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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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How were the stories categorised?

While the site was active (June 2003 to January 2006), members of the WW2 Team built the archive structure and arranged the stories into key themes. The structure of the archive reflects the themes of the content contributed to the site; as the number of stories in the archive increased, so did the themes that the archive covered.

The stories were often categorised in several categories - perhaps according to the locations where they took place, a military campaign, an aspect of Home Front life or the armed force the contributor belonged to.

About 17,500 stories were manually categorised during the story gathering phase of the project. In order to ensure that all 47,000 stories were categorised, however, an automatic learning-based system (a Bayes classifier) was employed. Find out more about this.

Recommended stories

During the story gathering phase of the project, a selection of the stories contributed to the site were chosen for promotion on the front page of the site. During this time, these stories were known as Editorial Picks. In the archive, these are known as Recommended stories, and are identified by a star icon. Recommended Read icon

If you select a category, eg The Blitz, the Recommended stories appear in the first section of links on the page.

Recommended stories were chosen for a number of reasons: particularly vivid storytelling, an unusual theme not covered in other stories, a dramatic or particularly resonant account of the events.

Find out more about how the editorial team handled contributions to the site

Moderated content

Visitors to the site who wished to make a contribution had to register, whereby they agreed to abide by the House Rules and the Terms and Conditions of the site.

If a contribution broke these House Rules, an email was sent to the contributor, inviting them to amend and resubmit their content. Stories or messages that broke the House Rules were hidden, and have not been included in this archive.

The site terms required contributors to only add content they had a right to contribute. Content over which a publisher, a photographer or broadcaster could exert rights could not be included. Images submitted to the site required a moderator's approval before they could be shown on the site. If a moderator suspected that an image might be copyrighted, the contributor was requested to contact the site with an assurance that they had the right to submit this. If no assurance was received, the image was not published on the site.

Contributors to the site

Visitors who wished to make a contribution to the site had to register. By the end of the project, there were over 32,000 registered users on the site. New members signed up to the House Rules and the site's terms. The most important of these stated that although the user retained copyright of their stories, they granted the BBC the right to license and sublicense contributors' content.

There was a wide variety of contributors to the site. These included veterans - some added content via their own computers, or at an event or with the help of an associate centre. Other stories were submitted by family members who remembered stories their relatives had told them, or who added transcriptions of letters or diaries. Associate centres (museums, libraries or radio stations), ran story gathering campaigns and gathered stories with the help of employees and volunteers. Find out more about these events and associate centres.

The Data Protection Act 1984, 1998 meant the BBC could not disclose people's personal contact details or use these contact details for any function outside that which the user had signed up for, and had to destroy these details after a recommended time. The BBC Legal Department has recommended that the contact details gathered during the project be destroyed 18 months after the site closure (July 2007) and under no circumstances should these details be passed on to a third party. This means that the BBC is unable to pass on the contact details of anyone who registered on the site, nor can they be contacted on another person's behalf.

My Friends

Members of the site could add stories and images to the site, and also take part in discussions on the site. These could take place in forums attached to stories or on the Help or Feedback pages. Members could 'bookmark' the pages of other site members in the My Friends section of their own Personal Pages. These might be users who had the same interests, who they enjoyed talking to on the site or other site helpers (online volunteers who undertook tasks such as greeting new members, helping researchers with their queries or encouraging new contributors to the site).

See an example of a Personal Page
Read more about Community Activity on the site

Deleted Content

Some of the content that existed on the original site was deleted when the archive was built. This included information on how to register and contribute content, other help information, and a section on how to research your family's wartime history. As far as possible, links to this content were removed from the archive.

In addition to this, some content was deleted by moderators while the site was live because it contravened the site's House Rules in some way.

Read more about moderation.

Broken Links

Links to external websites were occasionally added by contributors to stories or messages. The pages on these external sites may since have been taken down or moved. If you find that these links do not take you to the correct content or are broken, try doing a search on the external site to relocate the information.

How you can use the content

The stories and images in the WW2 People's War archive have been contributed by the public and copyright rests with the authors, although by registering on the site they have also given the BBC a non-exclusive right to sublicense and use this content. Find out more about the terms under which this content was added to the original site.

If you wish to use the content in a commercial context (eg a publication, CD or website the public needs to pay for to obtain, or a project such as a broadcast series or film), please contact the BBC to obtain permission. Use the Contact Us link on the left hand side of the page to do this.

If you wish to use this content under 'fair dealing' terms - eg as part of a non commercial project such as an educational research project or a cost-recovery project such as a public exhibition or publication, you may do so, but should acknowledge the provenance and copyright holder of the content in the following way. On a credits / acknowledgements page, or in a prominent position if used as part of a display:

'WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at'

Each entry or extract should be credited by name / site name eg 'John Smith, WW2 People's War'

Material should not be used for political or lobbying purposes or to raise funds. If you are a political party, or affiliated group, or a charity, and wish to use content from the archive, please make your request directly to the BBC using the Contact Us link.

Users agree to respect and maintain the integrity of the image copied, and not distort, amend or mutilate the original material. Original text and images should not be modified or adapted into a derivative work such as a film or artwork. A series of unmodified extracts can be used, ie assembled into a collective whole, but content from the archive should not amount to more than 20% of your site or publication.

Use of content from the archive does not give you any sublicensing rights. Any organisation or individual who wishes to use the content should be aware of these guidelines and use the content directly from the site.

Fact File Authors

Most of the fact files in the Timeline were commissioned and written in June 2003, with the exception of 15 that were commissioned and written in September 2005. The authors were:

Helen Cleary - An editor and writer who wrote non-fiction for the BBC History website. She was a member of the WW2 People's War Team from September 2003 until November 2004.

Phil Edwards - A freelance writer and researcher specialising in 20th-century history. In 2003 he was doing research on post-war Italy at Salford University.

Bruce Robinson - Graduated with a first class degree in History from Cambridge University. He was a regular contributor to the BBC History website and had written for various publications, as well as charities including Shelter and the NSPCC.

Victoria Cook - Victoria was a Cambridge History graduate, and a freelance historical researcher. She had previously worked on two major exhibits at the Imperial War Museum, London, and the Churchill Museum in the Cabinet War Rooms.

Timeline copyright

Copyright for the images which accompany the fact files in the Timeline rests either with contributors to WW2 People's War, or with Corbis, a photographic archive that provides contemporary and archival photography, fine art, illustrations, cartoons and footage. Use of images sourced from contributor submissions should follow the guidelines above. Corbis images may not be reproduced without their permission.

Finding your stories on the archive site

If you can't find your stories on the archive site, please follow these instructions.

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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.

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