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Microblogging the Editorial Policy Meeting

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Roo Reynolds Roo Reynolds | 16:10 UK time, Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Last week I found myself in a lively editorial policy meeting discussing the BBC's use of Twitter and other micro-blogging services.

Filling the White City conference room to capacity, we were there to discuss the implications of micro-blogging on the BBC's editorial guidelines and what, if anything, we should do about it.

Rory Cellan-Jones, a technology correspondent who has been using Twitter for a couple of years, came along to tell us why, and how, he habitually shares his thoughts and ideas online.

rory_twitter_editorial_policy.jpgRory's beat is technology, and he told us he'd started investigating social networking sites for The Today Programme. Rory initially decided that he was too old for social networking but didn't take long to change his mind and soon realised that he was hooked on Twitter. He joked that one reason he uses it is for "ruthless self promotion" but went on to say building a reputation (and a few thousand followers) had involved telling people what he's thinking about, getting ideas and leads for stories as well as handling responses to his journalistic output.

How far can you trust something you read on Twitter? "You wouldn't go to air with it any more than you would with something your mate told you", Rory reminded us. It's one research tool, but journalists are careful about how they use the leads they get, regardless of the source.

Steve Bowbrick, who regular readers of this blog will remember as the blogger in residence and an advocate for openness in the BBC, talked about how he uses Twitter to see what people there are saying about Radio 4, as well as joining the conversation using a Radio 4 Blog account on Twitter.

That's a good example of a BBC branded account. BBC Click and Big Cat Live are other examples. There are also plenty of individuals at the BBC making personal use of Twitter and other micro-blogging tools though, in the same way that there are plenty of us with personal blogs.

When the BBC created its blogging guidelines they were written collaboratively, with input from people who were already blogging, and shared as part of a set of editorial guidelines for personal use of the web. They contain specific advice for news and current affairs staff as well as guidance for managers on how they 'should not adopt an unnecessarily restrictive approach to their staff blogging'.

Although the guidelines are just as valid for a micro-blogs as they are for a traditional blogs, there has been a fair bit of discussion about the need to update them to provide clearer advice about micro-blogging tools, which is why we were meeting. Steve Bowbrick suggested that this was an opportunity for us to publish a package not of rules, but of 'principles and guidance', in which provide useful encouragement and support. Someone else pointed out that it would need to include helping people understand the dangers and the risks too. Rory agreed, and "Education rather than regulation" seemed to resonate with the room.

Rory summed up by saying that we should always want to be where the conversation is taking place.

"If there's a conversation going on, it can't be bad for us to be involved, but we have to be aware of the rules of that community"

Which was a great point with which to close the meeting; wherever we go to join in a discussion online, we always need to consider the norms and conventions of the communities we are joining.

The editorial guidelines will receive an update to give clearer advice on micro-blogging, but it won't be a clampdown. The guidelines will continue to grow and evolve as new ways to interact with our users are discovered, constantly building on a foundation of the BBC's values and helping people apply a healthy dose of common sense.

Roo Reynolds is Portfolio Executive for Social Media, BBC Vision.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I think the BBC is giving far too much coverage to Twitter, whether it is on news programmes, on websites or just by having members of staff updating their profiles there.

    Did you forget that Twitter is a commercial enterprise and by continually mentioning it and linking to it you are at risk of breaching your own guidelines which state that "The BBC is not permitted to carry advertising or sponsorship on its public services. This keeps them independent of commercial interests and ensures that they can be run instead to serve the general public interest."

    Is it in the general public interest to keep promoting this website?

  • Comment number 2.

    You make a good point neiltc13 but I think the risks are smaller than you think. Twitter's a kind of hybrid entity: part private commercial enterprise and part public utility. It is engineered to work as a 'platform' for other services, for instance - and hundreds are using it as such. There are a lot of these hybrids online - Google being the largest and most obvious. Ignoring or downplaying them might meet a very strict interpretation of the BBC's guidelines but wouldn't serve our customers well.

    It would produce the kind of frankly weird behaviour that allowed the BBC to essentially opt-out of the first fifteen years of pop music, in fact. The early years of any interesting technological shift often produce this kind of hybrid or anomaly: remember when all the TVs in the world were made by RCA or cheap cars could only be had in black (I know that neither of those examples is strictly true but you know what I mean).

    Having said all that, I do wonder what would happen if Twitter filed for Chapter 11. Would the US Government nationalise it? Could it be engineered into the IP stack? Turned into a piece of collectively-owned infrastructure like HTTP or the DNS? Wouldn't that be interesting?

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

  • Comment number 3.

    Given the news headlines of the last few weeks, one would expect anyone who is funded with public money to show some consideration as to where it's spent.
    Here we have the BBC holding meetings with a significant number of highly paid staff about Twitter. I'm not convinced anyone at the BBC should be using Twitter (or Facebook or any other social network) during their employed time. After all, this isn't about broadcasting - it's self-promotion.
    Perhaps if the BBC staff concentrated more on creating the programmes and broadcasting them, they, like the rest of us could cut back a bit on costs.

  • Comment number 4.

    If Twitter filed for bankruptcy, it'd be replaced - there are equivalents and alternative implementations, but they don't have the inertia that Twitter has. The BBC isn't showing bias for Twitter itself, particularly, just the only example of a public communications mechanism which has this degree of popularity (in that terms, it doesn't at this stage have any real competition).

    If the microblogging space had a lot of active competitors and the BBC still only favoured Twitter, there'd be a reasonable claim of bias, but as it stands it doesn't, really, and failing to capitalise on what exists would be just as unhelpful.

  • Comment number 5.

    Twitter is as effective a transmission medium as texting, if not more so. I see no reason why the BBC shouldn't use it to communicate with it's audience and vice-versa. It's big advantage being that it's essentially free to the user. I fail to see why it's use could compromise the Corporation. As for the employees shouldn't tweet during working time, for heaven's sake it's open and really is much less damaging than texting or e-mailing.

  • Comment number 6.

    Chris - the point is that unlike a text message Twitter is a commercial enterprise. If the BBC asks viewers to send a text or uses text messaging to contact the audience, it is not limiting itself to the services of one company as users will be on a variety of networks.

    Granted, there is no other service like Twitter which has really taken off, but that doesn't stop the BBC's actions from being against the rules in which they operate. The Corporation should be free of commercial bias and by showing favourable treatment to this one company (we have a news story on the BBC News site, a news story here, a link to it here and on many other blogs and the BBC's F1 editors are now promoting it too) it is clearly not acting within these rules.

  • Comment number 7.

    I think its excellent that the BBC is keeping everyone posted via all the mediums possible, including twitter.

    Its really no different to publishing in Google News or anywhere else.

    @BagEmk - "I'm not convinced anyone at the BBC should be using Twitter (or Facebook or any other social network) during their employed time."

    Why on earth not? I would say that Self Promotion is a very important part of being a Journalist or Presenter. We're all building our names, people from the BBC should be visible just about anywhere. I am writing this at work.. no issue.

    Twitter also allows people to easily share there thoughts, opinions, etc. Much easier than anywhere else.

    I am inclined to agree with the post that you shouldn't tweet anything you wouldn't say on air... We wouldn't want anymore shows being suspended!

    Cheers,
    Anthony

  • Comment number 8.

    I love the BBC, but I really do wonder if all this Social Networking nonsense is bringing value to the licence fee payer. I think there is some validity in one of the comments above about BBC staff concentrating more on their core responsibilities and less about 'chit chat'.

    Feel free to produce personal blogs and Twitter in your own time and if you can show me the value in producing the same for specific shows or individual 'personalities' then fine, but how on earth does a Tweet from one of the cleaners at BBC East improve my experience as a consumer? ;-) (Just for the record, I haven't actually seen a that, but you get my point).

  • Comment number 9.

    "...how on earth does a Tweet from one of the cleaners at BBC East improve my experience as a consumer? ;-) (Just for the record, I haven't actually seen a that, but you get my point)."

    @SteveoBagins - You defeated your own point quite nicely there.

  • Comment number 10.

    In reply to comments @ #7 and in general.

    "I think its excellent that the BBC is keeping everyone posted via all the mediums possible, including twitter.

    Its really no different to publishing in Google News or anywhere else."


    Exactly, why would the BBC be publishing via Google news (well actually that would be better than Twitter as it's just a web interface to an open service - Usenet - but the point still stands), the BBC has a web site, all publishing should be done via it's own servers and accessible to all, without the need to use commercial applications - I can just hear the complaints if the BBC decided to only support Microsoft products, Oh hang on, that's already happened with the BBC iPlayer!

    The BBC, simply, should not be using any commercial web service, be that Twitter or Flickr etc, and what is more they should not be linking to such services either with 'easyLinks' to called social networking sites at the foot of the article/page, people who use these commercial sites can use the browser tool-bar application that either come with or should be developed for them. The BBC is not allowed to advertise soap powder so why does it advertise commercial websites?!

    As for Flickr, etc, the BBC is quite capable of hosting it's own photo galleries or should be...

    The BBC should also remember that more people do not use so called social networking sites than do.

  • Comment number 11.

    Replace cleaner with any other job title you like, I didn't want to point any fingers, no point upsetting people for the sake of it.

  • Comment number 12.

    ...apart from the cleaners at BBC East, of course. ;-)

  • Comment number 13.

    Why don't you use one of the many free blogging services (like blogger or Wordpress) to host this blog?

    Is it to do with ownership of the blog?
    Is it to do with reliability of service?
    Is it to do with moderation of the comments?
    Or is it because these are commercial organisations outside the BBC?

    Now apply these questions to the BBC's use of Twitter...

  • Comment number 14.

    The addition of things like Twitter is definitely hotting up the competition when it comes to journalism.
    I can imagine it's making everyone at the BBC work just that bit harder than they had to three or four years ago.

    Alan

  • Comment number 15.

    #14

    "I can imagine it's [social networking sites such as Twitter] making everyone at the BBC work just that bit harder than they had to three or four years ago."

    Why do you say that, considering that more people (with internet access) do not use such services than do?

  • Comment number 16.

    Great discussion here -- some really good points all round.

    I'll not be surprising anyone here when I say I am very much in favour of the BBC using Twitter wherever it can.

    To respond to BoilerPlated (comment #10), I think it's important to consider the nature of the web when it comes to using, as you put it, commercial products.

    Why publish on Google News? Well, it doesn't cost us (the licence fee payer) anything to list there, and it brings in huge amounts of traffic. We're talking millions here. But it isn't just about getting more eyes on our pages, it's about utilising the resources we have to reach as many people as possible. The more readers and viewers BBC News has the better it becomes as a news organisation. And that, I'm sure you'll agree, is good for the licence fee payer.

    If we stopped using commercial products entirely, we'd seriously be losing out. Adobe Flash, for instance, runs the iPlayer. It's good because, for the most part, everyone has it on their PCs. If they don't have it, then it's free.

    On to Twitter specifically. I can absolutely say it's bringing value to the licence fee payer. One simple example: the iPlayer team constantly monitor Twitter for tweets containing the words 'iPlayer' and 'broken' (and so on), and investigate these issues asap. This is a quick and efficient way of dealing with technical hitches and has lead to the iPlayer being (in my opinion) extremely reliable.

    Another example: Many BBC journalists use Twitter as a means of searching out sources and extra information. Take Rory Cellan-Jones, for example. He'll often consult the Twittering masses for assistance with stories, be it interview subjects, questions or leads.

    Is that a good use of his time? I'd argue it was. It helps him produce better journalism.

    In response to comment #3 from BagEmk, I think it's worth pointing out that this Twitter discussion was part of a monthly Editorial Policy meeting which all staff members are invited to -- not some expensive party to talk tweets.

    Finally, in response to MrMaff (#13), we host the blogs here because we can. A blog hosted on the BBC site is as accessible as any other, be it on WordPress, Typepad or anywhere else.

    Twitter, on the other hand, is a community. The tool itself isn't that special -- there are plenty of clones out there -- but what can't be ignored is that everyone who is into microblogging has a Twitter account. Now the BBC could, as we have with blogs, install our own Twitter clone and chat away using that. But really, who'd read it? Who'd join it? Why would you bother trying to create a new community -- at great expense to the licence fee payer -- when a brilliant one already exists?

    Hope this clears up a few points. Keep the discussion going, guys!

    Dave Lee
    Co-editor, BBC Internet Blog.

  • Comment number 17.

    #16

    Dave, I don't think anyone is complaining about free browser plug-in software (as long as it's not platform specific - as iPlayer was to start with if I remember correctly) or the use, by the BBC, of applications like Twitter, what people seems to be objecting to is the publication to and the promotion of such commercial websites - especially if that is the only place the content is published.

    By all means Twitter if you want to but please don't expect us to Twitter too...

  • Comment number 18.

    Are we expecting you to Twitter? I don't recall us ever coming out with something like that. Twitter, good as it is, is certainly not for everyone. It's not as though we're switching off BBC One and saying "Right, everyone, to Twitter!".

    But it would be a crying shame if the BBC felt it couldn't experiment and innovate along with the rest of the internet community.

    It's true that there is some content on Twitter and only Twitter -- but it's in 140 character-sized chunks, and by no means replaces any of our other output. As I expressed in my previous post, I think the Twitter interaction improves the more 'formal' output on the BBC website. That equates to a better deal for everyone, in my opinion.

    The irony of it all, of course, is that this same debate was had with blogging. It was before my time here, but I distinctly remember the BBC getting hounded for investing in blogs. "Nonsense!" they said. And now look -- thousands of users use blogs to interact with the BBC every day. Are they still a bad idea?

    I believe Twitter -- or, at least, microblogging -- will evolve and mature in the same way blogging has. Who knows, soon we may be having a debate along the lines of "I wish the BBC would stop posting to WibbleVision, it's a load of futuristic nonsense. Can't they just stick to Twitter?"

  • Comment number 19.

    #18

    "The irony of it all, of course, is that this same debate was had with blogging. It was before my time here, but I distinctly remember the BBC getting hounded for investing in blogs. "Nonsense!" they said. And now look -- thousands of users use blogs to interact with the BBC every day. Are they still a bad idea?"

    That is because the BBC is hosting it's own blogs, people would be objecting (and I suspect that the many thousands would actually be the many hundreds) if the BBC was using a commercial website such as 'Blogspot' - would it not be possible for the BBC to set up its own similar microblog - and for that matter it's own photo-streaming - site, to remove the need to use commercial websites?

    Put it this way, would a Radio 4 "Woman's Hour" (or what ever) presenter be allowed to suggest that the listeners should aim to do their washing at least once a week by using Persil, no they would not be allowed to endorse a product - Ofcom and the BBC Trust would deem it product placement - so how come the BBC website can? Micro blogging etc. is not the problem, it's the use of and links to commercial sites.

  • Comment number 20.

    We do always have to be careful about endorsing or promoting commercial service, and there's definitely a difference between using a tool and actively promoting it.

    It can be quite a fine balance, and is something that we have to make tough choices about all the time. If you're wondering about the standards BBC staff use to make these decisions, the same editorial guidelines I mention in the post above also include guidance on ensuring links to external sites are editorially justifiable while avoiding undue prominence.

    Personally, I don't think it's at all sensible to limit the BBC to only using bbc.co.uk to reach and learn from our users. Dave points out great examples of why using social media isn't just about self-promotion, and also correctly mentions that we sometimes need to be where the audience is. Why do we put videos on YouTube for example? Because there are people who use YouTube who never visit bbc.co.uk.

    Micro-blogging, like blogging, isn't the only thing we do, and isn't the only tool available, but it is something that everyone, from presenters to producers to programmers, seems to find quite useful.

    Roo Reynolds
    Portfolio Executive for Social Media, BBC Vision

  • Comment number 21.

    "On to Twitter specifically. I can absolutely say it's bringing value to the licence fee payer. One simple example: the iPlayer team constantly monitor Twitter for tweets containing the words 'iPlayer' and 'broken' (and so on), and investigate these issues asap. This is a quick and efficient way of dealing with technical hitches and has lead to the iPlayer being (in my opinion) extremely reliable."Dave Lee, post 16

    So whilst you're all happy slapping yourselves on the back, it has not escaped attention that you are trimming down and making the messageboards second class citizens at same time as you are bigging up the role of Twitter.

    Tell me how does twitter do things better than the iPlayer messageboards when sorting out iPlayer issues. The boards give the facility for Q and As and threads to deal with issues, it's even directly linked on the same page to the full FAQ database for iPlayer.
    Yet it was announced just the day before your reply here, they are shutting major parts of them down as they are ineffective.

    Favouritism is being shown by BBC staff towards Twitter with them very obviously not wanting to use or engage with their customers on messageboards, where in the case of iPlayer it's obvious the boards are the best place.

  • Comment number 22.

    #21

    "Favouritism is being shown by BBC staff towards Twitter with them very obviously not wanting to use or engage with their customers on messageboards, where in the case of iPlayer it's obvious the boards are the best place."

    I agree, when discussing BBC on-line/website issues/problems the best place to do so is on BBC websites, BBC TV would not have expected viewers to complain via Channels Fours "Right to Reply" rather than the BBC's own "Points of View" programme - so why do BBC on-line/website think it's different (BBC message-boards vs. Twitter etc.)?

    No one is doubting that Twitter is a good monitoring tool, it's not clear at all that it's a good communication method for BBC employees to interact with BBC on-line/website users.

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm not for a moment saying Twitter should replace official lines of communication between our audiences and staff.

    But think of it this way. Do you always complain if something doesn't work? Increasingly we're seeing that rather than complain, people will just do something else and try it again later.

    Sometimes -- especially with something like the iPlayer -- people lay technical blame on their own computer, or their ISP, or just the site 'being slow'. Would you complain in this instance? Probably not. But we do get people on Twitter saying "Arg, Top Gear won't load. Stupid PC". On its own, not much use. But if you suddenly get 30 or so statuses along the same line then you know something's up.

    I don't think the argument that we wouldn't expect people to complain via Channel 4's Right to Reply is particularly valid. Nobody would do that anyway -- but mentioning on Twitter that a product isn't working is an instinctive reaction for many users, and one we should treasure as a great resource.

  • Comment number 24.

    #23

    "I don't think the argument that we wouldn't expect people to complain via Channel 4's Right to Reply is particularly valid. Nobody would do that anyway"

    Dave, my comments @ #22 were in reply to those made @ #21, if "Egg On A Stilt" @ #21 is mistaken then I'll withdraw the comment above.

  • Comment number 25.

    "Sometimes -- especially with something like the iPlayer -- people lay technical blame on their own computer, or their ISP, or just the site 'being slow'. Would you complain in this instance? Probably not" Dave Lee

    Probably YES, I'm sorry Dave I really think that is not an intelligent comment.
    Just to remind you that ISP throttling is one of the most guilty culprits for making iPlayer slow or killing it dead.
    Computer issues, yes a lot of computers can't deal with top end new desktop, so please tell me how twitter sorts that out, in the microblog, it doesn't.
    When those same people come on the messageboards they get someone (not usually staff) who can help problem solve, often recognising symptoms straight away. Your twitters do not do that, you cannot tell me twitter works better than the message boards for this. The messageboards give customers a Q and A platform and threads plus a FAQ problem database, how on earth does your twitter even compare.

    If there is a major failure as you were describing, the messageboards get the 30 similar posts too so you can't say twitter is better in that modus operandi, it just simly is not.
    Take the blimnkers off, all that glisters is not twitter.

    Finally if BBC staff are determined to communicate using these types of services, then it's only fair you publish the addresses to where BBC staff are on them so we the customers can see you in action and actually find you.
    You can't say come use twitter and all the other "in " things, then not bring us to you to have a look.

  • Comment number 26.

    @Roo Reynolds (20)
    Yes the BBC does use YouTube to promote itself - but it doesn't promote YouTube.

    You don't have endless references to YouTube on TV, news pages and blogs - whereas you appear to do so with Twitter.

    I have posted before about why you you might love it - because it is a great research and monitoring tool. However it is only useful as such if there are actually enough users of Twitter - which at the moment their isn't!

    If you are only getting the views of early adopters and other journalists then it's of little use - however if you can persuade enough BBC consumers to sign up too then you will have a much more representative sample of your audience to monitor.

    It maybe that everyone, from presenters to producers to programmers, seem to find Twitter quite useful, however I don't know anybody who uses Twitter...

    Sorry I do have one friend who uses Twitter, but he is a journalist so doesn't count.

  • Comment number 27.

    I'll just back up my comment about exposure of Twitter vs YouTube.
    A quick search of the www.bbc.co.uk on google returns 31,000 pages that refer to Twitter compared to 25,000 that refer to YouTube
    A quick search of news.bbc.co.uk on google returns 12,000 pages that refer to Twitter compared to 22,330 for YouTube

    That's a massive 47,300 for Youtube which has been in exsistance for almost 4 and a half years,
    compared to 43,000 for Twitter which has been in existance for nearly 3 years...

    YouTube has probably been more newsworthy with the google takeover - the disputes over copyrighted content and music videos and of course record views of Susan Boyle!



  • Comment number 28.

    Firstly simply because the BBC is experimenting with putting content on Twitter doesn't mean the BBC is endorsing Twitter. As Roo points out there's a fine line here and people should always be making judgements about where to draw it. But there's no doubt that Twitter is an interesting development in social media and as long as BBC coverage of it doesn't overstep the mark and appear promotional the BBC should cover it. While other microblogging services exist none of them has made as much impact as Twitter, yet. I don't think Mr_Maff's numbers prove anything much.

    Secondly its not true that the BBC is "cutting back" message boards in order to push people to Twitter. We are attempting to improve the quality of all BBC social media services across the board. To take just one example close to the hearts of many, moderation is something users care about and as you can see from Paul's "moderation clinic" earlier this week we are trying to explain more about how it works, answer your questions and improve the service as a result.

    My opinion is that BBC people can and should be participating whereever communities are, whether they're on BBC blogs, BBC boards or non BBC services. But as I've said before, they should have a choice about where they participate.

  • Comment number 29.

    I say again
    "if BBC staff are determined to communicate using these types of services, then it's only fair you publish the addresses to where BBC staff are on them so we the customers can see you in action and actually find you."

    What sites do you post or blog or other on Mr. Reynolds?

  • Comment number 30.

    Personally I tend to go to wherever the conversation is happening. But if you want to ask me something this blog and in particular the open posts we're trying out is a good place to do so. There's also a prominent link on the right hand nav of the Internet blog to the blog's Twitter stream.

  • Comment number 31.

    "My opinion is that BBC people can and should be participating whereever communities are, whether they're on BBC blogs, BBC boards or non BBC services. But as I've said before, they should have a choice about where they participate" Nick Reynolds

    Are you saying that staff can dip in and out when they want, and not have to be any form of spokesman for us to engage with.
    In other words it's just a toy when you want to use it?
    So where do we go if we want to seriously discuss things? Where staff wont do a runner soon as it gets a bit warm.

    You say "My opinion is that BBC people can and should be participating whereever communities are"
    Well we are over on the messageboards, where are you?

    Hide and seek is not what I expect to be playing.

  • Comment number 32.

    "There's also a prominent link on the right hand nav of the Internet blog to the blog's Twitter stream."

    So how does it work, do we have to chase you around to find out where each of you are, do you all twit under the umbrella of the one site and header?
    How do we respond to your twits?
    If you want us to use it, at least tell us how.
    Does it work that this is the big blog place and then you all splinter off to twitter?

  • Comment number 33.

    @ Nick Reynolds (28),
    "While other microblogging services exist none of them has made as much impact as Twitter, yet. I don't think Mr_Maff's numbers prove anything much."

    I'm not aware of any other micro blogging sites - or at least have not read about any on the BBC News or BBC Blog pages.
    To what extent are you making news about Twitter rather than reporting it?

    If you step outside your media bubble in London perhaps you will find that not that many people use Twitter, and the only reason they know about it is because they have heard about it on the BBC. I would never have heard about it otherwise.

    Facebook evolved naturally by friend requests - I received an email from a colleague asking me to join. This doesn't happen with Twitter, so it needs some other way to spread...
    I don't believe it's the BBC's job to spread it!

    I have no objection to the BBC experimenting with it, please do - just stop going on an on about it.

    Oh and just to quote some more numbers that don't prove much...
    The BBC technology site and blogs have been accused in the past of promoting the iPhone a bit too heavily - if I do the same Google search of the BBC as for the word iPhone as I did for Twitter - you only have 6,260 pages that refer to the iPhone - considerably less than for Twitter, so you can relax a little there.

  • Comment number 34.

    "But if you want to ask me something this blog and in particular the open posts we're trying out is a good place to do so. "

    Not sure if this the place to put this.

    Do the writers of blogs check old blogs they have written? The Open one and the New POV Host one seems to have been abandoned.

  • Comment number 35.

    Nick Reynolds wrote: Secondly its not true that the BBC is "cutting back" message boards in order to push people to Twitter. We are attempting to improve the quality of all BBC social media services across the board.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    On this mornings Today programme Sarah Montague discussed ITV's Britain's Got Talent with Paul Daniels and Jimmy Cricket.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qj9z
    http://www.pauldaniels.co.uk/
    http://www.jimmycricket.co.uk/

    This is a rather ironic anomaly that the BBC can choose to talk about programmes of other broadcasters while banning its contributors to the BBC Points of View Messageboards from doing the same, unless comparing with BBC shows.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbpointsofview/F1951574?thread=6534745&skip=0&show=20#p79355856

    The discussion is exactly the kind of subject which I would have thought would benefit the BBC Points of View Messageboards, and until Nick Reynolds 'improvements' would have taken place, in that it stimulate conversation about broadcasting, standards, and content. This could well favour the BBC.

    Even the BBC 'Have Your Say' is proudly discussing Britains Got Talent at http://newsforums.bbc.co.uk/nol/thread.jspa?forumID=6520&edition=1&ttl=20090530092811

    The discussion is exactly the kind of subject which I would have thought would benefit the BBC Points of View Messageboards in that it stimulates conversation about broadcating, standards, and content. This could well favour the BBC.

    I believe it to be very short-sighted and hypocritical to ban viewers and listeners from using the BBC Points of View Messageboards to have the same sort of discussion which Sarah Montague and the Today programme had this morning on BBC Radio Four and I can have now via Twitter.

  • Comment number 36.

    @18 Dave Lee

    Are we expecting you to Twitter? I don't recall us ever coming out with something like that. Twitter, good as it is, is certainly not for everyone. It's not as though we're switching off BBC One and saying "Right, everyone, to Twitter!".

    You may not be doing that, but with nearly every Radio 1 DJ going on about Twitter, (Ferne Cotton in particular), and it's frequency of mention on BBC Online, it's the next best thing to it.

    Look, we get it. You like it. You want to have its babies.
    But it's a fad, and we're not buying into your wee look at us, we're all hip and cool Twitter lovefest.

    Now give us all a rest about it, eh?

  • Comment number 37.

    Sir Nick Reynolds

    Why have you stopped answering questions posting via the pov board? http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbpointsofview/F1951566?thread=6534739&latest=1#p80806873

  • Comment number 38.

    Sorry thats posted instead of "posting"

  • Comment number 39.

    Professor Techno - you're off topic. The post about the POV boards on this blog is still open but see this comment from me.

  • Comment number 40.

    Nick, we're posting here because this seems to the blog you're visiting at the moment. You haven't replied to the last few posts on the blog you link to in Message 39.

    Chasing you around the BBC blogosphere is incredibly frustrating.

  • Comment number 41.

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

  • Comment number 42.

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

  • Comment number 43.

    Frankly_Herbert and Egg On A Stilt.

    As you rightly point out you are both off topic. Which is why I've moderated out your comments.

  • Comment number 44.

    I think what really p's me off about this Nick, is that I don't see you (or any other staff member) as the big bad wolf, just that whilst you are pushing on and adopting new formats and media to spread the word, which is I agree a good thing, you are alienating or perhaps shall we say hiding away from what's existing.
    Half the frustration for people, as I see it, is they can't engage with "you" the BBC on their terms, everything is becoming stage managed.

    You say staff should engage communities, but how and when they want, that means no engagement so it seems where the messageboards are concerned. We're not just talking POV here. Are the boards not communities?

    I will concede IMO boards needed trimming down a bit, I think I said so on one of your blogs, but that was for the redundant ones not the best supported.

    Twitter I gather your team,staff and you like a lot, I can see why to a degree, it's actually like wearing a suit of armour.
    I get very little out of it myself, in terms of BBC interaction, so why is that? If it's so good, why does it not work for me and so many others who come here and say so?
    What can you do then to improve their/our twitting? What are they/myself missing from this/these formats of communication like blogs, facebook? flickr?delicious?, that you are promoting?

  • Comment number 45.

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

  • Comment number 46.

    Egg On A Stilt - "that means no engagement".

    If you mean "no engagement" about the POV boards I've written 7 blog posts, posted 7 threads on the boards themselves and responded with hundreds of comments on both, including answering people's questions in detail. Hardly "no engagement", and arguably more than I've "engaged" on twitter so far.

    But I'm afraid there are limits to the amount of engagament you can expect, particularly as these decisions have now been made and I'm now answering the same questions again and again, which is not a fruitful use of my time.

    You and boilerplated are off topic. This thread is not about the POV boards. The blog post about the POV boards is still open. Please leave comments there. I will moderate out any more comments which are off topic.

  • Comment number 47.

    Ok Nick so you say you engaged on the POV boards, well they were not happy being on your blogs were they? That must have told you something.

    That digresses, my MAIN point was, other staff are hardly doing so. It's not just about POV boards either.
    Do you get that, it's not about you, or POV it's about all staff, all the formats like twitter microblogging or otherwise. You are essentially saying we can be ignored on our favourite media, if staff so choose.

    The fragmentation of information, posts, articles has already started.
    You say staff should engage communities, well let them engage us, they even know where one of the biggest is.

    So if any of the original blogger's microbloggng friends are reading, I hope they can see all is not happy in the land of BBC communication. Or should I have placed this all on twitter?

    Since you are now saying you are modding comments here.

    My retort,
    This Mohammed has got fed up coming to the mountain.
    Egg

  • Comment number 48.

    #46

    Nick, getting back to matter of Twittering, you might want to Twitter all day but many people seem to be telling you that they do not Twitter nor do they want to be Twitters (considering it a passing fad and thus an unstable commercial service that could be withdrawn for commercial reasons (unlike the BBC's services that are as stable as the BBC and it's Trust) at any time, they want to use the services that they have been using, be they blogs or some other means of existing, long standing and of a non commercial standing...

    I trust that you will find the above comment on-topic and that it does not abuse the systems in place to prevent anyone abusing the BBC online services and their legitimate use. I'm sure that we all now have a better understanding of official BBC policies and what is acceptable or not.

  • Comment number 49.

    Boilerplated - no one is forcing anyone to use Twitter - or any form of social media they don't want to use.

  • Comment number 50.

    #49

    "no one is forcing anyone to use Twitter - or any form of social media they don't want to use."

    So we will look forward to you allowing comment, debate and reaction here and on other BBC online services, and more to the point, that replies to any questions asked here will be replied to here and not be expect to be asked via a specific service that is outside the control of the BBC - this seems to be the concerns of many. If someone at the BBC is only regularly monitoring/replying to Twitter how is that not 'forcing' people to contact a specific BBC service via anything other than Twitter?

  • Comment number 51.

    Surely, with Twitter, blogs, message boards and such, interaction between the viewer and the BBC is now greater than ever? Whilst the (slightly) patrician part of me can't actually see the point sometimes, especially as so many of the people who choose to spend their time on the message boards seem hostile to the BBC's existence, that's surely a good thing.

    I didn't start Twittering because of the BBC's content, but I've found it invaluable in reminding me when I'm about to miss something on Radio 4. I will also mention the outstanding GoodRadioClub, which was in its brief experiment (where's it gone??) a stimulating and interesting thing to be involved in, something that couldn't have been done on a message board or blog. That sort of programme specific engagement, especially coming with prior reading material as the Analysis GRC did was, to my mind, a model for audience interaction.

    As a slight aside, if iPlayer was being slow, not working, buffering at ludicrous frequency... I wouldn't ever vaguely consider making a comment on the iplayer board, I'd complain to my wife, post a twitter message, one on facebook and go away until another time.

  • Comment number 52.

    @51 Pocket Post,
    Fair point, but of your list of ways of interacting "Twitter, blogs, message boards and such" all are being done in-house with the exception of Twitter which is a commercial service.

    I can access this blog via any browser or by RSS reader. The only way to access twitter is via twitter.

    As good as Twitter may be, the perception is that at the moment the BBC keeps going on about Twitter, and is therefore promoting a commercial service.

  • Comment number 53.

    "As a slight aside, if iPlayer was being slow, not working, buffering at ludicrous frequency... I wouldn't ever vaguely consider making a comment on the iplayer board, I'd complain to my wife, post a twitter message, one on facebook and go away until another time." From post 51. pocketpoet
    (Sounds like it's happened to you?)

    Im pleased you posted that, because it perfectly demonstrates the failings twitter and facebook have, it especially illustrates my misgivings as being promoted as a good thing for iPlayer.

    Firstly iPlayer does not go slow or not work. In fact I think only once since iPlayers inception has there been a marked problem with their servers being sluggish and that was for one day when old kontiki iPlayer got replaced by the current desktop version.

    So why would you accept the buffering /going slow, obviously twitter and facebook as a source of information is failing you.
    If when you came back they were still slow, what would you do, tell the Mrs again?;)

    So this is where the hype of twitter fails, you say you wouldnt even vaguely consider the iPlayer boards, well that then is a failing of the BBC to get that message across.

    If the iPlayer message boards had been suitably promoted, you would have known about their FAQ and Help section and the database packed with hundreds of solutions to possible problems, that actually grew as well, because of the interaction of board users.
    You could have also seen several posts actually commenting on what the slowness could be. You could then have done something about it, or the wife could. There is actually a known issue and its not at the BBCs end. They are not causing it. So how would your post on twitter and facebook solve it?

    Your scenario actually fails you as a customer as you believe the BBC iPlayer is faulty at the same time robbing you of the service you could actually still be using.

    This is why I believe this promotion of twitter, blogs, facebook etc is overpowering and can, as demonstrated above, fail the customer, when there is a more than adequate but often ignored service there to be used.

    I hope you dont think Im off topic, I think it raises a few good questions about peoples perception of things, especially microblogging, and actually how it can have shortcomings for the BBC customer if it isnt carefully handled as part of a greater whole that is available.

    What we need is a promotional balance for all these platforms, understanding the role of each. As several have commented, its not there at the moment.

  • Comment number 54.

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

  • Comment number 55.

    Franky_Herbert - you're off topic. I have explained my reasons here.

  • Comment number 56.

    Nick,

    Not really, it was asking why do microblogging at all.

    But you insist on ignoring us on the POV board so what choice do we have? Little accept to chase you down else where.

  • Comment number 57.

    I've mentioned this before too, Nick.

    You're not responding to the queries on the POV blog or the POV messageboard. HOw else are we supposed to get your attention?

  • Comment number 58.

    @52 Mr_Maff
    I see the point, which I think would be valid if there were multiple micro-blogging sites and the BBC only pushed one, but currently really Twitter's the only such service, and certainly whilst it remains that (and free), I think it's right that the BBC should use Twitter as a tool for interaction, and therefore of course promote their Twitter feeds.

    @53 Egg On A Stilt
    It's not because I don't know the message boards are there, it's because I couldn't be bothered for something trivial like a television programme. I have alternative things to do, and like as not it's the delectable Virgin's fault in any case...
    In this case I wouldn't be looking on Twitter for information, I'd be posting my experience and moving on, my point was in support of what Mr. Reynolds said about using Twitter as a source of information for the BBC to monitor possible issues.

    Incidentally, if we're all so wedded to the idea of the BBC remaining in house and not promoting commercial entities, I presume I can look forward to the campaign to stop out-sourcing production and an end to the promotion of commercial broadcasting firms in the credits of radio and television?

  • Comment number 59.

    "and like as not it's the delectable Virgin's fault in any case..."

    Which can mean a couple of things, and funnily enough where one, probably your's, most definitely is.
    Anyway apologies not wanting to hijack this into a Q and A iPlayer issues solving blog.
    Messageboards are there if anyone would like some help. :)
    I wont post a link, that's the BBC's job. :)


  • Comment number 60.

    @58 PocketPoet
    The thing is both Roo and Nick Reynolds have both said that there ARE other microblogging sites, I've never heard of any but a quick google search brings up names like Plurk, Jaiku and Pownce.
    The BBC has mentioned these sites on a total of 130 odd pages compared to 43,000 pages that refer to Twitter.
    Would we have heard of Twitter if the BBC were not mentioning it so often?

    Saying who made a TV or radio show in the credits is acknowledging where our TV licence has been spent.
    Telling people to go to a commercial site is different matter. Twitter is free at the moment - but it is looking sell it services commercially - and an increase in the use of their site will be to the detriment of its competitors and make it's collection of data about its users more marketable.
    The BBC decided not to advertise the Radio Times anymore because it was seen as unfair and damaging to other TV listing magazines. Can this argument be applied to Twitter also?

    BBC content should be free to the license payer and accessible. If the BBC tweet - shouldn't they also Plurk, Jaiku and Pownce?
    Of course not, because nobody use them, but I have already said I'm not adverse to the BBC using Twitter. I just am a bit fed up of seeing it promoted everywhere...

  • Comment number 61.

    I'll start by saying that I'm a heavy user of Twitter, and think that it's great. I also think that using it for stuff like monitoring iPlayer problems is a good idea. I even think that staff using it in an official or personal capacity is fine, and I follow @wittertainment, @radio4blog, @dailypolitics and several others.

    However, as mentioned above, there is a big difference between using it and promoting it. The amount that Twitter is mentioned on air is absurd. It is hard to see how it is anything other than promotion of a commercial service when a presenter says something along the lines of "go to twitter.com/something and follow us".

    Most of the valid uses of Twitter by the BBC would work perfectly fine without its constant promotion on air. Putting BBC content on YouTube works fine without constant mentioning of it on air. Sure, put a link to the Twitter page on the programme's microsite or presenter's blog. But please, put a stop to presenters (especially on the radio) mentioning it constantly.

  • Comment number 62.

    A little bit of vindication goes a long way, so can we have another think about this shameless promotion of twitter and blogs?
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8089508.stm

  • Comment number 63.

  • Comment number 64.

    Hum ho, another useless Twitter story on the 6 o'Clock news.

    I remember all these announcements to mobile devices on Tomorrows World nearly 20 years ago.

    Nothing new here, move along, nothing to see.

  • Comment number 65.

    Whoops, and its another shameless plug on the main BBC News page today.

    Shame the report doesn't mention the incessant promotion of it by the BBC also.

  • Comment number 66.

    I think Nobody is too old for social networking, as long as we're still alive, I think that we will find it very exciting to have some sort of interactions with other people because we're a social being, and using Twitter and other microblogging site is a great way to spread news or other breaking headlines, surely 140 characters will be enough for a great headlines, keep up the good work BBC :)

    Jonas

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 67.

    pocketpoet wrote:

    @52 Mr_Maff
    I see the point, which I think would be valid if there were multiple micro-blogging sites and the BBC only pushed one, but currently really Twitter's the only such service, and certainly whilst it remains that (and free), I think it's right that the BBC should use Twitter as a tool for interaction, and therefore of course promote their Twitter feeds.

    ------

    Ok, here we are in 2010 - and the ever-patronising first defenders in BBC complaints have passed me off for complaining about the BBCs continued promotion of Twitter.

    I mentioned in another blog:

    a) Twitter is commercial.

    b) BBC is (unwittingly, perhaps) promoting it on one of the busiest websites in the world; certainly in the UK. Which is paid for by US.

    a + b is in direct contravention of editorial guidelines and the firm non-com founding on which the BBC is based.

    Guys, there are several NON-commercial micro-blogging engines now; Twitter is no longer the only game in town. Who do you think Mozilla and Canonical are pushing?

    Moreover, we don't OUTLOOK, we email. We don't HOOVER, we vacuum; we don't TWEET, we blog (or micro-blog.)

    Biz Stone's loss-making venture should have died long ago - but the BBC licence fee payers are helping it actually gather speed!

    Enough is enough. Get in touch with BBC complaints and demand it's removed now (and purged from the site.) Don't fall at the first "thank you, we'll look into it" reply. Demand action - and keep demanding until the trust take this lot into hand and make them tow the line we are legally obliged to pay for.


  • Comment number 68.

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

 

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