The BBC is a beautiful organisation. On one hand, it is a tax that falls on anyone who owns a television. On the other, however, it produces extremely good entertaining, thought-provoking, informative, exciting television and radio, innovates constantly (remember iPlayer?), provides a brilliant educational resource for school children, provides information about national issues, sets standards for other broadcasters, has a top-quality sports website, amazing and innovative science pages, and also does Doctor Who. However, on top of all of these, it has the BBC news website, where reliable, informative and generally fairly bias-less news is reported regularly with comments from professionals, helpful information to provide insights, and complete rigour on what is being reported. It’s hard to complain about value for money.
The news site is what I want to talk to you about. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news is perhaps the last word in high quality news. It is manned by a series of extremely capable journalists, and monitered for bias. It is completely free, and provides news on all sorts of topics. It also allows comments on many of the articles, allowing users to discuss and share opinions, provoking much debate.
However, where there is comment, there is also a singular type of character that we will call Dave. You probably don’t know much about Dave, but you will recognise his style of comment. For example, on the subject of the death penalty, he might discuss how typical the left-wing bias of the BBC is, and move on to suggest that anyone who doesn’t want the death penalty should be locked up in a house with all the murderers in the UK and see how they like it. Dave will probably find a way to mention the riots in the summer of 2011 in any post he makes.
I decided that I wanted to explore Dave as a person, and, more importantly, his commenting style. Is it possible that it could be replicated by someone called Bertie, for example? So now let me introduce you to Dave.
The most important thing to understand about Dave’s commenting style is that the content of the article he is commenting on doesn’t matter. Far more important is the comment that Dave is about to make. This allows Dave the luxury of writing his post at any time, with or without any access to the internet. Indeed, even during a casual chat with Dave, he may be writing anything up to two dozen comments in his head, and storing them away for future reference.
When Dave actually get onto the BBC news website, the first thing he does is look for comments. Not all articles can be commented on, so he must find the right article, lest he by stymied in his act by what he would term the liberal media conspiracy. This, of course, would just make him more angry.
A few sidepoints should be noted on the subject of Dave’s anger here. Dave is, contrary to popular belief, not a particularly angry person. Most of the time, he doesn’t beat animals, and often goes out of his way to ensure that his actions do not harm others. However, and this is a medical condition that affects many people across the world, on contact with the internet, he immediately is filled with a sense of rage and anger with everything in the known universe, especially communists and socialists.
After Dave has found an article, he begins his commenting process by looking at the headline, and reading the first few lines of the article. However, he is physically only able to read a couple of lines of the article before his skin comes out in a rash, and he struggles to breath. This condition is usually refered to as liberalitis, and is extremely common, and largely curable by exposure to large amounts of common sense. Sadly, this treatment is not available to most people.
Due to this condition, Dave will not be able to understand the entire article, and certainly not the finer points of its impartiality and balance. However, this doesn’t matter because Dave has evolved the ability to go beyond this. Based on just the title and a couple of key words, Dave will search his repetoire of pre-written comments, and find the one that is most appropriate, or, alternately, the one that he likes the most. The latter usually does not relate to the article in question, and is quite often a rant about how the death penalty should be applied to anyone who rioted ever. However, this rarely bothers Dave.
This is not actually the complete picture. Sometimes Dave has a comment that he cannot wait to share, for example one that suggests that the BBC are organising a conspiracy regarding Jeremy Clarkson and the Eurozone. In this case, he will scan the main page for any headline that leaps out at him, then immediately write down his comment, regardless of how appropriate this is. However, being as most of Dave’s comments could apply to almost any subject, it may well be in the right place. Alternatively, and probably more akin to Dave’s style of thinking, Dave is completely right. The liberal media, however, have got the subject wrong.
It is perhaps intriguing to the casual observer how the Dave, who quite clearly hates the disgusting huge leftwing bias on the BBC, is so addicted to the site. However, after one spends some time with Dave, one starts to understand his reasons behind this.
For a start, Dave is a hero, indeed sometimes, if his comments are removed, he can be a martyr. He fights daily, valiantly, to take down the monstrous ogre that is the BBC. His comments are his weapon of words, his pen that is so much more mighty than any sword, although not as mighty as common sense. He can wield them in such a way as to cast doubt on our reverence of authority figures such as scientists, fill us with hatred over the summer rioters, or even just to demonstrate that the BBC is an evil liberal conspiracy.
Secondly, Dave craves attention, and the BBC’s redactive moderating policy provides the perfect opportunity for to provide this attention. He need but insult an entire ethnic group (something Dave is very good at doing) and he could find his comment being removed, leading to him being able to place a good three more comments on complaining about the liberal conspiracy and political correctness gone mad. Dave does love political correctness gone mad.
Thirdly, and probably most importantly, Dave’s comments are strong even for such heights of right-wing anger as the Daily Mail forums. Indeed, he was almost certainly banned from that stronghold of conservative thought about a week ago, and has nowhere left but the BBC and Sarah Palin. And Dave will be damned if he’s going to kowtow to an American.