A Conversation for h2g2 Announcements

2015-11-29 Announcement: the dissolution of Field Researchers Limited

Post 1

h2g2 Operations

Dear Researchers,

The time has come to announce that the company Field Researchers Limited is being dissolved. 

We had big hopes, and high flying plans but as the day to day running of h2g2 has taken all our time and energy, life has moved on, and the plans and hopes we entertained haven't proved possible so far.

Not Panicking Ltd has repurchased the shares in accordance with our Company Articles and we are able to dissolve FRL (Field Researchers Limited) with no outstanding debt as a result.

We have been given total assurance that NPL (Not Panicking Limited) will continue to see the volunteers as valuable help in running the day to day tasks of h2g2, and continue to listen closely to the voices of the community, so in that respect nothing will change. 

We especially want to express our deep gratitude to Pastey, who was the Chair for such a long time, and managed to turn the Barlesque we inherited from BBC into a functioning and stable Pliny.

And now, the future seems to promise a new energy, where NPL can move to bring h2g2 to its potential in new ways.

From the retiring directors, Lanzababy, Milla, Solnushka and Happy Nerd.

- - - - -

Message from Robbie

When we very first started h2g2.com, way back when, live on Tomorrow’s World on BBC 1, at prime time ( what were we thinking?), I had no idea quite what was to come. Sitting in my office in Maiden Lane watching hundreds of Researchers join and then thousands, all in real time, were some of the most exciting hours of my working life. I love h2g2.com and am thrilled that somehow, here we still are, over fifteen years later, when many contemporary web companies – (Geocities anyone?) have long since gone.

That we are still here is a testament to the work of the Founders, to Douglas’ vision, to the team at The Digital Village and then at the BBC but the continuity through all of that has, without any shadow of a doubt, been the Researchers. Nothing works without the Researchers. Has always been true, always will be. I was so relieved when we found a home at the BBC in the aftermath of the tech stock crash in 2000. It was a pretty difficult time all round. Then, I was so glad to have become involved again when the BBC no longer felt they could give us a home and thanks to Brian and Aly Larholm and the amazing team that worked with us on our bid, h2g2.com came home.

I will be honest. I underestimated quite what a big job it would be taking responsibility again and I know that the road has been pretty rocky for some of us at times and purely personally I regret what I know has been some real pain and disillusionment for some Researchers and some Volunteers.

For all that, I do still believe that what we have here at h2g2.com is special and Brian and Aly and I and the Core Team and the volunteers and I know, many Researchers, believe that too and we all only want what is best for h2g2.com. We may disagree from time to time about exactly what “ what is best” means, but I have never, for all the “stooshies” that have come my way ever felt that anyone, at heart, had anything other than a desire to see h2g2.com succeed and I have now seen my fair share of stooshies!

Striking a very personal note again, I look around at the anger and vitriol and lack of compassion and empathy on so many sites out there on the Web and I quail - so much pain, so much certainty that “ I am right and you are wrong”, so much fear and loathing. And then I look at what we have built quietly and steadily through the years, and I know that there are times when tempers fray here too, but by and large our tiny corner of the web is still a positive place. I really do believe that we have much to build on. I have certainly not given up yet and I know that neither have Brian and Aly.

Our priority is to try and fix much of what is still not working technically and it is not simple. If it was we would have done it by now. Much has been done behind the scenes but there is much still to do and until we do stabilize the tools for volunteers and researchers we cannot really make a push “back out” there.

But when the time is right, I do think that the remarkable amount of information that now sits there in the Guide (and indeed in the Post too!) will have its day again and we will start to add and build more and more. This will also mean thinking about how we bring new things into being especially in the mobile space. In many ways more of Douglas original vision is possible now then when we launched and work is quietly afoot to revisit some of that vision and update it with one or two people from the “way back when” era.

At the moment, we simply do not currently generate enough revenue from advertising to invest heavily into the site but NPL is now looking closely at how we can invest the small amount that we have made wisely and to maximum effect.

In the New Year, I am proposing that we sort out some kind of big “open forum” Q&A session where Brian and I will do our best to answer questions and indeed listen to good suggestions from as wide a base of Researchers who wish to participate as we can. We won’t have all the answers by any means and where we just don’t yet know we will simply say so.

So above all I want Researchers to know that NPL still cares very much about the future and that we will work with the Core Team as we do now and look to find good ways to open up constructive discussion.

I want to thank the Core Team. It is not always a joyous task being a member and I am very grateful for their loyalty and beyond that indeed I am grateful to everybody on the Volunteer team, who has worked so hard since we took over from the BBC.

As already mentioned, I know that some people have been very bruised these past few years and I genuinely regret that. Back in the day at TDV if things got a little tricky, I could always have a chat in my office on my comfy sofas (I always liked to have comfy sofas – no sniggering please!) but it is not always so easy in a virtual organization to find the equivalent of the comfy sofa and I know that I have not always got that right and where I have not I apologise, unreservedly.

So here is my final request, in what is a pretty scary world, lets continue to do everything that each one of us can to make h2g2 a place of respectful debate, a place of respect for “the other” and indeed for those qualities of empathy and kindness that we all need in our lives. We don’t have to be just like everywhere else. But above all lets remember that at the core of us is building that Guide to Life the Universe and Everything.

With respect and thanks

Robbie on behalf of NPL

--
PS: to all volunteers, please check your emails. smiley - cogs


2015-11-29 Announcement: the dissolution of Field Researchers Limited

Post 2

Icy North

Thanks Robbie,

This is really positive news. I hope we can seize this opportunity to build something for the future.

smiley - cheers Icy


2015-11-29 Announcement: the dissolution of Field Researchers Limited

Post 3

paulh, not fond of Lord Mudpants

There's a fair amount that I don't understand -- to start with, I only have a hazy notion of what Field Researchers Ltd. is [or, sadly, was]. Just please keep the site going, and I will continue to fill it with whatever material I can concoct -- Dmitri knows what I'm capable of smiley - winkeye.


2015-11-29 Announcement: the dissolution of Field Researchers Limited

Post 4

Z

Thank you for all you have done for h2g2.


2015-11-29 Announcement: the dissolution of Field Researchers Limited

Post 5

Mrs Zen again

Many, many likes.

smiley - oksmiley - oksmiley - ok

I have thought for so long that our unique structure was a legacy of how bruised we felt by our history with the BBC and didn't necesarily serve the site well in the post-BBC world. (I should say that the peeps who worked directly on the site were wonderful, but the powers behind the towers.... well, maybe the closer they were to the site the more they loved it).

So though this change won't have been made lightly, I do think it is wise.

I am daily grateful to Robbie and all those involved in the original h2g2, and to Brian and Aly and all the volunteers involved in the site after the bid because all my meaningful interactions online are with the hootizens who are my dearest friends. (Not to mention rather a lot of my meaningful interactions offline - smiley - mammoth )

As Icy says, I am sure this will make all sorts of things much easier in the future.

smiley - lovesmiley - lovesmiley - love

Ben / Mrs Zen


2015-11-29 Announcement: the dissolution of Field Researchers Limited

Post 6

Gnomon - time to move on

Thanks Robbie for that encouraging missive. We've still got something amazing here.

But you're right - the techie bits are the top priority. When a newbie arrives, tries to contribute and finds that they can't, they rapidly leave again. I don't know what publicity and new features are needed to revive the site but first things first - get the editor and the links working: one for creating new entries and the other for reading the mass of conersations and discussions. These are the two pillars of the tech system.

Looking forward to great things and I will continue to offer any help I can.


2015-11-29 Announcement: the dissolution of Field Researchers Limited

Post 7

You can call me TC

It is pleasing to see that there is still talk of a future for the site. It would be a shame if all the entries and comradeship we have built up over the years vanished into the ether. Especially Gnomon's and Dmitri's efforts, and many others' also, going back in time.

And a big hello to Z and Ben! It is reassuring to know you are still there in the background.


2015-11-29 Announcement: the dissolution of Field Researchers Limited

Post 8

Pierce The Pirate ~ in Hotblack Desiato mode ~

Tank you!

smiley - pirate


2015-11-29 Announcement: the dissolution of Field Researchers Limited

Post 9

Pierce The Pirate ~ in Hotblack Desiato mode ~

smiley - run *adds 'h'* smiley - nur

smiley - pirate


2015-11-29 Announcement: the dissolution of Field Researchers Limited

Post 10

Woolly Mammoth

We're still around, but not actually doing much h2g2 related stuff. Amy P let us know about this on facebook.


2015-11-29 Announcement: the dissolution of Field Researchers Limited

Post 11

paulh, not fond of Lord Mudpants

This might be an opportunity for you to get reinvolved smiley - winkeye.


2015-11-29 Announcement: the dissolution of Field Researchers Limited

Post 12

Rev Nick - give me poutine, or give me death

Can you please put it in simple terms - how does this affect the day-to-day operation?

The little fish that would be big fish in a small pond are no longer "somebody". Day to day affairs moved to being entirely encapsulated by the Moderation Team. And now that too is out of the hands of h2g2 personalities.

The site is owned and operated by "the Elders" of The Digital Village, and the hardware owners - the Larholms.

What involvement does the volunteer community still manage?

Just asking ...

(So far, this is how I read informercials)


2015-11-29 Announcement: the dissolution of Field Researchers Limited

Post 13

Woolly Mammoth

Well I'd assume that the day to day editorial work is still done by volunteers. I don't know for certain as I'm not involved any more. But the whole business of picking entries from PR and writing a guide. That's still the Guide Editors.


2015-11-29 Announcement: the dissolution of Field Researchers Limited

Post 14

Galaxy Babe - eclectic editor

smiley - book

smiley - sorry I am playing catch up in my non-transport/still caring for Mum world.

GB
smiley - galaxysmiley - ski


2015-11-29 Announcement: the dissolution of Field Researchers Limited

Post 15

Milla, h2g2 Operations

Nothing changes but the ownership. The volunteers remain, running the site like we have since we took over. We have regular meetings with Robbie and Brian of course, so that everyone is up to date.

Researchers still write entries and post contributions and create contributions, and volunteers manage all that.

Moderators are also volunteers, completely managed by Aly Larholm, as they have been since the beginning of the year - no change there either.

So, in the practical day to day running, no change.

smiley - towel


2015-11-29 Announcement: the dissolution of Field Researchers Limited

Post 16

Rev Nick - give me poutine, or give me death

With "Field Researchers Limited)" - aka the membership of the h2g2 Community - dissolved, assumptions are in the aether as well.

I am tainted goods from past histories, and so offers of assistance are politely declined. Medically forced into early retirement, I could finally offer real time. Such is life ...


2015-11-29 Announcement: the dissolution of Field Researchers Limited

Post 17

Rev Nick - give me poutine, or give me death

Sorry, Milla - simul-post


2015-11-29 Announcement: the dissolution of Field Researchers Limited

Post 18

Gnomon - time to move on

My offers of assistance were also refused, Nick.


2015-11-29 Announcement: the dissolution of Field Researchers Limited

Post 19

paulh, not fond of Lord Mudpants

I still hope that there's a role worthy of your talents, Rev Nick, but it's not my call.

I'd be willing to pay a regular membership fee if that would help. I know money is tight, and that raising funds from advertising is hard for every site except maybe the Huffington Post. But, apart from the money needed for tech updates and reconfiguration, what do we need that we don't have?

smiley - smiley

[P.S. I simply don't have the technical skills to be part of the team that makes Pliny fully functional.]


2015-11-29 Announcement: the dissolution of Field Researchers Limited

Post 20

Milla, h2g2 Operations

Writing things, and supporting kindly in Peer Review is always welcome smiley - whistle. It's the heart and soul of the guide smiley - smiley

smiley - towel


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