This is the Message Centre for Aslan_28

Online communities

Post 1


Hi aslan,

I just read your thread and here is my perspective of what you are asking. I have been a member of this site for 6 years, so I have some idea of how this site developed over the past years.

- there are criteria for what is acceptable into the edited guide and what is not. how are these determined? are they revised, and if so, how and with whose content?

The Writing-Guidelines did develop somewhat over the first few years, but in the last few years they have pretty much remained as they are. Most people are happy enough with them as they pretty much hit what people expect from Guide entries.

I would tend to disagree with the idea that Douglas Adams would have disliked the current content of the Edited Guide, because he was involved with the Guide for the last 2 years of his life, and he could see for himself how the Guide entries were developing in that time. In the early days of the Guide there was no such thing as Peer Review as such: entries got sent to the in-house H2G2 team for review. If they liked the entry they accepted it into the Guide, if they didn't like it it was rejected. The criteria they used at this time was not much different to the criteria used today. Too much forced Douglas Adams humour was a no-no then just as it is today. Biased entries, personal opinion pieces, fictional entries, incomplete or badly written entries got the chop. They took the best writing on something people were familiar with, and made it a part of the Edited Guide. Since then, Peer Review was introduced, and now its the volunteers themselves who decide what goes in and what doesn't. There are still many arguments, but they are public, and in general there is a consensus about what qualifies and what doesn't. If you look at any sample of the entries, you will generally find that they are well written, factual, interesting and peppered here and there with good humour.

-how successful (in terms of generating interesting knowledge, not encyclopaedic knowledge) are the two divisions of the site? how do people decide where to contribute, and what kind of things do they write about?

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by the two divisions. There are loads of different places on this site. You have the Edited Guide and Peer Review, but then you have all the question forums (AskH2G2 for instance), The Post, the Underguide, the role-playing areas, the group conversations, special interest sections, the Personal spaces and the journals, etc, etc. So, to your answer, its a bit more like, a) the Edited Guide section and b) everything else. Most people on the site do not write for the Edited Guide - I think many find it a bit intimidating (we're not really), but because the other parts of the Guide are relatively unregulated they find it easier to express themselves there in the way that they want to. There are probably lots of people just browsing around in the background who never contribute to anything.

-what kinds of users exist? do they see h2g2 as a place to hangout and talk to friends? as a live journal kind of experience? do they essentially see it as a place to write in? are these kinds of activities combined, and if so, how?

Yes to everything. Some people want to develop their writing skills. Some want interesting discussion. Some want to talk about their lives. Some write poetry and short stories. Some just want to read interesting things, to be provoked. And many people will do lots of these things - I know I do. Most of the time we set up quick links to the places we visit most frequently, or we subscribe to conversations and pages we have an interest in. There's a lot of freedom on the site.

-what are the kinds of people who frequent this place? why?

Difficult to answer. There have been a number of H2G2 "live" meets where apparently the consensus is that there are lots of people involved from all walks of life. I will say though that many of the contributors come across as very intelligent. Politically it's somewhat left-leaning I think and many contributors don't have very much time for religion - particularly religious dogma. They like to ask questions. All age groups are here, from students to middle aged to quite a few older people.

-how do people navigate affiliation to an organization such as the BBC, which hosts similar communities?

One of the reasons is the strength of the Douglas Adams association with the site. Another reason people come here is because of the interesting articles they found from this website on the Internet. Its a very friendly, interesting, community. You get sucked in! smiley - smiley

-why is the place interesting at all? do we see similar patterns of behavior on, say, wikipedia?

Wikipedia sounds a bit more serious, I think. I don't know very much about it to be honest. It's very much setting itself out to be authoritative as opposed to somewhat quirky. We write what we are interested in, we get good feedback, we write more. We make good online friends.

Hope that helps! smiley - ok

smiley - peacedoveWoodpigeon

Online communities

Post 2


Hi Woodpigeon,

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer those questions. However, those were just the general set we came up with, and have since refined them and changed some things around.

For our class project, we need to interview people (preferably on the phone). Would you be at all interested in this and have time in the near future?

Thanks again for replying,

Online communities

Post 3


Hi Britt,

I will be in the US next week - if you send me an email I will be able to let you know then if there is a number / time you can contact me.


smiley - peacedoveWoodpigeon

Online communities

Post 4


Thanks so much, Woodpigeon! smiley - biggrin

my email is caldwell at cc dot gatech dot edu

Key: Complain about this post

More Conversations for Aslan_28

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more