After collecting some feedback from our readers and other defence commentators, we’ve decided to make some changes.

The UK Defence Journal started in 2014 and hasn’t changed much, despite the reach of this platform growing significantly in that time. It’s time for a change.

First of all, who are we?

Our name is important to who we want to be, the Oxford English Dictionary defines a ‘Journal’ as: A newspaper or magazine that deals with a particular subject or professional activity”.

I personally believe that we can work harder towards meeting that definition in a more professional way, despite being volunteers. We pride ourselves on being a team of volunteers, we’re not paid or funded by anyone.

Our team is composed of defence professionals, cyber security and international relations graduates, serving and former military personnel, industry specialists as well as everyday military and defence enthusiasts.

We’re not a company and we’re not a business, we’re a loose association of writers putting work into the blog as and when we have the time to do so. The UK Defence Journal has no affiliation to any party or political group, our members are drawn from across the political spectrum.

What is the purpose of the UK Defence Journal?

We want to provide daily, accurate news articles and we want to explain why that news matters in the grand scheme of things. We also want to publish topical, high quality and well researched analysis pieces.

We want these articles to be accessible to Joe Public, as informing the public on defence matters is our primary aim.

In addition to the website, we’re also looking into resuming our quarterly download of properly formatted and edited articles, our own little journal if you will. This however is dependant on the time it takes to produce.

What are the issues and how are they going to be fixed?

We were often rightfully criticised for relying on press releases for our news articles, which in and of itself isn’t wrong however we would often provide only the bare of minimum commentary (if any) and not elaborate upon why the information matters, which is poor practice and very unprofessional. This will change, we’ll be going for quality over quantity and limiting the number of articles published per day to ensure commentary can be added at an appropriate depth and to ensure we do not become a press release echo chamber.

We’ll also be focusing more on investigating stories and following up tips, building on success we’ve had in the past by breaking news stories that received nationwide attention.

Our habit of arguing with people on Twitter has also been reflecting poorly on our image. This will stop and instead become the domain of accounts created to correct defence myths and misconceptions.

Many have also pointed out we have a lack of writers, with most of the content being written by one or two people. While we do have a team of close to 10 people, the volunteer nature of submissions means they come in sporadically. To try and fix this, we’ll be putting out more calls for writers and making submissions easier, including a new set of submission guidelines and a house style guide to cut down on the editing time.

A common suggestion we receive on how best to improve the website is the return of articles featuring image galleries and video clips, that’s easy to do and will now return.

Summary

A quick summary of our objectives that will be followed by myself and the whole team have been agreed and follow below.

  1. Our first objective is that a wider group of writers will publish daily news articles with more analysis and opinion built in to them, as well as making sure we follow up tips and leads.
  2. The second objective is for the team to publish more lengthy and in-depth analysis articles on topical issues.
  3. The third objective is for the submissions process to be easier, making it clearer what we can and cannot publish.
  4. The fourth objective is for our social media accounts to behave more professionally, arguing with trolls will stop.
  5. The fifth objective is to remain politically neutral and only comment on events, such as referendums, when it’s directly defence related.

Thank you to all who helped advise on this matter, your suggestions have been truly appreciated and will be followed closely.

59 COMMENTS

  1. Well done George. Really appreciate all the hard work you and the team put in, look forward to seeing the new look UKDF

    • i think the site is commendable and the informed posts from the ‘techies’ sheds light on areas may have little understanding of. i’d like a bit more banter, but as long as it doesn’t get abusive, political(don’t mention corbyn)!!!! i’d also prefer some of the headlines to change more often. other than that, i ‘d say well done to all for such a well run site i always enjoy reading ‘carry on!!

  2. Firstly, thanks for all that you do. This is one of my most frequently visited sites and I think you’re already doing a great “job” (maybe the wrong word given you just explained the setup and that you don’t get paid!).

    Since you’re considering the future I wonder whether you have given any thought to linking to a forum for comments rather than the current setup. One example of this in practice is a site such as macrumors (https://www.macrumors.com/). They have a pretty big and active forum which I realise might be way too much work, but if you go to any of the articles and click on the comments link on the left of the grey bar at the bottom of each article you will see that it takes you to a thread created specifically to host comments on that article.

    If you adopted that approach, i.e. only the comments-on-articles section of the Macrumors forum, then only you could create threads (you would create a new comments thread for each new article that you post) so your moderation overhead wouldn’t be any greater than it is now. It might also reduce your web site costs. There are well-respected and widely used free packages for managing forums (e.g. phpBB – https://www.phpbb.com/) and you might save money on bandwidth (depending on how you pay for bandwidth) because right now whenever anyone loads an article it loads all the comments whether they are going to look at them or not whereas having a macrumors-like link to a comments thread would mean that only those people who click on the comments link would load any comments.

    SUch a forum-hosted comments scheme could also enhance the user experience by speeding up page load times for the articles themselves and by allowing people to edit out typos in comments that they post.

    • Apologies for this double post. The two links in my original post above must have put it into moderation rather than blocking it completely and by the time it was approved I had already re-posted the same thing below.

  3. Repost – too many links so comment doesn’t seem to be posting (ironically)….

    Firstly, thanks for all that you do. This is one of my most frequently visited sites and I think you’re already doing a great “job” (maybe the wrong word given you just explained the setup and that you don’t get paid!).

    Since you’re considering the future I wonder whether you have given any thought to linking to a forum for comments rather than the current setup. One example of this in practice is a site such as macrumors (https://www.macrumors.com/). They have a pretty big and active forum which I realise might be way too much work, but if you go to any of the articles and click on the comments link on the left of the grey bar at the bottom of each article you will see that it takes you to a thread created specifically to host comments on that article.

    If you adopted that approach, i.e. only the comments-on-articles section of the Macrumors forum, then only you could create threads (you would create a new comments thread for each new article that you post) so your moderation overhead wouldn’t be any greater than it is now. It might also reduce your web site costs. There are well-respected and widely used free packages for managing forums and you might save money on bandwidth (depending on how you pay for bandwidth) because right now whenever anyone loads an article it loads all the comments whether they are going to look at them or not whereas having a macrumors-like link to a comments thread would mean that only those people who click on the comments link would load any comments.

    Such a forum-hosted comments scheme could also enhance the user experience by speeding up page load times for the articles themselves and by allowing people to edit out typos in comments that they post.

    • Love UKDJ.

      Shame about the Troll Trolling stopping tho – you did it so well and IMHO a necessary pushback in an era of so much fake news.

      Anyway, will continue to enjoy the journal and the discussions that go on which I find just as interesting and valuable.

    • (Chris H) David – The danger with that is that a disagreement on subject matter can be turned into something else and then that person becomes judge and jury. Sorry but I think a moderating system is by far the most fair way to manage a public forum. When someone posts something that is off topic and personal we can all see it and make our own judgments.

      I am not sure an edit function after someone has posted is good either. Because people like to quote others in argument and if that is then edited out it makes a farce of the debate. We can always add an extra comment in explanation as you did when your copy / paste function developed a mind of its own the other day …

      • Some sites running forum-based comments implement a feature where edits are allowed by the author for only a few minutes after posting and then a post is locked to all except a moderator. It’s a standard feature of phpBB for instance. To me that would be the good compromise allowing people to edit out obvious typos (and it seems to me that it’s almost always within seconds or minutes of posting that people tend to post follow ups to their original posts with corrections and/or “sorry for the typos” apologies) vs the undesirable feature of giving people the ability to go back and edit reality hours or days afterwards.

      • I am only passing through here. I am just offering my experience of online communities that pre-dates the Internet by a good few years.

        • (Chris H) David – You have said this before and I am intrigued how you got ‘online’ before the Internet (or rather the World Wide Web). Not challenging you just, as I say, intrigued. My earliest experience of ‘direct access’ was from Stockbrokers and Building Societies who had individual telephone lines to banks of GPO Modems that were the size of a PC Tower set these days accessing Centrefile’s IBM 360 / 40 and 50 mainframes. And I am pretty sure Intel’s internal email system was one of the first and I implemented that as EIS manager.

          • Being a gamer Chris (hence my name on here) i know there was online gaming communities for some multiplayer pc games in the 80’s like air warrior.

            And I’m pretty sure emails and “online” chats within companies started in the 70’s?

          • (Chris H) Solesurvivor – Quite possibly but I guess I am querying the phrase ‘Online before the Internet’. Maybe those gamers were on dial up direct line to each other? And how did those gamers as a community connect with each other before 1989 and the invention of HTTP and the WWW. As I said I was pretty up to speed on mainframe high capacity computers and we never referred to clients accessing our files directly via a modem as ‘online’. The system was called ‘Real Time’ but there was no network or point to point connections. Just one on one if you will.

            Again I am not challenging anyone just intrigued given my background in computers. I started in 1969 in an era of 80 column tab cards, card and punched tape readers, banks of disc and tape drives and panels full of flashing lights you had to interpret using binary and hexadecimal when it all ‘fell over’. And clattering golfball typewriters you used to control the beast! JCL, COBOL and Assembler will be relics most people will never have heard of!

          • Yeah they had to be a subscriber to the GEnie service, it would of been dial up direct to each others modems.

            I think it’s a case of definition of what anyone would call “online” my definition is probably the same as yours, online is HTTP and WWW, but I suppose if you think of gamers back in the day in their hundreds playing a game a fellow user would either be “online” or “offline” in playing a game with someone possibly thousands of miles away.

            Either way I can’t see where David is coming from because we have established that people supposedly being “online” before the internet is either small gaming communities or companies who can connect to each other internally through a modem, so I don’t see how he would have experienced a “fruit loop ruining a site like this” because there were no sites like this before HTTP and WWW, and i’m pretty sure I have never heard of a rogue employee or gamer bringing down a company or ruining a game for being a fruit loop in the local chat system.

            Fascinated in your history of working with computers, I’m massively into computers and tech myself, I can only imagine the experience of going through tech in the late 60’s to the touchscreens and virtual worlds of today. It’s amazing to think that those examples you give like punched tape would of been thought of as the cutting edge of tech then, imagine what people 50 years from now will be saying about ipads etc.

  4. It seems an appropriate moment to express my appreciation for UKDJ team (without it getting too gushy). This Journal is my first port of call for defence news.
    The quality of the publication is proffesional which is only made that more special because it’s run by volunteers.
    Thank you all for your efforts.

  5. (Chris H) Well done everyone at UKDJ. You people provide a valuable and informative platform for the wider defence audience – some of whom are serving or have served, others who are in or have been in the industry side and those who are just keen students of matters defence and manufacturing industry. I fall into a couple of these categories!

    The changes you have planned can only improve what is already an excellent Journal and will hopefully remove some of the repetitions we as readers see but understand given the volunteer nature of those delivering various articles.

    Best wishes for your ambitions. You have my full support.

  6. To echo some of the comment above I think you guys are doing a wonderful job and UKDJ is my favourite site. A few comments-I quote and recommend you often especially in the Press comment section on Defence related articles, as being the premier site for the REAL story so Quality is already here. As important as is the former I don’t think you should reduce the quantity to make the article 100%. The quantity is necessary to stimulate debate and the standard of 90% of it on these forums is really high. We all come from different backgrounds-I have specific defence and history interests with some quasi Military/Law enforcement background. I am constantly amazed at the depth of knowledge of many of those who exchange views and information here. All the best for the future and more strength to your Arms Regards Geoff( a young 70 year old next year)

  7. For one awful moment I thought your headline was a precursor to announce closure. Thank heavens it is not.

    This is my first port of call each morning (you can take the man out of the RAF but not the RAF out of the man – 33 years service) for all defence news particularly Air. Thank you for all your hard work in the past to keep us informed and I look forward to the future of the UK Defence Journal.

  8. Many thanks to all who run the UKDJ for the hard work you guys put in.

    An editing function would be appreciated including a delete function as well. A time limit of say 1hr after posting will allow us to amend any errors made and make the site look more professional overall.

    Keep up the good work!

  9. Yes, this is a fantastic site and is also my first port of call for defence stuff. Many congratulations to all the volunteers and their hard work.

    Breaking news and in-depth articles will be great. One thing also I would suggest is some sort of joined-up, blue sky strategic thinking-type of articles and discussions. My fear is that in the UK we are not very good at that, so some vehicle to explore those issues would be useful and who knows – maybe our Government or senior military will pick up on one or two ideas?

  10. Keep up the good work, it is appreciated by the vast majority of your readers.

    Definitely the right move to stop arguing with the Twitterati armchair generals

  11. Had me worried with that headline, But its nice to see its a good news story keep up the good work folks its appreciated.

    Jas…

  12. I rather like the “raw fact” nature of the articles. As soon as “analysis” is added it may well appear like opinion which then draws out disagreements and arguments.

    Anyway, keep up the excellent work. UKDJ is currently my “go to” site for defence related news.

    • Keep the press releases but mark them as “minimal edit/press release”. Then you can add articles that have extra content as “opinion” articles or add section titled “explainers” big lijd the guardian site does.

  13. Very good. The site has improved a lot since I started coming here. It’s now a mandatory daily read for me.

    Thank you.

  14. i would also like to suggest the addition of a proper forum for ongoing discussions…. tho i dont know if that’s an option…

  15. Keep up the good work, my personal suggestions as a user:

    1) edit function for comments, just for the poster and time limited so I can sort out all my typos.
    2) what about a weekly topic based discussion thread,you have a lot of active posters who love to umm “debate”, throw em a weekly discussion thread step back and enjoy the healthy debate ( OK carnage).

  16. Love this site , as is so impartial but so informative , please keep up the good work and carry on your legacy!

  17. Its become a daily read/check for this crab 😛

    “Our habit of arguing with people on Twitter has also been reflecting poorly on our image. This will stop and instead become the domain of accounts created to correct defence myths and misconceptions.”

    Indeed but nothing wrong with calmly refuting such claims 🙂

  18. I must say that I find the site is daily read and as far as I can see the best available. In addition to the changes I would like to see a slightly more balanced content covering all the services. I must confess that I have bias towards naval matters which have been well covered but there does seem to be a lack of army articles and to a lesser extent raf articles.

    I would just also add that a few of my posts haven’t appeared and it would be nice to have feedback as to why.

    Otherwise please keep up the great work

  19. Yeah I echo the comments above, Its the best U.K. based defence website without question.

    I think a very close second to the content is the contribution from posters, although it can get a bit choppy at times on the most part it’s packed full of knowledge and insight with a bit of banter thrown in, it’s good fun most days, I think some credit for the community is deserved, as in my eyes on a lot of articles the comments section is the place to be for insight.

    As a user, my suggestions would be a like button underneath comments, then the most liked comments appear first.

    Also if this kind of system is not within your budget then a donation option could be an idea, I’m pretty sure the regular contributors here would not mind chipping in here and there to help with a better user friendly webpage.

  20. Being a little harsh on yourself there, mate. I concur with others on this thread – UKDJ is a go to site for me. Compared to other blogs, I find the brevity and pace of your articles a major draw (if I wanted a multi-instalment ’in depth’ commentary in mexiflotes, I’d buy a book!) Keep up the great work and remember a blog is supposed to be just that; insightful, punchy and full of short, diverse reads!

  21. This is the best ‘Journal ‘ that I have found and is a must every day after work. Keep up the good work. Thanks for all you do.

  22. Don’t comment much on this site but I do visit it every day. The comment by Chris H caught my eye, I started work on computers in 1965 and remember the punched cards, punch tape readers etc. My speciality was Radar Data Processing and fondly remember a 12 inch 1 megabyte hard drive in a box as big as a suitcase and the Tape Readers that filled a very large room. Everything then for me was binary and hexadecimal, but I later moved onto Pascal and Basic.
    Back on track and topic, this site is great as it stands, but would like it to be more forum based with topics so we can have ongoing discussions.
    Keep up the good work and thanks

  23. I really enjoy your content and commitment to neutrality – it really makes a difference to me. I look forward to your articles in the future.

  24. It’s the site I use to find out what’s going on, and sometimes progress from with a bit of research. Comments from other posters are useful info too.

    Yeah, I too was worried it was closing or something!

  25. This site is one of my top daily reads, but I have to admit to skimming most front page stories and moving to the comments. Some opinion added, rather than just publishing the official story would add a lot of value. In an era of cost and capability cuts, anything including a new way of cutting bread is given an official sorry like it’s the second coming of defence gear, and some push back / reality check to that is very needed, especially if it can be done without an underlying political tone like most of the main stream papers.

  26. This is a highly valued defence site in regards to myself, and I understand the need to cover costs, but the amount of adverts and placement of them is really annoying. I did assume they covered journalist costs, but if all contributors are free, then it’s merely domain name and hosting charges to cover? Alternatives?
    Other Points:
    * REPEATED NEWS ARTICLES
    I’m not objecting to this as i may have missed the original release, perhaps a section that just links to the source as an interest story?
    * IMAGES AND GRAPHICS
    I’m a visual learner and when someone is talking about a story relating to a new design, a new type of something, progress on a ship build, then please let’s see it. More images, infographics, cutaways, statistic charts would be very much appreciated. Maybe a downloadable PDF here and there. I notice stock images used here and there too. Please use only when others aren’t available. A story of a ship doing some huge mission accompanied with a stock image of the ship alongside is an anticlimax.
    * DEFENCE REVIEW
    a reoccurring annual feature that looks at a branch of our military and discusses its fit for purpose role in depth. The author of “British warships and auxiliaries” does this for the navy. This site could have writers do it for all branches.
    * THREAT ANALYSIS
    A reoccurring feature that pops up when a new foreign military releases a new piece of equipment, new role, new base or gesture/policy. An expert could review it, give opinions, voice our ability to counter it.

  27. BIG Thank you to UKDJ for all you do. I think you’re doing a great job as you are.

    3rd party comments sites are a big turn off for me. Our local newspaper went over to them c. 6 months ago & in all that time I’ve only ever seen 1 person comment & that once. We trust the sites we use & adding another from nowhere with new passwords & data gathering etc just wastes our time.
    From that experience it appears most people are put off.

  28. This has been my daily read for several weeks now. Your news articles are sometimes days, even weeks ahead of other internet defence news websites. so, in other words, you have been doing great, and keep up the good work. I sure the new measures taken will only continue to make UKDJ an excellent defence news journal.

  29. BZ to the volunteers that make UKDJ such an enjoyable and facinating read. We should not be afraid of robust debate. I think Churchill said something like “The best arguments are those where both sides are partially right.”

  30. Ditto a lot of the Above. Beating off the Trolls is a necessary ‘evil’ else the gullible will take the rubbish they spout as Fact rather than Fake. I would like to see an occasional delve into the Major Projects Authority/Lists to highlight slippages and overruns the Acquisition Community try to keep under the Public Radar like, inter alia, ‘Watchkeeper’. UKDJ can be that Radar and in many instances is already. Just pose questions they don’t want to be asked, require answers and draw attention to non-responses. Loved the article on the Next Tank for the Army but would have liked the question of a need for such Top-Attack fodder to be posed as air-launched smart ATMs become more widespread. We don’t have the heavy-lift to shift these heavyweights; with a Expeditionary Strategy, lighter and more manoeuvrable, air/sea transportable Tank Destroyers need to be considered. Just musing on what UKDJ can continue to bring to the Party and release suppressed debate. There is a Market for UKDJ. Keep up the good work guys. Bravo Zulu.

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