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Changes to the BBC Messageboards

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David Williams | 17:20 UK time, Tuesday, 14 September 2010

I'm the current Product Manager for the technical team delivering BBC messageboards. You may have noticed we have recently refreshed the boards.

We had two main objectives when we began work on the messageboard refresh project:

  1. Bringing the visual design in line with the visual refresh happening across the rest of bbc.co.uk and that the messageboards have a consistent format that is familiar to audiences from around the site.
  2. Providing the hosts of the messageboards a simple to use, yet powerful set of administration tools enabling them to be kept more up to date and relevant to the audience.

In delivering the first we developed, what we call internally, the vanilla skins that produce semantically marked up and accessible HTML with basic styling. These follow the visual format of the refresh occurring on other areas of the BBC website and a standardised layout. Each messageboard can optionally be configured with a CSS file that applies the look and feel of the host site.

For the second we developed a brand new administration tool with a task oriented interface that allows hosts a straightforward way to manage their messageboards. This includes the creating and archiving of topics, setting opening and closing times, specifying the custom CSS file mentioned above and the various banners and navigation elements.

However, we didn't want to just update what already existed with a fresh lick of paint, so we added new features such as:

  1. The ability for a host to pin a topic to the top of a topic list page so hosts can highlight items of interest to the audience.
  2. A panel showing the most recent discussions across the messageboard so the audience can see where the active conversations are taking place.

Delivering the new Messageboards

Any non-trivial software project requires a process in place to ensure successful delivery. The team responsible for the messageboards product, like many other at the BBC, uses Scrum, an agile software development methodology.

As Product Manager, in Scrum terms I fulfil the role of the 'Product Owner', representing the stakeholders and the business on the team. Our stakeholders are many and varied and include representatives across all divisions of the BBC and ultimately our audiences.

Scrum is an iterative process and each iteration is known as a sprint. During the sprint the development team focus on the objectives outlined in a planning session, except in the case where major bugs are discovered or reported. In that instance the team will focus on squashing them as soon as possible. The definition of major bug typically includes instances where the service is completely unavailable.

Our sprints are two weeks long and at the end of each we review what has been delivered, examine whether business or product priorities have changed, and plan appropriately the items we will work on next. This includes reviewing all bug reports we have received, feature requests from stakeholders and including those of high priority into the sprint's work. Approximately once a month we release all the work that is completed.

Major sources of feedback for us are from those using the product every day and every feature idea and bug report makes its way into our product backlog where it will receive a priority with the other items there.

Some notes
 
Neon sign that says


The team delivering the messageboard product is part of a larger team, known as Social within FM&T, that is responsible for many of the social elements appearing across bbc.co.uk.

One part of the platform the messageboards are developed on is known as DNA, as eagle-eyed members of the food messageboard have already identified here, and it is indeed named after Douglas Noel Adams. h2g2 was the first product built on the platform.

Thanks for reading.

David Williams is Product Manager, BBC FM&T Social



Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Hi David Williams,

    There is a lot of dissent/confusion/disappointment on the "new" foodboard forum.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbfood/F2670471?thread=7709580#p99853201
    and
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbfood/F2670471?thread=7727701#p100169944

    I used to be able to post a link that could be clicked on but it no longer seems possible or if it is I do nit know how. It might be interesting to you for you to actually see what bosrd members actually think of the new board.

    Thanks.




  • Comment number 2.

    Hi David

    I am a little (well; actually, a lottle) confused over which of the changes to the Food boards (or rather board, as 4 of the original 5 have been closed and left in limbo) are due to your revamp, and which options exercised by the Hosts of the Food board as part of the food web prescence review.

    For example the narrow column of text, bright white background and small print - are all boards getting them by force?

    And the "Your discussions" layout - more space and less functionality than the old one, as still avaialble by snaging an Archers thread and going that way!

    And the farcical minus millions numbers

    There are MANY other points made on the Food site. Have a look. It's not busy!

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm afraid the food board is a bit of a mess. Seems it was hurried out and still lots of gremlins. Just wondered why, as I had not enountered these problems on any other BBC boards. The 'Your discussions' layout is truly awful and basic things like colour/glare and type size are unpleasant to deal with for long.

    Also why did 5 boards become one? It is most unwieldy and a lot of people have left. The disruption has been quite sad to witness. There has never been an explanation.

    Also wondered why such a short notice period was given when the planning must have been going on for ages ... months maybe? Again no reason given.

  • Comment number 4.

    The core CSS could be improved considerably by:

    - putting the message text in a larger font;
    - making the x in 'New Posts: x' bold and in a different colour if x does not equal zero.

    The 'newer'/'older' notation in the listing of an individual posts is dumb, and should be replaced by the 'First/Previous/1/2/3/4/5/Next/Last' structure used for the messageboard thread listings. (We had and won this argument a year or so ago on the iPlayer messageboard - why are you now reneging on that implementation?)

    The list of user posts should include a toggle (as at present) between messageboard comments and blog comments.

    Russ

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi - regarding why 5 boards became 1 the reasons for this were explained in a post on the Food board back in August.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 6.

    In the case of the Food Message Board the sprints seem to be more of a marathon or perhaps a three legged event.
    I don't like the look, feel or attitude of the 'revamped' board, but obviously this is only in part due to the technical input, however, if it worked properly, that would be a bit of a help.

    As usual approximately 13 paragraphs used to explain what mere mortals could sum up in 13 lines.

  • Comment number 7.

    Are these changes happening to all BBC messageboards?

  • Comment number 8.

    Specifically, is this going to happen to the Archers board?

  • Comment number 9.

    #8 @dog whistle Yes. Its scheduled for The Archers in the next few weeks.

  • Comment number 10.

    Thank you very much for your prompt reply.

  • Comment number 11.

    #7 cricket - yes the plan is to get this on all BBC messageboards, hopefully in October.

  • Comment number 12.

    So, could you maybe post a link to this blog or a separate message on the boards to let users know?

    Many thanks.

  • Comment number 13.

    Very sorry, I don't understand what has been written at all.
    Can anyone clarify in words of one syllable or slightly more?

  • Comment number 14.

    Organistswife - what this means is that the Archers Board is going to change and become as "user-friendly" as the new Food board. The Archers Board ain't broke, it don't need fixing, but someone at the BBC feels that their budget & salaries need to be justified by hook or by crook.

  • Comment number 15.

    I would like a) a translation and b) clarification too, please.

    1. The ability for a host to pin a topic to the top of a topic list page so hosts can highlight items of interest to the audience.
    2. A panel showing the most recent discussions across the messageboard so the audience can see where the active conversations are taking place.


    These sound OK - though the second one is a bit redundant.

    But nobody seems happy with the Food Board changes. Are those the changes all messageboards are going to go through?

  • Comment number 16.

    Sorry - don't understand a word of it.

  • Comment number 17.

    cricket-Angel Alpert - when I looked at the message board threads linked to in the first comment, it seemed as though some people did like the new boards. So "nobody" is not quite right.

  • Comment number 18.

    So the Food Board changes are what's going to be rolled out across all messageboards?

    Will you post warnings of when this is to happen on the boards concerned?

  • Comment number 19.

    Nick Reynolds Message 17.

    It seems to me that the couple of people who've said they like the new Food message board are not actually people who use it very much. Generally speaking the people who used it a lot, have either left or use it much less. It's nowhere near as busy as it was before the changes.

    Very sad The Archers board is changing.

  • Comment number 20.

    Ta, very muchly Mustafa, now where did I leave Pooh Bear?

  • Comment number 21.

    As I said the changes will be implemented on all messageboards hopefully by the end of October.

    Can we stay on topic please.

  • Comment number 22.

    Absolutely devastated to read this. I have only just mastered the last change to The Archers. Despite the lessons learned from The Young Ones I fear I am too old to cope with yet another upheaval. If it ain't broke, why fix it, unless it is for the administrator's benefit.

    If it has anything to do with Amber them I am ashamed of you! SFAnne™

  • Comment number 23.

    As I said the changes will be implemented on all messageboards hopefully by the end of October.

    Will you let the messageboards know, Nick? Or will we just sign on one day and everything will look different?

    Could someone techie but capable of speaking normalese tell us what the changes will entail?

    Thanks

  • Comment number 24.

    Ooo will users get a stick to poke the Mods with when they're on the naughty step?

  • Comment number 25.

    Thanks for this, David. Please could you expand a little and explain a little more about the brief that was given to the (re)designers. Why, for example, was a narrow screen presentation preferred? Who is your target user group?

    General question: Why is uniformity perceived by the BBC to be desirable on its website when the programming for which it is a support service aims at diversity?

  • Comment number 26.

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

  • Comment number 27.

    The second comment is about the farcical minus millions numbers

    I have noted what I assume will be a very similar problem on the iPlayer Messageboard "mb BUG "My Discussions" numbering"since May not that the BBC seems to have taken a blind bit of notice* about that or many other messageboard bugs.

    *The BBC may finally have commented on gobledegook bug, but the comment could have referred to the contact form fiasco.

  • Comment number 28.

    David,

    I note you are squashing major bugs, and the gobledegook bug can hardly be described as such, but it does make some posts unreadable so is not a trivial bug either.

    A recently afflicted post being:
    unreadable:http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbiplayer/NF7331803?thread=7740732&skip=100#p100834339
    READABLE:http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbiplayer/F7331803?thread=7740732&skip=100#p100834339

    It would be interesting to know what the cause is of that, and why the BBC has never as far as I am aware commented on it (other than an ambiguous the possible comment today counts).

    Whilst I christened the above mentioned bug after noting in on the iPlayer mb, I wonder if it is also appearing on other boards, but largley unnoticed by the BBC.
    The "farcical minus numbers" appear to be common to more than one MB but somehow escape the BBCs notice.

  • Comment number 29.

    petal jam - we needed to move from the previous page template which is in the process of being deprecated across the web site, so the brief given to the designers included updating the visual design to conform to the new one.

    The general question you ask is perhaps best answered here http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/gel/

    I appreciate the comments raised over the central column width and I'm going to ask the team to look at restoring it to the previous size. Item added to backlog!

    John99 - we have a new release scheduled to deploy next with a number of fixes for the messageboards. I'll update later with a list of changes.

    cricket-Angel Alpert - on the food messageboard item 2 might seem redundant as they only have a single area. On messageboards with multiple areas the most recent discussions panel is more applicable.

  • Comment number 30.

    Hi David,

    Thanks for the reply.

    I mainly use POV, and I think the most recent discussions will be fairly redundant there too because the boards are so slow nowadays :-(

    Are you going to post messages on the affected boards to let users know what is going to happen?

    Thanks.

  • Comment number 31.

    As already commented upon this must have taken quite a fair bit of planning by the BBC so two questions that may be of interest and should be easily answered.

    1) Next Guinea Pig ?
    Which board or group of boards will be next.
    There must already be some roughed out schedule.
    It does sound rather rapid if all boards are to be improved by the end of October.

    2) Do users get any improvements ?
    such as
    - search facilities (has been promised)
    - And what about lists of threads started by a particular user, rather than merely list discussions participated in.

    And while on the subject
    Comments listings are broken at least on the iPlayer Mesageboard (iP mb)
    (the rather wordy post I link to above is a specific example of a failure of iP mb to list some comments)


    Post Script re iP mb
    Note 1
    the iP mb does not have "comments" but rather "messages", however it still attempts to display comments made on all other BBC blogs but falls over after the 2nd page.
    One advantage or disadvantage depending on viewpoint is how each individual messageboard displays comment & posts may differ from that chosen by other BBC messsageboards.

    Note 2
    This fault and some others I have previously noticed may only affect longer posts or longer lists, so the BBC may not immediatly notice problems until any improvements hit certain limits
    - more than 2 pages for the comments listing above,
    -more than 100 messages in a single thread for a previously noticed bug
    I have pointed out other inconsistencies and bugs affecting the iP mb, no doubt they or something similar will re-occur after it is improved.

  • Comment number 32.

    :-) #1 @ Denadar
    You worried that ordinary users would not be able to post clickable links in the new messageboards, this does NOT seem to be a problem.
    2nd Clickable link above is to a message in the new Food mb where I posted clickable links myself.

  • Comment number 33.

    #31 - John, the database page-reference bugs underlying the new messageboard format have been in existence for well over a year now, as you are aware. There is no evidence that the BBC recognises these bugs exist, or understands them, or has any intention of acknowledging or addressing them. These bugs are not present in the older messageboard presentation. Since both new and old messageboard systems interrogate the same DNA data, it continues to be a mystery why the new implementation is so awful.

    I'll take my 'off topic' yellow card in advance, Nick...

    Russ

  • Comment number 34.

    cricket-Angel Alpert #30 - we'll be working with the hosts of each board and they will be informing their members the changes are forthcoming.

    John99 #31 - my team isn't setting the schedule - we're here to support the migration, the hosts/owners of each board will schedule the transition as they can get the resource. As Jem mentioned above The Archers board will be migrating soon. The tools I outlined in the blog post are designed to make this as straightforward as possible.

    Thanks for the links, I will review the issues and add items not addressed in the next release to our product backlog.

    On search, at this time, I can't commit to when this will be enabled. There are a number of technical issues that need to be addressed before we can provide this feature. We are aware how important and desired this is by the audience and working on a solution.

  • Comment number 35.

    Thanks for the comprehensive reply, David :-)

  • Comment number 36.

    But do the creators of these changes actually have any interest in what we, the users, actually find useful and helpful when using the Board.

    I only use The Archers' messageboard and there are a couple of things that would make it more user friendly. But you don't ask us about these or, if you do, you ignore them!


    P.S. I don't understand the jargon: could you use the same language as us mere mortals please.

  • Comment number 37.

    @David,
    Thanks for both of your replies to my comments.
    .

    Regarding the search facility.
    Clearly you are aware users would find it useful but it may be problematic for the BBC in implementing.
    If we are not able to have a proper search facility it would help if we could have at least a list of thread titles.

    We can, and message board hosts even advise we should resort to using external search engines on mb to find articles of interest.
    Message board sections can have hundreds or thousands of threads which currently are only ordered chronologically. Admittedly recent posts are probably most relavant to and chronological order is sensible at least as a default.
    If we also could view just by thread title, at least there would be more chance of users posting in a suitable thread rather than starting an unnecessary duplicate, and more chance in finding any particular subject. Also if the title listing were to include a date & have a separate page location that opens up the possibility of users searching for a thread by title using an external search engine. A suitable date entry may then enable a search engine to order them by date.
    Some words on any particular mb will be more common than others, anyone searching for "sky blue pink widgets" would probably get a single or a few relevant hits. But search for a word used frequently on any particular messageboard and large hit lists result, ability to search thread title alone or just list by title would be a step in the right direction for users. Obviously searching for the word cook or cooking on a food mb is pointless & would hit maybe 50-100% of posts and 99-100% of threads. But search for "cooking widgets" by title would be much more selective. (Not sure real world examples for food mb but say "cooking chicken", "cooking time" "cooking wok")

    I know the width of the message board has already been mentioned.
    This current blog for instance is only part of a screen width even on my lo res pc crt display, in FireFox browser I can zoom to fill screen width. BUT
    On this blog and on the new Food Q&A the aspect ratio remains fixed and text gets bigger. This blog is not bad, only one side is taken up with other columns The new Food mb has other columns on both sides. That looks ok as you start looking at the top part of the MB but has a lot of wasted space as you scroll down.
    Whereas on an older BBC mb eg the iPlayer mb the line length will adjust and text will flow into longer lines.
    (Not sure whether browser adjusting settings may partially overcome this, or whether like say a pdf it is designed not to be displayed other than as intended)

    Another thought on message width would be possibly considering allowing later pages to use the full width. So say the first page of maybe 25 messages using 1/2 page width, allowing the other columns in the top of the page. On second and subsequent pages the additional columns are removed and the message utilises a full width display now enabling say 50 messages to be displayed on each page.
    Or is it mainly a problem of the Beeb reserving space to allow adverts on overseas use.

    ( I hope my use of emphasis is not considered bad netiquette, I am just highlighting salient points hopefully for the benefit of anyone quickly scan reading a longish post, covering two subjects search and width, that I considered strongly related.)

  • Comment number 38.

    But do the creators of these changes actually have any interest in what we, the users, actually find useful and helpful when using the Board.

    Short answer, no. ;-)

    Longer answer, see the reams of comments left on blogs and messageboards during the "open dialogue" ...

  • Comment number 39.

    #26 General problem with use of BBC Blogs comments

    'Your Comment' not clearing

    I seem recently to be seeing whatever I last posted appearing again in the 'Your Comment' box. That makes it easy to inadvertantly post a duplicate post. Once the [post comment] button has been hit surely the message should clear and [Your Comment] box should be empty.

  • Comment number 40.

    #39 - sorry -
    It did work ok and clear this time. Not sure why prior to posting #39 that I could still see a preveous message I posted sat in 'Your Comment'

  • Comment number 41.

    On the Food Message board I already gave my opinion it was very difficult to read - colours and size of typeface.

    It will be a good thing for me if Mustardland and WOM become like that as I will stop wasting time in them.

    Why do the BBC invest so much time and effort in something that they do without ANY consultation with users? Haven't they noticed that on teh Food messageboard participtation has really dropped off? I though ratings were all for the BBC.

  • Comment number 42.

    Bizarre. If I was already logged in (which of coure I was as a longstanding member of whatever that BBC thing is) why am I then a "new member"?

  • Comment number 43.

    Because you're blogging Peggy, it won't last long.

    On topic.
    The three minute timer doesn't count down. The Strictly board used this system last year and it didn't count down then either.

    It's a very annoying glitch - if you refresh you lose your message so you quickly learn to click 'post message' every now and then.

  • Comment number 44.

    I just went to the Food Board to see what The Archers Board is likely to look like.

    Couldn't find any threads started by the users of the Board: only bloggy type things started by the Chefs etc.

    May be it was me being dim.



  • Comment number 45.

  • Comment number 46.

    I quite like the new layout, and sticky threads

    Vut fifty posts per page! Crikey!

    And there's a snork smiley!

  • Comment number 47.

    But not Vut, obviously.

    Can I request an edit facility, please :-)

  • Comment number 48.

    Thanks dogwhistle. Didn't recognise the word (which I have now forgotten) that you have to click on to get that page.

  • Comment number 49.

    I use this to wander round Sussex.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/messageboards/index.shtml



    cricket-Angel, there is a vocal anti smiley contingent in ML, don't bank on there being any smileys if it's possible to turn them off.

  • Comment number 50.

    cricket-Angel, there is a vocal anti smiley contingent in ML, don't bank on there being any smileys if it's possible to turn them off.

    I'm well aware, dog whistle ;-)

    Here's hoping POV make use of the full range.

  • Comment number 51.

    Quote: We had two main objectives when we began work on the messageboard refresh project:

    1. Bringing the visual design in line with the visual refresh happening across the rest of bbc.co.uk and that the messageboards have a consistent format that is familiar to audiences from around the site.
    2. Providing the hosts of the messageboards a simple to use, yet powerful set of administration tools enabling them to be kept more up to date and relevant to the audience.
    ---------------------------------


    Mr Williams.

    Well you seem to be achieving your first objective, which would be a plus point if it weren't for the fact that the BBC sites' visuals now look and feel like exchanging my treasured premium brands for the very cheapest and nastiest supermarket bogofs. One would actually hope that was not the objective at all actually.

    A second point is that the powerful administrative tools of which you speak are actually available to all on any free messageboard and have been for donkeys' years, even I've operated those without putting up the bunting! Find the hoo-hah about this 'improvement' sad really and quite silly.

    As a third point, despite the time, effort and money spent on the so-called refreshes, the message boards that undergo the process seem to take many backward steps whereby functions which were actually useful have now disappeared or malfunction and despite all your sprinting, weeks later, no remedials seem to be operative.

    I vote that instead of refreshing any more areas of the BBC content (note, you call it refreshing, personally I call it dumbing-down (the main news site and the iplayer being good examples) you all take 6 months in Faliraki at the licence fee payers' expense and just pretend you were working.
    Oh.

  • Comment number 52.

    I notice a bug that I reported on the iPlayer messageboard months ago now occurs on the new food board, so no doubt will be hitting the Archers board next.
    See Another Bug on the Board (PermaLink to last message goes to first message instead) (6th May)
    Commented upon in the Food thread here (msg#502 & #513)where you can try its affect

  • Comment number 53.

    29. At 4:34pm on 17 Sep 2010, David Williams wrote:
    petal jam - we needed to move from the previous page template which is in the process of being deprecated across the web site,


    Does anyone know what this means? If so, please tell me.

    Dave - if you see this, what did you want to say.

    The new Food boards are a good example of the correct use of the word "deprecate". They are "almost universally deprecated".

    "Deprecate" - To plead earnestly against

  • Comment number 54.

    Oh dear, it's a grid system. Well, all that unused space will make the content seem even more important.

  • Comment number 55.

    Will the current different sections of The Archer's MB (eg Discuss the Archers, The Bull, Fantasy Archers) be merged as happened on the Food Board? I note that there was something called Chatterbox there that has been closed.... Does that mean that everything except Discuss the Archers will disappear?

    Thanks

  • Comment number 56.

    Oops - sorry! Have just found Tayler's reassurance that they will all remain.
    Thank

  • Comment number 57.

    The BBC News site changed and was buggy, as well as unloved.
    The iPlayer site changed and was buggy, unfinished and almost universally detested.
    The iPlayer desktop was changed became even more buggy than the previous change and has gained a panic Beta when promised fix failed to arrive in twice the suggested timescale and is still under a steady flow of complaints.

    Now the messageboards are changing with the most called for improvement Search being ignored

    And a constructive comment on which to close: Read note and act on the posts by John99 above.

  • Comment number 58.

    Indeed, you should listen to what Guv and John 99 have said.

  • Comment number 59.

    Guvnor - the News site was not unloved. Indeed, here's someone who seems to love it.

    The new iPlayer was not "universally detested". Some people didn't like it, but others did - there are positive comments on the iPlayer blog post (e.g. comments 7, 39)

    Improving the iPlayer desktop hardly counts as "panic".

    This blog post is about changes to BBC message boards. Please stay on topic.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 60.

    So Nick can you answer why the most pressing improvements needed on the Message Boards (search etc. ) are not being addressed, whilst inconsequential changes which have not been requested are implemented?

    Just who is the message board run for? Clearly it is not for our benefit.

  • Comment number 61.

    Maybe David can list the findings of his Scrum exercise? I am curious as to his "major sources of feedback" from "those using it every day" and via bug reports. That implies staff not the users. Staff are not best placed to offer feedback as they are relatively casual users... and bug reports are not indicative of user generated needs. (especially as we can't raise a bug report.)

    Surely the huge amount of user generated feedback submitted by users in November 2008 would be the first port of call for any changes to the MB's. So far we have not seen a single improvement from those submissions 20 months ago.

  • Comment number 62.

    Surely the huge amount of user generated feedback submitted by users in November 2008 would be the first port of call for any changes to the MB's. So far we have not seen a single improvement from those submissions 20 months ago.

    I completely agree with this.

    Check out Nick's first blog on POV - lots and lots of helpful suggestions there.

  • Comment number 63.

    David Williams,
    link"I've had some updates about bugs ... the next release (date still to be confirmed).

    The Host: Ramona of the Food mb on which you piloted these messageboard changes has now commented on some of the many Bugs and problems that the changes caused. Some being added to a 'backlog' (so presumably we will need to wait many months for any fix) and others being addressed by "the next release"

    Presumably we now have to wait for the next sprint, in just over one weeks time, & will then get a similar blog to this one from you announcing what is about to happen.

    It will be interesting to see whether the bugs are being fixed whilst the changes only affect the Food mb, or whether the next sprint goes ahead and changes the Archers board before addressing the bugs. Although I note you mention that is, apparently,not (msg#34) directly under your control.

    I have already noted above (msg #28) your comment in the main body of this blog that only bugs "where the service is completely unavailable." are being addressed in this sprint.

    I watch with interest, hoping that the changes process enable message board bugs to be investigated and fixed.

  • Comment number 64.

    So with all the processes, systems approach, scrum, sprint and 360 feedback we still get a poorly designed, poorly implemented and unpopular tweak to an inflexible platform that is not meeting the needs of the users.

    I think it would have been better to buy a fit for purpose platform than try and re-invent the wheel repeatedly over 6 years.

  • Comment number 65.

    #63 Bugs UPDATE
    It would appear from this BBC post we may be able to expect bug fixes within a few days. Which would be a pleasant surprise.

    "I’ve been told that the plan is to publish the latest fixes in the next few days."
    {Message 10. Posted by Ramona Andrews (U14570541) on Tuesday, 21st September 2010 - food q&a ]

  • Comment number 66.

    What a load of old twaddle!

    Can you stop tweeking things and instead fix things that are broken...for instance the PM Blog has retrograded back to the poor performance of only a few months ago.

    For goodness sake!

  • Comment number 67.

    I'm really pleased that you took the time to explain all that.

    Now, can you get someone to translate the murky bits into Plain English for the benefit of us numpties who don't know what your tecky definitions for expressions like 'iterative' and 'semantically marked up' are?

    I'd be willing to have a go at a draft, being something of a words bird by trade, except for the fact that I didn't understand the murky bits myself!

    (I think I like the sound of Recent Comments being flagged up though - on the PM blog we've been banging on about that for ages.)

  • Comment number 68.

    but for all the fine words and techie processes, they create rubbish - buggy, flawed and unfit for purpose.

    Perhaps the BBC should have less consultants and meetings and more talented designers.... or admit their home grown systems are over-blown, overpriced and never as good as everyone else's off the shelf platforms.

  • Comment number 69.

    I'm with P Nutt and Fifi on this - it is difficult to understand what you are trying to tell us as you are using too many technical phrases and "in house" terminology.

    For instance: "we developed, what we call internally, the vanilla skins that produce semantically marked up and accessible HTML with basic styling" - all very well telling us what you call them internally but you haven't actually explained what on earth you are on about to people you are posting to on an external platform.

    Like Fifi, I note 'Recent Comments' is making a comeback. That is brilliant as we (on the PM Blog) have had many months of entreaties to bring it back. It is a very efficient way of keeping tabs on updates of discussions of personal interest.

    Agree with some others that, certainly on the PM Blog, there have been repeated hic-coughs over the past few days: whatever you write in the 'Post a Comment' section, when you hit 'post comment' the first post of the thread appears until you re-fresh. There were also several double and one triple entry on 'The Beach' thread - these made by experienced bloggers unlikely to be the cause of the problems. A few gremlins need to be chased out there.

  • Comment number 70.

    Gremlin Report:

    Re. my last para: when I hit 'Post Comment' on mine above, I got the first post appearing instead of mine, until I hit 'F5' and refreshed.

  • Comment number 71.

    so why is it 5 years on that you are looking at improvements? We listed the improvements we needed in 2005 and no-one from the BBC had a thought to listen then, nor since. But you are quite happy to spend thousands on your convoluted processes to come up with your cascaded tinkering that amounts to more bugs and dis-functionailty.

  • Comment number 72.

    PS. why when I post on this blog does the first numbered post display at the bottom instead of my post?
    Why do the listing of now pages "1,2,3,4 next" etc... get listed at the bottom of blogs but they link to no-where?
    Why do spaces get removed from text in blog posts? These are old bugs but no-one listened when I reported them months ago.

  • Comment number 73.

    PS. why when I post on this blog does the first numbered post display at the bottom instead of my post?
    Why do the listing of now pages "1,2,3,4 next" etc... get listed at the bottom of blogs but they link to no-where?
    Why do spaces get removed from text in blog posts? These are old bugs but no-one listened when I reported them months ago.

    Why will this post not be allowed because the blog system returns "you already posted this"?

  • Comment number 74.

    and then when you try to modify the blog post you find it has already posted it (without your knowledge) and despite it apparently rejecting the original post?

  • Comment number 75.

    OfficerDibble - I'm slightly baffled by your point about numbers below pages as I can't actually see them. But I do know that this is a known bug which is being dealt with. As is the other bug you mention about "you have already posted this".

    Thanks

  • Comment number 76.

    First up, I assume that although you talk exclusively of "BBC Messageboards", I assume BBC Blogs are also included in the revamp, as they use the same CMS (Content Management System).

    Anyway, apart from what's already been posted, a couple of feature requests:

    a) Clearer separation between Categories in the Categories panel - as a single category can occupy multiple words, a space isn't really sufficient to distinguish separate categories.

    b) On the rare posts that exceed 500 replies, is it possible to draw more attention to the "1 2 3 4 5 Next" links, or at least have a "Last" link, as being in the same font size as everything else makes them a little indistinct.

  • Comment number 77.

    I'm slightly baffled by your point about numbers below pages as I can't actually see them. But I do know that this is a known bug which is being dealt with. As is the other bug you mention about "you have already posted this".

    These are "bugs" I noticed when I first used these blogs in 2008. How come they haven't been fixed yet?

  • Comment number 78.

    Nick,

    go to a blog with more than 500 posts and (as stated to you specifically last year) you will see 1,2,3,4... at the bottom. They mean nothing, and don't link. There are loads of other bugs concerning refreshing of pages with many posts... some of these bugs prevent you from seeing subsequent posts. All in all, a pathetic implementation for a mature blog.

  • Comment number 79.

    I'm slightly baffled by your point about numbers below pages as I can't actually see them. But I do know that this is a known bug which is being dealt with. As is the other bug you mention about "you have already posted this".

    These are "bugs" I noticed when I first used these blogs in 2008. How come they haven't been fixed yet?

  • Comment number 80.

    I can send you a screenshot of the bug where the first post is displayed instead of your own newly posted post.

  • Comment number 81.

    Those who've mentioned problems with the page links on multi-page posts, perhaps you could include a link to a blog post where they don't work?

    There's a PM Blog post which has now exceeded 2,100 posts and seems to work fine (at least for the dozen or so regulars!):

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/pm/2010/02/the_beach_146.shtml

  • Comment number 82.

    Hi Mittfh,

    I have just gone back to some old blogs that exceeded 500 ( re: DOGs, HD Quality, Message Boards closing, lack of accountability etc.) and can't reproduce the bug now. It was such a long time ago that i mentioned it, without action from Nick, that I gave up using the links and always assumed, as usual, nothing would be fixed. Evidently someone did after 2 years. All we need now is for all the other bugs to be sorted.

  • Comment number 83.

    as you can see above... the disappearing spaces bug continues... and inability to use backwards arrows, and first post displaying in place of the last... and so on.

  • Comment number 84.

    In Post 83, OfficerDibble wrote:

    • the disappearing spaces bug continues... and inability to use backwards arrows,


    Disappearing spaces - that's a side-effect of HTML. The blogs do, however, allow the use of the non-breaking space:  

    As for the backwards arrows, what exactly do you mean? I haven't found any problems with using the browser's back button, and the blogs do allow quite a lot of unicode characters, as long as they're represented by escaped codes. For example:

    &lt; = left angle bracket: <
    &gt; = right angle bracket: >
    &amp; = ampersand: &
    &#169; = copyright symbol: ©
    &#x2190; = left arrow: ←
    &#x2191; = up arrow: ↑
    &#x2192; = right arrow: →
    &#x2193; = down arrow: ↓

    However, they do only seem to obey a limited set of HTML commands - for example, superscript and subscript don't work, blockquote doesn't work, and they don't like preformatted text.

  • Comment number 85.

    OfficerDibble - I'm told that the "you have already posted this" bug when posting a comment has now been fixed.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 86.

    Back to the subject of the blog: How did the feedback result in two improvements that no-one has mentioned as a need?

    The pinning of subjects by HOSTS is not a requirement mentioned before. We hardly have any hosts on the POV message board anyway, and to be frank, it is our community and surely the frequent users should have a say what is pinned, not a part-time, here today host with a vested interest. It is bad enough that the agenda is set on blogs, without it being skewed on Message Boards.

    Second: Recent Discusssions. We have that already on single boards. I don't think many users will need to know that a post on the Archers Board is alongside the Parenting board, and Drum N Bass board. Who asked for that? Subscription yes.... but the BBC can't do that.

    So please, before you expend lots of effort doing unpopular things that we haven't asked for and that destabilise the boards - please consult us to remind you of the list of imperatives that have existed since 2006. That, of course, assumes you are listening....... .... hello.... David?

  • Comment number 87.

    Mittfh,

    Hi, Do you mean I have to memorise codes to use a left pointing arrow? Very friendly.

  • Comment number 88.

    Disappearing spaces. I don't really care what the excuse is, it is silly for a so-called professional platform to exhibit such bugs.

  • Comment number 89.

    Nick Reynolds wrote:
    OfficerDibble - I'm told that the "you have already posted this" bug when posting a comment has now been fixed.

    Thanks

    Thank-you Nick. Did they just switch the feature off?

    Maybe before they try and put in features of marginal benefit that cause greater issues they should devote their time to things that are a priority.

  • Comment number 90.

    and of course test.

    or is that our role? I get the impression that the whole of the BBC Future Media is engaged in a technical exercise, and the audience, far from being the focus of all the effort, are merely the lab rats.

  • Comment number 91.

    Nick

    Can you also explain the "Categories" listing below. On proper blogs this represents the relative popularity of certain words. On yous it seems to be cherry picked. "Scrum" is included but only occurs once in a blog, yet DOG is not included in the cloud, yet occurs over a 1000 times on BBC blogs. Who edited that category list, and why?

  • Comment number 92.

    Also if you search "Nagler" you get a blog by her on DOGs. If you search Dogs you don't get any reference. How can that be?

  • Comment number 93.

    OfficerDibble - I think you are drifting off topic.

    But to answer your question about categories - these are created manually by the particular blog owner.

    No more questions about blogs or DOGS or general questions about search please.

    Please stay on topic.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 94.

    neatly sidestepped.

    So back to my post 86. Can you answer those questions about the message board changes?

  • Comment number 95.

    and where can I ask you those questions about the search of Blogs and Message boards?

  • Comment number 96.

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

  • Comment number 97.

    OfficerDibble - "the list of imperatives that have existed since 2006" - could you provide a link to this list. It predates the setting up of this blog, so I'm not aware of it.

    I'm now confused about which "search question" you mean.

  • Comment number 98.

  • Comment number 99.

    I'm not getting a link when I pass the cursor over the bold bit in post 98. Might be me, of course ...

  • Comment number 100.

 

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