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The BBC’s “Have Your Say” feature adds value

Hold up!

See that little date above?

This post was published years ago.

My opinions have changed over time: I think it's quite fun to keep old posts online so that you can see how that has happened. The downside is that there are posts on this site that express views that I now find offensive, or use language in ways I'd never dream of using it today.

I don't believe in airbrushing history, but I do believe that it's important to acknowledge the obvious: some of what I've written in the past has been crap. Some of it was offensive. Some of it was offensively bad. And there's may be some brass among the muck (you can make up your own mind on that).

Some of what I've presented as my own views has been me—wittingly or unwittingly—posturing without having considered all the facts. In a few years, I'll probably think the same about what I'm writing today, and I'm fine with that. Things change. People grow. Society moves forward.

The internet moves on too, which means there might be broken links or embedded content that fails to load. If you're unlucky, that might mean that this post makes no sense at all.

So please consider yourself duly warned: this post is an historical artefact. It's not an exposition of my current views nor a piece of 'content' than necessarily 'works'.

You may now read on... and in most cases, the post you're about to read is considerably shorter than this warning box, so brace for disappointment.

Yesterday, Barnardo’s released the results of a survey of 2,000 adults which revealed that 54% felt that children in the UK behave like animals. That’s strong and, frankly, scary stuff… Clearly not enough people have been reading this site.

The very same day, one of my blogging colleagues over at Crashed Pips used the story to deliver an almighty harangue against BBC News‘s Have Your Say feature. I’m sorry, Jonathan, but in this case I just can’t agree.

You see, I find some comments on Have Your Say as amusing as the next guy. I greatly appreciate the efforts of site like spEak You’re bRanes in putting the funniest and most ridiculous contributions directly in front of my eyes via Google Reader.

Yet, like the BBC Radio 5 Live Phone-in, in amongst the utter banality lies the occasional sparkling diamond – one of those moments where you finally understand why your opinion is so disconnected from that of almost everybody else, and perhaps come to appreciate the frame of reference the rest of the world is using.

Given, then, that I was so utterly dumbfounded to discover that the majority of adults apparently view children as feral, the Have Your Say discussion plays a vital role: It allows the seemingly idiotic majority to explain and justify their views. After having the pleasure of reading a couple of pages of comments, it’s suddenly much clearer that the majority is primarily made up of those who fervently believe the misleading impression of youth generated by the media. This allows my breathing to steady, my pulse to slow, and me to continue with daily life.

My point is that this is the kind of story where Have Your Say is anything but useless: It allows for clearer expansion and explanation of the nation’s feelings on a topic and hence adds to the reportage. A Have Your Say topic about living with Blackberries, with a tenuous link to the Presidential style of Barack Obama, is clearly less enlightening.

Now, there’s just one other thing puzzling me about Jonathan’s post: He says that, in the minds of the masses,

anyone under 25 who speaks with a slight accent and wears a hoody is automatically a troublemaker

I’m under 25, speak with a slight accent, and quite often wear a cardigan. What the hell does that make me?

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