h2g2 and the General Election 2001

10 Conversations

Please note that these rules are no longer in operation. They are left here for discussion purposes only.

In the UK we are approaching a General Election, and there is no area where the BBC's commitment to impartiality is more closely scrutinised than in reporting election campaigns.

This has some important consequences for the whole of the BBC, including h2g2 - in a nutshell, for the duration of the Election, we may have to remove Postings or Guide Entries which are heavily UK political, while still letting 'light' political material through. For a taste of the kinds of issues facing producers during the run-up to a General Election, check out the BBC Programme Makers' Guidelines for the General Election Campaign (and, specifically, the online section).

The bottom line is that the BBC has to take special care during an election campaign to do its best to offer balanced political debate across all its services, and to stop interactive areas being hijacked by organised campaigns.

h2g2 Policy During the General Election

To ensure that h2g2 doesn't become a target for political barracking, or end up publishing unbalanced political content during the Election, we're asking that Researchers try to avoid getting into heavy UK-political discussions on h2g2, once the BBC's Election guidelines come into play (at which time we will announce that this is the case on the h2g2 Front Page).

Instead we'd much rather such debate was done elsewhere on BBC Online, in the special areas that are dedicated to Election discussion. Currently the Election 2001 forum is the place for political debate. This forum is moderated by experts in political discussion, ensuring more sensitive moderation than we could offer on h2g2.

More discussion areas will be added in the run-up to the Election, and we will list a selection of them here, along with links to other areas of BBC Online that will be of interest to those who want to follow the General Election. We are also hoping to set up a special h2g2 section of the Election 2001 for h2g2 Researchers to debate the Election, and details will be published here.

The Policy in Action

Any Conversations or Guide Entries that veer into heavy debate about the General Election (or local elections during the General Election period) may be removed by the Moderators. This doesn't mean that no UK political discussion is allowed, it simply means that as soon as anything gets too close to political barracking or heated debate, we may take steps to remove it from h2g2, asking instead that you continue your discussions in a more suitable area of BBC Online.

Why have we decided to take this step? Here are some of the reasons:

  • We're still developing the moderation system on h2g2, and the thought of generating lots of debate about whether material is politically balanced on top of the current debates about URLs and profanities is not a welcome thought1, so trying to avoid General Election material for the duration of the Election is the best bet.

  • Most of our Community comes from outside the UK, so this restriction will not affect the vast majority of Researchers.

  • We are offering an alternative elsewhere on BBC Online, so it's not a blanket ban, just a channelling of debate into a specific place where the Moderators will be specialists in dealing with political debate.

  • This only applies to the UK General Election, and only for the duration of the Election itself. You are still free to talk about political issues from elsewhere in the world, and as soon as the Election is over, the restriction will be lifted and you can talk about whatever you like.

In short, please help us by not posting any heavy UK politics during the General Election. Thank you!

1Just ask Peta and Abi...

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