Some of the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forum's bark was inappropriate, and now branches will reopen in stages. The adverse publicity won't derail BBC's potential sale of Lonely Planet, but it won't help it either.
Nearly two weeks after the BBC shuttered the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree travel forum because of inappropriate comments, the company says it will begin to re-open portions of the forum “over the next few days.”
In a notice posted on the forum homepage January 4, Lonely Planet says “we’ll be will be reopening Thorn Tree branches over the coming month, beginning with a number of our destination-related branches over the next few days.”
The BBC closed the forum around Christmas amidst reports that it took the action because of sexually related threads and other inappropriate language.
In its fourth update about the outage, Lonely Planet says it is “sorry” for the delay in re-opening the popular travel forum, but “felt it was important that any inappropriate content was removed and that we could put in place some additional moderation to prevent certain types of language and themes appearing again on Thorn Tree.”
Cleaning up the rogue threads and incorporating a new moderation system is apparently taking some time.
A BBC spokesperson has said that in the past the forum was moderated “reactively,” and this obviously wasn’t sufficient.
If the BBC is indeed looking to sell Lonely Planet or is seeking an investor, the Thorn Tree tempest certainly won’t throw that process off track, but it also doesn’t help.