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BBC on blogs in Twitter

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Nick Reynolds Nick Reynolds | 14:50 UK time, Tuesday, 12 January 2010

One of the jobs of this blog is to link to conversations about the BBC.

The BBC Internet blog's delicious account is one of the ways we do that. It's where we collect links to interesting content. The most recent of these are displayed on the right hand side of the blog under the heading "BBC on Blogs".

I noticed the other day that the delicious account has 30 people in its network. But the Internet blog's Twitter account (which is a feed of entries from the blog itself) has more than 1,800 followers.

on_blogs_300.pngI think the links in delicious deserve a wider audience. So as an experiment we've turned them into a separate Twitter feed called BBC_on_Blogs.

"BBC on blogs" is shorthand for "Conversations about BBC online, BBC iPlayer, the BBC's digital services and the technology that underpins them, including blogs, message boards and articles where you can comment".

If you can think of a better shorthand let me know.

Links are chosen by the editor of the blog (PM) and myself (NR). What criteria do we use?

1. Links are to conversations - places where people can comment. So articles where you can't comment are not included. So we would link to a Daily Mail story where you can comment but not to a Tumblr account or a "blog" where you can't comment or where comments are turned off.

If something is sufficiently interesting but you can't comment on it then we will include it in a round up.

2.
Links are to conversations which are both supportive and critical of the BBC.

3. We don't link to content which is illegal or which breaches the BBC's agreements with third parties. For example we would link to a blog post which was critical of the BBC's approach to DRM, but we would not link to somewhere which gives you full details of how to remove DRM from BBC content.

4. We follow the BBC's editorial policies about linking. If content contains strong language but is still worth linking to, we'll make sure you are aware.

5. We make editorial judgements about quality and relevance. We're looking for new angles, insight, opinion, reaction and original thought.

6. We don't link to content which we know to be wildly inaccurate. However we do sometimes link to opinion or speculation especially if there have been useful follow up comments which correct inaccuracies (see this entry from my personal blog from 2008).

Paul and I discussed whether we should simply amalgamate our existing Twitter account with the delicious feed. In the end we decided they were two distinct things and should be separate.

Do you agree or would you rather have them mashed up together?

Let me know in a comment on this post.

Nick Reynolds is Social Media Executive, BBC Online

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    From the linked editorial policies:

    "The BBC must not unfairly promote any commercial organisations. Therefore great care must be taken when linking to any commercial site to ensure that we do not give the impression that the BBC is unfairly endorsing any commercial product or service."

    Isn't this exactly what you guys are doing across the corporation with Twitter? I see it mentioned here, I read about it on BBC News (there have been very few times when the stories have justified the linking to Twitter) and it is mentioned in programmes like Question Time and Formula 1 on TV and Radio. I have never once seen links or mentioning of alternative services.

    Twitter is a privately held company which makes a profit for its investors. Why is the BBC promoting it like this?

  • Comment number 2.

    When the weather presenter on my local BBC station spends have the bulletin promoting her twitter feed and the other half actually talking about the weather, you know it's gone too far. The BBC do like their fads...

  • Comment number 3.

    For the name, how about:
    BBC_BlogWorld
    or
    BBCiBlog?

  • Comment number 4.

    Thanks Clive for the suggestions.

    Fishfingers - as I explained we are putting this feed into twitter because we know there are a significant number of people there who are interested in what we're doing. We're not promoting twitter - the people are already there. If you don't want to use twitter then you can look at the links in delicious itself or on the blog (in the right hand box). If there are other places you think we could put the feed into then please do suggest them.

  • Comment number 5.

    I think the BBC should stop all the advertising of the commercial company Twitter, since the BBC isn't supposed to advertise companies.

  • Comment number 6.

    Nick, I'm not doubting that Twitter has a large userbase already. However, one has to wonder how much the company has benefitted and will benefit in the future from its constant mentioning across BBC platforms.

  • Comment number 7.

    4. At 09:09am on 13 Jan 2010, Nick Reynolds wrote:

    "Fishfingers - as I explained we are putting this feed into twitter because we know there are a significant number of people there who are interested in what we're doing. We're not promoting twitter - the people are already there."

    A bit late into the Panto' season but here goes anyway - Oh yes you are! :-(

    Your 'rational' proves that is the case, as you point out, people are already already following Twitter and Tweeting away so can find these tweets on Twitter without much difficulty. Indeed you could have just Tweeted about it on your existing Twitter feeds/accounts rather than post this blog, and far more likely to be read by those who want this information as they are already in the right place, so to speak. Sorry but posting here (and elsewhere on the BBC) about Twitter is a form of advertising, you are advertising that you are using Twitter, you are inviting people who are not using the services of Twitter Inc. to do so.

    It's not the mentioning of a commercial company, I'm not suggesting that the BBC should return to the days of generic labels, the blanking out ofTomato sauce labels etc. but if every other edition of BBC One's "Saturday Kitchen" made mention of Heinz tomato sauce or baked beans it would not be to long before difficult questions would start getting asked about product placement...

    "If you don't want to use twitter then you can look at the links in delicious itself or on the blog"

    Now you're promoting "delicious" feed aggregation...

    As a comparison, I've just looked at the default news and blogs homepages for both the CNN US-edition and FoxNews websites (with "AdBlock+" disabled, just in case...), and the one thing that is notable by its apparent absence is any third party links-farm type listings, the closest Fox comes is to invite their readers to follow them on certain sites (such as Twitter and Facebook etc.). If they, in the totally 'cut-throat' world of commercial news media, can do it that way why can't the BBC?

  • Comment number 8.

    FishFingers - any mention of any commercial company on the BBC should be editorially justified as laid in the guidelines you quote above. On this blog we only link when it is editorially justified and we link to lots of other companies and websites as well. If they get benefit from that then that's a good thing.

  • Comment number 9.

    8. At 11:11am on 13 Jan 2010, Nick Reynolds wrote:

    "any mention of any commercial company on the BBC should be editorially justified"

    Nick, it's not the linking or mention of, it's the amount of linking or mention of, from the outside (and unless one is a Twitter already) it appears that those within the BBC are obsessed with Twitter - put "blogs twitter bbc" into the search box of the BBC's very own search engine and then do the same again but substitute MSN for twitter in the search string, see what I mean!

    Even today the BBC news is pushing the use of Twitter, on this page about the Haiti earthquake, does it really matter if the reports are coming into the BBC via Twitter, email or postal pigeons. The following is an extract from the page;

    "Live coverage following the powerful earthquake in Haiti. We will be bringing you news, insights from BBC correspondents, some of your e-mails and Twitter updates, and the best of the blogs."

    Every word after "correspondents" is superfluous, if it is needed does it mean that the BBC dismissing any eye witness social networking reports that do not come via Twitter?...

  • Comment number 10.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 11.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/info/policies/advertising.shtml

    "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".

    "The BBC must not unfairly promote any commercial organisations. Therefore great care must be taken when linking to any commercial site to ensure that we do not give the impression that the BBC is unfairly endorsing any commercial product or service."

    I would like to know how many times in the last week the BBC has mentioned "twitter" on websites, blogs, their TV and radio programmes etc. and how these are not promoting or advertising that site in any way.

    If they are promoting this service at all, isn't that not permitted and the reason we pay the license fee is so that there isn't advertising or promoting by the BBC.

    I think the BBC should stick to generic things like email and bloggs or other things where it's not just one company that provides that service. The BBC should be using or promoting open standards not individual companies.

  • Comment number 12.

    Big deal, the BBC mentions Twitter a lot.

    In the old days they'd have got us to write in - did anybody complain that they were unduly promoting the Royal Mail?

    Twitter is very popular and easy to use. If there are any comparable sites then suggest them to the editors of this blog and I'm sure they'll use them.

    The BBC has a statutory duty to make its content available as widely as possible, and giving people the option of contributing or reading via one of the most widely used social networks is hardly giving that site undue prominence.

  • Comment number 13.

    Mentioning (promoting/advertising) a company name/service such as "Twitter" is giving it too much prominence and unfair promotion.

    The alternative are things like Blogs. The general public can contribute to the BBC blogs.

  • Comment number 14.

    @HD1080, and others: Then how should the BBC draw attention to interesting and relevant content and discussions that occur on/via Twitter and other social networks?

    In fact, let's not limit it to social networks. What about The Daily Mail? There's a link in the above post to a discussion on The Daily Mail's website, providing, in your interpretation of the BBC's advertising policies, "unfair" promotion to a commercial organisation.

    The web has changed drastically over the last 5 or so years, especially with regards to user generated content. The BBC can't ignore what's going on around it simply because it occurs on a platform provided by a commercial organisation.

  • Comment number 15.

    12. At 2:19pm on 13 Jan 2010, Dave wrote:

    "In the old days they'd have got us to write in - did anybody complain that they were unduly promoting the Royal Mail?"

    Sorry but that is the daftest comment I've read in a long time! I can only assume that "Dave" is either so addicted to Twitter that any defence is better than none or that he is to young to remember/know that at one time the Royal Mail was the only way to send either letter, parcel or telegram in the UK.

    Anyway, does the BBC tell people to "G-mail" or "Hotmail" the programme or do they just tell people to "email" the programme, or what ever...

  • Comment number 16.

    14. At 2:50pm on 13 Jan 2010, Gavin James wrote:

    "@HD1080, and others: Then how should the BBC draw attention to interesting and relevant content and discussions that occur on/via Twitter and other social networks?

    By mentioning the company or the product, but that is not the same as suggesting that people should 'follow us on Twitter'.

    The problem with this and other BBC blogs is that it was doing the latter, as I said before, those who already use Twitter could have been told of these developments via the BBC's existing Twitter feeds.

  • Comment number 17.

    I'm not sure if anyone is still looking at the comments here, but today saw a prime example of the BBC's promotion of Twitter going live on the BBC News website:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8459311.stm

    This story is not newsworthy, nor is it really very interesting. The company name is used in the headline plus multiple times throughout the story and it is linked to from the main Technology homepage where the company name is used yet again.

  • Comment number 18.

    A question about the BBC blogs: is there a full list of them somewhere? The BBC Blog Network page claims to list "All BBC Blogs", but it doesn't - it's missing the Adam Curtis blog, for a start.
    So are there other blogs by BBC programme makers that aren't listed? How can we find out?

  • Comment number 19.

    #17. At 00:54am on 15 Jan 2010, FishFingers wrote:

    "I'm not sure if anyone is still looking at the comments here, but today saw a prime example of the BBC's promotion of Twitter going live on the BBC News website:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8459311.stm"


    Also, although a little bit more news worthy, but still basically a case of the BBC headline writers promotion of Twitter Inc. above all else:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8460556.stm

    The headline "Twitter spreads news from Haiti" doesn't match the actual summary:

    "Jane O'Brien reports on how new technology such as Skype, Facebook and Twitter are a lifeline for those desperate for information in the wake of the Haiti earthquake."

    Nor the content the content of the video report package; out of a report lasting 02:34 only about 00:40s is actually commenting on how Twitter has been used in getting first hand reports out of the country, hardly warranting the branded headline exposure given, a more relevant and factual headline would have been something like 'How social media spreads news from Haiti' (same message without any undue brand promotion). Also how many people, who are as totally feed up with the BBC's incessant promotion of Twitter Inc, will have avoided the above report (as I would have done had it not been for this blog...) meaning that what is basically a very good, evenly balanced, IT/media report doesn't get watched as widely as it should.

    But I must say, full kudos to Jane O'Brien for commenting on how disinformation can also be spread via these social media networking sites, how many people around the world will have taken that picture at face value, not realising/knowing that it is actually from the Japanese earth quake years earlier...

  • Comment number 20.

    Although these comments are interesting the blog post isn't really about the BBC's use of twitter as a whole so some of them are off topic. Most of the post is about the criteria we use to put links in delicious, not twitter.

    So can we get back on topic please.

  • Comment number 21.

    20. At 08:36am on 15 Jan 2010, Nick Reynolds wrote:

    "Although these comments are interesting the blog post isn't really about the BBC's use of twitter as a whole so some of them are off topic. Most of the post is about the criteria we use to put links in delicious, not twitter.

    So can we get back on topic please."


    Nick, Twitter was mention in THIS blog, there is a picture of a page from Twitter, there are 2 URL's to "delicious" but 3 URL's to "Twitter", thus Twitter and how the BBC use Twitter is very much on topic here. Mention of Twitter was far from just a passing comment, Twitter is mentioned in the title, in the tags and three times within the article, so "Twitter" has FIVE 'citations' (including a search tag and mention in the title) against "delicious" having FOUR (with no mention within search tag or title) - go figure because I certainly can't, how can a blog be about something that isn't mentioned in the tags, never mind the title and then gets less mention than what you're trying to claim is off topic...

    From your original blog comments:

    "I noticed the other day that the delicious account has 30 people in its network. But the Internet blog's Twitter account (which is a feed of entries from the blog itself) has more than 1,800 followers.

    I think the links in delicious deserve a wider audience."


    Simple solution, stop pushing Twitter down peoples throats at ever opportunity, the problem is not in how the BBC is using "delicious" but in how the BBC is using it's various Twitter accounts, and quite frankly if so many within the BBC didn't appear to be so obsessed with Twitter it would be blindingly obvious why so many people are accessing the BBC via Twitter accounts. The words 'wood and trees', or the topical phrase 'Snow Blindness', come to mind.

  • Comment number 22.

    Nick - you're right. I'll use bbc.co.uk/complaints next time.

  • Comment number 23.

    Boilerplated - just because this blog mentions twitter doesn't mean that everything and anything about twitter is on topic.

    I know you and others feel that the BBC over promotes twitter. You're entitled to your opinion. But that's not what this blog post is about.

    So we can get back on topic please.

  • Comment number 24.

    Could it be that people are simply just not using social bookmarking sites, with internet capable mobile devices now so common people are not only carrying their personal bookmarks around within their own devices but can also send-receive URL's within SMS/emails/HTML content, could it be that bookmarking sites such as "delicious" are just inevitably dying a slow protracted death, born in out of the boom years of internet cafe's when the only way of carrying ones own bookmarks around was on floppy or CD?...

  • Comment number 25.

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

  • Comment number 26.

    #23. At 10:55am on 15 Jan 2010, Nick Reynolds wrote:

    "just because this blog mentions twitter doesn't mean that everything and anything about twitter is on topic."

    But it never is, even when excessive use or linking to Twitter is part of the problem (as it is my belief is the case with this issue), the number of times that Twitter is mentioned yet is deemed to be 'off-topic' almost suggests that the real problem is not off-topicality but a wish to stifle justifiable criticism.

    From your article at the top of the blog:
    "I noticed the other day that the delicious account has 30 people in its network. But the Internet blog's Twitter account (which is a feed of entries from the blog itself) has more than 1,800 followers."

    When the BBC Internet blogs have so many searchable links or tags etc. pointing outbound to comments on or about Twitter is it any wonder that there is a disproportionate number of in-bound links from people who have followed those outbound links - the classic cause or effect debate, what came first, the chicken or egg.

    [ramble]
    One of the best known methods for a company to reduce demand for a product, prior to rationalisation of their production capacity (otherwise known as factory/job losses) is to under promote the product and over promote another, thus causing a lack in demand for the first and increased demand in the second - people buy/use the products that they are aware of, what they read, see or hear about. Also many who have no interest in anything 'Twitter' (but are interested in social bookmarking sites) could well have passed this blog by on the other side because of the title...
    [/ramble]

  • Comment number 27.

    Boilerplated:

    Firstly - I would disagree that on this blog we link excessively to twitter. We link to lots of different places and twitter is just one of them. We link to whereever the interesting stuff is - as I've outlined in the post. I also asked people for other places we might put the feed of delicious.

    Secondly - "Also many who have no interest in anything 'Twitter' (but are interested in social bookmarking sites) could well have passed this blog by on the other side because of the title..." - if some people have closed minds on the subject, I'm not sure how to help them. Possibly by changing the title to "BBC on Blogs delicious feed now in Twitter".

    Thirdly - re your comment 24, I'm not sure - people seem to have a need to curate and collect links and send them to other people - so I think they'll continue to do this in whatever the best or easiest way available (which may not be a specific social bookmarking tool or site).

    Fourthly - you're off topic. But you may be interested in this blog post.

  • Comment number 28.

    27. At 10:49am on 17 Jan 2010, Nick Reynolds wrote:

    "I'm not sure how to help them. Possibly by changing the title to "BBC on Blogs delicious feed now in Twitter"."

    Well how about calling them social bookmarking and networking sites, rather than being brand specific, after all "delicious" and "Twitter" are not the only sites in their genres, also if this blog really is about "delicious" then it should at least be tagged as such rather than the search engines picking up on the 'off-topic' 'twitter' tag...

    "Fourthly - you're off topic. But you may be interested in this blog post."

    On topic but off message more like, but why you bring that past blog up is beyond me, anyone reading the cited blog will see that it proves that the BBC is still not listening to the same concerns, still deeming uncomfortable comments as being off topic, still promoting Twitter...

  • Comment number 29.

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

  • Comment number 30.

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

  • Comment number 31.

    Boilerplated - one final time. This post is not about whether the BBC over promotes twitter or not.

    Perhaps you would prefer the title of this blog post to be

    "RSS feed of BBC Internet blog's bookmarking service put into another social networking site (but we're not going to tell you which one)."

    I-Hate-People - stop swearing and stop abusing me or Boilerplated please.



  • Comment number 32.

    #31. At 4:17pm on 17 Jan 2010, Nick Reynolds wrote:

    "Boilerplated - one final time. This post is not about whether the BBC over promotes twitter or not."

    Put it this way, if car test magazine mostly wrote about brand "A" cars, or kept talking about how brand "A" cars are so much more popular/better than any other brand would it be any surprise if the majority of their readers went out and bought brand "A" cars to to the detriment of any other brand?

    How and why the BBC use/mention Twitter, sometimes to the exclusion of other social and bookmarking web services, is as much a part of the problem as the explicit under-use of those other services. This is why I am and will continue to contest that Twitter and how the BBC use it is on-topic here. Some have called the frequent mention of Twitter as a kind of 'product placement', whilst technically it comes no where near being PP, it does cause the same effect, people use what the BBC endorses - even if that endorsement was unintended - which is why in the past the BBC has been so careful of inadvertently doing so, to the extent of blanking out Tomato Ketchup bottles or using the generic term "sticky tape" or "sticky back plastic" (to use a couple of classic Blue Peter "ism's") to describe something.

    "Perhaps you would prefer the title of this blog post to be

    "RSS feed of BBC Internet blog's bookmarking service put into another social networking site (but we're not going to tell you which one)." "


    Why not something like "The problem of linking to multiple social bookmarking service.", and then tag the blog with relevant tags.

    Sorry but if you can't see the wood for the trees this blog simply can't go forward as you are blinding yourself to one of the major causes of the problem you seek answers for!

  • Comment number 33.

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

  • Comment number 34.

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

  • Comment number 35.

    I am doing a university assignment at the moment on the way businesses use Twitter, do you have a list of all the BBC Twitter accounts I could look at? Or at least a total number. Thanks.

  • Comment number 36.

    I'm a bit late to this party, so let me just say this - I agree completely the BBC is overpromoting Twitter - a commercial company when several alternatives exist.

    We pay the BBC to be atheistic about commerce so everyone else who agrees should file a formal complaint through the prescribed channels (http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/homepage/) rather than discuss it here.

    I was met with a patronising reply- so I will push it all the way to the top until Twitter and tweeting is banned across the BBC replaced by generic terms and generic, non-commercial systems. We don't Hoover, we vacuum; we don't "tweet" we blog or email - the method is relevant, not the vehicle and that is what counts.

  • Comment number 37.

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

  • Comment number 38.

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

  • Comment number 39.

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

 

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