The reaction since the news of h2g2's disposal was announced proves that many people feel strongly that h2g2 should continue as an active site and a community.
I believe the community needs to reflect upon its reasons for this feeling. The question we need to consider is:
Why should h2g2 continue to exist?
I imagine many people (like myself, to some degree) feel a strong sentimental attachment to the site, due to the volume of contributions they have made, their involvement in community affairs, and the friends they have made. If this is the overall feeling of the community then a post-BBC h2g2 needs to do nothing more than continue in the same manner that it does now. h2g2 does not need to reach out beyond the existing community if it only continues to exist because of our historic (some might say nostalgic) attachment to it.
If, on the other hand, we believe there is some value to h2g2 beyond our personal relationships with it and with each other, we need to think about what this is – what is the point of h2g2?
For the site to continue long-term, whether under community control, that of a third party, or in any other form, the community needs to be self-sustaining – which means the site needs to continue to attract new members. What is it about the site that we are hoping will attract them?
For our founder, the Edited Guide was the site's core purpose, as a repository for community-generated factual writing. We need to ask ourselves whether the Edited Guide and the systems associated with it, as they currently stand, have the potential to attract and engage new researchers and thus guarantee the future of the community and the site.
If the answer should be 'No', do we continue to adhere to DNA's initial vision for h2g2 regardless? Is it best for h2g2 to stay faithful to its original mission statement even if that endangers the long-term future of the site?
Or, if we do decide to rethink the core values and purpose of the site – to increase the focus on other types of writing, for example – how should we approach this? We can't simply retool h2g2 in an attempt to attract the largest possible number of new members to the community. The site needs to have a purpose beyond simply attempting to ensure its own continued existence.
I feel the community needs to decide what the right balance is between staying true to the values and purpose of h2g2 as it has existed up to this point, and being prepared to change the site in order to attempt to ensure its survival. In order to do this we need to discuss what we believe the true purpose of h2g2 really is.