Third Way

2 Conversations

The Underlying Vogonity Of Whatever It Was About

I remember first coming across h2g2. I'd just been lent a modem by a friend down the pub and hooked it into the computer I'd been lent by my father-in-law. I hadn't owned a pc before and hadn't used one for a while.

So I hooked it all together and booted up the 'net. WoW! was what I thought. This place was huge.

But there was nothing really there, there wasn't even a to help me find anything, but there was a Yahoo and a AltaVista. So I searched.

I'd heard about how people ran up huge phone bills on the net and was wary. But after a while I couldn't understand how. I could find no place to spend hours at a time chatting to people. Chat rooms aren't my thing. I'd tried one and didn't like it at all. People seemed either completely stupid or arrogant. Often both.

But after a couple of weeks h2g2 came along.

I saw an article on the BBC's 'Tomorrows World' programme and thought:
'Hey, I'll have to look into that.'

But I was running a really old machine and a really old, and often unreliable, modem. So I gave it a week or so to let the initial rush die down and then headed over here to see what it was all about.

The thing is, I kept coming back. There were no ACE's when I joined. There were no SubEds when I joined. There were no Scouts when I joined. There were no Gurus when I joined. Peta was still a researcher when I joined. Mark wasn't the editor when I joined. Jim Lynn was running the whole thing when I joined. But I kept coming back.

My phone bill started to get huge, and I do mean huge. So why did I keep coming back?

h2g2 was a free thing. There were people here who were genuinely friendly. Not the sort of friendly that suddenly starts wanting to know where you live and what you look like. These people here couldn't care. They were here and they were nice.

The community here grew very fast. Very fast. But why did it grow fast? Because this was a little corner of the internet that we could make ours. A little corner of the internet where we could move in and put our feet up. We all had our own homepages to decorate and make as comfortable as possible, encouraging us to stay a while, encouraging others to visit and perhaps stay. And people did stay. Visitors also moved in and started decorating. They did here what they do in real life. We moved in to our new virtual homes, we put up some nice pictures on our virtual walls. We wrote some articles to put on our virtual bookshelves, so that other researchers passing by could perhaps have something to read when they popped in.

People promoted and encouraged the Guide. People gelled together and organised Virtual Fun Runs, getting us all to have a bit of fun and read other peoples articles. People formed ideas on how to improve the quality of the Guide. People came up with the idea of self editing, of getting some of us to go through articles and add constructive comments and suggestions to the writing style. People greeted eachother. They went along to the homepages of researchers that they hadn't met before and left a message to just say 'Hi!' They made friends.

People helped each other. If there was something that you didn't know how to do, like putting your homepage together, then there was always someone around to help. And we did help.

What we had were our own Scouts. What we had were our own SubEds. What we had were our own ACEs. What we had were our own GURUs. What we had was our own Community. And we kept coming back.

Now we don't have so much freedom here. We can't decorate our homepages. We don't even have Homepages anymore, we have Space. Homepage sounds comfortable, Space sounds empty.

We can't chat as freely as we wanted to. We now have censorship. We never used to have censorship, not pro-active censorship anyway. We never needed it. We got along fine because we had a community that looked after itself. On the few very rare occasions when any censorship was needed, we did it. We can be very protective of this home that we have made here. If there was an offensive posting then the offender would be told in no uncertain terms that that sort of thing wasn't welcome here, and the Towers team, as they became affectionately known, would be notified and the posting removed.

Now things are getting out of hand, and this community that we have built doesn't like it.

And we can be very protective of this home that we have made here.

Two factions arose to protect this home of ours. The Zapdoistas and The Loyalists.

The Zaphodistas are full in your face we don't like this give us our old site back. And the Loyalists are more well, we're not keen but let's see how it goes eh?

Both factions have their merits. Both want to see our community stay alive, to retain that uniqueness that made it what it is. Also though, both factions have agreed to work on an alternative to what they see as the BBC employing an over the top method of protecting its legal self.

The main concern is that of what has been termed Pro-Active censorship. That of the Moderators watching what we post and hiding it if they think that it may be breaking the rules, as opposed to the old method of Reactive censorship, where postings were allowed freely, and if someone complained, then they were looked into.

Check out these two factions. Join them if you wish. But do please add your say to this matter that is at the heart of our community. It concerns us, and we shouldn't let it go by without our say. We are the Community, without us there is no Guide.


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