Update Headquarters - Closed

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I did have the inkling of an idea that a collaborative guide, one that was written and kept up to date by the people who used it, in real time, might be a neat idea.

- Douglas Adams
Building the Guide...<br/>
What a neat idea.

In the above quote, DNA talks about a collaborative guide that can be kept updated. And as some of you now know, that part of his vision of h2g2 has finally become a reality!

About the Update Review Scheme

For full details about the Update Review Scheme, do check out the following page - Update Review Forum.

As a courtesy, we'll provide a basic overview of the official Update Scheme here so you'll know what to do when you get there...

There should be three criteria for wanting to update an entry.

  • Are there incorrect facts in the entry?
  • Is the entry out of date?
  • Is there newer, better information available that should be included?

How to Update an Entry

There are three basic forms an update can take:

  • A line or small paragraph with new information - such as the latest album from a singer. This information can easily be posted to the thread at the bottom of the existing entry, as the Conversations are viewed as an extension of the entry just as much as a place for people to talk about it. Should there be a number of similar postings with updates that cover a significant amount of time, or if the information requires a new conclusion (in the event of the entry's subject dying/being closed down/coming to an end), we can at some stage go to stage two.
  • If the information is more than a few paragraphs, but less than a full reworking, the information can be submitted via Editorial Feedback. For us to accept the update, however, it must be presented with explicit directions as to why the update is required, as well as directions as to what goes where/replaces what and it should be in full GuideML, including links.
  • If the update is an extensive rewrite of a simpler, shorter entry (such as those from the Old Writing Team of h2g2), then it comes to the Update Forum. Simple as that.

Note: There is a subtle but important difference between a rewrite and a completely new entry. If it's a question of junking the whole thing and starting completely from scratch, then the entry should be submitted to Peer Review with clear instructions in the first posting that this is a new entry intended to replace the old one. That way, the new entry will eventually get its day on the Front Page. If, however, most of the content of the original entry is still present in some way in the update, then the new version should be submitted to the Update Forum.

How to Write a Full Update

Researchers wanting to update an entry should first check whether somebody else is already looking to update it - by checking both the Update Forum and the conversations under the entry. If someone else has already declared their interest in updating that entry, you can still offer to help them out and submit material for the update, and if your contributions are included in the update you will be entitled to a credit as a Researcher.

Any would-be updater should contact the original author(s) and inform them of the intention to fully update their entry. This is for two reasons - firstly as a common courtesy and secondly because the original contributors might want to take part in the process and might have additional information already to hand.

The next thing that has to be done is obtain a copy of the text of the original entry. You can do this by using the Test feature:

  • In the URL for every Guide Entry, you will see an A-number. For example: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/brunel/A1283410.
  • If you replace the 'A' with 'Test' () so, 'Test1283410'), you can view the GuideML for the entry.
  • Copy this text into a new entry that you have created and use this to work from.

The Update must have correct GuideML and be fully proofed and spell-checked before submission to the Update Forum. For this reason, we recommend that the 'Chief Updater' (ie, the person doing all of the collating and amendments) is an experienced Researcher, who will remain 'Editor' of the update until such time as it is accepted.

From here, the entry is submitted to the Update Forum in the same way that entries are submitted to other Forums. As with Peer Review, entries incubate for a minimum of seven days. Once the entry is 'finished', the chief updater will post to the thread announcing it as such, and whenever the in-house team get time, they will then review the Update and either suggest areas where it could be improved or else - ta-dah! - officially 'accept' the update. As this scheme has to take a (slightly) lower priority than the existing schemes, we cannot guarantee a timescale on this - only that it will be 'regular').

Finally, a member of the in-house team will copy the text, check it for the usual concerns and finally paste it over the old entry, complete with new contributors.


Although only one person can physically edit an update at any one time, any number of other people can still contribute to an update, and it is the chief updater's job to ensure everyone is credited who has made a significant contribution. If this is to be a collaboration, it might be worth submitting the Update to the Collaborative Writing Workshop first. Once the entry is ready, remove it from the CWW and submit it to the Update Forum.

So What is This Then?

These pages are part of the old 'Update Headquarters' where a few Sub-editors gathered suggestions for updated entries and worked them through the editorial process. We bent some of the editorial tools to do it, but back in the heady early days of the Edited Guide such things were sometimes overlooked...

We'd like to thank the members of the editorial staff who suffered through our jury-rigged measures to help us realize Douglas' dream of a collaborative and updatable Guide to Life, the Universe and Everything. They were (and still are) some of the finest people we know!

Major Updates Using the Old System

These are most of the Edited Entries which have had a major overhaul via the former Updating process. We might have missed a few, but we're pretty sure most are here.

Updated 12 March, 2004

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