How to Reboot an H-Net Network


This page provides an overview of the steps to reboot a network that has become inactive. H-Net is a large organization in terms of its academic reach but is very modest in terms of its revenues and paid staff. Thus, we typically have at least a dozen of our nearly 200 networks that need new volunteers at any given time. This is primarily a function of the size of our volunteer editorial community and natural turnover within it. The fact that a network is temporarily inactive should not be read as indicative of its potential. Such networks still have subscribers, an underlying publishing platform, and H-Net’s support system. Our experience over the last decade is that, with new volunteers, these networks can quickly be up and running again in a few months. (H-Net does have a few networks that we have judged to be no longer viable; these should have a header on their front page indicating that they’ve been “decommissioned.”)


Getting Started

The three core tasks of rebooting an H-Net network are to ensure that:

  1. Incoming messages to the network, typically academic announcements and queries, get vetted and, when appropriate, published to the network;
  2. Membership requests are either approved or rejected in a timely manner; and
  3. The network has an active and engaged editorial team that works together to develop its potential.

Moderation requires light, routine labor and is managed in H-Net’s built-in system. H-Net provides training on how to moderate posts and our Help Desk, home office staff, and elected officers are available to provide guidance. In general, a single trained H-Net editor can handle these moderation duties without much of a burden on their schedule. Keeping an editorial team engaged is more complicated but should also be understood as a gradual process. There are multiple ways to go about recruiting additional team members, including drawing on your own academic connections and using occasional messages over the network to recruit from its subscribers (“Calls for Editors,” as we often refer to them). 


Paths Forward

Taking any of the three routes outlined below can work wonders for an idling network. Please consider them in the context of your own schedule and interests, and keep in mind that H-Net seeks to protect the interests of its volunteers. We understand if you initially opt for an ambitious strategy but ultimately end up pursuing one with lighter burdens. Remember, you’re helping us.

Path A—Sole Network Editor

You don’t have a lot of time, but you still want to help out, so you offer to serve as a “Network Editor” for a couple of years, with an eye to ensuring that points 1 and 2 above, content and membership moderation, are handled regularly. You’ll seek to do one or two rounds of additional recruitment over the network, but otherwise hope others will do more to build a more expansive editorial team for the network in the future.

Path B—Network Editorial Team

You and some of your colleagues have communicated with each other about the network and want to come on board as a team. Your team has already started to sort out who will do what, and together you can ensure that 1 and 2 above will be taken care of immediately and that you’ll also continue to recruit additional team members as you move forward. At least two of your proposed team will serve as “Network Editors,” which will allow them to take care of moderating content and membership requests. 

Path C—Network Chair

You’d like to personally oversee all three network responsibilities (moderating posts, membership requests, and assembling an engaged editorial team) by managing the network’s day-to-day operations and developing a recruitment program for the next couple of years. You see rejuvenating the network as of vital academic importance and are eager to exercise leadership in your field of study by doing so. In essence, you are interested in serving as a “Network Editor” who also temporarily Chairs the network, rebuilding its editorial team through steady recruitment efforts.


Once you have reviewed this page and have an idea about which of the above paths you would like to follow, please contact H-Net’s Vice President of Networks (VPN; and Associate Director of Networks (ADN; for next steps and additional information.