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Question: What is BBC iD?

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Helen Purves Helen Purves | 17:12 UK time, Monday, 18 April 2011

You might have noticed that in order to comment on our blog (or any other BBC blog, in fact) you need to register for something called a "BBC iD".  In case you haven't tried to comment before, I'm referring to the little blue button saying "sign in".

If you've clicked on it, you'll know that it takes you to a page asking for your sign-in details - or, if you haven't got any, you can click another button which says "Register now".  From there on, the sign-up process is pretty simple - much easier than signing up for online shopping or online banking, for example, although it can look a little bit intimidating at first. 

And here's where people become slightly reticent - is it really worth it?  Good question.  I think so.  I'll go through what information the BBC wants from you in a moment, but in case you want it selling to you, here are three of the things you can do on the BBC website with a BBC iD account.

  • Message boards: view and take part in discussions about news, programmes and more on some very active message boards.
  • Comments: have your say on BBC News stories and blog entries across the BBC website (like this one)
  • iPlayer: save a list of your favourite TV or radio shows to watch later, and get recommendations on what to watch next

So, if you're convinced (and I hope you are), here's a quick breakdown of the information the BBC iD service requires and what it's needed for:


This will be your name across the BBC website.  Think of it as being like a nickname - except it has to be entirely unique.  The form will go red if someone else using BBC iD has the username you want, so experiment.  Just make sure your username is something fairly short, which you can remember easily. Our Internet Basics course has more information on this.


This is very important - it's so nobody else can use your username or access your details.  To be safe, use a mixture of letters and numbers - and don't write it down anywhere, or you might find a cheeky friend/relative has been writing rude comments on the BBC website without your knowledge! (I speak from experience...) Again, we have a tool you can use to check your password.

Date of Birth

Some people worry about this, but the reason the BBC needs this information is actually to protect children.  Sites like CBBC and BBC Schools have special message boards just for kids, and getting your date of birth means that adults and children are kept socially apart - so adults can't use children's message boards and children can't use message boards meant for adults.

Display name

This is there in case you don't want your username to appear - so you can put your real name here.  For example, when I leave a comment on this blog my name is displayed as "Helen Purves" - but my username is something else.  Having this feature meant that when I started commenting on this blog, I could change how my name appeared to something more work-friendly!

Email address

You need to put in your email address so that the BBC can confirm that you're a real person, and not a spammer.  This is the very last step - after this, you're done.  Now, at the top of the page (next to the BBC blocks) you'll be able to see your username - click on this and you can either edit your settings, or sign out (very important if you share your computer or log in on someone else's).

So that's it!  Just five easy pieces of information (which the BBC promises to keep safe and secure) and you're free to talk to other people on the BBC website - and, of course, comment on our blog posts.  If you want more information, there's an FAQ page on the BBC iD mini-site.

If you have a question about computers or the internet that you think we can answer, get in touch through our contact form (letting us know if it's okay for us to use your first name and location) or, of course, use the comments section of this blog!

As well as working on the WebWise production team, Helen has an interest in short-form video, social media and online marketing.


  • Comment number 1.

    I very much disagree about my ID appearing at the top of a relevant page - such as for comments! - It perhaps might be due to my classification as a mobile user (without a mobile to provide a number?) Anyway, i use quite a sophisticated laptop via Wii Fii facilities. It can cause prolonged periods as logged in to bbc.co.uk!


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