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Open Post, Thursday 30 June 2011

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Ian McDonald Ian McDonald | 13:00 UK time, Thursday, 30 June 2011

This is an Open Post - a chance for you to say what you like about BBC Online, BBC iPlayer, and the BBC's other digital and mobile services. (As the BBC Trust has given its verdict, BBC HD picture quality is off-topic.)

It is also a chance for me to say hello. I'm Ian McDonald, and I shall be your host on this blog for a while. The BBC has let me work on some very interesting things since 2003. So it is a privilege to sit in the middle of BBC online and talk to you about the fantastic things everyone else is doing - and hear what you think of it all.

Your feedback is particularly important right now because of the impact of DQF on social media at the BBC. Nick Reynolds and I are going to change the blog a bit.

The BBC once told me that I should ask my manager three questions: what should I do more of; what should I do less of; and what should I keep on doing? Since you, the license-fee payers, are our manager, those are the questions I'd like to throw out to you.

Ian McDonald is the Content Producer, BBC Internet Blog

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    iPlayer is really very good. I hope the quality of the "watchlive" facility will improve following the streaming trial that I was impressed by: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2011/06/wimbledon_hd_http_streaming_tr.html

    The links to other broadcasters is useful at times. You must be pleased that going to their sites really shows that only the BBC knows how to do it properly!

    As only an occasional online radio listener I am a little concerned about the loss of radio from iPlayer, which I am familiar with, to Radio Player that I will not be familiar with.

    I am still very disappointed with the new BBC News blog format. There are many comments, but mainly one opinion, about it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2011/05/our_next_step_in_news_blogging.html

    There has been almost no response from the BBC on this issue except rather patronising comments along the lines of "you'll get used to it". I think a more studied and scientific response is in order. It would also be useful to have advance warning of whether the old format blogs such as this one will remain open to long form comments.

    Are you able to let users know what the average length of comment was prior to the changes?

  • Comment number 2.

    'There has been almost no response from the BBC on this issue except rather patronising comments along the lines of "you'll get used to it".....'

    A familiar refrain to messageboard users all over the BBC...

    I've asked a couple of times before about security and legal liability of the BBC when farming us out across Facebook, maybe someone here might be able to help in that regard?

  • Comment number 3.

    Hello, Ian.

    Can you please explain what part of the BBC's labyrinthine "complaints" system should be used to complain about the BBC's IT *policies* as opposed to about specific incidents?

    I'm trying to make a complaint about the policy to move all user generated content from Messageboards to Blogs; I'm sure that others would join me if they knew how to.

  • Comment number 4.

    I am a user outside the UK. We are allowed to use the radio part of the iPlayer, we are not allowed to use the tv part due to rights restrictions. However, on the mobile web, it is not possible to use the iPlayer for Radio outside the UK. Why is that?

    Also, I use the iPhone as smart phone, but the UK radio stations cannot be listened to via BBC Online. I have to use the FStream app to listen to the BBC. Why is the BBC Online not supporting radio via the iPhone?

  • Comment number 5.

    Beside the general comment above, I would like to re-emphasise that for the international users of the mobile website it is extremely irritant that the BBC World Service no longer has an own mobile website.
    It is the only BBC Radio Station without a mobile website.

  • Comment number 6.

    Re the POV messageboards - are they going to get proper Hosting at some point, or is the current situation a permanent one?

  • Comment number 7.

    Dear BBC,

    I am not on Facebook. So, stop referring us to Facebook for more information on the BBC.

    Regards

  • Comment number 8.

    Why are the 125cc and Moto2 races (on Sundays) that were broadcasts on the red button available on the iPlayer, but the qualifications on Saturday not (also from the red button)?

    Why are the Diamond League programs that were red button only not available on the iPlayer?

  • Comment number 9.

    At least they are starting to listen to sensible criticisms about the blogs. It's been like they were inventing the wheel from scratch, and thought square was worth a shot...

    Ian, you will find that a lot of resentment has built up over the way readers/listeners/users have had their views summarily dismissed, but I'm sure you will find that if you give them a fair hearing, they will handle the tiny minority of genuinely intractable hotheads themselves, here and off the reservation...

    And you can't have too many ellipses...

  • Comment number 10.

    At the moment, as a license fee payer, I can watch BBC channels live from my computer (which I love). I can't do that from other devices like a phone or an iPad though. I'd be surprised if this feature isn't somewhere on your TODO list, but is it technical or political reasons which have kept it from happening so far?

  • Comment number 11.

    Yes, I found another very irritating feature of BBC Online:

    Make the International BBC.co.uk homepage editable again as is the UK version of the homepage, and as was the previous second version of the international homepage.

  • Comment number 12.

    I would be nice to know when we can have "full HD" on BBC iPlayer, in addition to the current 1280x720? I really need something to do with my 30Mbps broadband...

  • Comment number 13.

    Liked that Tennis HD trial thingy, now get it working across the whole platform....quickly! :)

  • Comment number 14.

    I've been trying out the BBC News app for android and it's very good but it brings up some questions about iPlayer.

    Some of the articles have video clips. These are marked with the iPlayer logo and touching it plays the clip.

    Not very surprising except that I can't use iPlayer as my phone doesn't support flash.

    It just goes to show that there is no technical reason why iPlayer couldn't work on more phones.

    I assume the problem is DRM as usual.

  • Comment number 15.

    live HD of shows like the tennis trial please, its ace :)

  • Comment number 16.

    'Re the POV messageboards - are they going to get proper Hosting at some point, or is the current situation a permanent one?'

    Seems like it will be. There's been a clear change in the 'behaviour' of the host on POV for about a month now. Answers from said host are completely obtuse, blaming users for misunderstanding board rules. What absolute nonsense. I doubt any answers will be forthcoming here either, but I could be pleasantly surprised *crosses fingers*

  • Comment number 17.

    Hi,

    Glad I could find this open post, as all the other open posts are closed!

    Ian, I see you are working with Nick Reynolds - he should know what your "managers" would like from social media, blogs and, of course the most popular BBC medium - message Boards. We told him directly, at length two years ago - so hopefully he may have notes on that. So far - none of these suggestions have been implemented... so is that the reason for the change you speak of? Are we going to know what your changes are before implementation? I ask this because the BBC online record on implementing change has been lamentable in recent years and every roll-out is accompanied by a PR disaster of dissent and unhappy "managers' followed by a drop in traffic.

    To start off: Blogs - a longstanding issue (one of many) with the technical aspects of this blog system is the tedious access to the latest comment... takes 4 clicks and a lot of scrolling - too tedious on a mobile device. notifications - everyone else has it..why not the BBC? A space efficient layout and design... let's not forget just how unpopular the general design is - both blogs and MBs.

    That's a few to get you rolling -Nick has the rest, and don't get us started on accountability, fire and forget BBC staff "owning their blogs", pointless cherry picked category lists, etc... old ground, often trod.... You can find them all if you search the old blogs.... er, did anyone mention the search?

  • Comment number 18.

    Seems like it will be. There's been a clear change in the 'behaviour' of the host on POV for about a month now.

    It seems like we have a computer-generated Host over there at the moment! Just churning out stock replies to thread closures and not answering any questions.

    It's a shame, because the one thing we were promised when the POV boards were over-hauled two years ago was better Hosting, and since that time the Hosting is the one aspect of the boards that has got steadily worse and worse!

  • Comment number 19.

    By the way, the preview on the blogs does not seem to work. Sparrow's quote in my post 18 showed up in italics when I previewed it, but is normal text in the actual post.

  • Comment number 20.

    17. At 08:17 1st Jul 2011, OfficerDibble wrote: A space efficient layout and design... let's not forget just how unpopular the general design is - both blogs and MBs.

    I am convinced, and some comments by those abroad confirm, that the new page designs all result from the need to have space for advertising. There has been no response about this from the BBC. In itself advertising is not a bad thing as it helps justify the spending on what is an international website.

    This probably also explains the provision of only a headline and first sentence on the RSS feeds. With advertising you need click throughs. I expect that the twenty comment limit per blog page is also a commercial decision as the advertising will update on every page (can an international user confirm this?).

    So to reiterate I am not against this as such but a bit of honesty from the BBC to explain why things are as they are would be welcome.

  • Comment number 21.

    There is ever increasing encouragement from the BBC to use Twitter "to keep up to date". I hope this is not an excuse to update webpages less frequently.

    I am not a Twitter user so are you telling me that I should expect a worse web service than in the past?

    On the subject of commercial decisions in connection with BBC Online are there any connections (financial or backscratching) between the BBC and popular social networking sites?

  • Comment number 22.

    @KitGreen post 20 (by the way: how do you quote?):
    The international users use either add blockers or proxyservers to access BBC Online. I think you would be horrified if you knew how the BBC.co.uk international homepage looked like.

  • Comment number 23.

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

  • Comment number 24.

    @Kit Green I hope you read this before it will be removed. But as you can see by the reaction of the moderators it is a very controversial commercial decision.

  • Comment number 25.

    I will be on topic:
    Advertising is changing when you refresh the page.
    Advertising is about as large as the right column is.
    Advertising has put limits on the usability of BBC Online for international users.
    Advertising has also influenced editorial content of BBC Online for international users in the form of Lonely Planet infomercials.

  • Comment number 26.

    Hello Ian - thank you for the chance to comment on BBC Online: it made me sign up for an ID just so I could.

    One of my concerns recently has been the move away from websites for programmes towards a system of pages for each programme. It's sad that BBC Online is being curtailed in this way, although I understand the reasons for it. But the standards of editorial content on these programme pages worries me. It often seems poorly written, shoddily put together.

    My second concern: unlike many, I am not upset about the slow disappearance of messageboards. I think they have rather had their day in the sun and are increasingly outdated technology - if a group of people want a messageboard, it is easy enough for them to set one up. However, in driving people towards commenting on blogs - particularly on News - I don't agree with the draconian character limit you have imposed. This hardly leads to free and open debate. Whilst I myself dislike huge long diatribes by particularly opinionated commenters, it is their absolute right to say these things - for an organisation like the BBC, which we pay for, to limit our freedom of speech in this way is wrong.

  • Comment number 27.

    Dear moderator: the use of a proxy server is not illegal by law.

  • Comment number 28.

    Hang on, isn't this a case of trying to close the stable door after the horse has bolted? The BBC haven't listened to ANYONE thats a licence fee payer in relation to the slash and burn policy adopted across the BBC Online. Message boards closed down, interactive content closed out, H2G2 dumped despite going through a comprehensive MOT and deemed to fit all aspects of BBC Online. Bob knows how much it cost for the so called 'upgrade' known as Barlesque that failed miserably to work. Whats more users constantly told glitches and bugs would be sorted yet right upto disposal the new site was unuseable. Who's kidding who here? It seems the remaining message boards are to either close are be so restricted in what you can post or say that they will inevitably become a joke.
    The BBC's constant push to get everyone on FB or Twitter is a joke. Considering the BBC aren't suppose to advertise they ain't half giving FB and Twitter some free, massive adverts all across the BBC Online.
    In terms of listening, it seems you need to be an MP and raise objections in Parliament to get the BBC to do a U-turn. When they threatened to close parts of the world service, MP's were up in arms about it and lo and behold, cuts scrapped. Licence fee payers object, we get ignored.
    I think the BBC Trust have failed miserably in their role in overseeing the rights of Licence Fee payers, senior management in the BBC Online team have failed in their duty to be open and honest about their intentions to interactive content on the BBC.
    It really does the BBC no credit to remove posts criticising the decisions taken by management, I suggest the likes of Reynolds and his cohorts actually take note of whats being said and think again about their ludicrous decisions and start thinking about re-instating stuff already cut with no justification.

  • Comment number 29.

    @Sparrow re comment #2 on Facebook and other third-party social media sites

    Thank you for the question.

    When we engage with listeners on third-party websites, we follow the guidelines on BBC use on third-party websites, particularly the presumption against taking over responsibility.

  • Comment number 30.

    Nice to see an open blog though for how long is anyones guess. I made my feelings known in other blogs and on H2G2 very clear. I have nothing positive to say about Nick Reynolds or his online team. What is said frankly goes in one ear and out the other anyway.
    Perhaps the BBC can explain why they waste so much money and time having so called 'consultation exercises' and then go on to ignore any views expressed and carry on cutting regardless?
    I'm just waiting to see what happens to H2G2 in terms of my contributions to that site over the last 6 nearly 7 years. The fact Reynolds and co. have disposed of H2G2 despite mega objections shows quite clearly the absolute disregard they have to the views and opinions of users and fee payers alike. The closure of most if not all (eventually) msg boards is yet another sign of the BBC not listening. It seems no-one is spared inc the disabled with the closure imminent of the Ouch boards.
    As for this constant use of FB and Twitter, as others have said, why? What are the BBC doing pushing 2 commercial enterprises so much? If FB and Twitter had to pay for this sort of advertising it would cost them millions yet the BBC are doing it for free!! This is surely against the BBC charter which clearly states the BBC should be independant and not show bias to anyone or any one company.
    I do wonder how many posts criticising the BBC and its online policies will remain on view? It seems some are being removed due to negative comments etc, well, what did the BBC expect? A slap on the back for crass decision making and wasting of millions on projects that no-one wants are asked for?

  • Comment number 31.

    @Gareth Adams re comment #10 about mobile iPlayer

    The iPlayer is available on some mobile devices, and the help page has a table showing which devices can currently play live. As you can see in Daniel Danker's speech to the BBC Online industry briefing, mobile and tablet are a big part of his strategy.

    You asked for more details: I shall have a chat with the team.

  • Comment number 32.

    " Nick Reynolds and I are going to change the blog a bit."

    This is news to us - yet if it was as a result of being driven by the users how come it comes as a surprise? If it is not driven by the users (as with everything else we have seen rolled out) how can we have any confidence or trust that Nick Reynolds has understood what is required to make the BBC's online offer world class? Based on our experience of the last 3 years there has been widespread unrest at the way change has been affected, and all the roll-outs have resulted in a worse global experience than before - and that was starting from a very low base.

  • Comment number 33.

    @Peet re comment #3 on complaints system

    You can send your complaint to bbc.co.uk/complaints.

    You might be interested in Ian Hunter's blog post about BBC Online's social media strategy and his response to comments.

    The strategy spreads the user-generated content around the BBC and integrates it more closely with content, but that does not mean that all messageboards will necessarily close. I appreciate that you do not agree with the closures that have happened, but I hope that is of some reassurance.

    We hope to have another update on social media strategy soon.

  • Comment number 34.

    1) What should BBC Online do more of?
    HD and 3D content, including local content (although no real need for the 3D there). Also, richer/better mobile apps. The Android News app offers BBC-selected news snippets only.

    2) What should BBC Online do less of?
    Less emphasis on news delivered as video. It's surely expensive to produce, it's bandwidth hungry and so bad for mobiles, it requires more interaction to consume in chunks, and it's unfriendly to the disabled and those with crap phones.

    3) What should BBC Online keep on doing?
    Websites. They're all pretty ace, especially News, and until trends change, there's no call for any switch of focus away from them, e.g. app-only content.

  • Comment number 35.

    Officer Dibble - I was trying to refrain from commenting but since you have repeatedly named me I'm afraid I'm going to have to comment. Please bear in mind the House Rules.

    Firstly it's untrue that nothing happened as a result of the conversations two years ago. For example search was introduced on some message boards something which was a high priority for users.

    Nor has there been "widespread unrest". Some users have not liked some of the things that have changed, and they are entitled to their opinion.

    The changes in both social and in look and feel are designed to make BBC Online a more joined up service rather than a disperate collection of websites. Personally I think that the look of the sites has improved.

    Ian will be doing some pruning to the blog which has got a little scruffy round the edges. At some point in the future he will be asking users what they would like to see improved (but that's a discussion for another day).

    Thanks

  • Comment number 36.

    @Piet, regarding comment #11 about the international home page

    Piet, it is a point of pride that you and others outside the UK care are looking to the BBC. Unfortunately, this blog is about being accountable to license-fee payers, so the international home page is off-topic.

  • Comment number 37.

    @Dave Parker, regarding comment #14 on mobile iPlayer

    As mentioned, I will try to find out more about mobile iPlayer plans.

    Michael K, a member of the public, posted a very good explanation of why Flash is so widely used for video in the comments about the Wimbledon HTTP HD streaming trial.

  • Comment number 38.

    Dear Ian,

    It is with regret that I have to hear that this blog is about being accountable to license-fee payers. DQF is impacting the international users also. Although I do not pay a license fee, I am impacted by the decisions. BBC News Online is visited 55 million times per month. You must be pride, but you also must listen to their voice.

  • Comment number 39.

    Re: BBC iPlayer,
    - will Radio programmes be downloadable and series recordable in future?
    - from time to time I get a Signed version of a programme when it was the non-Signed I'm sure you intended - any reason or just finger trouble?
    - in the "About" pop-up for Desktop, can I suggest you provide a link to the Release Notes at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/dm/version2/release_notes.txt (which might want to tidy up a bit)
    - when a series runs out, it remains in iPlayer as "unknown" - fixed in next release?
    - why does it take so long to have Prime Ministers Question Time ready to play or download?
    - the BBC Scotland series Landward (a 30 minute programme along the lines of Countryfile) is sometimes available on iPlayer, often not - why the variability?
    - the channel ident intro video sequence for most channels (cyclists on roundabout etc) last just a few seconds, but on BBC Scotland programmes is 30 long seconds.... suggest you trim down to normal.
    - I always seem to get problems in series recording Sky at Night (longer version), and suspect there is a problem with series recording programmes which are regular but not a formal "part n of m"-type series...

    In general iPlayer is a most impressive product, way ahead of the commercial channels where you cannot skip the silly adverts as one can on a VCR/PVR.

  • Comment number 40.

    @Kit Green, @Orphsue, regarding comment length (#1, #26):

    The BBC Internet blog has no plans to reduce the length of comments.

  • Comment number 41.

    @Kit Green regarding comment #20 on the News design

    The BBC has been open that the need for the international site to carry advertising is one of the requirements of the new design. When Paul Sissons blogged about the News redesign last year, he wrote:

    Through investment from BBC Worldwide, we were set the dual challenge of creating an ad-free UK site layout which can seamlessly integrate and showcase advertising for the international audience.


    As he blogged at the time, Giles Wilson read your feedback, and is looking into the RSS feeds issue.

  • Comment number 42.

    22. At 10:43 1st Jul 2011, Piet Boon
    ----------------------------------------------

    Yes I did see your removed comment and it just confirmed rumours already around.

    As for italics etc look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML_tags
    although as with most blog sites most of the options listed are (quite correctly) not supported.

    I believe the following are supported on these older style blog pages: blockquote, em, li, p, pre, q, strong, ul, ol and b. Also the href function that is slightly different.

    Have a play and use the preview function here to see what happens!

    None work on the new blogs, but then the tags would be a waste of scarce characters.

  • Comment number 43.

    Nick reynolds says: Officer Dibble - I was trying to refrain from commenting but since you have repeatedly named me I'm afraid I'm going to have to comment. Please bear in mind the House Rules.

    Firstly it's untrue that nothing happened as a result of the conversations two years ago. For example search was introduced on some message boards something which was a high priority for users.

    Nor has there been "widespread unrest". Some users have not liked some of the things that have changed, and they are entitled to their opinion.

    The changes in both social and in look and feel are designed to make BBC Online a more joined up service rather than a disperate collection of websites. Personally I think that the look of the sites has improved.

    Ian will be doing some pruning to the blog which has got a little scruffy round the edges. At some point in the future he will be asking users what they would like to see improved (but that's a discussion for another day).

    Thanks>>

    Nick I was not breaking the house rules by mentioning you was I? I am not the only one to mention you - do you notice the trend? All my comments were pertinent - and re-inforced by your comment that "..Personally I think that the look of the sites has improved." - your opinion is no more important than anyone else's - and should not steer policy nor design. I am more interested in the concensus, and do you not agree that there is certainly NOT a concensus that the changes that were implemented in the past two years were improvements?

    Let's not delve into search (6 years late) but just do a quick test: Search "scrum" - a phrase in the Category list below. Scrum returns one result in blogs - but not the one blog that mentions scrum (that the category list links to). So who can trust a search facility that is not reliable, and a category list that is selective and unrepresentative of popularity?

    The flaws can be shown ad nauseum, but I feel that as this is Ian's first blog it is only fair he is given a heads up on just some of the issue that have vexed many, and dominated the blogs and boards for 3 years. Maybe you can link him to the closed blogs on accountability, improvements, H2G2 upgrades etc.?

  • Comment number 44.

    I notice it has become a consistent practice to close the Nick Robinson blog to new comments at around 5pm to 6pm each evening. This means that comments on each thread can only be left if one has the appropriate time together with access to the internet during the day time. As such, and it is very noticeable when one reads through the comments that are placed, the blog is effectively open only to those who don't have a conventional job. As such, the threads fill almost exclusively with a combination of juvenile witterings and overt propaganda from party hacks.

    Frankly, I would be happy enough if Robinson's blog was entirely closed down. Robinson's own entries these days rarely seem to consist of anything more than transcripts of his broadcasts. But to manage the comment threads in the way that they currently are - open to hacks and the under-employed, closed to the working man (and woman), seems at best fatuous, at worst discriminatory.

  • Comment number 45.

    I have to echo Officer Dibble's comments re the search. It does seem very limited on the messageboards (haven't tried it on the blogs) - only going back three months or so, I think? Certainly not exhaustive or comprehensive.

    And "widespread unrest" - only in certain BBC Online areas, I guess, all connected by one factor.

    Any news on improved Hosting for the POV boards, Nick or Ian? Thanks.

  • Comment number 46.

    Pruning?

    Scruffy around the edges?

    Who has been complaining? - I don't recall legions of us saying it was scruffy.

    Does that mean the design is scruffy or the content?
    If it is the content, why is it now requiring to be pruned?

  • Comment number 47.

    Moderation on BBC blogs is outsourced, while the hosts are BBC emnployees.
    Could you confirm that moderation is done by employees of Siemens?
    And where are those moderators based, within or outside the UK?

  • Comment number 48.

    Is that a yes?

  • Comment number 49.

    Just about two years ago I got my hands on a shiny new Android smartphone. I discovered a neat app called BeebPlayer that let me view iPlayer content on this phone.

    The BBC sent in the Lawyers and killed off BeebPlayer.

    I started using another app, called MyPlayer to watch iPlayer content.

    The BBC killed that off as well.

    So, there I was, with a phone perfectly capable of showing iPlayer content, but no apps to use on it.

    The BBC then announced they were writing their own Android iPlayer client. Great!!!

    Errm, no. The BBC iPlayer app needs Android 2.2, so no mobile iPlayer for me.

    My phone is updated to Android 2.2. Finally I can use iPlayer.

    Errm, no, iPlayer relies on Flash, Flash required an ARMv7 based processor, and my phone has an ARMv6 processor.

    So, still no iPlayer.

    Last week I upgraded to a shiny new HTC Sensation. Dual core 1.2Ghz ARMv7 based processor. Finally I get iPlayer back.

    Errm, no.

    No matter what I do, resetting the phone, installing and re-installing Flash and iPlayer, the sound is frequently so far out of sync with the picture that its unwatchable. It frequently stops halfway through programmes, you can't listen to the radio without having the screen on and you can neither save programmes for later viewing or stream over 3G, making it useless when out and about (which, surely, is the whole point of a mobile app.

    So, over 2 years since some bloke, working on his own, produced a respectable iPlayer client that could stream over 3G and play radio in the background, the BBC still cannot produce an iPlayer client that does anything acceptably on one of the most powerful Android devices available.

    And its not just me that thinks this. Look at these rating statistics for iPlayer form the Android market:

    Average rating 2.9

    5 stars: 996
    4 stars: 591
    3 stars: 523
    2 stars: 643
    1 star : 1147

    And the last 10 ratings are all 1 or 2 stars.

  • Comment number 50.

    I'm glad to hear that some of you have enjoyed the Wimbledon HD Streaming trial. We've certainly enjoyed the positive feedback. We also received some extremely precise and detailed bug reports. I'll be feeding those reports into the development process next week - but we're already working on them.

    I'm hoping to post a follow up on the trial next week to summarise what we discovered and explain how the things we learnt will feed into the development process.

    Ian mentioned the idea of making some changes around here. The change I'm most interested in is for us to default to being open about the technologies we're working on and to solicit feedback on them at the earliest possible opportunity.

    I'll expand on that theme in the follow up post next week - but for now I wanted to thank everyone who took the time to participate in the trial and tell us about their experiences. It has already made a difference.

  • Comment number 51.

    @Gareth Adams re comment #10 about mobile iPlayer

    You can watch live TV on an iPad with the iPlayer app. David Madden gave us a video demo of the iPad app in February.

  • Comment number 52.

    OfficerDibble: I agree with your comment about the usability of the blog. I've been trying to make sure I respond promptly to comments on the Wimbledon blog post for the last two weeks and nearly given myself RSI repeatedly refreshing the page and navigating to the end.

    There's code in there to refresh the comments dynamically - it's used when the comments run to multiple pages. I'll investigate whether we could add a 'refresh comments' button that used the same mechanism.

    Thanks for the feedback.

  • Comment number 53.

    Thank you Andy.

  • Comment number 54.

    In reply to Piet Boon @47

    "Moderation on BBC blogs is outsourced, while the hosts are BBC emnployees.
    Could you confirm that moderation is done by employees of Siemens?"

    I'd take that as a "no" Piet, as the post hasn't been removed. I know that the BBC use A N Other* for the messageboards, so I can't see them using a different one for the blogs. Mind you, you never know........

    *Google BBC Moderation Company and scroll ;)

  • Comment number 55.

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

  • Comment number 56.

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

  • Comment number 57.

    @56 and others who mention the complaints procedure. I lodged a formal complaint using the procedure, (once I'd found it) and according to the trust and the BBC all complaints should be responded to within 10 working days. Needless to say it was just over 2 mths before I got a reply and when I did all I got was sent a link to the blog editor I complained about.(incidently said blog was closed for comments, surprise surprise) Basically I was fobbed off.
    I guess if I'd had "Conservative MP for..............." after my name I would have had a completely different reaction/reply and within the stipulated time frame.
    In light of the commercialisation and Tabloidesque way the BBC is going perhaps its time the licence fee was scrapped and the BBC made to find its own way in the real world. My guess is they would be bankrupt in a matter of months. Its easy to be dictatorial, patronising and ignore folk when you know your funds are guarentteed by public funding, not such a clever strategy if you have to pay your own way.
    The current management and Board of Trustees seem to forget who pays their over-inflated salaries and what they're here for.
    I see Nick Reynolds response first points out house rules before dribbling on, what that means is if he or other editors/managers don't like what we post they'll remove it rather than debate the issue. Again, no surprise.

  • Comment number 58.

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

  • Comment number 59.

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

  • Comment number 60.

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

  • Comment number 61.

    Oops! But - but - I gave nothing away....

    #33 is interesting:

    "The strategy spreads the user-generated content around the BBC and integrates it more closely with content, but that does not mean that all messageboards will necessarily close."

    Which message boards are going to stay open, and why? The closing of the disability message board Ouch! has resulted in a massive outcry from its users, but apparently it was an 'editorial decision made by the Ouch! team'. So was it part of 'The Strategy' or not, and could it be saved?

  • Comment number 62.

    'I see Nick Reynolds response first points out house rules before dribbling on, what that means is if he or other editors/managers don't like what we post they'll remove it rather than debate the issue. Again, no surprise.'

    That's an ongoing gripe, isn't it. Funnier still on an 'open post'.

    Re the complaints process. My only experience has been very poor. On choosing the BBC Online option to complain about the board upgrades, I received a standard reply, which didn't address any point I raised. It linked only to moderation issues. I demanded that they reopen the complaint. Did they heck. The second one was answered at least 6 months after.

    It's no wonder the Lords Committee criticised the BBC's complaints process.

    Ian, thanks for the reply. However, will complaints about comments made on BBC Twitter or FB sites be moderated in a similar way?

  • Comment number 63.

    Malyndi - it was both i.e. it was an editorial decision made by the Ouch team which was also consistent with the BBC's strategy on social as laid out in the blog post that Ian has linked to above.

    Can I ask everyone on this thread to:

    a) stay on topic - while this is an open post it is supposed to be about BBC Online

    b) bear in mind the House Rule on abusive behaviour i.e. insulting me personally by saying I am "dribbling on" is not likely to encourage either myself or Ian to find out answers to your questions - so keep it civil please.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 64.

    The first thing I would like to comment on is the first paragraph of this blog. How can this be and "Open Post" if some aspects (prehaps the most importent) of the of the subject namely picture quality is "Off Topic". It is totally illogical to call it "open" when it is infact a closed discussion which is VERY heavilly censored. In fact I would say that the BBC blogs are the most heavilly censored blogs in the free world more akin to to the situation in China. What makes this even worse is that this is state funded as the purchase of the licence is compulsory to have access to any live tv.

  • Comment number 65.

    trevorjharris - only one subject is off topic: BBC HD picture quality.


    As you are well aware BBC HD picture quality was debated extensively on comments on this blog for many many months. At the end of this the BBC Trust gave their verdict. At this point there was nothing to be gained by allowing the conversation to run on, particularly as a small number of users who refused to accept the Trust's verdict continued to comment in a way that disrupted the blog for those who wished to discuss other things.

    This is not censorship. It's simply an attempt to make this blog a civilised, safe space for people to comment.

    Any more comments about BBC HD picture quality will be removed.

    Thanks.

  • Comment number 66.

    For some time people have been complaining that the BBC AAC radio streams have not been available outside of flash. Infact this is no longer true as they have appeared on the Itunes.

    http://forums.digitalspy.co.uk/showthread.php?t=1473061

    I have now programmed these urls into my Internet Radio and they work very well. BBC Radio 3 is even 320kb/s.

    I would however like to ask why there has been no announcement from the BBC?

    For those who miss beebplayer there is an open source iplayer call get_iplayer which works very well.

  • Comment number 67.

    Any update on the POV boards Hosting situation, Nick?

  • Comment number 68.

    what should I do more of; HD
    what should I do less of; Repeats
    what should I keep on doing? Keep BBC HD settings as they are now

    Simples!!!!

  • Comment number 69.

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

  • Comment number 70.

    As I said elsewhere the series record system doesn't work for documentary series which include a programme from another series.

    Moreover even if you try to record a series of consisting of six documentaries you will get a message from the Beeb telling you your ISP may not like it and actually stopping the download and removing it. Incidentally you have to understand BBC4 scheduling. SR is really meant only for once a week series.

  • Comment number 71.

    Cricket-I fear we'll never get a straight answer from anyone(and I am NOT digging at anyone). I am just very annoyed at the implication from the host that it is us LONG-TERM board USERS that have gotten it wrong. Something has changed at the administrative end but without clear explanation.

    From the manymany board closures recently, the conclusion that many of us have drawn is that the rules have been tightened excessively to drive us away. It's certainly working a treat.

    Perhaps someone here could let us know what the future holds for the POV board?

  • Comment number 72.

    @Nick

    Actually this post is not just about "BBC Online" it is also about "BBC iPlayer, and the BBC's other digital and mobile services." That just about covers everything.

    @Ian

    Actually just about everybody bar BBC employees disagree with "The BBC Trust's verdict".

  • Comment number 73.

    Oh can can we stop talking about the licence payer. BBC is for everyone in the uk at anytime who wants to use its services. That what the BBC Trust told me. The licence fund is provided for the BBC to do this in line with its Charter and the other regulatory documents which define it purpose as a content provider etc. I have two licenses but I don't get twice the say as a person who has one, and my partner who has none is not excluded from having a say.

    Are BBC staff not told who and what the BBC is for?

  • Comment number 74.

    Thanks Nick for your reply in #63. However, I still await an answer as to whether the Ouch! board can possibly be saved, especially as users have put forward very good cases why they cannot discuss on social media like Facebook and Twitter the same things that they talk about in a protected, moderated environment like the Ouch! board, ie very personal things relating to disabilities. Posters have described this closure move as the BBC 'throwing them to the wolves' - and looking already at the disablist abuse hurled at supporters of a petition to save the boards (in an unmoderated space), their fears are not unfounded. Unregulated social media is not a safe space for many members of the Ouch! community. What part of this do the BBC not understand?

  • Comment number 75.

    Reply to Message 71:

    "Cricket-I fear we'll never get a straight answer from anyone(and I am NOT digging at anyone). I am just very annoyed at the implication from the host that it is us LONG-TERM board USERS that have gotten it wrong. Something has changed at the administrative end but without clear explanation."

    It would certainly be polite and good customer service for the users to be kept in the loop on any major changes to the boards - which I think the switch to multiple Hosts and a further restriction of the House Rules is.

    "Perhaps someone here could let us know what the future holds for the POV board?"

    Seconded.

  • Comment number 76.

    Please stop doing new things and adding features UNTIL you have the existing ones working! [Posting on Nick Robinson's blog has not been working since this afternoon]

    iPlayer/BBC Online

    Why does it take such a long time to start?

    Listening to the radio or viewing internet TV has a time lag (dependent on congestion etc.) so what is the point of time-checks that are in fact always wrong? Users need to be reminded that the on-line time is always going to be wrong.

    Is there come way that internet radio/TV can be made to be received on time? Pre transmitting and letting the user's pc synchronise with his/her clock which is itself synchronised to a global atomic clock. Waking to internet radio generally shows quite a time lag for example.

  • Comment number 77.

    I agree with Trevor, just because the BBC trust gave their verdict, doesn't mean anything to the majority who disagree. The trust needs to consist of real no public viewers with a passion about the BBC and not bureaucrats who don't know about the true facts when making decisions that affect the licence payers.

  • Comment number 78.

    Can anyone tell me how to format and quote in blogs? I see no advice on it anywhere. It would be a handy thing to have an FAQ on, thanks

  • Comment number 79.

    There is still a thread on the 'Feedback' message board for posts that have been removed, in the spirit of openness, since the House Rules are quite strict on the Beeb web site... http://radiofeedback.proboards.com/

    Nick, a big part of the problem is that you are quick to feel 'insulted', but don't seem to appreciate that beginning a sentence with 'As you are well aware' is also judgemental. With the best will in the world, people may not be approaching a subject from the same perspective as you, so have a different 'awareness' of it. They may frankly be a bit scatter-brained, or even have some form of autism.

    The very real possibility of the latter is what really gets people's goat(s), I think. 'You may recall that BBC HD picture quality has been extensively debated on the blog' might seem a little PC, in avoiding assumptions, but as an alternative to needlessly giving offence...

    In fact, there's always been a PC way to annoy people. Just tell them their views are important, that their comments have been taken on board and are considered by the management when making decisions, and then just behave in a way that makes it crystal clear that their opinions have been ignored. *That's* how you wind people up.

  • Comment number 80.

    I'm sorry if Nick Reynolds feels he's being 'got at' but as joe K says @79, if you blatantly ignore people and carry on regardless then expect to get some flak. Its known as 'taking responsibility for ones own actions'. If you can't do this in management then you shouldn't be in management. Simple as that.
    Going on so called 'listening exercises' AFTER imposing changes isn't sane or sensible. Ignoring the views,opinions and concerns of those you are supposed to represent is frankly not just bad for business but is both arrogant and ignorant. An attitude of 'the beeb knows best' is patronising and a recipe for diaster, guarentteed to provoke serious and yes, at times, nasty, criticism aimed at those who should know better.
    Opening this blog asking for views and opinions on BBC Online AFTER you've made massive cuts and changes is a somewhat useless exercise as any suggestions made now by users would be pointless as you've made clear nothing already done will change.
    It begs the question, what further views/opinions/suggestions do you want? There isn't much else left in terms of BBC Online. You've severely restricted any user participation, you seem intent on pushing Twitter and FB, (I for one won't use either), current moderation policy restricts any attempt at debate, all in all, you've succeeded in shutting down a site that once had a vibrant community and reduced it to a few bloggers and a read only place.
    When I talk to people, both online and in RL about BBC Online and the way its going I get the same response more or less everytime. I get asked why? followed by whats the point? Questions that I for one can't answer and sadly it seems neither can the BBC.

  • Comment number 81.

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

  • Comment number 82.

    Post 80 - very well said :- )

  • Comment number 83.

    @Ian. #33

    Thanks. I managed to squeeze my complaint through something like "BBC Websites (other)" and "Bias". One of my friends over on the Archers board tried to emulate this, though, and gave up after multiple rerouting to irrelevant FAQs. The complaints procedure really needs to be simplified.

  • Comment number 84.

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

  • Comment number 85.


    Less of: "The following error occurred: An unknown error has occurred" please?

    Also teach the designers of iPlayer the difference between "in" and "at" when applied with "expires"! In general more and quicker bug fixing please.

  • Comment number 86.

    I do feel as if this is being done a bit too late, should not an open post session be done before anything is done.

    If you cannot afford the cost of the moderation, why not change that and not the people that it directly affects. Why not let the BBC public who want the sites to remain moderate the sites like most other site I go to, or is the Big Society not for the Beeb. Cut cost back of house first not front of house.

    If you want my view on where the BBC online should go, that is backwards, and start again.

  • Comment number 87.

    Ian,

    Could you please tell us who is the Sponsor of this open blog, as the General Manager of BBC Online already published the workplan and priorities for 2011 and 2012. The PDF can be found on this BBC link:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/img/BBC_Online_FY11_12_Workplan_for_June_Briefing_170611.pdf

    Will our comments be of any influence? Has the Executive Board or Online Board or FM&T Board already approved the workplan?

    Please tell us what your mandate is, or if this is just a place for us to vent our anger?

  • Comment number 88.

    87. At 13:57 2nd Jul 2011, Piet Boon
    ------------------------------------------------

    I particularly noticed, with regards to relocation, new teams under new
    leadership in a new environment have the chance to fashion new and better ways of working.


    This is a typical management statement that I am sure has the best of intentions and I wish every luck to the team members that relocate.

    I do however always look at this kind of aspiration with a thought of reinventing the wheel after losing all the wheelwrights. Surely old teams with the skills have an equal chance of fashioning new and better ways of working, unless they have gone really stale.

    The document covered relationships with suppliers which is of course very important as part of cost control. This does need careful management as I have seen other areas of the BBC struggle to reduce real costs when transferring work to the private sector.

    I don't think the document made any mention of the audience. I find that rather telling.

  • Comment number 89.

    Hi Ian, I am relatively new to the bbc.co.uk website as I am a user in the US. However please consider my feedback as a long-time internet user and worker in the online space. The BBC has a well-earned reputation as a quality content provider around the world. I am grateful, as do many others, for the availability of BBC programs in my country, and I seek it out via BBC America, public broadcasting, DVDs and other media. In particular BBC news is vital watching in my home as access to global news perspective can be sorely lacking. I welcome the BBC's embrace of social media outlets for user engagement-it is reaching us. However, it cheapens the reputation of the BBC to rely on purely proprietary formats for content dissemination. The BBC should be pioneering in its use of open standards for content distribution and pushing hard to get into the arms of anyone who wants it. Not only are you denying revenue opportunities, but you are endangering your own reputation for short-term profit. The BBC can continue to do so much to further art and education in Britain and the world by pushing development on open platforms, media sharing, user/fan "remixes" of content, local user-added news information, making more of its rich catalog available via the internet for free or low-cost access, transcribing and translating content, and more. It should open its gates as wide as possible. I like the BBC iPlayer, and I access it via a UK proxy because many of the programs I am interested in are unavailable here. I am disappointed that brand-new programs are removed from the player so soon after they are aired and that more related content is nowhere to be found. For instance, the recent "Shadow Line" series disappeared almost immediately from the player when the series was off the air. Why? Charge me a fee, I'll pay it. Figure it out, how hard can it really be to make these things available? You have wonderful content, why aren't you doing more with it? I understand turning a profit is vital for survival. It seems the BBC isn't even interested in exploiting what it has, and doesn't bother to exploit better and cheaper technology to further its mission, and frankly, I don't understand why.

  • Comment number 90.

    Can you PLEASE add an area to point out technical problems with broadcast things themselves (eg EPG data, red button stuff, etc.)? I can only ever find ways to make complaints, which are usually read by non-technical people, or point out technical problems about the website.

    My particular problems are:

    * Family Guy on BBC Three on Freeview's timing is VERY off in the EPG. This is a problem for those who use systems without Accurate Record (eg MythTV) or turn Accurate Record off if they don't like it. They usually set the first episode to 20 minutes, which is too short, and the second to 25, which catches the end of the previous one. This is usually OK if both are set to record, but if one is set to record, you can miss the end or get an extra bit at the beginning. Can't you just set both programmes to 23 minutes or something?
    * Click Radio on the BBC World Service. The programme IDs are all the same for every episode, so series link doesn't work, on MythTV at least.


    I've reported both those problems multiple times, but received no answer at all for the first, and a patronising "rescan your box" for the second. I hope posting it here will finally get a solution.

  • Comment number 91.

    I also find the BBC hard to deal with. They portray a free speech agenda, but don't deliver. I search 'Have Your Say' for example to offer my comment on the Greek problem and find nowhere to offer my view. What is the point? Indeed what is the point of the BBC anymore? A left-wing biased organisation that doesn't allow access. As many a poster has said: they are too comfortable, need to earn nothing, and treat us taxpayers/shareholders with contempt. Wonder if this will be censored?!

  • Comment number 92.

    Post 80. Well said. I wouldn't have put it quite so directly, but it needs to be said.

    Allied to the eternally faulty complaints channel, the BBC online offering is in a very sorry state -and all self inflicted by the BBC. Upon hearing reports of the broken complaint channel any responsible senior manager would be on here immediately apologising and promising to fix it forthwith. Instead we get ignored and hit with housekeeping - as if THAT is what is keeping the audience away.

  • Comment number 93.

    @OfficerD, #92

    At some point, somebody, somewhere in the BBC will have been tasked with reducing complaints and rather than doing anything substantive to improve quality they decided to introduce FAQs and force the complaints "tree" to funnel everyone there with no option to back out. Thus, having reduced the number of complaints received they will be assured of their bonus.

    It may just be my cynicism showing, but I have seen nothing to indicate otherwise.

    @Ian, I suspect you can take the fact that the moment an "Open Blog" appears anywhere people seem to *rush* to complain as indicative of the flaws in the "official" complaints system. If we could easily find a place to register these complaints and get them acted upon then perhaps these Blogs could quieten down.

  • Comment number 94.

    'It may just be my cynicism showing, but I have seen nothing to indicate otherwise.'

    No, you're right, Peet, it does rather smack of 'Beware Of The Leopard'...

  • Comment number 95.

    This blog is providing some wonderful submission evidence to the official BBC complaints enquiry.

    Russ

  • Comment number 96.

    The BBC Internet blog has no plans to reduce the length of comments.
    I'm pleased to hear that. I think you will find however that the software has set a word limit. (Either that or the input parser has developed a cache fault or something like that.) I estimate the current limit is in the region of 5k characters.

    Russ

  • Comment number 97.

    Can anyone tell me how to format and quote in blogs? I see no advice on it anywhere.
    Sparrows - see this blog, which has got a number of good examples. (You're right about the need for an FAQ though.)

    Russ

  • Comment number 98.

    The strategy spreads the user-generated content around the BBC and integrates it more closely with content

    That statement is grossly misleading. You have intentionally closed down UGC on the BBC site for radio content. I believe the only remaining UGC relating to debate on BBC programme content is POV. Even then, you refused to comment on the suggestion of putting tweetlinks on MB threads, whilst activing pursuing such a course on blogs. The strategy is one of a pernicious and dogmatic discrimination.

    When will we expect to see the update on social media strategy?

    Russ

  • Comment number 99.

    Oh, is there any reason why stretch-related things seem to be missing from Freesat? First there's no News Multiscreen, which is understandable as an MHEG app would need to be written from scratch. But now, during Wimbledon finals, Freeview had an option to press a button to stretch one half of the picture to the full screen, I heard, and Freesat didn't. Surely it would have been a simple job to put that code on Freesat - I wouldn't have expected it'd need to change at all...

  • Comment number 100.

    Ian will be doing some pruning to the blog which has got a little scruffy round the edges. At some point in the future he will be asking users what they would like to see improved (but that's a discussion for another day).

    Another day? I thought that was the purpose of this open post. Anyway, I would like to see the BBC internet blog move toward a state that is not characterised by the premature closing of threads before questions have been responded to adequately, and where blog threads have clear scopes within which relevant questions are answered by those responsible for promoting the discussion. If there is no intention on the part of the blogger to respond, or is simply making a press release type of announcement, I think this should be made clear upfront, so that we don't need to waste our time.

    Russ

 

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