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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Dear BBC, thanks for letting me help

Wow. That was quick. I noticed a typo earlier on a BBC story and decided to see if they had a way for readers to contact them about howlers. Sure enough, click on Contact Us, then Website, and you get this:

So I sent in the typos. Sure enough, 5 minutes later when I checked the story again, the changes had been made. Deeply impressive. Even more impressive was that I'd mistakenly referred to the story as being about Argentina when I meant Venezuela, and they were kind enough not to point that out to me. Admirable restraint.

The process could be a bit simpler - you have to open the story in a second browser tab so you can copy and paste the typos and the story's url into the feedback form - although no doubt there are plenty of pointy-headed typo-spotters like me who will be sufficiently motivated to do so. It would be better, though, if they could make the feedback form automatically open in a new window.

I've written about this before and have no doubt I'll do so again. All news sites should make it easy for their users (and fellow staff) to send in typos and mistakes they've spotted. Users get to feel involved and valued and you get free proofreading. It's a no-brainer.

It's also not that difficult to do. Just set up a group email address which all relevant web editors are copied into. Duty web editors take responsibility for monitoring and responding to feedback on their section. Simple but effective. Or am I missing something?