A WHYS watchdog ?

rotweilerWhen we started WHYS we were determined that we should be open and transparent.

As willing to acknowledge our mistakes as well as celebrate our achievements.   

A programme that was shaped by the community around it, a courteous forum where people around the world could converse.

A place with clear rules both on the blog and on the radio.  A place where we tell you about ourselves– we’re not just faceless MSM producers. (that doesn’t mean you’ll like our faces, but we do have them ). 

Where the community are welcome to take part in the editorial meetings – by phone or in person. Where we even allowed the blog to be moderated by that community – ok it didn’t work but it was still an exercise in democracy i don’t regret.

Some of our community have set up their own places to debate where the rules are different and they can be moderated 24 hours a day. Both blogs are totally supported by us.

You’ll sense a “but” coming on . Here it is . But we still get regular and sustained criticism from some of the community usually along these lines  – and i’m paraphrasing :

– every time we even mention Israel – in almost any form – we are “Israel-bashing ” (Steve and others) ..

– we “censor”  comments we somehow don’t agree with or are just too “dangerous” for our lily-livers..(  Jim Newman mainly)

– we are some kind of left-wing , liberal cabal there to promote some sinister BBC agenda which are we sneakily trying to get past you.. (VictorK and others)…

– we make the rules up as we go along…(i’ve lost count)..

It doesn’t matter what i say – please go and start your own blogs if we’re so rubbish….., please read the rules etc etc , some of you won’t be shifted, whatever we do.

So here’s a thought for the wider WHYS community – i.e not just the same serial complainers : should we set up a WHYS watchdog ?

A small group of you who can listen to complaints – and  make recommendations ( i won’t say rulings because we are employed by the BBC and rightly governed by their editorial guidelines) – which we’ll put on the blog if any of you are unhappy with the way you’ve been treated ?

I’m willing to listen to any ideas to break this rather boring cycle- both for the team who are moderating and for some of you who’ve contacted us to say it’s putting you off the blog to hear the same old negativity you can find elsewhere.

Shall we try it for a short period ? Any volunteers ?

57 Responses to “A WHYS watchdog ?”

  1. 1 steve
    July 16, 2009 at 18:56

    I think you treat people fairly, but you put way too much emphasis on Israel. It takes up a disproportinate number of your shows. For example, you talked about events from last year concerning israel, but you won’t do a show on current events, such as all of the problems with airline crashes recently. There have been several crashes in the past weeks, including one in Iran on its way to Armenia. Another plane yesterday made an emergency landing when a large hole formed in it and it depressurized. What is more newsworthy, focusing on Israel constantly, or the plethora of airline problems that have been going on?

  2. 2 Mark Sandell
    July 16, 2009 at 18:58

    Israel “constantly ” ? really ? and did you miss the programmes we did on the Air France crash ?

    And the “watchdog” idea ? – yes or no ?

  3. 3 steve
    July 16, 2009 at 19:09

    Yeah, if there’s ANYthing going on in Israel, you’ll dismiss any other daily news. Do you actually think you gave as much coverage to Sri Lanka as you did to Israel/Gaza? Or any other ongoing conflict? Gaza was in November. And if another report comes out on Gaza 2 months from today, and there’s a plane crash or giant earthquake, you’ll do a show on Israel. I mean, honestly, you know about the critic of Russia was was murdered? You won’t do a show on that, a rights activist for Chechens, but had a critic of Israeli policies had been murdered, you’d do a show on it.

    I’m not too sure the need of the watchdog idea. You should approve the comments you want to, and not approve the ones you don’t want to. You have your policies. However, I think the listeners should have some influence in what shows you do, rather than you telling us what you think we’re talking about. Just an influence, you of course make the decisions.

    • 4 Konstantin in Germany
      July 17, 2009 at 11:20

      Wasn’t there a few shows ago a guy on the show, who provided WHYS with the most-clicked articles of the BBC Website?

      I think it was when everyone was complaining about the intensity of the Michael Jackson coverage… the Urumqui/MJ show.

  4. 5 Scott [M]
    July 16, 2009 at 19:17

    Look at the tone of this message! It is like something I would write: bitchy, snarky and annoyed. I know my strengths and I don’t have the patience to undertake a job like yours—because I wouldn’t be good at it. Perhaps you do need someone to communicate with the public, because the public generally doesn’t expect to be told it should be (allegedly) respectful and then it is treated with some-kind of sarcastic disrespect. It is hard to stomach, and as a favorite theme of WHYS says: you lack moral authority because of your own actions (words).

    People who are willing to engage in a conversation and sometimes put radical views out there (sometimes that they don’t necessarily believe), find it terribly offensive to have their comments not posted (or censored-though you don’t agree with that term-semantics). Especially when their comments don’t violate the sketchy guidelines that are full of loopholes. And particularly when the nuance of their thought might quite frankly be above the average persons comprehension skills. If you are going to not post comments there should be strict, precise reasons for doing so—it should not be left up to the arbitrary and terribly subjective judgement of a moderator. I think if you refuse to post something, you can certainly and easily post a checklist, in that comments place, with a box ticked of which rule it violates. So the poster can at least understand why the words aren’t allowed and perhaps improve them.

    If you have watchdogs they also need strict procedures to guide them. Because generally people who have the time to freely volunteer their time are not necessarily the brightest stars among us.

    More coming….

  5. 6 Tom K in Mpls
    July 16, 2009 at 19:20

    Now this is a good topic. Personally, I don’t feel anyone is qualified to judge, me included. This program has shown quite a bit of flexibility. That is needed and sometimes goes a bit too far in different ways. That is because everything changes day to day. Sometimes I don’t like it, but two of my favorite lines are ‘nothing is perfect’ and ‘nothing is all good or bad’.

    Put me on your list, I see myself as a somewhat abrasive, agnostic realist that can see all sides. And add Tom D Ford as comically left wing as the right wingers he bashes. And Anthony in LA who seems to get facts just a bit wrong in a way to annoy others.

    We all have our quirks and I love to point fingers. Feel free to point back, fair is fair after all.

  6. 7 Konstantin in Germany
    July 16, 2009 at 19:25

    Hi Mark,

    it’s a good idea, and you have a “yes” from me. But I doubt the feasibility of it. Something tells me the same ones will go on complaining.

    And how exactly would that watchdog work? A seperate blog? A mailing-list for discussions?

  7. 8 Scott [M]
    July 16, 2009 at 19:42


    I think your show is great in so many ways. I like that it is cacophonous, it is the only way to truly reflect the world. But, cacophony can be beautiful too, it just needs an underlying structure or guide to pace or categorize the asymmetry—in another words it needs a sound, rigid foundation, so the chaos above can be supported.

    Objectivity of the show? Terribly hard to determine. I personally don’t have a problem with this. Even if someone does think the show is subjective—well the world, made up of human minds, is a subjective place. Human objectivity is not some-kind of universal truth. Objectivity of this kind is almost a fallacious term in itself. Unless you are discussing pure facts the discussion is inherently subjective. For example, the whole world is often subjective: for a while most people thought the world was flat! I think you shouldn’t worry about this at all. As long as you have the structure in place to parse discussions you need not worry about it—the show will automatically strive for objectivity in terms of discussion (though perhaps not universally—but that doesn’t matter).

  8. 9 patti in cape coral
    July 16, 2009 at 20:05

    Sounds like an interesting idea, if I understand it correctly, but I sure don’t want to be one of the watchdogs. I would really like to reiterate that I really like what you guys do here, but I won’t go overboard. The last time I was complimentary, I was accused of being a WHYS insider! Maybe I was gushing too much…

    You really can’t please everyone, and nobody is fair and balanced 100% of the time, but I think you guys really try and succeed most of the time. As with the democratic moderation experiment you guys did, even if things don’t work out, they are still worth trying, though

  9. 10 RightPaddock
    July 16, 2009 at 20:42

    Nuh, don’t bother.

    My complaint’s with the English language edition of the BBC World Service (BBC-WS-eng) as a whole, not just this program.

    The BBC-WS-eng has become Atlantic-ist; events outside the North Atlantic basin barely rate a mention these days, unless they’re in South Asia. And it’s become too Amerigo-centric, its focus is almost entirely on its USA audience and their interests – e.g. Obama’s every utterance.

    Up until a few years ago the BBC-WS-eng was funded in the same way as other BBC-WS language editions, by the FO. But then it became self funding, which it does by selling its program feeds to other broadcasters, the US is obviously the biggest market for its product, hence it’s caters to that market.

    I would like to see the BBC-WS-eng renamed as the BBC American Service and the BBC-WS-eng revert to its former self where its programming covered all regions and events in the world with no bias to any target audience. I imagine Its funding would have come partly from the FO and partly from syndication fees.

  10. 11 Jessica in NYC
    July 16, 2009 at 22:21

    Mark– I love the idea. Two thumbs up!

    I do feel in general, the WHYS’ team, responds to differently to people who say the same thing. A good example was the MJ rant. I use to be a loyal daily listener, because I loved that the WHYS team was transparent and consistently strive to be inclusive of all people around the world and view points (Personally, I like opposing views it gives me an opportunity to correct people—joke!). Lately the show seems unbalanced and the interactive component of the blog has been lost.

  11. 12 Bert
    July 16, 2009 at 22:40

    I don’t think any else needs to watch your dogs, as it were. Your moderators on the whole do a much better job at keeping this blog professional than I’ve seen anywhere else, quite honestly, in this type of forum.

    Obviously, I can quibble with why some of my posts have been dropped, while some others that I consider entirely predictable and annoyingly unfocused and generic, keep getting accepted with boring regularity. Almost like WHYS likes to see those (what I consider to be) banalities repeated ad nauseam. But I’m willing to breeze over those posts.

  12. 13 Nigel
    July 16, 2009 at 23:04

    Don’t worry about it and don’t worry about being fair….you are facilitators and the contributors set the pace……you are doing well in a difficult arena.

  13. 14 Ramesh, India
    July 16, 2009 at 23:17

    A few months ago I had to be too rude on Ross at your policy of choosing s topic for the on air program. It seems the editorial staff goes through the net editions of some important news papers and come out with a topic that found place in majority of those news papers – the most talked about story of the day. Recently you have done the same thing by giving preference to Journalistic ethics over G8’s stupid announcements on climate change!

    I am also unhappy with the inexperienced moderators in deciding whether to publish certain comments or not. A few times my comments are put on hold only to be published late. What I felt was that it is ok with you if our posts criticize western politicians to any extent but you are cautious about criticism of others, for example my criticsm of so called aviation experts on Air France disaster and my recent comment on briths army following morals since colonial times.

    * some of you won’t be shifted, whatever we do.

    It’s me too! Because I know you try your best not to be biased and are really willing to listen to criticism and make improvements.

    Watchdog idea is good. Even if doesn’t work, you don’t lose anything by just trying it. I am willing to voluteer in any way if needed.

  14. 15 Bob in Queensland
    July 17, 2009 at 05:32

    My heart likes the watchdog idea…but my head tells me that views on certain running stories are so polarised that the watchdog itself would be accused of bias if it didn’t whole-heartedly support Israel (for some) or Palestine (for others). If you can find a way to make the watchdog so transparent that “the usual suspects” will have to believe it, then go for it! I can’t think of how to work it though.

    As an aside, as I written to Ros, I think some of this negativity may come from technical or operational problems, either at WordPress or the BBC. Many of us regulars have noticed that a fairly high percentage of attempted posts just disappear into the ether–in my case that’s probably 30-40%. I’m vain enough to be pretty sure that the posts that don’t make it are short, to the point, on topic and non-controversial which leads me to believe that the problem is operational, not editorial. It might be worth looking into.

    Finally, volunteers? Sure. However, I suspect my personal views are too middle of the road to be acceptable to many. The conservatives on the board call me too liberal…and the liberals think I’m way too far right….so I won’t be insulted if I’m not asked!

  15. 16 mmohsin alam
    July 17, 2009 at 07:44

    no. But.

    Find a way whereby, the participants themselves take care of troublesome postings/bbc agenda.

    First define democracy (WHYS version) and let’s have a way to uphold that.


  16. 17 Roy, Washington DC
    July 17, 2009 at 08:34

    In the year or so that I have been listening to WHYS, I have actually been quite impressed at how good the BBC staff members are at staying neutral, while still being able to keep the conversation flowing. I haven’t seen any so-called “censorship”, bias, unfair treatment, etc. either on the air or on the blog. This is a huge departure from most American talk shows, which tend to be anything but neutral, and it’s a large part of what keeps me coming back. You can’t please everyone all the time, though, so there will pretty much always be people complaining about this or that.

    In short, I’d say things are fine as is. Keep up the good work.

  17. 18 Mark Sandell
    July 17, 2009 at 10:55

    Thanks for the constructive comments – you have no idea how much it gladdens the hearts when you engage like this.
    I’ll leave this post up over the weekend to see what other comments come in….but at the moment i’m inclined to go with the idea (and thanks to those of you who have volunteered) and we’ll thrash out how we do it.
    Some initial thoughts :

    * 4 or 5 of you become that months’s “WHYS Watchdog” – have your own section on the blog – your own e-mail addresses are (of course) not public, but your user names on the blog are, so everyone knows who they’re dealing with.
    * complainant posts on the Watchdog category and watchdog has a look at complaint, asks any questions of us , and blogs their findings.
    * i guarantee to run their findings on the blog though i can’t (and i’m sorry ) be bound by the recommendations. For example, “W W” may say we should run the programme again but with different guests – and i might do that – but as i said in the original post, i am bound (and very happily it must be said) by the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines.At least complainants can see their issue has been dealt with independently.

    and Bob, i think you’re right about the spam filter…
    Thanks again – i’ll leave it with you.

  18. 19 Deryck/Trinidad
    July 17, 2009 at 11:42


    I agree totally with RightPaddock. Many of your programs are catered to an American audience and interests. I understand that because many of those posting or calling into WHYS are Americans. It would be great to widen the net and include other topics that don’t directly involve the States, but that would be difficult because it seems that the US are involved in everyone’s issue.

    Being a moderator will be difficult and I think there will be contention as posters might find it unprofessional if they are judged by their peers. They might accuse each other of bias.

    • 20 Tom K in Mpls
      July 20, 2009 at 00:02

      I think you are right about the number of Americans (me included). But consider the likely reasons. To me there would be three main reasons. 1: While the BBC gets little air time here and WHYS much less, there is such a population that we still dominate. 2: The technology to respond is common in the ‘top tier’ countries. 3: Eastern Asia, the largest population is asleep when it airs. In the US the show starts at between 10 AM to 1 PM local. Very convenient to many. Also you could factor in that it is in English.

      Now here is a thought, what about two shows daily. Possibly having the second in another language? Probably not practical, but worth a thought.

  19. 21 VictorK
    July 17, 2009 at 13:44

    Paraphrase? Quote! And more to the point, who watches the watchdogs?

    All WHYS needs to do is to be clear about its rules and stick to them. You won’t post long essays, except when you think a long essay’s worth posting; you insist on courtesy, then post something referring to ‘closet hiding faggots’ (even I had to object to that); and people usually scream censorship when they know their post hasn’t violated any of your stated rules, it’s not published, and they’re left with no other conclusion than that its content, the opinion, is what wasn’t liked.

    The BBC has long been charged, from a variety of sources, with a particular kind of bias. WHYS is appreciably better than the rest of the Corporation in that respect, but it would be going too far to describe you as neutral (selection of topics, as well as their treatment, is an issue). But I’ve not really had a problem with that so much as with lack of balance (e.g. your appalling diversity episode).

    And like Scott, and Roberto earlier, I think the tone of some of your posts on this subject is a problem. Coming from the audience they’d have been deleted!

    • 22 Tom K in Mpls
      July 24, 2009 at 00:09

      Here is a thought. How about standardized email responses when a posting is deleted. A simple canned response with perhaps four reasons to choose from. Probably a three mouse click procedure to you guys. Also, people need to realize publishing is slow during the show ( a genuine problem ) and there is no staff on the blogs during the British night.

  20. 23 patti in cape coral
    July 17, 2009 at 14:00

    If this is true, that a lot of the programs are catered to an American audience, I just want to remind you that there are a lot people in America who are from abroad, or who have family and interests abroad. I don’t think people in America would lose interest if you included more topics that were not directly related to us in the states.

    • 24 Tom K in Mpls
      July 17, 2009 at 18:25

      Also, it is hard to get any BBC in the Minneapolis area, a fairly large metro area. All we have is a World News on public TV and a few audio clips inserted in various news breaks on music radio stations. And no WHYS at all. So if a news service has so little coverage in a metro area, why would BBC cater to US.

    • 25 RightPaddock
      July 20, 2009 at 08:34

      @patti in cape coral – The proportion of foreign born residents of Australia (where I live) is 24.8%, the proportion of foreign born residents of the USA is a 11.1%. I’m not disputing that 33.3M is not greater than 5.2M, just pointing out that the US is not as exceptional in the makeup of its population as many might assume.

      I’d also point out US citizens have a low rate of passport ownership and use compared to other OECD countries – perhaps in fact the lowest.

      The BBC World Service is NOT funded by British TV license fees as some believe, and in the case of the English language edition is it not funded by the Foreign Office; it’s a commercial operation whose earnings come from the syndication fees charged to re-broadcasters.

      Being the largest member of the Anglosphere both in number and economy, it follows that the US has more US radio & TV outlets to which the BBC can syndicate its programs. I don’t think the BBC World Service English edition is syndicated in the UK, which means it gets nothing from the second largest member of the Anglosphere. I would guess that BBC World Service English language edition (or as I call it the BBC American Service) gets about 80% of its income from US broadcasters, little wonder then that its so Amerigo-centric. Another instance of market fundamentalism.

      • 26 patti in cape coral
        July 20, 2009 at 14:05

        @ Right Paddock – OK, maybe I should rephrase then, WHYS certainly would not lose MY support if they included more topics that were not directly related to the US.

  21. 27 Jim Newman
    July 17, 2009 at 15:05

    Hello again
    And hello Mark. Yes by all means get a watch dog and I hope you are the first to get bitten.

  22. 28 Ann
    July 17, 2009 at 15:06

    Hats off to the Whys team – that’s what I say!

    On the whole I think you all do a pretty good job considering this is a WORLDWIDE conversation platform and any idea of absolute objectivity is a non-starter. You do your best to be fair and to let all views be aired, so long as they are not deeply offensive. But it’s impossible to be all things to all men(and women)… Sometimes I read shall we say ‘right wing’ posts, that I find deeply offensive to my love of humanity, but I have learned to moderate my own responses. And I too have fallen foul of the moderators by having posts that are like essays (sorry), being too personal in my replies etc and I too have been a wee bit concerned on occasion about editorial bias on Israel.

    But in the world of debate we’re all going to feel offended at some point and unjustly treated. But if you think the House of Whys is bad have a wee peek at the UK Guardian blogs!!! Some great intellectual debate going on there, but my lord it can be brutal! I quite like the safe haven of the House of Whys – inmates are much nicer 🙂

    Oh, and no, I don’t think you need a watchdog…

    • 29 Linda from Italy
      July 21, 2009 at 17:05

      HEAR HEAR Ann!! Extremist posts will inevitably appear, but then who defines an extremist? No dogs please we’re not pack animals. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – apologies for the cliché

  23. 30 patti in cape coral
    July 17, 2009 at 16:04

    I think Scott M’s idea is excellent, posting a checklist that explains why a person’s comment was not posted. Would that be too complicated technically? There was one time a comment of mine was not posted and I was not sure exactly why, but I suspected you don’t accept swearing, even when people use &*(%^*%^&*^ instead of the actual word. I had to guess that was the problem, even though the post in general was inoffensive.

  24. 31 mountain adam in portland oregon usa
    July 17, 2009 at 16:13

    Mark, and all,
    WHYS is a unique and well produced show. The team does an outstanding job and deserves the Sony Award it earned. We the listening/participating audience also deserves credit for the contributions we make. Thank you Mark for taking the complaints seriously enough to address them with the “Watchdog” idea. I suggest it be called a panel of Outside Moderators or something and yes it is a good idea to at least try it. I loved that the blog was moderated by us, the participants, for awhile last year, sorry it failed over all but it was a dodgy gutsy thing and I figured all along it was doomed. So here is another excellent opportunity for people to get together and influence the show. Put me on the list if you need volunteers. For those naysayers I put this observation to you. I was at some of the shows in June here in Portland and realised even more now than when WHYS was here 2 years ago that there is a real community of people from all walks of life coming together here thanks to WHYS. Regardless of whatever hidden agenda there may or may not be it’s happening and it’s a positive experience.
    If WHYS is so terrible then don’t listen, otherwise join us here in this funky community and join the conversation, please do it in a constructive way though.

    @Right Paddock.
    I have wondered this myself for quite some time. I actually like it every now and then, this attention to the US since I live here but this is “World” Have Your Say so I do think the coverage should be a little less US and UK centric.

  25. July 17, 2009 at 17:54

    I am very new to WHYS. I find it excellent,I have lost a couple of posts,but on reflection,justifiably so.It is certain that the moderaters have read and understand the rules and they cannot be a law unto themselves.But how small a group were you thinking of,Mark? As long as you don’t require a watchdog to watch the watchdog, I would say yes,give it a try,should be quite interesting. Although I would would not be interested

  26. 34 Roberto
    July 17, 2009 at 17:56

    RE “” a courteous forum where people around the world could converse. “”

    ————— The format you’ve chosen gravely limits conversation.

    Some of the things I’ve read or written were politically hot enough not to engender any “courteous” reaction either. I come to voice an opinion, counter an opinion, or perhaps to influence the opinions of others in the ethereal fog of opinions poking out everywhere you look.

    More conversation takes place on your show verbally than on this board which is a shame because written conversation is usually more precise than verbal conversation that tends to be heavily influenced by emotional cues that cause people emotional reactions in return.

    A written conversation would take place 24/7/365 in a less moderated format where the most relevant thread topic would continually rise to the top as participants engaged each other without the heavy handed moderation WHYS uses.

    Not complaining mind you, just sayin’.

  27. 35 Lisa from Pennsylvania, US
    July 17, 2009 at 18:11

    YES! A watchdog group is definitely a great idea. I once made a comment in which I used the word “abortion” and it took almost 30 minutes to finally get on the blog, and it was never read. I used the word in reference to a show a couple weeks ago about whether it would be right to allow only certain people to procreate (in reference to the story about scientifically engineering male sperm). I don’t understand how the mere use of a word could be so offensive (otherwise why would a perfectly good comment be ignored)!

  28. 36 Dennis Junior
    July 17, 2009 at 18:12

    I loved the idea, from what I have read so far…I would love to be involved with it.

  29. 37 Jim Newman
    July 17, 2009 at 19:14

    Hello again
    And hello Mark. Joking aside I would like to say a few words.
    First of all the fact that you see a necessity to make certain changes indicates to me that there are problems.
    In fact I,ve been aware of that for a long time.
    You told me once that you did not have an agenda. Well! you may not have but the moderators certainely do. Anything but the most anodyne critism of the zionist state is censored.
    Anything but the most anodyne critism of the USA is also censored.
    There are two methods of censorship: the delete button and allowing the comment to drift into the archives were it is no longer of actual interest.
    Another way of making things difficult is isolation where someone wants to join in but are themselves censored.
    This last one I discovered by accident.
    Now I come to the biggest problem, and that is the name.
    WHYS! World Have Your Say. How can you possibly claim such a title when so many things are taboo?
    Anyway if you want to improve things, as I do, then I suggest that you get rid of most of your moderators and take on moderators who are less blinkered and less amateurish.
    Forget the watchdog bit that could just turn out to be another layer of moderation.
    Best regards
    PS If this is censored I’ll send you a copy by e-mail.

  30. 38 Jennifer
    July 17, 2009 at 19:24


    I agree with you about comments that just don’t make it onto the blog….like my comment on this very post yesterday! ! I doubt if WHYS had a watchdog they would even address legitimate issues brought up. But they’ll have their free labor back!

    I think on this issue I am inclined to agree 100000000% percent with Jim Newman about getting bitten. 😛 But, that won’t happen because watchdog or no; WHYS = gatekeeper. They can do whatever they want on their blog.

  31. 39 Keith
    July 17, 2009 at 20:55

    WHYS: You guys do a great job, don’t worry about the people that post rude comments. With a program like yours, you attract the occasional nut, and they will be infuriated regardless of what you do. The ones that complain still come back constantly, so the show must be stimulating them in some way. I like that you do programs more on political and social issues (Israel, Africa, etc.), it encourages more debate. If you did a show about the plane crashes like Steve suggested…I wouldn’t know what to discuss. It’s an event, not an issue…

  32. July 18, 2009 at 11:12

    I’ve read what happened, when WHYS was co-moderated by some listeners and regret, what happened. I had a similar experience in a forum, where normal contributers were given admin rights. It worked for about two weeks, then disputes started in resulted in the sudden deletion of the forum. Another example of how things can go wrong. I hope that won’t be the case with the watchdog and I don’t want to spoil the interesting chance for some people to participate in it.
    So in case it doesn’t work, here’s an idea, which you could call a follow-up, in case things might go wrong in any way.

    To add transparency, why not replying to the commentator why the comment wasn’t posted. It would mean a lot of work. To counter that, how about replying with a correspondend set of answers like “Sorry, your comment is too long.”, “Sorry, your comment has offensive language in it.”, “Sorry, your comment rather seems to be a speech.” etc.

    When the commentator gets the reply and he isn’t happy with the explanation, they can reply to it. WHYS relays then that reply to a seperate “discuss-your-rejection-blog”, where people then discuss, why it wasn’t posted, without actually interfering in the actual WHYS topic of the day. And there, everyone, not only designated listerners, can comment and discuss the issue.

    The only problem is, that things could get really hot and touchy there. But it’s just an idea, thrown in.

  33. 41 Ramesh, India
    July 18, 2009 at 18:40

    Mark, there was an instance when I laughed at WHYS wholehertedly when you have gone to a remote place in US to talk about pancakes!! I can understand if you go to New York or Washington DC but not when you have been to some remote places about which even some americans don’t know anything about!

  34. 42 viola
    July 19, 2009 at 18:49

    There are issues on which there is no possibility of WHYS appearing fair and impartial to everyone because there are 2 or more narratives going on in the world on any given subject in which all sides believe the narrative they subscribe to is totally true and anyone who says different is, at best, mistaken or, at worst, a liar. Whether journalists can ever not let their personal beliefs show, I don’t know. It actually seems unlikely to me.

    Perhaps WHYS could have a site where disallowed posts could reside and could be read by those who really are interested in exactly what gets thrown out. Anyone not interested in reading what, in many cases, amounts to rants, could skip them. Bear in mind that rants can be worth reading, depending on content and clarity. After all, what’s a good editorial or commentary if not a rant?

    Many newspaper sites’ comments sections allow readers to recommend posts. It’s interesting to see what views get the most “votes.” Is that something WHYS could do?

    I don’t think the watchdog idea will work very well.

    • 43 patti in cape coral
      July 20, 2009 at 13:52

      I really like this idea, a site where disallowed posts could reside. I still think you can’t please everyone, but this is a good try.

  35. 44 Dennis Junior
    July 20, 2009 at 03:13


    Shall we try it for a short period ? (Yes)

    Any volunteers ? (i would like to volunteer)…

    ~Dennis Junior~

  36. 45 tipsylife
    July 20, 2009 at 08:11

    Democracy works best in a 2 way traffic. I feel its a good idea to have a few of us perticipate. WHYS is not the regular listening. Taking part in this program has been very helpful and on the whole, I have benefited a lot. Right now I see a continuous progress in my own expression ability – democracy we all know it is about this. Even when overuled, there is always something new for me to learn. Learning in other words is central to all of us because without it our quality is negatively agreggated.

    My take is that the program has been run professionally even though a problem can occurr here and there. I think you should be tolerant to us just as a majority of us woun’t mind being corrected here and there. We correct one another here and there and the station should also learn to listen the concerns of listeners where it matters. Most members are able to comment on reasons why some of their posts have been rejected. I don’t know how they would react if something sent to them with corrections. Its just another experience altogether and you never know. Its difficult to prejudge the outcome. It’s all a balancing act on delicate ground with no visible boundaries and yet they exist.

    Whatever is decided should be accepted with all faireness from the team and the community. I am a perenial learner and this will be a new opportunity.

  37. 46 Chrissy in Portland
    July 20, 2009 at 17:24

    I agree with several of the bloggers here: no matter what you do, you can’t and won’t please everyone! There will always be complainers. I really enjoy the diverse group of people that participate in the show, but to be completely honest I’m getting really tired of the whiners. If you don’t like WHYS or have a problem with the show, find a new show. There are lots out there!

    WHYS Team: I really appreciate all you do to make this show what it is. It’s got to be difficult to invest all your hard work and effort into something and then get slammed with negative criticism (on what seems to be a daily basis). You guys do a great job!

  38. July 20, 2009 at 17:40

    Quite right Tipsylife,I too have learned from this programme. I generally browse the posts about three times just to check that I understand and have not missed anything. Any word encompassed in the language should be usable,although I would draw a line at the Anglo/Saxon,even with &<@"##. I think that one has a right to know why their posts are not acceptable,and that seems to be the general opinion. Mark Sandell,is in the chair not the moderator. I am sure Auntie,is not so intransigent as to not allow healthy debate, even if it does offend someone,which is not difficult to do these days. If you try to please everyone you will please no one. Give it a go Mark, and let us see what happens!

  39. 48 Maxine
    July 21, 2009 at 03:42

    I want to thank WHYS and the BBC for its very good comments on world issues. That’s a very big spectrum to take on and select items from, and you all do a fantastic job. Keep up the good work –

  40. 49 VictorK
    July 22, 2009 at 15:35

    @Jennifer: “They can do whatever they want on their blog.” Yes, that’s what it all comes down to. I just wish they wouldn’t keep sermonising about rules and courtesy and transparency and impartiality and global conversations and the rest of it, when all it amounts to is doing whatever pleases them. It’s the piousness that I can’t stand, not the partisanship, agenda, and bias.

  41. 50 patti in cape coral
    July 22, 2009 at 16:53

    In addition to the idea of a separate area for disallowed posts, I think it would be a great idea to have a separate area for complaints, so those who are interested in the complaints could read them, and those who are not interested in the complaints wouldn’t have to see them.

  42. 51 Mark Sandell
    July 22, 2009 at 17:06

    * a separate area for disallowed posts : can’t do . Partly because some are disallowed (admittedly very few) for being offensive and i don’t see why they should be placed anywhere. Also, everyone knows the rules even if some think we make them up as we go along.

    * and a separate area for complaints ? – love it. The idea that all the chips on the shoulders, conspiracy theorists and serial whingers could all be in one area is immensely appealing BUT – the idea of the Watchdog is that complaints should be dealt with transparently by a committee of their peers, so we’ll do that.

    * and the idea of our rating posts is also a good one , one which we’ll certainly do.

  43. July 22, 2009 at 19:30

    Speaking of rating posts, does anyone use a site which has a post rating system they like and would recommend?

    dailykos.com (leftie political blog) has what I would consider one of the slickest systems. You can rate UP a post but you can only rate a post DOWN once you’ve yourself have posted a certain amount of times. UP-reated posts rise up the thread and DOWN-rated posts go . . yep . . to the bottom. Conservative blog littlegreenfootballs.com has a similar system — again peers rate the posts.

    Or do you prefer the simpler system of the BBC’s Have Your Say forums (not to be confused with WHYS). Head over to bbcnews.com and click on ‘Have your Say’ on the left. Here you have one option only, to recommend a post…you then have to click on the ‘Readers’ recommended’ tab to order the comments this way.

    • 53 Konstantin in Germany
      July 23, 2009 at 07:10

      Good morning from Germany Paul,

      the rating is great. But moving posts up or down along the thread can distort the conversation, since many bloggers respond to others. The chronology of the blog would be confusing.

      For example, a certain “Anthony” posted in yesterday’s discussion something about branding illegal immigrants. Some people protested it directly in a reply. If that post would move down, then the protests would hang solely there and the sense would be gone..

      (YAAAWWWN… it’s still to early for me…)

      – Konstantin

  44. 54 Scott [M]
    July 23, 2009 at 18:08

    A rating system is totally unnecessary—it often encourages people not to read. It is also distracting and causes people to overlook perhaps original and informative posts. Often people rate posts because they recognize the poster, which gives the louder mouths too much influence. Plus rating posts is a bit tacky.

  45. 55 Scott [M]
    July 23, 2009 at 18:13


    I think this should be defined in a literal way so it is not up for dispute. Number of words or characters. This should not be left to the subjectivity of a moderator. Plus it would save work and time.

    An aside: It is not “strict” if there is no limit! A quantifiable limit would be “strict.”

  46. 56 Scott [M]
    July 29, 2009 at 18:17

    After more thought: I think these watchdogs should not be allowed to comment on the blog, I think it is a conflict of interest. They should give up the right to post regular comments and should only post comments in regards to issues of being a watchdog. I think this would also ensure the motivation for wanting to be a watchdog would be altruistic and not of the ego.

  47. 57 Sameer..
    July 30, 2009 at 13:07

    Imagining the BBC as left-wing is a joke. Every time I mention “Hindu Religious Extremism” I am censored. Every time I say in so many words that I am a Muslim Socialist I am censored. From Obama’s advisory council to the IPCC, the West-Hindu-Israel cabal is quite obvious.

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