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A Short Hiatus- Then a Relaunch

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Ant Miller Ant Miller | 10:53 UK time, Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Several months ago we flagged that the system that currently hosts this blog was being decommissioned, and that we will be doing something different for our web based project news.  That process is now well underway, and this is likely to be one of the last- if not *the* last post on the Movable Type system from BBC R&D.

In the weeks to come you can look forward to a brand new R&D website, and within that a dedicated project updates feed, where we'll take all the content that we have hosted on this blog over the last three and a half years and integrate it with the project pages, departmental info, and the publications.  All of this will have its own dedicated search function, independent of the wider BBC web search tool.  From looking at the site usage data, and talking to a few key users, we have decided upon this pretty radical change as being the best way to get the information about BBC R&D in front of our colleagues in the wider industry and to the public at large.

Shutting down one tool before the next one is quite ready is far from ideal, but it's a minor miracle our colleagues have kept MT going as long as they have.  We'd like to extend a huge thanks to all our colleagues in the Blogs Team, the iBroadcast team and across FM who have helped give us a platform for the blog.  And while we are at it a massive thanks to the BBC News (ne World Service) team who built and maintained our website CMS over the last few years.  Consummate professionals all, they have given us a great platform to talk to you, and we are most grateful.

So, in a nutshell, here are the details- no more posts here on Movable Type.  The existing content (though probably not this post) will be migrated to the new platform, where our web site content and blog type material will co-exist.  No top level URLs will change, and we hope that all the existing URLs will map to the old stories migrated to the new platform.

This is a big step forward for us, and we hope for you.  To have a dedicated search feature will help enormously, and to have news on projects part of the same system as the details and publications offers us huge flexibility in how we present our work. Crucially this is NOT a cost cutting measure.  All these changes are specifically designed to get a more effective and better website for you- our users. 

So, see you on the other side,



  • Comment number 1.

    "The existing content (though probably not this post) will be migrated to the new platform"

    In the interests of the archive surely this post must also migrate?

    Will previous posts lose their comments, and if not how will they link from the user's profile / history page?

  • Comment number 2.

    I take your point, but the main extraction for the content of the MT platform was completed last week in order to give us time to get the data right for the new platform. There's probably a way we could hand crank this post into the new platform- just a question of resources.
    Regarding the persistence of old comments: that's a good question, and I will try and ensure we have a clear answer for you. As you may have already realised the BBC's blogging comments platform is quite centralised- it depends on moderation processes and user managment tools that we will be loosing when we migrate. Users who comment on the blog wouldn't want to set up an entirely new set of accounts just to interact with R&D material, and given that not all posts really garner much in the way of comments, the large benefits of moving to a system where posts and other content were searchable under R&D outweighed the loss of a built in comments tool. We also decided that we wanted to use a system where staff from all across the department would be able to post content, and the centralised blog platform that most teams are moving to when they leave MT would make that very difficult to sustain.
    For posts where we want to initiate a dialogue in a blogging format the Internet Blog remains as a well managed and edited platform for us to use, and you will see regular posts from the R&D team over there. We will also maintain our direct public facing email address where we can respond to specific issues around projects (the email is pretty well used and we respond within a day or so).

  • Comment number 3.

    Ant, I have to say I personally love the Movable Type platform - particularly the current comment layouts and views which encourages user interaction (both between readers and BBC staff)... in my opinion it definitely meets the key news website design criteria. The platform that the BBC correspondents have moved to in my opinion is much less effective in this regard and I'm sad that the R&D blog is heading in the same direction. (e.g. you are only able to view a few comments at a time on the post page which makes it painful to read (and create) a threaded conversation on the new platform).

    Still, I'm grateful for these posts - BBC generally does a great job of keeping the public abreast of the latest developments through this platform... look forward to seeing you on the new system!

  • Comment number 4.

    @3. Craig Smith - I agree with you about the commenting system being better on the MT platform however I think that given the increasing use of feeds from social media in news sites, the new platform serves the public much better in that respect... having said that there doesn't seem to be much use for the likes of streaming twitter feeds on the BBC R&D blog (yet!)

  • Comment number 5.

    @Kit Green - I imagine the move will be quite similar to the migration of the BBC Internet Blog from the MT platform... there, the comments were ported across as well as the post content. A key difference was that the links by comment authors to their corresponding user profiles don't exist on the new platform (or if they are that functionality is not working properly).

  • Comment number 6.

    If you look at the previous posts on this R&D blog there are barely any comments from users anyway... so not sure what the big fuss is about the commenting system being better or worse than the new system. It makes sense to have all these blogs on a common platform from a cost and ease of maintenance perspective if nothing else... good job BBC.

  • Comment number 7.

    Judging by the above commentary, it's obvious that you're never going to design a blog system that everyone is going to be happy with. For every criticism of poor design of the new platform, you'll have some opinions citing the same as design best practice!

    Joseph Reddy, and indeed as Ant himself mentions in the post, the design has to suit the key users of the system - if readers barely leave comments then that surely should be a secondary consideration in design. Personally I think the BBC has got it right to get these blogs onto a common platform... as you say Ant, see you on the other side! :)

  • Comment number 8.

    Ant, I'm curious to know if these blogs are targeted at the general public or just BBC staff... there is some great content that I'm sure the public would find very interesting (I'm not talking about the specific process notes about who's working on what and rather meaningless progress reports here) ... e.g. Chris Pike's article on binaural sound was excellent... I don't believe the R&D blog gets enough exposure to the general public - based on the number of comments as one key indicator. Hopefully the new blog will have its profile raised a bit. Keep up the good work!

  • Comment number 9.

    Hi all,

    I thought I'd chime in with a few comments and clarifications from the team working on the new R&D website and blog…

    @Kit Green - we'll probably migrate this post by hand. As Ant explained, it was posted too late to be included in data dump from which we are preparing the migration onto the new system, but it would indeed be too bad to lose it.

    There will be no comments on the new R&D website-and-blog - at least to begin with. We know it is a bit of a controversial decision, although, as was mentioned by others in this thread, there weren't a massive number of comments on the R&D blog in the past.

    We decided to focus our limited resources on the most important bit - making sure that we can keep posting updates about our projects and their outcomes, and do that in the best possible way by integrating the updates with the rest of the R&D website.

    In the near future, we will be looking at how to host meaningful conversations about our work. That may mean comments on project pages and/or on project update posts, but then, we may choose something completely different. Looking for new and better way of interacting with our audience is part of our work as R&D, too!

    @Justin Staples - that is true of most BBC blogs indeed, which were migrated from MT to the iSite platform. We are trying something different with the R&D website, however, and blog comments will be a casualty (at least temporarily) of our different approach.

    @Nayna Desai - indeed! We certainly hope that the new R&D website-and-blog will be a much nicer experience for most, if not for all. And when it goes live in a few days, it will still be a beta, and we will *really* listen to feedback to make it better, as we have been in the past couple of months as part of our private beta test.

    @Sizwe M - both. The work of BBC R&D has a key audience of course, partly within the BBC and partly in the rest of the industry and academia. But there are gems for anyone with curiosity and a desire to learn about the technology and design that make broadcasting - and the BBC in general - work.

  • Comment number 10.

    typically posts share the rationale for a particular activity. yours is sans details. Are you setting a tone for upcoming blogs?

    will you stop antagonizing readers by showing comments AFTER DISALLOWING new comments?

    Throw up a visual indicator ATOP an article letting users know to not bother reading when comments are closed unless you are unfamiliar with the wrath of the internets

  • Comment number 11.

    Quick update - the new R&D website is live, and we have been posting blog entries there: https://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/blog

    All the entries from this blog will eventually be migrated there.

  • Comment number 12.

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

  • Comment number 13.

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

  • Comment number 14.

    I read your blog and such a nice information you added in this post.


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