Updating an Approved Entry

0 Conversations

Peer Review
| Edited Guide Writing Workshop
| Alternative Writing Workshop
Flea Market
| Updating an Approved Entry

How to Write

The Procedure as described here is still being worked out (as of December 2011). It differs slightly from the way things were done when the BBC ran the site. Bear with us if we change our minds on some of the details here.

So you want to Update an Approved Guide Entry? Please take a moment to familiarise yourself with the processes involved; kick back and chill a while...

The guiding influence for updating is that the process empowers the community to keep the Approved Guide fresh and 'now'. As our founder Douglas Adams said in his vision for h2g2:

I did have the inkling of an idea that a collaborative guide, one that was written and kept up to date by the people who used it, in real time, might be a neat idea.

So in keeping with Douglas' vision, we're turning over the responsibility to you, the h2g2 Community.

Our thanks go out to a number of h2g2 Researchers who helped shape the Update process, including Frankie Roberto, Mikey the Humming Mouse, Increase Mathers, Anna, Abi, Jimster, Matt and, last but by no means least, Jimi X, who dedicated many years to the original Update Headquarters.

Why Update Entries?

There should be three criteria for wanting to update an entry.

  • Are there incorrect facts in the entry?
  • Is the entry out of date?
  • Is there newer, better information available that should be included?

This process is designed to make it easier for such updates to be made.

How to Update an Entry

There are three basic forms an update can take:

  • A line or small paragraph with new information - such as the latest album from a singer. This information can easily be posted in a conversation thread at the bottom of the existing entry or to Editorial Feedback, where the in-house team or a Curator will update the Entry. Should there be a number of similar postings with updates that cover a significant amount of time, or if the information requires a new conclusion (in the event of the entry's subject dying/being closed down/coming to an end), we can at some stage go to stage two.
  • If the information is more than a few paragraphs, but less than a full reworking, the information can again be submitted via Editorial Feedback. For the update to be accepted, however, it must be presented with explicit directions as to why the update is required, as well as directions as to what goes where/replaces what and it should be in full GuideML, including links.
  • If the update is an extensive rewrite of a simpler, shorter entry (such as those from the Old Writing Team of h2g2, or those deemed 'Mostly Harmless'), then it should be put into Peer Review as an Update to be fully reviewed by the h2g2 Community before being updated. Simple as that.

Note: There is a subtle but important difference between a rewrite and a completely new entry. If your update is effectively a brand new entry, simply put it into Peer Review as such - noting that there is already an Approved Guide Entry on the subject, but yours is different. If issues about authorship are expressed, the simple thing to do is see if you can update the original Entry and credit those Researcher's who helped. If this isn't possible, simply submit your 'new' Entry as yours and yours alone.

How to Write a Full Update

Researchers wanting to update an entry should first check whether somebody else is already looking to update it - by checking conversation threads at this entry, Peer Review, and any conversations under the entry you wish to update. If someone else has already declared their interest in updating that entry, you can still offer to help them out and submit material for the update, and if your contributions are included in the update you will be entitled to a credit as a Researcher.

Any would-be updater should contact the original author(s) and inform them of the intention to fully update their entry. This is for two reasons - firstly as a common courtesy and secondly because the original contributors might want to take part in the process and might have additional information already to hand.

The next thing that has to be done is obtain a copy of the text of the original entry. You can do this by using the Test feature:

  • In the URL for every Guide Entry, you will see an A-number. For example: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/brunel/A1283410.
  • If you replace the 'A' with 'Test' (so, 'Test1283410'), you can view the GuideML for the entry.
  • Copy this text into a new entry that you have created and use this to work from. You'll have to delete everything before the first <BODY> tag and everything after the last </BODY> tag before saving it.

The Update must have correct GuideML and be fully proofed and spell-checked before submission to Peer Review. For this reason, we recommend that the 'Chief Updater' (ie, the person doing all of the collating and amendments) is an experienced Researcher, who will remain 'Editor' of the update until such time as it is accepted.

From here, the entry is submitted to Peer Review with the Title of the Entry and Subject line reading:

UPDATE - *insert name of entry here*

The Update will then be treated in Peer Review like any other entry; people may saying they are happy with the update or making suggestions for improving it further.

When the entry has been a week in Peer Review, it can be picked by a Scout. We're still working out the exact process that will happen once the entry is picked, but you, the Researcher, don't need to worry about it. It will be whisked off by the Guide Editors and processed, and the contents of your copy will replace the original.

The Update will be announced on the Front Page, although it might not be done immediately.

What Happens to My Copy after the Update is Accepted?

That is up to you. There's possibly not any real benefit in having many versions of the same entry knocking around, but if the Updater prefers, they can keep their own version. However, regular updaters might prefer to create 'Workbooks' - pages that they use for Updates and then recycle after the Update has been accepted and transferred.

Crediting Entries


Although only one person can physically edit an update at any one time, any number of other people can still contribute to an update, and it will be the chief updater's job to ensure everyone is credited who has made a significant contribution. Any other Researchers who deserve some recognition for assisting with the update, but may have 'elvised' or do not wish to have co-author credit, can be added using the CREDIT tag function.

Note: All credits for the original entry should be preserved alongside the new contributors.


The original Sub-editor's credit is a grey area. As there is currently only one available slot for the Sub-editor's credit, a decision will have to be taken as to who did the lion's share of the work. In most cases, this credit will remain unchanged from the original. If, however, the original Sub-editor prefers not to be credited, then the credit will be replaced with the h2g2 Editors' U-number.

Thanks to Uncle Travelling Matt for assistance with this page.

Bookmark on your Personal Space

Conversations About This Entry

There are no Conversations for this Entry



Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry

Written and Edited by



h2g2 is created by h2g2's users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the Not Panicking Ltd. Unlike Edited Entries, Entries have not been checked by an Editor. If you consider any Entry to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please register a complaint. For any other comments, please visit the Feedback page.

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more