038 contributions to group discussions on the Strictly boards. This is almost three times more than for the same period on the previous day.
The key to the decision to close the board was not just the very high level of comments. We also had ten times as many new users registering to comment. At one point ten new people were registering every minute.
"Messages" or "contributions" doesn't mean users, people and certainly not complaints. One user can put up more than one message.
On the complaints point I noticed this story in the Daily Telegraph. To describe "comments" as "complaints" is an occasional mistake made by people and even by some users of the boards. Commenting on a message board isn't the same as lodging a formal complaint with the BBC's complaints procedures - although comments can be, and often are, critical.
In this case however, they weren't particularly critical of the BBC. In terms of the tone of the posts, I can't do a statistical breakdown. But Paul of the Central Communities Team gave me a sense of how the messages he was moderating could be divided.
The number of messages Paul saw that supported John's Sargeant's decision (and were glad he has left for the sake of the dancing) were roughly equal to the numbers of posts urging him to stay.
So for example Lady PPG said:
John, you have been an entertaining and delightful participant in Strictly. There is now a John Seargant shaped gap in the programme which no-one will be able to fill. Thanks for the memories!"
John Sargeant and Kristina Rihanoff
While on the other hand fancyRiverrat was not sorry to see John go:
About time. A man fallen on his own petard, now perhaps we can get on with the dance competion."
Only a very small proportion of the posts were critical of the BBC. There were many messages critical of the judges, like this one.
We were able to process all comments in the backlog by 7 a.m. on Thursday. So if you want to get your own sense of what people were saying you can just look at the board. Since there are now a lot of threads then a good place to start is this one:
Incidentally, it's always nice to have another perspective:
I am going to complain about everyone else complaining."
In my view Tom's decision to close the board instead of not moderating was absolutely the right thing to do.
And if you want just one reason, our moderators were able to catch at least one example of spam porn (with a nasty virus attached) before it appeared on the board. If moderation had been down and the boards wide open you might have seen something very unpleasant.
But if you were in his shoes what would you have done? The four options we had were:
1. Turn off moderation entirely
2. Draft in untrained moderators (we would have needed at least four working through the evening)
3. Delete the thousands of messages in the backlog
4. Close the boards overnight so the mods could work through the comments.
Leave your preferred option below and Paul has said he will respond.
Moderation and message boards are much on my mind at the moment.
If you're a regular reader of this blog you'll know I've started to talk to regular posters at the Points of View message board as a way of aiding my understanding (And if you're one of them my apologies in advance for not publishing a follow up post today. It's already taken me too long to write this one. It will happen Monday).
An incident like this gives me plenty of food for thought as I continue to learn.
Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet blog