10 04 2010

Category: Media

Nothing shows how badly the BBC has lost focus than the woeful h2g2.

I found it by clicking on a link to an article on the BBC main page. This took me to an article on the BBC site, with the BBC seal of approval, but full of misleading nonsense. When I searched again for this article I discovered it was in a section called h2g2.

It appeared the article was BBC editorial content but it was in fact something else; the perfect symbol of BBC hubris – the BBC’s very own wikipedia…

The h2g2 site was taken over by the BBC 11 years ago. Acquired from someone else – did they pay for it? If so how much? – it stands for hitchhikers guide to the galaxy and was designed to be a compendium of everything about the universe. And the best bit is that all content is user-generated (remind you of anything?).

There’s no mention of it in any of the BBC accounts or reports. Online services cost £177 million but what part is gobbled up by this useless weed is unstated. We do know that 150,000 people look at that section of the BBC site every week (according to the BBC) and it’s undergoing a full revamp at the moment.

There was no mention of it directly in the BBC’s strategic review of March 2010, which announced a trimming of online content and listed a number of useless sites to be axed.

However their approach for cutbacks could have been written with it in mind:

All online content should feel justified and purposeful: not extraneous or encyclopaedic, but within a distinct editorial purpose

The very worst thing about this ridiculous offshoot is the failure of those who approved it, and allow it to continue, to understand what the BBC’s key asset is, and how h2g2 undermines it.

Head and shoulders above everything tangible in the sprawling BBC empire, its key commodity is trust.

To allow any tom, dick, or harry with an axe-to-grind to so easily use the BBC seal of approval gives a clue to management and trustees failure to appreciate the only asset of any real importance they have.



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