Why Doesn’t BBC News Online Understand?

One thing that gets me irrational about BBC News Online is the glaring lack of any proper back channel. People want to talk, and I for one resent only having half a chance to do so. The “Have your say” links at the bottom of some (but not all) stories, accompanied by the pretty contemptuous small print: “The BBC may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published,” works me up even more.

How long is it going to be before this kind of thing becomes unacceptable on the net? If you’re going to invite comments, then get your editorial team the hell out of the way and your systems capable of doing the invitation justice. It’s not as if this is a revolutionary idea, or that doing so will automatically mean that lunatics will swarm in and hijack the sacred “airwaves.” The quality and depth of debate about current affairs on a site like kuro5hin shows what happens when you do collaborative filtering properly.

But here am I wanting the Beeb to understand the medium its in. Perhaps I’ve got the wrong end of the stick – the Beeb isn’t going to become a two-way channel any more than magic lanterns became television. And most of all I’m forgetting the slogan of all netizens interested in this stuff:

Death to the communications monopolies! May ten thousand autonomous systems bloom!


(Hmm. I’m coming accross like Victor Meldrew meets Citizen Smith here. Note to self: tone down the ranting in future.)