Direct links from the BBC to DEC

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 9 January 2005

On Thursday bbc.co.uk played a part in a further appeal for donations to aid the victims of the tsunami in Asia.

bbc.co.uk homepage with an appeal to help victims of the tsunami in Asia as the main promo

This is the first time the main homepage promo on bbc.co.uk has carried a link through to an external organisation. Well, sort of. In fact, we didn't link directly through, but made an interstitial page that forwarded the user onto the DEC site. No doubt from the outside this seems exceptionally cautious, but I still remember a time when we wouldn't even link to beeb.net or BBC Worldwide sites without a disclaimer and an interstitial. There were a several factors in the decision.

Firstly, it is BBC policy to have a disclaimer on any page with external links to state that the BBC is not responsible for the content of external URLs. We don't have that disclaimer on the homepage, and we were anxious to avoid a situation where we had to pull the promo or re-write it at the last moment if breaching that policy became a show-stopper.

Secondly, it makes it easier for us to track the accuracy of our click-through stats, and once the logfiles are collated we will be able to tell exactly how many people we directed to the online appeal site.

Lastly we noticed that the huge demand that has been placed on dec.org.uk had caused it to be unavailable, however briefly, on several occasions during the week. We didn't want to link directly to a service that might not respond during busy periods. The interstitial also gave us the flexibility, if the DEC site was down for a considerable length of time, to have a space to state that the service was busy so please try the phone number. Fortunately this didn't happen.

On Friday we followed up the appeal by making changes to the Asia Quake Disaster panel underneath the main promo space - and currently the page is hosting a permanent link to www.dec.org.uk.

Panel from the bbc.co.uk homepage linking through to information about the  tsunami in Asian, and through to the DEC appeal site

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