A response to queries over the closure of The Archers messageboard

Interactive Editor

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Radio 4 Interactive Editor Nigel Smith responds to queries over the closure of The Archers Message Board.

Thanks for all the comments and questions you've been leaving on my blog since Monday - we've been reading them with the team and wanted to address some of the key themes that have come up.

Wynkyn de worde and Country Squire, among many others, suggest that we are taking this step because we no longer wish to hear your thoughts. I want to reassure you that we'll still be listening to all The Archers fans and your feedback, both the good and the bad, will be shared with the team on a regular basis. We understand the message board has been there for you to discuss the ups and downs of the programme and we hope that you'll continue to do so both with us on Facebook and Twitter where we've seen our numbers grow. For those of you who prefer the message board format, there are lively discussions taking place outside the BBC's website such as Archers Addicts and Mustard Land/Peet's Place.

As I said in my earlier post, the closure of the boards reflects wider changes in the BBC's online services. Sites that have only a peripheral connection with our editorial purposes, don't significantly enhance our content or only engage small audiences can no longer justify the resources they need.

The Archers website is an important part of the Radio 4 online service and we will continue to produce varied and interesting content to our Archers fans online. Gnome de Plume of Dun Lissnin asked if this is to do with money and yetagainintimb also asked if we'll be making other programmes with the money saved by the closure. As with any other team across the BBC, we do have to prioritise what we do and we know that most Archers listeners come to the website to listen to the programme, download the podcasts and catch up with storylines and character profiles. The department that looks after the Radio 4 websites isn't specifically a programme-making department but we are always looking to innovate digitally and bring our programmes to the widest possible audience. So recently, for example, we've been directing our efforts into making available much of the back catalogue of Desert Island Discs, more than 900 editions of Alistair Cooke's Letter From America and creating special pages for the Woman's Hour Power List. We have also launched the Listening Project website, allowing listeners to upload their own conversations to be played out on Radio 4 and BBC local radio stations.

Nemo399 asked about how you can continue to access the message board. You'll still be able to view all the threads on the board once it's closed. It won't be possible to download all the threads but we will be providing a link to them in the Related Links section of the website.

We understand and respect the value some of you place upon the connections you've made with each other via the message board. We have given users two-weeks' notice so they can find alternative forums and it's great to see so many already doing so.

The BBC does take great care in trying to protect vulnerable audiences - such as children and young people - who are coming to us online. So we have clear house rules to help ensure that everyone is treated fairly and consistently when discussing BBC programmes. But we are not and never can be experts in providing specialist support and we would also urge those who feel they need help and guidance to consult organisations with the relevant expertise.

I've tried to cover the most common themes in the many comments posted on this blog as best I can. Please be assured that we do value your contributions and I hope in the future that even the sceptics among you can be persuaded to continue to discuss The Archers with us.

Nigel Smith

Interactive Editor, Radio 4 & 4 Extra

Other places to talk about The Archers online

The Archers Facebook page – official page run by Tayler and Keri

The Archers on Twitter – official profile run by Tayler

#thearchers – Twitter hashtag

Archers Addicts Forum - fan forum

Peet's Place - fan forum

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  • Comment number 262. Posted by Slightly-Foxed_a cat needs rehoming in Droitwich

    on 25 Feb 2013 19:12

    As if the BBC needed yet more bad publicity. Way to go, BBC. In a hole, stop digging. I'll be back when I get the answers to my Freedom of Information requests, and we'll take it from there. Meanwhile, I hope you're ashamed of yourselves. Idiots.

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  • Comment number 261. Posted by DracoM1

    on 23 Feb 2013 10:13

    I am sad to announce that Mr Smith is extremely unlikely to ever shake off the tag of The Man Who Closed The Archers' Messageboard.

    And in the process of haphazard bungle, sheer ignorance and unmitigated incivility by which it was effected, damaged the BBC's already battered reputation for responsibility to and caring for its audience, and maybe fatally advanced the levering apart of The Archers from its loyal and articulate listeners.

    Given the size and place of TA in the UK and indeed the global radio community's DNA, this was by any stretch a rash, ill-considered and unfeasibly unnecessary action.

    I would hate to think that it was encouraged in any way by pique emanating from The Mailbox at the dismayed criticism of what TA has become in the last three or so years, but I fear that judging by many responses in the mb, that suspicion will take a long time to die.

    Ave atque vale

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  • Comment number 260. Posted by anna kist

    on 22 Feb 2013 18:39

    Just keep putting it back and we will soon be trending.

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  • Comment number 259. Posted by Barefoot - a Bit of a Handful

    on 22 Feb 2013 16:41

    Excellent - and in the true spirit of interactivity it's out on the othe boards, BB and Twitter. Shame the BBC has modded it!

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  • Comment number 258. Posted by anna kist

    on 22 Feb 2013 16:36

    It is a great clip, Dracs. SF is very clever. I couldn't stop laughing and boy do we need a laugh at the moment. I hope it goes viral.

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  • Comment number 257. Posted by DracoM1

    on 22 Feb 2013 16:34

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnxJnJLiTJ0

    Might raise a smile. Well, it did here.

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  • Comment number 256. Posted by forgetmeknot

    on 22 Feb 2013 10:12

    I used to post regularly but became frustrated when we were ignored. I stopped being a regular listener when Nigel got thrown off the roof for no better reason than to "celebrate" 60 years. Since then I might catch the occasional episode but am adrift with the rather daft sounding story lines. I do however often visit the blogs and message boards to read what others are saying and I am not really surprised to see they are being closed down. An organisation who would kill off one of the most popular characters would logically go on to kill off the very popular message boards. Why would they bother to listen to the listeners?

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  • Comment number 255. Posted by Vicky S

    on 22 Feb 2013 10:05

    I'd just like to record on here that Tayler (Messageboard host) announced yesterday that the British Library is going to archive the Messageboard.

    I'm willing to bet they wouldn't have done that if every post was 140 characters and no-one replied to anyone.

    No need to respond Nigel.

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  • Comment number 254. Posted by maggiechow- chained to the railings

    on 21 Feb 2013 21:58

    All the mathematicians are busy helping a poster on the Maths, oh dear thread.
    Another community service being thrown away.

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  • Comment number 253. Posted by Lady Macbeϯh - not without mustard

    on 21 Feb 2013 21:00

    'Popularity' Peet? Let's just count the number of replies here, by those who can be @rsed to click about 6 times before we can post, and the number of replies across the MB. Anyone mathematical (or with more time) care to post the x/y ratio?

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