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The BBC website is one of the greatest, and H2G2 became a part of it in February 2001, so this is an opinion of H2G2, a website in a website, sorry, I know its annoying when an opinion you read isn’t actually about what you wanted, but H2G2 is probably the greatest community website of all (in my humble opinion, of course).
The BBC web site has everything you would want to know about the BBC, its programmes (radio and TV), channels and such. I use it to find out the latest news from my wifes home country of Nigeria, The latest info about Doctor Who and The HitchHikers Guide To The Galaxy, I have bought a CD from the BBC Shop and, well, there's a whole lot more to boot, but as I say this opinion is about H2G2.
H2G2 Is there anything you need to know?, is there something you’d like to know more about?. You’ve got the questions, H2G2 on the BBC web site (http://www.bbc.co.uk/h2g2/guide/) might just have the answers, even if you don’t have any, its a great place to hang around and talk.
As you might know, if you’ve read some of my other opinions, I’m a big Douglas Adams fan, and H2G2 was set up by him and his company, not that being familiar with his work or even liking it matters, in fact when Douglas Adams died recently, besides a huge number of people sending in tributes, someone asked ‘Who is this Douglas Adams guy?’.
So Who Is Douglas Adams? Well in 1978 he wrote a radio series called The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, which later became a TV series, a series of books, a computer game, a towel, a comic book, and literary any decade now, a film, he’s also written for Doctor Who, done a book about zoology, stuff with computers and so on.............., he sadly died on the 12 May 2001, at 49, and will be very missed.
So what is H2G2? Essentially, its a writing site, but not one where you’ll get paid, but this really isn’t the point of it. The idea stems from the idea of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, which itself was a guide to the galaxy, H2G2 (being a shortened version of HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy), is the earth edition of the guide.
What you write are guide entries, pretty much about anything, however this is not a consumer site, what is written is about things rather than about product in particular, such as, if you wanted to know about the film Highlander, your more likely to find an entry about the Highlander franchise, which would include information about all the films, the TV series and so on, rather than the film itself, and its an overall view of the film not a persons personal opinion. The idea is that H2G2 is a work of reference, you use it to find out about things, not an opinion of something.
Like wanting a well read and well rated opinion on ciao, on H2G2 what you want is your entry to be edited and become an official part of the guide. The difference between H2G2 and Ciao is that on H2G2, you can’t write about something that’s already got an entry, but there’s ways to get around this, there maybe an entry on Madonna, but not on one of her albums. So check that there is no entry already, otherwise your wasting you time, once you write your entry, you then have submit it to the peer review, where people will make comments and suggestions about it, it will then be edited and hopefully become an official entry. As with ciao no copying is allowed (what’s the point?).
Writing entries is only half of H2G2, in the two years I’ve been using the site I’ve only written about 5 serious entries, my latest being one on The Planet Of The Apes, most of the time I‘m posting to conversations, every entry can be discussed, and there are places where you can, ask H2G2, ask How do I?, and a miscellaneous chat forum, there are places such as H2IQ, where lateral thinking questions are asked everyday, such as Billy, James and Jessie went down by the river for a picnic, James and Jessie fell in the river and were taken down stream, Billy went for help but nobody would, Why not?, also is the H2G2 post its own online newspaper, and many other places, the lost poetry office, the H2G2 waterworks, places just to have fun and talk, you can create new pages for anything you want, and talk about anything you want. All the usual rules apply, be nice to each other, in short. There are also places where you can get help and advice on writing entries, what more could you want?.
As with Ciao, you have to register, and then you get your own page. You can edit this page, you can include HTML, and write about yourself, put links to you favourites sites, all the usual stuff, also on your page is a journal where you can write about events in your life for people to read, also is a list of any conversations you have posted to, and a list of entries you’ve written, and like ciao’s guestbook people can post a comment on your page.
H2G2 was launched live on the Tomorrow’s World TV show (where the site crashed due to so many people registering at one time) in April 1999, BBC Online took over in February 2001, when it was unable to support itself, the huge difference is that now everything is moderated, meaning that within a few minutes of you putting anything on the site it is read and maybe edited, due to the BBC’s policy, but I’ve never had any problems with this, its only in certain cases, and links may be removed.
So for me this is really a great site, a link to every conversation you have posted to, is put on your page and tells you of any replies, which is really helpful, anything you want to know you can ask about, when your entry is edited and becomes an official entry its out on the front page for the day, you can search the site for what interests you (there is also random search button), and you can write what you want. You can also become a sub editor, and ACE (who meet new members), and..... well all kinds of stuff. You can even chose how you see the site either in the original Classic (blue) Goo or Alabaster skin, and I believe there is a Hitchhikers Guide skin being developed.
One thing I dislike (which I love about Ciao) is that you don’t know how many or if anyone’s actually read you work, your are at least likely to have a conversation started about the entry though.
All in all I love it, and I’d recommend it to everyone, and to be honest I probably haven’t even scratched the surface, H2G2 is a huge place, where you can talk and write, find out anything you want and start new thing for your own enjoyment, and yes, I know what your thinking, the question I haven’t answered yet, which you’re all dying to know, the answer to the lateral thinking question is, that James and Jessie were Billy’s pet fish and that’s why no one went to rescue them.
As Frankie Howerd always used to say,'I'll leave you with Cleopatra's last words to Mark Antony, 'If you've enjoyed it tell your friends', and so I have.
I joined this site a while ago, before it joined the beeb, because I love Hitchikers Guide (the radio, tv and book, but not, alas, the towel), but I've not really visited since, and never got round to submitting anything. I might take another look when I have some time though....a great review of the site, which is sure to encourage soe new members. Ta, Clanger
Calypte 18.10.2001 16:20
Oops... it's been a long time since I last visited my account at h2g2! I found the 'ask the community' section particularly helpful, and I have a (very old) short story posted at Fiction Central for no apparent reason! It is a great site, very strange in places too! Great op.