The h2g2 Community Consortium

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What is the h2g2 Community Consortium
| h2g2c2 FAQ
| What is h2g2, and why we must save it
| Who would own a community-led h2g2
| Who are the h2g2c2 committee (h2g2c3)
| How would a community led h2g2 run?
| h2g2c2 Statement of Intent | Magrathea's Workshop - help us build a planet

21st June 2011 - We interrupt your browsing with some welcome news:

The BBC have confirmed the success of the three-way bid by Robbie Stamp, the Community Consortium and Noesis.

When you read what's on the Consortium pages and the conversations here, please remember that they were written while the bid was being worked on, so some things have changed.

We now return you to your original programming

What is the h2g2 Community Consortium?

We are a group of researchers who want to make sure that h2g2 survives in all its glory. We want h2g2 to be run by the people who are best able to run h2g2. We'll do this by working with anyone else who would like to run h2g2; if no one comes forward we will bid to run it ourselves. One of the first things that we found out was that it was much easier to say 'h2g2c2' than 'The h2g2 Community Consortium'. Anyone can be on Community Consortium, as long as they agree with our h2g2c2 Statement of Intent

What about the Committee or 'h2g2c3'?

We soon realised that to get anything done we would need to form a committee who would discuss things in private on an off-site forum. The committee were the first 18 people who volunteered, or were badgered, into joining. It seemed rather easier to say 'h2g2c3' than the 'h2g2 Community Consortium Committee'. We don't want to run h2g2 ourselves in the long run, if we do end up with a community-led h2g2 we would hold democratic elections for people who would actually run the site. Some of us may stand in those elections, some of us may just want a break.

We are working to ensure the survival of h2g2 in two ways

  1. If possible we will liaise with any potential buyers and the BBC to ensure that the views of all sections of the site are taken into account. If there are prospective bidders for h2g2, or indeed anyone who is interested we would invite them to contact us.
  2. If we believe that no suitable buyer has come forward we will prepare to run the site as a democratic, not-for-profit entity.

What are you doing?

It may seem like things are quiet at h2g2c2, but behind the scenes It's all coming together, we are working on making a pitch for h2g2.. All your work from Magrethea is being ploughed into this along with the discussions we had right at the beginning about legal structures, finances and so on. We've taken all your ideas and have tried to create the best bid we can, so please bear with us and be rest assured that, we’re be doing our darndest to be the best pitch around. We can't say much more at the moment as we're now part of a formal process which the BBC has set up which involves confidential stuff but when we can say more we will

Business Plan

This is the nitty gritty of 'can we do it?' How do we pay the bills? We certainly don't want to charge researchers to use the site but we need there to be a site. At the moment we have done some sums and we think that we could raise enough to cover the costs of running the site by a combination of merchandise (h2g2 towels, classic goo themed mugs, etc etc), users who agree to pay a regular donation (£10 a year gets you a special graphic on your user space), accepting a small amount of discreet text-based advertising, and exploring the possibility of a smart phone app.

We have projected the costs of running the site and we believe that we would be able to break even financially. This is due to the generosity of a number of benefactors who have offered time, skills and even IT for free.

We may have to make difficult decisions, as enough money would need to be made to pay the bills associated with running the site. The accounts of the company would be public so that anyone could view them to ensure that all the revenue generating activities were genuinely only used for the running of the site. Researchers could be assured that if they choose to purchase merchandising or a make a regular donation then the income would only be used to support the site, not to make a profit for anyone.

We expect that we would need to use the following selection of revenue streams:

  1. Discreet advertising - this may be in the form of sponsorship, for instance an Internet service provider may provide free hosting in exchange for displaying their logo.

  2. Merchandising - there is a wealth of potential here, tee shirts with dolphins, mugs, plush smilies, Elton the hampster themed flash drives, and of course towels.Though these would be popular the market is likely to be limited - once all regular users had a classic goo themed towel then sales would dry up. Initially we would use a ‘manufacture on demand’ company such as CafePress to avoid the need to speculate large amounts on stock that may not sell. There would also be potential to use publish on demand services such as lulu to create a ‘Best of the Guide’ book.

  3. Smart Phone Apps-Income could be generated from the sale of a smart phone app, the Guide in your pocket, your own Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. We have a committee member who is a professional programmer of such apps.

Legal Stuff

None of us want to own h2g2 personally under our own name. h2g2 would need a bank account, it would need to be able to own property (such as staplers). In short we need a legal entity. We wouldn't form a limited company, as we're not going to make a profit. We're currently exploring two options: one is forming a 'Company Limited by Guarantee' where people become 'members' who agree (Guarantee) to pay a small sum (usually £1) if ever the company is wound up. The other option is to form a Co-operative Society. They are different structures and do different things, and we would need to make sure that we choose the right one. You can find out more about this here. When we have enough information to make a decision we will share it with the community for discussion.

Decisions ... decisions...

There are a lot of decisions to make now about the site as a whole, and there will be a lot of day-to-day decisions to make just to keep the site running. This diagram shows the decisions organised by subject area

  • H2G2 'Constitution'
  • The Guide
  • Moderation and Banning
  • The Software
  • Servers and Bandwith
  • Finances, Legals and Admin

Of course, what's really interesting is who gets to decide what. This Bodies and Groups picture shows that the Community elects and Editorial and Community Team and that the Legal Entity (still made up of members of the Community) elects the Business Team.

The Guide and the Community

The duties of the Italics would be taken on by an elected 'Editorial and Community Team'. They would look after the publishing, the Guide, the Volunteers, community and moderation. There are still lots of decisions to work out. How many? Who could vote? How? What decisions are so big that they'd need a site wide referendum? You can find out more about our proposals here.

The Technical Stuff

Where would we host h2g2? On which server? What system? Can we get rid of Barlesque? or at least all the bugs? We've had some very generous offers of support in this department. We're working on this behind the scenes, some of the information we need for this is confidential so we wouldn't be able to share it, but from what we know at the moment it all looks do-able.

What we aren't doing

We are not, as a committee considering any change to the Editorial Policy of the Guide, or future changes in the moderation policy of the site. We know that many people on the site are discussing this a lot, some of us are taking part in these discussions as individuals. But it is not the job of h2g2c2 to make big changes to the site. We are simply here to secure its future, and allow the community to hold elections and decide what to do next.

Can I help?

Yes! Show us your support by displaying this lovely badge on your personal space:

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smiley - spaceI Support the Committee - H2G2 After The BBC -smiley - spaceThe H2G2 Support Society
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