I've been watching the revamp of the BBC's blogs with a mix of horror and awe. It feels as if they've decided to go back and make all the mistakes that most big media organisations make the first time they try social media. Maybe they feel they missed out.
Some changes make a certain sense. Moving off Movable Type? Many have done so. We may make the same decision later in the year.
Moving to a generic non-blog platform? Not so smart. Function begets form, sometimes, and blog platforms are designed to facilitate blogging, rather than other forms of content production. They're using a spanner for a screwdriver's job.
Headline-only RSS feeds? Great way to lose all your RSS readers!
But this I find incomprehensible:
With some news stories each day having comments on them, there may be times when a story and correspondent's analysis cover the same subject. To avoid unnecessary duplication and even confusion, generally we will seek to have comments on one or the other. So correspondents' pieces may not always include comments. In addition, in our new system, comments have a maximum length of 400 characters. It's my view that this makes for sharper contributions, though I know some disagree.
The reaction, across all the blogs, has been uniformly negative.
From Nick Robinson's blog:
I believe he (and other Editors) looks on the commenters on his blog as idiots.
The new format was not imposed for our benefit. The intention is to stifle serious debate. And frivolous debate.
This is no longer a blog. What a shame.
Tellingly, Robinson himself has only posted once since the switch to the new format.
This shows such a fundemental disrespect for the commenting community that they would have been better saying "we can't handle the comment load, we're turning off comments". Some blogs function perfectly well like this - Daring Fireball, The Dish - but this half-arsed solution with the newest comment at the top, breaking any conversational continuity? Horrible. It feels like someone who has never written, used or commented on a blog outside the BBC's own has taken charge of their blogging technology, and ignored the accumulated experience of hundreds and thousands of bloggers big and small worldwide. That's a powerful fusion of arrogance and stupidity right there.
Prediction: they'll either revert to a more traditional blog form, or end up turning off comments within six months.