Old Announcements: 2003

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This is where you can find h2g2 announcements from 2003. For the latest developments, check out the Announcements Page.

Announcements Index

19 December, 2003: Staff Coverage Over Christmas and New Year

With Christmas approaching, we realised that we won't be in the office quite as much as usual. We'll still be able to monitor the site and help out where possible, but messages sent to any of our feedback addresses may not be answered within the normal time-frame.

These are the days that a staffmember will be around:

  • Monday 22 December
  • Monday 29 December
  • Tuesday 30 December
  • Friday 2 January - and then as normal

Moderation will continue as normal, but if you mail us directly during this time we'll get back to you on our return.

We'd like to wish you all a happy Christmas and very best wishes for 2004!

29 October, 2003: New Wallpapers exclusive to h2g2

Just in time for Halloween, we're proud to unveil three new desktop wallpapers, designed exclusively for h2g2 by Community Artists Wotchit and Amy the Ant. You can download them here.

Be warned. They're not suitable for people scared of spiders, bright glowing faces or rampaging smileys. Be afraid... be very afraid...

13 October, 2003: Single Sign-on Registration System Launched

The new BBCi registration system, as announced last week, has now been launched, so the next time you login you will need to migrate your account to the new system.

When you try to access DNA following the upgrade you will have to log in using the new system. You should use your existing login details - it will migrate your details, asking for some extra information, and you'll then be logged in with your existing DNA identity and U-number.

If you have any questions, or would like more information about the new registration system please do not post them here but read the Single Sign-On Registration page at http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/hub/A1325387.

8 October, 2003: DNA Server Downtime Advance Notice

On Monday 13 October the DNA servers will be down for approximately 4 hours, possibly longer. The downtime is planned to start at approximately 1300hrs GMT. All DNA Communities will be unavailable during this time.

We're still in testing, so if serious bugs are found between now and Monday which would prevent us upgrading, we will postpone things for two days, until Wednesday 15th. We'll make an announcement on Monday morning if this is what is going to happen.

The downtime is so that a new registration system can be implemented on DNA, which we've called Single Sign-On (SSO). Eventually the same registration system will be used across the entire BBC, which means that you will be able to use the same login and identity on Connector, the messageboards, chat and so on.

When you try to login following the upgrade you will have to do so via the new system. You should use your existing login details - it will migrate your details, asking for some extra information, and you'll then be logged in with your existing DNA identity and U-number.

If you have any questions, or would like more information about the new registration system please do not post them here but read the Single Sign-On Registration page at http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/hub/A1325387.

25 September, 2003: h2g2 - Back to Business - Addendum!

As part of the changes to h2g2 outlined earlier in the week, we explained that the number of full-time staff working on h2g2 would be reduced to two. The full announcement is here: A1297280.

However, many of you did the maths and realised that the numbers didn't add up just yet. So, it's with a mixture of sadness and pride that we announce that the redoubtable and wonderful Mina has been invited to share her considerable community skills elsewhere on BBCi.

To read Mina's own announcement, then visit The Post. In the meantime, we'd like to thank her for being so great and wish her all the very best in her new role. Mina!

The h2g2 Team

22 September, 2003: h2g2 - Back to Business:

We return, refreshed from our brief break - and we'd like to announce a few changes around the place. Some of these changes are more noticeable than others, but for full details please visit the following page.

If you'd like to ask any questions about the changes we'd be grateful if you ask them on the Entry itself, rather than beneath this thread, as this will make it easier for us to keep track of and answer your questions.

For now, we'd like to leave you with the age-old h2g2 advice and offer for your patience over the past two weeks.

The h2g2 Team

8 September 2003: h2g2 is Changing...

BBCi has recently been assessing the ways in which it supports its audiences. One of our key objectives is to make sure that high-quality content and services are provided to as many BBCi visitors and Community members as is possible. In order to grow and develop new areas, we plan to reduce staffing levels in some of the more well-established areas in order to enable growth and development in others, as well as to enable staff to share and develop their expertise across the BBC.

What this all means is that there are going to be some changes to h2g2. As a mature and established Community, h2g2 is well-suited to being run with fewer permanent team members. As a result, the number of staff members working within the h2g2 Community is going to be reduced from six to two full-time staff members at any one time. This change in staffing levels is going to be introduced over the next few months.

Since we're reorganising the internal structure of the team, we've decided to review the organisation and structure of h2g2 overall. To enable this, we're taking a short break from today (8 September, 2003), so that we can spend some time working behind the scenes considering modifications and improvements.

During this reorganisation period, no new Edited Entries will be processed and we won't be entering into discussions on site. You'll undoubtedly see us in the 'Who's Online' window from time to time, as we'll need to access the editorial tools, but while we're working on the changes we won't be posting to the site or answering questions. Moderation issues will continue to be handled as usual.

After this break, the team will put up an announcement detailing some of the ideas developed during the break, and the Community will be invited to discuss them and give feedback.

Although no new Edited Guide Entries will appear until 22 September, University Entries and a Talking Point will be featured on the Front Page during this time.

Apologies for the interruption to your surfing. We'll see you all when we get back on the 22 September.

The h2g2 Team

31 July 2003: Anna's Leaving

I hate to say this, but I'll get straight to it: I'm leaving my role on h2g2. I'll still be at the BBC (doing some product development) and certainly on h2g2, but not in an official capacity.

I'll be leaving the editorial office of h2g2 a week today, which isn't much time, so it's just as well I don't like long goodbyes! The other thing that you should know is that I'm not going to be replaced.

I'm very sorry to go, it's been a huge priviledge to work with you all and with Sam, Ashley, Abi, Mina, Natalie and Jim over the past (nearly) four years. (But am very pleased and excited about my new job also!)

See you around onsite!


24 July, 2003: Suitability of Content on h2g2

Following recent decisions to remove a number of pieces of edited and non-edited content, and the ensuing discussions, we've come to the decision that further guidance on the suitability of some of the content might be useful to Researchers.

Ultimately, the h2g2 Editors and the BBC are responsible for the content on this site, and the final decision must rest with them. However, we'd value your input in defining a framework around which we can establish some guidelines. We hope that these guidelines, once they've been created, can offer some basic parameters regarding the type of subject areas which might be more likely to be failed.

This doesn't mean that every Entry within a particular content type will be failed, it's just that Entries within areas we consider to be high risk will be subject to greater scrutiny and may be removed, at the discretion of the BBC.

In order to stimulate an ordered discussion around this topic, we've created an entry with more details. Please join in the discussions as we value your input in helping us move forward on this issue.

1 July, 2003: Robbie Stamp & the Hitchhiker's Movie

So will there be a new movie version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? The h2g2 Editors have asked Robbie Stamp, one of the founders of h2g2 and a close friend of Douglas, to give us his perspective. Read his exclusive initial comments on this exciting project.

25 June, 2003: University of Life to Close

It is with a heavy heart that we're closing the University - we will not be taking any more submissions from Monday 30 June 2003. We haven't been able to give the scheme the attention it deserves and we'd like to concentrate our efforts on entries that have come in via Peer Review. We are not ruling out the possibility that we might open it again sometime in the future, but at the moment it's not possible to predict when or if this might happen.

However, we do not want to lose the tremendous work that has been going on in the University and starting from Monday, we will be featuring finished projects on the Front Page, and the Researchers involved will be getting Field Researcher badges. As for works currently in progress, it will be a number of weeks before we can get all the finished projects on the Front Page, and so by the time you've finished them, there may well be a slot free on the Front Page. We do not have a definite date for the end of the current queue (although it will be a minimum of six weeks), so the sooner your projects are finished, subbed and submitted to us, the more chance you have of getting your entries into the Edited Guide as a project. The first week that we do not have a project for the Front Page (ie we come to the end of the queue of projects) will be the week that the University finally closes its doors.

Many thanks for all the endeavours of everyone involved, please don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions. We cannot give a definite date for the closure, as that depends on the amount of suitable, finished projects that we receive over the coming weeks.

2 June, 2003: Amendment to House Rules

We have, following discussions with the h2g2 Community (click here for an example), amended the House Rules slightly in order to more easily deal with new accounts that sign up only to flood the site with hundreds of postings to the same or different threads. This will not affect previously-active Researchers, only those who are purely flooding the site.

In cases of this type we will immediately restrict the account temporarily. If the Researcher has given a functioning email address, we will send them an official warning explaining that their account will remain restricted unless they send us a return email in which they agree to abide by the House Rules. If the email address does not work, we will post a similar message to the Researcher’s Personal Space asking them to write to the h2g2 Feedback email address. Should they return and repeat the behaviour, we will restrict their account and begin the seven-day ban - the second stage of the Transgressions Procedure, as explained in the House Rules.

2 May, 2003: Lost Script by h2g2 Founder Resurrected by BBCi Cult team

A lost 1979 Doctor Who story written by Douglas Adams, founder of h2g2, has been dramatised with a full cast and brand new animated graphics by the BBCi Cult team. Running for six 25-minute episodes, BBCi Cult will be uploading a new episode every week starting today.

Before he became more readily associated with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas was a script editor and writer for the long-running BBC series Doctor Who. His final contribution to the series was a story called called 'Shada', but when a strike at the Beeb halted filming, the production had to be abandoned uncompleted. Though a compilation of the existing footage was released on video in 1992, it has long since been deleted. But now, thanks to the combined efforts of Big Finish and the BBCi Cult team, fans of both Douglas and Doctor Who can now enjoy a full-cast production of this missing adventure for the first time.

The story contains many links to Douglas' later 'Dirk Gently' novels, and features performances from Paul McGann as the Doctor, John Leeson as robot dog K9 and Lalla Ward, reprising her role as companion Romana, as well as animation courtesy of popular comic book artist Lee Sullivan. It promises an online drama that offers much to Douglas' legion of fans, Doctor Who enthusiasts and anyone who fancies something a little different.

Catch up with the first instalment, read interviews with the cast and crew and download exclusive wallpapers at the BBCi Cult page.

28 April, 2003; h2g2 Is Four Years Old

h2g2 is four years old today. What started out as a humble launch on BBC's Tomorrow's World has evolved into the greatest Guide to life, the universe and everything. And it's all down to you, the h2g2 Community.

Congratulations one and all!

24 April, 2003: Lifting of Iraq Conflict Policy

During the recent weeks of intense military action in Iraq, we asked the h2g2 Community not to discuss the conflict on site but to discuss the crisis at The Great Debate message board. Now that the frequency and intensity of the military exchanges have diminished, message board users and DNA Community members may resume discussion of the issue in their preferred communities.

We will no longer be removing new postings and articles about the conflict in Iraq, unless they break the House Rules in another way. However, we'd like to point out that we may return to a similar policy should the need arise.

Thank you all for your co-operation in discussing the crisis in the areas specified - and many thanks for your understanding during the recent sensitive period.

17 March, 2003: Iraq Conflict Policy Implemented

Further to the announcement below, the Conflict in Iraq Policy has now been implemented. All new postings and articles relating to the conflict in Iraq posted to h2g2 will now be failed, and members of the community are now asked to discuss the conflict on The Great Debate message board, at http://www.bbc.co.uk/cgi-perl/h2/h2.cgi?x=yandamp;board=greatdebate only. Pre-existing conversations and postings will not be removed, unless it is thought that they may place anyone in danger.

The Iraq Conflict Guidelines at A735275 will help to explain the moderation policy that has just been implemented. They should be read in conjunction with the House Rules.

17 March, 2003: Policy Announcement Regarding Potential Conflict in Iraq

BBCi are hosting a number of debates about the conflict in Iraq. It is essential to the continuation of these discussions that they are conducted responsibly and with the sensitivities of all parties in mind. In order to ensure that the debate remains balanced and informed BBCi have started a dedicated discussion area on The Great Debate message board which is being hosted by BBC News for the duration of the conflict.

If the conflict develops to such an extent that the BBC decides to implement the Conflict in Iraq Policy, all new postings and articles relating to the conflict in Iraq posted to h2g2 will be failed, and the community will be asked to discuss the conflict on The Great Debate message board only at http://www.bbc.co.uk/cgi-perl/h2/h2.cgi?x=yandamp;board=greatdebate. Pre-existing conversations and postings will not be removed, unless it is thought that they may place anyone in danger.

The reason that discussions will be directed to the Great Debate message board is to enable BBCi to concentrate its moderation and hosting resources, thereby ensuring that conversations can be carefully monitored and editorially balanced. It will also ensure that the BBCi audience can easily find other people interested in debating the same subject.

During the crisis we do ask for your co-operation. The moderators have been asked to err on the side of caution, as this is a very sensitive time; this means that some decisions will have to be made during the conflict that would not be made in other circumstances.

The Iraq Conflict Guidelines at A735275 will help to explain the moderation policy that is likely to be implemented shortly. They should be read in conjunction with the House Rules.

6 March, 2003: Changes to h2g2

We're adding a handful of new features to the site today. These changes aren't major ones and you might be relieved to know there won't be any server downtime! Many of these are relatively minor tweaks to the skins (eg a logout confirmation box, the introduction of Logout buttons to Classic and Alabaster skins and the addition of all of the volunteer badges to all of the skins), but here are the main changes you may notice:

  • Tree Views for Categorisation
  • The categorisation context for each Entry is now shown, in a series of links directly above each article. For example, if you look at the top of the Entry on County Durham, you can see that it belongs to: The Universe/The Earth/Europe/United Kingdom/England/Durham and you can now access these categories by clicking on them. If the Entry belongs to more than one category then both are shown.

  • Online status on Personal Spaces
  • A Researcher's online status is given - indicated by the 'eyes' icon next to the Researcher's name in the 'User Data' margin on the right.

  • Last Time Researcher Posted Information
  • The last time a researcher posted to the site has been added to all of the skins on the Personal Space pages.

  • 'Unread Conversations' Indicator in Brunel skin
  • An asterisk in the blue bar at the top of the 'My Conversations' window enables the user to see if there are any unread conversations without maximising the screen.

    If you spot any bugs in the new features, please post them to the Bugs Feedback Forum and we'll see what we can do.

    31 January, 2003: h2g2 Edited Entries reaches 5000!

    Having only just recovered from being named one of the Sunday Times' top 50 'diamond' websites, our celebrations continue with the news that the Edited Guide has just welcomed its 5000th Edited Entry. It's apt that the entry in question - Kissing with Confidence - is not only a Collaborative one, but also compiled from one of our busiest 'Topic of the Week' discussions ever.

    So, please join us in thanking all of the Researchers past and present who have made this possible. 2003 couldn't have got off to a better start!

    The h2g2 Team

    20 January 2003: h2g2 Listed in Sunday Times Top Fifty Websites

    We're delighted to announce that h2g2 has been listed by Doors, the Sunday Times Internet supplement, as one of their fifty 'diamond websites' - 'the indispensable websites that Doors has declared to be Brilliant! over the past few years.'

    Here's what they had to say:

    'h2g2 is a fitting tribute to the site’s co-founder, the late Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and to his vision of a 'guide to life, the universe and everything.' There are two ways of gleaning information from the net: hunting or grazing. This trivia-trove is one for those bovine moments - you may not be looking for anything specific, but, once there, your interest is engaged. Visitor contributions on topics as diverse Meat Loaf and how all children are actors (think of the emotional leverage they gain by dramatising minor injuries) maintain the site’s surreal unpredictability.'

    We're thrilled by this inclusion and would like to thank all of the people who have worked with us on the design and technical aspects of the site and you, the wonderful h2g2 Community, for all your hard work in making the Guide what it is. Give yourselves a pat on the back! :-D

    9 January 2003: Writing Guidelines Updated

    We've updated the Writing Guidelines to make them clearer, though the essence of them remains the same. The new ones can be found at Writing-Guidelines and we've kept hold of the old ones over here - A923500

    Thanks to all of the following Researchers who contributed to the revision of these guidelines: Azara, Bels, Dr Montague Trout, GTBacchus, J'au-æmne Princess of Darkness, ~jwf~, KerrAvon, Lucinda (et al), Mikey the Humming Mouse, Silverfish, Tube, Wazungu, Whisky, Whoami?

    Marvellous stuff :-D

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