Back in 1999, Douglas Adams — who was always quite a technophile — decided it was about time to make a website for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He didn't want it to be a fan site, a mostly-static place with information about the Hitchhiker's series; he had something much bigger in mind. What he wanted was, in essence, the "Earth Edition" of the Guide, somewhere where internet users could write and post their own articles about Life, the Universe and Everything, share information, create an online community; all those wonderful things that the World Wide Web made possible. (As well as some things that he imagined would be possible in the near future, such as the use of "devices [...] that combine palmtop computers with cellphones with Internet devices with GPS systems".) So that's what he did.
If it had been created today, it would have been called Web 2.0 (and maybe, "yet another wiki site"). Back then, it was called h2g2. It predated Wikipedia, its more popular alternative, by two years. For all intents and purposes, Adams invented the Wiki. It can still be found here.
The site almost went down when the dot-com bubble burst, but was acquired by The BBC, who kept it going for another decade or so, until a reorganization of the BBC sites left h2g2 out of the picture. It is currently being run by the Community Consortium, who bought it from BBC.
This site provides examples of:
- Acronym and Abbreviation Overload: "h2g2" is the fan-accepted abbreviation for The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy. (two "h"'s, two "g"'s). This is a lot simpler and easier than typing The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy on each and every occurence. This only appears to be accepted in a limited sort of way on tvtropes, however...
- Berserk Button: Like any internet forum, you can be having a pleasant conversation when someone says the wrong thing...
- Cargo Cult: Many years ago, one user writing under the nickname "nighthoover" inquired in one of the main forums how he might be able to cancel his account. Said user had posted once more, and then left the site. The thread, however, has been hijacked by some of the resident Cloud Cuckoolander folks, who hailed him as a lost prophet, and eventually spurred the Religion of Nighthoover (It Makes Sense in Contextnote ). Lettuce spry!
- Cloud Cuckoolander: If you've been on h2g2 long enough, you'll have heard of (or from) 2legs, a Talkative Loon and frequent inhabitant of the forums, capable of derailing any thread in seconds. See also under Cargo Cult.
- Criticalresearch Failure: See below. Even if Ford Prefect got it all wrong (at first) hootooers generally do not. Or at least, not for very long.
- Did Not Do the Bloody Research: strongly averted, as the long and painstaking Peer Review system will always throw up hootooers who can spot and correct errors, or at least point them out to the Researcher. Hell, they're not called Researchers (with a capital "R") for nothing...
- Great Big Book of Everything: Douglas Adams's aim in setting up h2g2.
- Homage: most Hootooers have been assigned six, seven, or even eight digit user numbers in the format U538194. Douglas Adams could only be assigned one Researcher Number. His was, and ever more will remain, U42.
- Nostalgia Filter: During the BBC days, barely a day went by without someone lamenting how much better things were before Evil, Inc. took over. The first signs of 'why can't we go back the golden days when the BBC ran the place' have already started to appear.
- Saving the Orphanage: In 2010, BBC announced they were reorganizing their sites, and h2g2 was going to be "disposed of". Much consternation arised, but the community banded together, created a Consortium, found some investors, and managed to buy the site and move it to an independent domain.
- Talkative Loon: Some people just have to reply to every thread. Note that this says "reply", not "contribute". When there are no threads to reply to, they start their own. And then reply to them.
- Timestamps Are Your Friends: this is essential on many of the discussion threads where after a period of intense activity, a discussion can suddenly run out of steam and become dormant. Only for somebody to discover it and pick up the thread again, often after an unfeasably long length of time...
- We All Live in the UK: Douglas Adams was British. The BBC is British. Most (though by no means all) users of h2g2 are British. Is it a surprise if h2g2 sometimes feels a bit... well... British?