Talk Amongst Yourselves for a While

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Mark Has His Say

As the walrus said, 'the time has come to talk of many things', but for an unspecified period I'm bowing out of chatting on h2g2. There are quite a few reasons, but here are the ones I can tell you about:

  • I want to get on with my job of making h2g2 really happen within the BBC, and I can't do that if my team and I are constantly having to tend to Researchers' whinges on site. We keep getting sidetracked by a small but incredibly vocal collection of Researchers who refuse to be budged from their negative views on the BBC, moderation, the future of h2g2 and so on. We're going to leave them to talk among themselves now, as it's getting incredibly boring and frustrating, having the same conversations with the same people on the same topics.
  • Most of the questions we end up being asked are already answered and explained in the copious help pages we've written. If we don't give a one-on-one response to the complainants, then they might actually *read* them before posting their vitriol. Quite a concept!
  • If the Community has a problem, then the Community can sort it out among themselves. Isn't that one of the points of having such a diverse and creative site? Probably...

Au revoir - I'm off to *improve* things!

Mark Moxon

Peta Has Her Say

The h2g2 Community knows that we're always here to talk about on site issues, discuss new ideas, encourage people to write entries, organise parties and so on.

But right now, that's not what is happening. I'm spending *all* my time discussing the 'evils' of moderation. This is particularly daft, because the job I'd like to be left alone to get on with is discussing revisions of moderation policy on h2g2 with BBC policy makers. See the irony here?

I'm still happy to take care of any queries on the Moderation Help Desk - that's no problem. But I'm not prepared to join in petty small-minded conversations about moderation, particularly those along the lines of 'If we all shout really loudly they'll have to listen to us, or we'll be sick and then they'll be sorry!', because that didn't work in pre-school and it's not going to work now.

So, it's time for a new policy.

  • I'm going to talk to the Researchers at the h2g2 University, as they're suggesting some brilliant new projects and finishing up many of the old ones. They deserve some attention.
  • I'm going to recruit some new Aces. They've been patiently waiting for their emails, and I just haven't had time to send them. It's the same thing with Gurus. Thanks everyone, over to you soonest.
  • I'll be giving more attention to my volunteer teams, the Aces and the Gurus. They've been doing a great job, but they've been neglected by us for far too long.
  • I'm going to organise the next h2g2 party. The others were great fun, and I've got a particularly cool idea for this years' event. It'll take a bit of sorting, but I think it's a particularly special idea.
  • I'm going to work on moderation. From the inside.

Hey, this new policy thing might even work! So, don't expect me to contribute to each and every conversation in the Community Soapbox, or on the Feedback Forums. I have work to do, and it isn't paying attention to (s)he who shouts loudest.


The Community has It's Say

Many researchers responded to these comments which Mark and Peta felt almost compelled to put into their own personal journal on h2g2. Amongst them were a mixture of early and later h2g2ers:

One of the most eloquent and clearly defined comments came from Jimi X and is well worth repeating here.

The full-time staff hear *everything* and they are genuinely committed to this project and its community.

I wish there was some way the community would learn this. These people worked and kept the site alive when there was no money for tea and toilet paper! Peta and Abi both were Researchers before being hired as itallics. They *know* the community. They understand the community. Often better than the community knows and understands itself.

When they say 'we're working on it' they mean that they are working on it. This isn't some lame excuse to tell you to go away - they're actually working to make things better.

We're all so cynical and jaded that we fail to recognize, accept and appreciate it when somebody is upfront and honest with us like the staff at h2g2 have always been. They bend over backwards to accomodate the community - not because of any sinister reason but because they honestly believe that this is the best way to do business.

When their hard work and sacrifices are belittled by the community, calling for revolutions and boycotts and other nonsense, it's got to hurt. And when they say 'we're done with arguing about moderation', it's because they've got more important things to do than listen to the same garbage again and again and again.

I'm sick and tired of hearing all this nonsense about revolts and letter campaigns and the like. Mark and Peta have told us they're working to make things better.

Let them do it!

All of our stupid little tactics only serve to make the entire community look exactly like the thing the BBC fears - a bunch of techno-idiots who behave like little children who cannot be trusted to not shout obscenities, post links to porn, etc.

As Peta said in her journal, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! The whole community suffers when a group dominates the itallics' time and energy.

I've been around this site for quite a while and I've never seen anything like this. If you don't like the direction of the site, go away for a short time and then come back and see if things haven't improved. I feel very confident that things will get better.

Remember a month ago we didn't even have a site. Things are taking place behind the scenes that we don't know about - things that cannot be discussed in the open yet.

Give them a chance to make it better. And do something *productive* instead of sniping and complaining while we wait.


Sorry about all that. I'm really tired of this 'debate' and I want to see us move on and get back to the work at hand - building the Guide.


Following on from the messages of support came ideas to tackle the problems of negativity and repeat queries.

Mark - May I suggest you post to this forum - any negative forums you come across - and allow the community to step in... vegiman:-).

Just like the three musketeers: 'One for all, and all for one'

But seriously: That's a good idea, Vegiman. I don't quite believe that Mark will really quit taking part in the community's chats (After all, he's even more addicted and committed to h2g2 than we all are). I agree deepheartedly that the community should be prepared to step in and watch his (and Peta's, Abi's, Anna's, ...) back.

It's of no use to anyone if we allow them to burn out.

To the 'Italics': If you haven't yet done so: Learn to delegate. We have some 100 (?) volunteers of all brands (ACEs, Gurus, Scouts, SubEds) who are committed to this site. And you are only eight (is that true?). So feel free not to bother with problems that we can solve for you. I think it's better if those dyed-in-the-wool ranters are 'convicted by a jury of their peers' rather than by a 'higher authority'.

If one of us gets tired of answering the same questions over and over, we can step back, and there's still another one to replace us. You can't do that. It's a very honourable attitude for a commanding officer to fight forefront, but if he gets killed or severely wounded, the battle will be lost (that's a rather martial analogy, but the tone has been rather martial sometimes, too)... Jeremy FS JBB

This view was answered very positively by Mark:

All good points.

With regard to delegation, a nice idea. It would be handy to know how you think we could delegate stuff, so fire away. We do tend to alert volunteers to particularly worrying developments so they can check out the situation, and we could always continue to do this, but as delegation itself is quite a time-consuming job, any ideas would be very handy.

The only problem with posting links to 'nasty' Conversations is that often it's a tiny group of people who want attention, and giving it to them only fuels the problem.

To put things in perspective, I've always found it interesting that different people regard h2g2 (starting with the most liberal, if my memory of Elite planet types serves me well ) as one of the following:

  • 5. A completely restriction-free, open-source hippy commune
  • 4. A community-run democracy
  • 3. A benign dictatorship
  • 2. A malicious dictatorship
  • 1. An affront to free-thinking people everywhere

I don't think it's either '1' or '5', and we aim to be the '4' most of the time. Sometimes, though, we switch into '3', because you can spend all day talking to people about things, or you can just go off and do what you think is right, because you're the only one with the remit to do so.

In other words, we've simply moved from 'Def Con 4' to 'Def Con 3' so we can get on with things this end. And it's absolutely not permanent.

So there you have the current thinking of the h2g2 team and of some of the researchers. The Post doesn't neccessarily agree with all the points made, but is willing to help towards settling the community back down into the amicable site it used to be. We don't want to bang on ad infinitum about the vaguaries of the new rulings with regards to moderation, links and picture posting, etc, etc1, but we are always
happy to hear from our readers and will publish any reasonable comments you may make in our forthcoming 'Letters to the Editor' column.


12.04.01. Front Page

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1Please see the article 'Guidance on Copyright Issues', also in this week's edition.

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