Action Network blog

Change the world around you

Latest entry

Final post

  • Ki Ellwood
  • 1 Feb 07, 02:46 PM

We set up this blog to help explain how we run the Action Network and to seek your views on how we're doing and what we should do. And also to record and celebrate the successes of Action Network users who are making an impact.

To a certain extent we have done this with posts like Action Network users make an impact and the return of the tripods where we celebrated the success of Action Network users and with posts like privacy settings and improving Action Network where we sought your views on changes planned to the site.

However after running the blog for a few months we realised that firstly, that our home page is a far better place to celebrate the successes of Action Network users and secondly that we are not making major changes to the site on a regular enough basis to justify a blog.

Therefore we have decided to close this blog and will not be updating it in future.

If you want to know more about what we are doing then visit the main Action Network site.

Recent entries

New look to the Action Network site

  • Martin Vogel
  • 6 Sep 06, 11:24 AM

We've introduced some changes to the Action Network site this morning. They're in response to feedback about difficulties new users were facing finding their way into the site. We have a revised and much simplified home page, revised navigation around the site, and a new help forum.

Action Network character

We have aimed to be much clearer on the home page about exactly what Action Network is. In the past, we tried to reflect on the home page the diversity of things you could do with the site whereas now we're really focussing much more on a few things to get you started. You may recognise on the home page and as you browse round the site the little people who made their first appearance in the animated trail about Action Network which has been running on television. Here in the Action Network team, we've taken to these characters and we thought it would give a more welcoming feel to give them an outing on the site.

If you are a registered user, you will also have more control over your own content, as you can now edit notices and events and will also be able to hide any of your content on the site.

The help forum is a place for you to ask questions about how to use the site or - if you're an experienced user - to answer questions and share your expertise. We've provided this as a bit of an experiment and we'll review in a few months whether it's something we'll maintain. We hope you find it useful.

As usual, we'd welcome your feedback on what you think of the changes. You can either leave comments here on the blog or email us at

And while I'm on, I'll take this opportunity to sign off permanently. I'm soon to leave the Action Network team and won't be making further contributions to the blog. I hope you continue to find the Action Network site both enjoyable and helpful.

Restoration roadshow

  • Clare Spencer
  • 24 Aug 06, 11:21 AM


We’ve been on the road with BBC2’s Restoration Village. Villages are competing to win funding to restore a building which could transform their community.

The contenders have put campaigns on Action Network to drum up support and are having village fairs. I went along to the fairs for Chedham’s Yard in Warwickshire and Cromarty East Church in Scotland.


A vintage bus took people to and from Chedham’s Yard while, in Cromatry, the River City star Joyce Falconer opened the fair with a little song she made up on the accordion.

You can catch us next in Gracehill, near Ballymena in Northern Ireland on Saturday 2nd September. Supporters there are hoping to save Gracehill Old School.

What do you think of the Action Network blog?

  • Martin Vogel
  • 9 Aug 06, 11:43 AM

The Action Network blog was launched as part of a trial of blogs across the BBC. If you scroll down, you'll see the other blogs involved at the bottom right side of this page.

It's now time to evaluate the trial, and we'd really appreciate some feedback. Your views will help us understand how valuable you find the blog and whether there are things you think we should change. The BBC is asking for feedback across all of blogs in the trial over the next few weeks.

In order to help you provide feedback, we’ve listed a few questions below for you to think about when posting your comments. You don’t need to answer all of these questions - they're only offered as as a guide to what we are looking for in your feedback.

So, if you can spare a few moments, please help us and let us know what you think about this blog ...

What 5 words would you use to describe this blog and what it means to you?

What are the best bits about this blog?

Anything you’re not so keen on? If yes, then do give any suggestions you may have to improve it!

What do you think about the frequency of our posts and the length. Do we have a right balance here?

As usual, you can post your comments on this page or email us at

Postponed maintenance

  • Martin Vogel
  • 11 Jul 06, 01:34 PM

The site maintenance which was due to happen last week will take place tomorrow morning between 7am and 9am. Once again, apologies if this causes inconvenience.

London Coffeehouse Challenge

  • Martin Vogel
  • 6 Jul 06, 05:14 PM

Max Calo' at the London Coffeehouse Challenge

A belated entry on our Coffeehouse Challenge at the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. It focussed on what Londoners can do to preserve much loved sports facilities. Compared with our previous two Coffeehouse Challenges - in Selkirk and Londonderry - this was less about what one community could do to address an issue and more about what various communities could learn from each other. People expressed interest in taking forward a number of initiatives - keep your eye on the Action Network site for news on this.

Improving Action Network

  • Joel Chippindale
  • 5 Jul 06, 04:54 PM

It's a year since we relaunched iCan as Action Network, and we're beginning a project to consider how we could improve the site. Some of the feedback we have received from people who have made use of, or tried to make use of, the site is encouraging us to try to make it less confusing.

We're not surprised that people find it difficult. Getting involved in changing things in one's community is confusing and difficult - and reflecting the process in a website is no small challenge. Our approach has been to experiment (by developing and releasing our best guess at what we think will meet people's needs), then to review (in the light of how we observe people using the site), and then to revise (on the basis of new ideas that come to us through the preceding process).

We're working on some significant changes which will aim to allow people to use tools external to the BBC - such as blogging sites - instead of having to create Action Network campaigns. But that's for the medium term.

Over the next few weeks, we are taking a fresh look at the signposting around Action Network - how to simplify the site navigation, how to make it easier to use, and how to make it more obvious to people how to get started.

We hope to make a number of changes to Action Network in the near future which should make it far easier for people who are new to the site to orientate themselves.

We would be really interested to hear your views.

Do you remember what it was like when you first visited Action Network? What did you find confusing? What do you think we should change?

You can leave comments here or email us at the usual address:

Site maintenance

  • Martin Vogel
  • 4 Jul 06, 09:48 AM

Please expect some disruption to service on the Action Network site tomorrow morning between 7am and 9am. Maintenance is being carried out to the software which powers the site. Apologies for the inconvience.

Privacy settings

  • Martin Vogel
  • 15 Jun 06, 11:02 AM

We're making some changes to the way users' names and locations appear in Action Network.

We've always asked people to contribute to the site using their real names. We think this gives more credibility to whatever they're trying to achieve using Action Network. We've also found it gives the additional benefit of reducing offensive or spamming contributions as users are more accountable for what they say.

When iCan relaunched as Action Network last year, we made a small change which had a big impact. We started displaying the names of registered users on the location page for the council area in which they live. Here's an example. Our intention here was to make users more visible to each other in their neighbourhoods, and for the most part the change was well received. But a small number of people did not like to be exposed in this way.

So we're planning some changes which will allow you to choose whether or not to display your name and/or location. By default, we'll continue to include members names in the lists of registered members on local authority location pages. But, in future, you will be able to opt out of appearing on that list. If you don't want to use your real name on Action Network, you'll have the option of using what we call the "U number" which is associated with your account. This is the number our system generates automatically when you create a new membership in Action Network. It can be seen in the URL when you click on "My Network" at the top of any Action Network page. For example, my "U number" is U517448.

We also received some emails from people who were concerned that their Action Network profiles were coming up when they typed their name in to internet search engines. This was a mistake on our part, and we've now changed the computer code behind the member profile pages so that search engines won't include them when they scan our site.

If you have any thoughts on these changes, we would be very happy to hear from you.

Coffeehouse Challenge in Derry

  • Martin Vogel
  • 15 Jun 06, 10:49 AM

Our second Coffeehouse Challenge meeting, in Derry, seems to have been a great success. The theme was about improving the environment in Brooke Park. Local resident and playwright, Eddie Kerr, has posted an article on Action Network which explains the challenge.

Selkirk sets the pace with the Coffeehouse Challenge

  • Martin Vogel
  • 9 Jun 06, 02:09 PM

_DSC0868b.gifOur first Coffeehouse Challenge, in Selkirk, was a spirited exploration of how to regenerate the town.

For some of the Action Network team, inured to inner London, this picturesque community in the Scottish Borders didn't at first sight seem an obvious candidate for regeneration. But participants at the meeting spoke of a loss of civic pride over some thirty years and a lack of jobs to keep young people in the town. The need for a bypass, to make Selkirk more attractive to tourists, emerged as a priority.

The local paper does a better job than me of explaining the detail of the local issues. Action Scotland, on BBC Radio Scotland, will broadcast a programme based on the discussion at 1100 on Wednesday 21 June.

A big thanks to everyone who came and engaged with the debate. More pictures here.

Update 20 June: Dr Lindsay Neil has contributed a report on the meeting to the Action Network site.

Piers and Restoration

  • Amber Rose
  • 6 Jun 06, 02:48 PM

Herne Bay pierHow to restore piers to their former Victorian glory is just one of the guides we will be writing about for this year’s Restoration programme.

Action Network has joined forces with the team behind Restoration, which begins on BBC2 next month.

We will be offering useful tips and guides on how to restore buildings for TV viewers and our users.

Restoring piers has been a popular theme on Action Network. After Pete Revell launched a campaign to re-build Herne Bay pier in his home town, we interviewed him for a My Story feature.

There has also been a variety of campaigns and stories on our restoring buildings issue page, from preserving a former airfield control tower, to saving an art-deco cinema.

A campaign to bring back the sounds of the bells in a local church even received media attention from the local BBC radio station.

We’d like to read more restoration stories from people. So if you’re campaigning to save a building or have experiences on how to go about it, why not add your story to our restoring buildings page?

Site maintenance

  • Martin Vogel
  • 30 May 06, 05:15 PM

The software engineers are installing some some new code tomorrow morning to the system which powers the Action Network site. As a result, Action Network will be unavailable between 7am and 10am. Apologies for the disruption to service.

Coffeehouse Challenge in Northern Ireland

  • Martin Vogel
  • 30 May 06, 03:56 PM

We've confirmed arrangements for our Coffeehouse Challenge event in Londonderry. Mark Patterson, of BBC Radio Foyle, will be hosting the discussion in Brooke Park - on the topic of what can be done to make the park a safer place for everyone in the community.

This subject has grown out of a lively phone-in discussion on Mark's radio show. Many listeners calling Mark's show felt that the park wasn't a welcoming place to go and that it exacerbated divisions in the community.

The event will be at 6pm on Tuesday 13 June in the Brooke Park Resource Centre, 1A Westway, Londonderry BT48 9NP.

If you're interested in attending this - or any of the series we're organising - please contact us.

Action Network users make an impact

  • Martin Vogel
  • 25 May 06, 10:33 AM

139bus.jpgAction Network campaigners in London are being featured on the BBC London website.

BBC London are going to be keeping an eye on Action Network activity in the capital and following up interesting stories. The BBC London radio station is planning to feature a campaign about the 139 bus in West Hampstead in its breakfast programme on Monday.

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