Douglas Adams' online encylopedia tries to buy itself back from the BBC

H2G2, the online encylopedia founded by Douglas Adams and sold to the BBC, is now set to be shut down by the Beeb, which is slashing its online spending. The community -- many of whom predate the BBC acquisition -- are attempting to raise the money to buy themselves back from the BBC.
I love h2g2, it's where I met my best friends, it's where I met my wife. I want to keep it. The BBC want to 'dispose' of it, we can't persuade them to change their mind. But we could buy it, between us. I have a dream, and I think we can do it. Join our google group, subscribe to our google group this page, find out more..

The H2G2 Community, owned and run by the H2G2 Community

If a group of us get together and put a reasonable proposal for the site I think we could take it on and make a success of it. We'd have to try and migrate the whole thing to a new server. Maybe with the web address We'd be funded by donations, and if that won't pay the bills we'll may have to small amounts of advertising. We won't have any full time staff members, but we'll have volunteers, and with all the volunteer schemes together that'll be enough to keep it running. The Scouts and the Sub Eds could keep the Guide running on their own. We could have elections for the posts that have the power that the italics used to have.

H2G2 Community Consortium - We need you! to help Save h2g2 (via /.)


  1. I’ve always wondered why Arthur C. Clarke gets credit for geosynchronous satellites, but Douglas Adams doesn’t get credit for Wikipedia.

    1. @IamInnocent

      The BBC is under political pressure from the new government to reduce its free activities online, in order to make it easier for Rupert Murdoch and his kids (and others too) to make money on the internet.

      Plus, no doubt the BBC’s web presence/s grew all over the place out of all its various activities over the years, and a good rethink and restructuring and refocusing is not a bad idea.

      All that’s not exactly a failure, and if the BBC can sell off something it once bought, what’s wrong with that?

    2. Their ‘failures’ are only that if seen through the lense of a for-profit organization.

      The same reason that all goes to hell when the mail, hospitals, schooling, homeless shelters, etc are privatized (looking at you Thatcher/Reagan/Mulroney).

      Some things are not meant to be capitalist success stories. And that is just fine.


  2. i’ve never used h2g2, but as a massive fan of douglas adams and his works, i feel that all geeks everywhere are obligated to make this happen. we owe him this.

    1. I love DNA and h2g2, but reality check: Douglas developed h2g2, then sold it to BBC. I don’t think he was as sentimental about the idea as some of us fans have become.

      Subcom Deidzoeb
      founder of the Zaphodista Army of Cybernautic Liberation
      “The revolution will not be tele-tubbied!”

  3. All that’s not exactly a failure, and if the BBC can sell off something it once bought, what’s wrong with that?

    You’re right.

  4. Why doesn’t the H2G2 community just move. According to the wiki entry “Researchers retain the copyright to their articles, but grant the BBC a non-exclusive license to reproduce their work in all formats.”

    Can’t the contributors take their entries elsewhere without having to buy out BBC?

    Call it H3G3 and have a good time elsewhere.

    1. Basic problem, I assume, is contacting everybody who ever, EVER contributed an article and getting their consent to reproduce it elsewhere.

  5. Since the public have already paid for H2G2, via the licencing system, I’m not sure the Beeb are justified in asking for money for the H2G2 site, anyway. Just give the contributors’ org the files.

  6. Hi

    Thanks for the support on here. Unfortunately taking on the running is more than a matter of taking on the files of the posts that we made. Ideally we’d like to take on the whole product, the exisitng entries, and the system. We want to continue building the earth edition of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and grow it. We want to continue being a forum for excellent writting and to nuture our supportive community.

    If anyone would like to support us do pop over to our google group home page, or to our h2g2 page – which is linked to above.

    Dr Z, from h2g2, on behalf of the h2g2 community consortium.

  7. The BBC bought h2g2 in the firesale when h2g2 (the company, formerly The Digital Village, later Phase III) crashed and burned as a result of the implosion, having no real business plan (boy did they ever not have a business plan), and having wasted all the cash from Starship Titanic on some Guardian ads and a Microsoft Transaction Server port of the original Perl scripts to get ready for the million users that every wanted but that h2g2 never got.

    The h2g2 line management didn’t like the idea of the users taking any part in the running of the site and actively opposed user-led initiatives.

    But some great people worked on that project. The site still gets a lot of love from its users, and if they can take it over they’ll be resolving this sorry story in a very positive way and maybe even showing the way for other sites like

  8. To be clear: it wasn’t Douglas’s choice to sell h2g2 to the Beeb. That was the last think he wanted AFAIK.

  9. I can’t believe it! They made me get a “BBC-ID”, but when I did not agree with the “house rules”, they blocked my ability to contribute. We’ll just take our semi-incoherent rantings elsewhere. Good day Sirs/Madams!

    [Researcher: 240611]

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