Points of View Message Board 5: Summary of Meeting With POV programme and BBC Vision
I was very pleased with the meeting that we had on Tuesday to discuss the Points of View message boards. It was very positive with lots of enthusiasm expressed for improving the boards. (Helen from Points of View at the very start said that the boards were very useful to the programme).
Rowan who is currently hosting the Television board stressed (for me) the key problem with the boards at the moment. The community there feel they are not listened to by the BBC and want a closer relationship and better feedback. As she put it, they feel like they are sometimes "talking in a corner".
Before the meeting Rowan shared some numbers for web traffic which supported what you've been telling me in comments about the value of the Television board. The Television board gets the vast majority of the traffic to the POV boards, getting twenty times the numbers of even the board's home page.
I outlined the history of the boards (for more detail of the current hosting arrangements see this blog post). Up until recently they have been run and hosted by the BBC's Future Media division not by television (even though Points of View is a television programme primarily about BBC television).
I used the analogy that this was like asking Radio 4 to host a board about Radio 3 i.e. the relationship isn't close enough to get a really good conversation going. I said the key practical question for me was "who is going to host this board?"
I was pleased that that everyone in the meeting seemed to agree that the solution was that BBC Vision (the television bit of the BBC) should try to take on responsibility for hosting the POV boards and managing the community there.
One idea which seemed to go down well was for a community editor or manager in Vision to act as the host for the board and to possibly be in charge of a blog about television.
The blog could be for when BBC people want to talk about their TV work in a more structured way while the POV message boards could be continue to be the place where licence fee payers started threads about BBC television.
The community editor/manager could host the boards and the blog and feed in useful threads to BBC television people, encouraging them to respond and participate on both the blog and the boards. If a blog was set up it might contain posts about Points of View the programme when it's on air.
I said that if this happened the current POV boards should be refocused. The bbc.co.uk/Online, digital and radio boards could be closed down. Helen said that radio already has the Feedback programme (and its own message boards) and that Points of View (the programme) only covers radio when the story raises big issues about the BBC (e.g. Brand/Ross). The current BBC POV board could be the place where big BBC stories could be discussed.
I repeated niclaramartin's view that the bbc.co.uk board (which we have just renamed "Online" in line with Seetha's recent announcement) was "moribund" and in my work as editor of the BBC Internet blog wasn't really worth the effort I was putting in to hosting it.
I think people felt that the idea of a communities editor in television was well worth pursuing. Roo said he would investigate further. We also felt that if any changes were going to be made to the board a good time to make them would be April of this year when Points of View starts its next series.
Just to reassure people reading this that no one in the meeting suggested that the POV boards should be closed down.
Personally I'm very happy with the discussion in the meeting. To make the boards really work they need a strong host in the right place and the communities manager idea seems like a good solution.
Obviously I'll keep you posted on whether any of this happens and when and I'd welcome your comments.
Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet blog