Strictly Message Board: What Happened
The British public obviously cares a great deal about Strictly Come Dancing, perhaps more than anything else in the world.
Eventually, I decided to close the Strictly Come Dancing board at 22:00 so the moderators could work through the backlog of messages. Personally I think Paul on the Central Communities Team and our external moderation provider did an amazing job to try and keep this under control.
Here's a more detailed breakdown of what happened.
We had an increasing number of messages in the moderation queue during the day. The Communities Team and our external partners kept me informed as the numbers kept steadily rising, and by lunch time the queue was extraordinarily high.
At half past three we were already two hours behind on moderating comments, meaning something that got posted at 13:26 was only appearing at 15:25. On a busy day we get new messages checked and posted within less than an hour.
By late afternoon we had all our internal and external moderators on it, we had reduced the number of pre-modded posts for new users down to 3, and we had our own super-mod on it (and he can do 400 comments per hour - accurately!)
By five p.m. we had to cut the new user pre-modding down to two, and then one. It was clear that the problem was being caused by new users wanting to comment, and as all new users are pre-modded before any of their comments are shown, the queue kept on growing.
Between five and six we had dropped the pre-modding down to one, and the "speedbump" was moved up from three minutes to five minutes. This is a time restriction between posts so that people can't use a BBC message board like instant messaging. We had hoped that this would allow us to bring the queue down to something manageable.
To give you an idea, we get worried when a queue reaches 500-600 unmoderated comments. By late afternoon we were running at over 2000 coments. This was in spite of putting all mods on there together along with all the temporary rule changes.
For the last hour of the day we started lifting restrictions on other boards (such as Points of View) to alleviate the burden on moderators and get them to focus on Strictly Come Dancing. We tried for one final hour before six to get the queue down, and hoped that as people left work at six the comments would stop rolling in.
Unfortunately this didn't happen, and the queue kept growing. After seven it was clear to me that we were going to have a problem overnight - the Central Communities Team had to go home at some point, and we normally only have one moderator on duty throughout the night as we close most boards for commenting.
Broadly speaking I had two options open to me as we went past 8 p.m.:
Lift the rule on pre-modding comments from new users, effectively opening up the boards to anyone and everyone without managing the input
Close the SCD board at ten, and start working on this again Thursday morning while the mods worked through the night to clear the backlog.
Our primary responsibilities are towards the community and the BBC's editorial values.
I didn't want to run the risk of having a free, open board - especially one attracting so many comments. I'd rather run the risk of being accused of censorship than have libellous, abusive, racist or otherwise damaging content.
Tom van Aardt is Communities Editor, BBC Future Media & Technology
(N.B. Editor's note 7.25 p.m. The final two paragraphs in this post have been removed as they contain factual inaccuracies. I'll update you with some better numbers and more detail tomorrow (NR))