H2G2 and Everything2 are both collaborative encyclopedic
databases accessed via a website. Beyond this, they have many
Both websites allow anyone with internet access to log on and post
anything they like. This policy obviously requires some kind of filter
On H2G2, nothing is removed unless it breaks the mild censorship
rules. Full time, paid editorial staff search through the slush for
quality writeups, do some polishing and fact checking, then add them to
the categorised "edited" section. There is no ranking of users
or writeups but users may comment on each other's work using the peer
On E2 a system of voting and user ranking helps the volunteer editors
decide which writeups to cull and which to commend.
Content and Style
The edited content on H2G2 is almost entirely factual.
There is no fiction, poetry, personal reflection,
swearing, ranting or amusing nonsense. Each
writeup is largely self contained and, apart from the search function,
writeups are reached by navigating a hierarchical structure based around
the phrase "Life, the Universe and Everything". "The Universe"
contains geography and travel information, "Life" and "Everything"
share the rest of the database in a seemingly arbitrary fashion. This
top-down approach is in marked contrast to E2's scattergun linking strategy. Writing styles are similar although
H2G2 seems more uniform and reference-like.
H2G2 has the mixed blessing of BBC ownership. This means it can
nestle down in the bureaucracy and live off a perpetual stream of
public cash, at least until the abolition of the TV licence fee.
E2 is partly funded by donations from dedicated users but most of the cost is borne by Blockstackers, to whom the project represents a worthwhile accomplishment and a showcase
for their Everything Web System.
In both cases the contributors retain the copyright on their work.
However, the BBC claims certain rights: (take a deep breath)
Where you are invited to submit any contribution to BBCi
(including any text, graphics, video or audio) you agree, by submitting
your contribution, to grant the BBC a perpetual, royalty-free,
non-exclusive, sub-licenseable right and license to use, reproduce,
modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from,
distribute, perform, play, and exercise all copyright and publicity
rights with respect to your contribution worldwide and/or to incorporate
your contribution in other works in any media now known or later
developed for the full term of any rights that may exist in your
contribution, and in accordance with privacy restrictions set out in the
In short, you still own your work but the BBC can do what they like
with it. This policy does have advantages for the well-being of the
database because writers can create updated or derivative writeups from
old material without needing special permission from a (possibly fled)
E2 does not demand such terms and probably cannot publish writeups
outside the context of the website.
Discussion and Help
H2G2 lacks the near-realtime public discussion offered by the E2
chatterbox. It does, however, have public forums where
users can offer feedback to each other. Every writeup has its own
forum attached and there are several central review forums (such as the
aforementioned peer review) where users can actively request criticism
of their work. E2 uses quite the opposite strategy, relying upon private
messages and secret voting.
On H2G2, newbies are introduced to the system through a
drool-proof set of "tour" pages. New Everythingians
get the comprehensive Everything FAQ and Everything
University or the quickie E2 Quick Start.
H2G2 is located at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/h2g2/