One of the cool features of typepad and most other blogging services is that they give blog owners the ability to see where their traffic is coming from. Today I’ve had quite a few visits from users of the Daily Mail website. At first I was a bit worried that I’d accidently done something that the Mail thought they should bring to the attention of it’s readers in their typical “shock horror the internet is responsible for…” way. It turns out that the reason they visited was that today Dave, the community manager at the Mail (who I happen to know) announced the closure of the news and sport message boards on the site.
The Mail Online’s explanation is that only 6% of the users were taking up 60+% of the moderation time. Well, that’s about what happens at the BBC too. In the community spaces I’m involved in, around 2-5% of messages are removed for violating the house rules and the vast majority of those come from a small, but known, group of users who consistently post and consistently break the rules. Regardless, it seems odd that the Daily Mail would disengage from news discussions at a time when BBC News Online has invested in a new system for it’s have your say debates and an “issue led” message board system with topic tagging for English Regions.
I’ve been involved in the BBC News Online launch, primarily as an editorial advisor, as well as leading the BBC English Regions migration to new message boards. Both have been interesting experiences that I hope I can get permission to write more about here. For News Online, the whole ethos has had to shift from “publish only the stuff you can’t afford not to because it’s so good” to “publish everything unless it breaks the house rules”. Previously the Have Your Say team would publish a few dozen, perhaps 50 or 100 comments, but now they are publishing thousands. The interesting thing is that quality hasn’t suffered at all. The England message board is also exciting in that it brings together location based use of a discussion space with user topic tagging of discussions. Launched in beta, it’s going to get a whole lot more exciting in the coming weeks. I’m also helping the BBC World Service train their host teams and, in the coming months, you’ll see some exciting developments on the World Service websites as well.
I can’t say anymore until the projects I’m involved in move on a bit but I’m certainly keen to hear what you think.