Archived h2g2 Announcements 2015

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

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, 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 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, 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 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 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 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 and 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

2015-10-25: Tech annonuncement, again on login issues

Tech are still working on getting the login issues fixed, and part of that is to add automated handling of "forgotten password", where a temporary token is sent to the email on file. When completed, this will ensure that the reset can only be processed by the actual holder of the account. We hope this will be implemented shortly.

Meanwhile, you can always use the numeric part of your User Number, or you can update your preferences and put your old user name into the Login Name box, and again use this to login.
Note that the Login Name is wholly separate from the Screen name, as it has always been.

If you have login problems, you can contact the volunteers at [email protected]

If you have previously been able to log in, you should NOT click the link "Transfer or reactivate your old account", which is for users returning to h2g2 who have not accessed their accounts since BBC days.

We're sorry this is taking so long, it's frustrating to us all, but work is going on.

//Operations smiley - cogs

2015-09-28 Announcement: A Tech Update from Brian Larholm

Dear Researchers,

As some (or most, perhaps all) of you might have noticed, we have some problems with the login system at the moment.

Rest assured that we are working on fixing it, and hope to have everything back to normal soon.

We have added the ability to use your UID number in place of the login name, and invite you to do so while we work on getting the login back to normal. We had wanted to try and get all fixed before making an announcement in case there were more gremlins and Vogonocity but folks have spotted the semi fix already (nothing gets past the Researchers) and given the last week, something is definitely better than nothing!

This ability (to use your UID number to log in) is now a permanent feature that you will always be able to use.


Brian, NPL Director and Tech.

Announcement 2015-08-15: Robbie Swims the Channel!

We just wanted to share something about Robbie! In addition to running h2g2 with us, and all his other business ventures, Robbie is just about to embark on a rather special trip - Swimming across the English Channel!

He will be part of a five person team Relay Team, they will start on Sunday at 00:30 AM, and you will be able track them here:

Also, read more about Robbie's reasons for this swim, it's not just for fun: (Milla's comment: although I like to swim personally, this level of fun can be discussed smiley - winkeye )

He's also doing it to raise money for a charity (Aside: he's almost reached the fundraising goal smiley - whistle ): which supports families and individuals who experience child bereavement. Our hearts go to them.

Here's to a very special Robbie in our lives smiley - bubbly - Just keep swimming! smiley - fishsmiley - schooloffish

Milla smiley - cogs

Announcement 2015-07-20: Tech updates

While we were quiet on the volunteer front, our Brian L has worked hard behind the scenes:

Several changes to the Captcha settings have been made, and for a few weeks we have not had any reports of captcha issues. So, we are now confident that the problem is gone!

Brian has also solved an issue with the migration of old users returning to the site - so if anyone has come across their old email from the take over from BBC, it's once again possible to re-join us on site.

Thanks, Brian!

In the event of the Hydra rearing its head again, you can as always report issues here: or to [email protected]

Milla smiley - cogs

2015-02-04 Announcement from Robbie Stamp and Lanzababy

Dear Researchers

It has been a while. Firstly we have important news, which is that Pastey - our former digital lead - has stepped down. He was a core member of the team that worked through the transition from the BBC and when Steve Makin stepped down as Chair, Pastey took over, working closely with the Volunteer team. This means that he is no longer Chair of the Volunteers, and is replaced by the Vice Chair - Lanzababy - who is Team Leader for the Guide Editors. We thank him greatly for all that he has done to bring the site to where it is now and to wish him well in his future career as a writer and a brewer, both of which indeed seem to be going from strength to strength.

This has given us the spur to do a thorough review of what has been working and what has not been working so well prior to what we hope will be a new wave of development of h2g2. For a long time we've been anticipating bringing the site up to the standard we all wish for - but with such a complicated beast that is h2g2, with a range of legacy issues, this is no simple matter. Indeed if I am honest it has proved to be a little more challenging than originally anticipated when we took over from the BBC again.

We are taking a good look at roles and responsibilities among the Volunteer team, who continue to do amazing things with some pretty out dated technology, for which much thanks. We do have a little income now from advertising revenue ( and we do mean a little!) and will look to see how we can spend that wisely on some fixes to key tools that will make Volunteers? lives just a little easier. So we are trying to get a new grip on the social and technical issues involved in running a site this size. We don?t get everything right by any means but I do know that everybody has the best interests of the site at heart. We are thinking hard about how we can boost the Guide aspects of the site, as Douglas? original vision was of course for an earth Edition of the Guide. We are looking at mobile options carefully too.

So for all those who have stayed with us, simply, thank you.

Robbie Stamp - Chair of NPL

Lanzababy - Acting Chair of h2g2 Volunteers


For Robbie and Lanzababy;

Milla smiley - cogs

2015-02-04 Announcement from Aly Larholm and Moderators

Not Panicking Ltd (NPL) has been evaluating the moderation system on h2g2 that has been in operation since it took the site over from the BBC a few years ago now. The Board has now made a few key decisions relating to how moderation is going to be managed on site going forward. When we took the site back from the BBC, we knew that moderation was always going to be delicate issue on h2g2, that prides itself rightly on being, alongside a Guide, a lively and imaginative community too.

Legally, NPL is responsible for all aspects of the running of the site and that of course includes moderation. The Board has therefore decided to take responsibility for moderation directly under its wing. The Moderation team will, with immediate effect, be totally autonomous and anonymous, reporting directly to and accountable to NPL. NPL will of course keep moderation policies and tone under careful review.

Moderators will no longer be identified as such on site, and will be prohibited from identifying themselves as moderators to anyone, including the other moderators. Any moderator who does so will be removed from the team immediately. However, the Moderation Team Leader will remain known to all members of the team, and as a point of contact on site.

Access to personal data will continue to be held by NPL. From now on, any requests related to passwords, email addresses, or user accounts should be referred to the Moderation Team.

Please contact the Moderation Team or NPL with any questions or concerns.

NPL is tremendously grateful for all the time and assistance that previous moderators have given to h2g2; many moderators have been part of this process and we are genuinely thankful to them all. It is a hard and sometime somewhat thankless task but an essential one.


For Aly and Moderators;

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