Blogs Getting Better ...Finally
The upgrade to our blogs platform is a bit like the infamous Guns N' Roses album Chinese Democracy. It's a subject frequently discussed around here but, given the requests for patience and "bearing with us", I'd understand if you'd be struggling to believe that it might ever happen.
Yet now, seeing a couple of bleary-eyed members of my team finish what has been the equivalent of a BBC Election Night shift and looking around our blogs themselves, I'm relieved to say that the first phase of our improvements is substantially in place.
A lot of the work in this first phase has been behind the scenes: ideally, you shouldn't really notice many changes this afternoon (apart from one key difference - see below), but we're relieved that the migration of over 12,000 blog posts, nearly a million comments and hundreds of different templates has gone reasonably smoothly. Once we're sure that the system is stable and bedded down, we'll be introducing more substantial changes to look and feel and functionality.
For the moment, the two key changes that you will notice are:
(1) A new registration based comments system
We thought hard about introducing what some call a "barrier to entry" for leaving comments but, to be honest, we'd had enough of 502 errors and the system seizing up with spam attacks. There are obviously other solutions ("captchas"; upgrades; the installation itself) - but registration, being people-based, is now in place for many other high-profile blogs (as Giles Wilson mentions at The Editors Blog) and is far more useful in helping us to manage the communities well.
We also believe that the ability to comment directly on bbc.co.uk is now for some of our blogs less important, given the increasing ease with which users can refer, bookmark and/or blog themselves, away from bbc.co.uk.
(2) A more stable platform
We've upgraded from the frankly archaic Movable Type 3.2 to its newer version MT 4.1. Many commenters have asked about why we've plumped for this particular piece of software (from Six Apart) over and above other options such as WordPress or an internal solution. It was a tough call, which we only confirmed after extensive tests and evaluation in partnership with the team at Headshift, who we have worked with closely on this project.
Anyway, these are still early days and we have a growing bug list, so I'd really appreciate anything you might spot that is out of the ordinary - and obviously, I'll be monitoring feedback wherever you might leave it.
Two final things. Hopefully, you can now leave comments with ease - but, most importantly: spammers are the scum of the earth. I curse you all.
Jem Stone is the Portfolio Executive for BBC FM&T's social media group.