Pastey in Retrospective Mood

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It's hard to start these things; should one plump for the jovial 'Whoops there goes another year!!!' with the multiple exclamation marks. Should one choose instead the Anus Horriblus speech, marking out the bad points, and being thankful that the year's over. Should one perhaps start out introspectively, looking at the events of the past year. Or, should the writer start by asking the reader how to start? Personally I've no idea, so I'll just waffle on about the major events as I saw them.

Mr.Zarniwoop is Currently Out To Lunch

And so is our own Mark Moxon, although if some rumours are to be believed, he has been for a long time. Mark decided to go back to doing some travel writing and so went to Africa leaving a vacant desk with a now evolved mouldy sandwich which acts as his secretary.

Not only were we to suffer the loss of Mark from h2g2, but Peta has moved onto whiter pastures as well, in the form of the Hub. In case you haven't noticed the little 'Powered by DNA' notice at the bottom of every h2g2 page, the engine used to power h2g2 is also used to power a few of the other BBC community pages. Now Peta, being the experienced expert that she is with community websites, was pulled in to oversee it all.

Not satisfied with the deprivation of Mark and Peta, the beeb also pulled Jim Lynn into the Hub. Thankfully though both Jim and Peta are still around h2g2, answering questions and saying Hi!.

Smilies, you're on h2g2

Rather a lot of them now aren't there? I'm not going to go into them all, simpley because I can't remember which are the new ones and which are the old ones. But there are more, and a lot of them are now being drawn by the Community Artists Team. A group of dedicated volunteers. What they are dedicated to hasn't quite been decided yet. Although they are coming up with some wonderful images for the Guide Entries and for us here at The Post. Thanks Guys and Gals for them, they really are nice.

Skiny Bee Bop

Another new look to the site came this year, the introduction of the Brunel skin. Named after a dead engineer, and initially not very popular. But hey, Alabaster split the community when that was introduced, so it was only to be expected that Brunel would as well. I happen to like it. Along with the Brunel skin came some nice new Volunteer Badges which seem to fit in with Community style a bit better.

Not only were there new designs for the current volunteer badges, but there was the introduction of some new ones, including one for the Post writers.

One - what seems like - unforseen side effect of h2g2 being part of the BBC is that there has been an influx of DigiBox users. I've tried to use the internet on a DigiBox once, and coward that I am, went running for my laptop. Using h2g2 wasn't easy on a telly, but thanks to the efforts of Jim and the rest, another skin was introduced. The Plain skin is designed for use on a DigiBox, making it easier to find your way around the Guide.

Two skins in one year? A bit adventurous or a sign of things to come?

Take a trip, not tripover

The servers holding h2g2 have been moved and upgraded as well. The most noticeble thing about the servers moving is that the site now keeps falling over and returning Proxy Errors. There is a reason for this, and I shall quote from Jims journal.

'At about 2am this morning, I was talking to Bernadette about it, and she gave me the clue I needed to explain why the load has increased so much'

'It's the legacy posts. All 700,000 of them. They all reappeared in one go when we upgraded, and so all the search engines suddenly have a ton of new links to follow in order to grab the whole site. Hence, much more spider activity, leading to servers getting overloaded.'

'Is there a solution? Probably. In the short-term, I can block access to the site to all offending robots. This would mean that during this time, Google would no longer be spidering the site, so we might drop off the radar.'

'A better solution is to do a special skin for spiders - if we detect a spider's user-agent, we can deliver a 'pared down' skin which only displays the content, and doesn't link to (for example) forums, or the autogenerated pages like Who's online. So personal spaces and articles (and the frontpage) would appear in the search engine results, but the tens of thousands of forum pages would never be linked to, so the spiders would never fetch them.'

'This way, our principal content pages would still appear in the search engines, but we wouldn't need to be spidered half as much.'

There you are you see. 2am. Where else would you get that sort of dedication?

Moderation in Moderation

Remember Pro-active Moderation? Ah, those were the days, sitting on a jitter edge hoping that a moderator wasn't in a bad mood when they read your posting. Wondering why an innocuous remark had been removed. Well, thanks to the efforts of Peta and team, and the fine upstanding behaviour of the Community, Pro-active Moderation is no more. We are now instead in Reactive Moderation; if a posting or article gets yikesed then it gets looked at.

Do realise though that the rules haven't changed. The same standard of conduct is expected but it's now down to the members of the community to keep an eye on each other. Oh, happy days.


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