This is an email I received from the BBC ( just over a month ago. It’s the culmination of a discussion,ranging over several blog entries, about how the BBC’s online staff (or should that be the staff of BBC Online?) treat their customers, ie., licence payers. On the Beeb’s side, sticking out like a particularly livid thumb, was Nick Reynolds, ‘social media executive’, and a man who can’t seem to post a comment which doesn’t patronise and provoke at the same time. In spite of this rather less than ‘social’ behaviour I, and others, managed to remain civil in our responses, but that’s the thing when someone has decided that you are an undesirable. However polite you are, they see ulterior motives. In fact, the less abusive your posts are, the more convinced they become that you ‘appear to be aware’ of what you are posting, and that it ‘is not true’. It’s no good asking them how they can be so sure, though, as they have already judged you, as they judge anyone with the temerity to suggest that the BBC’s complaints procedure doesn’t encompass its online moderation, which is dealt with by a private company, Tempero, which is thus unaccountable to licence payers or anyone else…

(And the problem, in a nutshell, is that Reynolds’ bullyboy behaviour can’t be adequately addressed by appealing against a single modding decision, as required by the procedure. The big picture is required to truly appreciate his crassness, but the moderation company literally won’t see the forest for the trees)

Dear BBC Visitor,

Thank you for contributing to the BBC web site.
Unfortunately we’ve had to remove the content below because it contravened one of our House Rules.

We are removing this comment and closing your account due to persistent and harassing comments regarding Nick Reynolds, and the disruption to conversation on the Internet blog by your repeated off-topic comments about the moderation appeals process. Given that you appear to be aware that what you are posting, both about the appeals process and Nick Reynolds involvement in it, is not true the only conclusion can be that you are engaging in deliberate disruption of the BBC website. This is in breach of the terms and conditions of the site, and you leave us with no option but to close your account.

Please note that anyone who seriously or repeatedly breaks the House Rules may have action taken against their account without further warning.

BBC Moderation Team.

URL of content (now removed): [Comment 22]


The Five Most Interesting Stories from Our Week


Nick Reynolds wrote:
If people wish to have dialogue they need to obey the house rules and also accept that some conversations are not going to run on and on forever.

[I wrote] Has anyone expressed a desire for discussions to ‘run on and on forever’? If not, isn’t that an inaccurate and unfair view?

The House Rules are a different story. If rules are interpreted in the strictest, ‘more than my job’s worth’ way possible, with regard to being off topic, for example, how far away can a revision of those rules be? Oppressive regimes are toppling throughout the Middle East because they would not acknowledge the winds of change. Borrowed time for some of the more boorish staff members?

At the root of all this is the gradual eradication of the BBC’s message boards, accompanied by a range of specious and often contradictory excuses. An often made charge is that the BBC are clamping down on the public’s right to express their opinion’s following the Iraq war, and the Hutton report. Maybe this is so. Whatever the cause, we must hope that at some point, actual BBC employees start being accountable to us again, and mercenary outfits like Tempero get the boot. And that the BBC Trust pulls its head out of the sand.