BBC web users have their say

Some lively conversations going on in the BBC News website’s Have Your Say section, a forum where anyone can contribute comment and opinion on topics presented for discussion.

One of the interesting things about this forum is the comment recommendation system where readers can recommend a comment to tell the BBC and other readers which comments they think are best and worth reading. Comments are then ranked on the popularity of recommendations.

How do you use the web to create and share?" is one of the topics which so far has attracted over 280 contributions from around the world. The topic was prompted by the recent Pew Internet research on how American teenagers use the internet to create, repurpose (or remix) and share content. A glance through a random selection of recommended comments shows there’s no prominent common theme in how people say they use the web, other than uses you’d expect (online gaming, research, self-expression, etc).

A highly topical issue that’s attracted over 680 comments since it was posted last Wednesday is "Paris riots: Your reaction," with some passionate opinions over the dreadful social unrest in France during the past ten days. A sampling of the recommended comments indicates a clear divide in opinion between those who say the rioters are justified and those who say torching cars and buildings is the work of thugs and criminals.

Have Your Say is a good experiment, a clever way for a mainstream broadcaster to directly and interactively engage with listeners/viewers/users (how do you best describe people who use the BBC website? Just ‘visitors’?). A sign of the times, too – the site actively solicits people to send in photos:

News can happen anywhere at any time. We want you to be our eyes. We have already received thousands of images from around the world and we’d like you to send us yours. If an event is unfolding before your eyes and you capture it on a camera or mobile phone, either as a photograph or video, then please send it to BBC News.

How will this further evolve, I wonder? It’s labelled as a beta.