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Project appraisal: What we learned
Midway through the project, the WW2 People's War online team looked at some of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing the project. From these findings, a list of recommendations was devised.
Identify your audience and make the site for them
Time your project carefully
In many cases, the project was able to dovetail with local partners' activity - eg many local museums and volunteer groups were looking for ways to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the war's end, and running an event where veterans added their stories to the website was a productive way to do this.
Make promotion count
Team up with external organisations
Focus on one call to action
Be aware of 'project pitfalls'
There were frequent and heated debates on the subject on the site, but no change in policy. Many of the Recommended read stories chosen by the team and site members were given a light edit to aid consistency and readability - but no content or facts were changed in this process.
Make it very clear what you intend to do with the content
An exit strategy was devised to ensure that the archive of stories remained in the public domain, where the public could access them, for perpetuity. There was no guarantee at the time of writing how long the BBC would be able to host the archive and to mitigate the risk of it being made unavailable to the public at any time in the future, an agreement was reached with the United Kingdom Web Archiving Consortium, (a group of national libraries and archives overseen by The British Library) whereby the stories would be hosted longterm.
Give the project time to develop
Most of the wartime generation did not have computer access or the skills to use a computer. They were thus dependent on partners and associate centres to organise staffing and events where they could get help adding their stories to the site.
Contributing a story was not just a big demand on the participants from a technical point of view - it was also demanding psychologically. It takes time to piece together events that took place 60 years earlier. However, once users cast their minds back to add one story, they often found that their memories began to flow.
Most of the content on this site is created by our users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced.