Archived h2g2 Announcements 2013

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Monday 23rd December 2013 – Announcing: Pliny The Younger Released Into The Wild

If you’re using the main Pliny skin, you’ll notice something a little different about it today. Actually, there’s a lot different about it. If you’re using one of the older Ripley skins, it might be worth having a look to see how things have changed.

Over the past year, pretty much since we resurrected Pliny from the remains of Barlesque, we’ve been tirelessly trying to turn it into the skin that it should have been. A modern skin that can hold its own in the wild web that the internet has become, a skin that works on all browsers and devices, a skin that’s actually usable by the community as well as for just reading Entries. And while there’s still some work to do (Isn’t there always?) we’re now a lot further towards that goal!

Pretty much the whole front end code that sorts out the display has been stripped back and modernised. All the html, JavaScript and CSS style sheets have been mostly rewritten from scratch. Huge swathes of code which were ignored when we had our mad dash to get away from the BBC systems have now been totally removed and either binned completely or rewritten specifically for our needs. This means that Pliny the Younger now looks a lot neater, and works a lot faster. We’ve reduced the server load and the download amounts so that in tests the Front Page has been loading up to ten times faster than it used to, that’s so much so that it’s actually noticeable! While doing this, we’ve also altered some of the underlying code to allow for multiple skins. Previously it was a one skin system, a step back from the functionality of Ripley, but now all that’s changed. Underneath what you see is a new skin, Eddie, which is an equivalent of the old Plain skin, and on top of this we’re now able to build new, and interesting, skins. Moving forward we’ll be bringing new versions of Goo, Alabaster and Brunel in too, so that the old skins are able to have the new features that we’re going to start introducing next year.

As for features and functionality, a lot of the things from Ripley that were missing in Pliny have now been built in. Conversation forums especially are now far easier to use, with a summary of posts and other threads in the sidebar, just like the frames feature of Ripley. When replying to a post there’s also clickable smilies. Not just a few of the more common ones, but all of them, organised into categories and easy to find. Yes folks, the smiley congas are about to get more varied! If that wasn’t enough, the My Conversations page now allows you to see how many unread posts there are…. and… you can click to go to the first unread post!!! Again, stuff that Ripley’s been able to do for years. Possibly most importantly though, the wysiwyg editor has had a massive update and overhaul, and now (mostly) works!

And if that wasn’t enough, new stuff has been added. Links within posts to external sites now open in a new window, and we have a footer that we’ll be populating with all the important links that it’s handy to have handy, such as the House Rules, who to contact for what, and the statistics pages that we starting to work again.

This massive upgrade to h2g2 couldn’t have been done without the volunteers who’ve been using the test system as their main skin over the last six months or so and have been finding bugs, niggles and tweaks, until we’re all happy with it. It’s a huge step forward, much easier to manage on a daily basis, much easier to use, and much more suited to going forward and building the Guide on!

All that remains for me to say is: Share And Enjoy!


Monday 16th December 2013 – Announcing: 2014 h2g2 Annual Meet

As 2013 draws to a close we’ve been looking back at the mini-meets of the last year, and the maxi-meet of 2012, and have started to plan a meet for 2014.

We’ve been asking in the forums why we attend meets, and what makes them good ones. And, what might we do to improve them. And from these thoughts and discussions, we’ve had a chat with a few people, researchers who are experts in their fields as well as some non-researcher experts, and have hatched a plan, dependent on interest, so on to the details!

WHERE: Manchester
Manchester has great transport links, is cheaper to stay in than London, and is central for all those who live outside of the capital (apparently there’s somewhere called ‘Scotland’ up north), plus there’s already several researchers based in the city who’ve agreed to do the leg work to organise it.

WHEN: June
The exact date hasn’t been confirmed, we’re looking towards the start of it as that fits in with the availability of those who’ve so far spoken up in the forums.

After chatting in the forums, and twisting peoples arms offline, we're able to offer a more structured daytime event, don’t worry though, it’s not Forced Fun! There will be two Workshops on offer as well as two Guided Walks.

The first workshop will focus on how to improve your entry writing skills to take advantage of how search engines and social media work. The second workshop will focus on how to take, and edit photos for use in the Guide. There'll be more details on these when we know how many people are interested in them, and who, as they’ll be tailored to those attending. They’ll both be about an hour and a half to two hours long, one late morning, one early afternoon.

The first guided walk will be the Hidden Gems of Manchester, a walk around the city centre with the local Historic Environment Records Officer looking at buildings that you wouldn’t normally notice, such as a power station in the heart of one of the busiest areas that even the residents don’t know exists. The second walk will be hosted by the Greater Manchester Chief Archaeologist, and will highlight how Manchester has grown and changed from its Roman foundation through mediaeval times to the Industrial Revolution. These will both be about an hour long, again one late morning and one early afternoon. There is also a possibility of a third walk, which would see researchers packed off onto a train out to the moors with a map and directions if any want that.

All walks and workshops will be totally free (except for the train fare to get to the moors and back) and will run if there’s enough interest in them. The third option for the day, is to sit down in a nice quiet café-bar and have a chat, a chance to catch up face to face with those we normally only see in passing online as time zones overlap.

The evening will see us stay in the same bar, have a few drinks and the now legendary h2g2 Quiz, which I’ve been made to promise will be easier this year. There Will Be Prizes!!!

So, come one, come all, let us know what you think of the slight change in format with the addition of the workshops and guided walks, whether you’ll be able to attend the meet, and if so which, if any, workshops and walks you’d like to do!


Monday 18th November 2013 – Announcing: Achievement Badges

One of the pleasures of helping to run h2g2, as official volunteers, is when we get to congratulate Researchers and hand out those sparkly official badges to adorn your Personal Spaces. As well as for volunteer status, some of these very special badges are for achievement. We have badges that indicate contributions to the Guide in the following categories:

Solo Entries:

(Here we have a sequence of badges: 0-10, 10+, 25+ and onwards - the more entries, the larger the steps)

Scavenger Badge:

Has rescued more than five Entries from the Flea market

Field Researcher badge:

Has written a University project.

The awards are not made automatically (how we wish life would be simple!), so if you've noticed that you're a badge short, or that your current solo entry badge needs an upgrade, then please let us know.

In the meantime, belated congratulations to the following who've written *more* than ten solo Entries. The next tier is 25 solo entries.



Lanzababy (I think it looks odd, me congratulating myself, but even I'd not noticed I was due a new badge)

You may like to know that 'Solo' entries do not include those where there has been collaboration, or an Entry rescued from the Flea Market, or even completely rewritten/updated.

We really understand all the work that goes into writing and honing these Entries, they are invaluable additions to the Guide. Without you, our esteemed authors, the Guide would be all dusty and unloved.

We also want to give a special mention to SashaQ, who broke the bank this week by achieving a royal flush of Scavenger, University and Ten Solo Entries in a single weekend. Well done that, Researcher! We hope you're planning yet more amazing Entries for the Guide.

with kind regards

Lanzababy and the Core Team

Wednesday 16th October 2013 – Announcing: We are two years on from the relaunch!

Can you believe it? Two years ago, we just finished the final bug testing and fixing, and switched the site live in this new home.

And we are still here, writing, reading, discussing, volunteering and growing!

Massive thanks to Not Panicking Ltd, for deciding to "do it", to Tech Team smiley - hero for steadily updating the site since then, and working on the update to come, to all the volunteers for their time, their efforts and their caring, and most of all, to the whole community, for being such great people.

And if that wasn't enough, we've got some rather special plans for the next year, but we can't tell you about them yet, except to say that we're incredibly excited!

Milla for h2g2 Communications

Saturday 25th May 2013 – Announcing: Towel Day!

Hi there!

Today is Towel Day, the day when fans of Douglas Adams remember his life and works by carrying a towel and displaying it prominently.

Here’s what our Guide has to say about the first towel day.

This year, towel-minded researchers can celebrate by sending us their towel-related photos. By email, on Facebook, via Twitter. The instructions are all here.

And check out the topical entries tab on the front page for the best in towel-themed entries h2g2 has produced so far, and Ask for the official Towel Day thread, almost certainly soon to descend into a surrealist exploration of what the universe would be like should towels develop intelligence and take over. Or something. Possibly limericks.

Happy Towel Day, hoopy froods!

To find out more about Towel Day, and what other people around the world have planned, why not visit the official Towel Day website?

Thursday 23rd May 2013 – Announcing: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Foundation Website.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Foundation, the literacy and communication skills charity co-founded by the h2g2 community, is now at the next phase of its development – it is ready to launch its very own website. We invite all h2g2 researchers to the site.

The Hitchhiker Foundation works by supporting other charities, organisations or projects which further our aims. One of the things having our own site allows us to do is explain more fully just what projects the Hitchhiker Foundation has contributed to so far.

We hope that you visit, read all about it and share in our excitement for the future as we build on some very positive first steps.

Solnushka for the Hitchhiker Foundation.

Sunday 28th April - Announcing: Happy 14th Birthday h2g2!

The internet, you might say, is big. Vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big. But nothing on it seems to last for very long (with the obvious exception of anything you’d rather people didn’t see). So if a website is going to celebrate its fourteenth birthday, it’s probably going to need to be the work of a complete genius.

Fortunately, Douglas Adams was a complete genius. So when he launched “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Earth Edition” (also known as the snappier h2g2) in 1999, it was clearly destined to be an unbridled, catastrophic success, right?

Although might not yet quite be a complete guide to Life, The Universe and Everything it is a thriving online community, where Hitchhiker’s fans and many other creative folks can work on The Guide and help fulfil Douglas’ vision of a real-life, mostly useful, Earth Edition of his fictional Guide (not, incidentally, a real-life version of the Encyclopedia Galactica).

Today we welcome everyone, active and returning researchers, new researchers, visitors and viewers, to celebrate.

Thanks to Douglas Adams, who saw a way to bring his idea of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy into an actual Guide, the Earth Edition, we have been around for 14 internet years! (They say that's like 146 Earth years...)

Join us in a toast to our favourite place on the web: h2g2! smiley - bubbly

Milla, for h2g2 Communications

Thursday 4th April - Announcing: h2g2 is one of 100 websites Capturing the digital universe

A group of curators and experts from participating libraries (the British Library, the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of Wales, Bodleian Libraries, Cambridge University Library and Trinity College Dublin) have chosen 100 Websites which they judge will be essential reading for future generations researching our life and times in 2013. These sites will be archived, to ensure their permanent availability.

And h2g2 is among those! We are so proud!

Here's what they say: H2g2 - launched in 1999 by Douglas Adams, and formerly hosted by the BBC, hg2g (sic!) did Wikipedia before Wikipedia. A wonderful eclectic community which does the original source proud.

Read more here.

And for the full list, see here.

Thank you *everyone* who contribute to h2g2, in all the ways you do it!


Monday 11 March 2013 - Announcing Douglas Adams' 61st birthday

Today would have been Douglas' 61st birthday.

Join us as we celebrate the works and legacy that he has left us, including this very site. We raise a virtual glass to Absent Friends, and toast the life, works and everything of Douglas Adams.

A Welcome and Thank You Message from Douglas Adams

My Vision for H2G2, by Douglas Adams




Saturday 23 February 2013: Announcing the debut of Spimcoot's Graphic Novel, Eustace

h2g2's very own Spimcoot has published his first full-length graphic novel, Eustace. And you're invited to the book signing at the Forbidden Planet London Megastore.

6 – 7pm, Thursday March 7th, 2013

Forbidden Planet London Megastore

179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JR

Spimcoot, known in some circles as Steven Harris, has been an h2g2 researcher since 4th August, 2001. His web comic Eustace first appeared in the h2g2 Post. Spimcoot is also the author of a second Post web comic series, Paper Cuts.

The graphic novel Eustace, described as a "blackly comic and surreal tale" will be launched at an invitation-only event at Waterstones in London on Friday 1st March 2013.

Congratulations, Spimcoot!

Happy Nerd


Sunday 3 February 2013: Announcing The Return of the Move Thread Tool

Have you ever started a thread, then realized your conversation belonged in another part of our vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big site? Been informed that your conversation more properly belonged in tech feedback or the community Soapbox? Wished you had posted the details of your vacation to your journal rather than Ask h2g2?

Problem - solved.

The Tech Team fixed the Move Thread tool, which had been broken for about two years. Now the Moderators can easily move a thread to the most appropriate forum, and your conversation can receive the attention it deserves.

To let the Moderators know about a thread that may need to be moved, simply yikes the thread and tick the box for "is off-topic for the board or subject being discussed". Our volunteers will handle the rest.

Happy Nerd


Saturday 2 February 2013: Announcing A French Meet In June

Rumors of champagne-sipping in Reims are sweeping h2g2 as plans develop for a French meet on 15th - 16th June 2013. For more details, and to make your reservations, visit A87780612 - h2g2 French Meet in 2013. smiley - bubbly

Happy Nerd


Monday 14 January 2013: Announcing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Foundation

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Foundation is pleased to start the New Year by announcing that it has completed the process of becoming a UK registered charity through the Charity Commission (Registered Charity No: 1149839).

We are also on the verge of making our first donations to four very interesting charities:

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask the h2g2 community representative to the Foundation, Solnushka, and if you have any suggestions for future charities for the Foundation to support, we are interested in hearing about them too.

For Solnushka and the Foundation,


Operations Team Lead

Click here, for 2012 announcements
You can find 2011 announcements here.

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