BBC changes News FAQ after it accidentally threatens to kill thousands of old links around the web

BBC changes News FAQ after it accidentally threatens to kill thousands of old links around the web

The BBC launched its new look news site early this morning and, as one of the UK’s most popular websites, there’s understandably a lot of chatter online about the new design. An error in the new site’s FAQ certainly raised our eyebrows, however.

In the past the site was marketed as bbc.co.uk/news but actually redirected to news.bbc.co.uk. From today, news.bbc.co.uk is no more and all URLs are in the format www.bbc.co.uk/news

Old links redirect to new URLs, however an FAQ published this morning set alarm bells ringing when it claimed that news.bbc.co.uk URLs would be switched off entirely in the future.

“Any bookmarks you have to news.bbc.co.uk will continue to work for the time being; however, we do have plans to switch off news.bbc.co.uk at some point in the future, so we would recommend that you begin using the www.bbc.co.uk/news address from today.”

If enacted, this would have broken many thousands of links across the web. So, if you had linked to a story with the URL http://news.bbc.co.uk/xxx, it would have broken at some point in the future, even though the story was still there. Many links on old, now un-editable, blog posts, forum articles and tweets around the web, not to mention links in old emails and bookmarks to stories would have been destroyed.

Smelling a story, we approached the BBC about this and they got back to us to say that there had been an error in the original FAQ and that old links will actually continue to be supported. The FAQ has been amended and all those old links can breathe a sigh of relief.

The BBC News overhaul was revealed last week and as we reported last night, a beta link was flying around offering an early peek. Now the site’s live, the Twitter hashtag #bbcnewssite is lighting up with feedback that varies from positive  comments like Stephen Fry’s “Ooh – BBC’s news site is all new. Think I like it.” to rather more disparaging remarks like “Horrible” and complaints about font sizes. Being Twitter, there’s quite a bit of humour in there too. We give it, ooh, about another  hour before someone starts a Facebook group complaining about the redesign and demanding it gets changed back.

For the record, we think it’s really nice revamp. The more prominent video and emphasis on sharing are particularly good. Erik Huggers, Director of BBC Future Media & Technology says in a blog post this morning that external linking will be ramped up on the new site (something the BBC has been criticised about in the past). Although Flash is currently being used for video, this is expected to change to the more accessible HTML5 in the future.

Read next: Google Maps gets direct integration with 20+ car brands.

Shh. Here's some distraction

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