Last updated

H2G2 website.png
The h2g2 front page on 24 May 2015
Type of site
Internet encyclopedia project
Available inEnglish
OwnerNot Panicking Ltd
Created by Douglas Adams
URL h2g2.com
Launched28 April 1999;22 years ago (1999-04-28)
Current statusActive
Content license
Authors retain copyright but grant NPL a non-exclusive licence to distribute

The h2g2 website is a British-based collaborative online encyclopedia project. It describes itself as "an unconventional guide to life, the universe, and everything", in the spirit of the fictional publication The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy from the science fiction comedy series of the same name by Douglas Adams. [1] It was founded by Adams in 1999 and was run by the BBC between 2001 and 2011. [2] [3] [4]


The intent is to create an Earth-focused guide that allows members to share information about their geographic area and the local sites, activities and businesses, to help people decide where they want to go and what they may find when they get there. It has grown to contain subjects from restaurants and recipes, to quantum theory and history. Explicit advertising of businesses was forbidden when the site was run by the BBC, but customer reviews were permitted. [5]

The content of the project is written by registered "Researchers" on its website. [6] Articles written by Researchers form the "Guide" as a whole, with an "Edited Guide" being steadily created out of factual articles that have been peer reviewed via the "Peer Review" system.[ citation needed ] The Edited Guide includes both traditional encyclopaedic subjects and more idiosyncratic offerings, and articles in the Edited Guide sometimes aim for a slightly humorous style. [7]


The Digital Village (TDV) was a digital media company based in Covent Garden, London, United Kingdom. [8] It was founded in 1992. [9] The science fiction/comedy writer Douglas Adams was one of the founding members, along with Robbie Stamp, executive producer of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie (2005). [10] TDV produced the video game Starship Titanic . The h2g2 website was founded on 28 April 1999 as a community-site dedicated to producing the "Earth edition" of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by the author of the series, Douglas Adams, and his friends and colleagues at The Digital Village. [11]

Digital Village was renamed in 2000 to "h2g2", an abbreviation for the title as well as part of the url. The site was a runner-up for Best Community Site in the Yell.com awards in 2000. [12] At its highest point (October 2000) the company had over 40 employees. Like other dot-com companies, Adams' company ran into financial difficulties towards the end of 2000 and eventually ceased operations. [4] In January 2001, the management of the site was taken over by the BBC, and moved to bbc.co.uk (then known as BBCi). [3] While many h2g2 staff continued to work without pay until the h2g2 site, brand and several staff moved to the British Broadcasting Corporation. The game division became a new company, Phase 3 Studios, which continued for several months under the ownership of PAN Interactive, but ultimately closed in 2002.[ citation needed ]

21 April 2005 marked the re-launch of h2g2 Mobile, an edition of the guide produced for PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) and mobile phones that could access the internet, so that people could read h2g2 entries while on the move. [13] This was done because people wanted h2g2 to be much like the Hitchhiker's Guide described in the books – a mobile, electronic device that anyone could read from anywhere. [11] An earlier incarnation of h2g2 Mobile was a WAP phone based version of h2g2. Announced at First Tuesday in London on 14 December 1999, it became the most trafficked WAP site in Europe until it was closed down by the BBC when it took over the site in January 2001. h2g2 Mobile was closed by the BBC as it then believed that its license conditions did not allow it to deliver any service over a telephone system. [14]

The site was redesigned for the BBC by Aerian Studios in 2011, [15] bringing it in line with the general appearance of other BBC websites, while maintaining a degree of the site's old character. [16]

On 24 January 2011, the BBC announced cuts of 25% to its online budget, resulting in a £34 million less investment into the site. A number of sites were to be closed, including BBC Switch, BBC Blast and 6-0-6. As part of this exercise, the BBC chose to sell h2g2. [17] On 21 June 2011, it was announced the winning bid was a joint bid put together by three parties: Robbie Stamp, h2g2c2 ("The h2g2 Community Consortium") and the owners of Lycos Chat (Brian Larholm and Alyson Larholm) [18] On 31 August 2011, it was announced h2g2 was sold to Not Panicking Ltd, a company founded by Robbie Stamp, Brian Larholm and Alyson Larholm, as well as The h2g2 Community Consortium. [19]

On 3 October 2011, the BBC incarnation of h2g2 closed, leaving only an announcement reading "H2G2 has now left the BBC. The new owners of H2G2 are currently preparing the site for relaunch. Soon you will find The Guide to Life, the Universe and Everything at www.h2g2.com" [20] The post-BBC version of the site went live on 16 October 2011.

Terms and conditions

To contribute to the site it is necessary to register and to agree to the h2g2 "House Rules" and the general Not Panicking Ltd Terms and Conditions. Registered users are called Researchers. Researchers retain the copyright to their articles, but grant Not Panicking Ltd a non-exclusive license to reproduce their work in all formats.


Part of the software for h2g2 is known as DNA, after the initials of author and site founder Douglas Adams. The DNA technology was introduced a few months after the BBC takeover and is still used for BBC blogs, messageboards and commenting systems. Before that there was a technology which was written mostly in Perl. Adams was involved in the website in its early days. [21] His account name was DNA, and his user number was 42, a reference to the joke in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything is 42. Adams's legacy is still felt on h2g2, though it is not a fan site. [2]

See also

Related Research Articles

Douglas Adams English author and humourist

Douglas Noel Adams was an English author, screenwriter, essayist, humorist, satirist and dramatist. Adams was author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which originated in 1978 as a BBC radio comedy, before developing into a "trilogy" of five books that sold more than 15 million copies in his lifetime and generated a television series, several stage plays, comics, a video game, and in 2005 a feature film. Adams's contribution to UK radio is commemorated in The Radio Academy's Hall of Fame.

<i>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy</i> Science fiction series

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a comedy science fiction franchise created by Douglas Adams. Originally a 1978 radio comedy broadcast on BBC Radio 4, it was later adapted to other formats, including stage shows, novels, comic books, a 1981 TV series, a 1984 video game, and 2005 feature film.

Zaphod Beeblebrox Fictional character in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Zaphod Beeblebrox is a fictional character in the various versions of the comic science fiction series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

<i>Starship Titanic</i>

Starship Titanic is an adventure game developed by The Digital Village and published by Simon & Schuster Interactive. It was released in April 1998 for Microsoft Windows and in March 1999 for Apple Macintosh. The game takes place on the eponymous starship, which the player is tasked with repairing by locating the missing parts of its control system. The gameplay involves solving puzzles and speaking with the bots inside the ship. The game features a text parser similar to those of text adventure games with which the player can talk with characters.

John Lloyd (producer)

John Hardress Wilfred Lloyd is an English television and radio comedy producer and writer. His television work includes Not the Nine O'Clock News, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Spitting Image, Blackadder and QI. He is currently the presenter of BBC Radio 4's The Museum of Curiosity.

<i>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy</i> (video game)

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is an interactive fiction video game based on the comedic science fiction series of the same name. It was designed by series creator Douglas Adams and Infocom's Steve Meretzky, and it was first released in 1984 for the Apple II, Macintosh, Commodore 64, CP/M, MS-DOS, Amiga, Atari 8-bit family, and Atari ST. It is Infocom's fourteenth game.

<i>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy</i> (novel) 1979 book by Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the first of six books in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy comedy science fiction "hexalogy" by Douglas Adams. The novel is an adaptation of the first four parts of Adams's radio series of the same name. The novel was first published in London on 12 October 1979. It sold 250,000 copies in the first three months.

Towel Day

Towel Day is celebrated every year on 25 May as a tribute to the author Douglas Adams by his fans. On this day, fans openly carry a towel with them, as described in Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, to demonstrate their appreciation for the books and the author. The commemoration was first held 25 May 2001, two weeks after Adams' death on 11 May.

BBC Online Brand name and home for the BBCs online service

BBC Online, formerly known as BBCi, is the BBC's online service. It is a large network of websites including such high-profile sites as BBC News and Sport, the on-demand video and radio services co-branded BBC iPlayer, the children's sites CBBC and CBeebies, and learning services such as Bitesize. The BBC has had an online presence supporting its TV and radio programmes and web-only initiatives since April 1994, but did not launch officially until 28 April 1997, following government approval to fund it by TV licence fee revenue as a service in its own right. Throughout its history, the online plans of the BBC have been subject to competition and complaint from its commercial rivals, which has resulted in various public consultations and government reviews to investigate their claims that its large presence and public funding distorts the UK market.

<i>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy</i> (film) 2005 film

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a 2005 science fiction comedy film directed by Garth Jennings, based upon previous works in the media franchise of the same name, created by Douglas Adams. It stars Martin Freeman, Sam Rockwell, Mos Def, Zooey Deschanel, Bill Nighy, Anna Chancellor, John Malkovich, and the voices of Stephen Fry, Helen Mirren, Thomas Lennon, Richard Griffiths, Ian McNeice, Bill Bailey and Alan Rickman. Adams co-wrote the screenplay with Karey Kirkpatrick but died in 2001, before production began; the film is dedicated to Adams. The film grossed over $100 million worldwide.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a comic science fiction series created by Douglas Adams that has become popular among fans of the genre and members of the scientific community. Phrases from it are widely recognised and often used in reference to, but outside the context of, the source material. Many writers on popular science, such as Fred Alan Wolf, Paul Davies, and Michio Kaku, have used quotations in their books to illustrate facts about cosmology or philosophy.

<i>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy</i> (radio series) Science fiction comedy radio series

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a science fiction comedy radio series written by Douglas Adams. It was originally broadcast in the United Kingdom by BBC Radio 4 in 1978, and afterwards the BBC World Service, National Public Radio in the US and CBC Radio in Canada. The series was the first radio comedy programme to be produced in stereo, and was innovative in its use of music and sound effects, winning a number of awards.

<i>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy</i> (TV series)

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a BBC television adaptation of Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy which was broadcast in January and February 1981 on UK television station BBC Two. The adaptation follows the original radio series in 1978 and 1980, the first novel and double LP, in 1979, and the stage shows, in 1979 and 1980, making it the fifth iteration of the guide.

Douglas Adams at the BBC is a three CD set released by BBC Audio in 2004 (ISBN 0-563-49404-2). By using extracts from many radio and TV productions, the three discs cover Douglas Adams's association with BBC Radio and TV from 1974 to 2001, and also include tributes to Adams that were transmitted between 2001 and 2003. Subjects are covered in an A-Z format. Linking narration on all three discs is provided by Simon Jones. Several of the sketches, many of which are included for the first time since their original transmissions, had been discussed in biographies of Adams. In addition, the complete script for "The Lost Hitchhiker Sketch" appears in the 25th anniversary edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Original Radio Scripts. Disc one covers subjects A to G, disc two covers subjects H to P, and disc three covers subjects Q to Z.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Future was a four-part radio series hosted by Douglas Adams. It was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in October 2000, and repeated in April and May 2001, and September 2014. Because the radio series turned out to be Adams's final project for the BBC before his death, all four episodes are still available for download from the Radio 4 website. Extracts from the four programmes are also available for listening within the Douglas Adams at the BBC collection.

Robbie Stamp was the CEO of The Digital Village, a position that came about partly because of his friendship with author Douglas Adams, whose works inspired the site. Stamp was also the executive producer of the movie version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

"Journey of the Sorcerer" is an instrumental by the American rock band Eagles. It appeared on their 1975 album One of These Nights and was later used as the theme tune to the BBC comedy / science fiction franchise The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In this latter role, it has been re-recorded several times.

<i>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy</i> (fictional) Book within the book series of the same name

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a fictional electronic guide book in the multimedia scifi/comedy series of the same name by Douglas Adams. The Guide serves as "the standard repository for all knowledge and wisdom" for many members of the series' galaxy-spanning civilization. Entries from the guidebook are used as comic narration to bridge events and provide background information in every version of the story. The guide is published by "Megadodo Publications", a publishing company on Ursa Minor Beta.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a science fiction comedy series created by Douglas Adams.


  1. "Web watch; New favourites". Sydney Morning Herald (Australia). 7 May 2005. p. 5.
  2. 1 2 Jackson, Andrew (May 2009). "Web wonder". Huddersfield Daily Examiner. p. 19. Archived from the original on 20 September 2011.
  3. 1 2 "Hitchhiker's Guide web site moves to BBC". Telecomworldwire. 23 February 2001.
  4. 1 2 Tomlinson, Heather (4 March 2001). "Hitchhiker's Website Goes Home To Auntie". Independent (UK). London. pp. 3 (Business section).[ dead link ]
  5. "House Rules for h2g2". 28 June 2013. Retrieved 21 April 2015.No Spitting. The lawyers wanted to know what rules we needed, and we said 'The usual ones, plus "No spitting" please.' So there you go: no spitting. Many thanks. Oh, and beware of the Leopard.
  6. Hurrell, Nick (13 October 2000). "Nick Hurrell, the Chief Executive of M&C Saatchi and the Chairman of EMCSAATCHI, looks at the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Online". Campaign. pp. 14 (Private Surf section).
  7. McMurray, Sandy (15 August 2001). "Sites for Beginners, Students and Clones". The Toronto Sun. pp. 53 (Connect section).Another site, created by Douglas Adams, comes at the encyclopedia idea from a different, funnier angle.
  8. http://www.tdv.com/
  9. https://www.fastcompany.com/34100/hitchhikers-guide-new-economy
  10. Botti, Nicolas (2009). “Life, DNA & h2g2: Douglas Adams’ Biography” Archived 1 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 9 July 2014
  11. 1 2 Turnbull, Giles (22 September 1999). "Sci-fi Guide Could Become Fact". Press Association.
  12. Kelly, Matt (13 July 2000). "The Yell.com Awards 2000". The Mirror (UK). p. 14.
  13. "h2g2 Mobile Information Centre". 17 October 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  14. "Life, the Universe and Everything Mobile". The Digital Village. 22 December 1999. Retrieved 17 July 2009.
  15. "H2G2 Refresh: design and technical challenges". 21 January 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2011.this week the refreshed version of the BBC's long running community site H2G2 was launched.
  16. "Talking Point – h2g2 Redesign". 24 August 2009. Retrieved 21 April 2015.As we've already mentioned we're now in the process of redesigning h2g2.
  17. "BBC News – BBC to cut online budget by 25%". BBC Online . 24 January 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  18. "Tuesday 21 June 2011: The future of H2G2 – the Successful Bid". 21 June 2011. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  19. "Wednesday 31 June 2011: H2G2 Leaving The BBC Soon!". 31 August 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  20. "BBC - H2G2" . Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  21. "Douglas Adams 1952 – 2001". 28 April 1999. Retrieved 15 April 2015.

Further reading