Talk about Newsnight


Blogging - a new era

  • Newsnight
  • 18 Apr 08, 05:49 PM

blog203.jpgAs many of you who've used the BBC's blogs will know, it has for some months been a deeply frustrating experience, not just for you but for us too.

The point of blogging about our programmes is to have a swift and informal conversation with our viewers. That's impossible if it takes hours to get your comment or our response through.

I'm relieved to say that as of yesterday we have a new system which should be much more robust and which I hope will usher in a new era of blogging for Newsnight.

One change is that in order to comment you'll need to register by filling in a simple form.
Once signed up, you'll be able to comment on any BBC blog using the same login.

Many of you have already commented on how it's working and one or two have suggested it's designed to introduce more censorship.

That's certainly not our intention. The aim is to encourage much more open discussion about the programme and much more interaction with the programme-makers. I'm sure it isn't perfect and that you'll let us know how it could be improved.

Thanks very much to all those contributors - the Bob Goodalls, Barrie Singletons, Mistress76UKs and many others - who have persevered through all the blog problems. Apologies for all the Error 502s, and welcome to the new era.


  • Comment number 1.

    Why isn't Newsnight covering the death of the Gaza Strip. Everywhere else "the writingison the wall" except here. Editorial bias?

  • Comment number 2.

    At my first attempt it would appear that your censor is quite liberal on the context of the story. Its often informative to others to stray off the alleged topics, Its a shame that you no longer carry the personal links, but as many ended at porn sites its hardly surprising that you ditched this often useful feature.

    I shall do my best to attempt to test the censor to destruction over the next few weeks, I hope that the team get to see them despite being potentially banned from the site.

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm extremely happy the site's back up and running and I really love the fact that you even have links to facebook too ( we have a Jeremy Paxman Appreciation Group on facebook, so absolutely love it!) :-) Thanks Newsnight.

  • Comment number 4.

    Maybe one should start with 'Brilliant rationalising tonight!' ... quite worthy of Newswatch at its 'minor mea culpa followed by major 'we think it's spiffy, and it's sweet you think we're going to do much about it now'' best.

    The new system certainly now works technically, which was all that was ever wrong. Why impose all the logistical/stylistic changes at the same time? I recall no comments asking for these.

    It has certainly worked on cutting down on quantity (3, so far, here at time of writing. Less than 10 for Friday with all to comment upon there). As to quality...? I wonder where those whose balanced input and interesting links I so value will be posting now? I'll lurk here a while I guess, but not sure whether it's worth investing much time any more to writing.

    Better dash off this quick knee-jerk soundbite feedback - at the expense of considered input designed to stimulate further discourse and off-blog engagement - before this thread gets closed. So... job done then national, and publicly-funded broadcaster... job done?

  • Comment number 5.

    Can the RSS feeds be changed back to give full article text again, not just a dozen words or so followed by ... ?

  • Comment number 6.

    Oh come on Junkkmale (4), give it a chance. It's only been going for a day. The technical fix has been done across all the BBC blogs and as I understand it the new features are there in order to manage the huge workload robustly, not to stifle debate.


  • Comment number 7.

    congratulations for bringing this exciting blog back,we hope it will no longer going to be off again.And it seems the new censor is quit active and ever ready to work.

  • Comment number 8.

    'you'll let us know how it could be improved'.


    Live links to websites; both of the blogger, and where cited items of interest are to be found.


    Surely this is PRE moderated? ( I never went to university.)

  • Comment number 9.

    Barrie (8), I agree we need live links - we'll look into it. Under the old system it was also possible to make the comments from Newsnight contributors dark blue to distinguish them from those from viewers. Personally I'd like to bring that back too.

    I hope it will be possible to tweak it as we go along.


  • Comment number 10.


    Thanks Peter. I have been biting my tongue over colour, but what the hell! I always felt the beige (light ocre? - there's a thread!) had a touch of reserved class about it. I grew up in wartime (you know- the kinf of war where the enemy might get you, not the Turkey-Shoot sort). Hence "depressed grey" does not suit me.
    Oh - and I always felt the dark blue looked masterful - almost as masterful as
    Mistress76uk finds Pantsman.

    PS If this pops straight onto the blog, I'll know it is POST moderated - won't I (:o)

  • Comment number 11.

    we british hate change...we just don't like it. Can we have the nerd who made us go through all this messing about give an account of his 'need to change things' I suggest he is in urgent need of therapy...he is just a meddler and was probably the despair of his parents and schoolteachers..we should be told, please tell him to go away

  • Comment number 12.

    Quote from the intro at the top of this webpage:
    "and one or two have suggested it's designed to introduce more censorship.

    That's certainly not our intention."

    Maybe that's not your intention but that is what I am experiencing so far, and from the reduced number of comments I would guess I'm not the only one.

    Really, if the BBC moderators will only let through opinions the BBC already supports please don't pretend public participation; such manipulation smacks of ideological correctness, misrepresents public opinion and wastes the time of those to do try to contribute.

    I wonder if this post will get through.

  • Comment number 13.

    I'd also like to point out that on this webpage, below the 'Post a comment' phrase, just above the 'Your Comment' box, the text explicitly states "All posts are post-moderated".

    This doesn't seem to quite fit with the phrase "This comment is awaiting moderation" which currently appears instead of my text, in the comment I previously submitted.

    Clarification would be welcome!

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm sure Derek (13) and Barrie (10) are right, it should be pre-moderated shouldn't it?

    We'll sort this out on Monday


  • Comment number 15.

    Just to confirm - all posts are pre-moderated.

    The text that reads, "All posts are post-moderated", is wrong - it's an automated piece of script that is being corrected today.

    We do vet posts before publishing them in line with guidance given here (

  • Comment number 16.

    Today's laws and justice no longer seem to be in touch with with normal law abiding citizens in this counrty.
    Does anybody think that maybe a vigilante force might send a valid message out to makers and breakers of the law

  • Comment number 17.

    6. At 09:01 am on 19 Apr 2008, PeterBarron wrote: Oh come on Junkkmale (4), give it a chance. It's only been going for a day.

    Oh... I am sorry that you appear frustrated at my lack of enthusiasm and support... well, for the additional 'improvements' to the blogging experience made in addition/complement to the infamous error codes. Now sorted, if I may repeat my congrats on that at least.

    How much of a chance do you need? The same the BBC gave BA and the T5 planners for things that had a fair old while and a healthy wadge of wonga to get right, and yet...

    It's just that when asked/invited to give an opinion I naturally assumed that one is going to be expected... even if aspects might be unfavourable. Maybe specifying a minimum time window to allow for settling in would have been helpful? Oh, but then there's that 'comments closed' situation. Hence an upper limit too. So a window of posting opportunity maybe? Dilemmas abound. Might I be allowed to ask what IS the rationale for closing a comment thread? Looking back a few it seems not to be based on a simple time period.

    I also like to know if I can about who I am chatting with, so I clicked the link to check and find out more on your name. Sadly, just this, as far as I could locate:

    Blog Network
    Find and talk to the BBC's bloggers.
    User Profile
    Listed below are comments made by between and across all BBC Blogs.

    « NewerOlder »

    My pointing out that live links was an unfortunate deletion was a feedback suggestion by the way, though if it was causing problems maybe there was good reason for deleting this option. I am sure that might have been noticed and discussed when this was planned...right? It just all seems to have been coming as a bit of a surprise to you. And there do now seem a lot fewer folk than there used to be, along with the off-page redirections to further sources I appreciated.

    Anyway, I am glad to see this thread is still allowed to remain active. But I'll have to remember the latest bit of nuSpeek to add to all the others of our age: ' I understand it the new features are there in order to manage the huge workload robustly, not to stifle debate.'

    Rather Clintonian. 'As you understand it'? Don't you KNOW? It is your programme's site blog is it not?

    I concede that I may be in a minority, though I take some comfort in the experiences and opinions shared by some others.... in a total of 16 comments (so far - 1 from me and 4 from you guys, so at least we're now in double digits) on fundamental changes to the blog thread pages of one of the last serious news programmes of the broadcaster to a nation of 60 million.

    In my line, advertising, a critique from a customer who cares enough to write is the most valuable thing you can get, and should be cherished. And embraced.

    But I'm afraid by deed and tone you and and your organisation often make me feel that is not high on the agenda where you work, managing huge workloads, um, 'robustly'. That's for whom... again?

  • Comment number 18.

    ps: By way of bad blogger, good blogger, may I say the pre-moderation is very fast, ta very much. 5 minutes... tops!

    But... unless my kids are playing hooky, it is now 16.01, which suggests to me the system is still not in the right time zone.

  • Comment number 19.

    Sorry JunkkMale (17)

    I wasn't intending to be rude or defensive - of course I embrace and cherish your comments, and I'm pleased at the very least that 2-way communication is working better than before.

    The "give it a chance" referred to your comment that user numbers were smaller than before - it will take a while to get the numbers up, but I hope that the ease of commenting will help.

    I agree entirely on the live links, which I hope will be available soon.

    The reason for my Clintonian defence is that the blog fix has been done across the BBC by a team not under Newsnight's direct control.

    So we are finding our way with it too.


  • Comment number 20.

    JunkkMale - as you've guessed we're still tweaking some of the settings. I think we may well have lapsed back into GMT. It's being looked at. Thanks.
    Ian, Newsnight

  • Comment number 21.

    Let's see how you use your newfound control..not that I am cynical or anything.

  • Comment number 22.

    Well, you seem to have lost Bob Goodall - I expected half a dozen comments from him by now...

    A bit of techie feedback - if that's allowed?

    None of the account set-up pages are encrypted, thus making the information provided on them (notably dates of birth and email addresses) visible for all and anyone with a grade 1 understanding of http - DoB are crucial for all sorts of internet stuff (notably internet bank accounts) and none of us needs any more spam

    The links of the 'privacy and cookie rights' in step 2 and step 3 of the account set-up process don't work (or at least they don't on Firefox 2.0)

    The comments count in brackets behind the 'Comments' link have disappeared under pre-sign-up articles (so instead of 'Comments (15)' it now just says 'Comments')

    That's all for now...

  • Comment number 23.

    Peter (19) - thank you for your considered reply.

    And with the welcome addition of Cloe-F at least we're up to a 22-way conversation now:)

    I am sure this may well steadily rise as existing posters get to grips with the new system (I ended up with a 'name' I'd forgotten about thanks to some registration/cookie combo when I signed on to the BBC site ages ago), and possibly new friends now the infamous 502 is consigned to history.

    However, Cloe_F's tech feedback might prove enough to dissuade many in this 'data-available' concerned age. Another aspect one might have hoped had been raised at pre-planning stage?

    But I am sure that now it is shared it will be addressed. You do indeed have access to some very well informed folk, with valuable experiences to share, especially in some pertinent areas of expertise. Which is what I would be sorry to lose.

    It is a shame that your team had no, or little input on the mechanisms for feedback on the work you do. As journalists and editors I am sure you are usually more than interested in every aspect of how news and opinion is gleaned and disseminated. And blanket impositions, even with good intentions, can often end up pleasing none of the people, none of the time.

    Moderation is a tricky path. It's not just what gets said, but whether something is allowed in ... or out... and why. Or for how long. As those involved elsewhere with such as 'Have Your Say' for instance might have found. I don't bother with these efforts because, beyond anonymous venting in the wind, there is little incentive or reward for investing the thought and time. And the result is all too often a highlighted 'soundbite' chosen to suit.

    Clearly, this thread is looking quite healthy for open debate in this regard so far and, with luck, will improve even more.

    But what did prompt my original concerns back last week (16/17 April) was the 'comment closed' time out, the rationale for which (if it is to stay as an option) still remains unclear. I've noticed it elsewhere, in such as Guardian CiF, and can't see a good reason for it, considering the internet/web's ability to allow information to expand with the interest and demand it stimulates.

    With this 'new', robust system, and the clearly re-energised moderating team it has empowered, I am sure leaving things open to accommodate the odd subsequent follow-up commentary is technically and administratively possible if the will is there.

  • Comment number 24.

    ps: Ian (15)

    Tx. No biggie. Just thought you'd like to know. It was mentioned last week.

    Also the advice is still up as 'All posts are post-moderated.' so I guess it's all taking a wee bit longer to fix than we'd imagined.

  • Comment number 25.

    Cloe F (22)

    I'm checking your points about privay with the team who have been developing the blog and will report back shortly.

    I agree it's a shame about Bob - maybe he's on holiday?


  • Comment number 26.

    One of my main concerns about feedback on bbc and other mainstream 'western" media has been the horrid coverage of the free tibet disruptions of the Olympic Torch run, replete with "news" stories filled with false facts and no immediate way to post corrections.

    The result, however, has been enlightening, with folks who kave both the knowledge and courage posting the true facts all over the web.

    What is really destroying the entrenched status quo media is allowing itself to be used as a platform for a particular point of view, selling false info as though it were agreed upon assumptions, and without any meaningful corrections when they are brought to the medias attention.

    We are all busy, and most of the folks I know do not have time to wade through tripe.

    Please do a better job of checking facts, before incorporating them into a "news" story, and make a better and more immediate way to comment back. Those of us who blog take this for granted.

    Kathy and Shannon

  • Comment number 27.

    Just a personal curiosity...who decides what is news??? Clearly if a big story breaks then it is unlikely it will go unreported. However, there is so much that goes unreported (such as the person below, mentioned gaza etc) and it is hardly suprising with everything happening in the world. So I was just wondering how newsnight decides what to report. (Other than the investigations which are usually as a result of a tip-off. )



  • Comment number 28.


    in the meantime there is a simple solution to the privacy dilemma: lie. Fake name, fake email, fake date of birth. Which is what most people seem to be doing anyway, and which should make a complete mockery of the BBC's intention to "protect [its] younger members" or indeed anyone else...


    PS - could the web team add the 'Credit Crunch' link (.../newsnight/credit_crunch/default.stm) to the left-hand column on NN's front page? It's a welcome addition to an already excellent collection of reports and articles. Ta.

  • Comment number 29.


    Ta. The BBC as Wikipedia... at best? Next thing we'll have suggestions editorial gets revised to reflect emerging truths that better fit the narrative.

    At least some things are improving, perhaps as a consequence of feedback (I made a subsequent note a few days later that the post/pre moderation advice on some posts was still incorrect, and it got changed. Might have been nice to be acknowledged, as any coming in afterwards might have thought I was in error).

    Numbers are creeping up, but still the levels remain modest compared to before. At least the 'comments are closed' seem not to have been used again... or yet.

    I guess we'll look forward to further robustly managed reports back from the team... as they find their way. Such as action on your good points on privacy, which I'm sure are being given the urgent attention they require and you'll get your answer...shortly.

    I have no problem with my name and URL being shared as I supplied them, but remain unsure as to why my birthday was/is required and also would not want my email available.

  • Comment number 30.

    Written at 7.52 am. Still being looked at I guess. Must be a complex system. I know time codes are not a major issue, but sometimes when something is written can have a bearing, especially if quoted on the BBC. And an hour is a long time in news...

  • Comment number 31.

    '5. At 12:42 pm on 22 Apr 2008, PeterBarron wrote: Cloe F (22)

    I'm checking your points about privay with the team who have been developing the blog and will report back shortly.'

    Did you... we... ever did get this report? Being about privacy I do have concerns and week is a long time in... well most things.

    If so, where might it be?

    14.17 pm on 29 Apr 2008

  • Comment number 32.

    I keep popping back in case an answer is forthcoming here, as I have seen none subsequently.

    It does seem worth being reassured, as the topic remains 'hot'. I just go this from the Lib Dems, for instance:

    'Responding to a BBC’s investigation into Facebook which claims that a security flaw could lead to people’s personal information being stolen through the use of ‘add-on’ applications, Liberal Democrat Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, Don Foster, said:

    “If these reports are true then they are hugely concerning."'


  • Comment number 33.

    I'd rather hoped the feedback opportunity for further input/suggestions might have moved along with the more topical threads, but this seems the best place to keep it, even if becoming ancient history.

    Whilst an obvious necessity, it is less clear that there is a character limit.

    Might I suggest this, and what it is, is mentioned at least, if it is not possible to have a reducing counter or pop-up at first posting attempt (as most newspaper blogs do)?

    If you exceed for any reason and don't realise, all you get at posting is.... nothing. And that can be confusing to those not so savvy with the etiquette and/or rules.

  • Comment number 34.

    Here's the response I've had from the BBC's information security people on the privacy issue.

    "The BBC takes security seriously, but we do have to be able to provide access for all people who pay the license fee. There were still a number of people who would not have been able to use the web services with full security built in (called HTTPS or SSL - the 'lock' on the browser) the last time we reviewed how we collected data from our communities. We have since re-visited this decision, and a whole new system is currently being designed which will implement full security over the transactions where we request any personal data. These projects are never small scale as we have to deal with many hundreds of thousands of licence fee payers who wish to join in our communities and programmes. We expect this new system to be available towards the end of this year."


  • Comment number 35.

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

  • Comment number 36.

    I really liked the episode where your wife showed us your investment portfolio and queried whether it was ethical to own shares in oil companies etc. I wonder if it would be a good idea if we could see exactly what shares all BBC journalists have so we can make our own judgments about whether the reports on coprorations are fair and unbiased by ownership of shares of the same company?


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites