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External linking: How are we doing?

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Host Host | 12:31 UK time, Friday, 7 October 2011

Last year we at the News website were tasked with doubling the number of click-throughs to external sites by 2013, as part of the BBC's Strategy Review.

Screenshot of BBC News external links

This was something I discussed at a panel session I was taking part in at yesterday's News:Rewired conference, organised by Journalism.co.uk, and I wanted to write briefly here about our ongoing efforts to improve the ways in which we link externally from our news articles.

Having asked for the figures from our research team for my presentation, it was great to hear that we appear to be well on track to achieve the goal set for us.

Looking back at the third quarter of 2010, we had an average of around 2.9m external click-throughs per month from UK users. That period - last year's July, August & September - was around the time of the redesign of the News website. That meant, among other changes, that the 'From other news sites' and 'Related internet links' sections moved from the right-hand side to the bottom of news stories. And we have also been doing more linking to external sources from within the text of story pages.

The figures for the third quarter of this year show that all this has had an effect, and it looks as though we've been getting something right. The monthly average is now around 6.1m click-throughs i.e. more than double what it was last year. One caveat is that there have been some big news stories over this period, including the August riots, Norway shootings and Amy Winehouse's death. Another caveat is that we are using a different method to measure the figures now, so whilst the comparison should be pretty accurate, there's a small margin for error.

It's interesting too when looking at the figures, to see where the traffic goes - who are we linking to? Around one-third goes to other news sites via 'Moreover' - the technology behind the 'From Other News Sites' box which is included on many BBC News stories. The top destinations for external click-throughs in any month depends largely on what the top stories are for that period, for example in February this year there was news of the street-level crime maps being published (www.police.uk) , ITV footage of an elderly lady confronting armed robbers (www.itv.com) and stories about tickets for the Olympics in 2012 (www.london2012.com). Those sites all showed up high in our list of onward referrals.

And just to be clear, it’s not that we don’t want you to stay with us - we do, of course . There’s lots of great content around the BBC site, we're proud of it and want you to explore it, but helping you to find relevant and useful information , whether on other news sites or from non-news sources, is also a key part of what we should be doing as a news provider. From this latest snapshot of where we are with external linking it does look as though we are getting better at doing that, but there’s always room to do more, so if you have ideas on this, let us know.

Update, 10:49: Tuesday 11 October: Thanks for all the comments on this post, I wanted to reply to a few of them briefly:

Kit Green: No reciprocal agreements, we are assuming that by and large if we provide a good link, people will come back – at some stage.

Josh: You are quite right: The link should be www.police.uk to get the postcode search for local crime maps and data. Sorry about that.

Christina, Whitefall: Yes, point taken. We are acutely aware of the benefit and value of linking to source reports, and will continue to aim to do this whenever we can. There are sometimes practical issues which make this difficult such as when the report is under embargo at time of writing, or there is a paywall. But in principle I quite agree it is the right thing to do.

Horsenanny: Very glad you have found the site useful and informative.

Bluesberry: I don’t have a reply to hand on your South America query, but if you get in touch I can seek one.

Maddyn10, Shakygorilla1: We have been covering the US protests – for example here and on the related links to our other coverage from this story.

Eddy from Waring: Yes – quantity is a crude measure, but it is a start. Relevance and quality are clearly key. We measure clickthroughs, so the fact that someone has followed a link does at least imply some value.

Pratish: I have passed your correction on to WHYS.

David: On the reasons for the linking targets – there’s more here and in the link from that post to the Mark Thompson Strategy Review document.

Steve Herrmann is editor of the BBC News website.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

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

  • Comment number 2.

    Are there reciprocal agreements with other news providers? While I understand and support the need for users to obtain diverse views on various subjects I am concerned that the BBC gets the short straw here.

  • Comment number 3.

    The new web site looks good. The only complaint that I have is the little amount of words that we are allowed to write in response to BBC blogs.
    Sometimes the blog needs an answer [especially with complicated articles] greater than what you allow us. Please review this again.

  • Comment number 4.

    I was very disappointed with two external links yesterday on the Business News which used deceptive advertising. http://www.moneyandmarkets.com and http://www.weissinc.com/

  • Comment number 5.

    Hot linking can be a problem, like any else it can be abused - that's the way of things. This being a quiet spot - consider this. Economic activity SHOULD by quantifiable variations = and follow the oil price. That is a fundemental and historically, a truth. Where deviation occurs, there is room for serious study of the variance. The ONS now have corrected for the last 10 years.
    Changing from the retail price index measure of inflation to the consumer price index, which is usually lower, was a major cause of the revisions. In 2003, this change cut the GDP deflator used by 0.8 percentage points.

    Comparing the new stats, certainly GDP growth, against the chart of oil price, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business/market_data/commodities/143908/twelve_month.stm offers interesting and realistic insight to what should be as easy to work out as falling off logs. Economic activity is entirely reflected in the oil price chart.
    This is something anyone can assess rather quickly and ....... go on, have a go.
    Get fundemental.

  • Comment number 6.

    Steve, there's a little problem with your Police link; it's www.police.uk, not .gov.uk.

  • Comment number 7.

    I think linking to your articles' sources (e.g. the relevant scientific publication, the relevant paragraph of a new law) is much more helpful than sending your readers around the internet looking for fancy news.
    Personally, I have more respect for news providers that look like their doing their research and verifying their sources than those who link to some partner site (which I've already browsed, most probably).
    If I wanted to see what others say on a topic I'd go to twitter.

  • Comment number 8.

    I live in the US. I began reading the BBC's news version concerning my country and found it to be much more informative. I recommended it to some friends and they agree. Our news agencies are all so slanted in one direction that it's virtually impossible to get even a hint of the real story. That's when I found that often, you will cover something on it. Thank you. It is sad to feel one is only being fed propaganda instead of news, especially with the important issues of the day over here. Thank you for showing an interest in our country. We need ally's such as you.

  • Comment number 9.

    '1. At 13:10 7th Oct 2011, ShaGGy_UK wrote:
    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules.


    For more irony, it could have course have been...

    '[Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]'

    Though this will serve pretty well, too..

    '6. At 22:45 7th Oct 2011, Josh wrote:
    Steve, there's a little problem with your Police link; it's www.police.uk, not .gov.uk.


    Still uncorrected.

    Blame the cuts.

  • Comment number 10.

    The policy is wrong. It makes the BBC website which we the license fee payer already own more of a target for every scum bag out there who wants to game Google's search results by gaining a link. Who came up with this policy about our website?

  • Comment number 11.

    Never use them. Don't want to use them.
    When I go to BBC - my most trusted source for news/info - that's what I want BBC (pure & simple).
    I've often wondered though why you do not have a specific editor/journalist assigned to South America. Why is this?

  • Comment number 12.

    I like it that they link externally, why not link to more like Zombie Apocalypse, more to satisfy our interests?

  • Comment number 13.

    I find it highly frustrating that when there's a story about "a report released today by X", we're lucky if we get a link to X's main site with no hint of where to find the report. Please link the actual report itself! If it's interesting enough to write a story on, there's going to be people want to read the source material.

    I understand that direct links to other sites become invalid with time, but when it's a fresh story this isn't an excuse.

  • Comment number 14.

    Why isn't the BBC News covering the fact that serious translation errors are taking place in the trial of Lynsey Anne-Hawkers trial?
    http://www.debito.org/?p=9269

  • Comment number 15.

    I see little evidence of Click-Thorough links to the world's major environmental sites on the Richard Black on Environment site.

    Now the BBC has stopped contributors from making argued comment and engaging in profound debate, where are the BBC/Black links to sites where the concerned can meet and discuss?

    Readers of Wikinomics will recognise the BBC constraints as a Canute attempt to arrest the tide of progress.

  • Comment number 16.

    "I've often wondered though why you do not have a specific editor/journalist assigned to South America.
    Why is this?"

    (BluesBerry #11)

    Though there is no salaried editor/journalist/correspondent, and little evidence of use of consistent stringers, I did, until the restructuring of BBC Online, post regularly on the South American condition.

    And, to be honest, the accumulation of the many points of view expressed on the South Atlantic/South American new agency Mercopress, provides me with a comprehensive and 'balanced' understanding, with which I can (and do) furnish comment on BBC online.

    Perhaps the days of relying on the salaried professional journalist, coralled and reporting from the Press Hotel far away from the action, are numbered.

    You should accept that the likes of Globo News, reporting on the military/military police/police retaking of the Brazilian favelas, present a much better report of the news than the BBC, culling second-hand from half a world away. Though the 'storming of the Favelas' makes prize-winning newscasts, the knock-on effect is the really interesting part, and this rarely is collated into articles and news items; this is where the likes of me show their worth.

    Pity it's compacted into so few words, though.
    Makes it hardly worthwhile.

  • Comment number 17.

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

  • Comment number 18.

    The goal of doubling the number of click-throughs to external sites is worthwhile. Even though this can sometimes lead to spam or commercial linking (and safeguards must be implemented to keep these to a minimum) it's a small price to pay for having immediate access to information related to the item or article we're interested in. The BBC must be aware that the future of news is on the internet. This strategy ensures that the BBC is the first point of call because the reader knows there is real value in the links within or surrounding the news.

  • Comment number 19.

    Could you please keep at least one blog OPEN on the Scottish political site.
    just as interesting discussions start things get cut off in mid-stream and
    then who knows when another one opens up. Surely there are a few deputy
    political editors around who can pick up the slack.

  • Comment number 20.

    As BBC editor I find it almost unbeleivable that you have not fully covered the wall street occupation and the other demonstrations taking place in the US - you give more space to the michael jackson tribute!

  • Comment number 21.

    This assumes that a click-through is a Good Thing, and so twice as many are perhaps twice as good, it seems to me.

    It's not at all clear though, what would be the ideal number, or how that would be decided.

    I'd have thought it would be the relevance and quality of the target sites that ought to be the subjects of consideration.

  • Comment number 22.

    Perhaps the biggest non-elite movement occurring right now in the United States of America is the movement to express intense, passionate dissatisfaction with financial institutions and the over-all elitist greed of the 1% of society. For the sake of the 99%, or whatever segment of these that which to join the protest, these are the most relevant external links:
    ■Occupy Wall Street – the official and original website of the movement.
    ■Occupy Together – an offshoot of OZ, serving as a hub for protests that are springing up around the US & internationally.
    ■We Are the 99% – a Tumblr blog where people can send in photos of themselves holding signs that declare how they are affected by the current financial situation.
    ■#occupy wall street – the Twitter feed with real-time updates.
    ■Occupy Wall St. – the Facebook page.
    ■occupy – the movement’s YouTube channel where you can find coverage you won’t see in the MSM.
    Also it is recognized that the numbers can be boosted when organized groups like
    - US Military Veterans groups and
    - Labour Union groups show their support.
    Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 has committed; they alone have a member base of @ 40,000.

  • Comment number 23.

    Steve, I think things have improved tremendously since the site redesign although like a couple of the comments above I think the new layout for the news blogs is awful and if anything stifles online interaction rather than promotes it (referring to the very limited number of comment posts per page and the incredibly short length allowed for comments).

    In terms of external linking, I think it's a critical part of the web - there is no way BBC can cover all perspectives on the topic and the 'related links' section is very useful to provide alternative viewpoints and info on complementary subjects. One gripe I do have however is that the South African news blog I write for was recently invited to form part of an expert panel on BBC's WHYS on foreign intervention in Libya in early September - the presenter had got the name of the blog incorrect in his introduction and even contacting the producer to rectify the error via the BBC blog post has yielded no results... disappointing.

    My only suggestion on general blog/ news posts on BBC is that the external 'related links' be grouped together at the end of the post rather than only scattered throughout the articles - this just makes it easier for readers to read the entire BBC article before deciding which areas they'd like to expand on.

  • Comment number 24.

    How about some links to sites reporting the civil protests in the US? The BBC seems incapable of covering it.

  • Comment number 25.

    All of the things wrong with this forum/site/news broadcast have to do with larger problems at large. According to the Law of Attraction as dictated by the People of Mohammad's Prophet is this: Those who know war will be the first to see; communism will reign. Just as Alexander lived his life and died nobly, so too did Marx and the Russians instigate the Cold War. They sacrificed more than we know...this is what is wrong with this website.

  • Comment number 26.

    Last year you were tasked and today I've been opportunitied, to use more than 400 characters to write about external linking.
    First, though, your blog.
    Why must you be so insistently, almost aggressively, certainly pathetically chummy?
    Wanted to write, great to hear, getting something right - soppy stuff. I no more want to like you than you want to like me. Professionalism, please, not 'man of the people'.
    And second, external linking. Fine - though there's a whiff of condescension about your efforts and it isn't self-evident that 6.1m. click-throughs (yuk) is better than 2.9m. It's just more. Why were you tasked (yuk again) with doubling? As a measure of facilitation? Trust us with reasons.

  • Comment number 27.

    Apparently, this graceful site is--without a doubt--perfection at its peak. Where does one lie and begin to state such a travesty as that this is that which brings about ignorance and unlawfulness? This is the epitome of law and order: harmony. Chaotically, I might add, thank you very much for your consideration.

    -Alexander Paul Styles

  • Comment number 28.

    Every hour we hear the same thing about Dr Liam Fox and it is becoming a very boring. Surely there is more news out there in the world to broadcast.

  • Comment number 29.

    Has the Scottish political site
    been closed due to the cuts ?

  • Comment number 30.

    Actually I would like a link to a report that is quoted in a news article. Quite often the report uses the PR and the report turns out to be different.

  • Comment number 31.

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

  • Comment number 32.

    I am afraid you get a zero on carbon dioxide science reporting and minus 100% for environmental bias. I'm happy not to rely upon the BBC for accuracy in climate science and hope your bias does not extend to politics. Alas!

  • Comment number 33.

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

  • Comment number 34.

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

  • Comment number 35.

    with reference to the news about the Braille touch pad.

    I am blind, and there are many items out there for people like me.

    Inventing a new one that uses braille, is moving backwards with technology.

    There are many voice activated devices available, as well as talking ones.

    Mobile phones are the device which I find difficult to use, and the devices for blind people are so demoralisingly simple, they seem to be like a 'fisher price toy'.

    Being blind has enough of a stigma attached to it with reference to the cane 'we' carry, without designers belittling our inteligence and abilityies.

    I finished my Degree this year and managed very well with the technology available.

    If I/we need anything it would be a device that can encapsulate all elements in one.


    Yours sincerely,

    G. Albrecht BA(hon)

  • Comment number 36.

    Bluesberry: I don’t have a reply to hand on your South America query, but if you get in touch I can seek one.
    In response: I was thinking along the line Mark Mardell in US; Mark Easton's UK; Andrew Harding on Africa; Gavin Hewitt's Europe; Soutik Biswas' India, etc. Who does South America?

  • Comment number 37.

    Mr Herman,

    With regards to Kit Green's comment at #2 and your subsequent response; may I remind you that the BBC is a Public Service broadcaster funded by public money. The sites you are linking to are generally comercially-driven, profit-oriented enterprises who will be making money from the increased click-throughs you're handing them.

    If no reciprocal agreement exists, as you say, then you are not only missing a prime opportunity to recoup some public money by charging companies for the increased revenue which you are, in effect, handing them on a plate; you are, in fact, using public money (albeit only a small amount) to increase the profits of a small handful of other media companies.

    I've just spotted a quite simply massive irony - but a handy one, from the point of view of somebody trying to make the point I'm outlining, here - at the time of writing, all but one of the external links on your "Editor's Blog" page is pointing to a story on some other news organisation's site about how the BBC is having to make sweeping cuts due to lack of money!

    If I wanted to contribute to the Mail's or the Telegraph's profit-margins, without getting anything useful back in return, I'd buy their damn papers! Don't make me do it through my licence fee, please.

  • Comment number 38.

    Will you please tell your people NOT to close an item
    until they have replaced it with a new item !!!

  • Comment number 39.

    Please corrrect on radio and TV BBC news the part of the story concrerning the RC bishop in Missouri. Neither he nor his staff gave the Reverend's laptop back to his family. The police were given it in May 2011, The bishop's statement is provided in full on THE KANSAS CITY KEY Blog and shows the thorough way he and the diocese handled this. Today's NEW YORK TIMES carried the story and your information re the laptop was not included. Thank you. Professor P O'B

  • Comment number 40.

    Still no activity on the Scottish news website.
    Has this site closed ? Has your Scottish political
    corrospondant been let go due to the cuts or is he
    only working on a part time basis now ?
    Please do something about keeping this site open !!!

  • Comment number 41.

    As someone who spends about 3 months of the year in the UK and 9 months abroad, I regard the BBC News (+ sport + weather) website as the main thing that my licence fee buys. I spend much more time per annum on your website than I do listening to World Service radio (when abroad) or watching BBC TV channels (when in London).

    To date, the only links I have used much are the ones that take me closer to the source of a story. But, if it will help keep the politicians off the Beeb's back and preserve a service I value, I am happy to click the Guardian or Mail links a couple of times a day - provided I don't have to read what I find at the other end!

  • Comment number 42.

    I'm interested by the BBC's staff and external linking, for sure.

    Now twitter is deemed by the BBC and its finest as the one source that trumps all, I get a mite concerned when I read this from a senior BBC editor, whose bon mots can seemingly immediately inspire so many...

    '@paulmasonnews Paul Mason
    Can ppl let me know if they get wierd tweets or DMs. I have unvirused my account bt let me know. I hope they were funny and within BBC rules'


    Rules were made to be broken, one guesses. Well, unless it's well, by mere BBC customers and around these blogs.

    So it's hard to judge whether this post is genuine, a spoof, or just the normal BBC recommended linked reporting one might expect:

    @paulmasonnews Paul Mason
    RT @PennyRed: Report for @NewStatesman - Inside Madrid's Puerta del Sol protest bit.ly/qRhT6G #15O #ows #occupyeverywhere


    Rallying the troops via the notions of an avowed activist seems an odd function to be promoting.

    In particular as there only seem to be about 10 involved in that blog, and many not as onside as the organisers, and their PR RT'ing boosters, may have hoped for. Hardly 'speaking for the nation'.

    Quite where Mr. Mason fits in, along with his favoured links, I am not sure, especially as the BBC's sourced output now seems to be in the hands of odd bods with nefarious IT skills in Romania.

    But one is sure it is faster, easier, cheaper and... 'better'.

    If actually totally useless.

  • Comment number 43.

    Are we not to be allowed to comment on Paul Mason's latest blog?

  • Comment number 44.

    '43. At 10:14 17th Oct 2011, watriler wrote:
    Are we not to be allowed to comment on Paul Mason's latest blog?


    The presence, or not, of comments on interactive blogs is indeed interesting.

    The techniques to deal with those that don't suit are spreading.

    Infinite referalls.

    All-purpose House Rules, that even if yoiu get an advice deliberately don't specify what exactly the problem is, ranging from an 'ism to scaring the horses.

    Closed for comments.

    Broadcast only blogs.

    Watertight oversight (where a sudden commitment to integrity means stuff cannot be mentioned until proven)

    And now a raft of 'accidents', where existing threads get wiped, or stalled or vanish or 401.

    There is of course twitter, whose reliability is under question, and in any case seems easy to block if the author doesn't fancy engaging, which is novel for any with BBC branding, as it smacks of discrimination.

    It's like some are trying to get back to a point we are talked at, as opposed to with, and being listened to may not mean hearing anything that is not wanted.

  • Comment number 45.

    Can anyone tell me if we still have
    a news blog on the Scottish political
    section or has it been closed down ?

  • Comment number 46.

    Editors, you are doing well in my eyes (at least). But there is no other means to contact you now, so I am sending you this comment to let you know that I am very grateful for your investigation and report on child abuse and neglect in America.

    It is a shameful fact that so many children in America suffer dreadfully.

    However, there is a problem with the formulation used in the report, as we happen to know for a fact that the list of "industrialised nations" includes Russia and Ukraine, and also India.

    And the fact is the rate of child neglect and abuse in all those countries exceeds the rate of child neglect and abuse in the USA. Now it may be that your investigator relied on official data, and therefore got more accurate numbers from the USA -- less accurate numbers from Russia, Ukraine and India.

    Pakistan is a nuclear power, so I am not sure it is accurate not to include Pakistan in the list of "industrialised nations." In Pakistan, as we all know, there is a high rate of child bondage and slavery -- another component of abuse and neglect.

    Since you have not provided a discussion page for this extremely important subject, I am sending this note to your Editors' Blog.

    I emphasise the validity & virtue of calling attention to the plight of infants and children around the world, and to the tragic circumstances of so many of America's young. However, I suggest someone takes a very close look at the turns of phrase being employed, because they contribute to a slanted and ultimately inaccurate report.

    There has been much publicity recently of the abuse and neglect of girl children in India, in particular. And the figures for Russia and Ukraine -- if you consult with any law enforcement or psychiatric expert from those countries -- are far worse than those for America. Never mind that the plight of children in Russia/Ukraine (not to mention other formerly Soviet constituents) is seriously under-investigated...

  • Comment number 47.

    Still no Scottish political blog site open
    What is happening ?

  • Comment number 48.

    Another day gone by and still nothing on the
    Scottish political site - what is going on ?

  • Comment number 49.

    I'm sorry to have to voice an opinion in this way. The BBC led me to believe I could voice my opinion on the prisoner swap in Israel. They failed to make the possiblity available.

    Maybe because it is a hot subject and they only let us comment on soft, unimportant subjects. Subjects that don't matter two hoots and no-one is really interested in.

    They are gagging the voice of the people because they know that a majority of the people do not agree with what is going on and the government wants us kept quiet.

    Shame on you BBC, I really expected better of you. Where is the freedom I was fighting for as a young man ?

  • Comment number 50.

    Could you please explain the inability to debate any issue regarding Dale farm and the traveller community on the BBC website?
    What is the problem?

  • Comment number 51.

    '50. At 11:12 19th Oct 2011, pitchforksout wrote:
    Could you please explain the inability to debate any issue regarding Dale farm and the traveller community on the BBC website?
    What is the problem?


    Getting the impression that our media which, we are told, 'speak for us', are having trouble getting 'the message' across.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/8835560/Dale-Farm-eviction-live.html

    '"Opinion on today's eviction is incredibly divided"
    Really? Your poll suggests nearly 90% support eviction.


    So you can either try and brazen it, as above, or pull down the shutters until things blow over enough for 'analysis' to shape the narrative, untroubled by pesky public preference intruding.

  • Comment number 52.

    OK enough is enough.
    The SNP conference started today and the Scottish political site is still closed.
    No reports, no coverage of the majority (and governing party) in Scotland.
    What is going on ? Are the labour, tory and libdem conferences the only ones
    that the BBC will allow the Scottish public to see ?

  • Comment number 53.

    Since the governing party in Scotland is the SNP
    and since you have decided that their conference
    is not worth televising (like the tory, libdem and
    labour minority parties in Scotland) can we (the
    Scottish public) please get our licence fees refunded.
    I believe the 'B' in BBC stands for British and for a
    few years yet that includes Scotland.

  • Comment number 54.

    Can we have the name of the person who decided that the
    SNP conference would not be broadcast on the BBC
    and what was the reason given not to broadcast ?

  • Comment number 55.

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

  • Comment number 56.

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

  • Comment number 57.

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

  • Comment number 58.

    Gaddafi manage Libya better than many country in the world which the west still always think they are the best but finally the reality speak by itself.
    God bless the whole Gaddfi family and may Obama and the team received their karma soon. Sad to say I wish Obama,Cameron,Sacozy and their team have the same fate as Gaddafi.
    Gaddafi still a hero compare with all the west mad dog who discriminate the weak. The whole world is talking about human right and justice. Where is Gaddafi and Muttassim right? As the whole world wants him to die he will die either way whether he been sent to ICC or not. He kill many people so do the NATO and their leaders. Obama, Cameron, Sacozy and the whole team they do kill but ICC still think they do the right thing. Who the hell are they to intervene Libya affaire .Whether bad thing Gaddafi did he do did the good to equalize what has been done but what did the Obama team did bring the whole to rescission.

  • Comment number 59.

    has all investigation by your journalists into israeli control of senior politicians in this country been stopped or dropped?

  • Comment number 60.

    Credit where due.

    No link to the service being advertised here.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/15431565

    If near all else has been.

  • Comment number 61.

    I've found that the magazine Scientific American uses a promising technology on its website for external linking. By simply using the mouse to highlight ANY piece of text in the article, it brings up external sites, links and explanations deemed relevant to the highlighted text. It does it in the same window, and without the need for the hypertext links that can ruin the readability of an article when used excessively. I can't yet speak to the editorial issue of what, and which, external sites it provides, but presumably it would have settings that can be changed by the implementing site. (It's good to broaden the horizons beyond Wikipedia!)

    Personally, I would click-through more often on BBC links (such as daily & international newspapers) if I thought they actually had anything to add to the articles concerned. But too often they are only near-verbatim reproductions of a story that has originated from one of the major news agencies. I would guess that this is due to the sites/stories being selected by poor software algorithms, not humans.

    Other external links, such as Greenpeace, are rarely original and don't need visiting because I already know exactly what they are going to say in most instances. Unfortunately, as already noted by others, original external sources are often behind a paywall (or advertising), especially when scientific research is the subject of the article. Alas, scientific publishing is a highly profitable industry, even though the research has often been done with public monies. However, there do exist good, free sources of science publications for external-linking and searching. I recall Steve Jones opined that the BBC made inadequate use of such resources in his recent report to the BBC trust. The new science editor should be able to fix that.

  • Comment number 62.

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

 

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