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So long and thanks for all the fish

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Nick Reynolds Nick Reynolds | 13:22 UK time, Monday, 17 October 2011

Dolphin leaping from an ocean
Today the new version of community site h2g2 opened at www.h2g2.com.

Two weeks ago, after more than ten years of life at the BBC, the h2g2 site on BBC Online was closed.

Much of what the BBC now does in social media, both editorially and technically (in particular in moderation and hosting) was learned with or developed from the original h2g2 team (which included the likes of Mark Moxon, Peta Haigh, Ashley Stuart Noble and Jim Lynn). The BBC is keeping the technical platform named after Douglas Adams (DNA) which came with the community and DNA will still underpin the BBC's moderation and commenting service in the future.

During its time at the BBC, many people were in charge of h2g2, including myself. Although whether I was ever really "in charge" of something that depended to a large extent on the passion and dedication of its community is open to question.

Marvin the paranoid android waving.

h2g2 is the most civilised, delightful and best behaved online community it's ever been my pleasure to encounter. I'm pleased that a way has been found for h2g2 to live on and hopefully prosper in the capable hands of the Community Consortium (Not Panicking Ltd), Robbie Stamp and technical partner Noesis.

Moving h2g2 to a new home has been a rollercoaster ride. It's the first time to my knowledge that BBC Online has ever done anything like this and to say the least, it was complex. So I'd like to thank some of the BBC people who made this happen: Joey Haasbroek, Paul Wakely, Marcus Parnwell and the User Publishing Services Team (formerly the DNA team) in particular Mark Neves and Steve Francis who lead on the technical work, and last but by no means least the h2g2 editors Sam and Natalie.

You can join the new community at www.h2g2.com and follow the Consortium on twitter at @h2g2c2.

Nick Reynolds is Accountability Executive, BBC Online


  • Comment number 1.

    Many thanks, Nick. It's been a difficult two weeks - a difficult year! - but we are so pleased to be back in our home. The BBC saved us back in 2001 and then allowed us to continue in 2011. You, and all the other people who worked so hard to make this a success are always welcome in the New World!

    So long, and thanks...

  • Comment number 2.

    kiaora Nick :-) Many of us will remain grateful for your willingness to make this happen from the bbc side. It makes me happy to see you still singing the praises of the community. Please drop by sometime. All the best.

  • Comment number 3.

    Thank you Nick, and thank you everyone who has been involved in enabling h2g2 to settle in its new home.

  • Comment number 4.

    Thank you for your very kind words Nick. It is especially touching to see it written that you see h2g2 as such a civilised and delightful community. I do know that we are remarkable! The community effort that has been expended in the last few months to achieve this launch has been totally incredible to watch and be part of.

    We have also benefited from much support and attention over the years that has been given by the BBC staff, in various departments. We will miss you all and hope that you will feel welcome to join us from time to time.

  • Comment number 5.

    My views on how the BBC dealt with this from the start haven't changed but I'm not going over old ground again here.
    I'm pleased that the massive effort by all involved has resulted in h2g2 being able to carry on in its proud tradition and I do genuinely thank all concerned for their herculean efforts in making it happen.

  • Comment number 6.

    Just wanting to add my thanks for the BBC's support and interest on the cyberjourney. We're looking forward to continuing the exploration of Life, the Universe, and Everything. You've been great, guys. Come and see us over at h2g2.com. The Don't Panic welcome mat is always out.

    PS Sam, a special thanks to you. Now that I have more buttons to push, I really appreciate what I put you through. ;)

  • Comment number 7.

    Thanks Nick,

    I'm getting involved with some of the editorial responsibilities on h2g2 going forward, and it's giving me a deep appreciation of all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to keep a site like this running.

    Thank you to you and your team for keeping the project alive throughout all the ever-changing demands on FM&T.

  • Comment number 8.

    Thanks Nick, don't be a stranger, y'hear?

  • Comment number 9.

    The transition and placement of h2g2 with its new owners (via the BBC) has been one of the most honourable things I have seen in my time. I'm convinced that there is a 'hardcore' of workers within the BBC that really do *care* about their audiences. The staff at the helm of h2g2 were impeccable and nurtured a community that will now go forward, expand and move on to greater things.

    I feel safe in the knowlege that the BBC has the interests of users as one of its core-values.

    Many thanks.

  • Comment number 10.

    Having not followed the transition closely, I'm interested to learn why h2g2 has reverted to the previous design. Was this due to technical constraints or was it driven by the community? Will the cost of that redesign be offset by no longer having to maintain this site over the long term?

    I'm in no doubt that this is good news—and congratulations to everyone involved in ensuring the smooth transition—but I was quite a fan of the newer design!

  • Comment number 11.

    I suppose we should be thankful that h2g2 survived at all, given what the Beeb did to all it's other vaguely-intellectual forums (Science [killed off] Nature [killed off] Religion [killed off] Football [massively curtailed]).

    I hope the new team will take the opportunity to update the format by about thirty years, and allow the easy inclusion of multimedia. They've got a long way to go to catch up to sites like wikipedia.org or Instructables.com

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi Paul

    The constraints were technical, we would have migrated the "Barlesque" look and feel if we could have done it in the time. It is essentially a different website pulling data from the same databases as the DNA skins.

    Formal and informal user suveys tell us that the fresh look and feel and simple navigation were popular with visitors and new users, so we're looking at a variety of ways of building on the work of the BBC and Aerien Studios to create a site that is as attractive and welcoming to visitors as it feels to those of us who've been there a while.

    Mrs Zen / http://www.h2g2.com/U500175

  • Comment number 13.

    Thanks Paul Robert Lloyd.

    As Mrs Zen of the Community Consortium has said above, they are looking to draw on the new designs in the future and we hope they will be able to benefit from the work of that project. From the BBC’s perspective the cost of the redesign will be covered by the saving in editorial (where posts have been closed) and technical effort over a period of around a year.

    Thanks again.

  • Comment number 14.

    @Kiteman #11, regarding other BBC fora. You might be interested in the new NatureUK messageboard.

  • Comment number 15.

  • Comment number 16.

    Censorship is alive and well at the new HooToo


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