Petition (rough draft)

3 Conversations

[Please see Petition for Greater Freedom on H2g2 for the current, active petition.]

There has been little discussion lately on which demands How do you feel about what the BBC has wrought?of the Zaphodistas need to be revised, and a surprising number of people have signed our front page in apparent agreement with the current list of demands/suggestions as they stand. Ready for the next step?

I propose that we put forward a petition to send to BBC and h2g2 staff, somewhat toned-down from the "list of demands," and that we publicize it for more h2g2 researchers to sign. I think we can attract many more researchers than just those who have joined the Zaphodistas. Other angry h2g2 researchers may be uninterested in joining groups like ours, or they may have been turned off by my silly war-like rhetoric. If we present a rational-sounding petition, expressing the concerns of both new and old researchers, we can make our message to the BBC more powerful with the weight of numbers.

What I've written below is just a suggestion, one possible rough draft for a petition. [Indeed, it's no longer below, because Lucinda (aka MyRedDice) wrote a tighter yet more comprehensive version. The one in bold below is hers.] I invite anyone to please suggest changes in wording to this proposed petition, or to disagree with sections of it or the whole thing, or to write a competing petition and post it in a forum below. In the end, I will try to find a concensus among everyone's comments on this page, post a final revised petition on a separate page, and invite signatures. To be as fair as possible, I will also show links to any petitions that compete with ours, any that contradict ours, or even petitions for Thursday to be renamed "Thing."

In the limited discussions that I've seen about revising the Zaphodista demands, the main suggestions have been to remove our demand for inclusion of swear words, and the addition of a demand for some way of showing our personal photos or artwork on unedited guide entries. Also, I personally think that cosmetic issues like the Don't Panic button should be handled later, or maybe in a separate petition. (Probably more people would be willing to sign a petition to bring back the Don't Panic button than would feel confident commenting on the moderation system or language restrictions. Anybody want to volunteer to create a DON'T PANIC petition? Write it up as a guide entry and I'll link to it and publicize it.)

Deidzoeb, dude, why are you so hung-up on pro-active moderation?

I would like our petition to appeal to everyone who is annoyed by the BBC's restrictions on h2g2. If it could even appeal to Mikey and the Brainstormers, that would be better yet, but I'm not sure if they'd agree with the suggestions I'm trying to make. I really feel that pro-active moderation is a fundamental problem, and it causes or justifies many other restrictions.

For example, we are told that off-site pictures might be copyrighted, and copyrighted images being shown on BBC are unacceptable, therefore the only way we'll see our own pictures on h2g2 is if they rig some system for downloads to h2g2 servers. Which means more equipment, more staff, more money, et cetera, don't hold your breath. That whole argument is based on the premise that BBC must pro-actively moderate. If it were a legal necessity, then I would not be able to pop over to any of the dozens of UK webhosts or online communities and upload pictures right now (as I did a few days ago to prove this point, as you can test any time you want to). Their lawyers would be just as fearful of this liability, and we would see swarms of UK webhosts pro-actively moderating. But they aren't. Therefore, it seems to me that BBC is only following this policy of pro-active moderation because they want to go "above and beyond the call of duty" in providing a sanitized virtual community. I believe that fewer users and readers would prefer a sanitized h2g2, compared to the number of users and readers who would prefer to freely express themselves on h2g2.

The same problem applies to the current policy of English-only on h2g2. We are told that other languages will be allowed in the future as more translators are hired, or as more reliable translating software or websites are found. If h2g2 grew to a world-class online community, this addition of more and more translators would continue to be a logistical nightmare as more speakers of obscure languages tried to use the service. The whole problem is again based on the premise that pro-active moderation is necessary. The BBC wants to read, understand and judge all our words before allowing our words to be "broadcast." If they would simply allow people to speak in any language, delete or moderate contributions reactively like most other online communities already do, then they would still be able to maintain a proper brand image. Instead of silencing 100 innocent messages in Yiddish to prevent one obscene message in Yiddish, they could allow all of them to go, and only remove the one obscene message when someone complains about it.

Please yell at me if you disagree with any of this. Debate is healthy. We're here to fight for everyone's right to debate and communicate, not just for people who agree with us. Let's try to get a concensus so we can move to the next step of publicizing the petition and sending our message to BBC and the h2g2 staff.

rough draft for possible petition

[New & improved version

by Lucinda (aka MyRedDice),

taken from her forum post in

"Petition to BBC."]

Here's my version - it's just a proposal, not 'live' - but I thought it'd be more constructive to make my own rather than sniping. *shrug* Steal what you wish.

One BIG issue - get feedback from the italics. Yes, you'll be sending a copy to them, but they'll be passing it on to their superiors, and they know stuff that we don't. No need to do that yet, but do do it before you make a final, live, version:



We, the undersigned, desire the following freedoms on h2g2:

1) The freedom to communicate in any language we choose, whether common or rare, widespread or concentrated, alive or dead, without any discrimination against us based upon our choice.

2) The freedom to mention any URL we choose, in our conversations and our journals, on our home space and our entries, provided that URL does not break the BBC's standards or UK law.

3) The freedom to include any image in any entry, as well as on our home space, provided that the image does not break the BBC's standards or UK law.

4) The freedom to discuss any topic, legal or illegal, political or religious, rational or nonsensical, provided that our discussion does not break the BBC's standards or UK law.

5) These same freedoms, where applicable, on other BBC message boards, discussion groups, and conversation forums.

We believe that these freedoms are possible and feasable with a system of reactive moderation, as is used by many other publishers of internet content. We believe that such a policy would not tarnish the reputation of the BBC, nor damage it's aim to be fair and impartial. We believe that such a policy would be legal, and would not bring the BBC under undue legal risk. On the contrary, we believe that such a change would attract a wider audience to the BBC, and would make it clear that the BBC understands the difference between the World Wide Web and other media.

Thank you for your consideration.



Print out this petition, and collect as many signatures as you can from fellow h2g2 researchers. You should collect the following information: Real Name, Location (eg, London, UK), h2g2 researcher number, email (preferably a permanent one, rather than from a 'hotmail' clone), signature, and date. They may also want to add personal comments.

Make two copies. Send one to the Director of BBC Online, send the other copy to Mark Moxon at the h2g2 'towers'. Physical petitions are more impressive that electronic ones, and get the best results.


If you can not print it out and send, email it. Copy the text into an email, and add your real name, location, h2g2 researcher number, and email address to it, and that of any fellow h2g2 researchers. Then send it to [email protected] [note to squack: publically available]

NOTE: do not sign more than one emailed or posted petition - doing so is counterproductive as it makes us look shifty and unreliable.


Please indicate that you wish to sign this petition in /This forum/. Give your Real Name, Location, and h2g2 researcher number. It would help if you gave your researcher number, too.

[Please do not sign up yet. The forums below are only for discussing pros and cons of the ROUGH DRAFT of the petition. Thanks.]

Other suggestions for how to fix h2g2

Brainstorming Board

Third Way

(forum on the Brainstorming Board, check out post #52)

[Please let me know if there are other petitions or suggested solutions which should be linked from this page.]

[See Petition for Greater Freedom on H2g2 for the current, active petition.]

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