BBC reminds me of two elements of consumer satisfaction

I’m a big fan of much of the work the BBC does online, and in general it does a very good job of providing a massive amount of content in a fairly logical manner.

But using the site as a consumer with a couple of urgent needs highlighted a couple of things which I think are good lessons for any website:

Multi-channel delivery:

I’m a huge fan of the BBC iPlayer, and the fact it allows me to watch good quality online and on-demand television. So on Sunday morning, I rushed to watch Match of the Day, having missed it on Saturday night (and with the Absolute Radio Fantasy Football game meaning I need to pay extra attention to every team this year!).

But the listing was greyed out – and with no reason given, I had to presume it was down to the licensing rights for the Premier League.

So it was a bit weird to be looking for something else a bit later, and stumble across it in the sport section! (Flaw here was attempting to browse my way to it, rather than using the site or Google search.)

The lesson: If you’re putting out content through two difference channels for whatever reason, then link between them! And always try to explain why someone can’t access something if they might logically think they should.


The BBC carries a lot of event coverage, particularly in areas such as music, and especially sport. For example, it’s great to be able to watch the MotoGP series via the BBC, and also great to be able to see the full list of races (125 and 250cc) online, as my TV set-up seems to struggle with the Red Button Freeview channels.

But although it’s nice to see everything go live at the same time, as if a single switch somewhere brings everything to life, unless you’ve got Freeview and the website running at the same time, it isn’t that impressive. And the fact the online feed wasn’t listed from the MotoGP page of the Sport section until the video went live two minutes after the listed time meant that I probably wasn’t the only one frantically refreshing the page to see if it would appear or if there was a problem.

The lesson: If you’re covering an event that starts at a specific time, why not have a page and link ready and live in advance, which can provide a bit of reassurance for internet users? That way, we can relax knowing that everything will go live at noon, for example, rather than worrying that there’s a technical fault with 1 minute to go. Whatever happens afterwards, we’re already stressed and less likely to enjoy and appreciate your hard work!


I’m still a huge fan of the BBC, and there are hundreds of sites which could have been used for the same points – the reason it stood out for me was that I was a completely powerless consumer. Reinforcing the final lesson – always look at your website as a consumer trying to achieve something.

Court allows Viacom to invade privacy of Youtube viewers

Due to the litigation case between Viacom and Google, a federal court has ordered Google to produce:

all data from the Logging database concerning each time a YouTube video has been viewed on the YouTube website or through embedding on a third-party website

Time to boycott any Viacom products? Read more details on how this erroneously ignores the protection of the US Video Privacy Protection Act on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s website. For the record, actions like this are a far bigger problem than Twitter failing to scale!

I’m not a number – or a user – or a visitor

For a while I’ve read various people debating whether ‘traditional’ terms for people online are still effective. Do we really just want ‘visitors’ – as if they turn up, pay their museum entry fee, look at the exhibits and then leave? Or is it fair to assume they’re users – as if we’re peddling heroin? Especially as a ‘user’ is linked to user accounts and usernames. And only those who actually make a transaction can really be termed ‘consumers’. (They’re not ‘Unique Users’ in analytics/metrics, they’re Unique IPs…but I think that’s not something that can be changed now!)

I think it’s a shame that ad agencies and computing have sewn up ‘client’. It’s more informal than consumer, and yet infers a bit more choice and power on the part of the individual than the other terms. And like an agency, any website publisher has to constantly evolve and adapt to meet the needs of their clients…

I did try to work out a reason for renaming the audience Flibbertigibbets, but even my tenuous grip on reality struggled with that one.

So, like an age old riddle, what’s someone who can come and read a website and leave, come and interact, or come and take part in spending money?

So far, my best effort is ‘Participant‘. If we accept that participation starts at going to a url and observing the content, and goes up to spending every second of the day interacting, posting, uploading and purchasing. And if you look at the Wikipedia entries for participation, it starts to make sense:

‘Participation, in addition to its dictionary definition, has specific meanings in certain areas.

So it can incorporate decision making, benefit, multiplicity, sharing, and being involved in a virtual reality? If you really want, you can split it into Reading Participants, Posting Participants, Uploading Participants, Buying Participants. You can even have a past participle if it makes you happy!

I’d be interested to know if other people think it’s a change worth making, and whether it’s worth participating or not?

Contributing to the internet for more than just recognition…

I’ve had several conversations about user generated content with my colleague and fellow blogger David Cushman (and you can read his take here.)

Any online submission or rating system needs to have some reward to make the time invested worthwhile. And most of the current models use recognition as that reward, including Digg and

But the idea of payment is most definitely spreading. For a while bloggers could monetise their work either with advertising on their site – or by submitting articles to sites like Blogburst. Or even by writing content for sites like Helium.

But the options are growing every day. (Note, I’m not vouching for the earning potential, or payments from any of the sites in this post)

You could earn by using a social network like Yuwie.

Or you could submit links and comments to social review aggregator (and Digg clone), Ximmy.

Or by submitting videos to the likes of Revver.

Or you could even submit pages of search returns for Mahalo.

What’s interesting is how these sites will fair, and how the payment system evolves. Is payment enough to tempt enough users to make Yuwie or Ximmy a viable alternative? Because currently the payment system is definitely aimed at keeping payments as an optional bonus rather than a viable reason to justify the time involved.

Mahalo, meanwhile, takes a more valuable view of the content provided – as it should if it will challenge the likes of the Google search algorithm. Whereas Yuwie or Ximmy offer miniscule amounts for micro actions, Mahalo pays a huge amount, by comparison. But it also expects a lot more work, and applies a rigorous judging procedure.

But the main risk I can see for any of these new business is that their success could easily pave the way for competitors to attack them in a simple price war. And that could lead to a lot of false promises and unmade payments until finally the payment equilibrium puts a fair market price of user submissions, participation, and content.

That’s why I wouldn’t advise anyone to build a system around payment alone. But increasingly payment is becoming an expected part of participation and has to be factored into any social plan. The only variable is whether 1000 links to articles is worth $10 of my time for Ximmy – or a page of researched and picked search returns is worth $10 of my time on Mahalo!

This is just the start of my research into the online user economy, and economics isn’t my main skill, so I’d be really interested in opinions, comments, and anyone’s experiences with using paid UGC sites of any type…

(For the record, I’ve signed up with almost every site mentioned, but I’m still working towards any actual payments!)