A blog for all?

This an email from a listener. I’d be grateful if those of you who use this blog, read it as it’s something we need to take this seriously.

‘Salaam Ros, I am regular listener of WHYS on PBS in Oregon. I also listen to the BBC online. I would like to join the daily email network. Your programs and presenters are great however I had a little complaint about the WHYS blog.

I have spent months reading every area of the blog so I am fairly familiar with how it works.

I’d like to say that personal chat on the blog is reaching unacceptable levels especially the talking points page and the blank pages.

WHYS is for a global conversation about the news we hear. I heard you say so on radio a lot.

Maybe you should reign in on such chats because honestly it puts people off. I can point out to several of them. I blog on other news sites, decent debates go on with such chat. The only place I know is free from such is the on air segment.

Its a bit sanitized there. I also would like to be a moderator but I have seen a few of your moderators being given the short end of the stick for trying to enforce the rules as listed in your contributors charter.

I don’t want to sign up to be a moderator only to be eaten up. I’m more of the quiet type. Keep up the good work.’

123 Responses to “A blog for all?”

  1. 1 Brett
    October 3, 2008 at 14:31

    While ON AIR programme discussions shold stick strictly to the topic, I have found interesting discussions sprout from ‘chat’ on the Talking Points and Blank Pages. I feel its a good way to unwind after a day of [often times] vigorous blogging / debate to engage in short and casual chat while discussing current events and the days issues.

    Of course as with anything, an excessive amount can be harmful to the discussion, but I think it’s important on the overnight and weekend pages to allow people to unwind and open up the door for subjects to sprout up through limited casual chat while discussing already proposed topics.

  2. 2 Nikitas
    October 3, 2008 at 14:31

    WHYS is meant to be a forum of exchange, so I’m not clear on what is being suggested? That the interaction between participants be limited to less direct responses in the open forums? If these interactions have reached ‘unacceptable levels’, there should be specific examples as opposed to references. I’m confused. WHYS is unique in that individuals from around the globe can discuss the issues which affect us tête-à-tête. The ‘Have Your Say’ portion of the main BBC page is much the same in that people often respond to an individual’s comment as opposed to the exact question posed, ie. What do you think of President Bush?, What do you think of the US government’s response to Hurricane Katrina?, etc… I am also a regular listener of the WHYS program and read through most responses listed in reference to the main topic of the day. I happen to think that the WHYS team do a great job in filtering out the unnecessary when they select portions of submissions to the daily topic to share in the program. They more often than not will take the most relevant portions of information in an individual submission and share that on the air, as opposed to a complete and sometimes off the charts contribution. I think that method is more than sufficient to moderate the focus of the program.

  3. 3 Kelsie in Houston
    October 3, 2008 at 14:42

    I sympathize with the individual’s arguments–the chattiness of the blog is something I have, unfortunately, participated in even as I am irritated by it. There is a very fine line of distinction here that has to be walked with circumspection–one person’s inane chatter is another’s touchpoint for a new direction in the conversation. If it is any consolation, the moderators are working hard to network with one another, reach consensus during the overnight shift, and remove comments inappropriate to the ambience of the blog. During the Palin debate alone, Mike, Jessica, and I conferenced online about several posts and did remove some as unrelated to the discussion we were hosting.

    . I also would like to be a moderator but I have seen a few of your moderators being given the short end of the stick for trying to enforce the rules as listed in your contributors charter.

    I don’t want to sign up to be a moderator only to be eaten up. I’m more of the quiet type. Keep up the good work.’

    I am sorry to hear that–as a very new member of the moderator team, I’ve found the others to be supportive and willing to work together, as we did last night, to tackle these issues you have rightly raised. I hope we are able to keep improving…

  4. October 3, 2008 at 14:42

    I can’t agree less with the first writer.
    All he/she is asking for is a little more maturity in bloggers approach to issues and comments.
    Bloggers should take time to read through the house rules before they post any comment.

    Mary, from Nigeria(Naija).

  5. 5 Julie P
    October 3, 2008 at 14:45

    There are many reasons why I left the regular BBC HYS for this one, but one of the reasons why I left was that even a mild exchange between contributors was not allowed. For one, people do have a habit of visiting the same places and second, politics is personal, thus, making people want to exchange a pleasantry or an occasional dig. Sanitizing the blog of the character of its contributors detracts, not enhances the blog.

  6. 6 1430a
    October 3, 2008 at 15:06

    hello everyone,
    A blog is a place where we(the bloggers)make the news.I actually agree with what this guy has to say.I have seen people talking about their personal matters in the blog.I have even read people making personal comments.To those people I have an advice:Most of us are familiar with Facebook and Myspace which is built for people to discuss their personal matters.
    This is a place where we discuss about serious matters and talking about what you had for lunch would really not help.

    Thank you

  7. 7 Jennifer
    October 3, 2008 at 15:09

    I very much agree with this person. I have not been a participant on this blog for an extended length of time but I quickly learned that moderators do allow some individuals to make posts that attack individuals instead of issues. I feel that the issue may be that there are allowances made for “buddies” to take “digs” while other people are censored for stating their opinions or the length of their posts when clearly other posts where allowed to be posted with no reprimand. I think having fewer moderators at any given time would help solve some of that issue in addition to miscommunication about why posts are deleted.

    I think Mary made a good point about being mature when posting. Many of the topics discussed here are muti-faceted and they are things people feel strongly about. People can be respectful and disagree too.

  8. 8 Jessica in NYC
    October 3, 2008 at 15:10

    It’s was not easy to read the email Ros posted. I have actually been considering removing myself as moderator for some of the reasons outlined. The hardest thing I find as trying to enforce the rules, when the subject matter is subjective. I may think something is too long another moderator doesn’t… For example, person “A” is asked to shorted a post, but then person “B’s” longer post is allowed through it can appear to be bias. Although it was not, it was simply two different moderators with varying opinions of what constitutes “long”. One thing I definitely am against is censorship, when a BBC rule is not explicitly broken. Some moderators are more sensitive about what should be censored. I don’t mind some of the “chit-chat” when it doesn’t distract from the global conversation.

    The thing we have to keep in mind, is if we “police” everything, is NOT a global discussion. The nature of a blog is informal discussion. Clearly, people who spend any of their time on this blog have interest in international relations, which makes the discussion of politics some what personal. We must interact when debating politics and at times make joke of them through “chit-chat”. If the format is changed to a “policed blog” count me out!

  9. October 3, 2008 at 15:21

    When WHYS blog was first launched in October 2005, it barely received more than 20 comments for each entry. It was an exception when the comments made it to 100. Now it has grown into popularity. The exception now is when an entry has less than 100 responses. This has been made possible, I think, thanks to ongoing moderation 24/7. Before, a comment kept awaiting moderation for at least 2 days and a half if sent on Friday after the show. Now comments are almost instantly published.

    Regular readers of this blog must have become familiar with some regular contributors who have defined views and which they keep expressing on every issue. In other words, the blog has become a meeting point for readers and contributors. It becomes hard not to go personal and not to address one another. There is nothing wrong with having a chat on the blog, but it’s better this should be kept to a minimum. Those who read the blog look for views and not to follow a chat-room.

    As listeners set the agenda for the show, readers of the blog have also the right to express their views about its content and to suggest which has utmost priority, chatting or sending relevant views without sounding personal.

  10. 10 Brett
    October 3, 2008 at 15:22

    I’m somewhat with Jessica on this one. I enjoy the blog for many reasons but one of which is the personal exchange and discussion of ideas which are often explained and backed by personal ‘chit-chat’ or stories and whatnot, allowing their points or positions to be better understood.
    I’m not too keen on having to be the one to censor or delete or edit comments because someone is engaging in a cordial discussion with another and may have a personal note or tidbit somewhere in their comment.
    Take a look and you’ll see most of the general ‘chit-chat’ has some relavence to the topic at hand anyhow, just on a more personal note.

  11. 11 Paul Harbin - Waco, Tx.
    October 3, 2008 at 15:37

    All I have to say,

    I’ve seen blogs where the purpose or focus of the blog gets lost, and when you decide to look into a blog based on the subject and have to wade through excess, it’s not pleasant

  12. 12 Jessica in NYC
    October 3, 2008 at 15:37

    Does everyone realize what a privilege it is to be able to watch an issue as it unfolds and we all simultaneously discuss it with people around the world, as with the VP debate? There are “down sides” but the “up sides” far out weight the “bad”. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow… so jump in!
    @ To all moderators

    To the moderators I have had the pleaure to co-moderate with and “work” with, I have found you extremely welcoming, intelligent people that not only inspire me, but challenge me intellectually. So, many-many thank yous! If you’re ever in NYC, I’d like to buy you a drink. Especially those of you I chat with during my insomniac spells. To many of the regular bloggers (my resident docs and editors) your ideas encourage me to be more informed and to think larger. Thanks!

  13. 13 Jessica in NYC
    October 3, 2008 at 15:42

    @ Kelsie, Julie & Bret
    Well said. People do not take into account all the back-ground discussion we have to keep the blog moving.
    @ 1430a Abhinav
    I completely, agree that Facebook and Myspace type of comments do nothing to contribute to the global discussion. However, thing like what I had for lunch, completely legitimate… 😀 Sorry, bad joke.
    @ Jennifer,
    LOL– you post is a perfect example of what I was talking about in my 1st post. It’s not personal, but you take it that way, as moderators this weighs on us. For example: I have censored many people who you’d consider “my buddies” because they broke a BBC WHYS rules. They did not respond immaturely and were kind enough to thank me for informing them WHY their comment could not be approved instead of just “deleting it”.

  14. 14 Bob in Queensland
    October 3, 2008 at 15:44

    I think Brett has summed this up very well. There’s a very fine and subjective line between personal chat and conversation from which we can all learn something about bloggers and views from other countries and backgrounds. Do we sometimes cross that line? You betcha (to quote Sarah Palin). Is this always a bad thing? No.

    As an example: I’ve been lucky enough to have one of my “stories” grow into an On-Air topic, one which (I was told by the producer) got one of the largest ever responses. However, my initial post on that subject could easily have been discounted as personal chat–it started with me saying something along the lines of “something unusual happened to me in another forum today”. I’m sure this isn’t the only time personal chat has grown into a valid discussion.

    My other thought on this is that the best cure for personal chat is to make a “news post” that catches everyone’s imagination and inspires discussion. This doesn’t mean just posting a link to a story and hoping it takes…you have to put something of yourself into the post, express a view and get the conversation going. Personal chat is less likely to happen during a lively debate…and it’s up to every blogger to start that debate.

  15. 15 Paul Harbin - Waco, Tx.
    October 3, 2008 at 15:59

    When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. I understand the “need” for people to defend the “free” chat. I think the comments of th O.P. are being taken more offensively rather than objectively. Now that she got your attention, maybe she should just say simply … hey,

    focus people.

  16. 16 Julie P
    October 3, 2008 at 16:07

    In response to Bob’s point that I agree with. Over the weekend I blogged extensively about the gas shortage in the city where I live. Part of it was in response to being angry about it and feeling isolated; however, I kept blogging about it as it attracted interest from others. When I wrote back that if the BBC wanted to do a segment about what life could be like when we start running out of I was the woman to contact. It wasn’t a joke reply. At some point we are going to run out of oil, whether or not my blogging about a major metropolitan city not having gas would be become a show, it could give an idea about life without oil. Ideas come from all kinds of places.

  17. 17 viola
    October 3, 2008 at 16:31

    I like definitions: from Webster’s Third New International Dictionary

    CHAT: to talk in a light and familiar manner; converse without ceremony or stiffness; idle unimportant talk

    CONVERSATION: oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, ideas

    DEBATE: to discuss or examine a question by considering or stating different arguments

    I believe this blog should converse without ceremony or stiffness using sentiments, observations, opinions and ideas about current events to examine questions and state different arguments.


  18. 18 archibald in oregon
    October 3, 2008 at 16:42

    Ideas expressed with passion are a far cry from the verbal hacking and hewing that seems to take place with predictable regularity. That said, it would be quite disappointing if this blog descended into politically correct hell and prevented spirited debate, discussion and a much needed understanding of the worlds outside our own. Raise the bar, but, please do not raze the blog.

  19. October 3, 2008 at 16:54

    Not to drop names – even though this can be seen as dropping names it was me who first suggested that the blog be 24/7 and from that it has evolved – and very quickly.

    What I would like to point out to the OP (Opening Post) emailer is that everyone who moderates on this blog, barring the team in London, which means when you can post on this blog after those souls have gone home – we the moderators are all volunteers from all over the world. From ZK and Bob in the bottom end of the world, Nelson in Africa – who uses a PDA to moderate, to Jess, to V, Amy, Steve, Brett (and if I forgot you I really do apologise) and many more – we are all volunteers who love this blog so much we even give up our weekends so that people can post and keep up with each other through this medium.

    I am no bleeding heart – and we do get a lot of praise and appreciation from the team in London, Mark, Ros, Kate, Chloe plus many more, and we, in return, thank them for giving us their trust.

    OK, to the point – is there too much “off topic” chat? Well, it is obvious that there is – but from that we have to ask is this relevant?

    I think it is – and anyone can ask why. Imagine this: We are in very different places in this world all sat at our computers with the ability to speak to one another like never before. If you are in a far off African town, you can say how things are for you and, say [as example only] Jess in New York – yes that city in America can talk to you instantaneously.

    What do you have in common other than you are both human? It brings people together like has never happened before. I agree that sometimes things do get heated – but is that, in itself, a bad thing?

    If the OP mailer wants to be a moderator – you will be welcomed by us all. We do things in the background that you don’t see – if a mod makes a mistake we do our utmost to help them correct it.

    We KNOW that the blog isn’t perfect – that is why we need input from the people who read this blog – if you wish to mail Ros and Co – we don’t mind. But if you want to post on the blog and add what you wish – we will be there to help you as much as we can. Anyone can post a news story from breaking news in their country/world to something that happen 5000 years ago. The links etc are always read and you will find that many a-mod will engage you in conversation to get it up and running.

    What we can’t do, as mods, is instigate every conversation – that is why this blog is called World Have Your Say, we are here mainly to publish your posts. If you don’t get involved how do we know you are looking in?

    Just say “hi I would like to talk about…” you will find that we will help. Please do remember that we are volunteers and with your feedback we can make this blog the best of its kind. Become a mod, get MSN and you will really see how much hard work does go into getting WHYS to you and turning over 24/7.

    I apologise profusely for the long post.

  20. 20 Robert
    October 3, 2008 at 16:54

    Sometimes I find posts overly chatty, overly long, or phrased in such a way to kill a debate rather than promoting it. But I always try to remember that WHYS is a community. Behaviour in a community can’t be defined by strict rules laid down on day one. It takes time for the community as a whole to agree to what the rules are by iteration. We need to highlight to each other when we feel that a rule has been broken, and emails such as the above are a constructive method for us all to learn the rules.

  21. 21 Jennifer
    October 3, 2008 at 17:21

    I am going to direct this post to everyone that reads this blog so as to make it general however it is loosely based on my own personal experience (if you want to call 1 day experience;)). It was a HORRIBLE experience. The person who wrote this email is 100% right and could have actually been me. I would recommend that they do not moderate and be selective about what they do post if they choose to participate here.

    When I found this blog, I believed that it would be a good place to discuss my own personal views of topics with other people around the world. I have came to the harsh realization that this blog should be called Americans Making a Fool of Themselves or Let’s All Argue until Someone Wins the Argument. There is no respect for other people and their differing views; there is simply the desire to discount, discount, discount all other opinions as wrong. We all have our own views and beliefs. I don’t come here to change opinions and I am capable of formulating my own. I do like hearing other perspectives and that’s why I chose to participate on this blog.

    Several times I have personally experienced having to “fight back” because a moderator chose to view someone else’s post as non-threatening and let it through. I have also made posts concerning other people who were being treated the same way and much worse. However, I won’t name names because it wouldn’t be right to drag them into my opinions here.

    I am not laughing at this situation-I find it disgusting and disturbing. I believe you have a problem respecting other people’s differences. You want to discount and instead of discussing a post, you want to attack the person who posted it and make unfounded assumptions. As far as I am concerned, that is NOT the purpose of this blog! I am interested in knowing if it was you who edited a post I made about the McCain/Obama debate where I attempted to discuss cultural differences related to eye contact. It was odd that you even responded because I was hoping to hear from people who where not from the US. My post was edited to remove your name from it. Why? My post was not criticizing you; just speaking with you on a different perspective-mine as a native American woman with links and sharing knowledge. A note was then placed at the top of my post stating that it was too long. Meanwhile, my good friend Matthew was posting a whole sermon to me and other “conservatives” about how stupid I am. As far as being respectful; have a look here:

    Lately many of my posts take longer than usual to be posted. I am pretty certain that there is some connection to that.

    I have never received an email back from you informing me why a post from Tom D. Ford was forwarded to me directly. I feel that as a moderator, that was VERY inappropriate. I am sure that most people who post here know that Tom D . Ford and I have had differences because he thinks I am conservative. I have attempted to speak with him regarding his views in a respectful way but it always comes back to conservatives are to blame so no dice. I drew the line when he attacked me regarding Religion and started ignoring his posts all together. I treat people with respect and I expect to be treated with the same. I don’t care if this is the Internet; people should have manners.

    Selena in Canada:
    I appreciate the fact that you had a question regarding Tom D. Ford’s deleted comment. The fact that it was obviously my first time moderating one might have been lenient even a little? Never at any time would I have allowed my personal feelings to influence approving or deleting any comment. I did delete his post when it was reposted after I refreshed my browser and found it gone the first time. I thought that someone had found something offensive about it and that was why it was deleted. Under no circumstances did my personal feelings come between posting his comments-I did approve other comments made by him. I did NOT contact him because I did not know that it was required to do so and I did NOT make the decision to delete his post.

    Bob (in Queensland)?:
    I think it was you who sent an email which Amy forwarded to me stating that all posts should be approved or else it would be considered censorship. That goes in direct conflict with the guidelines I read (and took literally) because it said if there was doubt about a post delete it. I assumed someone else had found a problem with Tom D. Ford’s post and deleted it without telling me. The fact that I had never moderated before should have been taken into consideration. I am an honest person and would have preferred to be given the benefit of doubt.

    As long as things stay the way they are; I don’t think this blog is productive at all. In fact, as an American, it makes me ashamed that some are behaving as they are on here. No wonder other countries have bad opinions of us. I am not able to make this situation better but I am removing myself from it. I am not even wasting my time to come here anymore.

  22. 22 Jennifer
    October 3, 2008 at 17:23

    My post is so long. I am sorry. I hope all of my future posts can (will) allow me to post this one really long one:)


  23. 23 selena in Canada
    October 3, 2008 at 17:43


    Before you start posting, please note that the comments you attributed to me were not my comments.

    Thank you. 🙂

  24. 24 Scott (M)
    October 3, 2008 at 17:45

    The blog should be free from constraints. However, collective human nature is so often disappointing, but perhaps we just have to deal with it—because what other method of guidance could be free and fair?

    Unfortunately, the blog has become a social community, and often a popularity contest. It is amazing how many of the most frequent posters have so little to say, and that people are willing to put up with it. Though in real life it is much the same, the loudest and often most annoying seem to forge ahead and attract groupies because they are so persistent.

    Even though, I despise many of the bloggers and their methods—it should be free! Leave it as it is! Whenever I go to a party, I expect to hate (almost) everyone there, why should it be any different online?

    As your listener claimed above—I’m also a quiet type! But, I like to be eaten up—it’s the best way to learn.

  25. 25 selena in Canada
    October 3, 2008 at 17:58


    You appear to be outraged about the way you were treated. Well, please note that I am not outraged by the fact that you posted the quote below and attributed it to me, even though I emailed you and told you it was not my quote.

    The reason I am not outraged is because I have no expectations about how I am going to be treated. We win some and we lose some.

    Perhaps someone could tell us who actually did make the quote below.

    Be well, Jennifer.

    Selena in Canada:
    I appreciate the fact that you had a question regarding Tom D. Ford’s deleted comment. The fact that it was obviously my first time moderating one might have been lenient even a little? Never at any time would I have allowed my personal feelings to influence approving or deleting any comment. I did delete his post when it was reposted after I refreshed my browser and found it gone the first time. I thought that someone had found something offensive about it and that was why it was deleted. Under no circumstances did my personal feelings come between posting his comments-I did approve other comments made by him. I did NOT contact him because I did not know that it was required to do so and I did NOT make the decision to delete his post.

  26. 26 Bob in Queensland
    October 3, 2008 at 18:04

    Re: Jennifer’s Post

    For the record, I have never said anything even close to what she attributes to me. Since washing our dirty lines in public now seems to be what this topic is about, the email I believe she refers to actually says:

    There seems to be yet another row on today’s talking points about one or
    more posts by Tom D Ford being deleted after an initial approval. Anybody
    want to explain what happened? There may well be a perfectly good
    explanation but to do so without a word of explanation leaves us open to
    accusations of censorship.

    I don’t know about the rest of you but for a post to be deleted after other
    bloggers have already seen it (and, in this case, some were even typing
    replies I gather) there must be a TOTALLY clear cut reason, otherwise the
    deletion is going to cause more trouble than it’s worth.

    Clearly this is not working. Please can somebody from the BBC remove my moderator privileges asap.

  27. 27 Jennifer
    October 3, 2008 at 18:06

    Re: Bob’s email

    I will not withdrawl my comments immediately because they are not an inaccurate characterization. Nothing in my post was made up. I did APPROVE Tom D. Ford’s post; refreshed my browser, and it was gone! I did not initially delete his comment. I did not know that once I did delete it (after it was re-submitted) that it was a requirement to inform anyone else of doing so. As far as I was concerned, I did follow the guidelines that I was supposed to.

    Re: Selena’s email

    I did not attribute any comments to you. Please re-read the post.

  28. 28 Jessica in NYC
    October 3, 2008 at 18:06

    @ Jennifer
    It might help you to know that decisions are always made on a consensus. To keep with the same example of lengthly comments, when we ask someone to shorten or edit their post for language a decision was made by SEVERAL moderators. We are also conscious not to take action on someone whom we are engaged in a debate with… You missed the point completely, but I won’t hold it against you. 😉

    Re: your post at 5:21 pm
    “I am interested in knowing if it was you who edited a post I made about the McCain/Obama debate where I attempted to discuss cultural differences related to eye contact.”

    No, I do not edit comments geared at me EVER as do the other moderators. Did not read them then or now (only WHEN I moderate do I read everything). I find your generalizations and judgmental comments equally “disgusting and disturbing” as you find mine, but that NEVER stops me from posting them. I, frankly prefer the debate. I do find things people post on here very comical. Such as, you NOT wanting people to take your comments personally, but think I spend my time on here “policing & censoring” you around the blog. Very entertaining, thanks!

  29. 29 Jessica in NYC
    October 3, 2008 at 18:09

    BBC WHYS Team– I’m with Bob. This has turned into an airing of dirty laundry. No thanks. I’m out too!

  30. 30 Jennifer
    October 3, 2008 at 18:14

    @ Bob

    As far as I was concerned, this was not a row at all and it’s not airing dirty laundry. It’s being honest about the situation.

  31. 31 Kelsie in Houston
    October 3, 2008 at 18:15

    Folks: it might be best if we took some of this to emails.

    Bob: I hope you’re joking.

  32. 32 roebert
    October 3, 2008 at 18:15

    My own experience of the ‘chit chat’ is that it allows for a more easy-going dissemination of ideas, and helps to shed light on the type of character that would espouse a given point of view. In other words, you get the human angle instead of only the dry as dust ‘comment.’ Of course I’m not referring to the sharing of recipes for pasta, which has also happened. But, why not, eh? As long as it doesn’t evolve into a substitute for facebook ( which is far from the case ), why turn the blog into a forum for deadpan amateur editorials? It’s touted as a ‘global conversation’, right? Well, I think that’s exactly what it is

    The only problem I have sensed is that there is what I might call a ‘prevalent attitude’ that has developed on account of a certain clique-iness, and that blows alternative thinking off the blog as soon as it raises it’s head. The blog has its own brand of pc, that has nothing to do with BBC house-rules. We don’t get to hear the pro-Russian voices, for example. Christians are laughed off before they can properly have their say, too. And so on. It’s a subtle point. But there is something of the club that only speaks about certain topics within a defined mindset.

  33. 33 Scott (M)
    October 3, 2008 at 18:18

    This post sounds like Animal Farm. Give people some power and the next thing you know…. ! Nobody wants to be held accountable. They can dish it out; but they can’t take it. When the going gets tough; they walk away.

    Doesn’t this mirror the world perfectly?!

  34. 34 Bob in Queensland
    October 3, 2008 at 18:18

    @ Jennifer

    My exact words are there for you and everyone to read.

    Good night.

    I’m off.

  35. 35 roebert
    October 3, 2008 at 18:23

    …er…am I reading what I’m reading on the blog, or have I finally lost my mind in the true tradition of literary-philosophical genius?

  36. October 3, 2008 at 18:23

    Hey, have your say…..I can skim right past the personal chatty stuff. Ditto beatting Sara Palin like a pinyata. (sorry, no tilde on US keyboards yet) It bothers me more when people just weigh in on either side of the fence, yay or nay, but don’t move the discussion anywhere. I don’t need to see sparks fly, nor do I expect anyone to be won over, but I would like to see something besides a litany of gripes or pet causes. There’s that great line by Jack Nicholson, “I’m drowning here and you’re describing the water!”
    Maybe a week long blank page for horsing around and wording people in effigy?
    People with the itch could try on the moderator hat there and then maybe move to the big leagues. Any ideas that gel in there could easily be moved up to topic status.

  37. 37 selena in Canada
    October 3, 2008 at 18:25


    Doesn’t this mirror the world perfectly?!

    This is an experiment. You can expect something to be thrown into the mix to gauge the reaction??

  38. 38 Kenny In Florida
    October 3, 2008 at 18:46

    Debating is one of the most successful ways for one to teach as well as be taught. Many people may choose to have “personal debates” on the blog, rather it be opposing someone’s viewpoint posted or providing support for it, however, if the discussion remains on topic isn’t that the point of blogging? I frequently have had many “personal debates” with other bloggers on WHYS but I have found that many people were keen to read in on our “debate” and provide many useful insights and points of view, rather it be in support of my idea or not. I find this to be fantastic and to a point, look forward to people chiming in on my opinions and debates with other bloggers. Many times they have a perspective I would have never allowed my self to view on my accord.

    The more we talk to each other, the more we learn from each other

  39. 39 jamily5
    October 3, 2008 at 18:51

    How can we not be personal?
    Julie P. gave a great example. We post stories that effect us. We are interested in politics because they relate personally to us. If we left out all of our personal comments, the blog would be intellectual, theoretical and frankly, be less purposeful than it is now.
    Our personal experiences shape our views. In addition, I have noticed (and I have tried to immulate) many people who have put the subject at the top of the post.
    “parenting choices,”
    etc. This does allow the reader to skip posts that they do not want to read about.
    There have been posts that I did not want to read about and I have skipped them. There are posters who I know are quite elloquently lengthy in their post(myself included) and if I don’t want to read them, I don’t.
    Sometimes posters put the name of the person who they are commenting to at the top of the post. If I am not interested in that particular conversation, then, I just don’t read it.
    If I post a subject and “no one ” responds to it, then, I know that it is not one that anyone else either has a comment on or wishes to discuss. I’m not offended, but just move on.

  40. October 3, 2008 at 18:53

    There is a corrupted Congress that passed a very dirty remedy for very sick and corrupted cancerous mafia like organization.

    It is the liberal democratic Congress that had block every intent to put an end to the corruption of the biggest financial housing institutions, F. Mae and F. Mac. It is congressman Barney Frank the king snake of the corruption in Washington that together with Nancy Pelosi hade destroyed the dream of the American people. It is the policies of Harry Reid and Christopher Dodd, Chuck Schumer that have put the the USA in a very economic danger.

    Here is a nation that is turning into socialism thanks to the corrupted policies of a leftist US Congress,. Here are the dirty politicians preparing the way for the so called hero and savior Obama. Here is a corrupted Congress preparing the way for the worst liberal politician in history. The nation will go into obscurity if Obama and the liberals from hell will take full control of this county.

    May God help us all.

    Salt Lake City, Utah

  41. 41 Dictatore Generale Max Maximilian Maximus I
    October 3, 2008 at 18:55

    What we have just observed ‘LIVE’ is the greatest heist in American history!

    Tax breaks for ‘wooden arrows’?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Pork barrel politics!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ‘The Great Train Robbery’ should be put in the ‘overwritten’ folder of history!

    The ADMIRABLE ploy here was the fact that the Republicans ended up ACTING as though they were against the proposal in terms of their relative vote bank in Congress and the votes cast!

    Hooray! Bring on McCain and Palin!

    I am a glutton for punishment.

  42. 42 gary
    October 3, 2008 at 19:26

    As a university professor I lead many conversations. The point of each is always to increase (students’) knowledge in a particular area.
    I sometimes read and post to this blog. I do not do this to unwind. Nor does this activity fulfill some personal need to chat with folks from around the globe. I do it because as is true for every human being: I am not so smart that I need no further education, nor am I so ignorant that I may not help someone to increase their understanding of the human condition. I do this because I love humanity and wish it well. Anyone paying attention could not help but have noticed its been having a few off-days for the better part of the last ten millenia. And, if my fellow scientists are even half right, it may not have even anther, single thousand years to get it together. And so, since I think human love is a pretty neat idea and I’d like it continue, I respond when I believe I’ve something useful to say. As for those who enjoy the chit-chat; go find a good pub, For this blog to do the best of which it is capable, it must adhere to the a simple thought: Conversation that does not educate us, wastes our time. So, I guess this means I agee with first guy. Right?

  43. 43 Jennifer
    October 3, 2008 at 19:52

    @ Jessica

    I NEVER stated your comments where disgusting and disgusting. I was referring to this SITUATION; no specific person’s comments. Thank you for missing my point completely!

    What are moderators for if not to ensure we are all treated with the SAME respect? If you want to call it policing; then so be it.

  44. 44 Brett
    October 3, 2008 at 20:00

    I rather enjoy talking about gardening with Julie P. It has relevance to (and has come up because of such topics as) Fuel Prices, Global Food Security, Local / National Food Security, Genetically Modified Crops, Organic Produce, etc.
    This is just one example of an extended discussion into a more personal (be it myself or whoever choses to engage in such discussions) arena.

    We are discussing our OWN personal ideas and beliefs here. Personality and stories come with that in my opinion.

    If participants wish this to be a washed blog void of any warmth, vibrant discussion, and material to learn from in aspects such as cultural differences, faith baised differences, lifestyle differences, etc. Then so be it, but it doesn’t sound like it would lead to a very interesting and especially engaging discussion.

    As jamily pointed out, many people put the subjects or person they are responding to at the heading of their topic, a perfect opportunity to skip through if your on the hunt for cold hard discussion.

    Also, lets give the mods some credit. It is often times quite a difficult task to moderate such a large forum with so many different participants who have so many different writing styles, language backgrounds, cultures, etc.
    Countless times ‘we’ get lumped together and attacked when an angry poster wonders where their post went, why it was edited, or why it wasn’t approved within seconds (often times it may be sitting in the spam folder due to the filter, not due to a direct action on any of our parts). This is strictly a voluntary job on our parts, lets try to work together so we don’t lose some of the great moderators and participants who have been around for quite sometime. It would be a shame to have to go back to monday through friday postings which are only approved for about 10 hours a day.

    More and more often I am seeing dirty laundry or arguments being aired on the blog, often times between a participant and a moderator. Please, if you have a problem with any moderator, it only takes a moment to write a message on the blog “(insert name here) Please contact me via email, I would like a private word with you”. We will also work to exted the same courtesy to you.

    And again, I believe we need to be very careful about stifling discussion on the Blank Pages and the Talking Points (overnight topics), this is where we get our material and ideas for the show, why limit any exchange of information which may evolve into a very valid topic for an ON AIR post (which should be kept strictly on topic)?

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  45. October 3, 2008 at 20:19

    this 700 bn dollars bail out is necessary as it is not only for the Americans but for the world as a whole.

    people should acknowledge what president bush has done and applaud him for this rescue plan for America and the world economy’s.

    never the less people should know what to buy and what not to.

  46. 46 Jennifer
    October 3, 2008 at 20:20

    @ Bob’s email

    I am not a liar and I have NO reason to lie on a blog! I am very aware of ethics and how they work. I do not keep every email I receive as future evidence but I am an honest person. I do have all the ones I have received from moderators today. As a matter of fact I chalked up my own personal experience to how things worked and went on. However, when this topic was posted I did post an honest reply because it could have been a good way of discussing changes to make this blog better. And, everyone can see the results-a big mess-not an intelligent discussion just everyone being defensive and all out attack mode.

    @ Selena’s email

    I am sorry that you believe that it seems like there is a quote by you in my post. I am sure that those who read it can see that it is MY words based on the events that occurred. Don’t worry about it! 🙂

    I won’t be posting anymore postings after this one. Please, do not email me harassing me, using derogatory language, or anything else.

  47. October 3, 2008 at 20:25

    Adding to that, Brett – some of the stuff we have to dredge through to find peoples post if they do go into spam – well – as liberal as I am….

    As always, people see the front end of the blog and not what we see.

    I won’t go any further than that other than to say if people want to have a go at moderating, send Ros a mail and he will give you a chance.

  48. 48 Venessa
    October 3, 2008 at 20:48

    There is chit-chat on the blog but I think for the most part it helps us understand the people around the world that are engaging in these conversations/debates with us. It is very simple to skip through comments that have no interest for you. As Bob points out the things in our daily lives that we discuss can resonate with people around the world or develop into a wonderful topic of discussion on a show or on the blog. When I first began posting there was nowhere close to the participation we see now; that has to say something.

    Just my 2 pence….

  49. 49 Bryan
    October 3, 2008 at 21:42

    Jennifer, come back. You’ll be missed.

    Brett October 3, 2008 at 8:00 pm,

    More and more often I am seeing dirty laundry or arguments being aired on the blog

    Sure, and the moderators could stop it in its tracks.

    Now let me point out straight away that I know moderation is difficult and things can and do get overlooked and I don’t expect moderators to have the wisdom of Solomon in settling disputes, but if moderators could just be a bit more aware of what constitutes a personal attack the problem could be nipped in the bud.

    From my personal perspective, others here have been allowed to get quite vindictive with me but when I respond with a simple rebuttal I either get deleted or a notice gets posted that we should both stop an argument that I didn’t start. Hence the suspicion, which may or may not be justified, that personally insulting comments are allowed through because whoever is sending them is a favourite of the moderators, or at least more favoured than the person he is insulting.

    I think I understand where Jennifer is coming from. A lot of the conflict here is political. As a conservative Christian, she’s part of a very small minority here. And there tends to be a closing of the ranks against her. As a supporter of Israel, I have a similar perception. Are we both wrong?

    Re chat, the e-mail above is pretty much in line with my own thoughts. And I don’t agree with you, Brett, that a lack of chat would extinguish the warmth. Look at it from the perspective of someone new to the blog. People get discouraged when they see it because chat doesn’t really suit the purpose of the blog.

  50. 50 Dennis@OCC
    October 3, 2008 at 21:49

    I would like to moderated again….But like the email about everyone
    wants to discuss personal “issues”…..

    I am looking for the today’s news and currents events [and tomorrow’s big headlines]…..

    And in some cases, background on a particular story….

    Please, excuse me, I have bought this to the attention of Kate [From BBC World Service World Have Your Say, following a problem with a moderator….]


  51. 51 Jens
    October 3, 2008 at 22:13

    @ All,

    part of a discussion is to get to know the people you are discussing with. i have much harder and sometimes brutal exchange of words with my best friends, because i know i can trust them. without the ‘chit-chat” you do not learn what makes the other person tick. i can have a frank and hard exchange with steve, as an example, but i do respect him and would not have a problem stitting down with him over a beer.

    i think this blog without the chit-chat and sometimes horsing around, like the shadow cabinet we formed a couple of days ago, this blog would become a lot less warm and fun to interact with. even while having fun, we do discuss and sometimes mock realy important things and that is something that is invaluable.

    i just hope that Jennifer does carry on contributing, even though I am not in the same boat as she is, the blog needs to have all the different personalities to be vibrant.

  52. 52 viola
    October 4, 2008 at 01:27

    Well, maybe the Christians on this blog could chat among themselves about how peaceful their religion is and how misunderstood it and its practioners are.

    When you strip away the superstitious, grandiose elements of Christianity, such as virgin birth and resurrection from the dead, what remains is the core of Christ’s message, which is one of peace.

    Similarly, when you strip away the superstitious, grandiose elements of Islam, such as all the virgins the suicide bombers get to look forward to and the really wild stories surrounding Mohammed’s ascent to heaven, what remains is the core of Mohammed’s teachings which, according to many posters on this blog, is one of peace.

    I begin to think there should be a totally separate ongoing blog for anything having to do with Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Wasn’t there one awhile back?

  53. 53 viola
    October 4, 2008 at 01:30

    My 1:27 a.m. post was a response to Bryan’s comment about Jennifer’s minority status on this blog as a conservative Christian.

  54. 55 Dennis@OCC
    October 4, 2008 at 02:02

    **I have to write down my version of this story**
    I would like to insert my opinion, During the Weekend of 8 August 2008, When I was given my moderation rights, I have to write this…I just got home from sending the Summer in Syracuse, New York at Onondaga Community College…And I was given my moderation rights. Which i am very appreciated it..Very much.

    I did my VERY HARDEST of reading everyone comments and being EXTREMELY fair and considerate of everyone likes and wants!

    I also, went down the road–to return personal moderation messages via e-mail if i had to do the SPAM folders! And to apologise to the contributor.

    Also, when someone needed a story–i try to research the story…


  55. 56 Jens
    October 4, 2008 at 02:05


    where do athesist go?????????????

  56. 57 Dennis@OCC
    October 4, 2008 at 02:08

    I received an email from Kate, a few days, And this is my summary of the situation:
    That the World Have Your Say team….When Ros Atkins, comes back to the office–the entire team should RE-INSTATE THE RULES and ADD one more to the list: NO MORE PERSONAL CONVERSATIONS….

    This is a very good idea!


  57. 58 Dennis@OCC
    October 4, 2008 at 02:23

    To answer Brett’s and others remarks:

    I think that we should have an assortment of TOPICS available to discuss….

    But here would be my only RULE, following the BBC’s own editorial rules: Is NO PERSONAL CONVERSATIONS…if the parties want to exchanged ideas, then they should both contact the moderator on duty and ask for the moderator to send the parties the others’ email address [or instant messager information]…..


  58. 59 Paul Harbin - Waco, Tx.
    October 4, 2008 at 02:35

    Should the overall feel of the blog invite more people to post? If someone happens onto a blog and finds a lengthy chat ongoing about something irrelevant to the tittle of the blog, should this encourage new, active, and worth-while posts? Does everyone that seems to be so upset over the idea, of removing themselves from the situation, and looking at it objectively … not see any merit to it what so ever?

    Sure, personal conversation happens, but when you’re in public, do you scream to the one person you’re talking to about how you love to X X X X and YYYY so everyone else in the same room has no choice but to hear it? Chit chat privately, that doesn’t mean you can’t be warm and cordial. It doesn’t mean the blog has to become this cold menacing machine. Think of the blog as a classroom, it’s there for a purpose, not note passing, grab arssing, and playtime. Honestly, the overall impression I have now is, people have become far too emotionally involved with the blog.

  59. 60 Kelsie in Houston
    October 4, 2008 at 03:32

    Good question–I looked around and don’t think there’s an atheist message board on BBC Religion.

    There is a section for it:

    And some news tidbits:

    But no message board. Sorry!

  60. 61 Jens
    October 4, 2008 at 04:02

    @ kelsie,

    interesting considering we are growing rapidly, just like galciers do occasionally…. seriously being an atheist is a challange considering all the religions trying to ram their god down my throat. it’s like having a salesman on my door all the time. a simple NO is not enough

  61. 62 Kelsie in Houston
    October 4, 2008 at 04:11

    Yes, unfortunately the zealousness of many of the faithful prevent them from accepting a simple, “No thanks.” As one of those faithful, I have absolutely no problem coexisting with people who don’t believe in a god. Your business, your right.

  62. 63 Bryan
    October 4, 2008 at 07:31

    Paul Harbin – Waco, Tx. October 4, 2008 at 2:35 am,

    I agree. People tend to get too involved in chat and be unaware of how this blog sometimes comes across to an outsider. An example can be fond in the Palin threads. Everyone tries to outdo everyone else to see how clever they can be in putting her down. When the moderators themselves are enthusiastically joining in this pointless exercise, rather than curbing it, then debate really suffers. Many outsiders who wade through that will conclude that the blog is yet another partisan, “liberal” left wing echo chamber and go elsewhere for serious debate.

    Question is, should reasoned debate trump chat? On a World Have Your Say blog, yes.

    viola October 4, 2008 at 1:27 am,

    I don’t agree with drawing an equivalence between Christianity and Islam. Maybe you could during the time of the Crusades or the Inquisition, but certainly not now.

    Jens October 4, 2008 at 4:02 am

    Judaism doesn’t go out to convert people and I doubt a religion like Buddhism does either.

    Jens October 4, 2008 at 2:05 am


    where do athesist go?????????????

    To hell?

    (Sorry, that was just a weak attempt at humour.)

  63. 64 roebert
    October 4, 2008 at 07:55

    Kelsie, Viola, Bryan: my post about Christians not getting a word in edgewise does not refer to Christians sharing their faith on the blog in an evangelizing way. There is an informed and deep-rooted (Erasmian) Christian-humanist worldview which constitutes a major part of western society and thinking, and yet these contributors are regularly challenged on the basis of their just being Christian, instead of having their views taken into account and discussed seriously and respectfully. I think even Teilhard de Chardin or Paul Tillich would be laughed off this blog. And I am speaking as a non-Christian (I am a Buddhist).

    Atheists, on the other hand, do not actually have to be sent to hell to have their views aired, as they are repeatedly aired on WHYS, often using the worn-out spaghetti-monster argument to make religionists look silly.

    As for serious discussion of really alternative views, forget it. I have tried once or twice to question the illegal declaration of Kosovar independence, and nearly had my head blown off. I’d like to hear from Serbs and Russians,about their worldview, but none ever speak here, although it seems sure that they probably look in.

  64. 65 Jonathan
    October 4, 2008 at 08:01


    Good golly gosh, well there’s yer problem right there! You have to say “Thanks, but no thanks, on that religion to nowhere!”

  65. 66 roebert
    October 4, 2008 at 08:45

    Atheists can have a look in on Richard Dawkins website. It gives all the scientific reasons why deity is a silly idea and points out all the socio-political dangers of following a religion. I think there’s a blog as well.

  66. October 4, 2008 at 10:20

    For Starters, I think everyone should take a look at the contributor’s charter.

    About Moderation,

    As I member of the team, I can tell you it takes alot of team effort, passion and commitment to make sure the conversation runs 24-7, except for a few instances, there is always at least one moderator in the virtual moderators office to ensure that comments are published promptly. So much hard work goes on behind the scenes. If you want to test this theory, you are welcome to volunteer. You can email Kate for a shot at moderating.

    About long posts, Mark Sandell wrote this sometime back We wont mark your essays

    A word about responding to another person’s point of view here

    Read Mark’s endorsement of it here.
    And finally,

    Extremes of formal or informal global debates/conversations will serve no useful purpose to anyone. I think we can have serious, interesting and thought provoking debates/conversation on global issues in a nice informal atmosphere. The key is to get the balance right

  67. 68 bjay
    October 4, 2008 at 13:18

    A blog for all?
    yeeeee !

    The Sillence of the lams would make me unhappy.

    bjay connotation with eeeeeeeeccent.

  68. 69 Count Iblis
    October 4, 2008 at 17:10

    I think everyone, including the regulars, should not post more than a few times on each Blank Page. I saw that there was a request to make the postings short a few days ago, but that has the opposite effect. That promotes endless discussions about trivial things like today’s weather 🙂

    If we allow everyone to post, say, four times, then everyone can post about something that he/she thinks is interesting. It is then better to write everything you want to say in your first posting because you can only reply three times to comments from others.

    So, short postings should not be encouraged, just write about the issue that you think is of interest of WHYS in as much detail as you think is necessary. We won’t see discussions straying off topic very often if everyone can only post three times.

    Also, you will not want to reply immediately to some comment, but instead wait a while until others have commented. You can then reply to more people in a single posting. Also, you may find that someone else has made the point you wanted to make.

    There are only about ten regulars here, so we can only have about 40 postings by the regulars. I think that what will happen is that you’ll only a few topics will be discussed, even if there are many postings. Because either you start a new discussion or you reply to an existing discussion. But if you visit the blog when there are already quite a few postings, then that usually invites you to reply to an existing positng. So, existing discussions then tend to be continued.

    Someone visiting this blog will see less postings. These postings are mostly focussed around only a few discussions. That is much easier to read, even if each posting is large. For newcomers that is a more attractive environment to participate.

    In the current setting, without a limit to the number of postings, the regulars dominate. If you are a regular and are used to reading postings by the other regulars, then it is much easier to quicly scan a Blank Page containing 500 postings, spot the relevant conversations and perhaps weigh in yourself in one of the exchanges.

  69. 70 Jens
    October 4, 2008 at 18:12


    nanananan, how can we go go to a place we do not believe in…… 😉

    the issue is that both christianity and islam are out there trying to convert all the non-believers……the world would be a better place if people would keep their believes to themselves.

  70. 71 Bryan
    October 4, 2008 at 19:19

    Jens October 4, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    nanananan, how can we go go to a place we do not believe in……

    They buy you a ticket, put you on a bus and before you know it you are there.

    Seriously I don’t have major objections to Christians trying to convert me and anyway it hasn’t happened that often.

    A Muslim trying to convert me is something I would not like to experience. Muslims say that “there is no compulsion in religion.” Perhaps that is their theory. Their practice is unfortunately very different.

  71. 72 Jack Hughes
    October 4, 2008 at 20:50

    I don’t get this.

    Why do we all have to change our behaviour because of one complaint ?

  72. 73 Dennis@OCC
    October 4, 2008 at 21:37

    Re: Jack Hughes

    No, this is not because of ONE COMPLAINT it is based on many complaints, and…the debates on an assortment of topics are getting placed in nowhere because of PERSONAL CHATTERBOXES….

    That is why, the rules SHOULD BE immediately enforced…..

    And also, i think that there should some of the same items, Have Your Say on the BBC employs, such as alert a moderator…..


  73. 74 Dennis@OCC
    October 4, 2008 at 21:41

    I am OPPOSED to the number of times you can post because of reasons such as time differences….

    I would like to do, is to GET RID OF ALL PERSONAL CHATS….


  74. 75 selena in Canada
    October 4, 2008 at 21:47


    The squeaky wheel gets the grease. If you are saying it is foolish, I agree. 🙂

  75. 76 Jonathan
    October 4, 2008 at 22:35


    Excellent points, appropriate links, well done. I’m convinced.

    Now I really feel bad for my frivolous comment earlier, and on this of all pages….

  76. 77 selena in Canada
    October 4, 2008 at 22:47


    Really! Don’t you know that some people can’t see the irony 😉

  77. 78 Jack Hughes
    October 4, 2008 at 22:48

    Personal chats help to build bridges – the alternative is just ranting away with recycled cr@p from the daily kos or whatever it’s right-wing equivalent is.

    Just one simple example of personal chat:

    From what I have read of Bob in Queensland’s posts, we are diagonally opposite on just about everything. But his tip about a new brand of chocolate has made me see him as a fellow-human being. When I read his posts, I no longer think “leftie admiring multiculturalism from a safe distance” – instead I think “fellow chocolate lover”.

  78. 79 selena in Canada
    October 4, 2008 at 23:19


    Well said!

    Some people fear person chats. They want to to hide behind the well researched opinions of others. 🙂

  79. 80 viola
    October 5, 2008 at 01:20

    Kelsie, thanks.

    Roebert, your point concerning the Christian-Humanist worldview is a good one. You have articulated well the dynamic that you are not the only one has noticed on this blog.

    My suggestion that the Christians chat about the peacefulness of their religion was, I am afraid, a sarcastic comment on that perceived dynamic.

    Anyway, now I know where to go to read discussions of different religions, thanks to Kelsie.

  80. 81 Kelsie in Houston
    October 5, 2008 at 01:27

    Glad you’ve found those useful–the “hours” on the message boards (they’re obviously very heavily watched and moderated) are a little inconvenient for those of us in the U.S. Central Standard time zone 😉 .

    @Pink and Lubna–if you’re around the thread at some point in the near future:
    This is a discussion thread I started on the Islam board about Qur’an reciters–feel free to join in…it went dead, and then got picked up (and spammed, evidently).

  81. 82 Katharina in Ghent
    October 5, 2008 at 09:09

    I guess it’s time that I also weigh in my two cents on this discussion. I’m as guilty as anybody else on the blog for posting personal comments (I just say “chocolate”), but I generally try to limit that to the Blank Page, which seemed to be more open for all kinds of discussion right from the beginning. I will agree with the email to the extent that the Talking Points seem to have become a meeting place of “the usual suspects” especially during the first couple of hours after the show (which is when I sleep), and then, when I look into it on the next morning, there’s often a lot of chit-chat to wade through, usually too much to bother with, given that I’m already at work at that time.

    Personally, I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to go back to the original Talking Points, which were started by the WHYS team about 8 hours before the show. Back then, comments were generally more specific. The alternative would be that the moderator for the TP gives a couple of points and insists that comments should be made towards these points, or, if another topic is getting suggested, this can be taken up too, but no more of this very personal chat.

    The way it is now, we basically have a Blank Page every day of the week, and that can be difficult to keep to the point.

  82. October 5, 2008 at 10:15

    @ Katharina in Ghent

    The alternative would be that the moderator for the TP gives a couple of points and insists that comments should be made towards these points, or, if another topic is getting suggested, this can be taken up too, but no more of this very personal chat.

    Good Idea. 😀

    I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to go back to the original Talking Points, which were started by the WHYS team about 8 hours before the show. Back then, comments were generally more specific.

    Remember that WHYS is the daily interactive show News discussion programme where people around the world set the agenda.

    The labour of our heroes past and present shall not be in vain

  83. 84 selena in Canada
    October 5, 2008 at 14:52

    What is with all the control here guys? If this is a bog for all, then all should be able to participate, without being told that there is something wrong with them for trying to do things differently.

    If, on the weekend, some people want to talk about chocolate, (mixed in with other stories) then that is a welcome relief from all the doom and gloom. Why should one or two others object to that and keep talking about it until we all get fed up and give them what they want?

    Most reasonable people are able to get past trying to control others. People who object to the idea that in order for change to occur we need to get to know each other do not have to read any posts they don’t like. That is the beauty of the Internet. We can scroll past anything that does not capture our interest.

    What we shouldn’t do, in my opinion, is rain on the parade of others. When we do that we are not entering into the spirit of engaging in a free global conversation. Rather we are trying to impose our views on others. We are locked into the old way of always trying to win/prove something.

    Remember that our views are not better than the views of the others. In this case, because of the ability to opt out of reading anything we don’t like we should be able to respect each other without too much trouble. If there is to be any change in the world, we have to be free enough of our own hang-ups to allow change to happen.

    Let’s be what we say we admire: Free! Free to let others be free!

  84. October 5, 2008 at 18:51

    54 Kelsie in Houston October 4, 2008 at 1:30 am
    BBC Religion Messageboards:

    I see the sign for the white bathrooms and the black bathrooms, but none for yellow bathrooms? And has anyone seen the water fountans for hijabis?

    Gotta love that Jim Crow.

  85. 86 Jack Hughes
    October 5, 2008 at 23:51

    Way to go, Selena


  86. 87 Kelsie in Houston
    October 6, 2008 at 00:11

    LOL “Water fountains for hijabis.” Only those wearing a certain color…

  87. 88 Matthew
    October 6, 2008 at 02:59


    I’ll debate with you about Serbia, Kosovo and the former Yugoslavia if you like. I’ve been going there for nearly ten years, so although not being Serb myself, I have friends and colleagues there and a knowledge of the country that so few know about,(that would pleasantly surprise and inform them in most cases) beyond the really loaded and virtually one sided perspective portrayed via all western media, particularly here in the UK. I know there’s several hundred thousand Serbs in Chicago, about 100,000 in Los Angeles, a quite large number in New York, Detroit, and numbers in other cities in the USA.
    I can furnish you and others with many interesting facts abut Serbia. Just a taster – apart from Martin Scorsese there is only one other Film Director in the world to have won the prestigious Palme d’Or twice, at the Cannes Film Festival in France, and that is Emir Kusturica a Serb whose second accolade was for the film “Underground” an absolute must see for any serious cinema and film goer. As well as being thoroughly entertaining and amusing as well, it recounts the story of the capital of Yugoslavia, Belgrade being bombed by the Germans in World War II with the storyline continuing up to and for seeing the eventual and inevitable break up of Yugoslavia. Magnificent film!
    As for Kosovo’s independence that is a travesty, so few have little information about save for that received previously and currently through all major media, so they and most of us are any the wiser to the picture before and that presently conveyed to the world. A most recent example on the BBC Newsnight programme showing us purely one side of the horrendous civil war that took place there (for the benefit of Bryan).

  88. 89 Bryan
    October 6, 2008 at 09:05

    Matthew, that’s the BBC. For the most part they concentrate on promoting the points of view that suit a pro-Muslim, left wing, “liberal” agenda.

  89. 90 Mark Sandell
    October 6, 2008 at 13:25

    That’s right Bryan, we’re bang to rights. Thank goodness you spotted us for what we are. How the hell did we let you on ? you don’t conform to our world view, what were we thinking of ?

  90. 91 Mark Sandell
    October 6, 2008 at 13:32

    Seriously, to deal with some serious points. Jack, it isn’t about all of you changing your behavious for “just” one complaint. The reason Ros posted this was that we’ve had a few like this – and as much as i admire and respect our community, and as much as some of you infuriate me with your myopia, i want it to grow. I want other people to read this and think this is a safe place to debate ideas about global issues- not some closed shop.
    If you’re polite, on subject and brief, you get posted. If you’re not, you don’t. How is that so restrictive ?

    And Nelson, not for the first time, thank you.

  91. 92 Ros Atkins
    October 6, 2008 at 13:39

    Hi folks. Here’s an email I’ve just sent the moderators so you know what I’m asking of them.

    ‘Please follow these basic rules STRICTLY:

    – don’t publish any comment that is off topic.

    – don’t publish long comments. Any. Even if they’re great essays.

    – don’t publish rude comments. I don’t tolerate any rudeness on air, you shouldn’t on the blog. NONE. If you have a problem with a poster, send me their comment and I will deal with it. We’re not going to put up with any slanging matches at all from now on. By all means discuss something passionately. But not rudely. Anyone who can’t manage that will be asked to leave.

    – don’t edit any comments. Either publish or delete.

    If in doubt ask. We really welcome how commited you all are, and we’ll match that by happily putting time in talking to you about moderation issues. If you’re having a disagreement about whether to publish a comment or not, send it to us we’ll decide and then we can all get on with it.

    That’s that. The traffic on the blog has gone up 4x this year. That’s creating some problems. They’re nice to have, but we need to work together to manage the volume of discussion on the site.’

  92. 93 Robert
    October 6, 2008 at 14:15


    What is off topic on the TP BP forums though? That seems to be the source of the most arguemnets over causal chat.

  93. 94 Matthew
    October 6, 2008 at 14:39


    I’ve always found it very interesting that the further you go beyond the confines and borders of Western Europe, it’s not what you have, your profession, your financial status that attaches such importance upon first meeting, but it’s who you are as an individual and a person, your likes, dislikes, hopes and fears, what hobbies and interests, the sport you follow, etc. We have this awful habit in the West of automatically asking “So what do you do?” Personally I think it’s bloody rude, and you realise that when you’re in the company of people who don’t really care what personal and professional box or social classification you fit into. It either comes up later and freely in conversation or not at all, and who cares? I have friends in Eastern Europe who to this day and whom I’ve known for several years have never directly posed the question to me, and haven’t suffered for it. Hey Presto, we’ve remained friends in exactly the same way as when we first developed that friendship. It’s a different mindset and one I much prefer. Whether it is historically ingrained within the national soul and character or as a consequence of socialist/communist influence inside the mix I LIKE IT! I suggest you and others try it on a few occasions.

  94. 95 Ros Atkins
    October 6, 2008 at 14:53

    Matthew – posting the same long message but split up into 6 chuinks won’t work for us. That’s why I’ve not published them. It’s still the same long message. It’s not a contribution to a conversation, it’s an essay. Cheers, Ros

  95. October 6, 2008 at 15:12

    Hi Ros/ WHYSers:

    I have no real challenges with most what has been said with the exception that, I often find that the blog does not always cater to a wider (?) conversation on a range of issues. In fact, it doesn’t. Which is fine. However, where there is need for clarity of comments made, etc. one has to respond, accordingly. One of my pet peeves is, the often deliberately offensive and derogatory remarks made on the blog either to or about others. There is a need for some kind of control in that regard, as well. Failing which, the only appropriate course of action is defend oneself against such remarks. This may result in a “longish” email. Now, I am aware that that does not help matters much but it seems to me that this too is a problem.

  96. 97 Mark Sandell
    October 6, 2008 at 16:11

    By all means, if you want to post longer stuff, refer people to your own blog- then people can make the choice if they wish to read more.

  97. 98 Matthew
    October 6, 2008 at 16:36

    Dear Ros,

    I beg to differ and would like to say that over the past few days there have been examples of very similar posted, and not withdrawn by the moderators. I have to admit to having been rather long winded on certain occasions or bloviated as I’ve been referred to by one of my opposers. I stand up and respect that as their opinion and such is the nature of the beast in a debating arena like this. With regard to my most recent posting, I went to the bother of editing the whole 4 times into small chunks. And I believe if you were to re-examine it one could see there is a totally relevant thread running through it all, in response to Bryan’s earlier comment. I consider it to be most definitely conversational. But I have to ask myself why have you decided to approve a quarter of it that to the reader doesn’t appear to have any connection with earlier comment? I’m responding to Bryan. And he’s probably confused and perplexed as to what I am trying to convey and why exactly. But if it formed part of the whole then he and others would be able to see the relevant strand running through the contribution so as to counter his position and standpoint.
    I look forward to hearing from you ASAP,

    Kind regards,


  98. October 6, 2008 at 17:16

    @ Mark Sandell,

    I agree with you in terms of referring people to our posts to continue the discussion. Personally, I am a little challenged when an otherwise obvious point seems to require copious amounts of explanation. I recall, for instance, an exchange between myself and another blogger arising from the matter of whether a Christian theatre group has the right to hire and advertise for hire only evangelical Christians. After much plowing through, I felt it only approrpriate to ask the blogger to read my own blog, which has addressed in part, some of the issues which dominated the last portion of the blog that day.

    That being said, though, there is still I think a need for explanations for clarity’s sake. On the question of whether the media pick the winner I responded to Scott (M) on his issues pertaining to whether the media can be liberal and truthful/ objective. However, it was not posted. I am not sure why, other than to say that the post might have been a little longish. My problem has more to do with the conflation that people make between different ideas in some of their entries that obviously need to be unpacked in order to facilitate a meaningful understanding.

  99. 100 Bryan
    October 7, 2008 at 00:42

    Mark Sandell October 6, 2008 at 1:25 pm,

    In the Internet age, the BBC has little option but to allow differing opinions on its forums. That says absolutely nothing about the BBC’s own stance.

    When I hear an anchor on the World Service, for example, say, “That about sums her up,” in response to a highly derogatory e-mail about Sarah Palin that has just been read out, then I think I’m justified in regarding that as partisan and unprofessional. Much of the BBC reporting on Sarah Palin takes the form of campaigning against her and for Obama. There are balanced and objective reports as well and I have also pointed those out, but the basic thrust is pro-Democrat and anti-Republican. Isn’t the BBC at all concerned about alienating people on the Republican side? And what about simple fair play?

    Anyone is welcome to challenge and refute the points I make. On this particular subject, few have.

  100. 101 Bryan
    October 7, 2008 at 00:58

    Matthew October 6, 2008 at 4:36 pm,

    Yes I am confused as I have no idea which comment of mine you were referring to since your comments have been deleted.

    On that subject I think It’s a good idea to indicate which comment people are referring to, as I’ve done above. Makes it easier to follow the debate.

  101. October 7, 2008 at 01:22


    Many times I have tried to take on board what you have to say about the BBC – and still to this day I cannot find it in myself other than to scratch my head as to where you see the bias.

    I am biased – look at my blog, read it at will and if so inclined, comment.

    I ask, as I always do when people see some form of bias in this or any other BBC interaction – why do you post here if it is so biased? Yes – you may pick up on the odd comment that is not to your liking – but that is life my friend, that is life. If I had my way Fox News would be banned and all those on it prosecuted for hate speech. That’s bias!

    My blog can be found at http://willrhodesportmanteau.com

  102. 103 Jack Hughes
    October 7, 2008 at 03:25


    I’m not sure what your own point is ?

    Are you saying the BBC is unbiased ?
    Or it is biased – but that’s OK because your own blog and Fox News are both biased as well ?

    A lot of people are concerned about the BBC’s impartiality – or otherwise. The BBC does its own reviews from time to time. They follow a template:

    1. A few mistakes were made (with a list of some).
    2. We promise to try a bit harder in the future.
    3. That’s all.

    In the last year the BBC has felt the need to send 16,500 employees on a course called “safeguarding trust”:

    “It is expected that all 16,500 BBC production and content staff will participate in the mandatory training programme […] to understand and comply with all of the BBC’s values and editorial standards, including truth and honesty…”


    This matters to me for 2 reasons:
    1) I pay for the BBC via my TV licence.
    2) It’s a national institution that has gone of the rails.

  103. October 7, 2008 at 05:10

    My point is, Jack – I am biased read my blog I am all for Obama and against McCain, the BBC is the most un-biased of all. I am not saying there isn’t any bias in the presenters, editors and all those who run the BBC – that is an inhuman task. You can go on training programs that can teach ‘trust’ – I am part of those surveys that do try to give as much feedback as possible.

    Who else asks you that? Certainly not Sky. You cannot get perfect impartiality if you could you would have Mr Sandell supporting Man Utd and not the Hammers!

    By the way – the TVL doesn’t pay for this blog. And how has it gone off the rails? And Berbatov is a great player!

  104. 105 Bryan
    October 7, 2008 at 09:12

    Will Rhodes October 7, 2008 at 1:22 am,

    The reason I post here and elsewhere challenging the BBC is simply because I don’t see why inaccuracies and bias should be propagated via the internet or any other medium without being challenged, especially when issues close to my heart are involved.

    It isn’t the occasional remark that has led me to my conclusions but a long exposure to the BBC’s output. I have also complained directly to the BBC on quite a few occasions. Mostly, these complaints are simply ignored but there is some evidence that occasionally they are taken seriously, perhaps when many others complain about the same issue.

    Generally it takes bias as extreme as that of Barbara Plett to make the BBC sit up and take notice. When she admitted to weeping for ailing terrorist Yasser Arafat as he was airlifted from Ramallah en route to France, the BBC “partially upheld” the complaints that came in. When you think about it, Plett would never have been comfortable making that admission public were she not part of a news organisation with a pro-Palestinian stance.

    Now imagine a BBC reporter weeping for Ariel Sharon, helpless in his coma. The idea is ludicrous.

  105. 106 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    October 7, 2008 at 17:23

    @ Will and Jack:

    I like the BBC, not because I do not think it unbiased, but because by comparison to much of the available media (CNN, for instance), it stands out as one that makes a greater effort at self reflexive critique. Whether that means they seriously look into all of the things that make their work the way it is, is another matter all by itself.

    Unlike Will, though, I actually think the BBC is quite biased. I can think of numerous examples, however, let me limit myself to three:

    – Robert Mugabe’s leadership (or the lack thereof) of Zimbabwe is wholly treated as a negative by the BBC, notwithstanding that there may well be differing positions whether inside or outside the country. these are either never given the same treatment or are completely absent most of the times. Note, I am not defending Mugabe. I am simply saying that the coverage is, largely, biased against him.

    – George Harney’s recent interview on Outlook of a teacher in Florida who, I think, is in a fight with the school district to teach Evolution over and above Creationism. This, notwithstanding that the teacher is identified as a self declared ‘man of faith’ – a Christian. I found, however, that Harney’s pandering to the notion that Christians are somehow unable to think through issues in a very balanced way, a point inferred from remarks made by the guest, somewhat offensive.

    I say somewhat, not so much because I did not think the matter serious but because I regard all the presenters on Outlook as, generally, very professional. However, I am aware that in this new age when religion is basically a bad word, it is to be expected that even at these levels of the media there will be those who share similar opinions.

    My question is: should the journalist not be just as probing with all positions, regardless of their personal feelings on and or investments in the matter?

    – WHYS. Now this is comparably more difficult, having also been a guest on the show a few times in the past. My issue however, rests with the notion that one is hearing the ‘the’ position of people outside of places like Europe, Canada and America. While, it is understandable that these are regular guests on the programme, a guest from Nepal, Malaysia, or wherever else cannot, in real terms, give ‘the Malaysian Position’. That is neither practical nor sensible.

    Such guests are giving their position which is informed by certain experiences of culture, gender, religion, education, information, etc., not the views of an entire country or region!

  106. 107 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    October 7, 2008 at 17:37

    @ Bryan,

    I am agreed with you. I also find that there is a pro-Palestinian bias in many BBC programes, even while I also share that bias. I am surprised, however, that I missed the Barbara Plett admission, as I do listen quite often and have been doing so over a long enough period of time.

    That being said, I also will agree with you that, often some complaints go unnoticed or are not responded to at all. My pet peeve, for instance, on the WHYS blog which I have spoken about several times in the past, is the notion that a short response is always best, especially in cases where some bloggers are deliberately offensive in their remarks.

    Unlike Will’s suggestion that we not post here if we hold such objections, I feel there is an obligation to continue contributing to the discussion and to, hopefully, build consensus on several issues as a way of bringing attention to such matters. I do feel that we can manage to have a discussion about real issues without resorting to name calling (eg: “people from the Third World…would (obviously) not know much about these issues…!), misrepresenting the views of others, or just simply advertising ignorance. That is unacceptable, by any stretch!

  107. 108 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    October 7, 2008 at 17:41

    That being said, Ros, Kate and Chloe, especially, have been very responsive to me, personally. Kudos to them for the great work. I also wish to say, again, that yesterday’s (Mon., Oct. 6) programme was most interesting. Thanks much!

  108. 109 Brett
    October 7, 2008 at 17:59

    Raw, why have you not begun moderating?
    IMHO, you need to get with the team and get on board if it would at all interest you.

  109. 110 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    October 7, 2008 at 18:08

    Certainly, Brett! I actually would love to. Just have to juggle somethings around and see how best to organise. How do I do that, though? Ros, had asked me some time ago which I did. Who do I talk to now?

  110. October 7, 2008 at 18:10


    Unlike Will’s suggestion that we not post here if we hold such objections

    Where have I suggested such a thing? I asked Bryan a question about his perception – he answered it, which is part of the discussion. I was not, nor ever would, suggest that someone post elsewhere if they don’t like it.

    Bryan and I have had many a good discussion even though we are on either side of the coin.


  111. 112 Brett
    October 7, 2008 at 18:16

    Send an email to anyone on the team and express interest. Kate and Ros are the two which seem to be most active with us mods. In my opinion, you’d be a great addition to the moderating team. We’re always looking for new night mods too if you are looking for a more ‘part time’ and occasional mod post 🙂

  112. 113 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    October 7, 2008 at 22:32

    @ Will,

    Pardon my misreading of your implications above. However, please do not miss the larger point of the post in terms of the fact that, one has to continue to highlight the biases at work in the fabric of the BBC’s coverage as a way of facilitating a wider forum of communication on several issues.

    Additionally, it is certainly not my desire to get in the way of well established bonds of kin/ friendship.

  113. 114 Dennis@OCC
    October 7, 2008 at 22:45

    @ Brett remarks:

    I would think it is EASIER to get moderating rights…From
    Kate [1st], Chloe [2nd] and Ros [3rd]


  114. 115 Dennis@OCC
    October 7, 2008 at 22:52

    I am reading the blog and October 7, 2008 at 5:37 pm comments…could anyone explain in words, about the Barbara Plett’s admission…


  115. October 8, 2008 at 00:22

    @ Dennis,

    Apparently, in the effort to make the point about BBC bias, Bryan (I think?) said that Barbara Plett admitted to crying during a report on Yasser Arrafat. She later acknowledged this, however, only because she perhaps (?) felt she had to and because it was in the context of her relations with the BBC. (You can make your own conclusions!). I think that is about what he was saying, from what I understood.

    However, the larger point is really about wherher the BBC is biased as compared to some other media, namely CNN and Fox News, etc. Which is interesting, as Scott (M), suggested last week that the liberal media (CNN?) are, by their natures (?) truthful and objective and that, to be conservative precludes objectivity and truthfulness, at least that was my understanding.

  116. 117 Bryan
    October 8, 2008 at 02:04

    rawpoliticsjamaicastyle October 7, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Dennis@OCC October 7, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    rawpoliticsjamaicastyle.wordpress.com October 8, 2008 at 12:22 am

    To clarify the point I was getting to regarding Barbara Plett, she admitted crying over Arafat in the BBC’s From Our Own Correspondent. This programme is less formal than others and reporters give their personal impressions of events. Still, for a tough, worldly journalist to admit to breaking down over Arafat was a quite extraordinary departure from the norm. But I think she felt comfortable doing so because a pro-Palestinian stance is taken for granted at the BBC.

    If you’re interested in checking this out further, here’s the original article that caused all the fuss:


    And here’s the BBC Governors’ reaction to the complaint:


    (Dunno why it’s filed under ‘Entertainment’, but there you have it.)

  117. 118 Bryan
    October 8, 2008 at 02:06

    Comment appeared to vanish into a black hole, so trying again:

    rawpoliticsjamaicastyle October 7, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Dennis@OCC October 7, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    rawpoliticsjamaicastyle.wordpress.com October 8, 2008 at 12:22 am

    To clarify the point I was getting to regarding Barbara Plett, she admitted crying over Arafat in the BBC’s From Our Own Correspondent. This programme is less formal than others and reporters give their personal impressions of events. Still, for a tough, worldly journalist to admit to breaking down over Arafat was a quite extraordinary departure from the norm. But I think she felt comfortable doing so because a pro-Palestinian stance is taken for granted at the BBC.

    If you’re interested in checking this out further, here’s the original article that caused all the fuss:


    And here’s the BBC Governors’ reaction to the complaint:


    (Dunno why it’s filed under ‘Entertainment’, but there you have it.)

  118. 119 Bryan
    October 8, 2008 at 02:09

    Perhaps a bold moderator would be prepared to venture into the black hole that absorbs comments with links and retrieve the one I’ve just posted? Thanks in advance.

  119. October 8, 2008 at 03:38

    Thanks, Bryan. Very insightful. Clarity appreciated.

  120. October 8, 2008 at 04:03

    @ Bryan,

    Reading the story several years on does not have quite the same impact. However, I will say this, whereas I can empathise with your concerns about bias, if were to use this example which is clearly, itself, biased, I would have to argue that this only (?) shows the humanity of journalists and the stress underwhich they operate at times. Of course, the larger question of getting too close to your story remains. Still, I am never sure I am believe that carefully schooled distance that they project in the efforts to appear neutral. As if, the journalist is somehow telling a unversal truth free of the taints and biases inherent in their own learned/ conditioned perspectives, etc.

    The challenge, of course, is there another way to tell a story otherwise; that is, without purposefully alienating your audiences? So, having read the story I am inclined to see Ms Plett as human (?) and could, slightly agree with her decision to reveal in her report that she was crying, though it certainly does throw up red flags.

  121. 123 Bryan
    October 8, 2008 at 09:41

    Thanks for your in depth evaluation of Plett’s reporting. I appreciate the fact that you leave the question open and don’t take a dogmatic stance on the issue. However, my mind is largely closed regarding the bias of the BBC’s Middle East reporters through long and close observation of that bias. To me, the only debatable point is the extent of the bias, not whether or not it exists. It should be remembered that Plett was weeping over a man who for the previous few years had supervised and directed the Second Intifada – a brutal campaign of terror that up till then had claimed the lives of around 1000 Israelis, 700 of whom were civilians.

    Yes, Plett is human, but I doubt whether she had any humanity left over for the Israeli victims of Arafat’s terror attacks, having lavished so much of it on him.

    As if, the journalist is somehow telling a unversal truth free of the taints and biases inherent in their own learned/ conditioned perspectives, etc.

    I agree completely. Many journalists are unable to separate their personal bias from their reporting. From Jeremy Bowen, who could not stop yelling “war crimes” at the Israelis two years ago, to Alan Johnston, who in his article on the history of Gaza made it appear that there was never any Jewish historical presence there, to Barbara Plett, BBC reporters seem compelled to “come out” and make their allegiance to the Arab side in the Israeli-Arab conflict unmistakably clear.

    It is high time the BBC had an honest look at the entire team reporting on the Middle East.

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