NASA Buzzroom Is Broken. Please Fix It. (Updated with SOMD Response)

Keith's note: Yesterday I made note of a broken website - NASA Buzzroom's video page. One feature of this site is to grab videos posted on YouTube - automatically - and post them on a webpage and add a comment feature. Nice idea - it lets people see what others think about NASA. One small problem - humans are not in the loop at NASA. At one point I found a video that had been on for weeks that depicted a bloody lynching and featured a non-stop stream of profanity. NASA eventually got around to deleting it - once I complained (Google cached version).

I complained about lots of other videos that simply had no reason whatsoever to be on a taxpayer-funded space agency website. Eventually, once someone at NASA saw these videos mentioned by me, they were removed. This process seems to be working backwards. I find these videos simply by looking at the video page. NASA deletes them - but only when I make public note of their location. The NASA folks seem to be utterly incapable of making a decision as to what is in appropriate on their own - or identifying inappropriate videos that have been on their site for weeks (or longer). Nor are they able to fix the problem inherent in this website's design in the first place. Given the way they set up this site, it would seem that no one in SOMD's crack Internet squad ever tested this website before putting it online.

To compound things, they simply take videos off of their webpage because one person (me) complains. That's not right. As such, they clearly don't have any established guidelines for removal of videos either.

Right now a clip from the notoriously horrid Howard the Duck from the 1980s is gracing a page. It is harmless but pointless when it comes to space exploration. The NASA SOMD Internet guys will eventually delete it (this is the video on YouTube). But they will only delete it because I complained. FAIL.

Curiously, while NASA told me - officially - that the NASA lawyers had told them - that they could not link to this rather popular video "NASA - The Frontier Is Everywhere" that went viral a month or so ago, this NASA Buzzroom website links to it. So ... there is a bright side to the way this page works. Too bad the people who run this site do not take its design or upkeep seriously.

Pseudoscience and Profane Videos Featured Online at, earlier post

Keith's update: Beth Beck from SOMD sent me this in response to an inquiry as to how content is approve for posting on NASA Buzzroom. She is responsible for this page at The full exchange is below. In a nutshell whoever is responsible for this website is incompetent and should be relieved of this responsibility. You see, this is the sort of material that the current process allows to be posted and approved:

Beth Beck: "Regarding the Buzzroom content collection process: The website automatically pulls content through social media aggregation tools under the following conditions:

* Directly originated from the official accounts: @nasa, @Lori_Garver, @StationCDRKelly, @Astro_Flow, @Astro_Cady, @Astro_Ron or @ShuttleCDRKelly (tweeters at the top box)
* Containing one of the words: nasa, nasatweetup, nasaed or nasatech.

The existing filtering system provides some limited filtering of incoming data that meets these criteria. Filtering is intended to remove r out tweets that are profane or have letters that aren't in the English alphabet.

There is no posting of info other than tweeting from the top box on the front page. NASA personnel review the content of the site, pull down content that is offensive, and update the filters as we see a problem. We had been in the process of considering other solutions involving a potential moderation interface and a popup box to explain the Buzzroom process, and will continue to review potential improvements. This is a collection site to gather the conversation in one place, not a place for creating new official NASA content which would require editorial review. We don't have editors who review twitter accounts, at this time, though that could change as time goes by."

My response: "The website that you are responsible for allowed a video to be posted on a web page that feature a graphic of an African American male with a noose around his neck with blood dripping down - and obtained substantial profanity and racial slurs. Your team then let it sit there for weeks until I complained - and then did not take it down for hours after you were informed. The original page was posted here.

A cached version of that page is here - a screen grab is here

Your response is incomplete and farcical to say the least since the process you describe allows such objectionable material to be posted and reviewed and approved. That means that this video was APPROVED for posting by your process. How on God's Earth could such a video EVER be approved? Whoever is responsible for this website is incompetent and should be relieved of this responsibility. That appears to be you."

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on March 4, 2011 7:00 AM.

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