New ways into blogs
The upgrade to our blog software which I mentioned yesterday seems to have been a success. I promised today I'd explain a bit about changes to the way we're handling comments.
From today you will need to be registered to post comments on any BBC blogs, including any of those which are part of BBC News (Nick Robinson's Newslog, Peston's Picks, Mark Mardell's Euroblog, Justin Webb's America, and others and The Editors, to name a few).
All our research, as well as our instincts, tell us how important it is that one should be able to add comments to a blog. Indeed some would say it is the defining characteristic of a blog - and when a blog author takes part in the comments you can see the value of it. I know we probably don't do this enough in the BBC (something highlighted by Alf Hermida's analysis (pdf link) of BBC News blogs), but will continue to strive to do better.
Since we started blogging in earnest (with Nick Robinson in 2005) across BBC News we have published tens of thousands of comments. And as you might have seen, we have shown ourselves unafraid to publish plenty of comments which are critical of the BBC. We draw the line at comments which are abusive, offensive or libellous, but otherwise we've got a pretty strong stomach for comments. This is part of what people expect from blogs.
However, we have had some technical problems. It's often been frustrating to leave comments (and also frustrating to publish them) because of slow response times. Part of the problem was that we were asking too much of our software. So we thank those of you who have had patience with us and haven't given up. We fully expect the new software upgrade to have addressed our problems.
So why are we introducing registration? One problem we've had is that we were getting overwhelmed with spam - dozens a minute. Registration will help with that. But we're also conscious that whatever part of the BBC website people are using, the basic functions should be the same. So if you have already registered - eg with a messageboard, BBC Sport's 606 or with Have Your Say - then you will not need to register again to comment on blogs. And if you register here on blogs, that will give you access to messageboards, 606 and Have Your Say.
Naturally you will still be able to read everything on the blogs whether or not you have registered or logged in.
We are not alone in this. Many large blog publishers all over the web - including the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, and even blogs like Boing Boing - now have registration. It seems to be an effective balance between maintaining access to the blog and the standard of debate.
In a matter like this there are always competing interests - no doubt some people will feel cheated that they now have to register to leave a comment. Sorry if you feel like that. But we've thought long and hard about the best thing to do, and believe that this is likely to be the most effective and efficient way of publishing as many comments as possible.