Having heard that one of the producers involved with the BBC’s Bang Goes the Theory believes that virtually all science blogging is rubbish, I was expecting great things from the programme’s website. After all, they would be aiming for much higher standards than all the rubbish science blogs. Sadly, I was disappointed.
Firstly, the homepage is not accessible to people using screen readers and similar. There is, for example, no ‘alt’ text for images such as the ‘magnetic cow’, or for the moving text box at the top of the screen. Web accessibility is not a new idea, and it is a shame that the BBC has failed to make this site accessible.
Secondly, the show’s blog is rather unimpressive. It is not updated in timely fashion (no-one has yet said whether the ‘big contraption’ worked as designed yesterday). The content is also unimpressive: it is easy to follow, but there is very little substantive discussion of science. It seems like there may also be issues with user engagement: there have been four comments this month, one of which has been removed by moderators and one of which seems to be from the programme team.
Thirdly, and importantly, the site makes it hard to find out about the science behind the programme. While the team have ran and filmed a big, spectacular contraption, I haven’t been able to find details of the science behind this on the website. It may be there – but one shouldn’t have to trawl through tens of pages in order to find this type of information about a science programme (most users will do as I did, and admit defeat before finding this information). The BBC do provide a link to a better Open University site, but just providing a link does not ameliorate the problems with the BBC’s own site.
We are very much in favour of good science communication – online, and on TV. It is, therefore, a real shame that the BBC did not do better with online elements of Bang Goes the Theory. Maybe they should have asked some science bloggers for assistance?