On a recent crawl through some of the older pages h2g2, prompted by last week's Post Editorial, I came across a posting from one Jim Lynn, then an employee of TDV, which was h2g2.com's parent company before the BBC took over. It became clear to me that Jim's posting sums up so much of why I love h2g2, and why I'm still here after almost three years...
One thing that continues to delight and surprise me about h2g2 and its denizens is how nice people are to each other, and how much they enjoy being nice.
The internet can be a very murky place. ... I'm glad that h2g2 is a place where people can come and not immediately feel excluded. New members are welcomed with open arms, and there's always someone around to help them out if they get stuck.
And much as I wish I could take credit for the way it's happened, I'm afraid all the credit goes to you - the people who are making h2g2 what it is. Keep up the good work.
(Click here to read the original conversation.)
Inevitably, however I attempt to phrase it, what I am about to say will come across as patronising, obvious and unnecessary in equal measure. But, after the 10 months or so, I feel that I just have to get on and say it.
In recent months, it has felt like h2g2 has been losing its nice, friendly edge. There has been a lot of bickering, angriness, and (most recently of all) suspicion of newbies and their intentions. There has been a lot of ugly sentiment evident in many corners of h2g2, and the pace of expansion of the Edited Guide has suffered too.
Last night, I heard a talk about the little things that brighten our day, and our little pet hates that can spoil a day for no real reason. It reminded me of how a little kindness, help and trust can pay off and make everybody a lot happier. Maybe we should all take a step back from our computers, and consider how we can go about our h2g2 lives in a way that benefits everyone, and excludes no-one.
I recently got drawn into a fierce and long-running argument about the ACEs and their conduct. I'm ashamed to say I took the bait and got increasingly agitated and angry until I finally listened to all the people who were telling me to calm down. Since then, I've tried hard to focus on the positives - and so here are a couple of thoughts to leave you with:
- The cutbacks in staffing at the Towers have led to a re-appraisal of the role of Volunteers, and have inevitably made it ever more important that the community is self-policing and self motivating. Many Researchers wanted less intervention, and now we've got it, even if not by the most desirable route. The rallying around maintaining community activities has been encouraging as well - for example, the London Meet's organisation coming from outside Bush House this time around.
- The last year has brought advances in many areas of h2g2's development. Most notable is the final arrival of a proper UnderGuide - something for which h2g2 has been crying out for years, and which the community has finally built. It is truly something of which we can all be proud.