H-Net Commons FAQ

H-Net Commons FAQ for H-Net Subscribers and Visitors

What is the H-Net Commons?

H-Net Commons is the new platform for H-Net Networks, built on the modular Drupal content management system.  Think of the H-Net Commons as a public square or intellectual common market with free access to educational and scholarly information generated from local producers (the networks).

What does the Commons do?

It does what we currently do -- and then more.  In addition to the discussions and announcements that our list subscribers are accustomed to, the platform will enable H-Net's editors and users to upload, discuss, create, edit, transform, and develop rich content in the humanities and social sciences.  These features will broaden, quicken, and deepen the conversational functions of H-Net's traditional email lists. Each network will have its own headquarters managed by its editors, housed within a larger installation that enables readers to find and make connections across all of our networks.

Here is a quick summary of the features that will launch with the first public version:

  • Moderated discussion postings, with email notifications of new comments
  • H-Net Reviews fed to each network site, with discussion capability nearby.
  • Editor-customized pages with different “views” of content
  • Subscriber "home box" that can be customized to display specific types of content from various networks, including saved searches that dynamically update when new material is published.
  • Network-based blogging
  • Common web-based moderating of all content, with private editor-to-editor and editor-to-author comments on revisions.
  • “Private,” member-only network sites for use by editors or affiliated organizations
  • User and editor individual profiles, with user-managed restrictions on what information is visible to the public
  • One-click sharing of pages with Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter.
  • Customized menus pointing to the network’s featured content
  • Editor-vetted collections of links, essays, images, audio, and documents
  • Front-page feeds of featured, recent, and content filtered by subject.
  • H-Net-wide and network-only searching, filtered by categories and tags attached to content by editors and users, that can be saved to any custom page or a subscriber's  account.
  • Creative Commons 3.0 licensing of all content.

Depending on the evolution of the software, subsequent releases will include:

  • Individual network and H-Net master calendars for events
  • Crowd-sourced bibliographical management tools
  • Additional refinements of the discussion, blogging, and private network systems

Can I still get H-Net in my inbox?

Sure.  Here are some options:

  • You can continue to follow discussions via individual or digest email notifications from the Commons that contain the body of messages and a link back to your network for replies.
  • You can get RSS feeds with updated content as fully-formatted web pages right inside email programs like Thunderbird and Outlook or in your favorite news reader.

But you may discover that it's even more convenient to gather all your H-Net in one place, one click away, in your own homebox, called MyHNet.  There, you can feed recent postings from multiple networks along with saved searches that target specific subjects of interest to you.

How will my experience with H-Net change?

H-Net will continue its practice of scholarly moderation by volunteer field experts.  Now, however, the entire Commons is effectively a new "inbox" where you can locate, store, and reuse material that previously disappeared into an email inbox and its attachment directory.  Any visitor can read our public content, but in order to participate one must open a free account, create a simple profile, and subscribe to a network.  Subscription is all that is needed to be able to join a discussion; approval by a network editor to become a “contributor” is necessary in order to upload content (i.e., to upload images, documents, audio, or other files) that will be vetted by the editors.  Perhaps the most significant change will be tagging: you will provide at least one identifying tag for each item you contribute, basically like providing a subject line to an email; the resulting accumulation of tags will create a vast index of all our content, making it searchable and reusable.

What will happen to Listserv?

We will retain our listserv license for the near future and run listservs for internal and other purposes.  Our listserv logs will still be available for public viewing.  But listserv will cease to be the main content delivery platform for H-Net discussions.

What about the Job Guide, H-Net Reviews, and H-ANNOUNCE?   Are they also included in this new system?

These services will continue in their current form and delivery system for the foreseeable future.   Additionally, H-Net Reviews will add a channel directly into the Commons.

What's the learning curve?

If you can use a browser and a mouse, you're most of the way there.  But we'll help you get started and we'll be there all along to help sort out the inevitable issues with new software.  Our Help Desk Network has "how-to" guides, screenshots, sample projects and pages, and links to contact us directly.  We're adding to it all the time.  If you subscribe to any current lists, you will receive messages providing advance notice of the network's migration to the new site, along with simple instructions that allow you to opt out by unsubscribing from the list.  The actual migration will automatically move the email address of your listserv subscription into a new, free account at the Commons.  You'll get an email with a link back to create a password and get started.