BBC BLOGS - The Editors
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Changes to our blogs

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Giles Wilson Giles Wilson | 09:28 UK time, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Since we at the BBC started blogging in earnest in 2005, we have seen some incredible growth. Now tens of millions of our blog pages are being read every month, and our hope in BBC News is that they add context and expert analysis to the big stories.

When we started blogging it felt important that our blogs should follow the style of other blogs at the time, and because we used a popular blogging program, that was easy to achieve. Since then styles have matured a bit, and this week the design for our pages is also changing.

The main thing you'll notice is that the columns are wider than before, meaning the width of the page now matches that of the main BBC News website.

editors_old_new01.gif

The page headers are now also the same, meaning it's easier to find other content from across the BBC. We hope that one effect of these changes is to make it obvious that our blogs are now a core part of what the BBC website offers. Do let us know what you think about the new designs.

Incidentally, while talking about blogs, the deputy director of BBC News, Stephen Mitchell, discussed the proper role of blogging in the BBC with media commentator Stephen Glover on this week's Newswatch, which you can watch here.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.


Update [27 March]: Thanks very much everyone for your thoughts on the changes. There are a few answers I can give.

1 - Isn't this just change for change's sake?
I don't think so. The entire BBC website has been changing over the past 12 to 18 months for a number of good reasons, and we think it's important that the design of BBC blogs is consistent with the design of the rest of BBC Online. Blogs are not a sideshow, they are now integral to a lot of what we are doing in News, and it's right that the design should reflect that.
 
2 - Aren't the columns too wide?
Given the extra available space, we had a choice to make between a two-column layout and a three-column layout. We did some simple testing of three-column layouts and found a generally negative reaction - it seemed that people found the layout cluttered and harder to use. We do try to consider carefully these changes before we make them, but we hear what some of you have said about them being hard to read.
 
3 - Why did you move the comment link?
Research told us that many blog readers were keen to see an indication of popularity at the top of each blog post, to help them decide if the blog entry was likely to be worth reading. We incorporated this feedback into our designs. But given what you've told us, and seeing how the redesign works in practice, we are going to investigate incorporating a second link at the end of each entry, meaning you could click through to comments after you've read the entry.
 
4 - Why don't you paginate long lists of comments?
If we receive more than 500 comments on a post, we do start to paginate them then. Until that point, we believe that the majority of people would prefer to scroll though a list of comments, rather than click repeatedly to a new page.
 
5 - Why have you moved the categories, calendar, etc, to the bottom of the page?
Very few people delve into the archive of a blog on a regular basis. We can tell this from the usage data we collect all the time. At the same time, it's important to many of our bloggers that they should be able to offer extra functionality - headlines from the News website, Twitter updates, etc. So we have separated our own navigation from the third-party content, which allows us to make more effective use of the right hand side. We did tests with users of the blogs to ask them if they could find the archives when they were at the bottom, and found that they could.

6 - Why can't I use all characters when leaving my comment?
This is obviously a problem and we are working to sort it out. It's worth saying that there is a number of improvements that we wish to make to the comment system across the BBC, and we're on to it.

7 - Why are blogs pre-moderated?
We are always reviewing how moderation works in the BBC, but at the moment we have no plans to move away from pre-moderation for the majority of News blogs. For information, our aim is that the moderators should check all comments within an hour of receipt, although this can vary considerably depending on traffic. There have been no changes to moderation as part of the redesign.
 
8. What about the other blogs which have not yet been widened?
Some blogs - Blether with Brian, for instance, and the Magazine Monitor - have not yet been widened. Our plan is for this to happen in the next few weeks.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    WIDER COLUMNS !!!! ABSOLUTELY DREADFUL !!!!

    How on earth are we meant to 'speed-read' on a screen, with each line read in one 'glance', when the columns are so wide.

    THIS IS A BAD BAD BAD MOVE !!! The narrow columns approach has been used by the BBC and The Guardian for donkey's years, and now the usability baby has been thrown out with the bathwater.

    For heaven's sake - will we soon be seeing newspapers getting rid of their 6/7/8 columns and just have two wide columns of text ??

    Ridiculous and I can confidently predict it will only be a matter of weeks before you succumb to public pressure to make the columns narrower.

    AWFUL AWFUL MISTAKE !!

  • Comment number 2.

    Why have you moved the comment option to the top, surely most people will want to read the blog first, so what have they got to do now is either read the blog and then scroll back to the top and then select the "Comment" option or select the comment link on accessing the page and then scroll all over the place to first read and then comment, sorry but this is totally daft (and very unfriendly to those who have accessibility issues I suspect!), again the BBC goes for style over function.

    The "Preview" option is welcome though. It would be nice if you could offer a proper threaded forum and sort out the problematic moderation times next.

  • Comment number 3.

    Further to my comment @ #2

    I can actually see some people making comments to the wrong blog as things are, they expect the comment option to be at the bottom of the blog, which might mean they follow the link to comments on the previous blog!

  • Comment number 4.

    "The main thing you'll notice is that the columns are wider than before, meaning the width of the page now matches that of the main BBC News website."

    This is disingenous tripe !! Whereas the 'news' articles have around 10 words per line, the new 'improved' [sic] blogs have nearer 20 ! How can this be considered 'matching' the 'news' pages to the 'blog' pages ?

    Ridiculous !

  • Comment number 5.

    There will always be dinosaurs who object to change on principle - why not give it a go first, and then comment.

  • Comment number 6.

    #4

    "This is disingenous tripe !!"

    Indeed, the html box that that contains the news story is 468 pixels wide, the box that contains the blog text is around 606 pixels wide! I suspect that what Mr Wilson actually meant by his 'spin' was that the page now matches the style of the main BBC site...

  • Comment number 7.

    #5

    "There will always be dinosaurs who object to change on principle - why not give it a go first, and then comment."

    Because change is always bad when it's made for the wrong reasons, it's not being dinosaurs to spot such problems as 'userbility' and accessibility, none of the comments from myself or "lordBeddGelert" have been of the 'I don't like the new look because I liked to old look' sort, they have pointed out valid probalems and are thus far from being dinosaurs in the room comments.

  • Comment number 8.

    Giles,

    The main column = too wide. Really, it is.

    The point about the number of words on each line is a very important one. As it stands, it's now a fair bit more difficult to go from the end of one line to the beginning of the next. Reading is harder work. I'm sure you can see it yourself.

    I can appreciate the design constraints, but it seems to me that this whole pan-BBC grid layout is being enforced a bit too rigidly (the Weather site has the opposite problem - the main column there is too narrow because they have that left navigation column, so content in the middle column is now squashed). Do you have to stick to it so rigidly for these blogs? If not, a couple of suggestions:

    1) Make the right hand column narrower, and introduce a further column to the left hand side - containing the "other news blogs" links. (Then move "More from this blog" up into the right column.

    2) Failing that, just try and close the width up a bit with some design solution or other, either a vertical keyline between the existing two columns (with padding either side of the line) - or by having some kind of 20-30 pixel bar running down the left hand side, making the content start further inward and the main column narrower as a result.

    (Your branding bods might shriek in horror but at least you'd have a more usable website.)

    The other point - about the Comments link being at the top on the main blog homepage is another valid complaint - I'm surprised you didn't identify a problem there before going live.

    Finally - not that this should be at the top of your list, but has this been tested in Opera Mac? Text is rendering oddly, and the preview text has huge vertical gaps between paragraphs.

    Oh, yes, a Preview button.. at last! And nicely implemented. Now there's an improvement. :)

  • Comment number 9.

    I'm afraid I too am not a fan. While everything looks much nicer the more popular blogs are unusably slow when they have hundreds of comments. Perhaps some form of pagination would help out us poor users with computers more than 6 months old?

  • Comment number 10.

    When I first saw this format when reading Jonathan Overend's tennis blog, I thought that the page's CSS stylesheet had gone missing.

  • Comment number 11.

    Yay, horizontal scrollbars, thanks BBC!
    *writes stylish script*

  • Comment number 12.

    I hope that Giles Wilson will follow the example of his fellow editor Steve Herrmann and reply to at least some of the feedback?

  • Comment number 13.

    Yes, you need a left-hand menu - as you have on every other BBC web page.

  • Comment number 14.

    In the words of another great blog: FAIL.

    Too wide, too little content per line, too much white space, comments button in the wrong place.

    Revert, retry, reboot.

  • Comment number 15.

    But 'looking on the bright side of life'... At least that fantastic blog by Betsan Powys, and the PM blog haven't been altered..yet...

    Giles, I hope you have read 'The Wisdom of Crowds' by James Sumfinkoruvver..

  • Comment number 16.

    Call me weird but I can read the text perfectly fine, it didn't strike me as being too wide when I first opened the page. There are many example where text columns are wider, such as Wikipedia, and the text there is equally as readable. I fail to see why the width of the text columns of all things is so notable?

    And with regards to #4, he said the page is wider and matches the news pages; he did not say the width of the columns matches those on the news pages.

  • Comment number 17.

    Apart from the comments already made there are a few things to this design that make it look, well, a bit strange.
    I know the BBC loves white space in its sites now, but do we really need that huge header for each article? I'm not bothered either way about photos, but some thought about how to put all the elements into the box effectively would have been nice. And I would have thought the author might have got top billing, rather than the tag. And you could lose some of the space around the boxes on the right.
    Second, every blog seems to get chopped off after three articles - not a problem for a realtively inactive blog but for one like Robert Peston's, with daily article (or more!) this really doesn't let the content flow.
    Third, the 'more from this blog' stuff at the bottom is really a monster. If you *really* think they're useful, some of these can really be put up on the right hand side (categories, authors) where you currently have the 'BBC in the news' box. More articles in the main blog, please, less clicking through 'helpful' BBC links. Even 'last 10 posts' rather than 'topical posts' (you already have categories, one or the other please). I come here to read blogs, not click on links.
    Finally, it's not actually that easy to find where you can go to add a comment, this really needs to be improved.

  • Comment number 18.

    Giles:
    I am not happy with the new format of the blogs! Since it is so little space available to read comments without the extra screening of information...

    ~Dennis Junior~

  • Comment number 19.

    Giles:
    Just a common question: About the font and type setting of the blog, some persons are hard-sighted in the vision department...

    ~Dennis Junior~

  • Comment number 20.

    THIS IS AN ABSOLUTE OUTRAGE!!!!

    HOW DARE YOU!

    How am I expected to read lines with more than TEN words on them?

    I get to the eleventh or twelfth word and suddenly it all turns to mush and I end up forgetting what it was I was going to complain about.

  • Comment number 21.

    I like the changes. The Preview option is especially useful. I would however note that the User Profile displays posts in blocks of 10, whilst the navigation (Newer, Older) jumps +25/-25 posts at a time.


  • Comment number 22.

    #16

    "Call me weird but I can read the text perfectly fine..."

    No one has said that the text is unreadable, just that it takes more effort, the eye is having to scan a lot further to read the same content as before! Also now that the page is wider (as you say) to match the 'BBC house style' people have to devote far more screen space to the BBC pages if they are multi-tasking, and (as with #11) those who for what ever reason are not using a minimum 1024x768 screen resolution now get horizontal scroll bars for basically the same content as before! Whilst either of those problems might well be acceptable for many of the BBC web pages it's not for some (such as blogs and many of the news pages), where by there very nature the page(s) get left open and glanced at - quite possibly - through out the day.

  • Comment number 23.

    Another minor observation: the blockquote tag no longer identifies the text being quoted (e.g. an indent).

  • Comment number 24.

    Its ok.. I like the changes.

  • Comment number 25.

    I don't much like the new style, but the larger sizing is perhaps easier to read.

    What's infuriating is that after nearly a year of using the Movable Type software, and despite numerous complaints on the blog threads asking for the BBC techies to fix it, there is still no easy way of putting displaying accented characters - needed in not a few ENGLISH words - and currency symbols other than $ - you'd think a BBC blog would let you use the symbol for the GBP! Even emails don't get more than a "we'll look at it sometime" response.

    It's also a pity we've lost the use of the <blockquote> tag - very useful in some circumstances if not overdone.

    A final point is that the very useful preview gives extra white space compared to the "actual" post and annoyingly shows accented characters and currency symbols correctly in a way that the "actual" post will not!

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

  • Comment number 26.

    Apologies if this repeats my #25, but there seemed to have been a technical glitch and I suspect my post was truncated.

    I don't much like the new style, but the larger sizing is perhaps easier to read.

    What's infuriating is that after nearly a year of using the Movable Type software, and despite numerous complaints on the blog threads asking for the BBC techies to fix it, there is still no easy way of putting displaying accented characters - needed in not a few ENGLISH words - and currency symbols other than $ - you'd think a BBC blog would let you use the symbol for the GBP! Even emails don't get more than a "we'll look at it sometime" response.

    It's also a pity we've lost the use of the <blockquote> tag - very useful in some circumstances if not overdone.

    A final point is that the very useful preview gives extra white space compared to the "actual" post and annoyingly shows accented characters and currency symbols correctly in a way that the "actual" post will not!

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

  • Comment number 27.

    Bimby - you are missing the point, possibly deliberately...

    If you put your fingers, very gently, over your eyelids while reading, you will soon realise how much work your eyes are doing to scan over a long line. But with ten words or fewer, you can probably 'grab' all the words in one glance. In fact, if you look in the middle of the line of the column of a newspaper, you can probably read the whole article very quickly by ONLY moving your eyes DOWNWARDS without needing to scan right and left at all.

    In this way you can easily read at up to 600 words per minute - which is essential for getting through the 'short and snappy' nature of blogs and newspapers.

    Someone mentioned wikipedia - well their format is dreadful, but at least you can make the screen smaller and scrunch their text into narrow columns.

    So 'why make life complicated' by dispensing with 'narrow columns' - they've worked on the Guardian, Times and Telegraph for years -

    "If it ain't broke.."

  • Comment number 28.

    25 browndov
    Re displaying the £ and accents like á é í ó ú
    If you can create a UTF-8 document and display it in Ascii then paste it into the comments box. that will solve your problem. Ive written a quite small encoder program that has enabled me to type this comment.
    The pound in UTF-8 is £ and the Yen is Â¥. You can use charmap to produce these. Its more complicated when you get to accents. as at Character 192 you restart at character 128 and use Ã. This UTF-8 system is used by emails and gives the The Bloggers Nick,Robert etc access to more characters like the Euro. Our comment boxes are in Ascii mode.

  • Comment number 29.

    To all the complainers about column width:

    If you change your "view" (at least in Firefox) you can make the lines shorter (columns narrower) by playing around with zoom and/or "zoom text only" (in drop-down view menu). My firefox 3.0.7 then keeps my preferences, and the new format is very comfortable.

    Try "zoom text only" and then check the PM blog for some really nice narrow columns....

    The problem with GBP and other unavailable symbols remains and is a right pain in the nethers.

    Meanwhile we remain trapped in the playpen with Cbeebies....

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

    Slainte!
    ed

  • Comment number 30.

    Much cleaner, more stylish and despite some of the comments above, I find it much easier to read. Everything has space to 'breath'. Excellent stuff!

  • Comment number 31.

    #27

    [ re the mention of Wilipedia ]

    Also, Wikipedia is not a blog, an important difference, it's mostly a work of reference (or at least that's what it claims to be...) and thus is read in a totally different way to that of replies within blog.

  • Comment number 32.

    Re 28: please ignore the how to print £ and ¥ The software blocked one of the characters needed to display my solution. Try switching text encoding on your browser to western European iso 8859-1. (Which also changes those black squares into pound signs and accents). They actually are there. To see what I was trying to say . The pound is £ and the the Yen is ¥. You start each with a Capital A circumflex.
    Or just type pounds and accents as usual which can be seen by changing text encoding to Western European Iso 8859-1 or ISO 8859-15(displays the currency character as the Euro) . I think many people are using that method. probably easier as long as you don't refresh to much.

  • Comment number 33.

    #29

    "If you change your "view" (at least in Firefox) you can make the lines shorter (columns narrower) by playing around with zoom and/or "zoom text only" (in drop-down view menu). My firefox 3.0.7 then keeps my preferences, and the new format is very comfortable."

    All that is doing in my version of Firefox (3.0.6) is making the text smaller or larger, the line length stays the same - it's not the number of words per line but the actual line length (the only way of dealing with that would be to alter/disable the BBC's suggested .css file) which is the issue here.

  • Comment number 34.

    The columns are too wide. Shrink them by 25-30%.

  • Comment number 35.

    Boilerplated (33),

    "All that is doing in my version of Firefox (3.0.6) is making the text smaller or larger, the line length stays the same..."


    Try "zoom text only" and line length will change, and it's likely you'll lose the horizontal scroll bar as well.

    D H Wilkinson (32)

    Come again? Please describe how you do circumflexA in a bit more detail.
    Test: £ ¥

    ;-)
    ed
  • Comment number 36.

    Test:
    £ ¥ £ ¥ €

  • Comment number 37.

    Test: £££€€€ (copied in from gedit editor)
    Test: €€€€££££ (circAEUR...circAGBP typed in)
    Test: €€€€££££ (as above, but copied in from Gedit)

  • Comment number 38.

    I quite like it but, like all sensible people, I clear my computer of unwanted junk and that includes cookies. Obviously you need to sign in again having done so and there is no link for that on Mark Mardell's blog. (I have not checked them all).

  • Comment number 39.

    #35

    I don't have a horizontal scroll bar, I also tried both normal zooming and the text-only option (both in and out) but it made no difference to the line length. Anyway, that is not the solution to the issue as not all people will have the option available with their browsers, the easiest way the BBC could sort this is to add content to the left-hand side of the page, perhaps the site-wide menu found on all the news pages.

  • Comment number 40.

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

  • Comment number 41.

    Test - just tested this in D'weaver with western character set installed. It does not like central European accents but otherwise recognises the html.
    æ, ç, Ó, ¾, ©, ®, $, ¢, £, ¥, €.

    (It also works fine in the preview)

  • Comment number 42.

    Didn't think a change was needed, but you got to justify the amount you spend on your web site somehow (was it some 39 million over budget in 2007 - topping out at 110 million!)..... so a little pointless redesign makes me feel everything is back under control!!!!

    It's my BBC.........

  • Comment number 43.

    I would suggest that when commenting on a post after 500 the poster be directed to the page they posted from not at the beginning.

  • Comment number 44.

    Ed -

    May I but in? A circumflex like this -

    Â, â

    ampersand+hash+194+semicolon and ampersand+hash+226+semicolon

  • Comment number 45.

    Ref #40:
    Dear BBC Blog contributor,

    Thank you for contributing to a BBC Blog. Unfortunately we've had to remove your content below

    Your posting appears to be off-topic, in that it does not appear to relate to the subject of this blog. ...
    Regards,

    The BBC Blog Team

    Subject:
    Changes to our blogs

    Posting:
    Test
    ££££££
    àèíóú€

    It seems there is a lot of pretty subjective (pun intended) judgement about what it on or off topic. This thread is titled "changes to our blogs", and a number of comments, including mine, concern the new format's rendering of certain characters...

    How is a test of these matters off-topic?

    D H Wilkinson (28&32),
    A link to your wee routine wouldn't go amiss.

    Salaam/Shalom/Shanthi/Peace
    ed

  • Comment number 46.

    The previous one worked well with the column was a little too close to the left rim of the screen. So I complaint.

    This move seems a bit more than expected. Function is important, style matters, too. What really worries me is that you can not comment when you like on whichever entries you like, as you could before. What if you have just discovered some odd old entries and want to contribute a word? The situation now is likely to be "this entry is now closed".

    One might say old entries are not new anymore. But the nature of blogging - a history recorded through certain eyes - browsing the faded past through the archives and still being able to happily participate are a part of what a common blog can offer. Presumably the problem is that with increasing popularity over time the BBC moderators will have to spend less time on holiday.

  • Comment number 47.

    Subject: "Changes to our blogs"
    Test: (seeing how the changes (which are the topic of this blog) work in rendering certain characters)
    ÃàÃèÃíÃóÃúÀ

  • Comment number 48.

    Boilerplated (39),

    See this screenshot. set up with view/zoom/zoomtextonly followed by several ctrl++...

    The lines do definitely shorten as I zoom in. Maybe you should upgrade to 3.0.7?

    Peace to all
    ed

  • Comment number 49.

    Oh I get it. Html mark up appears to work in the preview function to lull you into a false sense of security then you post and - presto - it doesn't work at all. What a load of rubbish!

  • Comment number 50.

    #47

    Keep that up long enough and the BBC might actually offer a test blog, accessible to only those logged in (and to stop any little darlings from accessing the grown-ups areas have a different log-in algorithm for the CBeebies and CBBC sites)...!

  • Comment number 51.

    Overall, I like the new layout. Most blogs have two columns. Fact. I find the text easy to read. Verdana helps. Sadly, Verdana looks AWFUL when it's large. I *think* the headlines are Verdana? Regardless, they look bad. Especially those at the bottom of the blog index page.

    And is there a reason I can't copy text from a post in the blog index part? Is it a Firefox issue? It seems to think I haven't selected any text when I right-click to copy something. Only on the blog index, though. The individual posts are fine.

    Again, I like the design, it's clear and easy to read and it is VERY difficult to have too much white space. Somebody mentioned there was too much but I disagree. Plenty of white space is an important attribute.

    One last point; Rounded corners are a bit Web 2008 =P

  • Comment number 52.

    Threnodio (49),

    I think the problem is, as identified by Brownedov and D H Wilkinson, that the "comments entry" subroutine uses a different character set, being built on the dna system with roots going back to the much-missed Douglas Adams...

    Douglas, please come back through some wormhole and give us a hand....please!

    ;-)
    ed

  • Comment number 53.

    #52 - Ed Iglehart

    Ed -

    I am getting close to giving up to be honest. I too had a comment removed elsewhere today but, unlike you, did not receive an email. In fact I didn't know you were supposed to. So I figured that they still have an old email address on record, tried to find my profile to update it only to find that there isn't one - well, of course there is somewhere in the sql but not accessible. All you can do is sign in.

    I have come to the conclusion that "we used a popular blogging program, that was easy to achieve" (to quote Giles Wilson) and that actually they still are. Probably all they have actually done is put on a new front end by rewriting the style sheet. Yes, the new carriagework looks fine, but beneath it I suspect is the same tired old engine.

  • Comment number 54.

    I really admire this new look. It looks wonderful on my HD laptop.
    I also enjoyed watching the video debate about blogging. I recently had a University lecture about blogging (as I study journalism myself) and found the points raised very interesting. Well done BBC. A very good quality looking page. Very impressed.

  • Comment number 55.

    Ok, I get the fact that people - even at the BBC - have to justify their place in an organisation when downsizing is a real prospect.
    But these changes smack of change for change's sake, of someone thinking that a change - ANY change - indicates that he/she is being productive in his/her role.
    ALL of the changes are disastrous, and should be reversed without delay.
    You're two weeks early for the most appropriate date for this story - April 1st!

  • Comment number 56.

    To be honest, when comments are in a moderation queue over 2.5 hours long on a night when there is nothing new from Crick, Robinson, Flanders, Easton, Peston or Mason, whether or not the subroutine can cope with html is the least of their problems. There are enough fair minded people using these blogs for reactive moderation to be used. It works perfect well on the Radio 4 blogs.

  • Comment number 57.

    helgatogs opined (#5) that "There will always be dinosaurs who object to change on principle..."

    Of course, if the dinosaurs had been able to adapt, the human race would (almost certainly) never have developed...

    --

    On the principal point at issue, however:

    Anyone who has spent any time in management knows that for every change that improves productivity, etc. (the measure of success will vary according to the industry concerned), at least three (and in my experience, it is closer to nine out of ten) - which are just as costly to implement - either make no difference, because the consumer will accept the product offered regardless, or actually impair the quality of the service provision, and have to be reversed at even greater expense.

    Has anyone outside of BBC Blog Central had an input to the change?

    Why not have parallel production of certain blogs for a time - possibly allowing people to toggle between formats - or even vary the style from day to day, and find out what the BBC's consumers (and, in a very real sense, paymasters) prefer.

  • Comment number 58.

    One main problem.

    I can't see the "Recent replies" to posts, I'd like to know when BBC staff reply to people's points in blogs.

  • Comment number 59.

    displaying £'s

    Imagine this is a capital A circumflex with its hat on a hatstand A^ put his hat on and place it in front of the pound or yen sign. which will give you this '£'. The capital A Circumflex(&#194) in front of the character works from ascii characters 128-191
    in the character set. for 192-255 we put capital A tilde A~ with its hat on(Ã) in front but instead of starting at 192 we start at 128 again. meaning we subtract 64 from the ascii number we want to print.
    EG char 255 ascci is &#225; utf is &#195;&#(161); {225-64=161}
    á é í ó ú
    á é í ó ú
    £
    A lot of you using firefox whis is handy. go to view/character encoding/Western iso 8859-1 and look at this comment again. should make things clearer. Using character encoding to reveal these illegal characters is probably the best method anyway.

    The question marks are blocked characters these appear when you use autoformating they produce software specific formatting like currency or smart quotes.



  • Comment number 60.

    I'm not in vavor of this so called improvement.

    I personally find the current layout more like the feel of a real physical newspaper. I'm comfortable with a seeming A5 sheet printed with narrow print collums, one reason I enjoy following these blogs.

    OK it's an improvement in technology and all that cutting edge stuff. But is it nescesary?

    How about exercising a little democracy and allow us the choice to use old or new. Then we can decide, and all that exciting technological stuff can be put to some other more imaginative use.

  • Comment number 61.

    number 2 is spot on and exactly what I was going to say - placing the comments box at the top totally ruins the 'flow' of the page, very user-unfriendly.

  • Comment number 62.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

    #28 dhwilkinson
    "Re displaying the £ and accents like á é í ó ú"

    OK, thanks. The principle is simple enough to comprehend for anyone with coding experience, but despite having written code in Assembler and most other programming languages since 1966, I don't quite follow the "display it in Ascii" bit. MS Front Page, for example lets you switch the page encoding, but then leaves the accented characters unchanged but switches EURs to &#8364;&#8364;&#8364;s and GBPs to &pound;&pound;&pound;s.

    What software are you, personally, using to display documents saved in UTF-8 as US ASCII?

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

  • Comment number 63.

    #52 Ed Iglehart
    "Douglas, please come back through some wormhole and give us a hand....please!"

    Absolutely! You are, however, the first denizen of Her Majesty's former American colonies I have come across who appreciates that the ASCII 127 character set was not created perfect in every way. More power to your elbow.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

  • Comment number 64.

    Having studied the visual science of reading at uni, I agree with the people who say that it takes more effort to read these longer lines. I think the new page layout *looks* fantastic, but the legibility is completely undermined by the wider blog columns. It's also considerably more daunting being faced with what (in other blogs) seems like an endless mass of text. I imagine this will put a lot of people off reading some good material (it has already put me off reading one blog).

    If the text width was the same as that of the main news section, I would be more than content.

    PLEASE listen to all this feedback. It really irks us license-fee payers when we see that we aren't listened to. It's almost as futile as getting the government to listen to sense, sometimes.

  • Comment number 65.

    #59 dhwilkinson

    I'm sorry - maybe it's just late or maybe I'm just losing the will to live with the BBC's unconcern at our inability to express ourselves in "ordinary" terms - but I still don't follow what you mean re ASCII characters above 127.

    My understanding of ASCII is that 0 to 127 are set in tablets of silicon but that 128 and above are platform-specific. Can you please quote a link to what you regard as a "definitive" 8-bit ASCII character set?

    Also, although the symbol for the EUR currency is in UTF-8, I haven't ever come across it in ASCII and note that none of your examples seem to show it.

    Engough for tonight, I think, especially with the mod queue still 2.5hrs+ after midnight. Goodnight all.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

  • Comment number 66.

    #59 - dhwilkinson

    Thank you for that. Out of interest, is there any way of extending that to take into account central European character sets (&+#+336,337 and &+#+368,369) or characters with umlauts (&+uuml; (252)) or am I pushing my luck? This would be very helpful on Mark Mardell's blog especially.

    Test - Ã$, ã, Ã¥, é, ÃÀ, ÃÂ, ÃÁ, ÃÃ, ÃÅ, ÃÄ, ÃÇ, ÃÈ, ÃÉ, ÃË, ÃÉ, ÃÌ, ÃÍ, ÃÎ, ÃÏ, ÃÒ, ÃÔ, ÃÖ, ÃÓ, ÃÕ, ÃÙ, ÃÚ, ÃÛ, ÃÜ, Ãß, Ãá, Ãâ, Ãà, Ãã, Ãä, Ãæ, Ãç, Ãè, Ãê, Ãé, Ãë, Ãì, Ãí, Ãî, Ãï, Ãò, Ãó, Ãô, Ãõ, Ãö, Ãù, Ãú, Ãû.

    This routine really does not like u with an umlaut:-((

  • Comment number 67.

    #56 threnodio

    You're spot on there - even more so after 01:00 GMT with the mod queue still well over 90 minutes.

    Reactive or post-moderation is even more important than being unable to use the English language properly.

    I'd happily accept the 5-bit Baudot character set if we had that prize on the main political threads.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

  • Comment number 68.

    #2 & #61,

    "placing the comments box at the top totally ruins the 'flow' of the page, very user-unfriendly."


    Mine's at the bottom. Is this a browser compliance issue?
  • Comment number 69.

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

  • Comment number 70.

    Why is the list of bookmark links at the bottom of blog posts inconsistent with those at the bottom of news articles?

    More importantly, why isn't there a Facebook share link? How many people use del.icio.us or Reddit (a service which I had never even heard of) compared to Facebook?

  • Comment number 71.

    Giles,
    I thought the whole point of Blogs was for it to be a conversation between the posters and the blogger. Can you speak to Nick Robinson and let him know this. He never contibutes anything to the blog after his initial post. Not exactly a conversation!

    Many Thanks

  • Comment number 72.

    the new blog pages seem out of focus compared to the rest of the site. Really gives me a headache.

  • Comment number 73.

    Oh, I'm running Mac OSX 10.5.6 with firefox 3.0 and 3.1

  • Comment number 74.

    #67 ad-nauseous

    "Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!"

    You/us won't get that from the BBC, as publisher they are legally responsible for what is published through their web servers (all of which are probably in the UK), just because 'Joe Soap' posted the comment it will be the publisher who will get hauled before the courts.

    Read this;
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2009/03/bbc_moderation_the_law_and_cen_2.html

  • Comment number 75.

    I think you've forgotten the first law of engineering here: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

    Seriously, did you make these changes as a considered response to user feedback about shortcomings with the old system, or just for the sake of change?

  • Comment number 76.

    #70

    "More importantly, why isn't there a Facebook share link?"

    Why is the BBC promoting such commercial social networking sites, that's the real question!

  • Comment number 77.

    #71

    Never mind Nick Robinson's blog, it would be nice to read some follow up comments from Giles about the real issues being discussed here! His silence is even more deafening than that of the BBC correspondence, after all blogging is not their prime 'reason for being', unlike those responsible for the BBC blog service...

  • Comment number 78.

    #72/73

    "the new blog pages seem out of focus compared to the rest of the site. Really gives me a headache".

    Same here. I'm on Mac 10.4.
    It's also very odd when you try and select text.

    They've also not over-ridden the default font for the comment entry box I'm currently typing in, so we've got this awful typewriter-like courier font, which could be painlessly solved by adding this to their CSS:

    textarea#dna-commentbox-text { font: 11px verdana,arial,sans-serif; }

  • Comment number 79.

    presentation over content -- yawn..

  • Comment number 80.

    #78

    "...so we've got this awful typewriter-like courier font..."

    Err, a perfect font, easy to read by all, the blog text-entry box is about the only thing that is right about the new look blogs - almost felt like leaving the "L" out of that last word!

  • Comment number 81.

    Giles, your picture looks as though someone has drawn a goatee and glasses on your face. Is this some sort of disguise?

  • Comment number 82.

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

  • Comment number 83.

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

  • Comment number 84.

    interested to see how long this roll out will take to reach north Britain for example - blether with brian?
    cheers Sid

  • Comment number 85.

    So to get £ you type the 'A' with circumflex(ahem - hat) then the pound sign? Sweet!

  • Comment number 86.

    I'm afraid I must echo the view of many others - the previous narrower columns were much easier to read, whilst the new design seems to have too much white space. It's always good to experiment and innovate, but that doesn't mean that innovation always works. Something closer to the previous format would be better.

  • Comment number 87.

    In an effort to avoid this comment being thrown out as "off topic", may I ask whether the "new look" has taken account of the new release of IE? And, in case anyone might want to see how the 'new look' looks in alternative browsers, may I point out the link at the bottom, which provides the opportunity to try four different browsers...

    IE8 released at Mix; will it cripple the web-user experience?

    "The next generation of Internet Explorer, once the leading web browser in the world, has just been updated to version 8 and released at Mix 2009. While many will rejoice at the new browser; updated features, porn mode, tab recovery and better web standards, the last one has been a controversy from day one."


    But, for those who want to avoid the impending web browsing experience massacre, you can always switch to another browser.

    ;-)
    bae
  • Comment number 88.

    The page length is now (with around 80 odd replies) the same as the old 'narrow' style was when it had 400 plus replies, so we know have less content taking up more space - and that is on a blog were the original (BBC) entry was quite short compared to some! Crazy, yet more proof of a triumph for style over content/userbility...

  • Comment number 89.

    Sorry, can't see how the width change and more white space is an improvement.

  • Comment number 90.

    62 browndov

    These blogs will display all these UTF-8 Illegal characters if you set the character encoding on the browser to ISO 8859-1 that is what I mean when I say ascii. You need to display UTF-8 as if it were ISO-8859-1 (ascii) then cut and paste it into the comment box. Not all characters will work though as some ISO 8859-1 characters are dangerous control characters blocked by the system. EG the Euro is impossible as well as the capital A circumflex{A^] one of the characters needed is blocked.

    0 to 127 US ascii(1 character) 128 to 191 requires a control character a bit like a shift key to access one of several blocks of 64 characters. character 192+ are the control characters needed by 128 to 191 . That is my understanding of UTF-8 up to ascii(255) at least.

  • Comment number 91.

    #90

    You might be correct in what you say but really it's not the issue, such changes should not be required so that people can use $, € or £ - period - I can understand why the USD $ and percentage % characters get baulked at as they are used in server side scripting.

  • Comment number 92.

    The blog pages look much clearer which makes them more readable.

    If you're a speed reader of blogs, why are you even using a website - sure it's more efficient to use a feed reader - must admit this is the first time I've been directly on the blog section of the BBC site for a long time.

    Oh and blog means web log so it's not a conversation between the reader and publisher. I guess it is nice to get updates or responses to user comments though

  • Comment number 93.

    Looks good and easy to follow. But this is for Justin as a suggestion. The US is now investigating Dick Cheney's assassinate squad he set up during his White House years. You might want to look into that as I remember reading about Dr. David Kelly's death. Now I never really believed he killed himself as he knew to much information about how the Iraq information was cherry picked to got along with Bush''s illegal invasion. For some reason it always bothered me that something didn't sit right about that case. As Cheney has his assassination squad sent all over the World you might want to check out the US investigation on it as it might give some answers to things we didn't know.

  • Comment number 94.

    I'm wondering why you have dropped the box containing recent topics on the blog along with the number of comments, that was a very useful way of navigating between ongoing topics. Now we need to return to the main page of the blog and drop to a topic we have been contributing to, so I don't see that as an improvement but more a loss of a useful facility.

  • Comment number 95.

    Re use of non-standard characters - pound-signs and the like.

    Is it beyond the wit of those with influence to provide a selection of such characters via a 'keyboard' placed immediately below the "Your Comment" box - on a 'click to insert this character' basis - since many, particularly financial (and political) blog pages are blighted with 'character not available' placeholders?

    The result would then be that any change to formatting/rendering would not rely upon the level of technical know-how of users.

    Bold/italic/etc., buttons could also be provided, enhancing the experience for users - respondents and casual readers both.

  • Comment number 96.

    Buzet (94),

    Scroll down to see what you're missing.

    ;-)
    ed

  • Comment number 97.

    95
    Re use of non-standard characters - pound-signs and the like.

    Is it beyond the wit of those with influence to provide a selection of such characters via a 'keyboard' placed immediately below the "Your Comment" box - on a 'click to insert this character' basis - since many, particularly financial (and political) blog pages are blighted with 'character not available' placeholders?

    _____________________________________________________________

    There should be no need for a special keyboard. All that needs to happen is for either to Comments box text to be encoded into UTF-8 or the page Character encoding to be set to ISO 8859-1/8859-15 like the BBC News website. Its standard characters on the keyboard that cannot be printed. Charmap in windows or similar can be used to type non standard characters.

  • Comment number 98.

    #97

    So everyone who posts a comment needs to be a computer whiz-kid then? I doubt that, if you mentioned "windows charter map" to many, you would get nothing more than a blank look in return! What was suggested @ 95 is a standard solution to frequently used special charters on many forums etc, it would be nice if the BBC could act on such a suggestion as it would also allow people to (as mentioned) use bold, italic, and even the correct URL formatting without needing to know any (X)HTML mark-up language.

    On that sibject, what is the correct formatting that will be accepted by the server, as the usual mark-up gets rejected?...

  • Comment number 99.

    PLEASE allow us to edit our posts, we often make typos, spelling mistakes or forget words, its incredibly annoying that we cant edit our posts, please allow us to edit our own posts!

  • Comment number 100.

    Samuel (99),

    If you use the preview feature, you can check for typos and correct them before posting.

    Using the rules worked out by D H Wilkinson, I have added the codes for some useful characters to my Tutorial. the codes can be copied and pasted direct into this comment box, and will appear correctly when the page is refreshed...

    Alternatively, you can copy the list below and save it to a textfile. You can then use them copied from your own textfile (or "notebook"):

    GBP symbol- £ (type &#194;&#163;)
    Yen symbol- ¥ (type &#194;&#165;)
    Copyright symbol- © (type &#194;&#169;)
    Less than- < (type &#60; OR &lt;)
    More than- > (type &#62; OR &gt;)
    Ampersand- & (type &#38; OR &amp;)
    a acute- á (type &#195;&#161;)
    e acute- é (type &#195;&#169;)
    i acute- í (type &#195;&#173;)
    o acute- ó (type &#195;&#179;)
    u acute- ú (type &#195;&#186;)
    a umlaut- ä (type &#195;&#164;)
    o umlaut- ö (type &#195;&#182;)
    u umlaut- ü (type &#195;&#188;)

    Good luck
    ed

    Thanks again to D H Wilkinson

 

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