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Points of View Message Board 2: Off Topic and Off Site

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Nick Reynolds Nick Reynolds | 16:02 UK time, Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Thanks for all your comments on my previous post.

My apologies that this one is late (due to technical problems beyond my control).

Some of you have asked what exactly I'm doing. As I explained before I'm now in charge of the POV boards. So I'm thinking about them (and doing some hosting as well). To reassure Curmy and Nippiesweetie I don't yet have a plan. I have some ideas and opinions which I'm sharing with you in order to help me think.

points_of_view_logo.jpgBefore I get to the main thrust of this post, I agree with you there are some things that blogs could learn from message boards. For example, I'm wondering whether users should have the ability to reply to an individual comment on a blog more easily, so it feels like more of a dialogue (and a search function on message boards might be a boon). I'll discuss these things further with my colleagues and see if they should go on our "to do" list.

It's blindingly obvious that what many of you like most about the POV boards is the ability to start a conversation about anything you like.

But the trouble with having a relatively open board is that if people can start threads about anything at all, they will, even if its unrelated to the subject matter of the board.

Which in the case of the Points of View boards is supposed to be "any aspect of the BBC". (My bold)

And the more open the board the easier it is to start multiple threads (something many of you have complained about), and to break the house rules.

In the short amount of time I've been hosting parts of the board I've spent nearly all of it moving threads to different places or closing them because they've been off topic. There's only been one instance where I've managed to encourage a conversation which might actually be useful to someone.

When I see a thread like this one for example I start scratching my head. The original message was someone asking what the music was on an advert for Barclays bank (it's been moderated out, but you can read the rest of the thread) Why does this conversation start on a BBC board when the subject has absolutely nothing to do with the BBC? Should we be spending licence fee payers' money on this?

Some of you reading this may have heard of a gentleman called Tom Loosemore. He did a lot of work for the BBC a while ago and outlined some "Web 2.0 principles". One of these principles was "Link to discussions on the web, don't host them".

So in that spirit I'm going to be provocative.

The POV message boards currently has threads on Coronation Street, Emmerdale, I'm A Celebrity and Sharpe's Regiment. ITV.com also has its own forums, with threads about Corrie and Emmerdale and I'm A Celebrity.

POV has a board called "The BBC". Yet most newspapers who are online when they write a story about the BBC now allow comments. Here's a recent example from the Daily Mail. The Guardian's Comment Is Free has a section on the BBC (here's a link to all comments). There's even community blogs like Biased BBC (if you've never been there before I should warn you the views there can be strongly expressed and sometimes extreme).

POV has a board called Digital. Digital Spy covers the same ground and more. The Internet blog has a section about BBC HDTV.

POV has a board called "bbc.co.uk". The Internet blog was precisely set up to talk about what the BBC does online.

Do you ever use any of these alternatives? How are the POV boards better?

And what do you think of Officer Dibble's comment on my last post:

..."the only reason that the board is superior to the Digital Spy alternatives is the BBC brand that drives the traffic..."

Comment and I will engage. And there will be more posts to come. In particular I have one in mind about accountability which seems to lead naturally on from this one.

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet blog

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