The Opti Interview - With Skankyrich

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A magic biro

This interview took place back in April and the bit about the Birthday Issue was already dated by the time it was submitted to the Post in mid-May. However, even if the birthday issue is meanwhile forgotten by most, the statement in this interview is still valid. – Ed.

Opti: Welcome unwashed masses. This week we have a very special guest, none other than Skankyrich, who, I am delighted to say, has agreed on being questioned on all things Post related. No, not the post that arrives in your inbox or even by snail mail, the one that is lovingly prepared each and every fortnight by Rich and his delightful crew.

Opti: Ahoy there Rich, how be you today?

Rich: Arr! Be it 'Talk Loike A Poirate Day' already, me hearty? Or be you puttin' this ol' sea-dog at ease with a false Westcountry accent? Either way... ARRR!

Actually, I'm in a really good mood. We're about to put the finishing touches to the 10th birthday issue, and it's a real cracker. It's been a lot of work, but it's all worth it when we get to this stage, particularly when you know it's going to be a great issue. And I've also had some good news about a future Post project today, so life is really good right now.

Opti: In no more than one sentence how would you describe The Post?

Rich: Only one sentence? That's really mean. Can it be a really, really long sentence?

I'm not very good at stuff like this. I tend to be fairly wordy. I spent two hours the other week outlining a proposal, and got an email back the next day summarising my pages of notes into seven neat bullet points. People who can be that concise make me quite envious.

Let's go with this, then: The Post is h2g2's newspaper/magazine, featuring an exciting range of poetry, fiction, cartoons, opinions, real-life tales and audio-visual content, contributed and edited by members of this infinitely-talented community.

Opti: Why do you think The Post is so important to have on h2g2?

Rich: I don't think it's important; I think it's integral. h2g2 attracts writers of all kinds, and not all of them can or want to write to the Edited Guide's specifications. The UnderGuide and The Post attract writers who can contribute in a number of different ways, and of course The Post also does a great job in hosting images, cartoons and AV. We provide a home for all the material produced by a lot of talented people that otherwise would be buried in the wider unedited guide, or (in the case of graphics and some of the AV) wouldn't be here at all. There's an argument that the Edited Guide is more important and to an extent that's true; but speaking personally: if I had been unable to find a home for all my 'other' writing on h2g2 I would have left the site a long time ago. For the community to function at its best, we have to have 'official' space for writing of all genres, or the pool of writers we have here would be very restricted.

I think we also do a great job on the 'community' side, reporting news from the site and the wider world, and hosting columns such as this excellent series that help people to understand one another and the site a little better. h2g2 wouldn't be what it is without the community, and we know that a large part of our job is to make sure it has an outlet for news and ideas.

Opti: How did you get involved?

Rich: EMR and I joined the site at about the same time, and became very good friends. A few years ago, she took over the editorship at a very difficult time for The Post and, as a sub-editor myself, I offered to help out with a bit of editing. At the time, I thought I'd just muck in for a couple of months until someone permanent was found, but I enjoyed it so much I quietly let the 'temporary' idea drop. EMR and I worked together for a long time, and when she left I took over as Editor.

So it all happened by accident, really!

Opti: Over the duration that The Post has been in place, what have you particularly enjoyed seeing?

RichWell, I haven't been around for the lifetime of The Post, but since I arrived I've enjoyed seeing it develop and slowly improve. That's largely down to the efforts of the Team, and we've got better as the Team has grown. Not only have they all brought their own ideas to the Team, but they've also freed up my time to think more like an Editor should. The old days, when EMR would often solo-edit issues and have a huge amount of work just to get an issue out there, are hopefully over. Now we can put our ideas into practice rather than just saying 'wouldn't it be nice if..?'.

At the moment, we're really blessed. We have great contributors in all areas, from poets through cartoonists to diarists, and between them they make every issue a great one. People are continually coming up with terrific ideas, for one-off articles and entire series, and I don't think The Post has been so healthy in a long, long time. So thank you all!.

Finally, as you probably know, I'm very into the idea of AV on h2g2, and I'm always tremendously excited when a new piece of AV comes in to us.

Opti: Has anything taken you by surprise?

Rich: Every issue, there's something that makes my hair stand on end! Sometimes it's a particularly moving piece, sometimes an idea that gets emailed in that I think is just brilliant, sometimes it's the realising of a long-term project such as Firestorm. We all know how much talent there is on h2g2, but I'm still impressed by just how brilliant people can be.

Opti: Finally, what impact do you think The Post will have on researchers in the future?

RichI think if people keep reading, writing and commenting, we'll go from strength to strength. Everyone likes to know their work has been read and enjoyed, so commenting on the articles you like is so important because it means people will keep writing!

Essentially, The Post is yours as much as it is mine, and the more you get involved with it, the better it will get.

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