And we mean that.
By now you probably have received two emails from the BBC letting you know about H2G2 moving from the BBC to the new owners once the sale has officially been completed. If you've not received these emails, please check your spam folders.
But what does all this mean to you, the researcher? Well, that's what we'll try and explain.
The BBC has a database of people who've used H2G2 over the years. You may be a dedicated researcher tirelessly working your way through the bars along the rivers of the capital cities of the world. You may be a member of our army of readers who peruse H2G2 entries or the conversations around them. You may even be a BBC Online user who has forgotten that you casually glanced at an entry while signed in through your BBCiD. No matter, you will be invited to become part of the new H2G2.
As part of the sale of H2G2, the BBC sent out emails on July 18th and July 22nd to every address in the user database. These emails let users know that their details would be passed on to the new owners, unless they got in touch to say they didn't want the BBC to do so. The second email reassured users their information would be encrypted for security, which means their details would not be available to the new owners unless users decided to register with the new site with the same email address they used for their BBCiD.
Thing is though, many of these emails may not have been read. Some of these emails may be languishing in spam filters, some researchers may be away on extended field research, and some email addresses may have changed. As we're sure everyone would agree, even using encryption, we should do what we can to enable users to give their informed consent. It wouldn't be right to pass on these users' details without users' consent.
Q. How does this change things?
From the viewpoint of a researcher, avid reader, or a casual user, it doesn't. Soon, once all the legal stuff has been sorted out and the sale has officially been completed, another email will go out to every address in the user database (ie, all those who have not opted out at this point). That email will invite you to go to the new site hosted by the new owners where you will be able to sign up to register your new account. Since the BBC and not H2G2's new owners will still have all users' details, this transition invitation email will come from the BBC.
The BBC proposes to protect users' details by providing H2G2's new owners with an encrypted list of email addresses and user IDs. We will remove details of those who asked us to opt out. During the transition process, any user who registers with the new site and uses the same email address they used for their BBC account will have their email de-encrypted and their account will become active on the new system. This will ensure all their current contributions will be linked to their new registration. If a user does not choose to register with the new H2G2 site, their personal information will remain encrypted and therefore inaccessible to the new owners, and will be deleted in due course.
Q. What do I need to do?
Well, nothing yet. Or at least not much. Adding h2g2move at bbc dot co dot uk to your address book may help keep the transition invitation email out of your spam folder.
Once the opt-out period is up, the transition invitation emails will be going out. You may wish to keep an eye on your inbox (or spam box). Once you receive your email, follow the link and the simple instructions.
Q. What if I haven't received any email about the move?
If you haven't received the email and are concerned, then please do email h2g2move AT bbc DOT co DOT uk and they will make sure you're on the list.
Q. What happens if I don't receive a transition invitation email?
Don't Panic. We know that email accounts get lost or abandoned and we've been working on ways to solve this problem. Part of the transition process we've been putting together involves a site especially to handle the transition, completely apart from h2g2 itself so that it is unaffected by any potential down time, and is untangled from any form of forum loss or topic drift. The address of this website will be published soon, and it will contain instructions about reclaiming your account for all the scenarios we've been coming up with.
So please, Don't Panic, and bear with us.