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A few hints

Eddie Mair | 13:57 UK time, Thursday, 1 February 2007

to make your life easier, I hope.

Several froggers are repeatedly posting the same messages - this doesn't help the system and in fact slows it all down even more. I understand why - when many many hours pass, the temptation to send again is strong...and coupled with the various error messages we've all been getting, it's especially understandable. But really, it makes things terribly slow, and can result in one of the messages being accepted, but all the others being rejected - leading to more frustrated froggers. One recent message was sent ten times. Eeek! That can make the system think you're trying to spam it, and then things start to explode.

Also, some postings have been very long. One recent comment is almost 1500 words long. It may even have been one of mine, so I hold up my hand (though it was full of VERY funny jokes). Brevity is best (he said, in a posting that's heading into a fourth paragraph.

I hope this helps. I'm told our technical capabilities will improve from next month. In the meantime, your patience and adherence to these hopefully useful suggestions are greatly appreciated.


  1. At 02:51 PM on 01 Feb 2007, RJD wrote:

    I agree with you on the "brevity is best"

    But the probable reason for multiple postings of the same message is that people post them again after the system tells them that the first one has been rejected, when in fact it gets through. It also accepts and acknowledges some postings that never ever appear.

    I will only try to send this once!

  2. At 03:14 PM on 01 Feb 2007, Mae Tron wrote:

    Let the Healing Begin

    Preferably in the NHS before it dies around me. Can you manage that too Lord Mair?

    M x

    (Brief enough?)

  3. At 03:19 PM on 01 Feb 2007, silver-fox wrote:


  4. At 03:21 PM on 01 Feb 2007, Mae Tron wrote:

    Let the Healing Begin.

    Especially the NHS if you could stop it from dying around me. The BBC comes first obviously.

    M x

    PS Brief enough?

  5. At 03:33 PM on 01 Feb 2007, Belinda wrote:

    One recent message was sent ten times. Eeek!

    I suspect that one was me, sorry. Of course it is a chicken-and-egg situation: If the blog was working properly, I wouldn't NEED to send the message 10 times.
    I would go on, but apparently I am not allowed to.


  6. At 03:35 PM on 01 Feb 2007, Benjamin Norwood wrote:

    Brevity may be best, but it doesn't excuse you from not paring up your parentheses (look at the end of the "fourth paragraph" sentence...)

    (And it doesn't excuse me for accidentally hitting Enter before entering my name and email address!)

  7. At 03:37 PM on 01 Feb 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Oh Dear -- slap wrists for any offenders who get a message saying that they 'do not have permission to post a comment' and then it goes through anyway!

    So, to clarify Eddies point.

    If you don't see your comment published, wait a day, and then risk the wrath of the new Chairman if you dare to send it again.

    As for suggestions, well something isn't working correctly when the submit button is clicked. Perhaps they replaced the Newsletter server with the blog server, and now it's us getting into trouble!

    Hope this was not toooo many words for the system (:D)

  8. At 03:46 PM on 01 Feb 2007, gossipmistress wrote:

    That's all good advice, but sometimes you really can't tell if it's gone or not. It just never goes onto the next screen, 'error' or 'sent'. So you wait 4 hours to see if it's appeared, then re-post, by which time the discussion has moved on........

  9. At 04:06 PM on 01 Feb 2007, Gillian wrote:

    Eddie, what an exemplary Chairman you would be...firm but sympathetic.....full of empathy and understanding.....blaming us for the Organisation's own problems.......and not one word of advice on how to deal with the ''posted too quickly'' notice when it's my first attempt of the day!

  10. At 04:11 PM on 01 Feb 2007, Gladys Friday? wrote:

    The Today Programme

    Tomorrow morning at 8:10am, John Humphrys will be talking to Prime Minister Tony Blair about the NHS, the public services and domestic policy in general.

  11. At 04:15 PM on 01 Feb 2007, Belinda wrote:

    Never had 'not allowed' notice. Always get 'Network Error' notice. Don't know if post gone to Eddie. Frog network rubbish. No room for pronouns.

  12. At 04:44 PM on 01 Feb 2007, Chrissie the Trekkie wrote:

    Dear Gladys

    Howls of laughter...

  13. At 05:08 PM on 01 Feb 2007, Stewart M wrote:

    Why talk to tony blur about the NHS tomorrow. Today had that woman on this morning. You know the Secretary of state for health. Just the mere thought of her patronism puts my blood pressure up.

    must go and lie down on the beach.

    Is this short enough or shd we use txt spch?

  14. At 05:52 PM on 01 Feb 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Well, For what it's worth I've just had a quick snoop at the latest comments on the Chris Evans blog and it seems one or two of them are also having problems.

    So it appears it's a BBC Blogwide problem.

    I don't think it would be wise to promote the blog too much at the moment Eddie -- or at least -- if you do, tell newbies to stick with it.

    A problem for a future Chairman to investigate I fear.

    Here's to next Month.

  15. At 06:14 PM on 01 Feb 2007, Whisht wrote:

    ah Eddie.... for once your tone has let you down.

    I'm guessing someone at IT sent you those hints while saying its not all their fault and you've then simply just posted it up.

    Probably you're worn down beyond exasperation by the whole thing and they've caught you at a weak moment.

    And you've also got a day job to worry about.... and then people getting on your back cos its frustrating for us writing stuff and then having the system let us down...

    lets get off your back before you pull the plug!

    Let the Healing begin indeed....

  16. At 06:15 PM on 01 Feb 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Eddie, could you stop with the Evangelical Preacher slogans?

    You've only been doing it for a day and already the CD slot on my computer has healed up!

    If anything else heals up I soon won't be able to speamm mmmmfff mmfffmm!

    (That's the clean version folks!)

  17. At 06:17 PM on 01 Feb 2007, Annasee wrote:

    I think Silver Fox might be a good chairman. Meetings would be short, anyway

  18. At 07:05 PM on 01 Feb 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    'Twas I.

    Nuff said.

  19. At 07:16 PM on 01 Feb 2007, Gillian wrote:

    After hearing the views of the Artist-formerly-known-as-Eddie, I wonder what the New Blog Prince has to say on the subject? I think he is probably the one who could perform some real healing just now.

  20. At 08:39 PM on 01 Feb 2007, HelenSparkles wrote:

    Naughty froggers, I gave up when the blog rejected me, & skulked off feeling rejected. Maybe it is good that others are not so easily deterred!

    Well I'm off to sparkle in Spain for an extra long weekend now, but shall be composing essays as I drink rioja; We could have a flog to compare with the New Yorker.

    I would recommend buying a Feburary plane ticket for a Christmas present; it has made the start of our year a delight, and was such a lovely thing for me to find in a card.

  21. At 10:20 PM on 01 Feb 2007, gossipmistress wrote:

    Sparkly Helen - I'm off to Paris tomorrow! We'll have to compare notes! Hope you have a lovely timex

  22. At 10:24 PM on 01 Feb 2007, RJD wrote:

    So things will improve next month. Well let's hope so. My next post will be 1st March.

    If things improve before then perhaps someone will email me.

  23. At 10:52 PM on 01 Feb 2007, gossipmistress wrote:

    On the *Windows on Your World update on
    25th Jan* the thread said:

    We are currently collating all those that we received with a view to finalising the display by the end of January. Then we'll work on posting those that fell through the gaps!

    I might have missed the relevant announcment, so apologies if this has already been answered, but is every photo now displayed? Will you allow any missing ones to be sent again (if we promise not to send them ten times and include 1500 words.... :-/ )

  24. At 10:55 PM on 01 Feb 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    RJD: Will do.

    Eddie: Was the story you did (I may have missed) re Secret Santa? If so, what day, so I can listen again.

    If not, Why not?

    Brevity. The new Healing.

  25. At 11:00 PM on 01 Feb 2007, Molly wrote:

    '' Brevity is best '' - I'd love to be told off
    for writing too much- old slowcoach -that's me.

    Is jonnie back?- gorgeous photo-
    any more for us to see, please?


  26. At 11:05 PM on 01 Feb 2007, Molly wrote:


    Just spotted Jonnie- silly me..

    Sorry J.


  27. At 11:12 PM on 01 Feb 2007, admin annie wrote:

    well have a great time Sparkles and GM. Whereabouts in Spain Helen? please don't say Seville or I shall froth at the mouth and go green, but anyway I hope you enjoy yourselves.

    and welcome back, honestly not rabid Jonnie.

    Local rag today reported that Mr Racial Insult man got found guilty, and fined twice; once for the racially aggravated assault and once for contempt for turning up drunk last time.

    RJD do you really think you can stay away that long?

    anyway I'm off to bed now, I just dropped round with some brandy laced hot chocolate, I was having some so thought some of the rest of you might fancy it too.

  28. At 11:57 PM on 01 Feb 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Re: Helen,

    Have a fab time in Spain, I'll look forward to seeing some lovely pics on your blog.

    Re: Molly. Yes I'm back ! I'll get some more pics up on my Flickr account soon -- and repair the pic bit on the pm extra blog - been lots to catch up on.

    Re: gossipmistress, Have a fab time in Paris, take some pics for us.

    Re: Eric Muir,

    Third attempt in posting this so just copying and re pasting the text in the box now, and hoping. At least the Radio bit seems to be working for you and after all it's the BBC and it's what you do !

    All fun anyway ?

  29. At 12:07 AM on 02 Feb 2007, Valery P wrote:

    Yes - well, they didn't post my one where I said that I agreed with RJD and Gossipmistress. I don't mind being told off if I've done something wrong, but........

    So I've decided to throw my teddy out of the pram, here it goes again..............:o(

  30. At 12:46 AM on 02 Feb 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Re; Valery P

    I think it was the blog Valery!

    In the early days it worked very well and the word 'Brevity' was never mentioned either.

    In fact, having just cast my eye over some of last August postings, we are all much the same bunch, chewing over the daily offerings, so it must be that there are too many other BBC Blogs which have been set up for the system to cope with.

    We seem to be led to believe that moderation is a factor. Surely, as Eddie did with 'Handy Helen' assisting in uploading the WOYW photo's ... Is it not possible for one or two of us to help out in moderating!

    All we need is to adhere to the 'Terms and conditions' as laid out and with the suitable software a few of us could take turns from home in moderating comments. I realise it's not just PM but anything one is unsure about would be merely passed back to the approvals moderator.

    I have seen various links put up by froggers with very dubious stuff on them in the past, so the moderators obviously don't check them, hence I'm still baffled as why it takes so long for some posts to appear if it's down to moderators.

    There -- another nice succinct post

  31. At 01:01 AM on 02 Feb 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Lord Gainford was Chairman of the British Broadcasting Company and then first Vice-Chairman of the Corporation from 1927. An industrialist from Darlington who had been a Liberal MP and briefly Postmaster-General in 1916.

    Earl of Clarendon, aged 49 when became Chairman in 1927. Former Under Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs. Left BBC in 1930 to become Governor-General of South Africa. Died in 1955.

    J.H. Whitley, Liberal MP who was Speaker of House of Commons from 1921 to 1928. Became Chairman in 1930 at age of 64. Died in office.

    Viscount Bridgeman, MP for 23 years who held office in successive Conservative governments. Appointed Chairman in March 1935 aged 70 but died less than five months later.

    R.C. (Ronald Collet) Norman, past chairman of London County Council. Joined Board of Governors as Vice-Chairman in 1933, becoming Chairman in 1935 aged 62. Had to manage final retirement of first BBC Director-General John Reith. Died in 1963.

    Sir Allan Powell, barrister who served on many committees. Became Chairman in 1939, aged 63. One of only two Governors during the first two years of World War Two. Remained Chairman until 1946. Died in 1948.

    Lord Inman. Labour peer closely associated with hospital and church work; had been book publisher and newspaper owner. Became Chairman in 1947 aged 54. Resigned to become Lord Privy Seal in Labour administration after four months.

    Lord Simon of Wythenshawe. Manchester industrialist who had been a Liberal MP but later joined Labour Party. Had also been Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and Lord Mayor of Manchester. Became Chairman in 1947 aged 67. Died in 1960.

    Sir Alexander Cadogan. Experienced diplomat and first former civil servant to be Chairman of BBC when appointed in 1952 aged 67. Had been Britain's permanent representative at the United Nations. Died in 1968.

    Sir Arthur fforde. Former Headmaster of Rugby School. Became Chairman in 1957 aged 57. Resigned through ill health in 1964. Subsequently served as director with many companies.

    Sir James Duff. Became Chairman in 1964 aged 66. Previously Vice-Chairman, a role he reverted to later in 1964. Previously Director of the Department of Education at Manchester University and Vice-Chancellor of Durham University for 21 years. Died in 1970.

    Lord Normanbrook. Chairman from 1964, aged 62, until his death in 1967. Had been Head of the Home Civil Service and Secretary of the Cabinet.

    Lord Hill of Luton. The famed Radio Doctor (Dr Charles Hill) and former Conservative minister, had been Chairman of the Independent Television Authority since 1963. Became BBC Chairman in 1967 aged 63. Term of office ran until 1972.

    Sir Michael Swann. Former Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh University. Became Chairman in 1973 aged 52. Left BBC in 1980 to become Provost of Oriel College, Oxford.

    George Howard. Had been Governor of the BBC for eight years when appointed Chairman in 1980 aged 60. Owner of Castle Howard. Served in World War Two as Major in Green Howards and Indian Army. Wounded in Burma. Former President of the Country Landowners' Association.

    Stuart Young. Accountant and brother of Conservative Cabinet minister Lord Young, had been Governor since 1981 when became Chairman in 1983 aged 49. Held number of appointments including director of Caledonian Airways Ltd and of Tesco Stores (Holdings) plc. Died in office.

    Marmaduke Hussey. Had been Chief Executive of Times Newspapers and Joint Chairman of Great Western Radio. Served in World War Two in Grenadier Guards in Italy. Chairman of Royal Marsden Hospital, 1985-98. Became BBC Chairman in 1986 aged 63. Later Lord Hussey, he died in December 2006 - see press release.

    Sir Christopher Bland. Chairman, Bow Group, 1969-70; Deputy Chairman of the Independent Broadcasting Authority, 1972-80; Chairman, LWT (Holdings) plc, 1984-94; Chairman, NFC, 1994-2000; knighted for NHS work in 1993. Became BBC Chairman in 1996 aged 58. Left after being appointed Chairman of BT.

    Gavyn Davies. Economist. Appointed Chairman in October 2001, aged 50, after being Vice-Chairman from January 2001. Chaired UK Government inquiry into Future Funding of BBC, 1999. Economic adviser to 10 Downing Street Policy Unit, 1976-79. Member of HM Treasury's independent forecasting panel, 1992-97. Resigned as Chairman January 2004 - see statement.

    Michael Grade. Became Chairman in May 2004. Resigned in November 2006 to become Executive Chairman of ITV. Distinguished career including leading roles in commercial television, BBC, film and leisure industries. Became Head of Entertainment and Director of Programmes at London Weekend Television (1973); moved to USA to become President of Embassy Television (1981); joined BBC as Controller BBC-1 (1984) and became Director of Programmes, Television (1986). Spent nine years from 1988 as Chief Executive of Channel 4 Television. 1997, joined First Leisure Corporation, first as Executive Chairman and then as Chief Executive until 1999. See press release

    Eddie Mair presented PM. Before that, he presented Broadcasting House and helped launch BBC Radio Five Live, fronting Midday with Mair, which won him two Sony Award nominations - for News Presentation, and Talk Broadcaster of the Year. After taking hints from his Frogging friends he decided the only way to guarantee the future of the BBC Blogs and publicly admitting that he would willingly sell his house and all it's contents to support the BBC was appointed the Chairman in 2007.

  32. At 01:05 AM on 02 Feb 2007, Valery P wrote:

    Jonnie - well done with the brevity! Good luck for the jabs, I've just been reading through the tales of your search. James is obviously delighted to see you back though, or he wouldn't be being so sarcastic! I'm off to bed now, don't let the jetlag mess you up.

  33. At 01:16 AM on 02 Feb 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Night Val x


  34. At 01:20 AM on 02 Feb 2007, brevity wrote:

    Night Val x

  35. At 09:40 AM on 02 Feb 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Sparkly GM: Bon voyage. Hv gd trip.

  36. At 09:47 AM on 02 Feb 2007, Fifi wrote:

    RJD, Val, Helen -- and anyone else as frustrated as I am with the blog.

    Fifi's Famous Off-Lilypad service has just added another strand.

    Register here (or off-lilypad if you're already in touch by email) and I'll let you know when I think our blood pressure is no longer at risk from random offensive error messages.

    You won't receive any jokes unless you've asked for them separately!

    Fifi : unconvinced but willing to be patient for a little bit longer

    (.. now .. will this post? Or not??)

  37. At 10:14 AM on 02 Feb 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Eddie and the Team:
    re Eddie's helpful hints. Without wishing to doubt the genuine good intention behind these, they do beg a million questions. Firstly, these problems are of recent origin. What has changed to make them happen? Secondly, froggers, for all their many wonderful qualities, cannot 'know' their postings have been accepted when they get messages which indicate the contrary. Error 502 and 'You can't comment' type messages indicate your posting hasn't got through. Hence the repeated posting problem. But, what's a frogger to do, especially if they've crafted a response and don't want to have to retype several hours later when they've finally been able to establish whether or not the original posting has got through? And the blog needs to have a degree of spontaneity, as well as good humour, both of which are now running out.

    I for one can fully understand that these repeated postings will be slowing things down, but the basic problems are, as I've already said, new.

    As to the length of the postings (and I know, especially with the Bush jokes, I've been guilty here of late), that too was never a problem in the past. Or, if it was, it wasn't apparent.

    Okay, froggers are making, for the most part, a genuine effort to follow through your recommendation to be brief at the moment, but is this to be the way forward forever?

    I know that you personally aren't responsible for the technical difficulties of the Blog, but perhaps you could ask those who are why it is that these are problems of very recent origin, and what it is at the root of this changed situation.
    Thank you for reading this. I will also attempt to post it on the Blog so that other froggers know that the points have been raised and to save you getting loads of other posts along similar lines.

  38. At 10:29 AM on 02 Feb 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    With all this talk of Blood Pressure, may I commend the automatic electronic sphygmomanometer currently on offer for £9.99 at a high-street chemist? We haven't yet compared its results with those from the Doctor's machine, but it looks as if it will prove to be accurate.

  39. At 10:50 AM on 02 Feb 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    For interest, The 502 problem is alos affecting the Newsnight and Planet Earth Under Threat blogs, so I don't think it has much to do with froggers' behaviour.
    Yours Aye,
    (if it gets through)

  40. At 10:53 AM on 02 Feb 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Erm Eddie & NBP, I think you may need to push for the improvements to happen earlier than next month, to be honest. I think the system's beginning to run out of steam.....

  41. At 11:58 AM on 02 Feb 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Thinking about the following:

    "That can make the system think you're trying to spam it, and then things start to explode."

    I submit the following. Experimentally, you understand.


  42. At 12:40 PM on 02 Feb 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    FF: So it IS Steam Radio. I always suspected...

  43. At 12:45 PM on 02 Feb 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    FF: So it IS Steam Radio. I always suspected...

  44. At 01:32 PM on 02 Feb 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    On Super Casinos.


  45. At 01:53 PM on 02 Feb 2007, Fearless (but peeved) Fred wrote:

    I'd like to back Big Sis up in her comments. I tried to post on one of todays(Fridays) threads. First time I tried, I got told off for posting to quickly (even though it had been a good hour since my last attempt). Next time, the little blue progress bar went across at the bottom of the window after I'd clicked on the submit button, but I never got to the page that says "thanks for contributing". Instead, the progress indicator disappeared, and the page stayed the say. Third & Fourth attempts came back with the 502 error, so I gave up. Now, however, you can see that the first of the 502s has appeared on "As I Seem To Recall...." as post 12. So it's not terribly surprising that froggers are getting annoyed by this. I doubt there's a vast increase in people posting comments, and I'm not sure the length of comments has increased either....

    I'm NOT having a go at eith er you, Eddie, or you, Marc (NBP). You've been told something by the techies. But I think the whole system needs to be checked. Summat's not right!

  46. At 02:36 PM on 02 Feb 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    I seem to recall someone once telling me that you blame the workman not the tools. And that technology only does what it's programmed to do. Ergo .....?

  47. At 11:36 PM on 03 Feb 2007, whisht wrote:

    you had something here Eddie, unlike a helluva lot of places.

    but it'll soon be gone. Sorry but that's the truth.

    See you all on commercial posting platforms where this doesn't happen (though they're not the same place at all, without the chance encounters and thoughts...)

    ciao till its fixed.

  48. At 10:50 AM on 05 Feb 2007, Electric Dragon wrote:

    I'm just guessing here, but it seems likely that the cause of all this is the sheer popularity of the system. All computer systems have a limit, and if you exceed that limit things are liable to come crashing down about your ears. I can think of several things that contribute.

    1) The BBC is not just running one, or two, blogs, but over fifty. Every time somebody reads a blog or posts a comment or reloads the RSS feed, the server has to do some work. Threads with lots of comments cause rather more work (which is why having new Beaches regularly is a good idea). If the most popular blogs are on the same server, or on a small number of servers, things are going to grind to a halt at busy periods.

    2) The blogs here still rely on manual moderation. Every comment posted on every blog (and the Have Your Say pages) must be read and approved by someone. If they are swamped (or under-resourced), there might be a long queue of posts. I don't know how much comment spam is trying to get through, but seeing the volume on other blogs I do wonder.

    3) There is very little feedback on the problems. It's all very well saying "there are some problems" but it's helpful to say why those problems are occurring, what is being done about them and when it is likely to be resolved.

    1) can only be fixed with more servers or more scalable software. Either way it involves Money and Time. It seems either the system has become a lot more popular than expected or it was woefully under-specced in the first place. (A failure in Capacity management?)

    2) could be fixed by increasing the number of moderators. One possibility I would suggest is to allow the users themselves to be moderators. It is after all in the users' own interest to keep the standard of discourse high. Also move to reactive moderation - publish all comments immediately, but remove them automatically if a complaint (or two or three) is received and only send those to the moderators, who could restore the comment if the complaints aren't upheld.

    3) I would suggest a "meta-blog" or a "tech support blog" where problems with the system (website wide perhaps rather than just blog focused) can be acknowledged openly, and solutions and timescales mentioned. Or have a regular tech update on the "Editors Blog".

  49. At 11:11 AM on 05 Feb 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    I've always wanted an electric dragon, and now I know why!

  50. At 10:12 PM on 05 Feb 2007, Annasee wrote:

    Clever Dragon! They need you at the BBC - quick - fly over there soon. Perhaps hold back on the flame-throwing though (smoke alarms, health & safety etc). Yours is the most sensible letter on the subject I've seen.

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