Following a presentation Angela Beesley and Jimmy Wales made to staff at the BBC in August 2004, they were invited to spend two weeks at the BBC offices in Bush House, London in November. The two weeks were spent presenting Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects, along with the MediaWiki software they run on, and the principles of free-content and open communities to a range of staff across many divisions of the BBC. They spoke to around 150 people, a very small fraction of the 27,000 people who work for the BBC. The presentations varied according to whether they felt the division could benefit from using Wikipedia content or whether they should be creating their own communities to create content for the BBC website.
In terms of linking to Wikipedia, Jimmy and Angela discussed the Producers Guidelines with the search department, and with the editorial policy department, so see if there were reasons the BBC could not recommend Wikipedia pages in their search engine. An outdated page in the search department's wiki suggested a "three click rule" might prevent this, but the more recent guidelines suggested this shouldn't be a problem.
Following a presentation about Wikimedia's projects to the online News department, the questions focused almost exclusively on the recently launched Wikinews projects, with many queries about how it would be policed and how it could be trusted. It was explained that the site was currently focusing on making summaries of existing news sources, rather than original reporting.
For the presentation to the Radio and Music department, there was a mock up of how Wikipedia content would look on the site, compared to the existing content the BBC licenses from Muze.
Later, there was much discussion about the differences between the h2g2 and Wikipedia communities, and how the top-down processes used on the BBC site could be reduced.
During the first week at the BBC, Paula LeDieu came to discuss the Creative Archive. This archive incorporates all of the BBC's archived television and radio footage, which is planned for release under a Creative Commons licence. The licence is going to be non-commercial, and potentially only for use within the UK. Since the BBC is not the rights holder to much of the content, the difficulties of getting people to agree to a free licence is one of the reasons for the choice of a non-commercial use licence.
The Sport department appeared the most keen on making use of Wikipedia content, and also in forming communities of their own. They want to have more content on minority sports, and were interested to learn how this could be done more cost effectively by allowing fans of these sports to add the content via wikis.
The People's War site is due to close its doors to editing. We discussed with the people working on this what their plans for the site would be when the project finished. Although contributors of the stories hosted on the site agreed to the BBC's terms and conditions which allow the BBC to sublicense the content, it was felt that releasing it under the GFDL and potentially having the content used in inappropriate ways would be unacceptable to the community. Alternatives proposed included keeping the existing stories static, but allowing the community to continue building around the site, adding metadata and factual information related to the stories.