« Previous | Main | Next »

Social Media & Accountability #2

Post categories:

Nick Reynolds Nick Reynolds | 09:13 UK time, Friday, 20 August 2010

Thanks to everyone who commented on Matthew's previous post.

And my apologies for the delay in publishing this one.

As I previously said in comments the research that Unthinkable Consulting carried out contained confidential interviews and so I'm not going to publish the complete report. However I thought you would be interested in reading the executive summary which you can download as a PDF.

The summary contains a number of recommendations. I gave Unthinkable a completely free hand to suggest anything they thought would be useful. Their ideas are a useful sense check on how the BBC's approach to accountability using social media might be developed.

I'm pleased to say that in the past month we've made good progress on the two that are probably most important to people who comment regularly on this blog.

"Tighten Up Complaints Process". As Paul explained here we now have a new appeals system up and running. This means that users who disagree with moderation and hosting decisions that affect them now have a much clearer route of appeal.

"Host better". Last month I sat in on a revised and expanded training course designed to help people who run the BBC's social media spaces manage them better. The course has been revised with a particular emphasis on blogs and we now have people booked on it up until Christmas and plan to take it on the road. My sense is that hosting on the BBC's blogs and message boards has improved significantly in the past six months and there's now an opportunity to improve them even further.

Rather than me going through each of the points made in the summary in detail I thought it would make more sense if I engaged with you in comments. So give your reactions and I will respond.

Thanks

Nick Reynolds is Social Media Executive, BBC Online, BBC Future Media & Technology

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I'm of the opinion that you and Paul to a pretty good job of hosting the blog here — there aren't a huge number of BBC blogs which maintain my interest (there’s this one, the About the BBC blog, Backstage, and R&D), so you've done well to keep me paying attention for this long ;)

    Without wanting to get into a gripefest at all, the biggest issue — at least on the topics that are particularly prone to sparking conversation — is that there's often limited conversation between the author of the post being discussed and the individuals discussing it. In many respects it can feel as though you’ve been sent a piece to publish and left to deal with whatever happens as a result. In terms of engagement, it's difficult for BBC "social media" folk to effectively engage with commenters who are getting stuck into the detail of what's been posted. In real terms, there's often no real way to tell how much attention the author of a post is paying to comments left against it, and whether they have any intention of responding to it.

    On most blogs — whether they allow for direct comments or otherwise — the author of the post will directly engage with those who put in the time and effort to raise questions, give critical commentary, or take issue with certain things. With some notable exceptions, that doesn't really happen all that much on here, and that leads to a disconnect which doesn't happen on other blogs; this works against the goal of engagement, and ultimately devalues to the blog to an extent.

    I can't think of any other single blog off the top of my head, save for PR outlets which pretend to be blogs, where posts are published, inviting comments, and it's not the author but somebody else (or a set of people) who may not necessarily know the ins and outs of the subject being discussed left to deal with the comments.

    To put it another way: if post authors don't actively engage with commenters, then it's not really "engagement" at all, it's just an outlet — and an outlet doesn't really satisfy the aims of the medium.

    What are your thoughts on this, and what's your plan for ensuring the Internet blog isn't just an outlet? Obviously, you can't force directors of BBC departments to dive into the comments left on their posts, so what do you do? How do you give people the confidence that comments being left aren't just contributions to an echo-chamber?

  • Comment number 2.

    Nick did you "sit in" or attend the complete course?

  • Comment number 3.

    Many thanks for publishing this blog
    That Executive Summary is a very interesting document, Nick. I use POV mostly, and this excerpt was of particular interest to me:
    Host Better
    Much can be improved without changing existing formats and structures, by changing the practice of authors and hosts on accountability blogs. We recommend that blog authors respond at least in part to popular comment threads where new points or questions are being raised. We also recommend greater empathy and consistency from hosts.

    I'm not sure many POVers would agree with your assessment of My sense is that hosting on the BBC's blogs and message boards has improved significantly in the past six months

  • Comment number 4.

    Hosting has improved????

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • Comment number 5.

    Oh - how annoying. I previewed my last post to check the spacing was right, and it was in the Preview box. Now it looks all squished!

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi Mo,

    I think you have said it all there. These points were originally brought to Matthew's blog by many of us. I am not sure if this has been reflected in the Executive Summary. Sending people on courses sounds like sticking a turbo in a car no-one wants to drive. The issue is that we don't want the blogs, the authors don't want the bind of dealing with a blog, but the management want a blog. They are an outlet... and ultimately a lot of rubbish comes out of outlets.

  • Comment number 7.

    @OfficeDibble — I think I disagree with you slightly… I do want the blogs (at least, some of them), though I realise that this isn't a universally-held view.

    I think that if done properly they can be an excellent way to engage with the licence-fee payer (and many people who aren't, of course; this isn't just about TV) and help to create a better BBC for all of us.

    On the other hand, though, if done badly, they don't just fail to achieve this, but can even actively work against this aim by undermining any confidence or goodwill that's otherwise held.

  • Comment number 8.

    " Much can be improved without changing existing formats and structures, by changing the practice of authors and hosts on accountability blogs. We recommend that blog authors respond at least in part to popular comment threads where new points or questions are being raised. We also recommend greater empathy and consistency from hosts. "

    That is such a valid critisism of the way the blogs and message boards have been hosted.

    Nick, do you really think the hosting of the message boards and blogs has improved over the last six months ?! LOL

    Bottom line is, blogs are disliked, please bring back the message boards.

  • Comment number 9.

    I think there is a space for both blogs and messageboards, but - as the Summary says - they need to be easier to navigate to, and possibly be under the control of a central authority. An overarching social media authority would probably be a good idea, but I think it's also good to let individial producers and programme-makers run their own boards and blogs.

  • Comment number 10.

    Hi Mo,

    I think we are on much the same page, but I think your most pertinent comment is: "I think that if done properly..."

    My point is that if the BBC can't do blogs properly (and the can't) then they do more damage to trust and credibility. They want a newsletter but like to dress it up in a blog. That is not acceptable.

  • Comment number 11.

    @OfficeDibble - yes, with you 100% there!

  • Comment number 12.

    Is the BBC committed to implement all the report's recommendations?

    Russ

  • Comment number 13.

    Thanks for all your comments so far.

    One of the points the research made was that it needs to be made clearer to people what kind of engagement they can expect on blogs (i.e. whether the blog owner will respond in comments or a follow up post or not). I'm working on that. My own view is that while this is best practice and desirable you can't force everyone to do it and it's not always essential.

  • Comment number 14.

    Russ - no, we're not committed to implementing all of the report's recommendations. We've looking at them all and thinking about which ones we should do and which ones we shouldn't. As I said in the post they were intended as a kind of "sense check".

    Thanks

  • Comment number 15.

    Nick,

    Will you take on board the fact that a lot of recommendations in the report (well, the Executive Summary) have been mentioned by posters in the past?

    If your audience and an independent and impartial consultation agree on proposed changes/improvements, should that not carry some weight?

  • Comment number 16.

    Nick said; "One of the points the research made was that it needs to be made clearer to people what kind of engagement they can expect on blogs"

    In other words manage expectations. As in the case of Danielle Nagler, who used phrases like "I expect to be responding sometime in the next month..." in other words, i won't be responding much but to meet the accountability remit I will post at least once.

    Nick said: "you can't force everyone to do it.." Begs the question, why are you needing to force anyone? Either they want to write a personal blog and use the blog for what they are intended for (dialogue) or they don't. maybe they are writing for the wrong reasons: ie they have a contractual obligation to write (or pretend to write) a blog. If bloggers wanted to write and converse they would do it naturally. We got by without blogs before, and i don't see much value in 90% of BBC blogs.

  • Comment number 17.

    cricket-Angel Alpert - yes it does carry weight. But there's our old friends time, money and resource to consider as well. It may not be a good idea to do every one of the recommendations for all sorts of reasons.

    OfficerDibble - the BBC uses blogs for lots of different reasons. In some commenting back is more important than others.

  • Comment number 18.

    ah.. managing expectations again.

  • Comment number 19.

    It's my job to manage your expectations! As I've said before not everyone gets everything they want all of the time...

  • Comment number 20.

    A thought: the need for responding to comments shouldn't be related to the reason for using the blog -- surely it's all about the nature of the comments themselves? If people are asking direct questions or it's clear that people don't understand things, that should be followed up. On the other hand, if commenters are effectively "talking amongst themselves" (perhaps sharing anecdotes, for example), then although the author should feel free to chime in, there's no real need for them to.

  • Comment number 21.

    Nick Reynolds wrote:
    It's my job to manage your expectations! As I've said before not everyone gets everything they want all of the time...


    Ha! So who IS getting what they want? (at the cost of ignoring everyone else)

  • Comment number 22.

    Mo said:
    "A thought: the need for responding to comments shouldn't be related to the reason for using the blog -- surely it's all about the nature of the comments themselves? If people are asking direct questions or it's clear that people don't understand things, that should be followed up. On the other hand, if commenters are effectively "talking amongst themselves" (perhaps sharing anecdotes, for example), then although the author should feel free to chime in, there's no real need for them to."

    Good point. But on BBC blogs we get neither. Our direct comments are mostly ignored, and if we talk amongst ourselves we get slammed down under the catch-all of "moderation". If we want to talk amongst ourselves there are better platforms for doing that... so effectively in the hands of the BBC the Blog is redundant.

  • Comment number 23.

    Nick Reynolds wrote:
    "It's my job to manage your expectations! As I've said before not everyone gets everything they want all of the time..."

    and you do realise that "managing expectations" is a euphemism.

  • Comment number 24.

    Officer Dibble. "direct comments are mostly ignored" On this blog ? This blog posts and some of the changes to bbc.co.uk that Nick announces are directly in response to comments from users' comments. Matthew's post about accountability resulted in 100s of comments which are quoted in his report. There are many examples every day where comments are addressed either as new blog posts, or in new comments from BBC staff.

    Of course this differs from blog to blog and what we define as a satisfactory answer is going to be difficult to agree on. And i suppose we can argue about the defnition of "most" (disclaimer: I don't work on this blog or or for this part of the BBC but i work on other blogs at the BBC and set this blog up a long time ago) I'd say that comments and interaction on this blog are frequently read/referred to/and answered. In the "round up" blog posts, nick and paul's hosting , Andy Quested's interactions before he transferred!, and there are also responses and blog posts from Erik downwards that quote commenters or write about subjects in response to feedback.

  • Comment number 25.

    Generally speaking, on most blogs. This blog is a new blog... give it time and it will go the way of the previous blogs... comment, evasion, answering a different question, abandonment, moderation, frustration, closure.

    Yes, we all know about Andy Quested. The exception not the norm. We can, and have, list the myriad of blogs that have as whistling in the wind. As users, we can judge - and as we frequently testify, the user experience is very different to your perception.

    When we see tangible responses then we might pipe down...in the meantime managing our expectations is just evasion from accountability.

  • Comment number 26.

    Jem Stone wrote:
    Officer Dibble. "direct comments are mostly ignored" On this blog ? This blog posts and some of the changes to bbc.co.uk that Nick announces are directly in response to comments from users' comments. Matthew's post about accountability resulted in 100s of comments which are quoted in his report. "

    We all know the history of concensus of users' comments NOT being taken into consideration by Nick, so let's not even go there.
    I'd like to see the comment that WAS the catalyst for Nick to decimate the Message Boards and left it in tatters.

    as for the report...we can't see the 100's of our posts quoted in it... and to date there is no tangible benefit from commissioning that report. On the record of Future Media's past "consultations" I wonder if anyone contributing here has any confidence that "our comments" will result in change for the better, other than staff going on a course to manage our expectations more sympathetically.

  • Comment number 27.

    Hi Officer Dibble. "this blog is a new blog. give it time and it will go the way of.." ? It launched nearly three years ago. :) I remember it well.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2007/10/welcome.html

    I didn't say that the experience is patchy and that users don't get frustrated. They are and they do. but notwithstanding that its fair to say there are substantial responses/posts/explanations/conversations here that shouldn't go without remarking upon.

  • Comment number 28.

    "to date there is no tangible benefit from commissioning that report."

    Presumeably you don't think a better system for users to appeal moderation decisions is a "tangible benefit"...

  • Comment number 29.

    YOU may think of the Blog as a homogenous whole, dating from 3 years ago, but WE think of them as descrete blogs.... as a blog is a personal log, and belongs to the writer, not the corporation. So your corporate view is at odds with the user, and indeed at odds is the essence of what a blog is. And that is the nub of the problem... FM thinks of them as a tool and fits a reluctant human onto the front.

    So when i said this is a new blog.. i mean THIS 27 post blog... and the one's I refer to that have collapsed are the other blogs hosted by Nick. the record is clear to see.

  • Comment number 30.

    Was this report just about blogs? The Executive Summary mentions blogs a lot, but it also mentions Social Media and Hosting - both of which apply to messageboards.

    I think I probably already know the answer to this, but why was this blog either not linked to from the messageboards and h2g2, or a thread started on the messageboards? This report is skewed toward bloggers' responses, and blogs do not make up all of the BBC's Social Media.

  • Comment number 31.

    Jem -- there have been instances where answers to direct questions simply haven't been forthcoming (or answer them in quite an ambiguous way); this is especially the case where the answers come in the form of follow-up posts, rather than in the context of where the questions are asked.

    I realise I probably see this more than others might, as I tend to wade in on some of the more contentious topics, but an obvious example: almost everything I know about DVB-T/T2 at a technical level I picked up as a direct result of the Freeview HD copy-protection debacle, just so that I could actually get an understand of what was being proposed and explain it in real terms to all of the people who were trying to understand what it actually meant; repeat again for SWF Verification, iPlayer on Android...

    The audience on this blog is broadly technical, and so direct no-nonsense questions arise. It shouldn't be a rigmarole (and it certainly shouldn't involve FOI, or Nick and Paul having to hassle people) to get direct no-nonsense answers.

  • Comment number 32.

    28. At 3:47pm on 20 Aug 2010, Nick Reynolds wrote:
    "to date there is no tangible benefit from commissioning that report."

    Presumeably you don't think a better system for users to appeal moderation decisions is a "tangible benefit"...


    We will see. You promised better hosting last time. That sounded good on paper (even though it was not what we requested) but was a disaster, so maybe we should wait and see what people think of it before claiming a success.

  • Comment number 33.

    Officer Dibble (blimey I'm old enough to remember Top Cat too) Apologies. I'm old school. I always think "A blog" is the complete thing and a blog post is the individual entry so in this case; a post about accountability from Nick is a blog post and the BBC Internet blog is the "blog". Agreed that gets more complex when you have multi authored blogs but then they aren't confined to corporate blogs.

    Mo. yep. I wasn't denying that answers sometimes aren't forthcoming. I'm sure there are examples (and mitigating circumstances). I just thought it was fair for the positive aspects of this blog in this area to be noted.

  • Comment number 34.

    Jem -- you're right, it isn't fair to focus solely on the negative (though when the topic is broadly "how can things be made better?", it's inevitable to an extent).

    And really -- there are people who don't remember Top Cat?

  • Comment number 35.

    Actually since comments I make on this blog (BBC Internet) are often as the Americans would say so 'left field ' that I don't expect anyone to take any notice. People here who talk about accountability seem to me to be claiming some authorisation to demand that 'things be done' as they would wish, They just don't have that! They are in no way representative.

    However on the other side, consultation means hearing what people say and explaining in the light of what they say, what you are going to do or not do and the reason for that. Neither blogs or discussion boards are about that process as the haters of 'Breakfast' on Radio3 have long since discovered.

    Finally I note that Sky has 8 million subscribers and form them about the same amount as the licence fee give to the BBC. I don't see people debating or demanding 'accountability'

  • Comment number 36.

    Sky don't offer accountability. Sky don't promise a myriad of channels with which to interact with the broadcaster. Sky is a locked down citidel with which we play no part.

    the BBC is the same - we have the same chance of effecting change or influencing the product as we do with sky. EXCEPT the BBC go through the pretence of appearing to offer it... from the top of the POV board "Tell us what you think..", to the Nick debacle "how can we improve the message boards..", to the Danielle Nagler mess "what do you want from HD..", to the Andy Quested "I've been tasked to defend the HD channel with tech speak.." to the disingenuous Erik "the audience is at the heart of everything we do..." to the impotent complaints channel - all amount to nothing.

    We don't see the audience influencing anything. You might as well have the locked down Sky approach... and then we'd be saved the hypocracy.

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 39.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 40.

    Or indeed did Nick go on it? (he failed to answer my post earlier)

  • Comment number 41.

    Congratulations Officer Dibble and other readers of this blog for some really brilliant posts !!

    I couldn't agree with you more.

  • Comment number 42.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 43.

  • Comment number 44.

    No, I didn't go on the course. I lead a session with tips on how to manage conversations on blogs.

    Are there any other points included in the summary of Unthinkable's work which people would like to discuss?

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    #24, Jem Stone: 'Andy Quested's interactions before he transferred!'.

    Could you elaborate please? Has Andy changed jobs? It has been very quiet on the HD blog for a fair while now.

    I hope this isn't removed for being off topic, though it possibly is, but I'm not sure where else I could ask the question!

    Thanks.

  • Comment number 47.

    It was a discussion rather than a formal presentation so I haven't got a list of tips. Regarding the evidence of my "sense" of user management getting better - there seem to be fewer incidents and problems being dealt with by my team and reported to me.

  • Comment number 48.

    It seems to me that keeping track of some of these blogs is going to take too much time using the current system. Some of the posts get a large number of replies, and I'd guess the posters are too busy to continually monitor all those replies.

    Some form of threaded, rated and collapsible comment system would make things much easier for both monitoring, moderating and reading. Posts would get naturally grouped into topics, and important points or questions would get highlighted more naturally. Right now it all just gets lost in the mess of text.

    I'm not sure I agree that writers must always interact with comments. Of the number of professional blogs I read, a great many posts have lots of comments, but none from the writer. Though the writers do throw in comments occasionally, I get the sense it depends on time and interest. Just like the BBC.

    Personally I find some of the blogs that give a behind the scenes view very interesting, but I think the BBC has too many blogs, and forcing unwilling people to blog is never going to be productive. Better to reduce the number, and combine the authors into groups on a similar topic. That way there will be enough people writing and responding to keep things going.

    (I haven't read the report, and I haven't read any of the previous posts on this issue, so feel free to ignore this if it's all irrelevant). Lunch time!

  • Comment number 49.

    Regarding the evidence of my "sense" of user management getting better - there seem to be fewer incidents and problems being dealt with by my team and reported to me.

    Maybe it's because these issues used to get lost in the dynamic, fast-moving discussions of yore, but lately on the POV messageboards there seem to be a lot of user management issues. Moderation queries, accusations of cyberstalking and cyber-bullying, misuse of the red triangle reporting system ... Are these issues your team deals with, Nick?

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    From my viewpoint, the main problem with the blogs is the commenters. Never have i seen such a collection of negative, complaining people - many with an agenda or an axe to grind. (against the BBC, the government, a political viewpoint, or just in general).

    I guess it's the nature of the beast, it's like the way that the only people who write to the local newspaper's letters pages are those who have nothing better to do. Only with the BBC it's magnified to a national level.

    Frankly, i'd consider turning off comments all together, but I'd imagine that the BBC won't want to go that route. Failing that, some form of negativity rating is needed for each user - cos i'd take the complaints of a balanced poster a lot more seriously than a serial complainer.

    ----

    Another thing that seems to be needed is a clear disclaimer on all the blogs (in big letters at the top, and at the bottom of each post) that it's a BLOG containing the personal views of the writer, not a NEWS ARTICLE. So many of the comments are full of claims of political bias (usually to BOTH sides!) and claims that the blog posts aren't up to the usual standards of the BBC (impartiality, grammar, whatever).
    The blogs should be clearly separated from the journalism, and if they were, they'd provide a nice insight, a bit of fun, and a connection to the journalists. Rather than just being full of complaints.

  • Comment number 52.

    Comment49. These are the kind of issues that my team deal with. But this thread isn't about the POV boards in itself.

    To repeat my question, are there any other of the points made in the summary which people wish to discuss?

  • Comment number 53.

    Hello Nick, could you or a host flag this blog up on "The BBC" board. The previous thread that highlighted it has been hidden as well as closed.

    I'm sure that once people are aware of this summary, you will get more input.

    cheers

  • Comment number 54.

    These are the kind of issues that my team deal with. But this thread isn't about the POV boards in itself.

    No, fair enough. Nice sidestepping of my point, btw ;-)

    But POV is where I post the most, so most of my examples are going to be drawn from there. I assume messageboards (including even POV) are included in this Social Medua report, and therefore are on topic for this blog?

  • Comment number 55.

    On the assumption that the BBC might consider implementing aspects of the report Nick has not yet mentioned:

    Distinction of blog and blog entry types I can see a distinction could be drawn between an 'accountability' blog and a 'non-accountability' blog, but I'm not convinced a formal distinguisher (like a badge) would be sensible or viable, if only for the fact that a blog might contain entries of both types, and because I suspect I have a wider definition of 'accountability' than most other people, as I hoped I explained in response to Matthew's initial entry. (In anycase, I think it's pretty obvious when a particular blog entry involves or invokes corporate BBC accountability, and the need for a formal distinction would therefore I think be an unnecessary waste of resource and money.) Such a distinction is not a big issue for me, but I can see why the recommendation appeared in the report, namely as a means by which accountability entries should not be 'let off the accountability hook'. Accordingly, I have mixed feelings about the need for a central online accountability hub, but not having seen the full text of the report, it is perhaps unfair to give a judgement on that particular recommendation without seeing its full context.

    'Integration with broadcast' The radical recommendation of the report concerns integration with broadcast, and the associated cross-media user-agenda-driven feedback mechanisms incorporating 'networked accountability' and the transfer of the responsibility of audience representation to new online hosts. This is the major challenge for the future. Again, without the context of the actual words of the report, it is not clear how the balance between centralisation (BBC control) and diversification (user control) can be achieved and given some new direction. I wouldn't expect the BBC to have any specific thoughts on this matter as yet, nor would I expect initiation of that discussion to be from our current host either, because the implications need a broader debate.

    Russ

  • Comment number 56.

    soulgrind (#51):

    Another thing that seems to be needed is a clear disclaimer on all the blogs (in big letters at the top, and at the bottom of each post) that it's a BLOG containing the personal views of the writer, not a NEWS ARTICLE.

    The posts (at least on this blog) are specifically not the personal views of the writer and are quite pointedly intended to represent the views of the corporation. BBC staff are encouraged to maintain their own blogs where they can put forth their personal views (and many do — I read lots of them).

    You're right that the posts shouldn't be news articles, though.

  • Comment number 57.

    There are a couple of ways to improve the BBC commenting system and the social aspect of it.

    1) Implement a 'reply' link for each comment so that users can reply (and automatically notify) other users, to create some sense of discussion and debate and engagement.

    2) Comment voting system: some form of voting or recommendation system to vote up helpful and interesting comments, since the BBC regularly receives hundreds of comments, there should be a way to filter out the cream of the cream from the mundane. This will bring more value to the readers and give an incentive for actively contributing members to keep going - the current comment system dilution means that you could have something really good to say, but it will get drowned out in all the chatter.

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 59.

    I only recently discovered the BBC blogs although I also work in Social Media and Internet Services.

    I have to admit I'm impressed with your page load speeds and the promptness on comment moderation.


    Another thing I love about the fact that the BBC (and the media in general in the UK) try to be accountable (unlike some other countries)

    One concern:
    "The BBC should decide collectively on a definition of accountability which can be published for the benefit of the audience."

    If this is the OUTCOME of the meeting, why even have a meeting.
    Meetings are supposed to have outcomes, not just define them.

    I never have a meeting if it means we're just going to write to-do's (that can be done via email prior to the meeting.

  • Comment number 60.

    Comment 57: Joenade

    I don't think the things you suggest would necessarily improve accountability. Voting can be gamed by people. Having a reply button might improve the experience for commenters but wouldn't necessarily means that more BBC people would respond to comments.

  • Comment number 61.

    At 09:54am on 23 Aug 2010, Nick Reynolds wrote:
    "No, I didn't go on the course. I lead a session with tips on how to manage conversations on blogs."


    Thanks for that Nick. I have to go away and chuckle to myself now.

  • Comment number 62.

    Re-reading the comments from Matthew's original post in which he specified that he was particularly interested in blogs, I note that apart from Boilerplated, there was very little input from bloggers themselves. If messageboarders hadn't commented, it would have been quite a quiet blog.

  • Comment number 63.

    @Nick:
    While it's true that comment voting can be rigged by people, you have to hope that there are enough unbiased readers that things will balance out. If not, then the mix of readers is obviously so bad that you might as well disable comments altogether. Voting would merely need to highlight popular posts in bold and fade down unpopular posts.

    But I think threaded comments (eg: a reply button) WOULD help bloggers to respond. Right now, it'd be a full time job to respond to the comments, because it's just a sea of text - which is impossible to scan read and where trains of thoughts are very hard to follow.

    If comments were more organised, it would be easier for the blogger to skim the comments, spot any interesting or relevant discussions, (or negative/off topic ones) and respond.

    That said, pro bloggers on news sites rarely respond to comments on the sites I read (lifehacker, joystiq, rockpapershotgun, etc..). They mostly respond when there is a post that affects the content of the post (ie - provides a clear correction, extra useful information, or a very good point that get edited into the post) and only respond to general comments when they happen to have free time.

    ---

    PS/ It'd be good to have more links between the blogs and the news articles. Eg, if I read Mark Mardell's America blog, it should have some links to his most recently authored news articles. Similarly, if I read a news article by an author, it'd be good to be able to click on his name and see a profile including recent articles and blog posts. (though the two should clearly be differentiated).

  • Comment number 64.

    Comment 60: Nick Reynolds

    The fact that I am having to respond to you like this should be a clear example of why the BBC could benefit with an improved comment system compared to the current primitive incarnation of it. I did not even know there was a reply, it was only because I randomly decided to check back on the threads I had visited earlier that I happened to see this.

    I'm not sure I quite understand what is meant by improving accountability, but these suggestions will go some way to improve the user experience regardless of the impact it has on accountability. This is not just my personal opinion, it is tried and tested and its success is proven by the fact that these 'features' have seen widespread adoption on social media sites like Digg and Reddit.

    As for voting being gamed by people - that is just a potential, just as people could potentially game the voting system for the polls and decide which party becomes government of this nation, but that isn't enough of a reason to not have a voting system in the first place. What we have to look at is, how likely is it to be gamed? for a political party to get in power - there is a huge amount at stake, but for a commenter to go to the efforts of creating multiple accounts to add a few votes to his comment popularity, and for what gain? a bit of obscure internet fame? Hardly that even, with the large numbers of people visiting the BBC site, many would bury and downvote junk comments into oblivion before they'd even have a chance of showing popularity. (Again, see working examples on social media sites like those I referenced)

    These measures will increase interactivity and encourage greater participation - If I received an email alerting me to a reply, I would feel obliged to respond. If there was a profile 'control panel' that displayed how many people liked and disliked my comments, it would show that what I had to say was being noticed, and if it was appreciated by readers it would give the incentive to continue posting. This is social currency, but we don't have any of that to give and receive so we don't have the building blocks to let a social economy flourish on the BBC.

  • Comment number 65.

    just seen that the posters on the bbc HD visitors group blog were not informed andy quested is no longer in his job.posters had been asking questions and behaving as though he was still there.you were still posting on the blog after the date of andys last post would it not have been social and accountableto have let posters know?

  • Comment number 66.

    As far as I know Andy Quested is still doing exactly the same job. I think you are misunderstanding what Jem said above. I think Jem was referring to the transfer of Danielle's posts to the TV blog.

  • Comment number 67.

    jems quote from post 24 above when discussing bbc employees responding on blogs "..Andy Quested's interactions before he transferred."
    perhaps you should clear it up and let people know. andy certainly hasnt posted since 3rd july.

  • Comment number 68.

    To #63 soulgrind

    "While it's true that comment voting can be rigged by people, you have to hope that there are enough unbiased readers that things will balance out"

    Open voting might work, a bit like a petition.
    (where you can see who voted and the comments voted on by a particular user)

    If someone is prepared to make a comment, then you would expect them to be happy to be identified as a username endorsing a comment. This would help show up rigged voting and voting based on false information or rationale, that breaks down when challenged.

    Voting seems like a lesser form of comment.

    People could still create lots of false new users, but they would have to create them continuously, and vote and post on behalf of them continuously to give them credibility as more than one-post unresponsive users.

    Also you could calculate correlation with other users who have voted in a similar fashion and generate some kind of credibility index for a user based on various parameters. Increasing the workload required in creating false proxies and diluting the effect of organized knee-jerk lobbying will make the results more representative.

  • Comment number 69.

    so the viewers HD visit blog is left waiting for an answer re andys whereabouts..the news website redesign blog has been ignored by the bbc since the 22nd july (on top of the 5 closed blogs by steve hermman) and the question of whether the social media accountability report included messageboards all remain unresolved...accountability indeed.

  • Comment number 70.

    I love to date online. I met my first boyfriend there. There is nothing wrong with it. I knows the leftist BBC would try and argue against freedom.

  • Comment number 71.

    You can ban U14596400 all you like, but you have to admit, he asks interesting questions - perhaps that was his original downfall. Just like Ni.... oh hang on better not.

  • Comment number 72.

    You're probably right, Faye. It seems that those who ask pertinent questions just...........disappear

  • Comment number 73.

    Is U14596400 - another banned alt ID actually banned?

    Seems a bit sarky of the PtBs to add that another banned alt ID to his/her username! (laugh)

  • Comment number 74.

    Hi All

    Nobody gets banned for the questions they ask, they get banned for breaking house rules. If someone feels they've been banned unfairly then they can appeal. You can read about the appeals process in this recent post and find the FAQ here.

    If people got banned for asking questions we wouldn't have any commenters left. (I'm joking obviously).

    BTW, a few people have asked and Andy Quested hasn't left his job with BBC HD (but he is on leave this week). When Jem talked about a transfer in a recent comment he meant BBC HD moving to the TV blog.

    Cheers all

    Paul

  • Comment number 75.

    On the question of accountability, what is the point of blog authors asking for questions and then not answering them?

    Why not be honest in the opening post and say, "here's my blog*, I'm not answering questions", instead of attempting to give a false image of being accountable? Everyone knows where they stand then.

    Paul Murphy wrote: Nobody gets banned for the questions they ask, they get banned for breaking house rules.

    I disagree entirely, and in terms of accountability the BBC should have told the banned use why they were banned, in many cases I know they were banned without reason or notification. With the new accountability report will this be amended in future?


    * other forms of social media are available.

  • Comment number 76.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 77.

    On the question of accountability, what is the point of blog authors asking for questions and then not answering them?

    This was specifically mentioned in the Executive Summary.

  • Comment number 78.

    Was this report just about blogs? The Executive Summary mentions blogs a lot, but it also mentions Social Media and Hosting - both of which apply to messageboards.

    Any chance of a reply to Cricket's question please Nick?

  • Comment number 79.

    Sorry - the report did mention message boards but focused primarily on blogs.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 80.

    What did it say about messageboards and Hosting, Nick?

    Can we see the messageboard part of the report, please?

    How was the information on messageboards gathered for the report? As far as I'm aware, nobody at the BBC or from the external company posted anything on the boards.

    Thanks.

  • Comment number 81.

    As I've already explained in the blog post I'm not going to publish the full report as it contains confidential material.

    The report focused primarily on blogs as these are where the BBC's accountability effort online in social media is primarily focused at present.

  • Comment number 82.

    Hi Nick,

    Could you perhaps post some excerpts from the messageboard part of the report? Not the whole thing, just the snippets that relate to messageboards.

    Will the BBC's accountability effort online in social media ever be focussed on messageboards, or even take messageboards into account? I ask, because that seems to be the most popular social medium the BBC employs.

  • Comment number 83.

    I'm afraid I'm not going to start cherry picking bits of the report. I'd rather focus on the executive summary above. In any case I think the summary applies equally to blogs, message boards and any other social media services the BBC provides.

  • Comment number 84.

    In any case I think the summary applies equally to blogs, message boards and any other social media services the BBC provides.

    You said in post 79 that it focussed primarily on blogs.

    Dose the report/Summary's points relate to all BBC social media, then? And how can it do this if the focus of the research was on blogs?

  • Comment number 85.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 86.

    shockandhorror - I've already explained in the blog post two of the things we've done as a result of the report. Are there any of the other points that you are particularly intereted in?

  • Comment number 87.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 88.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 89.

    Nick,

    Could I ask how you think Hosting has been improved on blogs and messageboards? Nothing seems to have really changed for the better from this end, so I'm curious as to how it looks from the other side of the screen, so to speak.

    Thanks.

  • Comment number 90.

    Cricket-Angel Alpert - I partly get a sense of this from what the central team who report to me tell me. Although there is some way to go, they tell me that they are spending less of their time dealing with the problems that arise when blogs and message boards are not hosted well, and more time doing useful things that benefit everyone (e.g. the appeals process aluded to earlier). Which is not to say that there are still areas where there are problems, but I think there is a slow but steady improvement.

  • Comment number 91.

    Thanks for the reply :-)

    I wonder if your stats are partly due to quite a few messageboards closing over the past year or so?

  • Comment number 92.

    Closing a poorly hosted service (whether a blog or a board) does help sometimes. I wouldn't necessarily single out message boards. If there's no intention to host a service properly, it should be closed.

  • Comment number 93.

    Well, that's excellent news.

    You always claimed the Hosting had been improved thanks to your involvement on POV, Nick. I assume the boards are completely safe from closure now, as they are so well Hosted.

  • Comment number 94.

    I'm not responsible for the POV boards anymore so any decision about their future will not be taken by me. However it's gratifying that you think they are better hosted than they were, as that was exactly what I was trying to achieve.

    But we are drifting off topic.

  • Comment number 95.

    Just to be clear, I think the POV Hosting is woeful - and has been for a while. But it's gratifying to know that if the PtBs think Hosting is well done then the boards will survive, which seems to be the case here.

  • Comment number 96.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 97.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 98.

    an test

 

More from this blog...

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.