On 24 January 2011, the BBC announced cuts of 25% to its online budget and that it wanted to close or dispose of 200 websites…  including H2G2.com. The H2G2 researchers soon gathered in The H2G2 Community Consortium to try to save H2G2.com

After months of anguish, yesterday, 21th June, The BBC have confirmed the success of the three-way bid by Robbie Stamp, the Community Consortium and Noesis.  

As you certainly know, Robbie Stamp was the former chairman of The Digital Village, the e-company co-founded by Douglas Adams and which released the Starship Titanic computer game and launched h2g2.com in 1999.

Other members of the winning team are Noesis Systems (http://noesify.com/) is an international social media provider and the the h2g2c3 (the interim H2G2 comunity consortium comitee!) which acts on behalf of the h2g2 community.

It’s great to have Robbie Stamp on board again, ant the team seems very enthusiasts.

“Our primary objective in this first phase will be to transition h2g2 from the BBC onto Noesis servers. This part of the operation has been dubbed ‘No Researcher Left Behind’. We will migrate entries and conversations to Noesis servers and match researchers with their personal spaces. More details of this project are forthcoming, but in the meantime, Don’t Panic.

Once h2g2 is running stably and researchers settled into our new home, Phase Two begins and it will be time to focus our attention on building traffic, publishing more official entries more quickly, improving user experience and seeking ways to build revenue, which are likely to include sponsorship and advertising. The original h2g2 was supported by advertising.

Volunteerism has always played a major role in the success of h2g2. Soon teams of volunteers will be assuming the duties currently performed by BBC staff: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/brunel/A85803384

An overview of the current volunteer schemes can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A42623219. Your help is very welcome.

If Phase Two is successful then it is the clear intention to move to Phase Three, which will mean the creation of a fully commercial ‘for profit’ entity, with its own Board. This company will assume operational control of the site, will be granted an exclusive world wide license to develop the assets held by the Foundation and will be able to seek external investors.

The Commercial ‘trading arm’ will be mandated to return a percentage of profits and/or a royalty to the Foundation, which will also be free to fund raise to support its activities in the way that any Charity would be.

It also is our intention to find a ‘felt fair’ mechanism to reward researchers building the Guide, should we all have created significant value at some stage in the future. Indeed now we have won the bid, we are working with the lawyers to establish the deeds for the Trust and to create the best way of doing just that.

The Community will also have the right to elect a Board Member to the Commercial Company and to elect a Trustee to the Charity Board.

At this stage we would intend that some paid staff be taken on to work full- and part-time with the volunteers. There will also be business development activities as we look for partners, sponsors and advertisers.

Alongside the development of the site, the emphasis in Phase Three will very much be on mobile development. It is this phase, the ability to deliver the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on smart phones, that will really take us a big step closer to realizing Douglas’s original vision.

One thing that h2g2 has always done very well is develop writers. Through the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Foundation we can develop writers not only through the tried-and-true Peer Review process here on the site but also through schools, online tutorials and other charitable trusts. As more writers join our ranks we can build our Guide to Life, The Universe and Everything faster.

This strategy gives us a chance to build on Douglas Adams’s original vision. It shows deep respect for and includes the Community, is broken down into realistic steps and has social responsibility at its heart with the creation of the Foundation.”

The full text is here : http://www.bbc.co.uk/h2g2/forums/A639056/conversation/view/F77636/T8244180