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Points of View Message Board 4: Niclaramartin's questions

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Nick Reynolds Nick Reynolds | 15:02 UK time, Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Just before Xmas niclaramartin asked a number of questions in a comment on my previous blog post.

Rather than writing another long comment I thought I would answer them in a new blog post. Nicalamartin's questions are in italics.

1. Why has Points of View programme stopped "advertising" the POV messageboard?

points_of_view_logo.jpgPoints of View hasn't stopped advertising the message board. At the end of each show and often in the body of the programme Jeremy Vine refers to the POV website and the messageboard. They have, however, stopped doing a feature called the 'message board moment' which looked a different messageboard threads. They tell me they found the messageboard comments were much stronger if they were used in the body of the programme.

2. Is there a timescale to phase out POV Television and Radio messageboards?

No there is not. No decision has been taken about any part of the POV boards.

3. As "the Executive in charge of the boards as a whole", why, are you ONLY hosting bbc.co.uk/Digital/BBC messageboards, and somewhat distant from "Television" and "Radio"? And is that YOUR decision or that of your superiors?

Last year we had a situation where there was a danger that no part of the POV boards would be hosted. Not good for the community, or for the quality of the boards.

In order to deal with this on a temporary basis I decided that I would host the BBC, bbc.co.uk and Digital boards (as explained in this previous post).

But I didn't feel that I would have the time or the expertise to host the Television and Radio POV boards. I agreed with BBC Vision that they would host the TV board (and in due course Rowan started hosting that board). Jem Stone of Audio & Music agreed to host the Radio board.

This was my decision although I obviously had to get agreement from Jem and Roo Reynolds.

4. Has a decision been to "marginalise" the Television and Radio messageboards, with the ultimate aim of removing them from BBC?

No. No decision has been taken about any part of the POV boards.

5. Why will you NOT talk to messageboarders on THEIR board? Your liking of blogs/control by author is NOT a reasonable argument to use, IF, you genuinely WANT to reach the largest number of messageboarders and receive the BEST input?

It's untrue that I won't talk to messageboarders on the POV boards. I do. But I find that the quality of comments I get is better on the Internet blog than on the boards. People seem better behaved, and you get a wider range of opinion. Threads on the board seem to slide off topic too easily and seem to end up focussing on my behaviour rather than the questions I am interested in discussing.

I put links on the message boards to the blog posts to encourage them to come to the blog.

6. Will BBC be trying to cut back on messageboards (including Television and Radio)?

I can't speak for the whole BBC but as Jem says here we are trying to improve the functionality of our blogs and message boards across the board.

7. Do BBC want blogs/twitters and technical boards to be encouraged, whilst minimising the "pull" of POV Television and Radio messageboards?

No. The question is "what's the best way of engaging with licence fee payers online?"

Sometimes this will be a twitter feed, sometimes a blog, sometimes a message board.

But all of them stand or fall on how much effort is put into hosting or maintaining them. A poorly hosted message board, a blog where comments are not responded to or a twitter which is never used will not be very useful.

8. Do BBC want to be seen as censoring/marginalising viewers' comments, in preference to asking only the questions THEY WANT to hear the answers to?

No. We don't want to censor or marginalise comments. The questions are "what's the best way to get feedback from viewers about the things they care about?" and, in this instance "are the POV boards a good way of getting feedback?".

9. ITV (as you linked to) don't have a problem with viewers commenting on their programmes, will BBC (in future) be denying THEIR viewers that same freedom?

No. I don't think the BBC has a problem with viewers commenting on programmes.

We provide a lot of places online and on radio and television where they can do so. The question again is what is the best format and place to do this, and how much hosting or engagement is needed.

Or to put it another way - is what you're getting back worth the effort you're putting in?

10. Can you categorically confirm that POV Television and Radio messageboards WILL NOT be closing, and that there is no plan, which has been discussed to close them, or move them further to the edge of BBC, and eventually out/closed?

As I've said already I have no plan so nothing has been discussed. It would obviously be foolish of me to promise you that nothing will change ever.

I do have some ideas for how the POV boards could be improved, and become more focused. I will share these with you in my next blog post.

11. Why do you like blogs - it appears not very many messageboarders like them at all, and we have been vocal about WHY? We still don't know what you see as the pluses to blogging (from the point of view of posters OTHER THAN the original author/blogger)?

In my last post I explained the advantages I think blogs have. To quote myself:

...there's a trade off. People who comment have less freedom on a blog than the blog owner. But in return there's more chance of a useful result, of the blog owner participating and actually giving you answers.

12. Are you genuinely trying to IMPROVE all POV messageboards, or, ONLY the three techie boards - seeing "Television" and "Radio" as frivolous, and serving no purpose, other than a meeting place for posters to meet and "chat"!

I am trying to improve the whole board.

And as I've already said at the moment my opinion is the reverse of what you suggest.

I actually agree with you Niclaramartin when you said the bbc.co.uk board is effectively "moribund". The BBC and Digital parts of the board don't get many posts. The television part of the POV boards is in iny opinion currently the most useful part of the boards.

There'll be more on this subject soon!

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet blog


  • Comment number 1.

    11. Why do you like blogs - it appears not very many messageboarders like them at all, and we have been vocal about WHY? We still don't know what you see as the pluses to blogging (from the point of view of posters OTHER THAN the original author/blogger)?


    Can I just add a comment on this please?

    To me a messageboard is a discussional area where all posters sit on an equal footing, for good and bad. For some forms of communication this is great, especially if the point is to start a discussion.

    However there is an equal if different benefit to blogs. Blogs are not so much about a discussion and much more about a specific question.

    If you analyse the responses of your typical MB thread and blog you will find that in a thread only around 10-20% of posts are actually in direct reply to the original post, the vast majority refer to other posts, often not origination from the initial author. The result is very much a community discussion wher comment and ideas can be generated by all. A blog on the other hand will find 70-80% of replies being to the original.

    I'm sure that anyone without an agenda here can see the usefulness in that.

  • Comment number 2.

    Thank you for responding to some of Niclara's questions Nick. You have gone some way to clarifying things for me.

    I also agree with what hackerjack says above about replies to blogs being more specific to the original topic.

    However, if blogs (and messageboards) are stuck away somewhere amongst the vastness of the bbc.co.uk site, it will be difficult to get the public to respond.

    This leads back to what you asked in your previous blog:

    "But I think the key question is: what's the best way for BBC people to talk to licence fee payers online?"

    To which my response was:

    "My answer is to have them all talking in one central place, where it's easy for licence fee payers to find and easy to use."

    Even clicking on the Blogs section of the bbc.co.uk homepage doesn't seem to give you a list of all the blogs that are on the go. Or maybe it does and I just don't know where to find it.

  • Comment number 3.

    I agree with Nippie: the blog homepage is a bit shambolic and there's no obvious way to get to it from the BBC home page (which is itself horrendous, but that's outside the scope of this discussion).

    Off the top of my head: I would get rid of the "latest post" section on the blog homepage since I don't see much value to it, restructure the blog categories to impose a more navigable hierarchy and find a way to direct people to it. I'd suggest adding a link to the BBC home page but I think it would probably collapse under the strain of any more clutter.

    On a broader note: is anyone in charge of message board / blogging strategy as a whole? I get the impression that there are a load of little fiefdoms which use the same basic technology in various different ways. I can see the benefit of letting people take the ball and run with it (and can see how the present situation would emerge) but it's all a bit inconsistent and lacking unity.

  • Comment number 4.

  • Comment number 5.

    "No. We don't want to censor or marginalise comments. The questions are "what's the best way to get feedback from viewers about the things they care about?" and, in this instance "are the POV boards a good way of getting feedback?"."

    I replied to the Mark Easton's Xmas quiz with a correction about one of the answering being wrong ... and it got deleted for being "off topic".



    my post:

    Excuse me, but for (12) the record viewing figure for a Doctor Who story was 16.1 million, part four of Douglas Adams' "City of Death" which was broadcast on 20th October 1979 when ITV were on strike (and before Channel 4 too).

    you send back:

    Thank you for contributing to a BBC Blog. Unfortunately we've had to remove your content below

    Your posting appears to be off-topic, in that it does not appear to relate to the subject of this blog.


  • Comment number 6.

    I don't use the POV boards, but I'm speaking as someone who is subscribed to several boards and blogs on various websites.
    I find that, in the most part, boards and blogs serve two different purposes.

    Message boards are great for freeform conversation, which may or may not include comments for official persons. But they I always find them difficult to track down specific information. Often, they can go off-topic. Even when they stay on-topic, the discussion can explode outwards in several (relevant) directions at the same time - rarely forking off into their own separate thread.

    Blogs are best suited for discussing specific topics, or for making announcements. They (usually, although not always...) make it a lot easier to track down specific topics and have a tendancy to stay somewhat mroe on-topic. Many blogs tend to put updates to posts or answers to specific commenbs in their own post, making it easier to track subtopics and keep threads to a more manageable size.

    I guess the problem can arise when a site has both. Trying to put out an announcement and having to (manually) update both a blog and an announcement board would be a major pain. Although I can see why board-users would then feel neglected by not knowing about when topics are being dealt with.

    One way I've seen it done best on some sites is where the blogs and boards are more integrated on a technical level. The board has the usual more freeform areas, but also has a section where the only threads that can be created are automatically generated from blog posts, and the comments link goes to the board thread. It also keeps all of the main announcements and articles viewable from the front "blog" page.

  • Comment number 7.

    Briantist, the message board pop-up help says: "If one of your messages is removed you will be sent an email explaining why. If you feel one of your messages has been removed unjustly, please reply to that email." ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/messageboards/newguide/popup_checking_messages.html ) Did you try that?

    I find it especially ironic that it's the BBC's own Doctor Who website that confirms that you're right!


  • Comment number 8.

    We're drifting a little off topic here. Please try and stay on topic.

  • Comment number 9.

    Incidentally I should tell you I am having a meeting tomorrow with people from Points of View (the TV programme) to discuss the POV message boards.

    I'll write a blog post later in the week giving you a flavour of the discussion.

  • Comment number 10.

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

  • Comment number 11.

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

  • Comment number 12.

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


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