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3 Years of the R&D Blog- Time for a Review & a Change

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Ant Miller Ant Miller | 15:37 UK time, Thursday, 1 November 2012

This is a little more introverted than most posts on this blog- rather than considering the future of alternative television or radio platforms, the time has come to consider the platform that this blog itself is hosted on.  Since November 2009 when Matthew Postgate wrote the first post on this platform we have produced an average of 10 posts per month, and three years down the road we think this a great archive of three years in the life of a very busy department.  We've had dozens of videos, attended and reported back on events, run a weeknotes diary and generally tried to share with you as much as we possibly can of the work we get up to in this team.

For all of those three years we have been sitting on a version of Movable Type that the great team behind all our BBC Blog shoehorned into the wider BBC webarchitecture.  No one would pretend it was an easy fit, and to this day the role of blog host includes a good deal of counselling for the new authors trying to get to grips with it's perculiarities.  The "modules" system baffles me.  Now though the rest of the BBC's infrastructure has moved on- it's a far more resillient and productive system.  Scalable, flexible and capable of hosting a huge range of functional pages, the system now really struggles to accommodate our clunky old MT set up.  So, end of November, MT gets turned off.

These posts will remain, as will your comments (though new comments on old posts won't be possible, and we won't be able to edit posts).  No new posts in MT will be possible.  So, the question facing us is what we use as a CMS to handle the blogging commincation we want to share with you.  We've a range of options, and rest assured that we'll try something interesting (we are R&D after all!).

The question facing YOU though is rather different.  What we want to ask you for is what have you found most interesting over the last three years?  What post most amazed you, or baffled you?  What post do you wish we could follow up on? What did you think was bizarre and what do you think we should be doing, but never heard about?  Post comments bellow and let us know how you felt this last 36 months of discussion and dialogue has gone, and we'll use that to help us figure out how we do it from December onwards.

I can promise only one thing- we'll stay interesting!


  • Comment number 1.


  • Comment number 2.

    It was considered, and it's not out of the question down the line. Not currently top of the list though. Further suggestions welcome.

  • Comment number 3.

    It seems odd to me that you are asking for suggestions here. Many BBC blogs are extremely popular - the Strictly Come Dancing Blog, The Voice Blog - the Being Human Blog - The EastEnders' Blog. As users we are often asked to give feedback about our experience of using our beloved blogs, via filling in a pop-up survey questionnaire What happens to that feedback. Because it is clearly evident that the feedback is NOT getting back to the 'great team behind all our BBC Blogs' - or if it is - it is ignored.

    The new format, such as in the Strictly Come Dancing Blog - is hated by all. The font size is too small and cannot be enlarged by changing zoom settings (the rest of the page enlarged - but not the comments). The white font on black background makes it even harder to read and takes more time.

    No advice to users of Blogs is available, for example - how to re-fresh the page without ending up back on page one of the comments - or how to use commands such as emphasis and bold. Many users become frustrated because they cannot access a Blog due to 404 messages which they don't know how to change their settings in order to stop this. It's a simple thing to do - but who tells them?

    The Blogs' Homepage would be an ideal place to have this information for users. It would stop a lot of angry comments from frustrated users - which again are generally ignored. And about that - there is a link to the Blogs' Homepage on every BBC Blog - and yet it is the worst and most neglected Blog on the BBC.

    If comments are closed after 3 months - then this should be standardized right across all BBC Blogs. At the moment any Blog Post can be closed for comments in, what seems like a random way and often the author of the Blog Post themselves are surprised by this - they used to have full editorial rights and be able to decide if a Blog Post stay open - when did that change? Or is it that no-one has told them how to do it?

    What functions would we like to see on Blogs? We don't need super-duper whizzy busy stuff. We want to be able to comment, discuss and debate a topic with other users without hindrance.

    The BBC Blog Team need to sort out the nuts and bolts before adding and adding and adding. Videos should be loaded onto the BBC youtube site (yes - there is one) so that clips can be shared with all users.

    We want to be able to see the Blog Posts and Comments with clarity.

    Finally (yes, there is more) I don't understand how some authors, such as Anne Diamond for example, can happily post new blogs all the time whilst other authors really seem to struggle to post a new Blog Post. Whose fault is this? I want to know.

    But I have to end by saying that Blogs are such huge fun and a great thought-provoking way to tell the BBC how much we love/hate and give feedback about our favourite programmes. Thanks.

  • Comment number 4.

    The three most interesting posts for me where the HD tests you did from studio zero, the description of the DVB-T2 prototype and more recently the HD radio camera. It would be interesting to have something about HVEC (if you have not already done so).

  • Comment number 5.

    I think the BBC R&D blog is seriously under-rated and should be promoted more than it has been in the past... looking forward to seeing some great new content on the new platform.

    My only suggestion would be to separate blog posts relating to "process" and those relating to content that would be interesting for BBC consumers.


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