Become a fan of h2g2
Here you can find information regarding the reading, writing and editing of Entries on h2g2. If you have any questions that are not addressed here then please send them to us via our Feedback pages.
1 What are Entries?
Entries are the lifeblood of h2g2. They make up a significant part of the site and many of the activities on h2g2 revolve around their creation and curation. In short, Entries are articles written by users - or Researchers, as we prefer to call them - and can be about anything, provided they don't break the House Rules. However, before you can start writing on h2g2 you have to register an account with the site, agree to NPL's Terms and Conditions and sign in. (For more information on this see our Registration and Moderation FAQs). As soon as you create an Entry, it immediately becomes a part of h2g2 and will start showing up in search results after 24 hours. If you are signed in, you can start Conversations at the bottom of any Entry page by clicking START A CONVERSATION, or respond to posts that have already been made by clicking on the title of the Conversation and then hitting REPLY on the post.
2 What are Approved Entries?
Approved Entries make up the official, editorially sanctioned part of the site. Broadly speaking they are Entries that adhere to our Writing Guidelines and have been sub-edited by volunteers and checked by the h2g2 Guide Editors. For an Entry to become Approved it has to pass through a process called Peer Review, and you can submit your own Entries for consideration. For more information on the process see How can I get my Entry Approved? and our Peer Review FAQs page. Our Categories page includes an index of the many thousands of Entries on a range of subjects that have already made it through the Approval process. If you are signed in you can also start Conversations at the bottom of any Approved Entry page or reply to posts that have already been made in the same way as you would for Entries (see What are Entries?).
3 How do I write, edit or delete Entries?
Once you are registered and have signed in, you can create an Entry by clicking on the Write an Entry button on the right hand side of most pages of the site. This will open the Write an Entry page, and from here you can add a title and start writing text in the Body field. You can write your Entry in plain text or with GuideML. If you choose to use GuideML you can format your text in a variety of ways, as well as adding things like rules and headers by using the GuideML toolbar (see What is GuideML? for more details). The PREVIEW button will show you what your Entry will look like when it is displayed on the page and you can update your preview at any time by clicking the button again. If you do not wish others to be able to put your Entry into a Review Forum make sure you tick the 'Not for Review' box below the Body of Entry field (see our Forum FAQs Page for an explanation of what this means). Once you are happy with your Entry you should hit SAVE (careful - whatever you have written will not be saved until you have done this).
Once you have saved your Entry you can come back and edit it any time you like, by clicking the EDIT ENTRY button in the right hand column of the Entry page. This will open up the Edit an Entry page. Here you can make any changes you like, preview the new text and save it by clicking the SAVE button in the same way as before. You cannot delete Entries once they have been created but you can hide them from other users by ticking the 'Hide Entry' box underneath the Body text field on the Edit an Entry page.
4 Do I need to know HTML to create Entries?
HTML is a language that developers use to create web pages, using what is known as markup tags. If you have knowledge of the process it is helpful, as it is similar to the way GuideML works (see What is GuideML?). But you can only use GuideML to code h2g2 Entries. If you are unfamiliar with any of this language, then you shouldn't panic - GuideML is an easy-to-use variation of it (and you can find out more about it in the GuideML Clinic). However, if it really isn't for you, then you can just write your Entries using plain text, with no formatting other than paragraphs.
5 What is GuideML?
In a nutshell, GuideML is an easy-to-use markup language developed especially for h2g2 to help its users change the look and layout of their Entries. Once you have clicked the Write an Entry button, you can opt to format your text this way by selecting the GuideML button at the top right-hand side of the page. The basic GuideML coding elements will automatically be added to the Body of your text. You can also use the blue buttons above the Body section of your text to add paragraphs, bold and italic text, headers and subheaders, horizontal rules, line breaks, external and internal links, ordered and unordered lists (in other words, bullet points with and without numbers), tables and footnotes. The code elements for these will appear at the bottom of your Body text, so you may need to scroll down the box to find them. You will then need to cut and paste them in the correct place. If you make a mistake during this process, the Error page will tell you where it is when you try to save the page. The best way to get to grips with GuideML is by using it, but more detailed information is available in our GuideML Clinic and this Introduction to GuideML.
6 Can I include images and other objects in my Entries?
Generally, speaking it is only the h2g2 Guide Editors who can add images to Entries. This will usually be done during the Approval process, although suggestions can be made as Entries pass through Peer Review. Researchers who want to submit their own pictures can do so via [email protected] - although we need to stress that they must be of sufficient quality and also be the proven property of the Researcher, as we cannot publish copyrighted pictures. Unfortunately, you cannot include any other objects in your Entries. Images will also sometimes be provided by an h2g2 Volunteer group, the Community Artists.
7 Can I link to other H2G2 Entries?
You can add links to other h2g2 pages to your Entry using the INTERNAL LINK button in the GuideML toolbar on the Write/Edit an Entry pages. We only ask that the links are direct and relevant. However, if your Entry is intended for the Approved part of the site, you should only link to other Approved Entries (see What are Approved Entries?). You can also link to external pages - by using the EXTERNAL LINK button in the toolbar - but, please be advised, any inappropriate links, or links to purely commercial websites, will be removed. h2g2 is a reactively moderated site, so other users can alert us to any inappropriate content. See our Registration and Moderation FAQs for more information about moderation on h2g2. You can also just add the GuideML code for your links - if you know it - directly into the Body of your Entry.
8 Can I use other people's material in my Entries?
Please make sure that whatever you write on h2g2 is all your own work. There are some - limited - circumstances in which you can quote other people's writing, but to lift substantial sections of someone else's work may breach their intellectual property rights and break Not Panicking Ltd's Terms and Conditions. If you are going to use significant portions of material published elsewhere you must have the express permission of the copyright holder to do so, but - unless we are told otherwise - in general we will assume that you don't have permission and it will be removed.
9 How can I get my Entry Approved?
If you have written an Entry that you think is suitable for the Approved version of the site, the first thing to do is to submit it to Peer Review (see our Forum FAQs for details on how to do this). However: before you do this it is a good idea to check that it conforms to our Writing Guidelines as Entries that don't will not be Approved. Here is a rundown of some of the main things to consider before you submit your Entry, as following these general rules will give your writing a greater chance of being Approved:
Write about reality: Approved Entries should be about real-life events and things, and not exercises in writing fiction. While we encourage colourful, interesting Entries, dramatising past events can make Entries less accessible to those looking for a straightforward factual account, and should be avoided. If you would like to write fiction please do so in your Entries, but we would ask you not to submit those Entries to Peer Review. You can, however, submit fiction to the Alternative Writing Workshop, and find fiction, poetry and other forms of alternative writing in The UnderGuide.
Write about subjects that can be verified: Some subjects are of immense interest to individuals but aren't necessarily relevant to a wider audience, so try to choose topics that aren't too niche or cult, and that others are able to verify the information contained. But even if the subject of your Entry isn't that well-known, the historical, scientific or cultural relevance should be fairly established if you're aiming to get it Approved.
Be Original: h2g2 tries hard to avoid significant overlap between its Approved Entries. Before starting to write your contribution, check to see whether an Approved Entry already exists on the subject by using Search or by browsing our Categories. You can also check Peer Review for Entries currently going through our editorial process. If you find out that, entirely coincidentally, you've been researching a topic that someone else is working on, why not contact them via their Personal Space and suggest you collaborate on the Entry together? (To find out how see our Personal Space FAQs.) You can also pick up Entries that need finishing in the Flea Market or browse our Categories to look for any obvious gaps.
Write about what you're interested in: Most importantly, write about things that you are interested in or have specific knowledge of. Even if you don't know a great deal about the subject to begin with, don't be put off - researching the topic can be all part of the fun.
Try not to write in the first person: Personal perspectives and canny observations are welcome, but too many references to the author in your writing ('I did this', 'We did that') can be off-putting for readers. We want Entries to be as generally useful and accessible as possible, so we encourage people, if they can, to play the role of a detached observer in their writing. Very occasionally, exceptions can be made but not very often. h2g2 is also not to be used as a political soapbox - Approved Entries should take a balanced and fair-minded approach to their topic and not favour one argument or point of view above another. The best way to familiarise yourself with the style is by as reading as many Approved Entries within our Categories as you can. But don't get too caught up worrying about it, the main thing we want is for Entries to be lively, factual and accurate, and members of the community will be there to guide you as your Entry makes its way through Peer Review.
An expanded version of this advice about writing Entries for the Approved version of the site can be found on our Writing Guidelines page. Once you have written your Entry and it has been through the Peer Review process, it may be Picked by a Scout for possible Approval. For a detailed explanation of what happens next please refer to our Peer Review FAQs.
10 What's the copyright situation with the content I write on h2g2?
It's important to note that you still own the copyright to everything you contribute to h2g2 - and that applies to postings to Conversations as well as Entries. This means you are perfectly free to take what you have written and re-publish it somewhere else. But when you contribute to h2g2, you grant us (among other things) a non-exclusive right to publish your work in any media - see the Terms and Conditions for the full details.
11 What's the copyright situation on Entries that are written by more than one person?
Copyright on an entry belongs to the individual contribitor unless NPL edited it heavily in order to make it publishable. Heavy editing creates a separate, derivative work, and NPL own copyright on this derivative work. In the case of Edited Guide Entries with multiple authors, NPL own overall copyright. Individual contributors own the underlying rights to the parts of the Entry they wrote. To republish the Edited Guide Entry, an individual contributor would need permission of NPL, who own overall copyright. It would not be necessary to get permission from other individual contributors.
12 What can I do if I spot an error in an Approved Entry?
h2g2 is all about collaboration, so we are very grateful to users who are able to point out any errors that have been made in the text of our Approved Entries. Amendments and corrections are usually made while Entries are passing through the Peer Review process (there is more information about this in our Peer Review FAQs), before they are selected to be passed on to a Sub-editor. Our Sub-editors then scour the Entries for any typos or mistakes before they are returned to the h2g2 Guide Editors for inclusion into the Approved part of the site. However, mistakes can occasionally slip in. So if you see any factual errors or mistakes, please let us know by signing in and starting a Conversation on our Editorial Feedback page. Please include the name of the Entry, or its A number (which can be found at the top of the right hand column on the page or in the page url) or a link back to the page in question in your posting.
13 What do the 'Share' buttons on Entries or Approved Entries do?
Entries and Approved Entries now feature social networking Share functions. These buttons allow you to easily post links to h2g2 pages on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. Once you have clicked one of the buttons, a pop-up box will appear asking you to give permission for h2g2 to access basic information - name, profile picture, gender, networks, user ID, list of friends and any other information you've shared.
14 What does the 'Bookmark on your Personal Space' link do?
If you are signed in to h2g2, you can bookmark any Entry or Approved Entry to read later by clicking on the 'Bookmark on your Personal Space' link at the bottom of the main text section of the Entry. Clicking this link will take you to the Bookmarks section of your Personal Space, where the Entry you have just been reading will be sitting at the top of the list. For more information about bookmarking Entries on h2g2 see our Personal Space FAQs.
15 What do the 'Subscribe' and 'Unsubscribe' links on Entries and Approved Entries do?
If you're the author of an Entry or Approved Entry - or just interested in the topic it covers - you can opt to be notified of any new Conversations that are attached to it by clicking on the 'Subscribe' link at the bottom of the Conversation box. Any new Conversations or replies to those Conversations will then automatically appear in the 'Conversations' box or Conversations page on your Personal Space. To stop receiving notification just click 'Unsubscribe' at the bottom of the Entry or Approved Entry page. There is more information on subscriptions on our Personal Space FAQs page.