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Blog changes ahead


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Naval [sic] gazing
Naval [sic] gazing
I am planning some changes to the blog in the next week or so. This may lead to some down time and/or a very funny looking blog for a while. Hopefully a short while.

Firstly, I need to mess around with and change the theme as it seems to be doing a few odd things. This will result in some slight cosmetic changes. It should also open the door to doing different post formats in future, which may lead to my posting links and Twitter style very short posts from time to time. I still use the blog as a sort of online legal notebook, and if I post a link to Twitter it is effectively gone forever after about a week. Posting a link to the blog will store it much better for my purposes, and probably for yours too.

More significantly, I intend to introduce a forum. This was an idea I had some time ago but abandoned because of the difficulties in moderating comments. There is only one decent, well used forum for UK immigration lawyers of which I am aware, which is the Refugee Legal Group. Its title somewhat limits its scope, although that doesn’t stop some people asking all sorts of immigration questions there. I also myself find it rather unsatisfactory, although others seem to remain devotees.

To avoid the moderation issue the plan is to make the Free Movement forum a private, members-only affair to which a log in will be required. There will be a sort of approval process and it will be blog regulars, lawyers, academics and, perhaps, students only. Giving immigration advice is potentially a criminal offence and I simply cannot police having the public on a forum in case anyone starts trying to advise them!

I THINK I can manage the technology for this, but won’t really know until I try.

If you have thoughts or suggestions (good idea, bad idea, different forums for different topics, whatever), please do leave a comment here or drop me a line.

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The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.


16 Responses

  1. The RLG does not allow members of the Judiciary to be members. Whilst our ability to comment on discussions is limited, access to the blog, (and I expect the forums) is incredibly useful and I know a number of us read the blog regularly. What will the policy be there?

    1. Hadn’t thought of the judiciary angle. Not averse to it at all but I had heard IJs were discouraged from spending too much time on Free Movement!

  2. I think the forum idea is really good.

    I was actually thinking the other day that it would have been nice if ILPA had a practitioners forum to add to the brilliant stuff they already do but I imagine it would take a lot of work.

    So thumbs up from me :-)

    1. I can edit comments…

      Thanks. That is sort of what I have in mind, but I struggle to see FM forums getting much traction. I can imagine a few hardcore regulars but that wouldn’t make a good forum. The only way to find out is to give it a go, I guess.

  3. Well.. the idea of forum is good but moderating a forum is time consuming for someone of FM’s status. If finally going for it, I think you need to make it a subscription based .

    1. I’m not planning on giving up the day job! I don’t really know how much work would be involved. I sort of assume that moderation would be less onerous where it was ‘members only’. A fee might end up being necessary but I’d like to see if the idea flies before taking anyone’s money for, say, an annual subscription for a deserted, tumble weed strewn forum.

    1. That was sort of the idea of The Closet, but it involves manually creating links, which is a faff and consumes time and effort! The ‘Blog topics’ drop down menu might be more what you are after as it groups posts by topic.

  4. I agree with the idea of introducing a forum, especially if I could join it. ;) (I am a “hobbyist”, not an OISC registered advisor or legally qualified, and am not a UK resident, it being one of several countries whose immigration law interest me.)

    Until fairly recently I had been regularly active on the “UK Resident Immigration Forum”. I won’t post a link, not sure if advertising would be welcome, but one can google it. I post mainly on EEA and citizenship matters, sometimes on spouse entry clearance and FLR(M). Though the countless annexes and appendixes are not exactly a simple bedtime read. I’m not much chop on the PBS or legacy or refugee categories.

    I’m also a moderator there, although that’s at the discretion of the administrator, since I am no longer able to be present regularly. Anyone can register, only a valid email address is required. There are incidents of spam, ads and gibberish which don’t have anything to do with immigration. So occasionally spam posts and spam accounts need to be deleted. Less commonly action needs to be taken because of members abusing each other. Topics in the wrong subforums need to be moved.

    Not being an advisor I have to be careful not to cross the line when posting. And my answer might be wrong, so my signature states openly that I’m not an advisor/solicitor. There may be some posts which constitute providing advice as per the OISC definition, but there are also OISC registered advisors on the board who can advise and who correct misinformation. This is good for me and others, it is an important form of quality control providing correct info and checking that others do to. Most members only ask about their own immigration situation. Regular posters are far fewer and pass on their experiences with the HO and answers which they found when researching and applying themselves etc. Perhaps the most difficult part of moderating involves dealing with members providing incorrect answers as conclusive facts even though they mean well and are otherwise valuable contributors.

    All this is fairly easy most of the time with several moderators so FM if your forum is only for regulars here and your colleagues, students etc., then moderating it probably won’t be an issue.

    Also discussions would likely be quite technichal as everyone will be informed rather than asking “How do I apply for a spouse visa?”. But if the forum could be read by the public, it would still be a valuable resource for interested parties. As is the blog, it provides invaluable information, I’ve linked to your articles many times.

    As a side note, I also find this forum interesting. http://swarb.co.uk/phpbb/ I asked a couple of questions there early last year but have no personal interest in advertising it, hence the link, please remove it if it’s not welcome. Interesting though is that anyone can register, but many of the regulars have legal qualifications.

    1. Thanks, that is all food for thought. The idea of having moderators and so on sort of fills me with dread, but I suppose that if the forums were successful then all that would be necessary.

  5. Just to make clear (someone emailed me about this) I’m not suggesting closing off the blog to public access, just adding a new ‘layer’, a forum, which would be log in only.

    1. I don’t think so, I think I would make it private and accessible to ‘members’ only. The idea is to create a progressive and liberal space for discussion and I think that is best achieved by restricting access. The main blog would continue in its current publicly accessible form, though.