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PM Moderation Clinic

Paul Wakely Paul Wakely | 12:54 UK time, Thursday, 18 June 2009

Hello. I'm the producer of the BBC Central Communities Team, which means I oversee the day-to-day moderation across most of the BBC's social media services such as message boards, community sites like h2g2 or comments on blogs like PM.

If you don't know what moderation is, then you're one of the lucky ones who've never had a message removed, or had another user complain about your post, or spent any time in premoderation. In short, moderation is the process of checking the messages that the BBC publishes on its social media sites. As publisher of your contributions, the BBC can be held liable for the things you write (as can you) so we apply different levels of moderation.

A lot of you will know this, and will probably want to get on with telling me your particular moderation bugbears. However, it still might be helpful to look at my last post about moderation on the Internet blog explaining some of the issues we face and previous posts about some of the legal constraints we work under.

Eighty-eight got the first question in. And the answer's a pretty simple one - the mod didn't spot it was spam, and I'll point that out to them. There's nothing too dodgy about the link, but it breaks the rules about advertising or promoting a site so shouldn't have been passed.

Having admitted the moderation error, I might as well get the excuses in early. Firstly, you may not realise is that the mods don't look at posts in context of the thread. They only view the posts that are placed in the queue in a bespoke interface, and they don't see who's posted it. If need be they can refer it to a supervisor or to our team who can investigate further, but in most cases the mods check the post against a set of guidelines and make the decision there and then.

And even looking at this selection of posts they are still working their way through a queue of over 10,000 each day. So mistakes do happen. Even if they are being 99% accurate, that would still be more than 100 errors every day, and when we review the mod decisions we don't overturn more than a handful a day.

But we still get a lot of complaints about moderation. Which means communication is breaking down somewhere. Which is why I'm going round asking for the views of our users so we can identify the most important areas to improve.

The moderation clinic post on the internet blog and the POV thread went reasonably well - we found a bug, worked out that we need to explain reactive moderation more clearly so we don't get as many complaints about inconsistency and discussed the whole 'viewing out of context' thing.

But we know that some PM folk are highly critical of the moderation on this blog, so fire away, and I'll try to answer what I can between 2 and 4pm today. I can't answer questions on technical stuff such as changes to the software or new blog features, nor commissioning decisions, but if you have a query, gripe, or want to shower the moderators with praise (!) then please post below.

Comments

  • 1. At 1:16pm on 18 Jun 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    I think you do a pretty good job! Thanks.

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  • 2. At 1:17pm on 18 Jun 2009, U14039949 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 3. At 1:18pm on 18 Jun 2009, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    One suggestion: we are told in a form letter that we have been moderated "for the reasons below", but the reasons given in such a mail are far too wide in scope. "It has been found to contravene the House Rules" doesn't tell us what we have actually done wrong, or what phrase or word has been found objectionable.

    Would it be possible to be a little more specific? Since the moderator must know what has been his or her reason for the objection, would it be possible for the objectionable part of the post, the whole of which is copied at the bottom of the form email, to be highlighted in some way so that we know what we did wrong?


    If we want to find out what we did that was so wrong (perhaps in order to avoid using the offensive word or phrase in the future), replying to the email is entirely futile, since we never hear anything more about it. Might it be possible to have a form email for such cases, when someone has replied to the address given at the top of the form email of rejection, either saying "your email has been received" or, better, "your email has been received and forwarded to the appropriate person for sonsideraation"?

    It is very frustrating to be smacked for being naughty and never told why we were smacked! You wouldn't do it to a child; it ought not to be done to an adult either.

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  • 4. At 1:19pm on 18 Jun 2009, Charlie wrote:

    Paul

    thank you for "exposing" yourself - to the PM Bloggers that is. Er, hang-on, let me work on a re-phrasing. And while I do, could you pass comment on the word 'Ah", please?

    These posts appeared last evening on the "Moderation Clinic Thread

    "6. At 7:49pm on 17 Jun 2009, Charlie wrote:
    I wonder, could this situation - my Post @ 21 - be explained? From today's "Speaker Week Day Three" thread. Where, I was quite correctly, corrected for mis-understanding the thread's purpose:

    20. At 5:53pm on 17 Jun 2009, Chris_Ghoti wrote:
    Charlie @ 17, I think the vote is for the ideas, not for whether the individual who has those ideas ought to be Speaker.
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    21. At 6:29pm on 17 Jun 2009, Charlie
    This comment has been referred to the moderators. Explain.

    24. At 7:17pm on 17 Jun 2009, Charlie wrote:
    C-G 20
    Me at 21 wrote: "Ah..."
    In response to your post.
    But, I see I've been "Moderated". Well there's always tomorrow..!

    Anyway, I should add that it's not only Mr Dyke who may not: "sweat-the-small-stuff"

    If you see what I mean, about myself..."

    By 21.30 hrs, my post @ 21 (removed @ 18.29hrs which read: "Ah..."
    had not been re-instated, although now, I see it has. I'd be fascinated to understand the thought process that led to this piece of "Moderation".

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  • 5. At 1:20pm on 18 Jun 2009, U14039949 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 6. At 1:21pm on 18 Jun 2009, U14039949 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 7. At 1:30pm on 18 Jun 2009, T8-eh-T8 wrote:

    I'd like to ask why the standard set by the House Rules is so out of synch with other broadcasting media which the BBC are responsible for?

    We reserve the right to fail messages which

    Are considered likely to disrupt, provoke, attack or offend others
    Are racist, sexist, homophobic, sexually explicit, abusive or otherwise objectionable
    Contain swear words or other language likely to offend
    Break the law or condone or encourage unlawful activity. This includes breach of copyright, defamation and contempt of court.
    Advertise products or services for profit or gain
    Are seen to impersonate someone else
    Include contact details such as phone numbers, postal or email addresses
    Are written in anything other than English - Welsh and Gaelic may be used where marked
    Contain links to other websites which break our Editorial Guidelines
    Describe or encourage activities which could endanger the safety or well-being of others
    Are considered to be spam, that is posts containing the same. or similar, message posted multiple times
    Are considered to be off-topic for the particular message board


    For example many of these House Rules are sensible enough, like prohibiting phone numbers or postal addresses, but the BBC frequesntly broadcast TV shows which contain bad language, for example.

    Why the double standard?

    Also in Rule #2 - 'otherwise objectionable'; this covers just about anything. I find Millwall supporters objectionable, but should that prevent them from posting?

    OK, bad example. Of course it should.

    But you take my point, doesn't this give carte blanche to the Moderation criteria?

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  • 8. At 1:33pm on 18 Jun 2009, Stephen - Leader of STROP wrote:

    Why is this thread not reactively moderated? Most of the people on it seem to be able to argue their corner if they disagree with a comment, and would report a comment if they felt it went too far.

    It is amazing how often when a comment here if post-moderated, those who had already read it are confused as to the reason for its removal.

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  • 9. At 1:43pm on 18 Jun 2009, Charlie wrote:



    Stephen 8

    A few weeks ago Roger Sawyer who was PM Editor for the evening posted his thoughts on "The Glass Box" (I read them) only to see them being removed for mod... Why? I don't know. Anyway, I posted to let Roger know. He too was bemused and posted his comments again using a different format. Yet again, as I read the second version, it too, was removed...

    I saw nothing controversial, contentious or wrong in either post. Yet... Anyway, I've never seen an explanation for that incident. Odd I think.

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  • 10. At 1:46pm on 18 Jun 2009, T8-eh-T8 wrote:

    Are there plans for feedback clinics like this one on other Message Boards?

    I am sure they would be well received on the Religious Topics Message Boards, the Christian and Muslim Topics are moderated quite actively as I am sure you can appreciate.

    Sometimes the discussion can get emotional.

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  • 11. At 1:46pm on 18 Jun 2009, Briantist wrote:

    I think it's funny when you post some tiny bit of Latin (like habeas corpus) or Greek (, dmokratía) and your post gets removed under the not "written in anything other than English" rule.

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  • 12. At 1:56pm on 18 Jun 2009, Briantist wrote:

    Ha ha. Very funny. 2pm clinic, I post at 1:46pm and it's still not been approved 10 minutes later.

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  • 13. At 1:57pm on 18 Jun 2009, Stephen - Leader of STROP wrote:

    Ironic that post 2 (which was pre-moderated) has been allowed through despite clearly being spam (and yes, I have clicked the "complain" link!)

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  • 14. At 1:59pm on 18 Jun 2009, Humph wrote:

    Hello Paul. My main gripe with the moderation process is the length of time that it takes for a decision to pass or fail a post. For example on the Grieg Dyke thread, a comment from Sid (45) posted at 7:55am went into This comment has been referred to the moderators mode by 8:44am (as commented by Frances O - 47). It is still in that position now, over 5 hours later. Do the moderators have a target for deciding x% of referals in y amount of time? If so, what are the figures and how well do you do in reaching your target?

    H.

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  • 15. At 2:00pm on 18 Jun 2009, mittfh wrote:

    (Waits to see how long it takes the mods to notice #2...and whether they treat it as spam/advertising or a topical joke...)

    Here's an interesting question: Roughly speaking, how many mods tend to be on duty at any one time? It would help us get an approximation of any one mod's typical workload...

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  • 16. At 2:05pm on 18 Jun 2009, kleines c wrote:

    Greetings from kleines c. I should perhaps confess to Eddie and the PM team that I never contribute to this particular blog, nor do I ever start discussions on the BBC Radio 4 message boards about the programme. Nevertheless, I do occasionally listen, and I do appreciate, however passively, your efforts.

    On topic, in terms of moderation, Paul, I am, I would admit, occasionally 'modded' by your colleagues, to which I have absolutely no objection. Indeed, I would encourage everyone online to complain about my own particular postings, which often attempt to break every BBC House Rule ever conceived (and plenty which are not).

    In terms of what should be allowed, I commend Immanuel Kant's categorical imperative to the moderation team, and indeed, to everyone on 4. Cheers (Öküzgözü)!

    ;)

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  • 17. At 2:05pm on 18 Jun 2009, Briantist wrote:

    Oh right, why exactly have my posts been not moderated?

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  • 18. At 2:06pm on 18 Jun 2009, mittfh wrote:

    2:02pm - Comment 2 has been referred.
    2:05pm - User now blocked.

    So it took ~45 minutes to get into the queue, but then it was dealt with PDQ (pretty darn quick). Then again, on this thread of all threads, you'd expect the mods to be "on the ball" :)

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  • 19. At 2:06pm on 18 Jun 2009, David_McNickle wrote:

    If I ask why one of my posts was modded and quote it here, will it be modded again?

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  • 20. At 2:06pm on 18 Jun 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    On more than one occasion, I've had a post removed by the mods in response to a complaint, the post has remained in that status, and I've not received an email from the mods. The last time I looked, there was a post made over a week ago that still held that status and about which I still hadn't received a notification.

    If there is no failsafe way to ensure this doesn't ever happen, would it be possible to have an email address available to us that we could use to 'nudge' the mods into action?

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  • 21. At 2:08pm on 18 Jun 2009, Joe_Palooka wrote:

    Hello Paul - how do the Mods cope with Radio Two's Chris Evans blog, which is the most popular blog site in the BBC...?

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  • 22. At 2:11pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    Hello

    I'll work through your questions now, but first I think we'd probably all like to thank the mod who passed comment #2 for making me look a right berk ;-)

    (they have had some valuable feedback that I hope will improve the accuracy of their decisions...)

    Right, here we go...

    Paul

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  • 23. At 2:11pm on 18 Jun 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    Joe_Palooka - If what you say is correct, why are you slumming it here? ;o)

    Give our regards to Chris.

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  • 24. At 2:12pm on 18 Jun 2009, David_McNickle wrote:

    Is this an all questions and no answers thread? A bit like PMQ?

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  • 25. At 2:12pm on 18 Jun 2009, Fearless Fred wrote:

    There are sometimes cases of individuals being banned from the blog system for persistent trolling, only for them to appear again as a new user within 24 hours. Having read through through your explanations, Paul, how do the moderators cope with this sort of action? I understand that you come down on people who have registered more than one ID, so is it possible to do the same for people who seem to come to the blog system at the Beeb to troll persistently even after they've been banned three or four times?

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  • 26. At 2:12pm on 18 Jun 2009, Charlie wrote:

    Humph 14

    Some months ago, I had a comment refered for moderation (don't understand why). it was a Saturday.

    I think I'm correct in saying 36 hrs later the comment hadn't re-appeared or, been removed from the thread.

    So, Monday lunch-time, I "prodded" the Mods and posted words which I believe were "Oh come on, how long do you need to make a decision?)

    I don't think I'm exagerating when I say, within three minutes I, and two colleagues who often use the same computer connection, were reduced to "numbers". Co-incidence, retaliation..?

    Anyway it was a very great shame because my two colleagues, whom I think made very worthwhile contributions have refused to post ever since.

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  • 27. At 2:12pm on 18 Jun 2009, David_McNickle wrote:

    I'm orf to take a nap. Will look at this later.

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  • 28. At 2:13pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #1 Lady_Sue Thank you very much, very kind of you

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  • 29. At 2:15pm on 18 Jun 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    28. Hm, it's starting to sound like PoV ;o)

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  • 30. At 2:17pm on 18 Jun 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    Can I also remind people of the times when Hugh Sykes has been modded for using words that are not English? He has been pretty upset by this at times. Given that he's probably not able to join us in this session, can I raise this issue on his behalf as he has commented on this on the Blog.

    Is there no way that certain people, i.e. BBC employees, could be 'protected'?

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  • 31. At 2:18pm on 18 Jun 2009, eighty-eight wrote:

    Hi Paul!

    Thanks for answering my question. As you've now seen, this seems to happen all too often.

    I'm not sure what you can do, but if pre-moderation doesn't mean that a new commenter's links are treated with suspicion, what does it mean?

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  • 32. At 2:19pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #3 Chris_Ghoti

    Hi Chris

    I covered individual or more detailed responses and why we can't do them in this post:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2009/05/moderation_lets_talk_it_over.html

    but we are working to make the emails clearer and are trialling some tweaks on the Internet blog. I can ask the PM team if they would be happy to try them here.

    I understand that every one would like more information about why they get things removed, but firstly, we can't afford it, and as far as we know we already go much further than comparable organisations in giving failure reasons.

    Hopefully the email and help page changes that result from these posts will make the reasons for removal less murky.

    Cheers

    Paul

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  • 33. At 2:25pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #4 Charlie

    That post was complained about by another user, and the complaint required some further investigation, which is why the mod didn't reject it straight away. After this further investigation the complaint was rejected, and as I look at it now the post has been put back.

    I know it's tempting to rail against the mods in situations like this, but comments are often temporarily hidden as a result of the complaint we've received, so this won't always be obvious to the user.

    Paul

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  • 34. At 2:26pm on 18 Jun 2009, Sid wrote:

    Good afternoon all. I have a number of queries - but while I marshall my thoughts, can you deal with a specific? I posted this in a sensible discussion re prisoners:

    "The Salvation Army work with the dregs of society - the homeless, prisoners, ex-prisoners, the mentally handicapped ... those of us whom polite society would prefer to ignore."

    And it was modded. Any idea why? To me it's an example of how vague the guidelines are.



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  • 35. At 2:27pm on 18 Jun 2009, Mrs Effingham wrote:

    Hello Paul love - do you have a tip for today's Gold Cup at Royal Ascot?

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  • 36. At 2:30pm on 18 Jun 2009, Charlie wrote:


    Fearless 25

    "I understand that you come down on people who have registered more than one ID, so is it possible to do the same for people who seem to come to the blog system at the Beeb to troll persistently even after they've been banned three or four times?"

    Surely, there's a loop-hole in that arguement. For example I have a young niece who regularly uses my home computer to comment on a few sites (family control is always exercised!) But, from what you're saying, were she to wish to post on the PM Blog I'd be "charged" with having two identities.

    Which wouldn't be correct.

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  • 37. At 2:33pm on 18 Jun 2009, eighty-eight wrote:

    While this isn't moderation by the moderators, the approach that used to (and may still be taken) by Anna, the host of the The Choice [Isn't] Yours message board was effectively moderation.

    Anna seemed to have a very particular interpretation of the House Rules (I've given up visiting so I don't know what it's like now) and seemed to close threads for very little reason. At one time, there seemed to be more posts complaining about Anna than anything else.

    When Anna wasn't around, e.g. over the holiday period and at weekends, the board seemed to run itself quite well. So what checks are there on hosts who may have interpreted the House Rules inappropriately?

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  • 38. At 2:40pm on 18 Jun 2009, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Hi Charlie (36) I was thinking more along the lines of someone who has two or more email addresses using each one to create an ID on the Blog system. This has happened in the past, as I understand it, and the moderating team have taken the action of cancelling all bar one of the IDs. It's a valid thing for them to do, as it prevents someone from hijacking the thread by means of a staged argument.

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  • 39. At 2:40pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #7 T8-eh-T8

    Bad language on TV is still in keeping with specific guidelines that form part of the BBC's Editorial Policy, and depend on the target audience, whether it is gratuitous, time of broadcast etc. The boards are visible 24/7 so the rules are only varied by age of intended audience. There's very little swearing in daytime TV, but you would get stronger language in a drama aimed at adults than a kids programme. That's the closest editorial comparison I can make - I hope it helps a bit.

    Yes, otherwise objectionable does cover a lot, but in fact you all agree that "The BBC reserves the right to delete any contribution, or take action against any BBC account, at any time, for any reason. "

    www.bbc.co.uk/terms

    ...which covers a whole lot more.

    Paul

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  • 40. At 2:41pm on 18 Jun 2009, Briantist wrote:

    WHY are my comments not appearing? This is grossly unfair.

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  • 41. At 2:41pm on 18 Jun 2009, Charlie wrote:

    Paul 33

    Thank you for the reponse.

    But, from my perspective, we're really little further forward. Your reply is about as helpful and specific as a pre-formed Moderation e-mail.

    WHY did my post require further investigation? When I know the answer to that, I should be able to avoide further such pit-falls.

    And, by the way, You say within the introduction to this thread:

    "Firstly, you may not realise is that the mods don't look at posts in context of the thread."

    Maybe Paul, that's also a substantial part of the Moderation problem..?

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  • 42. At 2:44pm on 18 Jun 2009, eighty-eight wrote:

    And I can't resist while we've got you here - are you aware of the <br /> problem that the "You are leaving the BBC" message causes in Firefox and are there plans to fix it?

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  • 43. At 2:45pm on 18 Jun 2009, Sid wrote:

    Of the various queries put so far, I'd back Stephen, Leader of STROP's query re reactive moderation as number one so far.

    Many's the time a world crisis/disaster/whatever has blown up, Eddie says 'Feel free to comment on the blog', and what do we get? Strings of 'This comment is awaiting moderation', interspersed with occasional musings from regulars.

    These are people who have been so moved/incensed/puzzled by an item that they've bothered to sign up for the first time, and they get stuck in a queue for hours (yes, hours) while the discussion moves on to other topics.

    Highly commended:

    3 Chris Ghoti (vagueness of reasons for modding)

    7 T8-eh-T8 (double standards - e.g you can't quote bits of ISIHAC on the blog, even though it was on Radio 4 at 6:30 pm)

    8 Briantist (the ban on foreign languages seems anti-elitist to me - not to mention the bizarre modding of children's poems like 'Scouring out the porridge pot, round and round and round, Out with all the scraith and scoopery ...etc' - 'If you'd like to rewrite ...'!!!)

    14 Humph (the length of time it takes to reinstate a post. This usually takes so long that the discussion has usually moved on.)

    25 Fearless Fred (persistent trolling - we all know who we're talking about here - he makes a mockery of the whole idea that there is any effective sanction against persistent offenders who spoil the blog experience for us all)


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  • 44. At 2:45pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #8 Stephen, Leader of STROP

    The moderation status of each service is primarily decided by each division when the blog or board is commissioned, balancing risk against cost. Perhaps the status of the PM blog could indeed be reviewed, but it's not my decision. I'll pass on your comments though.

    Cheers

    Paul

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  • 45. At 2:45pm on 18 Jun 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    Paul and Team @28: you are welcome.

    Why is it that, if there is a particularly irritating blogger who is repeatedly modded, they seem simply to be able to take a new pseudonym and continue under a different guise?

    Is there no way of permanently blocking them?

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  • 46. At 2:46pm on 18 Jun 2009, T8-eh-T8 wrote:

    #39 Paul

    Thank you for your reply.

    Of course you are correct, no matter what our grumbles, we have all agreed to the policy of the BBC being able to remove whatever it sees fit.

    I think, if anything, there is a general confusion about why certain posts are removed.

    Ultimately though, it doesn't really matter does it?

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  • 47. At 2:49pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #9 Charlie

    Roger's account hadn't been set up to show the mods he was BBC staff which led to the problems (there was one bit of his post that required review by a supervisor if he was member of the public, and then we had to follow it up with the team to check it wasn't impersonation!).

    We hope this won't happen again.

    P

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  • 48. At 2:50pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #10 T8-eh-T8

    Hopefully, we'll see. It depends how useful everybody finds them.

    P

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  • 49. At 2:51pm on 18 Jun 2009, mittfh wrote:

    Lady_Sue (45): I asked something similar over on the BBC Internet Blog - here's the response:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2009/05/moderation_lets_talk_it_over.html#P81710037


    "The "intelligent troll" is indeed tricky to deal with, not least because one man's "intelligent troll" is another man's freedom fighter, or something :-) We often get users who attract a lot of complaints but just seem to want a more heated debate than others, and it's sometimes difficult to keep everyone happy.

    Client based filtering is something we've discussed (although I wouldn't have known that's what it was called...). From our point of view our main concern is our responsibility for what goes on bbc.co.uk, but I can see the advantage for the user who just doesn't want to get wound up by someone else - a sort of digital 'talk to the hand'. The main argument against it is that it could lead to more cliques forming, but that tends to happen anyway and there are definite advantages, so your suggestions as to how it could work are much appreciated."

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  • 50. At 2:51pm on 18 Jun 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    Sid@43 makes some pertinent points!

    Agree about the new bloggers being modded. There were dozens and dozens of them blocked last week on one thread that had everyone up in arms.

    Echoes my sentiments above about truly irritating bloggers who sometimes make me want to throw in the keyboard.

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  • 51. At 2:53pm on 18 Jun 2009, funnyJoedunn wrote:

    Lady Sue (45)

    "who is particularly irritating"

    That shortens the list a bit then.

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  • 52. At 2:53pm on 18 Jun 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    mittfh: How ironic! I clicked on your link and got that problem eighty-eight pointed out @42!

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  • 53. At 2:56pm on 18 Jun 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    If said troll were "intelligent", observant, witty or even interesting they might also be described as a "freedom fighter" but more often they are merely wasting page space with ludicrous bangings-on.

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  • 54. At 2:58pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #11 Briantist

    common words and phrases such as 'habeas corpus' shouldn't get removed (and didn't that time). Have you got a link to an example where they have been?

    Cheers

    Paul

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  • 55. At 2:59pm on 18 Jun 2009, Sid wrote:

    A little while back I posted this - and I can see there are one or two phrases which people might find objectionable, particularly if they're politicians - but it would be useful to know which particular bit was found to be beyond the pale.

    "You said we might have views on Burma, which we could air on the blog. Well, I do have views, having nearly crashed my car on the way home listening to Gareth Thomas. If I were polite, Id say he was a mealy-mouthed, weasel worded appeasement monkey. If I were not polite, you would not be able to print my message on the blog. He has snatched the crown from Des Browne, king of vacuous verbiage. I am speechless with anger."

    Can we call politicians mealy-mouthed? Can call them weasel-worded? Can we accuse them of vacuous verbiage? If not, why not?

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  • 56. At 3:03pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #12 and #14 Briantist & Humph

    The target time for 'first line' modding is one hour, and is usually much less (ten minutes at the moment if Briantist's earlier post is representative)

    This is only for posts that the mod can deal with straight away - if they need to be referred to a supervisor, CCT or the hosts (or occasionally even BBC lawyers or editorial policy) they can take much longer. The majority should be processed well within an hour though.

    Paul

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  • 57. At 3:04pm on 18 Jun 2009, T8-eh-T8 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 58. At 3:05pm on 18 Jun 2009, Charlie wrote:

    CCT 47

    "Roger's account hadn't been set up to show the mods he was BBC staff which led to the problems"

    I don't actually know what that means BUT, Roger's two posts most definitely appeard on a white background as do yours.

    So, if others, other than BBC staff can make such posts, how's it done..?

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  • 59. At 3:07pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #15 mittfh

    It varies depending on the size of the backlog - there's always one mod on, 24 hours a day, but typically three or four across all services on a busy afternoon.

    Paul

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  • 60. At 3:07pm on 18 Jun 2009, funnyJoedunn wrote:

    Sid (55)

    To my mine, all you offended were the monkey species with that post.

    Don't do it again.

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  • 61. At 3:07pm on 18 Jun 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    Charlie they might not want to tell you that!

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  • 62. At 3:08pm on 18 Jun 2009, T8-eh-T8 wrote:

    Is there any merit in having a 'bear pit' where anything goes?

    Or at least a site which has an age restriction agreement, where people are able to vent their spleen with eloquence and aplomb, and not worry that they may be exposing the Beeb to sanction?

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  • 63. At 3:09pm on 18 Jun 2009, mittfh wrote:

    I've just had a thought regarding the "Intelligent Troll" argument...

    I understand that complaints relating to persistent behaviour by a single user are delegated away from the main moderation team ("escalated"?), but in such circumstances, do this "second tier" of moderators have the ability to look at the posting history of banned users?

    Obviously it wouldn't affect the moderation of individual posts, but if there was an Intelligent Troll on the loose, it could potentially reduce the amount of time before the user's current alias was put into premoderation or banned. Especially as some intelligent trolls have a very recognisable and unique writing style, or have a "stock" catchphrase that is often repeated in their posts. On the individual post level, this might not get picked up, but if the second tier were able to see that the writing style / catchphrases matched that of a banned user, they would have an increased ability to spot an emerging trend.

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  • 64. At 3:09pm on 18 Jun 2009, funnyJoedunn wrote:

    T8 (57)

    Similar to Sid at (55)

    You offended Geese

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  • 65. At 3:10pm on 18 Jun 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    Paul, if it is really busy as it was last week (what was that thread?) do you call more Mods in to help?

    Is that "all" they do all day, or do they have other responsibilities?

    Are there legal eagles sitting by ready to pounce on potential libel/slander?

    How many Mods are there in total?

    Do you all sit in the same space and swap notes?

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  • 66. At 3:11pm on 18 Jun 2009, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Hi Paul,

    thank you for your reply; I have looked at your posted reasons for not being slightly more specific about the reasons for not having any more exact reason than "because" given for the removal of posts, and since it amounts to "money", that's an end to it. I should have known better.

    ("If the question is 'why don't they...?' the answer is always 'money'." Robert A Heinlein.)

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  • 67. At 3:11pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #19 David_McNickle

    Depends what was in it really... if it was a mistake by the mods then it will probably stay up. If you think you know why it was failed then you could email our team here rather than post it to the boards:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/messageboards/newguide/feedback_form.shtml


    Paul

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  • 68. At 3:13pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #20 Big Sister

    Have you got a link to that post? I doubt anything is sitting with the moderation team for that long, but could have been referred on to someone else

    P

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  • 69. At 3:15pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #21 Joe_Palooka

    Same as any other, the posts just go in the queue...

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  • 70. At 3:15pm on 18 Jun 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    Paul: I'll start tracking it down ....

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  • 71. At 3:19pm on 18 Jun 2009, Charlie wrote:

    Big Sister 20

    "The last time I looked, there was a post made over a week ago that still held that status and about which I still hadn't received a notification."

    Well, I do recall you making a similar comment on the Blog several weeks ago, but I can't for the life of me remember on which thread.

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  • 72. At 3:21pm on 18 Jun 2009, annasee wrote:

    Well, Paul, it's really nice to have you here (wherever "here" is for you).

    I have to admit though, so far your answers seem far too reasonable, and a touch corporate for my taste. What we like on this blog are answers along these lines:

    Q:What will you do about persistent annoying trolls?
    A: Set up a team of snipers from Central communities to hunt them down and kill them.

    Q: My post was modded 6 weeks ago and hasn't been reinstated. What will you do about it?
    A: Give me your address and a crate of champagne will be on its way to you by way of apology.

    Q:How come you've only answered 15% of the questions here so far?
    A: I'm sorry, I've only just learnt to type.

    Q: How come Eddie Mair answered all his questions really quickly when he did a similar session on this blog?
    A: He has someone to type for him. Poor chap can't spell. Don't you know anything about the BBC?

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  • 73. At 3:21pm on 18 Jun 2009, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    There is a point about posts being removed because some member of the blog community has complained about them: when I have done this in the past, an email telling me that the moderation team have decided that there is nothing wrong with the post I had complained about has arrived within minutes, which has confused me as to why a post complained about can be removed for a day or more and then reinstated without further comment.

    What is the reasoning involved in the "banning" foreign phrases? I can't give examples here in case an automatic system catches them and rejects this post, but a large number of phrases in Latin or French, for instance, are current in English usage, and their being banned seems a great nuisance. Is there any way they could be fed into a "dictionary" of standard usage that isn't automatically queried? A sort of "spell-check" that passes them without a human having to intervene? Could their having been "passed" after consideration mean that they were thereafter passed without the need for inspection?

    (Since the moderation team surely cannot possibly look in detail at every post the BBC receives, there must be *some* sort of "triage" set-up that passes all but dodgy ones.)

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  • 74. At 3:22pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #25 Fearless Fred

    We do close the accounts of returning banned users, though they don't always get caught straight away. Ideally hosts and bloggers should spot returning miscreants when they check the nicknames of new users, but this depends on how regularly the hosts are doing this and how easily the user gives themselves away.

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  • 75. At 3:22pm on 18 Jun 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    Here's one made recently, which was finally deemed to have broken house rules, but I was never notified about it, so neither know how I broke them nor had the opportunity to repost 'within rules'

    On the BNP thread:
    485. s At 09:14am on 10 Jun 2009, Big Sister
    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

    I think there was another one before that, too, on a different, and earlier, thread.

    If we don't receive notifications, we neither understand what we've done wrong, nor have a chance to correct it. It is frustrating.

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  • 76. At 3:24pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    (am I only up to 25? Blimey...)

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  • 77. At 3:26pm on 18 Jun 2009, annasee wrote:

    Dear Paul re your 76, I suggest you skip ahead to my 72. It might save you some time...

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  • 78. At 3:27pm on 18 Jun 2009, Sid wrote:

    74 - CCT - whatever it is you do. it doesn't work. We all know one persistent troll who has had a dozen names over the past couple of years, who is regularly banned and returns under a different names spouting the same old tirades for communism.

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  • 79. At 3:27pm on 18 Jun 2009, Richard_SM wrote:


    Paul

    I don't have a problem with the 'Moderation' team. I read the House Rules when I first registered, and I agree with them. Seems straightforward to me.

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  • 80. At 3:28pm on 18 Jun 2009, funnyJoedunn wrote:

    Chris (73)

    I'd like to echo your point about how quickly a reply seems to arrive when you have complained about a post and the mods find nothing wrong. If it can be dealt with this quickly for this purpose, you would have thought there would be no lengthy waiting for other considerations. At least thats what logic would say. Then again logic dosen't seem to be a best friend at times.

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  • 81. At 3:28pm on 18 Jun 2009, Briantist wrote:

    #54 I can't remember exactly when the last time something with Latin or Greek got removed, after it happening several times I stopped them posting on bbc.co.uk

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  • 82. At 3:29pm on 18 Jun 2009, Sid wrote:

    annasee - I don't even think we need a vote on that! Jolly good ideas.

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  • 83. At 3:29pm on 18 Jun 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    Well, I've just trawled through my inbox and found a response which did eventually come through two days later - which hardly fits in the five hour window you mentioned, Paul. However, when I click on the link contained in the email, there is an error message, so I'm unable to double check if that was the post in question. On balance, though, I suspect it was.

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  • 84. At 3:29pm on 18 Jun 2009, FemaleRambo wrote:

    When a comment is rejected by the moderator, it is sometimes difficult to understand which house rule was broken. We are told we can edit the comment and post again....but sometimes it is difficult to know which bit to edit. It would be helpful if the moderator at least gave some indication- eg 'racist' or 'likely to offend' etc. or better still highlighted the offending text.

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  • 85. At 3:31pm on 18 Jun 2009, Briantist wrote:

    #56 It's very confusing when you post on here and a message pops up about "being a new user". I suspect I have been using bbc.co.uk longer than anyone else here....!

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  • 86. At 3:31pm on 18 Jun 2009, Richard_SM wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 87. At 3:31pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #26 Charlie

    To be honest, I can only see this being co-incidence - the mods don't have the power to ban, only supervisors, hosts and CCT, so I can't see it's likely that it was any kind of 'retaliation' with the way we work and share info.

    If you want us to look into it, please send us a link via the feedback form page I posted above

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  • 88. At 3:32pm on 18 Jun 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    Richard (79): I suspect all the regulars have read the House Rules on more than one occasion, and I doubt any of us disagree with them. The problem is how they are applied. Oh, and the bits that aren't spelt out in the House Rules, like the ban on certain letters of the alphabet ....

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  • 89. At 3:33pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #30 Big Sister

    Sounds like the same problem that Roger Sawyer had, but I'll try to look into it later

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  • 90. At 3:34pm on 18 Jun 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    Cheers, Paul - Much appreciated!

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  • 91. At 3:35pm on 18 Jun 2009, TV Licence fee payer against BBC censorship wrote:

    What's the point, any topic to hot to answer will just get moderated out...

    Anyone else see the irony of the BBC hosting a two way forum on BBC moderation policy when it's in the powers of the BBC to remove comments that are likely to be embarrassing, to be replaced by a standard comment suggesting that the comment had "broken the House Rules"?!

    Also in the last few days the number of comments that have been censored, not moderated, by the BBC has been disgusting, the BBC is loosing all trust. When a complaint is made to either the BBC complaints department or the BBC Trust any reply just suggests adding a comment on the blog that has caused the complaint - go figure!

    No doubt this comment will be removed.

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  • 92. At 3:36pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #31 eighty-eight

    I'm not sure that 'suspicion' is the right word, but new members posts should ceratinly be checked - your example and #2 in this thread have demonstrated that the mods are making mistakes in this area, so I'll speak to them further to see how this can be improved.

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  • 93. At 3:36pm on 18 Jun 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    Paul: see Big Sister's comment above:

    485. s At 09:14am on 10 Jun 2009, Big Sister

    I've notice there is a little "s" after the number and before the time. What does this mean.

    annasee - very amusing but couldn't we request the champagne be sent to the beach so we can all share it?

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  • 94. At 3:38pm on 18 Jun 2009, Sid wrote:

    Here's a comment of mine still awaiting moderation after 5 weeks:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/pm/2009/05/its_true_the_pm_theme_returns.shtml

    I don't remember what I said, and I don't really care if it comes back or not - but it's plainly slipped through the system.

    (It's no. 1)

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  • 95. At 3:38pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #34 Sid

    If you have a link to the specific post I can have a closer look, but I suggest it may have been pulled on offence grounds for describing mentally handicapped people as the "dregs of society". I could be wrong though - as I say, I might be able to find out more if you have a link.

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  • 96. At 3:47pm on 18 Jun 2009, Briantist wrote:

    Just testing the out the "pound" problem? £

    Typing in ampersand pound semicolon worked & pound ;

    Pressing the pound key did not £

    café - garçon - Het - å

    I get

    'Reference to undeclared entity 'pound' on line 1' and '3'

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  • 97. At 3:48pm on 18 Jun 2009, Looternite wrote:

    if only English is allowed how come so many Burns quotes get through.

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  • 98. At 3:50pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #41 Charlie

    Your post didn't require further investigation, as I've said the *complaint* did - we've no way of decoupling the complaint from the post, so sometimes posts get hidden for a while when a tricky complaint is looked at.

    As that complaint was made confidentially by another user, I won't go into further detail - I'm sure you wouldn't be happy to alert posts on the boards if you thought I was going to post about it on the blog at a later date.

    I realise that this can be frustrating, but this kind of situation (post ok, complaint needs looking at) is really very rare. I will review the wording and the messages sent out in this instance and see what we can do to improve things.

    Regarding moderating in context, I don't know if you saw this link in my post:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbpointsofview/F1951574?thread=6615935&skip=60&show=20#p80642029

    which explains some of the editorial reasons why we do things this way. However, it is mainly money - the mods have to process a lot of material very efficiently and reading through threads would cost many millions more per year. If you want to write to Mark Thompson to ask him to give my department a few million, please do. Oh, and I'd quite like a private jet as well while you've got his attention

    :-D

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  • 99. At 3:51pm on 18 Jun 2009, Briantist wrote:

    The point of poist "96" above is that I can't (using Windows 7 and Chome) post the UK national currency symbol.

    caf - garon - Het -

    This was caf e-acute, gar-c-ceddilla-on - Het Ij (as a ligature) and "Briantist" in various characters. (å)

    It would be handy for UTF-8 to work, or at least for things like "e-acute" to map to "e".

    The MOST annoying this about this is they get shown in the Preview and then disappear when the page is refreshed!

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  • 100. At 3:56pm on 18 Jun 2009, Sid wrote:

    95 Paul - thanks. But I suspect this illustrates the problem of not looking at posts in context. Of course the mentally handicapped are not the dregs of society (nor are the homeless or prisoners, for that matter) - as the context would have made clear.

    And I can't give you a more precise reference, as it's been deleted ...

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  • 101. At 3:57pm on 18 Jun 2009, Briantist wrote:

    Does ampersand-hash-163-semicolon £ work for pound?

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  • 102. At 4:01pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #45 Lady_Sue (and all the other posts about returning trolls)

    I don't think I'm giving too much away by saying that no-one can be permanently blocked, due to the way the internet itself works. Can't be done.

    As to catching them, as I've said it's partly down to the hosts spotting their return as they diligently check the names of new joiners each morning.

    When you see someone you suspect is a banned user, do you alert the mods saying 'I think this is so and so'?

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  • 103. At 4:02pm on 18 Jun 2009, eighty-eight wrote:

    Briantist - have a look here for various tips and tricks to get around the character problems.

    Out of interest, where is Ed these days?

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  • 104. At 4:04pm on 18 Jun 2009, Sid wrote:

    Further to my 100 - it was 5th May AM Glass box, no. 43:

    39. At 00:00am on 06 May 2009, bigbuzzard wrote:
    Jim #32 et al. A good friend now works for the Salvation Army's Homelessness dept. In the same office is a small team of people whose job is tracing missing people and reuniting them (very sensitively I believe) with their families. Apparently this happens for several people every day of the week. One of several ways my eyes have been opened about this organisation that I always thought had one very good brass band, and lots of little ones. They deserve a lot of respect.
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    40. At 09:06am on 06 May 2009, Sid wrote:
    bigbuzzard - 100% agree with your assessment of the Salvation Army.
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    41. At 09:24am on 06 May 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:
    bigbuzzard: I had no idea the Salvation Army did that - would certainly make an interesting piece.
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    42. At 10:19am on 06 May 2009, Big Sister wrote:
    Yes, the Sallie Army is a wonderful organisation in many ways. It has a fine view of Christianity: Don't wait for people to come to the Church, let the Church go out to the people on their own terms.

    My father and his family survived through terrible poverty between the wars in part due to being sustained by one of their soup kitchens. An old friend of mine was one of the Joystrings.

    If you go to Salisbury on a Saturday, you are pretty sure of free entertainment in the High Street. When we go there, we have to remember to take a different route as it scared the hell out of Monty when he first saw them ;o)
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    43. s At 11:30pm on 07 May 2009, Sid
    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

    44. At 7:10pm on 08 May 2009, Sid wrote:
    Anybody got any idea why my 43 broke the house rules???

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  • 105. At 4:04pm on 18 Jun 2009, Briantist wrote:

    My point of #96 #99 and #101 is can the mods spot the unprintable character symbol and replace it with a pound?

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  • 106. At 4:05pm on 18 Jun 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    Paul@ 102: I didn't realise we could alert the Mods to "banned" users. I'm not sure how to find out if someone is banned, or not.

    However, will be most diligent to do same in future.

    I note it's 4pm and you're probably hanging out for a cuppa by now. Many thanks for all your comments and taking the time and trouble to talk to us.

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  • 107. At 4:06pm on 18 Jun 2009, hackerjack wrote:

    Why do you steadfastly continue to remove comments on blogs, HYS and 606 and send out the useless stock email saying something was innapropriate without an elaboration whatsoever.

    If there was genuinely a problem then at least have the decency and openness to provide a quote of the phrase and an explaination of the rule broken.This will allow us to understand better the problems with our posts (which without the original text can be impossible to work out) and also will remove any idea of a post being removed because the mod disagreed with it's sentiment.

    Until this simple step (that would at least show some respect to the poster) is taken then you will continue to get problems and a bad name for being one-eyed and biased.

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  • 108. At 4:07pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #72 annasee

    "Q:What will you do about persistent annoying trolls?
    A: Set up a team of snipers from Central communities to hunt them down and kill them."

    Sadly, cutbacks in the BBC's weapons unit make this a pipe-dream for the likes of us. Only the on-air talent get firearms these days...

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  • 109. At 4:16pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #58 Charlie

    "I don't actually know what that means BUT, Roger's two posts most definitely appeard on a white background as do yours. "


    Sorry if I wasn't clear - Roger's account was a standard account, so he got moderated along with everyone else. Once we'd worked out it was him, we corrected the settings of his account, so his posts then had the white background. This gets retrospectively applied to the existing posts, so when you look at them now it looks like they had the right setting.

    (any clearer? I can't tell anymore, I've been at this too long without coffee...)

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  • 110. At 4:19pm on 18 Jun 2009, Stephen - Leader of STROP wrote:

    Eddie - if you're reading this, fire up the coffee machine and get a double-shot latte sent over to the poor man!

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  • 111. At 4:20pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #62 T8-eh-T8

    "Is there any merit in having a 'bear pit' where anything goes?"

    We'd still be liable as publishers of the material so we'd still have to moderate it.

    "Or at least a site which has an age restriction agreement, where people are able to vent their spleen with eloquence and aplomb, and not worry that they may be exposing the Beeb to sanction?"

    There is somewhere where you can vent spleen without exposing the Beeb to sanction - the rest of the internet, where it's not our problem :-D

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  • 112. At 4:27pm on 18 Jun 2009, Fifi wrote:

    'can't afford' to tell us which of the house rules we've broken, even?

    I'd have thought a standard email response to the 'miscreant', incorporating a checklist where the mod ticks the relevant house rule, would be more informative than the present wording.

    It also strikes me that by teaching us the errors of our ways as we go along, we get better at not erring, and thus free more mod-time for genuine cases of trollery, publicity, spamming, etc.

    And, oh {expletive}, it's nearly 4.30!

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  • 113. At 4:29pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #73 Chris_Ghoti

    Again, this comes down to the nature of the post or complaint, and whether it needs further review. If the decision was a straightforward one, you'll have got a reply very soon. If not, you might have to wait. It's not to do with whether it's a user complaint, or a new post, or anything else.

    There's only one foreign word that's blocked by a filter, and that one is really obscene...

    Other than the simple blocking (where you are actually prevented from posting) there is NO automatic failing or passing of posts. If you have a post removed the decision was made by a live human being. And posts really shouldn't get failed if the phrases are in common usage, so if you've got some example posts I'd be pleased to see them so I can discuss them with the mods. I'll raise it as an issue anyway.

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  • 114. At 4:30pm on 18 Jun 2009, Anne P. wrote:

    Thanks, Paul. Couldn't make it for the interactive session, but your availability and answers much appreciated.

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  • 115. At 4:35pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #112 Fifi

    "I'd have thought a standard email response to the 'miscreant', incorporating a checklist where the mod ticks the relevant house rule, would be more informative than the present wording."

    That's pretty much what there is: there's a selection of standard emails and the mod picks the rule that was broken from a drop-down.

    As I've said, we've got tweaked versions of the emails trialling on the Internet blog, so perhaps I can convince PM to give it a go as well ;-)

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  • 116. At 4:39pm on 18 Jun 2009, Charlie wrote:

    Paul 109

    You say:
    "Sorry if I wasn't clear - Roger's account was a standard account, so he got moderated along with everyone else. Once we'd worked out it was him, we corrected the settings of his account, so his posts then had the white background. This gets retrospectively applied to the existing posts, so when you look at them now it looks like they had the right setting.

    (any clearer? I can't tell anymore, I've been at this too long without coffee...)"

    'Fraid it's not any clearer Paul. In fact, it's murkier.

    When Roger FIRST posted his Glass Box comment, it was on a white background, similarly his re-vamped attempt several minutes later was on a white background.

    Both posts were THEN removed and I certainly never saw them re-instated - not that I re-visited that particular thread after the day of its origin.

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  • 117. At 4:39pm on 18 Jun 2009, David_McNickle wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 118. At 4:40pm on 18 Jun 2009, mittfh wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 119. At 4:49pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    #116 Charlie

    "When Roger FIRST posted his Glass Box comment, it was on a white background, similarly his re-vamped attempt several minutes later was on a white background."

    I took the phone message from Roger and added the permissions to his account. He'd made those posts with a standard account and they initially appeared as if from a regular punter. You might have first seen them just after I changed them, or the changes might have displayed inconsistently on different servers, I don't know, but his posts were made with a standard account.

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  • 120. At 4:50pm on 18 Jun 2009, jonnie wrote:

    That was a fascinating insight and answered lots of my questions -

    Thank you so much.

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  • 121. At 4:51pm on 18 Jun 2009, Central Communities Team wrote:

    Right, it's nearly 5 and I do need a coffee and to get on with the regular grind. Thanks for all your comments, and sorry to anyone who's query I've missed. I'll try to get through the rest, particularly those with specific examples and get back to you, either by posting here or by email if that's more appropriate.

    When we've worked out exactly what we've learned and made some improvements I'll come back and update you.

    I'll close these comments at 5, so jump in with any more queries quickly before I do.

    Cheers, I've found it really helpful :-)

    Paul

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  • 122. At 4:55pm on 18 Jun 2009, Gillianian wrote:

    Thanks for your (over)time Paul ;o)

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  • 123. At 4:56pm on 18 Jun 2009, jonnie wrote:

    Paul -

    Do you find us strange - especially when you read the comments on the Beach?

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  • 124. At 4:57pm on 18 Jun 2009, Stephen - Leader of STROP wrote:

    Indeed, thankyou for your time and insights

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  • 125. At 4:59pm on 18 Jun 2009, Charlie wrote:

    Paul 121

    Thanks for the "other-viewpoint".

    Look forward to the up-date.

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