BBC internet chief promises to learn web

Nick Reynolds is the ‘editor’ of the BBC internet blog. I must admit, I was glad to see he’d written a post to explain what the ‘editor’ of the blog did, since it almost seems like a contradiction in terms. Nick says:

‘The man who persuades important people in BBC Future Media and Technology to write blog posts’ is more accurate but a bit of a mouthful. But as well as persuading people to write, Alan Connor and I do the actual work of putting what they write into the blogging software, checking it, sometimes adding extra links and photos, and then pushing the button to publish.

The post (currently) features a fairly small number of comments – ‘typical BBC’… ‘waste of resources’… ‘public money’… etc etc. Sadly though, I note the comment I tried to submit – but apparently failed – hasn’t come through.
What shocked me most wasn’t the fact that the blog has a full-time staffer, although that’s certainly curious. It was more the suggestion that people in the BBC’s Future Media & Technology department aren’t capable of typing or pasting words into a web-based authoring form. This includes people in extremely senior and highly paid positions – Ashley Highfield reportedly earns £359,000 a year (including benefits). I’d like to think he’s capable of basic computing skills. I’m afraid a promise that he’ll try to stop emailing in his posts just doesn’t cut it. Movable Type v3.2 isn’t state-of-the-art any more, but it’s hardly rocket science.
My attempt at commenting fell foul – not for the first time, it must be said – of the BBC’s creaking blogging platform. I know they know it isn’t up to the job. Why the delay in replacing it?

6 thoughts on “BBC internet chief promises to learn web”

  1. About two in three comments I try to leave on BBC blogs fails – either due to timeouts or actual error messages. Their delay seems to be based on the amount of bespokery they introduced to their Movable Type implementation – which means that they can’t just upgrade and take advantage of features and improvements in the vanilla product.
    Yet, these same bespokisms, together with the apparent high level of comment spam that they reject, seem to make the current implemenation unworkable – and serves the contributing audience badly.
    Rumour was that a revised platform was due real soon …

  2. Hi Simon, Alan from Belfast
    First up. Apologies for your poor experience with posting comments across our blogs. We are in the middle of upgrading and the first roll out across BBC blogs is next month. You and other users should see a much improved experience. The comments upgrade is already in place (although not the final version) over at
    Is it really so curious that the BBC employs someone who, as part of his duties, blogs about what we do ? We recognised that we could do better in listening and understanding what the UK development and web community were saying the BBC and our technology teams in particular and Nick’s job is to help with this. Now i would say this wouldn’t i because i hired him, but he’s been an invaluable help in establishing processes to monitor feedback, escalate issues, and introduce some (many are more than experienced) of the senior FM&T into responding publically.
    As for your suggestion that the team “can’t type” or click a bold button, or don’t have basic computing skills then of course thats not the case. Most of them have their own personal blogs (or have done) and Nick’s job is just to make it easier and quicker. Also given they are writing about how they are running their bit of the BBC, then he uses his years of experience, and familiarity with the community, to give it a final review.
    As for Ashley’s computer skills then ask him. Now he was a programme r a very long time ago but i suspect that the lovely WYSWYG of MT3.2 or even MT 4.1 is not too much of a challenge.

  3. @Jem I was genuinely curious to find out a bit about what a ‘blog editor’ did, since blogging is (or certainly was) arguably the antithesis of conventional editorial process. But with their entry into the corporate world, and with the Beeb at the forefront, I guess we’ll see more ‘blog editors’ appearing in organisations.
    Granted, the point about typing into a web form was exaggerated for effect. But it did genuinely surprise me that this wasn’t happening already. We look to the Beeb for a technical lead, and it’s a bit depressing if you’re seeing the same senior management opt-outs that the rest of us suffer.

  4. Given Auntie’s strong position for promoting digital literacy – must have a big part in so many people being able to recognise and pronounce URLs – it doesn’t seem unreasonable to have an internal blog “evangelist” to up the quality and quantity of the blog content that will be published to the outside world and used as an example of best practice. After all,
    And I’m glad to hear that the comment upgrade is on its way … because the current one feels like having a conversation while one party is on a mobile in a tunnel … not terribly accessible!

  5. I have been testing the rival versions of BBC blog services
    The buffalo story on PM
    I had to log in and create a bbc account, but the post seems to be accepted quite quickly
    Two minutes and counting and my green arrows are slowly moving across the screen ( no doubt to end in an error message ). No….I have an acceptance page at 0937
    As Paul Canning says here,
    The service is poor

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