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BBC To Dispose of Douglas Adams Website 189

Posted by Soulskill
from the so-long-and-thanks-for-all-the-fish dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The BBC has announced their intention to dispose of the H2G2 website, originally founded by Douglas Adams. This comes as part of an initiative by the BBC to cut their online spending by 25%. 'BBC Online will be reorganised into five portfolios of "products." All parts of BBC Online have to fit with these. Over the past year all areas of the site have been reviewed to see where, and if, they fit. Sadly ... H2G2 does not fit in the new shape of BBC Online. However, H2G2 is unusual. It is a pre-existing community that the BBC brought into its fold, not a community that the BBC set up from scratch. So rather than closing it, we've decided to explore another option. This process has been referred to elsewhere as the "disposal" of H2G2. I'll admit this is not a great choice of words, but what is means is that we'll be looking for proposals from others to take on the running of H2G2.' One option under discussion is a community buyout."
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BBC To Dispose of Douglas Adams Website

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  • by TheRedDuke (1734262) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @12:21AM (#34990734)
    They need to build a bypass. It's gotta be built, and it's gonna be built.
    • by 56ker (566853)
      Yes, but do we need to listen to Vogon poetry as a result!? :P


      "Oh freddled gruntbuggly/thy micturations are to me/As plurdled gabbleblotchits on a lurgid bee.
      Groop I implore thee, my foonting turlingdromes. And hooptiously drangle me with crinkly bindlewurdles,
      Or I will rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon, see if I don't!"
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Well, at least they're trying to move Aurthur's house ("what is means is that we'll be looking for proposals from others to take on the running of H2G2.")

      And the other bypass, well, they're moving that one to Ford's planet. [slashdot.org]

  • Not deleted (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @12:24AM (#34990744)

    From TFA: However, H2G2 is unusual. It is a pre-existing community that the BBC brought into its fold, not a community that the BBC set up from scratch. So rather than closing it, we've decided to explore another option.

    Now wait and see how many comments about deleting the site are posted here, and marvel at the number of people who don't read TFA...

    • THats not even FTA, but FTS (perhaps the summary changed after you posted, but I doubt it), but I'm still willing to bet you're right :-)
    • From TFA: However, H2G2 is unusual. It is a pre-existing community that the BBC brought into its fold, not a community that the BBC set up from scratch. So rather than closing it, we've decided to explore another option.

      Now wait and see how many comments about deleting the site are posted here, and marvel at the number of people who don't read TFA...

      Recently, BBC started to do really dumb things like disabling poor old "wap" site which may be still needed by some people (right, 1%) and wouldn't cost them anything. Some poor African having only access to a wap device may have been ended up out of BBC news for this reason.

      They also messed up the entire news.bbc.co.uk making it like a tabloid newspaper site (they call it red top I heard) and even changed the domain to www.bbc.co.uk/news forcing millions of browser redirects.

      A year earlier, we also saw Yah

    • "Omg! How Dare They Delete Teh Interweb Site!"

    • by Shivetya (243324)

      Well if we go back in time and never create the site it will be safe from deletion in the future!

  • by Seumas (6865) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @12:29AM (#34990772)

    Clearly, they needed to form a giant board of chairmen like Wikipedia, since it was essentially a take on Wikipedia, anyway. They needed to get all of the content to be created for free by the community. And moderated for free by the community. And edited for free by the community. And promoted for free by Google and other places that contribute to them and serve their content. And then have all that expensive primarily-text-based bandwidth to serve that apparently costs more than gold. Then hire on a ton of board members so they could justify a $20,000,000.00/yr non-profit expense to keep it running.

    • by bipbop (1144919) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @12:55AM (#34990878)
      It's two years older than Wikipedia, so if by "a take on Wikipedia" you meant they decided to do their own version of Wikipedia, then that's false. If you meant that they're quite similar, then I have no argument, so carry on :-)
      • H2G2 is older than Wikipedia... or even it's predecessors ...

        http://xkcd.com/548/ [xkcd.com] ..it is also an online community preserve the website and the community is lost

      • by slim (1652)

        H2G2 is predated by Everything [everything2.com], started in 1998 by Nathan of this parish.

        At the time it really felt as if we were building something akin to a Hitch Hiker's Guide.

    • Don't forget the Personal Appeal.

      • Funny thing, but I decided to look up the bit in Foundation about the realities of appealing to the Emperor (via google). A Wikimedia foundation page with a Personal Appeal from Jimmy Wales was the seventh link down.

    • by Eivind (15695)

      While your critique of Wikipedia has -some- merit, cost really isn't it.

      Show me a website with atleast 10% of wikipedias activity-level, that doesn't have atleast ten times the budget. $20M/year is about the same amount we as a society use on rubber-bands, it's an utterly insignificant sum.

      (yes, I get that Wikipedia is only cheap 'cos the contributions are free)

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      H2G2 actually has a "giant board of chairmen": unlike Wikipedia, it has had formal editorial oversight from the outset, with a heirarchy of trusted contributors, edit approval etc. etc.

  • is it any good?

    • by Seumas (6865) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @12:37AM (#34990812)

      Not particularly. It was a flash in the pan that everyone thought was cool and you never heard about, again. It was sort of an early Wikipedia; more like Everything (which in itself was a concept that was exciting and fun for about 48hrs and then you never thought about, again).

      1999: http://slashdot.org/story/99/04/28/1821246/Web-Based-Hitchhikers-Guide-to-the-Galaxy [slashdot.org]

      • by Sockatume (732728)

        "Flash-in-the-pan" in terms of internet fame, but it has rumbled along quite happily after its 15 minutes were over. A project doesn't have to be an all-consuming Facebook-grade monstrosity to be a success. The internet's strength is heterogeneity.

      • The trouble with it years back was was that it had the potential to be very good while you were out and about and had access to some sort of mobile computing device.

        But it was a bit before people had the hardware to really use the site. Sitting behind a beige box really sucked the fun out of it.

        Potentially it could be very good now that smart phones and tablets are very common. We have the hardware now to create the interface that Douglas Adams envisaged.

        It is quite a deep wide ranging site from what I rem

      • by nog_lorp (896553)
        Great that it exists, now it just need new software, a spiffy redesign, it's own domain, and marketing. Whose down to do it?!
  • Sickening! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by syousef (465911) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @12:38AM (#34990814) Journal

    How about just giving it to the man's family instead of trying to milk ahem I mean monetise it or "dispose" of it?

    Copyright seriously needs to be amended to disallow shelving and destruction of a work.

    • It sounds like some sort of extortion sheme.

      "We have your community, if you don't pay us, something bad will happen to it."

      So they don't want it, they could just hand it over. But there's demand, so they will charge for it. Is it just for the work of transferring the data, that would be understandable, but if they want to get a profit out it and threat to delete it if the price is not met, isn't this just like the time the farmers poured milk on the dirt* because it wasn't selling at the price they demanded

    • Re:Sickening! (Score:5, Informative)

      by shrykk (747039) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @03:42AM (#34991532)

      You seem to be under the impression that the H2G2 site is the work of Douglas Adams or a site about his work.

      Instead it is a big community-wiki sort of thing inspired by the eponymous Guide itself, about Life, the Universe and Everything.

      It's not really clear that shipping the server to Adams' family would achieve anything. In a sense the H2G2 site belongs to its many contributors, who presumably will be happy with it being sold off so long as their site stays live and their community can persist.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      I'm not sure that his family necessarily want the responsibility and expense of providing hosting, oversight and support to the community. However if you'd RTFA, or even the summary, you'd see that they are not "shelving" or "destroying" H2G2.

    • Copyright seriously needs to be amended to disallow shelving and destruction of a work.

      Actually, the copyright still belongs to the contributors - BBC just has a non-exclusive license to publish them. Anyone can request each contributor to copy and republish all the content without BBC's approval.

  • I'll be happy so long as they don't just write over all copies of it like they did all those Classic Doctor Who episodes.

  • by djconrad (1413667) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @01:12AM (#34990958)
    Thing is, Adam's vision was fully implemented with Wikipedia + smartphones. Or Google, or some other combination of teh tubes . But any way you cut it H2G2 is a site for fan boys and not a really useful Guide - such Guides exist elsewhere. I'm all for fanboydom, but everyone's cutting budgets (my department has lost a prof and lots of grad student support); this seems a fairly inconsequential thing to lose.
    • by Erbo (384)
      I would think the iPad is a more Guide-like device than a smartphone. YMMV, though.

      All I know is, if I ever get an iPad, I'm getting this case [mycaseconcepts.com] for it.

  • by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @01:12AM (#34990962)
    I just tried it for the first time and it's quite, ahem, rustic.

    And the search? Curiously, the article titled "Earth" is the tenth result for the search term "Earth".

  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @01:16AM (#34990976)

    The BBC erased their archive of great black and white 60's show videos "to save money" by reusing old tapes.

    Those boys are wizards, that's for sure!

    • by Knuckles (8964)

      I think all TV stations did this, I know for sure that Austrian ORF did. Tape *was* expensive.

      • by lxt (724570) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @02:14AM (#34991210) Journal
        Exactly - it wasn't unusual. It happens in almost every new piece of media - for a time its cultural value is under appreciated, and much material is lost. The same things happened in the 1910s-20s with film. Film stock *was* volatile, but with the right storage could have been preserved. Today, less than 10% of films made during that time period exist, mainly because the rest got thrown out.

        The same thing happened in the 60s/70s with video tape (the stuff cost a fortune, and nobody thought people were going to care about the programs they were erasing 50 years in the future), and again with websites until crawling and archiving became commonplace.

        • Exactly - it wasn't unusual. It happens in almost every new piece of media - for a time its cultural value is under appreciated, and much material is lost. The same things happened in the 1910s-20s with film. Film stock *was* volatile, but with the right storage could have been preserved. Today, less than 10% of films made during that time period exist, mainly because the rest got thrown out.

          The same thing happened in the 60s/70s with video tape (the stuff cost a fortune, and nobody thought people were going to care about the programs they were erasing 50 years in the future), and again with websites until crawling and archiving became commonplace.

          Not to mention NASA accidentally deleting THE FRIGGIN MOON LANDING! I guess with that specific example the cultural/historical value would have been a bit more obvious, but they were still routinely overwriting old recordings to save money.

    • by Geof (153857) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @04:04AM (#34991632) Homepage

      The BBC also incinerated film copies of the episodes. My understanding is that this was done in order to save space in their archive. (I remember something about a leaking roof.)

      When foreign stations licensed the show, they were sent copies of the episodes with instructions to return them or destroy them after broadcast. A number of episodes that survived did so because those stations failed to follow through. They violated the BBC's copyright (presumably unintentionally due to poor license compliance). Ironically, such episodes survived because of copyright infringement.

      Beyond the loss of Web material like the Hitchhiker's Guide site, or of software for no longe obtainable platforms, I fear we may face a similar situation in the future due to DRM. The Doctor Who case demonstrates that the copyright holder cannot always be trusted with preservation of significant works[1], and copying is the best insurance against destruction.

      [1] I emphasize significant works, by which I particularly mean those that are distributed widely. (Not personal journal articles as mentioned [slashdot.org] by another poster.) When works are distributed to the public, the public gains an interest in them. This interest is not reflected in law, but it does exist. (Indeed, I would argue that this interest arises because the public, through its activities of interpretation and evangelism, creates much of the value of such works. Think Star Wars or Rocky Horror.)

      • Ironically, such episodes survived because of copyright infringement.

        Ironically? Spreading and preserving culture is one of the PPs' objectives.

    • by joost (87285)

      Yes, people throwing stuff away, it's the end of the world!

  • This is the current website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/h2g2/ [bbc.co.uk]
  • by blang (450736) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @03:06AM (#34991382)

    a towel, and hope for the best.

  • Recently, I have read this article at The Register which itself is British.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/01/21/computer_history_museum_revolution/ [theregister.co.uk]

    There were some whining in article and the comments about British computers not being featured. It really seems to me that UK has lost their respect to old things even founded by legendary figures like Douglas Adams. So that was basically the reason, nobody really bothered to participate in that multi million project which even entities like BillG spared time

  • Sell iPlayer subscriptions to non UK citizens, even for a higher price. Start with Apple universe if you don't trust to people having "more open" devices.

    There are people who will happily buy "access right" to BBC TV starting with Americans.

    Deleting sites of historical significance or making your top 10 site look like a tabloid newspaper with gigantic fonts and 3rd party spying "share this" buttons won't save you. Selling content will. Believe or not, not all "foreigners" are pirates and some are already pa

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      What a great idea. [electricpig.co.uk]

      (The BBC already sells a lot of content, such as the various BBC channels in international markets, the DVDs, etc. And they're not deleting H2G2, as the summary explains.)

  • Couldn't they just convert the whole site and upload it to Wikia or something?
  • by Peet42 (904274) <Peet42@@@Netscape...net> on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @05:44AM (#34992042)
    I spent most of yesterday afternoon face-down on the sofa crying a little. I joined h2g2 on May 12th 1999, and have spent a significant amount of time there almost every day since. That's almost 12 years of memories. Good friends I have met, (really - it's not just an "online community", people would get together in "real life" too.) tremendous info and insights. They were doing blogging in the form of "Journals" before the word "Blog" was coined. They had a crowdsourced encyclopaedia years before Wikipedia was launched. I hope that someone takes the site over, but I can foresee huge legal problems when the time comes to split it away from the BBC site, as it will have the same usernames and passwords as thousands of BBCi accounts.

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