Welcome to the h2g2 announcements page, where the h2g2 Communications Team announces news about the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, Earth Edition.
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2017-10-31 Announcement: Book publishing by h2g2
We have news!
Here's a quote from next week's Post (because no way could I write something as snappy as Dmitri can… ):
"Do you know people who are beginning to do their Christmas shopping? You do? Then give them this link! We want to sell them a book! Yes, friends: the long-awaited first volume of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Earth Edition is now Available in Online Stores. Titled Space and Space Travel, Volume 1, this exquisite coffee-table tome features forty-two Entries on space, space travel, ufos, etc, by a variety of Researchers, taken from the Edited Guide. It's profusely illustrated. Tell all your friends, relatives, and acquaintances. What we hope to do, in addition to garnering a few bob to pay for Improvements, is to introduce h2g2 to a wider audience. Okay, and we really, really wanted to see our names on a coffee table. Tell your family to buy you one for Christmas. (We know it's pricey, but look at the quality!)"
We are aware that it isn't a cheap book. This is due to the colour illustrations, and the format, which counts for the majority of the cost. For h2g2.com, the margin is only a few pounds. We would have set the price lower if we could.
All the proceeds will go towards the maintenance and development of the h2g2 site, adding to the revenue from ads.
Share and Enjoy!
2017-06-11 Announcement: 42 memes!
As you may know, h2g2.com has boldly gone where...okay, where millions on the internet have gone before.
And we like to get noticed. One way to get noticed is the Meme, that sacred totem of the interwebs.
Recently, our posting of this link: 42 Douglas Adams Quotes to Live By garnered 2.2k views on FB. 'Hey,' we thought. 'That's really cool. Wonder how we could keep this going?'
Enter the 42-item list meme. And we need your help.
In the handy thread provided below, please make suggestions for lists of '42...' that you would like to see. The titles should be reasonably upbeat, such as:
- 42 Reasons the Earth is Mostly Harmless, or
- 42 Reasons Not to Panic
The Communications Team will choose the best themes, come back to you for further help, and post the finished lists on social media.
Then we'll all be galactically famous, right?
Thanks for your help!
2017-02-19 Announcement: Switching to secure http
As of a couple of weeks ago, the entire site has switched to secure http (https) for everything. This means that the connection between you, and us, is completely secure, and no one is able to snoop at what articles you read.
(Not that we believe this was a major problem before, but it's nice to know that it cannot be a problem in the future.)
You may, from time to time, find pages that contain "insecure" elements, this is usually due to articles containing images and we are working on a method where those requests are also forced to be via the secure connections.
You will also find that more and more of your favourite sites are switching to secure http (https) and in time, most of the internet will probably end up being secure.
You will not have to do anything, the switch is entirely automatic from your point of view, as there are plenty of people working behind the scenes to add this layer of privacy to your browsing.
2017-01-25 Announcement: HELP WANTED - AUDIOVISUAL VOLUNTEERS FOR THE YOUTUBE TEAM
Do you like to hang around on YouTube, watching cats and learning Stuff? Are you subscribed to YouTube channels like 'Today I Found Out'? Do you have a computer (and maybe a microphone)? Can you work well with others?
If so, we need your help! We want to make the h2g2 YouTube channel the go-to place for Fun Facts from the Edited Guide.
Can you do one or more of these things?
- Help select and prepare Guide Entries for broadcast?
- Read things aloud in your best Radio Voice?
- Prepare art?
- Do layout?
- Make a movie? (Quiet on the set!)
- Find, record, or upload legal music?
These skills are needed, and we'll probably think of more, but it's going to require a group effort, kind of like flying the Heart of Gold. If you think you're geek enough for the job, contact Milla.
2016-12-06 Announcement: Digital afterlives, Douglas Adams and me | Robbie Stamp | TEDxLondonSalon
Not long ago, our Robbie held a TEDx talk in London, and we are pleased to announce that the talk is now available online at Digital afterlives, Douglas Adams and me | Robbie Stamp | TEDxLondonSalon
It's a very personal talk, about the mind, about persistence of mind, loss, and being connected beyond life's end.
We hope you enjoy it!
Milla for Ops
2016-10-21 PICTURE CONTEST : WIN FREE TICKETS TO THE IDEAL HOME SHOW
Theme : 'The ideal h2g2 home'
Where do you hitchhikers want to live when you're not out roaming the galaxy ?
The World wants to know.
Send a picture of your ideal home to [email protected] before Saturday 5th November.
It can be :
- a photograph, a drawing, a picture of a model or sculpture or anything that takes your fancy,
- serious or tongue-in-cheek,
- a picture of the whole home or a little part of it.
Include a short(ish) statement explaining your artwork : what it shows, why you chose it, any explanation that you feel helps understand your masterpiece.
The author of the best picture (as picked by a jury made up of a professional architect and assorted humans *) will receive 2 tickets for the ideal home exhibition.
The tickets are donated by Aly Larholm, and the exhibition takes place in London (Olympia) from 23rd to 27th November 2016.
(for more information on the exhibition, see http://www.idealhomeshowchristmas.co.uk/london ).
The winner will be announced on 11th November.
If you know you won't be able to attend, you can still take part in the contest, but please let us know so the prize goes to someone who can enjoy it. There will be Badges !
By sending in a picture, you give h2g2 the right to publish it.
2016-09-19 Announcement: Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day !
Ahoy, men, women, 'n small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri o' h2g2: Greetin's on Shout Like a Scurvy Pirate Day!
We at h2g2 wish to announce to one 'n all in th' galaxy that we, h2g2, be th' true scourges 'o th' Seven Internets! We rule cyberspace, 'n have since 1999!
Also, we always be knowin' whar our towels be! Best wish fer Shout Like a Scurvy Pirate Day, Yo ho ho !
th' h2g2 Core Team
PS : Always be hoopy froods 'n never trust the gorram Vogons!
June 9th 2016 - Leopards and Spitting Part II
Thank you for the supportive comments following the Leopards and Spitting Part I. I appreciate them personally but more importantly, I know the the Core Team and the Volunteers do too and I was also relieved to see them turn into a discussion about the Hitchhiker film that didn’t turn into a kicking! There have been threads sometimes in some places that has made me wince! I know some folks loved it, some not so much. All I can say with real confidence is that it was a labour of love, and was great fun to make. I have also enjoyed the discussion about two souls in one body and the poetry and Hamlet too - gotta love an h2g2 thread!
I read through all the comments and some of you were kind enough to mention that you had not known the extent of the problems we were dealing with, but that is entirely understandable. We kept that very much under wraps as we tried to work out what was happening. Indeed it was only the Core Team and the Directors at NPL and Aly Larholm who knew what was happening. I guess some others may have known through communications off site but we clearly have no control over that whatsoever. I’m sure if they had, they would have alerted us.
To reiterate, it really was a serious problem for us over a long period of time and I want to stress again, for a significant proportion of that period of time we had no way of knowing that we were not under hostile and sustained attack. We closed a loop hole. The problem surfaced somewhere else and we are talking thousands of dormant accounts affected. If you are trying to help, then don't hack thousands of dormant accounts.
The new login seems to be bedding in well and we will now be able to turn our attention to a long list of improvements we would like to make, especially things that make it easier to write and edit Guide Entries. We will keep at it!
Conversations on site seem as lively as they have been for a while, indeed there are some familiar faces who are very welcome back and we certainly have not run out of subjects for Guide Entries! The Post is as creative as ever and indeed for anybody worried about the privacy of things elsewhere on the web, h2g2 in all its retro glory is pretty darn private so if anybody is a little tired of what can seem a little intrusive sometimes on FB and elsewhere, encourage them to have a second home here or move back in and refurbish the old one!
A few posts mentioned pre moderation, so I asked for an analysis of pre moderation over the past twelve months and it transpires that there were only three Researchers in pre-mod in this period.
One was permanent as the Researcher themselves had emailed the moderators and specifically asked to be kept on pre-mod as they would not agree to comply with the HRs. That created a lot of work and some frustration both on and off site. We will not afford that privilege again. If you don’t agree to our House Rules then you can’t be on site. Simple. That Researcher has for other reasons now been suspended for a significant period of time
One was for a sock puppet for a Researcher who was placed in pre-mod as follow up to a suspension and then opened a new account to circumvent it; neither account has posted since.
One further Researcher who was pre-moderated for a short period last year.
2 accounts, which looked like they might be spammers but passed all of the spam checks; neither have posted content.
Some of the dormant hacked accounts and there were a lot of those, were put on pre mod. We could not do that for all of them. It was simply to large a task, so some of them could have been used to post before we tracked them. This was an almighty nuisance for us, but had minimal impact on site.
So from my perspective this is not exactly a tale of woe and premoderation remains a useful tool between an outright ban or suspension and no sanction at all. It is a useful cooling off period. We have more than enough to sort technically so I am not going to ask the team to prioritise changes here. One obvious way to avoid Pre-moderation is not to break the House Rules and it is clear from looking at site traffic and statistics that the overwhelming majority of Researchers don’t break them, ever.
I also asked for some details on response times. The queue is checked by the team at least three times a day. Remember that this is a small team and resources are spread thin, so as a response time I think this is actually pretty good for a “free to air” site.
I subsequently asked for a yet more detailed breakdown of the moderators’ workload.
Roughly half of the stuff that comes through the queue is either filtered terms (most are cleared without incident), new registrations review (we check them on a spam database, most pass), deletion of accounts which spam or advertise (average 2-3 per week) or one or two Researchers altering display names frequently , and choosing a name to attack the volunteers or “fan the flames of feuds” - the kind of behaviour I referred to in my longer post last week, which reminds me of the playground and we could all do without it. This is the kind of low level niggle that after a while becomes as grating as the sound of finger nails scraped down a blackboard and it can get pretty hard to "hear past that" sometimes.
Of the remaining moderation history, we have had just 20 yikeses in the last 12 months for which content was removed. If you think about the total number of posts made in a year, that is a very very small percentage indeed and it turns out that the majority of those were in any event generated by a small pool of Researchers.
We will keep these statistics under review and if changes are required then we will make them, for now however I want to prioritise the Guide itself.
As far as the writing focus for the site is concerned, I could not agree more with some of the comments made and the requirements list is very much based on what we can do to make writing easier. The Guide is what we set out to create. I don’t see any disagreement about that really. The problems and niggle occur round the margins and can from time to time attract a disproportionate amount of time and indeed create anxiety all round, so if we can focus on the Guide maybe we can reduce even the small niggles.
So all positive suggestions about how we grow the Guide are wholly welcome. We won’t be able to action them all at once, but we will do what we can.
Robbie Stamp, Researcher5
2016-05-29 Tech Announcement: New Login
Some of you may notice that we have switched to a new login and registration as of today.
This is a small part of our efforts to update the site, and only the beginning of what is to come in the future for the site.
While we believe most things in the new parts are self explanatory, feel free to let us know if you have any questions or comments.
All the best Brian
2016-05-29 Note from Robbie Stamp. Of Leopards and Spitting
Robbie Stamp here. I have been meaning to write a New Year’s message, since, well since the New Year. But something serious got in the way. So this has come much much later than I had originally planned.
The reason for my delay was this.
It became clear to us a fair few months ago now that the site had effectively been hacked by a Researcher of long standing who has caused us countless hours in work tidying up after them. It looked to all intents and purposes as if an endless “supply” of sock puppet accounts was being created and that the attack was malicious. Passwords and emails on dormant accounts were changed on a massive scale, and when we restored those to the state they were in before the attack, and secured the weakness exploited in the login system, the Researcher carried on using a different approach to breach the systems and alter yet more accounts.
Eventually this Researcher wrote to us (about four months after the activity began) to claim that they had been “poking around” and trying in some way to “help”. For the period between our discovering the breach and their email, we assumed that the attack was intended to cause the site harm. We had no reason to believe anything else. This Researcher could have dropped us an email right at the beginning to say, "Hey, I’ve noticed a real problem, a vulnerability with old accounts. Here is what it is. Thought you’d want to know.” But they didn’t. Instead they tied up precious resource for weeks and weeks dealing with the problem. Faced with what looked like a malicious attack we needed without alerting the Researcher first, to redesign the login system to seal off the weaknesses they exploited.
We have now completely revised the log in system. Work that undoubtedly needed doing but which was actually held up and made more complex by the actions of the Researcher. As of today, this Researcher has been suspended for a significant period of time and some very clear conditions attached to their eventual return. If anything like this ever happens again we will ban them for life. No recourse.
This episode gives me an opportunity to make a few important points.
The site is no longer run by the deep pockets of the BBC, nor even by the slightly less deep pockets of my original team at The Digital Village. It is now owned by the Larholms and myself at Not Panicking Ltd. And I assure you none of us three has deep pockets either.
h2g2.com makes next to no advertising revenue. A small but very dedicated team of volunteers give up a great deal of time to keep the gates to this big rambly old house and garden open. A small moderation team now works directly to the Board of NPL and we all do our best to leave space for the best of the site’s tradition of robust conversation. Compared to what was and wasn’t OK under the BBC, the moderation policies here are pretty liberal and we’d like to keep it that way.
If a Researcher is in Pre Moderation, there is a reason and if the pre-moderation has been in place for a while, then the decision will have been approved by Aly Larholm and if needs be by the Directors of Not Panicking Ltd. ( that’s me and Brian Larholm). Although it is rare for a decision about pre-moderation to be escalated that far, it has happened on occasion. So everybody can assume that if somebody is in pre-moderation it is neither an accident, not an oversight. There is a reason and it has been discussed by the relevant people reporting to the Board of Not Panicking Ltd.
Since Not Panicking Ltd bought back the shares from Field Researchers Ltd last autumn, we have built a requirements list of things we want to fix to make it easier for volunteers to do their work and for Researchers to write for the Guide. We know what needs fixing and we want to fix it. Instead we have had months of login issues to sort out and it turns out that much of the problem was caused deliberately. So the things that we wanted to do, didn’t get done.
So let me make a request. The heart of the site is writing for the Guide. We want to make that easier. It is remarkable considering how fast the ecosystem of the web changes that we are still here at all and that we are here is down to the dedication of people who really love this place. I am more aware than anybody of just how much we need to do to modernise the site and who knows, maybe we will find that it is a task simply beyond the resources at our disposal. But we are going to keep trying.
I know I posted along the following lines not that long ago, but it is worth saying again. For every volunteer who has at any stage worked so hard on the site, I want to say again thank you. I underestimated just how hard it was going to be when we took the site back under our wing and it continues to be challenging. I know that many people have been pretty badly bruised by the volunteer experience and to each and every one of you I would like to say sorry it worked out that way.
When I saw volunteers sometimes struggling to work effectively together and indeed sometimes falling out with each other ( happens in any work place, any where, not just h2g2!), the one thing I could always say was that people had the best interests of the site at heart. There may have been disagreement about what that meant in terms of this or that way of working and sometimes people expressed themselves in a tone that was not ideal, but I did not feel for one moment, however painful some of those disagreements were, that any single Volunteer ever had anything but genuine care and concern for the site. Some Volunteers felt that as things weren’t being done the way they thought they should be, they did not wish to engage any more and I respect that. In any “work” environment, decisions sometimes go in another direction from the one would have chosen oneself. I was always sorry when that happened, but I understood.
For all this ebb and flow, we have managed somehow to keep the site going.
In the world beyond h2g2 of intemperance, of name calling and the harm that is done everywhere by people who feel that they and they alone know what is “right”, in the world of the twitter mob and of trolling, h2g2 has for the most part avoided that fate. Anybody who has been involved a long time knows that we have had our moments, but h2g2 is a remarkable place, truly one of the forgotten gems of the internet.
I was glad when the video interview with Douglas on Tomorrow’s World on the night of our launch, was rediscovered and posted on the anniversary of Douglas’ death. I had not seen it for some years and it brought back memories of one of the most exciting night’s of my life when I watched thousands of Researchers joining h2g2 in “real time” back in my office in Maiden Lane. The video is also very clear about what excited Douglas about what we could do back then and thoughts he had for the future.
I still would like to build on what Douglas and I and the team started out to do back in the late 1990’s and here is my request, if you want to contribute positively and write great things for h2g2.com and talk and invent crazy memes that last for years and share and support each other then you are more than welcome.
However I want to be very very clear about something. The Volunteers who run the site, do so with the explicit authority of Not Panicking Ltd. Field Researchers Ltd no longer exists, as we announced last year. We constantly review what we are getting right and getting wrong and we feel more keenly than maybe anybody just how frustrating many of the legacy issues we are dealing with are. Believe me, I know just how much pressure sits on the Core Team and the Volunteer’s shoulders. We are in touch pretty much on a daily basis. We want to make it work better for everybody but we do so on slender resource and the goodwill of the Volunteers and of course the continued enthusiasm of Researchers.
If you have great suggestions and ways to really help, please let us know. Once we are over this particular hurdle which has been a very high one ( indeed to push the metaphor it has been what feels like an endless series of hurdles!) we hope to run that wider consultation I talked about in a post back in November last year. I haven’t forgotten! But please do keep in mind how limited our financial, technical and time resources are. I do not want to create any unrealistic expectations about what we can do by when, but constructive ideas, delivered without sarcasm or a little kick in the shins or the endless picking at past grievance and the fanning of feuds that go back to goodness when, are genuinely welcome. The kicks in the shins and the fanning of feuds, not so much.
The site runs on glue and sticking plaster and dedication and in many ways it has no right to exist any more. That’s not a threat to shut down the site, just a very public reminder that we are only still here thanks to the work of a small number of people who care very much and to the people who still write for and illustrate the Guide and the Post.
The site is wholly free to use. Nobody has ever been charged a penny to use it and nobody is entitled to it lasting for ever. It has grown and become a source of information about Life the Universe and Everything, in its endearingly random way, thanks to countless people, who have given up their time to write and illustrate Guide Entries and to write for the Post. It has been for the most part a truly creative relationship.
So, let us get on with trying to improve what we have and let us focus on building the Guide.
Stay if you want to help us and if you don’t want to do that, that’s fine too, I get that, I really do. Patience has been tried almost to breaking point for all of us, but just leave those folks who do want to do the best they can, alone. The unglamorous but essential work of the Moderators, the Core Team and the Volunteers, the glories of the Post Team and of an Editorial and Art team who still manage to get Guide Entries out there, they are all to be celebrated. If we get things wrong, and we absolutely do get things wrong sometimes and will continue no doubt to do so from time to time, it also has to be said that on a scale of crimes against humanity the mistakes really do rank pretty low, so please keep some perspective. For the most part all anybody is trying to do is keep the site going because they love it.
The Guide’s the thing, what Douglas always wanted us to be about and I thank every person who has written for the Guide and the Post, every fabulous Artist who has raised the quality of the Art Work on site, everybody who started one of those groups that has gone on and on, or one of those wonderful memes that just keeps on giving, and indeed everybody who has supported other Researchers through difficult times IRL and shared in each others’ joys and achievements too.
I am still immensely proud to have played a part in starting h2g2.com and I very much still want to play a part in somehow getting us all out of our own particular version of Groundhog Day and to build on what we have achieved, so that we are still around in another fifteen years time.
That’s it really - “ no spitting and beware the leopard” - good advice I feel.
p.s I am the leopard in this!!
Here are links to older announcements:
Conversations About This Entry
- 2017-11-15 Announcement: Visitor statistics
- 2017-10-31 Announcement: Book publishing by h2g2
- 2017-01-25 Announcement: HELP WANTED - AUDIOVISAL VOLUN
- 2017-06-11 Announcement: 42 memes!
- 2017-05-21 Announcement: Towel Day etc
- Switching to secure http
- 2016-10-20 PICTURE CONTEST : WIN FREE TICKETS TO THE IDE
- 2016-12-06 Announcement: Digital afterlives, Douglas Ada
- 2016-09-19 Announcement: Happy International Talk Like a
- 2016-05-29 Tech Announcement: New Login
Infinite Improbability Drive
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- Archived h2g2 Announcements 2011
- Archived h2g2 Announcements 2012
- Archived h2g2 Announcements 2013
- Archived h2g2 Announcements 2014
- Archived h2g2 Announcements 2015
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