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Open Post Wednesday 5th January 2011

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Nick Reynolds Nick Reynolds | 13:30 UK time, Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Thanks to Bridget and others who kept the blog going while I was poorly.

It's true to say that because I was absent interaction with commenters was perhaps not up to its usual standard.

So in the optimistic spirit of a brand new year (and because some people have asked for one), this is an "open" post.

What's on topic on this post

You can use this post to comment or ask a question about any aspect of BBC Online, BBC iPlayer, and the BBC's digital and mobile services.

What's off topic on this post

Anything else.

More specifically BBC HD picture quality and DOGs are both off topic as these subjects have been exhaustively explored both on this blog and elsewhere.

If you want to comment about BBC television use the BBC TV blog or the Points of View message boards. For comments on BBC Radio try the BBC Radio blog.

So if you are about to publish a comment that starts "This is off topic but...", please don't.

Please obey the house rules and respect other commenters and BBC staff. Remember that different people may be interested in different things.

While I'll try to get answers to all reasonable questions it may not be possible to answer every one. If your comment or question is not responded to that does not give you the right to break the house rules.

If you wish to make a formal complaint use the BBC's complaints website. If you wish to appeal a moderation or hosting decision do so using the process outlined here.

I'll leave this post open for a week and then think about whether it should be closed.

Over to you.

Nick Reynolds is Social Media Executive, BBC Online


Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Happy New Year,

    Two ongoing issues ....

    1. Red Button content on the iPlayer Desktop please
    2. iPlayer Desktop live TV full screen option, still not available, despite being identified at launch in Beta.

    and another two newish ones.

    a. BBC Online responses are still poor, the messageboard on the iPlayer still is getting cursory responses to points rather than a regular conversation with users. EMs are not being answered for days too.

    b. BBC Reception ... Please restore the FULL list of current transmission issues rather than the poor interactive help application, which fails miserably and directs to incorrect transmitters.

  • Comment number 2.

    Nobody's fixed Iplayer on PS3, the current time/elapsed time of the show is shown on any programme on the bottom left of the screen. Please get rid of it.

  • Comment number 3.


    Second that.

  • Comment number 4.

    Any hints regarding the next phase for rollout of iPlayer to the U.S.? Advertising or fee based offering? Same version as available in the UK? Hopefully we'll see this soon here in the States! (besides on the iPad) Thanks!

  • Comment number 5.

    Nick - I was interested in the content of one of the links ("iPlayer - time taken for programs to be available") on the right-hand side that you have chosen.

    I'm not sure I understood the BBC response contained in that link, and I quote, in respect of TV programmes for November 2010:

    "Content delivered pre-transmission: on average, programmes were delivered nineteen hours before availability."


    "Content delivered post-transmission: on average, programmes were delivered two hours before availability."

    What is the difference between pre-transmission content and post-transmission content?

    And to what extent is the iPlayer availability automated?


  • Comment number 6.

    Mike - I'm afraid I can't give you any "hints" about a project as commercially sensitive as Global iPlayer. This press release from last year indicates it will be launched sometime in 2011, "subject to approvals".


  • Comment number 7.

    Sine you haven't decreed that posts about the POV messageboards are off topic, and since the blog "Changes to BBC Message Boards: Updates and fixes" seems to have died (at least nobody from the BBC is answering questions there any more), I'll ask here.

    1. Why was it deemed necessary to change them when the replacement was worse than the original version?

    2. When will the outstanding problems on the boards be fixed?

  • Comment number 8.

    Nick - There was a pretty hot discussion about iPlayer on Android back in July, but it seems to have gone a bit quiet on that page now (I guess due to the proliferation of newer flash-capable phones). So I wonder if you can give me an answer to a question that I still can't get to the bottom of:

    Beebplayer was an app which allowed Android phones to access the nokia streams. This was not authorised by the BBC, so was stopped. Fair enough.

    But, if the streams are still generated, and Android can play them without any extra server-side work (as would be needed for the iPhone streams), why can't we access them directly through the web interface? A link saying "click here for low-quality streams" instead of "you need flash" would be great, and allow much wider access to already existing content.

    It's so frustrating that those of us with perfectly capable phones are forced to continue using "banned" apps as there is still no alternative.


  • Comment number 9.

    As mentioned above, the timer on PS3 needs to be removed as it seriously affects the experience of the programme.

    Also again on the PS3 iPlayer, it seems to be riddled with more and more errors, search results in one screen do not show programmes which are listed in other screens etc.

  • Comment number 10.

    Is there any update on when/if the full content of BBC Two Ceefax pages 461, 465, 470, 568 and the bits of 695-698 that are still Ceefax-only will make it onto Red Button Digital Text?

  • Comment number 11.

    Re iPlayer: Can we get Erik Huggers to blog about why 'net neutrality should apply to others (as he set forth on this blog, here: http://bbc.in/iduX9V ) but not to the BBC? I'm very interested to hear an explanation as to why:

    1. ISPs should *not* discriminate between their network traffic of their customers according to the 3rd party.

    2. The BBC *should* be able to discriminate between different network clients, to the extent that it deliberately blocks certain clients from being able to access its content, which otherwise would have no problem.

    Platform neutrality is, by at least some definitions, a core aspect of 'net neutrality. Certainly so in the sense of the principle of neutrality that allowed the internet and web to be a success. Mr Huggers has told us here before that the BBC values open standards (http://bbc.in/fYTpG1 ), key to platform neutrality. It would be great to have the BBC explain the dichotomy of demanding neutrality from others while reserving the right to discriminate for itself - as seen with iPlayer.

    Also, as per the last link, Mr Huggers before warned that HTML5 was going off the rails. It would be nice to get an update on the BBCs' view of the status of HTML5 now, as more time has passed and technologies it will specify are seeing deployment and use - particularly as to how it relates to iPlayer.

  • Comment number 12.

    GaryB007 - the reasons why the boards were refreshed have been explained many times already. Not least is that they needed to go into new templates as the old ones were no longer being supported.

    I'll be discussing a possible follow up with David in the next few days so it would be helpful if you could be more specific about what problems you feel have still not been fixed.


  • Comment number 13.

    Paul Jakma - Erik has already answered your point (albeit briefly). See this comment on a previous post:


  • Comment number 14.

    Nick: Ah, I'd missed that. Thanks! As I just replied there though, he's not understood my comment and/or he seems (still) to be confused about the difference between open source and open standards.

  • Comment number 15.

    Russ - my understanding is:

    Some programmes are prerecorded and so can be delivered to iPlayer in plenty of time for them to be made ready for viewing after transmission. Some programmes are live and therefore are recorded off air as they are transmitted.

    When a programme is recorded off-air it takes on average 2 hours for recording, encoding and transcoding to all the different file types used by iPlayer.

    So my understanding is "Pretransmission" basically means "prerecorded" while "post transmission" usually means "live".

    Hope that helps.

  • Comment number 16.

    Thankyou Nick. Taking your understanding that 'pre-transmission' is prerecorded stuff and 'post-transmission' usually means live, then it seems extremely odd that the former should take a lot longer than the latter to get onto iPlayer. Why does the pre-recorded stuff take nineteen hours, when it could be available on iPlayer almost immediately? (Hence my question as to how much the iPlayer process is automated.)

    Could someone from the iPlayer team explain this bizarre state of affairs, please.


  • Comment number 17.

    Russ - I think you have misunderstood the information in the FOI.

    I took it to mean that prerecorded programmes are actually delivered to iPlayer for encoding nineteen hours before they are made available to the public. It doesn't mean it takes nineteen hours to encode them.


  • Comment number 18.

    I had considered that reading of events, Nick, but dismissed it. If the Trust's FOI response really did mean that pre-recorded programmes are delivered to iPlayer nineteen hours before encoding, then the Trust has failed to answer the basic question put to it, which was not about how long the encoding takes place, but how much time elapses between a program being aired and its *availability* on iPlayer.


  • Comment number 19.

    Sorry, #18 should have read "...the FM&T's FOI response..."


  • Comment number 20.

    Futhermore, Nick, if the FM&T response was about delivery to iPlayer rather than availability on iPlayer, how can live programmes get delivered 2 hours before transmission?

    None of this makes sense at all.


  • Comment number 21.

    Re and in addition to #8:

    I am not ashamed to admit I have used the beebPlayer and the MyPlayer apps on my 3 Android phones when they were able to stream the BBC live and non-live feeds. The best part of these was that you could watch BBC TV live on a 3G connection. The quality was as good as I would have expected for being over a 3G connection and I was very happy.

    While I understand the BBC wishing to enforce its intelectual property rights, I fail to understand why a BBC iPlayer Android App cannot be released to do the same thing. As the previous poster said - on the 3G use the existing "Nokia" streams and the better ones when on WiFi.

    I also notice that the BBC News app for iPad and iPhone has not yet been replicated onto the Android platform. This is very poor considering the current uptake and quality of Android Handsets.

    I hope you can give details of what is on the cards for Android users in the next year and answer why the BBC wont take the steps mentioned above?


  • Comment number 22.

    Russ - I think you are confusing delivery and transmission. Let's take a live programme. If that is recorded when it is going out live then it should be ready for people to watch on iPlayer on average two hours afterwards.

    With prerecorded programmes I assume that the aim is for them to be available on iPlayer as soon as possible after their TX time. But I'll check that tommorow.

  • Comment number 23.

    Nick - I have no problem with a live programme taking two hours average to appear on iPlayer. That is fair and reasonable.

    I look forward to FM&T's clarification of the pre-recorded situation tomorrow.


  • Comment number 24.

    Keeping the site easy to read

    Nick, I am having an ongoing problem with one particular part of the current site theme - the Blockquote.

    When I am reading an article on these blogs it is really distracting to find quotes displayed in light grey, indented and with a border on the left hand side.

    "This sort of styling makes the entry hard to read and makes the quote look like it is a portion of text marked for deletion rather than an important contribution from a person featured in the story."

    Over zealous stylisation tends to come out of designers doing it because it is possible rather than because a proper layout editor has decided to make the layout accessible.

    On the point of accessibility, there are many of us out here who are getting older and this sort of CSS misuse just gives us headaches. It would be rather stupid for visitors to have to start using accessibility tools simply because the designers messed the site up!

    Remember, you are a website, not a printed magazine - people view on different browsers on different sizes and quality of monitors and in different lighting. If you make the look and feel too complicated, it makes the site much less interesting.

    Happy new year!

  • Comment number 25.

    Hastings - thanks for your comment on block quotes which I have passed on to the Blogs team.

    Regarding accessibility you may be interested in this commment from Jonathan Hassell on his recent blog post:


    Jonathan mentions that we are trialing a new accessibility tool called MyDisplay which you can find here:



  • Comment number 26.

    12. At 18:37pm on 5th Jan 2011, Nick Reynolds wrote:
    GaryB007 -

    I'll be discussing a possible follow up with David in the next few days so it would be helpful if you could be more specific about what problems you feel have still not been fixed.>>

    Nick the problems that have not been fixed are evident to all users of the Message boards. The bug fixing has been piecemeal and "on-off" at times. Not a robust process. There is, of course, a separate issue of the general dissatisfaction with the look and accessibilty of the boards which I understand will not be revised.

    Regarding bugs/flaws, the difference in functionality from the previous version is clear - some functions missing. If you want a list of the unresolved issues just go to the BBC Message Boards where there are threads (numerous) running.

  • Comment number 27.

    OfficerDibble - it would be very useful if you could provide a link or links to the relevant discussions.


  • Comment number 28.

    Hi Russ - I've had a quick conversation here and the intention is that programmes are available on iPlayer as soon as possible after they have finished their transmission on TV or radio. If they've been delivered in time this should not present any problems and sgould happen a minute after the transmission has finished. You may also find this link in the iPlayer help section useful:


  • Comment number 29.

    foolonthehill - regarding Android phones this is what David Madden said in a post on the subject in July:

    "We could have enabled the BBC iPlayer on mobile website on all video enabled phones without any restrictions or exceptions. This would have maximized our reach, but would have resulted in a very poor quality experience on many phones as video playback capabilities and web browser rendering vary across devices. Some users would have had a good experience while others suffered a sub-optimal service with features not working and poor video playback quality. "

    Here's the original post:


  • Comment number 30.


    I'm not sure this is the best place to report this problem with the websites, but I'm having serious DNS problems connecting to the BBC's websites from Spain. It's not happening on any other sites that I usually use, so I'm fairly sure it's just the BBC. What usually happens is my browser can't connect, and after 3 or 4 refreshes it connects. Once it connects it's usually quite fast, but occasionally the styles aren't downloading, so the rendering isn't the greatest.

    I first noticed this problem earlier this week, so I guess it's been happening for 3 or 4 days at least.

    If you think I should report this somewhere else, please advise.

    many thanks

  • Comment number 31.

    27. At 10:26am on 6th Jan 2011, Nick Reynolds wrote:
    OfficerDibble - it would be very useful if you could provide a link or links to the relevant discussions.


    Top of the BBC messageboard - pinned. http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbpointsofview/NF1951574

    It is very difficult to navigate from Boards to blogs because they no longer list "my discussions" at the top, so I can't jaunt to Blogs. Add that to list of bugs.

  • Comment number 32.


    The removal of the My Comments function is blummin' annoying. Why was it removed?

  • Comment number 33.

    Nick: Re Post 30:

    Regarding David Madden's comment on the subject of permitting Android phones to access the 3GP (nokia) streams:

    Two Points:

    1: In what way is no access to iPlayer at all a better experience than David's "very poor quality experience"?

    2: Owning a HTC Magic, the 2nd Android phone released, I can confirm that BeebPlayer worked admirably on that device. As all BeebPlayer did, and all the web interface would do (if permitted) is redirect the streams to the phone's built in media player, there is no reason to believe this solution would result in a "very poor quality experience". If the experience is adequate on my early Android device (it certainly is), then it will certainly be at least as good on every other (newer) device (with faster CPUs and more memory).

    David Madden's explanation just doesn't ring true. Nor does the "official" explanation as to why the BBC killed off BeebPlpayer and MyPlayer (breaching syndication guidelines). If that was the case, why has the BBC only attacked 3rd party iPlayer clients (two of them, and the only two on the Android Market), while ignoring other Android apps that "redistribute" (redistibution being the crime they were executed for) other content? There are a number of Android apps that "redistribute" BBC News content. What is the difference? Why are these permitted, but iPlayer apps not? Why is "redistributing" iPlayer content different from "redistributing" BBC News Content?

    I put the word "redistribute" into quotes because, in the case of BeebPlayer, it is a false charge. BeebPlayer did not "redistribute" anything. It merely connected the Phone's media player to the BBC server providing the programme.

    The News clients actually do redistribute. They store the news content locally, so are, in effect, more guilty than BeebPlayer of the "crime" it was alleged to have committed.

  • Comment number 34.

    PS The "new Posts" count has now reappeared... indicative of the flaky nature of the bug fixes.

  • Comment number 35.

    ChrisCornwall - Comment 1 - re; iPlayer desktop full screen option - I'm told we are still intending to do a full screen version. This is work in progress but I'm afraid I can't give you any dates at the moment.

  • Comment number 36.

    Thanks Nick - that was the blog post I meant in my original post (I should have linked).

    However, David's response doesn't seem to answer the question raised by many of the comments there (including my own): if the BBC wants to avoid "features not working and poor video playback quality" and the Nokia streams are such poor quality, then why do they exist? It seems that what is good enough for some users (Nokia) is not good enough for others (Android).

    This is not about producing for a new stream (though, as many have pointed out the iPhone streams would only need minor modification), rather we want to access streams that already exist. What is so frustrating is that if I change my user agent to look like a Nokia N96, I get presented with a link (albeit hidden in a 'bin' file) which streams the 3gp video perfectly on the built-in player! OK, so it's 320 x 176 rather than the iPhone's 483 x 272 but easily good enough for the size of screen. And furthermore, the low-res version is the _only_ stream capable of watching over 3G.

    Frankly, it is extraordinary that the BBC is actively preventing users of the fastest growing OS (and even more importantly, a group well known for its wide community support) from accessing streams which are already offered to others.

    And finally to pre-empt the "vary across devices" argument, I would point you at http://developer.android.com/guide/appendix/media-formats.html. Support for RTSP streaming of H.264 / AAC in 3GPP containers is built-in to the core. _All_ Android devices support the format.

  • Comment number 37.

    Speaking of syndication, what's the status of the BBCs' planned update to its syndication policy?

    Also, Nick, I'd still like to see Erik address my comment. The BBCs' discrimination has nothing to do with open-source. The BBC discriminates against *all* makers of devices it considers unimportant, including proprietary ones. E.g. if a vendor of some niche device, without sufficient market reach for BBC to consider significant enough to bother working with, wants to to access iPlayer then they will have no option but to use Flash. This has an economic impact as it means the device must have a faster, more expensive CPU and more memory than otherwise. It also means increased energy usage which can has a further impact on costs (need beefier batteries potentially, if device is meant to be mobile; higher running costs for energy; etc). It means users of devices have only a narrow choice of apps to view iPlayer, where otherwise there would be many, including closed, proprietary ones - as evidenced by the prior existence of apps, several of which the BBC has managed to knock out (but not all, and it's technologically impossible to succeed).

    I'd really like the BBC to explain how it is right that it be allowed to discriminate between network clients such, in a manner with such a profound impact on the market, when the BBC argues that *others* should adhere to 'net neutrality for iPlayer.

    There's a word that begins with H which I'm trying to remember...

  • Comment number 38.

    Paul Jakma - my understanding is that we are waiting for the BBC Trust to deliver the conclusions of its review of BBC syndication policy. Best thing is for you to contact the Trust.

    Their contact details are here:


  • Comment number 39.

    Reference your #28, Nick, I am left wondering why FM&T deliberately avoided giving an accurate answer to the FOI question. If the answer was and is merely 'as soon as possible', why wasn't that plain answer given?

    I would still like to hear from the iPlayer team how automated (or not) the iPlayer availability process is in respect of pre-recorded programmes.


  • Comment number 40.

    Reference the request in #12, it's remarkable how FM&T seems to be in a perpetual state of amnesia over all the messageboard issues raised on previous blog posts and needs reminding of them each time there is a new blog. One gets the impression that FM&T has no intention of logging what the issues are, which seems a strange way of proceeding. Anyway, here's a few for David William's next blog:

    1 Given that the stated September 2010 objective was to make the boards "consistent in format":

    - Why is the Mustardland bogroll narrower than the other new-style boards?

    - Why was the use of a alternating-colour-block scheme, as adopted on the other new-style boards, stated to be "a mistake" on Mustardland?

    2 What is the timescale for converting the remaining old-style boards to the new style?

    3 Why do the 'latest post' links on old-style My Discussion lists no longer work where they reference new-style boards?

    4 On new-style My Discussions lists, when will the 'Latest post' link work properly? (i.e. go to the latest post, rather than the top of the latest page)

    5 On new-style My Discussions listings, why can't the date stamp style on the 'latest post' entry be the same as the 'latest post' entry on the old-style My Discussions lists?

    6 Why are new-style My Discussions listings and board thread listings updated only after a page refresh instigated by the user?

    7 Why do thread posts sometimes appear with a time stamp and some do not? Is it because the time stamp appears only if the post has been made in the preceding 24 hours?

    8 Why are the user-online stars ** sometimes present and sometimes absent?

    9 When is the toggle between messageboard and blog comments to be reinstated?


  • Comment number 41.

    When is the toggle between messageboard and blog comments to be reinstated?

    And why was it removed in the first place?

  • Comment number 42.

    Thanks for your questions about message boards which I will raise with the team. FM&T isn't in a "perpetual state of amnesia", although my short term memory is failing as I get older.

    Russ - could you be more specific about your question about the automation of the iPlayer availability process is for pre-recorded programmes. Are you basically asking how does the system work for getting a prerecorded programme on iPlayer?

  • Comment number 43.

    FM&T isn't in a "perpetual state of amnesia",

    If you don't respond to our questions/complaints we think you are either ignoring us or have forgotten about us.

  • Comment number 44.

    iPlayer Messageboard

    1) is it going to be closed in the near future ?

    2) as mentioned in comment #1 above there is very little BBC response on that board from the BBC, the last response apparently from the BBC did not display posters status,
    a) is it going to be actively hosted
    b) will BBC posters normally display their status
    c) are they going to tidy up the service updates section of the board,

    3) the message board has its own continuing bugs or problems, including no links to last contributions, are these being fixed

    4) if the board isn ot closing is a further update going to be made to bring it more in line with other boards, if so when. (Unfortunately that no doubt will give it the narrow bogroll)

  • Comment number 45.

    I note the new accessibility tool 'My Display' is being trialled,

    But I have not used it myself yet. It does not seem to be widely publicised, lets hope it works better then the new messageboards.

  • Comment number 46.

    Firstly, thanks for this opportunity to engage directly with BBC staff.

    I have two BBC news online related questions (both I'm sure asked before)

    1. When can we have full feed RSS? At present you are forcing me to whip up my own scraper and RSS feed on Google AppEngine. This is no problem, but is restricting as I am unable to use the social features of my RSS reader (Google Reader) such as seeing other people's "Like"s, sharing, and commenting on stories.

    This lack of full feed RSS is pushing myself and my friends away from BBC News as a news source.

    Avoiding content scrapers is not an acceptable reason not to provide full feed RSS. Trying to increase pageviews to support advertising is - but, oh wait.

    2. As much as I welcome the BBC's new inline linking policy, at the moment when I read a story and come across a link, it feels jarring (as opposed to coming across inline links on 'traditional' blogs like the Gawker network etc.) Perhaps others with better English skills can explain why this is.

    I don't know if this is something to do with writers trained to 'write for print' being forced to do this through editorial policy?

  • Comment number 47.

    Jamie - your second point about linking. You may be interested in this blog post from Steve Herrmann at The Editors blog at BBC News.


  • Comment number 48.

    In reply to John99 at message 45.

    It doesn't - it just made a right dog's dinner of my pc. It's even worse than the message boards!

  • Comment number 49.

    "When is the toggle between messageboard and blog comments to be reinstated?"

    Russ/Cricket-I think we were actually told (by Nick?) a while back that this feature wouldn't be reinstated. I don't see the sense in why it was removed in the first place...especially when you consider how many times we've been told that the 'upgrade' was supposed to 'improve' access across the whole of BBC online

  • Comment number 50.

    "Russ/Cricket-I think we were actually told (by Nick?) a while back that this feature wouldn't be reinstated."
    That is true to the extent that it won't be reinstated in its current location. I suppose my point 9 should more accurately become:

    "9 Where and when is the toggle between messageboard and blog comments to be reinstated?"

  • Comment number 51.

    "Russ - could you be more specific about your question about the automation of the iPlayer availability process is for pre-recorded programmes. Are you basically asking how does the system work for getting a prerecorded programme on iPlayer?"

    Yes. I want to know what happens between the state of affairs when a producer ticks the box representing 'finished article in the can' and the appearance of that playable programme in iPlayer.


  • Comment number 52.

    Will the PS3 iPlayer be updated to support:
    1) downloading HD material to local harddisk, for later playback.
    2) downloading SD material to local harddisk, for later playback.
    3) support the PS3 BluRay remote control for play, pause, rewind, fastforward and stop functions.
    4) allow HD material downloaded on a PC using iPlayer desktop to be played back on the PS3 (either by copying the episode onto the PS3 harddisk, or through the home LAN)

  • Comment number 53.

    _ More Message Board Problems _
    Further to NR question #12 & #40 where Russ listed 9 items
    [ ignoring problems on iPlayer board]

    10) when is it going to be fixed so that whole pages of messageboard thread show as "Hidden".

    11) posts per page, this is not yet standardised/agreed,and is causing pagination problems still.

  • Comment number 54.

    The last few days (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) have seen a number of programmes not available to download e.g. Come Fly with Me.

    Any idea when this bug will be fixed as at one point it was almost all programmes from those days.

  • Comment number 55.

    Hi Russ,

    I had a meeting with David yesterday. Here are some responses to your questions.

    1. As has been explained before some individual message boards were customised by their owners so they won't all look exactly the same.

    2. The remaining boards should be updated in the next month.

    3.4.7 These are known bugs which are in the process of being fixed.

    5. Date stamps need to be consistent across the BBC. This is a feature of the new design and can't be changed.

    6. Has this changed from previously? Could you give more detail?

    8. User online stars; this is being investigated as we're not sure exactly what the problem is here.

    9. As in Sparrows comment number 49 the toggle is not going to be reinstated. However in time it will be replaced with a much improved feature. Can't say too much about this at the moment but when we can we will.

    There should be a release in two weeks time which fixes the known bugs above.


  • Comment number 56.

    Much improved feature? Is that "much improved" as in the new Message Boards were much improved? Can't wait. Excuse the cynicism but we had promises many times.

  • Comment number 57.

    That was my first thought too, Dibble!

  • Comment number 58.

    Nick Reynolds

    _ More message board problems _
    Please note from my #53 points 10 and 11 to add to the list Russ provided as an aide memoire for yourself & David Williams.
    It was a typo in that I meant thread pages should appear, they should not be labelled as hidden, unless the posts are themselves removed.

    __ problem with this blog __
    more improvements - as mentioned in an earlier blog - new fault
    = posts sometimes rejected, and corrupted

    I also note that this blog itself seems to have problems, I have been getting error messages and a tag . displaying, despite the fact my post was vanilla with no formatting attempt. Apparently rejected with only one attempt to add a link. The posts gave error messages, appeared to be accepted & displayed, then disappeared when the page was reloaded. (note we can not add lesser & greater symbols in blogs the text disappears in the same way it does in messageboards, the failed posts were for some reason generating tags {Richer} - not something I had added, I only noticed the text enclosed disappearing because I tried to recreate the tag I was seeing as posts to this blog failed)

  • Comment number 59.

    Hi Nick,

    My iPlayer query technically affects probably only a few people, but as with many complaints it’s how the matter has been dealt with that has been so frustrating.

    The actual problem is support for Flash & AIR's ability to use the graphics chip built in to small PCs to decode hi-def so we can all enjoy HD programmes. Back in March an encoding change was made that stopped this from working. There were no announcements and little official dialogue on the message boards. Eventually, after some months, the encoding seemed to get fixed.

    Until December that is, when the same thing happened again. Moreover, we have the same lack of communication - nothing seems to have been learnt. The Complaint Form channel remains ineffective as you just receive a generic reply.

    The standard I would hope for these days is to allow a "case" to be raised and tracked and problems once identified to be admitted and fixed in a timely manner. We have come to rely on iPlayer at least as much as live broadcasts and although the statistics show how well used it is, the organisation behind it seems lacking.

  • Comment number 60.


    As an internet radio user, I've invested heavily in Logitech Squeezeboxes because they provide a clecer 3rd-party plug-in (developed by Triode) that goes directly to the source of the BBC live and Listen Again streams, both AAC and WMA. There is currently a problem as the Listen Again AAC source has vanished to the plug-in, for reasons that the developer is investigating but which originate at the BBC. This highlights the fragility of plug-ins such as this, and my question is how such plug-ins can be brought in to the BBC's fold of supported interfaces.



  • Comment number 61.

    Ref #55, if you expect us to believe Taylor Cresswell chooses to continue with the narrow Mustardland bogroll width given the amount of complaint it attracted from her constituency, Nick, you must think we were born yesterday, and furthermore I think you owe her an apology.


  • Comment number 62.

    Concerning the date/time stamps on messageboards, Nick's glib proposition (in #55) that they "need to be consistent across the BBC" is ambiguous. It is not clear whether he is under the impression that they are consistent, or whether he wishes that they should become consistent.

    The current reality is that they are not consistent:

    On old-style My Discussions lists, the latest post field (td class="MPdate") is a relative time measure, e.g. '34 minutes ago'.

    On old-style and new-style thread listings, the latest reply field (td class="latestreply") is also a relative time measure. (Btw, the value showed for this time measure in an old-style list is incorrect.)

    On new-style My Discussions lists, the latest post field (p class="replies") is merely a date, e.g. '9 January 2011'. This is accurate, but not as helpful as a relative time measure as used in the thread listings. Why can't the new-style My Discussions lists carry the same entry as the new-style thread listings, and furthermore, wouldn't this be simpler from a BBC server point of view as well?

    Nick's assertions that the above are "consistent" and "can't be changed" are risible.


  • Comment number 63.

    "6. Has this changed from previously?"

    Yes, Nick. My Discussions and thread listings were server-refreshed on browser-back button action, but are now no longer refreshed automatically in that way. This reduces the level of interrogation to the BBC server. I can see it is an 'improvement' from BBC's point of view, but for the user, it represents the opposite of improvement.


  • Comment number 64.

    How many javascripts are you now feeding users to run when using messageboards?


  • Comment number 65.

    A question about iPlayer: Are there 12 dozen people working there? I ask because of the apparent lack of cleverness being exhibited, especially in respect of the missing downloads. To encode new programmes first when old (near to expiry) programmes have not been encoded seems to exhibit a lack of comprehension of viewers needs of epic proportions.

  • Comment number 66.

    As in Sparrows comment number 49 the toggle is not going to be reinstated. However in time it will be replaced with a much improved feature. Can't say too much about this at the moment but when we can we will.

    Oh Gawd.

    I echo Office Dibble and Nippie's dismay. "Much improved" seems to be a BBC euphemism for let's change things that work OK into a mish-mash of user-unfriendly and restrictive rubbish.

    And "in time"? What does that mean? How long exactly, please?

  • Comment number 67.

    Now you have closed the Blog on Message Board changes, does that mean THIS is the blog to discuss changes? It seems strange to jumble all the issues up with the other troubleshooting questions, in an Open post that will soon be superceeded.

    Obviously there are a number of Message Board threads relating to the changes and bug fixes on all the respective boards... but there is no dialogue there. Is David going to respond to the queries, or is this it?

  • Comment number 68.

    OfficerDibble - since this post contains the latest update on the message board changes it made sense to close the old post and bring people over here.

    I doubt if David will be responding to comments on message board threads. But I'll make sure relevant hosts are notified of any updates.


  • Comment number 69.

    So in summary the thousands of comments on messageboards are not going to get any authoritative answer, and the nearly 400 comments on the blog you just closed are also going to get no further answer. No doubt you intend still to close this blog tomorrow, and questions that had to be repeated here will also go unanswered.

    On 5th January #12 above you clearly seemed unaware of current messageboard problems saying

    it would be helpful if you could be more specific about what problems you feel have still not been fixed.
  • Comment number 70.

    Erik Huggers wrote, on 29 March 2010:

    "The review will, of course, go beyond top level directories and cover all parts of BBC Online. We'll look at every major section of the site and ask three questions: does it meet our public purposes; does it fit one of the BBC's five editorial priorities; how does it perform in terms of reach, quality, impact and value for money?"

    Now that the Trust has made its recommendations concerning BBC Online, what is the progress of the above objective?


  • Comment number 71.


    It would have made more sense to keep the continuity and archive of the issues on the original long standing thread -that everyone who has posted, knows is there, than to move it to a new unpublicised blog mixed in with any other business and that as is usual gets closed when a new Open blog is created.

    It does look to the casual reader that this issue is being quietly put away in a wardrobe, and forgotten. David, the original blogger, now seems not to be interested in the blog he started... yet we still are.

  • Comment number 72.

    In fact an Open Blog lacks continuity because of the multiple subjects - much more than the threat of off topic posts.

  • Comment number 73.

    OfficerDibble - I have already explained why I have moved the conversation over to this blog post.

    If you continue to challenge my decisions and comments turn into yet another slanging match about the decisions I make then I will close this post to further comments.

    Remember that you are not the only commenter on this post. Others are interested in other topics than message boards. Your behaviour is disruptive and prevents others from raising other topics.

    Also remember that this is not a message board. As the blog editor and also the host my decisions are final on a day to day basis. I decide what topics are to be discussed and you need to stay within the parameters that I have set even on an open post like this one. If you wish to complain formally about them then you can use the complaints process which I have linked to in the post.

    No more of this please otherwise I will close this post.


  • Comment number 74.


    Can you assist? There is no way to submit a formal complaint. Many have encountered a bug whereby each time you go through the formal process for online complaint it returns a server error, consistently 70% through the process. It was flagged many days ago by numerous people but no-one takes any notice on the boards and there seems to be no error checking mechanism.

  • Comment number 75.

    The iPlayer help page says I should have a 'Share Recommendations' section, but I don't have such a section. Am I doing something wrong?


  • Comment number 76.

    Nick - will you be doing anything about post 60?

  • Comment number 77.

    As another Listen Again on Squeezebox listener, I'd like to add my concerns to #60 too. As the iPlayer also uses the AAC streams, they must still exist but their access seems to have been removed/moved - let's hope not permanently.

    Secondly, has there ever been any discussion about a formal API for the BBC streams? The comments generally coming out of the BBC seem to be of the "we can't support everyone's device" type, so why try? If there was a clear access mechanism which browsers/PMPs/TVs could use, the service could be truly platform independent from the BBC's perspective.

    Finally, for those who get sent to the Flash version of the iPlayer website on their HTC Magic (and other ARMv6 phones), you need to get a Nokia user agent header from http://wiki.forum.nokia.com/index.php/User-Agent_headers_for_Nokia_devices and set it in Browser, then you'll have to extract the rstp link from the bin file that is sent instead of the flash video.

  • Comment number 78.

    OfficerDibble - re complaints - are you talking about this page?


    Seems to be working fine for me.

    Russ - re iPlayer recommendations. Here's an explanation of how it works.


  • Comment number 79.

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

  • Comment number 80.

    majones - I have passed your comment on to the relevant technical team but have not had a response yet.


  • Comment number 81.

    Yes, Nick, that was the page I was referring to. On that page, it says: "Once you are signed in, open the Friends drawer and click on the Share Recommendations section."

    I am signed in, I have the Friends drawer open, but I do not have the 'Share Recommendations' button.

    Or is it the case that I can recommend things only if I am signed up to Twitter?


  • Comment number 82.

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

  • Comment number 83.

    Russ - you should be able to recommend in iPlayer without being hooked up to non BBC sites.

    Have you tried it?

  • Comment number 84.


    I followed a link previously and on two occasions after taking time to type in the detail it then failed "server issue". Others have stated the same issue. I have now tried again and it worked. Do the team have error logs, or "issue resolved" logs so we can determine how long the error has been and if it has been sorted by a Staff intervention, or is it just chance that it cured itself? (for the moment - as there are a lot of intermittent bugs everywhere at the moment and frankly many don't trust the system)

  • Comment number 85.

    Yes, Nick, it was my understanding that I could recommend without being hooked up to non-BBC sites, but I can't see how to do it. (I'm probably missing something obvious.) All I can observe at the moment is I do not have what the iPlayer help page says I should have. Can you show me a screenshot of what I press to 'recommend'?


  • Comment number 86.

    Russ - From my (limited) understanding you can only share your recommendations with your BBC "friends" and you can only get "friends" through a Twitter or Facebook account.

    Having just looked at it for the first time myself, I had to create a "Public Profile" (from my normal BBC iD) and then "Recommend" appeared under each of the iPlayer video windows (alongside download/favourites etc). I assume that if clicked, this would send it to the "Recommendations from everyone" that you can see under the Friends tab of the iPlayer homepage.

    However, if you want to share the list with specific people, you first need to have a list of friends on Twitter/Facebook and each of them also needs a BBC iD. Then the "Share Recommendations" box would probably appear. To recommend publicly, you don't need to connect your account to Twitter/Facebook.

  • Comment number 87.

    Sorry. Actually, I'm wrong. Clicking on recommend brings up a box saying:
    "Setting up recommendations is easy...
    1 Your profile is public
    2 Connect to your friends
    3 Send and receive recommendations"
    so looks like you _need_ to be on Facebook/Twitter before you can recommend.

  • Comment number 88.

    Thankyou, foolonthehill.

    If it is true that we cannot 'recommend' without being on Facebook or Twitter, then what the iPlayer help page says is not true.

    Furthermore, I note from the settings page that "None of your friends from Facebook or Twitter have connected to BBC iD yet." This implies that the numerous recommendations being notified to me are coming from outside the BBC.

    How did these people decide they wanted to be my friend?

    Can we have a statement from Daniel Danker on this matter, please, Nick.


  • Comment number 89.

    Ref #80

    Thanks, Nick. Per #77 (foolonthehill), there are a number of listeners deprived of AAC streams, and it would help to know soonest what the BBC's intentions and timeline are. The issue, although flagged in a number of forums and (certainly in my case) by complaint through the approved channel, doesn't seem to be acknowledged. So, please do all that you can.

    Many thanks.

  • Comment number 90.

    Russ - if you are not connected to Facebook or Twitter then you should not be recieving recommendations. People decided they wanted to be your friend by doing so on Facebook or Twitter. BBC iD then imports these friends into your profile if they have signed up to BBC iD and both you and they have given permission.

    Maybe this help page will assist:


    It is possible to recommend in iPlayer without being hooked up to Twitter or Facebook, but if you want to see friends recommendations then you and they have to be hooked up to Facebook/Twiiter and BBC iD.

    Hope this helps.

  • Comment number 91.

    "Russ - if you are not connected to Facebook or Twitter then you should not be recieving recommendations."

    I am not connected to Facebook or Twitter, and I receive numerous recommendations.

    I have read the help page you cite several times, but am no wiser.

    "It is possible to recommend in iPlayer without being hooked up to Twitter or Facebook,"

    I ask again, how?


  • Comment number 92.

    "It is possible to recommend in iPlayer without being hooked up to Twitter or Facebook" - I don't think so. If you try to Recommend without being connected, you just get a (pseudo)-popup saying "Setting up recommendations is easy..." as I said before.

    Russ - the "Recommendations from everyone" in the "Friends" tab are presumably just the global, site-wide recommendations from everyone who is registered and recommending.

  • Comment number 93.

    Are we going to get a progress report on the messageboards changes ?

    I realise in post #55 you give a partial answer and mention another improvement/fix being launched in a couple of weeks, but what about the unanswered points, as Russ asked in #61-64 and I asked in #53.

    Is David Williams going to reply in this Blog, or on a fresh blog or has he entirely stopped communicating with users.

  • Comment number 94.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/learning/feedback/faq_contact.shtml and
    Ceefax pages 695/1, 695/2, 695/15 and 698/1 and 698/6 and
    BBC Red Button Digital Text 9990 Contact Us and Reception Advice pages all have a different Postal Address to the one showing on Royal Mail for PO Box 1922, namely
    BBC Audience Services
    PO Box 1922
    Dee Ell One Nine Jay Ess

    Dee Ell Three Oh You Are is the postal street address for Capita,
    Dee Ell Three Oh You Tee isn't allocated and the first line of the postal address for
    Gee Two Three Doubleyou Tee is Capita Business Services Ltd, not BBC Information, BBC Education, BBC Reception Advice or for Fan Mail for Actors in Doctor Who

  • Comment number 95.

    In response to: @Russ (#60), @foolonthehill (#77), @majones6 (#89) - and in reply to Nick's poke to me (#80)

    I am aware of the problem, and it certainly wasn't something we had planned or wanted to happen and is the result of a change made to our streaming service on Thursday last week. Unfortunately we are just trying to work out how to return functionality to those services that pick up this content. This includes the Logitech products. We're working on this... honest. Sorry about this issue, I was only alerted to the problem when 'Triode' contacted me and I was out of the office at the time... so it took a while for it to be pinned down.

    Regarding the comment about any other open API for BBC streams we made a posting to the Radio Labs blog some time ago and is currently the only official feed of this data with all the information in it for aggregation services - http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radiolabs/2008/09/xml_feeds_for_listen_again_con.shtml

    Does this help? Or were you looking for anything specific? (you can email me on firstname.lastname at bbc.co.uk if you want to explain anything further)

  • Comment number 96.

    Thanks Alan - an honest and helpful answer.

  • Comment number 97.

    Thanks Alan - I had not seen details of the API for radio before (though realised that such a thing existed for the the interfaces such as iplayerconverter and Triode's plugin). I would say that it appears to show a much more open and approriate approach than we have seen from the wider iPlayer team.

    Though not a formal API (which it explicitly admits it isn't), it's so useful to see the _intention_ of the stream provider in how streams should be accessed as well as the kind of data that is being exposed.

    The problem I see with iPlayer (ie TV and Radio) at the moment is that it is not clear what level of interfacing is permitted, and what process it should take. On one hand, access is broadened by creating new streams (eg iPhone or Nokia streams), but then access from any other platform is actively prevented. For instance, beebplayer apparently broke the BBC syndication rules and was shut down, but considering that it simply provided an interface to otherwise publicly available links, xml files and streams, the argument seems weak. Particularly when compared to sites such as iplayerconverter which actually hosts direct links to streams.

    As far as I see it, the iPlayer team wants to restrict access the TV streams to BBC provided interfaces only - ie the iPlayer website, Desktop Manager, and in-house built phone apps. If so, you are simply going to spend all your time moving/changing stream mechanisms and blocking/shutting down the community-built interfaces that will inevitably be produced.

    I get that the BBC needs to protect its copyright holders. But the BBC is surely not the first to provide video streams on-demand securely but with wide access. How about YouTube?

  • Comment number 98.


    There seems to be some discrepancy in that you think that some of the many message board glitches have been fixed, whereas users of the various messageboards, know for a fact, that they haven't.

    As David Williams is the Product Manager for the technical team and is responsible for delivering the BBC messageboards, he will have a list of the fixes his team requires to carry out and of those that they have already carried out.

    Surely it makes sense to publish this list and let us, the messageboard users, tell David and you whether they have been fixed or not.

    It could be that the problems appear to be fixed at your end, but for the end-user, they haven't.

    There are clearly some technical glitches afoot, if you and David are quite satisfied that the problems have been fixed, while for members of the public, they haven't.

  • Comment number 99.

    Ref #95

    Thanks for the info, Alan. I'm hugely relieved to hear that it is an unforeseen glitch rather than intended disconnect. No doubt Triode will cascade to the Logitech community when the problem is sorted, but if would help to manage expectations if you could advise whether we're talking days or weeks.

  • Comment number 100.

    Ref #95

    Also, thanks to Nick for pursuing this with the right people.


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