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Blog problems

Peter Barron | 13:29 UK time, Friday, 26 October 2007

Many of you have been writing in to complain about problems getting through both on the Editors' blog and on the Newsnight blog pages. I sympathise. Often I try to respond to a comment or complaint about the programme and end up gnawing my knuckles in frustration as the response either doesn't appear for many hours or fails to materialise at all. Hardly the best way to have a free flowing dialogue with our viewers.

Newsnight logoComments to the Editors' blog and the Newsnight blog are actually moderated in different ways, but the simple fact is that neither is currently working nearly well enough. In addition to the long-term problems we've had, this week things were made more difficult by pretty catastrophic technical problems here at the BBC which made publishing anything on the blogs - and on several other parts of the BBC website - impossible. Those particular problems are now sorted, but of course that doesn't mean the ongoing ones are over.

I can only say sorry and thanks for the perseverance you've shown so far. I know that the blog team share my frustration and we are determined to get a better system working soon. The good news is that it's in hand.

When we started blogging using our current platform in November 2005, we were using software which was suitable for our ambitions at the time. Over the past two years those ambitions have grown massively, as has the number of you wanting to comment on our blogs (and the amazing amount of spam we get). Next week we are to receive the results of some analysis done for us on how we adapt the software to enable us to meet our current - and future - ambitions. I'll let you know how it goes.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 06:00 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • KL wrote:

It's very good to hear this, thank you.

BLOGGERHEADS

Why did you wait a "parliamentary" amount of time before acknowledging the extent of the problem? Since Gilligan Gate, are you really an arm of New Labour? Hail: New BBC?

Here goes (or doesn't go) (:o)

  • 3.
  • At 08:24 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Steven Martin wrote:

One major issue is on Have Your Say, and that is the fact that often less than half the comments are published.

Obviously debates have to be closed at some point, but when they are, the remaining messages should be published and not abandoned as is currently the case. Many people have voiced suspicions that censorship is taking place by pushing messages to the bottom of the queue until the debate closes. I have noticed this personally with hundreds of new messages being published ahead of some I have posted.

  • 4.
  • At 09:10 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

"Next week we are to receive the results of some analysis done for us on how we adapt the software to enable us to meet our current-and future-ambitions."

psst....psst. shhh. Mr Barron, if the analysis is fair, objective, and sound it will tell your company to CHUCK OUT THE SOFTWARE, CHUCK OUT THE PEOPLE WHO TOLD YOU TO BUY IT, AND CHUCK OUT THOSE WHO TOLD YOU THEY COULD FIX IT. THIS IS TECHNICALLY PROBABLY THE WORST WEBSITE ON THE INTERNET. The average American high school student could set up and run a more reliable web site than BBC. These blogs are as big a joke as the rest of BBC. It hasn't worked on and off for at least a year. Practically every BBC blog site breaks down every few days. And this is going to send a man to Mars, solve the climate change problem with alternative energy technology, and lead the way as the best place in the world to do business having done battle with Bill Gates and Microsoft. It would serve Europe right if he just stopped doing business there and let you live on Linux and McIntosh. BBC's internet problems are typical of a Europe which cannot figure out how to wire up the seats, galleys, and toilets to turn an aircraft comparable to a 40 year old American designed military air freighter into a European commercial passenger plane. Maybe BBC should scale down its ambitions and just publish letters to the editor. I think most countries including mine still have post offices where they sell postage stamps you stick on paper envelopes and collect those letters for delivery, even to Britain.

  • 5.
  • At 01:34 PM on 27 Oct 2007,
  • Guy Fox wrote:

It's good to know that the editors are aware of the blog problems.

Now that I have made a comment here, I shall push the comment button on my keyboard and see how may hours it will take for the BBC web site to acknowledge the effort.

Here goes... one, two, three! Push!

  • 6.
  • At 06:03 PM on 27 Oct 2007,
  • Mark Riley wrote:

You could always switch to WordPress ?

http://wordpress.com/notable-users/

  • 7.
  • At 06:55 PM on 27 Oct 2007,
  • Bryan wrote:

Mr. Barron, the rot is a lot deeper than you suggest. The BBC evidently has a powerful resistance against employing anyone who can sort this problem out. Next week you'll be looking at the results of an analysis of the problems? Give me a break. Show the current crew that is pretending to help you the door and employ professionals. They’ll have your blogs up and running over a weekend.

Constructive comments by readers will be a great boon. Of course technology has to match the massive interest generated. So the Editors should be given a pat on their backs for stimulating the critical sense. Given time the technological glitches will be resolved. But it is great the BBC is upfront and is determined to include readers' opinions in their strategy to make the debates more inter-active and transparent.

  • 9.
  • At 08:21 AM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Bryan wrote:

Mr. Barron, the rot is a lot deeper than you suggest. The BBC evidently has a powerful resistance against employing anyone who can sort this problem out. Next week you’ll be looking at the results of analysis of the problems?

Give me a break. Show the current crew that is pretending to help you the door and employ professionals. They’ll have your blogs up and running over a weekend.

  • 10.
  • At 08:00 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Claire Toynbee wrote:

Having tried to read the mess of chat, trash and personal interactions that are posted as comments on another major news website, I am very pleased that BBC News has chosen moderation.

I'm sorry to hear, though, that your very popularity is causing problems.

Thank you for staying committed to continuing these blogs!

Better yet, show Windows the door! Remember that the dna system which still works pretty well was largely an in house piece of open source software.

Try Linux or anything but M$-based rubbish, and try and develop or resurrect an in-house expertise and capability. Forget the outsourcing.

I understand you're waiting for an external source to report and advise on the problems the current outsourced pile of stinking ordure has created....I'm American, and might be expected not to recognise the irony, but y'all are Brits.

Slainte
ed

Maybe this is wishful thinking but it does appear to be working better. I just posted something which appeared less than a minute later - is this a record?

Peter

I thought I should correct Ed Iglehart on a couple of factual points. First, the news blogs are running on Movable Type (in perl), on Solaris servers. No Windows involved there.

The DNA service that runs the messageboards and other sites elsewhere on the BBC *is* running on Windows servers, but he's correct that the software is an in-house application (although it's not open-sourced). (Full disclosure: I run the technical team that maintains DNA.)

Most of the rest of the BBC's applications are either perl or Java, and run on various flavours of Unix, mostly Solaris. There's far more open-source on bbc.co.uk than Windows.

Jim (13),

Thanks for the correction, and I'm glad to learn that you're relatively M$-free.

I just couldn't resist 'showing Windows the door' ;-)

It's true that the immovable type stuff seems (for the moment) to be doing better. I know y'all are trying hard behind the scenes, and I do appreciate that and the magnitude of the system and thus the scope for problems.

It's perhaps a decade since I emailed the BBC asking how the world's greatest communications organisation could be so slow to embrace the digital age. Well, since then y'all have come a long way.

Best regards and
Salaam/Shalom/Shanthi/Dorood/Peace
Namaste -ed


wok, n.:
Something to thwow at a wabbit.
(you'll recognise 'fortune')

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