Monday, March 24, 2014

H-Law Is Moving! Instructions for Accessing the New Site

If you follow this blog, you are likely also familiar with H-Law, a "Humanities Social Sciences Online discussion network sponsored by the American Society for Legal History." After much deliberation and preparation, H-Law is officially transitioning to a new platform, H-Net Commons. If you're wondering what this means for you, here's a full explanation from H-Law's Lead Editor, Charles Zelden (after the jump):

Dear H-Law subscribers,

By now, all subscribers to H-Law should have received a notice from H-Net that H-Law will be transitioning to the new Digital Commons format.   This letter offers further explanation of what that transition will mean for all of us.

Unlike our current listserv format, which is email-based, the Commons is web-based.  This change will allow H-Law to serve our subscribers better through creating the ability to post content beyond messages to a list-serv, such as pictures, video clips, documents, and so forth.  H-Law on the Digital Commons also will be able to host blogs of interest to legal and constitutional historians.  Lastly, the web-based H-Law platform will make it much easier and smoother to link to other source materials on the web.

Despite these changes, the fundamental nature and purpose of H-Law will not change.  H-Law will remain a moderated community of scholars focused on the topic of legal history, broadly conceived.  H-Law’s change to a web-based format should not cause undue disruption to how H-Law does business.

Similarly, for the vast majority of H-Law subscribers, your interaction with H-Law discussion posts will not change.  All discussion posts will generate an automatic email announcement that you will receive in the same way that you used to receive list-serv posts.  This announcement will include the full text of the post (though it might not include any additional source materials such as pictures or documents).  If all you wish to do is to follow a discussion without posting, the H-Law email announcement will meet all your needs, without you having to do anything further.  However, if you wish to reply to a post or initiate a discussion on H-Law, you will have to take two additional steps.

  *   First, you will need to set up an account and profile at H-Net.  When the list moves to the Digital Commons, a system e-mail sent to your subscribed address will explain how to log in to the new H-Net Commons and how to access the network. THAT MESSAGE WILL CONTAIN A TEMPORARY PASSWORD that you can use to log in, to create a permanent password, and to provide additional information in your profile – if you want to.  Once you have a password and profile, you will be able to reply to posts.  Initiating a discussion will also be easy and straightforward. [Please note that H-Law encourages every subscriber to set up a password and fill out their H-Net profile.  Even if you are not going to post often, it will be useful to have an fully operational account on the chance that you might want to reply].

  *   Second, to reply to a post, rather than just hitting “reply” in your email reader, you will need to click on the underlined blue link to the actual web-based post; clicking on the link will take you to the post as it appears on the H-Law webpage.  Once you arrive at that webpage, you will be able to click on the ‘reply to this post” link on the upper right corner of the page.  This click will take you to a web-based dialogue box in which you will be able to compose your reply.   You also will be asked to provide a ‘tag’ describing the content of your reply.  Having completed writing your reply, you will hit “send” and your post will be forwarded to one of the H-Law list editors, who will then review your post and, in the vast majority of cases, post it to the list.

Lastly, a reminder:  It is still H-Law policy that every post bears its author’s signature and affiliation. .  Please remember to include this information at the end of your web-based posts.  The profile link identifying you as the author of your post is not adequate to fulfill this requirement.

On behalf of the editors and editorial board of H-Law, I ask for your patience as we make this transition to the twenty-first century of computing.  There may well be some teething pains as we all get used to the new operating system.  However, I am confident that, as was the case with the listserv format when H-Law started, soon we will become comfortable with the Commons until using it becomes second nature for all of us.


Charles Zelden
Lead Editor, H-Law