External Links Manager

ELMer is a prototype for automating external linking from BBC News stories.


How can we help the BBC achieve its goal of generating 10 million referrals to local media outlets?

ELMer tool user interface showing recommended links

The goal of ELMer is to introduce automated external link recommendations for BBC News story pages. It launched as a pilot project in the summer of 2016 and is being developed in collaboration with BBC R&D.

We are currently running a trial where journalists select the most appropriate links from suggestions returned by an algorithm developed by BBC R&D IRFS.

We will use multivariate testing to surface these related links on BBC News story pages to compare the performance of the ELMer against our existing recipe-based Moreover solution. We aim to provide more topical onward journey suggestions based on the content of the story.

In time, as we refine our suggestion engine, we hope to make this an automated process.

ELMer sidebar demo

An example of suggested external links recommended by ELMer.

How it Works

ELMer suggests external links based on the content of the story, which it analyses via the ELMer interface. Editors can then select the most relevant links from those returned to include on News story pages.


  • Our pilot concluded that it wouldn’t be worth the expense of replacing the BBC’s existing system.
  • Our experiments inspired future areas of investigation into bringing the best journalism from trusted sources to the attention of BBC audiences.


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