h2g2 Feature Ideas

19 Conversations

This page is archive material, from 2003-2010.

Welcome to the h2g2 Feature Ideas list, which is where we collect all the ideas1 that are suggested for this site. When we come to specify each new version of h2g2, we take a look at all the ideas here, and pick the ones that we think we can squeeze into the next version.

As we expand details of each of these features, we may create separate pages that explain the proposed features in more detail, and we very much hope the community will give us their feedback on the proposals, so we can create features that are just right, first time.

Please note that inclusion of an idea in this list in no way guarantees that we'll be implementing it any time soon (or at all). As always, we can only develop DNA within the constraints of available resources, and this list should be taken with the obligatory pinch of salt.

This list is split up into the following sections:


Ability to choose GuideML as default for posting: - The ability to be able to select a personal setting that means that clicking the 'Add new entry' link would put the edit box into GuideML as a default. This would have to be chosen, as the default should still be plain text. Could be set in the preferences.

Article Update Alert - Enable people to subscribe to articles so if they are updated, they are alerted.

Automatic Notification - Automatically subscribe the editor of all articles to the article's Forum. Add a tick box to the article editor to enable creators of articles to chose not to be subscribed to the article's forums.

Blank Article Titles - Prevent people from creating articles with blank titles (including Personal Space Introductions).

'Show GuideML' Link on Articles - Add a link to articles that takes you to the Test123456 page. Perhaps the 'Edit Article' button could do the job - for those who can edit it reads 'Edit Article' and goes to the article editor, for those who can't it reads 'Show GuideML' and goes to the GuideML display page.

Geolocation - Enable articles to have a geographical location associated with them, and create a pleasant (graphical?) way of navigating to geographical areas of the Guide to complement the current categorisation system.

Grouping Articles - A way to automatically group a bunch of articles together into a project, which would put the links like those at the top of the Peer Review page, and would create an index page. It'd then be easier to work with (for example) h2g2's University projects.

Last Updated on Articles - Display the date of last edit on articles.

More Contributor Fields - Have more fields for each article: Editor (one person), Author (one person and the originator of the piece), Co-writer (list), Thanks to (list), and Artists (list).

Ticking 'Not for Review' when Article is in Review - If 'Not for Review' is ticked and an article is already in a Review Forum, it should follow a similar path to when an entry in a Review Forum is deleted.

Time-tagged Articles - Like geolocation but for time instead (both specific dates and times, and ranges).


Blank Posting Titles - Prevent people from creating Postings with blank titles.

Bookmarks - Enable Members to mark a Conversation as 'read' and to bookmark the last Posting. This would then be linked to from the 'Posted:' link on Personal Spaces, renamed as 'Bookmark:'.

Conversation Filters - A set of tools to enable you to filter your Conversations according to various criteria - see this Conversation for details.

Forum Name in Posting Page - Display the name of the current Forum on the Posting page (both for creating new Conversations and for replies).

Moving of Threads - When threads are moved to entries, they don't alert the Researchers who are subscribed to that entry. Make it so that they do come up in conversation lists. Also an extra subscribe button ('Subscribe Plus'!) that will do all of the above, and also subscribe the Researcher to all previous threads on the entry. An 'Unsubscribe Plus' button for this as well!

My Conversations Links - Add 'Oldest' and 'Newest' links to My Conversations pop-up to prevent having to step through lots of pages.

Parse Article Anchors into Links - In Postings, currently anchors are ignored when A-numbers are parsed into links (so A123456#anchor will only link the A123456 to A123456, rather than A123456#anchor to A123456#anchor). The parsing should be extended to cater for anchors.

Prevent Double Posting - Prevent people from being able to click on the Post Message button twice, and therefore double-posting. This would also prevent members from flooding Conversations so easily.

Reply Notification - Create an opt-in option to be emailed when someone replies to specific Postings or creates a new Conversation in a specific Forum.

Spaces in Forum Links - Consider removing spaces from the URLs created by the <./>...</.> tags so people can link to 'Peer Review' rather than having to write 'PeerReview'.

Titles of Conversations - Consider putting the name of a Conversation/Forum in the title of the window showing it, so people can navigate more easily through histories in their browsers.

Unsubscription Undo - Put a link on the subscription page that says 'If you didn't mean to subscribe to this article/Conversation, please click here to undo this subscription' (ditto on other similar pages).

Add Buttons in Alabaster/Goo Frame Views - Duplicate the Conversation video buttons at the bottom of the left-hand frame view, so you don't have to scroll up to step through them.

'Back to Top' Link on the Bottom of Conversations - Add a 'Back to Top' link on the bottom of Conversations in Brunel and the single page view on the Classic and Alabaster skins, to help prevent scrolling and RSI.

Configurable Smiley Selection in the Posting Editor - People would like to be able to configure the smileys shown in the smiley editor.

More Gadgets to Simulate Action of Frames - A couple of suggestions have come out of Brunel not having frame support: 1) A pane along the same lines as 'My Conversations' which shows the Conversations in a particular Forum (and which auto-updates). This can be done with a simple re-skinning of the Conversation List page. 2) A single page which combines the posts in a Conversation, and the Conversation in a Forum - effectively showing all the information that the frames view normally shows.

Reduce Re-loads in Frame Forums - Instead of reloading all three frames for any click, only reload the frame that's updated.

Personal Spaces

Article Link in My Conversations List - When displaying Conversations on Personal Spaces/MP page, consider showing the linked name of the entry to which that Conversation is attached.

Automatic Introduction - Consider the merits of automatically adding a blank Introduction to Personal Spaces, so newbies can be greeted straight away.

Customisable Conversation List - A customisable conversations list on Personal Spaces as per this conversation.

Forward A-number for Personal Spaces to U-number - If people visit an A-number that's actually the article for a Personal Space Introduction, consider automatically forwarding them to the U-number instead of displaying the article normally.

Last Five Visitors - A gadget to show the last five people to visit your Personal Space (with the ability to set yourself as 'lurking' and not leaving a trace).

Subscriptions Manager - A subscriptions manager for Forums.

MA Page for Articles in Review - Add a further MA page to show my articles that are currently in a Review Forum.

More Journal Page Additions - Extend the MJ page to show Journal Entries in the same way that MA does for articles, so it optionally displays 'hidden' entries as well as visible ones, and allows entries to be 'unhidden'.

More Journal Title - The MJ pages should display the Members's Nickname at the top, rather than referring to them by number.

MP Navigation - Investigate the possibility of adding the LED navigation system to the MP (more posting) page.

Personal Space Arranger - Enable Members to choose what appears and where on their Personal Spaces, from a large range of modules.

Remove Conversations from Space - Members have been asking if they can remove Conversations from their Personal Space's Message Centre, for when people post nasty things to them (it's not good to have them there every time you visit).

Site Mover for Members - Consider a tool to enable Members' personal content (introduction, forum and journal) to be allocated to a specific site, so they can register with one site and move onto another.

Site Preview for Personal Spaces - Add a 'DNA Site' dropdown to the Preview section when editing Personal Space Introductions, so people can see what their Space looks like in other DNA sites.

Undo Journal Removal - Enable easy reinstatement of Journal Entries that have been removed from Personal Spaces.

User Location - Enable Members to set their general location and birthday (only if they want), so we can show a sun/moon on a Personal Space depending on Members' location, put up a birthday badge on their birthday, and enable Members to find other Members within the same country/area. Opt-in only, obviously.

Front Page

Recent Top 5's - Add Top 5s for most recent new articles and most recent Postings.

Top 5 URLs - Add the ability to create Top 5 lists of external URLs and named articles.

Archive of Front Pages - A page from where everyone can access all the front pages since the launch of the site.


More Statistics on Info Page - Extending the Info page to include a list of most recently updated articles, the count of all articles, the number of registered users who have visited the site in the last three months, plus those who have typed the most characters in the last 24 hours (i.e. a total length, not an average one). Also the name of the entry that a conversation is attached to, and the date of the first posting added as well as the last posting.

More Statistics on Personal Spaces - Adding a count of Postings and articles to Personal Spaces, plus # of different forums posted to, #of people talked to, which skin they're using, plus the relevant stats off the Info page. Also display the time they last visited the site, if that user is happy for this info to be displayed.

Modular h2g2 Guide Stats for Front Page - Put the number of Researchers plus number of Edited and Normal Guide Entries on Front Page, dynamically generated.


BLOCKQUOTE Extensions - Extensions to the BLOCKQUOTE tag as described here.

Closed ITEM-LIST Tags - Enable closed ITEM-LIST tags to be used for BIO and H2G2 tags (eg <ITEM BIO="12345"/>)

HEADER Anchors - Add an ANCHOR attribute to HEADER and SUBHEADER tags that generates an HTML name anchor to enable # referencing of headers within articles.

INCLUDE Tag - A tag that enables you to include other articles in your entry (like a server side include).

ITEM-LIST 'Lite' - Add an attribute to ITEM-LIST to prevent the 'new window/this window' radio buttons appearing, and default to 'this window'. It can be a bit bulky for some purposes with the radio buttons there.

LINK Enhancement for Non-HTML Pages - Enhance LINK, either with a new attribute or by analysing the extension of the URL, so that file types mentioned in the BBC's technical documentation automatically create a 'friendly context' that links to an appropriate reader for the relevant document types.

LINK with NAME - To link to anchors within the same entry we have to use A HREF="#1" and A NAME="1", as using LINK does not work. We should extend LINK to cater for this.

NOREF attribute - Add a NOREF tag to LINK which, if present, stops the link appearing in the Entry Data box.

PICTURE size attributes - The ability to control the display size of images would be handy in the PICTURE tag - along the same lines as HTML's IMG.

Plain Text to GuideML - Implement a tool to convert plain text articles to GuideML.

Re-formatter for GuideML - A tool for formatting articles into neat GuideML.

Restrict GuideML to tags in GuideML 1.0 - Implement a proper DTA/schema system for GuideML 1.0.

SITE Attribute for LINK Tag - Add a SITE attribute to the LINK tag so you can link to named articles on specific DNA sites (eg <LINK H2G2="Gurus" SITE="h2g2"> would always link to h2g2's Gurus page, irrespective of the site on which the tag appears).

Sub-sub-header - Tag for a MINIHEADER, one layer below SUBHEADER.

THREADINTRO for Specific Conversations - Enable THREADINTRO to be specified to appear only for specific Conversations, not just entire Forums.

Implement BOXHOLDER Properly in Alabaster - Make BOXHOLDER work properly in Alabaster (i.e. as a two-column table).

Editorial Process

Article Superseding - Implement a proper article superseding system, so Members can look back over the development of articles.

Disable Unsubscription from Review Conversations - Prevent people from being able to unsubscribe from Review Conversations on articles they've written while those articles are still in a Review Forum.

Last Updated Field in Review Forums - Show the last updated date for articles in Review Forums.

Post Message to Moved Review Forums - When Review Conversations are moved out of Review Forums, a message should be appended to explain who moved it and from where.

Prevent Scouts Recommending Articles Twice - If an article has been recommended from a Review Forum, then instead of displaying a 'Recommend' button for Scouts, simply display 'Already Recommended'.

Prevent Subs Getting Own Articles - Prevent articles from being allocatable to Subs if they wrote them themselves.

Random Ordering on Review Forums - Add a random ordering to Review Forums.

Remove Button on Articles in Review - Add a button/link to the right-hand box on articles to enable them to be removed from Review Forums (if they're in one and the viewer is allowed to remove them).

Remove Button in Review Conversations - Add a button/link to Review Conversations to enable them to be removed from Review Forums (if they're in one and the viewer is allowed to remove them). Also display the author and article links in Review Conversations, along with the link back to the Review Forum at the top.

Review Conversations Article/Author Links - Display links to the article in review and the author, on all pages of the relevant Review Conversation.

Subscribing Automatically to Review Conversations - When subscribing to an article, also alert users of new Review Conversations for that article.

RandomScoutEntry - A new page, RandomScoutEntry, which picks entries that have not been through the Editorial Process and are not flagged as 'Not for Review'.

Scouts Recommendation History - A tool to enable Scouts to see their recommendation history.

Unscouted Review Forum Entries - Add a page listing entries in Review Forums that haven't been posted to by any current Scouts.

Internal Tools

Activity Levels - Some way of determining how active each Member is: handy for the community team as they can determine who are the active Members, and who aren't.

Add MiscChat to MoveThread - Make MoveThread drop-down site specific and defined somewhere editable.

Automate VOLUNTEER-LIST Drop-down Updating - Auto-update the VOLUNTEER-LIST tag whenever anyone is added to a volunteer group (currently it's done manually).

Automatic Picture Library - Automate the creation and management of the Picture Library, which is currently created totally manually.

Badges Editor Tool - A system to enable the Community Team to award badges to Members, sometimes for all time, sometimes for a specified time period (e.g. Member of the week, those who have been to RL meets).

Customisable C0 - Enable C0 to be a customisable page if one is available.

Email All Authors for Recommendations - Currently only the Editor of an entry is emailed when a Scout's recommendation is accepted, but we should probably email all the Members.

Email Subs Button - A link on articles, for Editors only, that pops up an email client with the email of the Sub.

Front Page Editor - Create a more sophisticated front page editor to cater for individual time-stamped processing of elements.

Moderation History for U-numbers - Expand the moderation history tool to take U-numbers, which would display the moderation history for that person's Personal Space.

Moderation History Link on Articles - Add a 'Moderation History' link on articles for Editors.

Moderation Tool Support for Volunteer Translators - Extend tools to enable Translators to moderate non-English content, and for contributors to tag content as being in a specific language, so it goes straight to the relevant volunteer.

Multiple Front Pages - Enable multiple front pages to exist, for different sections (eg h2g2/sport or h2g2/travel).

Tool to Remove Review Forums - Need a tool to move all articles out of a review forum, and to delete that forum from the database.

Intelligent Swearing Filter - Moderators would tag swearwords instead of ***-ing them out, and in default view these words would be shown as ****. However Members could choose a setting to see everything as it was typed, possibly signing a disclaimer to get that feature.

Scouts/Subs Chasing - Some internal tools to aid with chasing up of Scouts and Subs for missing picks and late articles.

Schedulable Data Feeds - It would be handy to be able to feed information like the five latest articles, for use by people like the Communicate page.

Searching Stats - Report a summary of terms that are searched for on each DNA site.

Truncate Dropdown Names - Truncate names of people who appear in the referral crop-down in the moderation tools, so long names don't screw up the layout.

Automatic Review Forum Cleaning - A tool to aid with automatic clearing of AWOL entries to the Flea Market.

Volunteer Schemes

Drop-down Menus for New Volunteer Schemes - Re-work drop-down menu system so it automatically generates drop-down menus for new publicly-viewable groups.

NewUsers and Banned Accounts - Don't display banned accounts in the NewUsers tool.


Change Link in Restored Message - 'Your article has been restored. If you wish to edit this article it can be viewed from this page.' Change the link of 'this page' to the article in question, not the MA page, as this breaks when the article is not on the first MA page.

Coloured Names for Volunteers - Consider making volunteers' names a different colour, as a perk.

Skin Changer - Consider adding a drop-down so people can change their skin easily (useful with the increase in URLs containing skin names).

Streamline HTML - Streamline the HTML produced by h2g2, as described here.

Tool Tips on Graphics - Add a TITLE attribute to functional graphics (buttons etc) so tooltips pop-up in strictly W3C-conforming browsers like Mozilla. See here for details.

An icon for book-marking communities, to be used instead of the default browser bookmarking icon.

My Conversations Button - Add a 'My Conversations' button to Alabaster and Goo.


Enable Search on A123456 - Enable users to type A numbers into search to find articles. This is useful for WebTV users, and has been requested by web users too.

Feeling Lucky Search - Add a button to Search that takes you straight to the first match for your search, like Google's 'I'm Feeling Lucky' button.

List Failed Searches - For each search that fails, the search words should be added to a list that is available publicly, to be used if Members want inspiration on what to write.

Real Language Queries - Enable the Guide to be searched using real language querying.

Responding Search Engine - When articles Members have searched for but not found are added to the Guide, the Members are contacted.

Search Single Conversations - Enable Members to search single Conversations rather than every Conversation in the database.

Search Single Forums - Enable Members to search single Conversation Forums (and Review Forums) rather than every Conversation in the database.

Search Ordering - Enable the ordering of the search results to be returned in date order, or alphabetical order. Could also use a grid-like results set, with the columns being links that sort according to that column.

Search Stats - Show most popular searching stats (eg most popular search terms).

Searching for Friends - Enable searches to be restricted to Personal Spaces only; when searching for a friend, enable restriction to those only with Introductions.

Sherlock Plug-in - Change Search Results to work with Sherlock (see Conversation here).

Sub-divide Alphabetical Index - The alphabetical index is not that handy for finding things that are a few pages into each letter - eg those starting with 'ho'. It'd be better to be able to specify exactly where in the alphabetic list you want to look, like having virtual finger-holes as in a dictionary.


Categories for Members - Enable Members to create their own self-contained categorisation systems.

Categories with Named Articles - Enable us to add named articles to the category system, rather than just numbered ones.

Search on Categories - Extend search to search on category names and descriptions.

Suggested Categories - Enable Members to suggest categories for articles they put through the Editorial Process.


Auto-subscribe for Newbies - For new users, consider forcing them to subscribe to the local site's Announcements page, and to their Personal Space Introductions once created.

Login and Register Input Focus - Set the input focus to the first textual field on these pages, to facilitate logging in or registering.

Registration Details - Enable people to set their Nickname during the registration process, and encourage them to fill in their Introduction as an optional second stage.

Registration/Login Context - Extend registration and login to take you back to the page you were reading (as well as trying to contribute to) if you click to log in or register.

Who's Online/My Conversations

Bring to Front - Investigate the possibility of optionally setting the My Conversations and Who's Online pop-ups so they are always at the front, or so they pop to the front when certain activity occurs (such as a new Posting to a Conversation).

Set to Read - Automatically set new Conversations that the viewer has posted as 'read', not 'unread' as they currently are.

Unsubscribe Link - Add an 'unsubscribe' link to all Conversations shown by the gadget.

Who's Online for Each Site - Add site info to Who's Online, either by looking at the site their Space is associated with, or by looking at which sites they have visited in that session.

Make the Newusers Page Site Specific - Create a newusers page for each community, in order to show which members have joined each specific site.

Who's Online Volunteer Flags - Consider showing [Sub], [Ace] etc after names in the Who's Online window, so people can go straight to such a person if they're online and need help.

Other Features

Article Wizards - Build a template system for popular article types (eg restaurant reviews etc).

Basic Punctuation Fixer - Automate correction of basic punctuation issues like double spaces and use of single quotes.

Buzz - The ability to 'buzz' other Members who are online, so that when they look at a new page, they are informed that another Member is buzzing them for a chat.

Email a Friend - Enable Members to email other Members without ever showing the email address. Also, enable Members to opt out of being emailable (probably as the default).

Email Synopses - Investigate the ability to have specific Conversations available via email.

Fan List - Allows you to flag a Member as someone you are a fan of, and you then get notified when they create a new entry, or start a new Conversation.

Groups - Enable creation of groups of Members, enabling them to restrict specific Forums to those in a particular group (if this is considered a good idea), or to enable a group of Members to work on one article all at once, for example.

Hit Counters - Implement hit counters for Members' Personal Spaces and articles, showing varying levels of detail.

Lists - Members can create their own lists, accessible from their Personal Spaces or via tags like ITEM-LIST: lists might contain their favourite articles, favourite Members, Top 10 albums of all time etc.

Link Tool - A tool to make linking easier, perhaps searching the Guide for suitable links and enabling them to be added to articles semi-automatically.

On-site Spelling Checker - Incorporate a GuideML-savvy spelling checker in the Guide Entry editor.

Printable Button - For articles and single-page Forums, add a link to show printable versions without all the page furniture.

Public Picture Uploading - Enable Members to upload pictures, movies, sounds etc, and consider how to integrate pictures into the editorial approval process.

RandomJournal - Jump to a random Journal. Enable an optional argument to be set that only jumps to Journals written in the last x days.

RandomMember - Jump to a random Member. Enable an optional argument to be set that only jumps to Members who have written something or been online in the last x days.

Regular Email Newsletters - Support for a regular (daily/weekly/monthly/one-off) email newsletter to be sent to registered Members. Make it opt-in only.

Split Nicknames - Consider splitting nicknames into two fields. One, a short (20 characters?) name, and the other a long (255 characters?) field for adverts, comments, acronyms etc. This would enable us to create layouts that super-long names won't spoil, but those areas where an advert would fit could display both names. It also celebrates the use of names as adverts, a great aspect of h2g2.

WYSIWYG Editor - Write a stand-alone off-line WYSIWYG editor for GuideML.

Voting Tag - Voting tag to enable h2g2 votes to be run by both Editors and Members.

AvantGo - Create a version of h2g2 for AvantGo.

h2g2 Desktop - Write a stand-alone application to access the Guide that goes to the web site to upload new entries.

News Ticker - A ticker (like BBC News) that streams h2g2 Edited Entry titles, recent Conversation titles and so on.

Printable ID cards - Cards on-site that display Researcher number, name and some cool blurb, for them to print out. See related Conversation here.

Share and Enjoy - Resurrect the Share and Enjoy feature, and add the name of the Researcher sending the S&E email in the email.

Text-only Skin - An h2g2 skin that's totally graphic-light.

WAP - Version of h2g2 for WAP.

1Well, sensible ones, anyway. smiley - smiley

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