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Waltzing Australia


Saturday, December 29, 2012

47. BBC Weilds Its Power

The BBC now have an "updated" image for those attempting to logon to Thorn Tree.

One has to question the validity of the BBC's reason for shutting down one of the most popular and longest running travel forums. Was it done because there were posts that did not meet Lonely Planet standards, or merely to save their own skin? Considering the flak they received over their handling of the Jimmy Savile 'situation', one has to wonder. Back in October this year, An inquiry began into BBC culture over the Jimmy Savile scandal. A BBC poll has suggested its reputation as a trusted organisation has been damaged amid the scandal.

When asked why no action had been taken against the DJ and TV presenter (BBC's Jimmy Savile) for almost 50 years, the police commissioner said people had relied too much on Savile's reputation, and his word that he had "done nothing."

A celebrity who was a serial rapist and molester operated at the BBC for years, was revered, and knighted. After he died, the BBC bungled its own efforts to investigate and expose him.

Here is a Transcript from NPR's Philip Reeves report from an investigation into the scandal.

From the Huffington Post "Lonely Planet Thorn Tree Closed: Travel Forum Shut Down After BBC Discovers 'Inappropriate Languages And Themes' "

Inappropriate languages? Inappropriate themes? What on earth is an "inappropriate theme"? A discussion that someone doesn't like? Maybe a few someones from the BBC? There will always be opinions that some disagree with, but is this a reason for closing it from the public? Is the BBC following China's lead - is there now The Great Firewall of London where monitoring and censorship is the order of the day?

Thorn Tree
The Thorn Tree is the online travel forum of Lonely Planet, with several different "Branches". There are the Destination branches, South East Asia which comprises several countries, the Thailand branch, North East Asia (also comprising several countries). The Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica branch, European branches, the Americas etc.

In addition to the Destination Branches, there are others. For example, The Cooking and Food branch, known as GS (Get Stuffed), the Women's branch - WT (Women Travellers), Language and Grammar, called SiT (Speaking in Tongues).

There is also that den of iniquity called YC - Your Choice. While there are threads on YC that are presentable, there are many that are befitting a sewer - known colloquially as "poo" threads. Had this branch been cleaned up a long time ago, it would have been far better, sifting though them is akin to searching for a needle in a haystack!

Their Politics branch closed several years ago and the Sports branch was shutdown earlier this year. It was in the past a good place to discuss sport but alas, was taken over be certain types posting their smutty thoughts. They in turn have gone over the YC.

It is my understanding that the BBC have been running scared ever since the Jimmy Savile scandal broke and they have received a lot of flak over it, so what do they do? Shut down the whole Thorn Tree forum. This of course has made news and has attracted discussions on various internet sites which puts them (BBC) in an ever worse light, whereas had they just closed the YC branch, it wouldn't have attracted much more than a battered eyelid.

Why is it taking them so long to re-open the Thorn Tree? Perhaps they don't want to spoil their brandy and cigars and are just running ramrod over things like has been done in the past by the chinless wonders of the aristocracy.

All I can say is thank God I'm an Aussie!

Friday, December 28, 2012

46. The BBC and The Night(s) Before Christmas

(An ode to the BBC by yours truly)

T’was a few nights before Christmas and at BBC
They’d just settled down for a nice cup of tea.

With bone china cups, they chatted so nicely,
Their pinkies raised slightly and oh so politely.

When all of a sudden there arose such a clatter
They blinked and they wondered what on earth was the matter

The Head Mod rushed in, red-faced with alarm
The boss said I say old chap do remain calm.

He took a few breaths and then said the Mod
There’s a salacious email from that nasty old sod!

He’s made accusations, oh what shall we do?
Since that big Savile row we really are in the poo!

If we don’t “fix” this it might cause a confaddle
We’ll be up you know what creek without a paddle.

So the suits put their heads together as one
And wondered and thought about what could be done.

Out comes the brandy and port and cigars
For this called for deep thinking to save one’s Khyber Pass.

Now Thread posts! now Spam posts! Now Edit and Fixit!
On Data! on Branches! on Flag and Delete-it!

Christmas was nigh, there was snow and much ice
And visions of Christmas Pud danced passed their eyes.

A decision was made that’s called passing the buck
To close down the Thorn Tree and with any luck

They could go home for Christmas with no-one the wiser
And just shrug it off with a can of Budweiser.

45. BBC Shuts Down Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree Forum

Disgruntled user banned several times for trolling?

Lonely Planet's popular online travel forum, Thorn Tree, has been temporarily shut down by owner BBC, reportedly after the discovery of paedophilia-related posts.

A source said that BBC executives, still smarting from the Jimmy Savile scandal, went into "panic attack mode" after a disgruntled user alerted them to swearing and posts that discussed topics related to paedophilia

The site has not officially revealed why it was necessary to close the entire forum without warning except that "a number of posts" did not conform with the site's "standards". A message on the Thorn Tree page said the forum was closed "temporarily" so the site could apply "necessary editorial and technical updates".

The founder of Lonely Planet, Tony Wheeler, who no longer owns the publisher but contributes to it, told Fairfax that he was amazed the forum was still offline four days after the shutdown and criticised the BBC for not offering a more detailed explanation.

The Thorn Tree is around 16 years old, making it the oldest travel community on the web. It has become a staple for avid travellers looking for tips, advice and a connection with other globetrotters.

A source with links to Lonely Planet management said the decision to shut the forum was "all about Jimmy Savile".

The source said a disgruntled user, who had been banned several times for trolling and harassment, emailed BBC executives asking if they were aware that Thorn Tree was full of porn and swearing.

"They discovered that if you looked for terms like 'paedophile' or 'child prostitution', you got Thorn Tree hits," the source said.

"The hits are mostly discussions of current events or pointless stuff that would have been moderated, like 'Barney the dinosaur is a big purple paedophile'. However, someone found a thread about 'what's the age of consent in Mexico?' That really set them off.

"They went into full, freak out, panic attack mode."

The source said other posts the BBC executives found objectionable were related to child prostitution in Thailand.

Long-time Thorn Tree users are distressed that they got no warning of the shutdown and didn't have a chance to say goodbye. It is not clear when the site will be back online.

In the past, some have labelled Thorn Tree "scorntree" after experiences with abusive trolls on the site.

Lonely Planet was started in Melbourne by Maureen and Tony Wheeler in 1972. The pair sold a 75 per cent stake to BBC Worldwide in 2007 and the final 25 per cent in February 2011.

Tony Wheeler told Fairfax he received a phone call on December 22 to say they might have to shut down Thorn Tree and within the next 24 hours it was taken offline. He said he was "amazed" it hadn't been re-opened yet and he was still trying to find out the reason why it was shut down.

"There are always some areas which are live wires - Israel and Palestine for example - and if you don't keep a constant eye on them it can quickly go haywire," he said.

"I'm sure the BBC at the moment are extremely sensitive to anything questionable going out which could account for the current shutdown. Why it hasn't been sorted after 4 days I have no idea."

Wheeler said he was "not particularly surprised" at reports the forum was shut down due to objectionable content and criticised the BBC for not explaining why it took the forum offline beyond a "bland" statement. "OK it's Christmas but that's hardly an excuse," he said.

Several hours after this story was published BBC Worldwide spokesman Philip Fleming said BBC had found no evidence of discussions concerning paedophilia on Thorn Tree "but we have discovered instances of inappropriate language and themes".

"Until we are confident that all these rogue posts can be identified and deleted, we feel we have no option but to temporarily close the site as a precautionary measure," Fleming said.

Source: BBC Shuts Down Thorn Tree

Stay tuned for further updates.