[GLAM] Soldiers' letters

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[GLAM] Soldiers' letters

brian.mcneil-2
Following on from Fae and myself meeting Robin Urquart of the National
Archives of Scotland, I'm looking for people who may be interested in
working on a WW-I related GLAM project.

The Archives have an extensive collection of letters that soldiers wrote
to be delivered to family members in the event they were killed. Due to
the accessibility requirements imposed on any body like the archives,
there is a need to transcribe such documents before they can make them
widely available.

Each letter generally has associated personal effects, such as tickets
to the last theatre show someone saw before going to the front. So, they
make for a beautiful piece of very personal history. With WW-I having
"pals regiments" and the entire young male community from towns and
villages serving - and dying - together, these can readily be focussed
on small geographic areas. Perhaps even readily covering everyone listed
on specific war memorials.

I'm open to any and all ideas on how we could work with the National
Archives of Scotland on this; there's work for those who shun sunlight
in transcribing handwritten letters (to meet their accessibility
requirements), linking letters and effects to specific monuments, and
anything else people might can come up with.

To me, it doesn't seem unreasonable to aim to use Commons, Wikisource,
*and* Wikibooks. A QR code could be placed at a relevant war memorial,
it points to a Wikibook collecting all the soldiers' letters, with scans
and transcripts. If the relevant items in the National Archives are
properly referenced there should be nothing to stop a local venue such
as a church having an exhibition of the original letters and associated
items like tickets to the theatre the night before someone died. Doing
that in the 2014-2018 window is not going to be difficult.

Since I'm unemployed after Friday this week, I'd like to devote some
time to getting the ball rolling on this. But, I've a hunch this is
something that could be excellent for waking the wider public up to
projects other than Wikipedia, recruiting local history buffs as new
content contributors, and getting cultural institutions to 'think
outside the box' around working with us.

Feel free to throw in suggestions and comments!




Brian McNeil.
--
Mobile Tel: +44 (0)788 987 8314 Email: [hidden email] | [hidden email]
WikiMedia UK, interim Scottish coordinator/GLAM-MGS liaison.
Wikinews Accredited Reporter | "Facts don't cease to be facts, but news ceases to be news."
 All content of this message is confidential, and intended for listed recipients only!


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Re: [GLAM] Soldiers' letters

Andy Mabbett-2
On 25 October 2011 22:55, Brian McNeil <[hidden email]> wrote:

All good stuff, but...

> A QR code could be placed at a relevant war memorial, it points to
> a Wikibook collecting all the soldiers' letters, with scans and transcripts.

I'd rather the QR code point (via QRpedia) to a Wikipedia article
about the memorial, and have that point to relevant pages on commons/
Wikisource, and the book.

--
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@pigsonthewing
http://pigsonthewing.org.uk

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Re: [GLAM] Soldiers' letters

brian.mcneil-2
That's the sort of feedback I'm looking for, thanks.

I've no intention of vigorously arguing one way or the other, but I just
feel it is inappropriate to point to a Wikipedia article that may never
get much beyond stub status when orders of magnitude more content is
elsewhere on WMF projects.



On Tue, 2011-10-25 at 23:07 +0100, Andy Mabbett wrote:

> On 25 October 2011 22:55, Brian McNeil <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> All good stuff, but...
>
> > A QR code could be placed at a relevant war memorial, it points to
> > a Wikibook collecting all the soldiers' letters, with scans and transcripts.
>
> I'd rather the QR code point (via QRpedia) to a Wikipedia article
> about the memorial, and have that point to relevant pages on commons/
> Wikisource, and the book.
>


Brian McNeil.
--
http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Brian_McNeil - Accredited Reporter.
Facts don't cease to be facts, but news ceases to be news.


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Re: [GLAM] Soldiers' letters

Andy Mabbett-2
I was assuming that part of the project would involve making sure the
article wasn't just a stub...

On 25 October 2011 23:32, Brian McNeil <[hidden email]> wrote:

> That's the sort of feedback I'm looking for, thanks.
>
> I've no intention of vigorously arguing one way or the other, but I just
> feel it is inappropriate to point to a Wikipedia article that may never
> get much beyond stub status when orders of magnitude more content is
> elsewhere on WMF projects.
>
>
>
> On Tue, 2011-10-25 at 23:07 +0100, Andy Mabbett wrote:
>> On 25 October 2011 22:55, Brian McNeil <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>
>> All good stuff, but...
>>
>> > A QR code could be placed at a relevant war memorial, it points to
>> > a Wikibook collecting all the soldiers' letters, with scans and transcripts.
>>
>> I'd rather the QR code point (via QRpedia) to a Wikipedia article
>> about the memorial, and have that point to relevant pages on commons/
>> Wikisource, and the book.
>>
>
>
> Brian McNeil.
> --
> http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Brian_McNeil - Accredited Reporter.
> Facts don't cease to be facts, but news ceases to be news.
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia UK mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://mail.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimediauk-l
> WMUK: http://uk.wikimedia.org
>



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http://pigsonthewing.org.uk

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Re: [GLAM] Soldiers' letters

Jonathan Cardy
In reply to this post by brian.mcneil-2
If the QR code is for use on mobile phones then we may not want much more than a stub either. What is the maximum article size that would work on the typical modern phone?

WereSpielChequers

On 25 October 2011 23:32, Brian McNeil <[hidden email]> wrote:
That's the sort of feedback I'm looking for, thanks.

I've no intention of vigorously arguing one way or the other, but I just
feel it is inappropriate to point to a Wikipedia article that may never
get much beyond stub status when orders of magnitude more content is
elsewhere on WMF projects.



On Tue, 2011-10-25 at 23:07 +0100, Andy Mabbett wrote:
> On 25 October 2011 22:55, Brian McNeil <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> All good stuff, but...
>
> > A QR code could be placed at a relevant war memorial, it points to
> > a Wikibook collecting all the soldiers' letters, with scans and transcripts.
>
> I'd rather the QR code point (via QRpedia) to a Wikipedia article
> about the memorial, and have that point to relevant pages on commons/
> Wikisource, and the book.
>


Brian McNeil.
--
http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Brian_McNeil - Accredited Reporter.
Facts don't cease to be facts, but news ceases to be news.


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Re: [GLAM] Soldiers' letters

Andy Mabbett-2
Longer articles work fine on mobiles, because the lede is shown,
followed by the other sections, collapsed, and which can be expanded
individually if and when required by the user.

On 26 October 2011 11:10, WereSpielChequers <[hidden email]> wrote:

> If the QR code is for use on mobile phones then we may not want much more
> than a stub either. What is the maximum article size that would work on the
> typical modern phone?
>
> WereSpielChequers
>
> On 25 October 2011 23:32, Brian McNeil <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>
>> That's the sort of feedback I'm looking for, thanks.
>>
>> I've no intention of vigorously arguing one way or the other, but I just
>> feel it is inappropriate to point to a Wikipedia article that may never
>> get much beyond stub status when orders of magnitude more content is
>> elsewhere on WMF projects.
>>
>>
>>
>> On Tue, 2011-10-25 at 23:07 +0100, Andy Mabbett wrote:
>> > On 25 October 2011 22:55, Brian McNeil <[hidden email]>
>> > wrote:
>> >
>> > All good stuff, but...
>> >
>> > > A QR code could be placed at a relevant war memorial, it points to
>> > > a Wikibook collecting all the soldiers' letters, with scans and
>> > > transcripts.
>> >
>> > I'd rather the QR code point (via QRpedia) to a Wikipedia article
>> > about the memorial, and have that point to relevant pages on commons/
>> > Wikisource, and the book.
>> >
>>
>>
>> Brian McNeil.
>> --
>> http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Brian_McNeil - Accredited Reporter.
>> Facts don't cease to be facts, but news ceases to be news.
>>
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> Wikimedia UK mailing list
>> [hidden email]
>> http://mail.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimediauk-l
>> WMUK: http://uk.wikimedia.org
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia UK mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://mail.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimediauk-l
> WMUK: http://uk.wikimedia.org
>
>



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http://pigsonthewing.org.uk

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Re: [GLAM] Soldiers' letters

John Mark Vandenberg
In reply to this post by Andy Mabbett-2
On Wed, Oct 26, 2011 at 9:07 AM, Andy Mabbett <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 25 October 2011 22:55, Brian McNeil <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> All good stuff, but...
>
>> A QR code could be placed at a relevant war memorial, it points to
>> a Wikibook collecting all the soldiers' letters, with scans and transcripts.
>
> I'd rather the QR code point (via QRpedia) to a Wikipedia article
> about the memorial, and have that point to relevant pages on commons/
> Wikisource, and the book.

It could be difficult writing Wikipedia articles about these soldiers.
Wikisource has author pages for a lot of people who are not notable,
dont have a bio because writing one is *hard*, etc.

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Category:Author_pages_not_linking_to_Wikipedia

Wikisource Author pages provide sufficient space for small
descriptions of the author, and Portal pages can be used to collect
all related authors and works together.

--
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Re: [GLAM] Soldiers' letters

Andy Mabbett-2
On 26 October 2011 11:56, John Vandenberg <[hidden email]> wrote:
> On Wed, Oct 26, 2011 at 9:07 AM, Andy Mabbett <[hidden email]> wrote:

>> I'd rather the QR code point (via QRpedia) to a Wikipedia article
>> about the memorial, and have that point to relevant pages on commons/
>> Wikisource, and the book.
>
> It could be difficult writing Wikipedia articles about these soldiers.

I referred to page about each /memorial/, not one for each soldier.

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@pigsonthewing
http://pigsonthewing.org.uk

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Re: [GLAM] Soldiers' letters

Gordon Joly
In reply to this post by Jonathan Cardy
On 26/10/2011 11:10, WereSpielChequers wrote:
> If the QR code is for use on mobile phones then we may not want much
> more than a stub either. What is the maximum article size that would
> work on the typical modern phone?
>
> WereSpielChequers
My experience is 1 cm at a distance of 10 cm.

That is off the top of my head.

Gordo


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Re: [GLAM] Soldiers' letters

Gordon Joly


OOPS. I was thinking about the size of QR Codes.

Articles? Is there a limit?

Gordo





On 26/10/2011 12:11, Gordon Joly wrote:

> On 26/10/2011 11:10, WereSpielChequers wrote:
>> If the QR code is for use on mobile phones then we may not want much
>> more than a stub either. What is the maximum article size that would
>> work on the typical modern phone?
>>
>> WereSpielChequers
> My experience is 1 cm at a distance of 10 cm.
>
> That is off the top of my head.
>
> Gordo
>
>


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Re: [GLAM] Soldiers' letters

Chris Keating-2
In reply to this post by brian.mcneil-2

Following on from Fae and myself meeting Robin Urquart of the National
Archives of Scotland, I'm looking for people who may be interested in
working on a WW-I related GLAM project.

This is very interesting stuff - thank you for taking it on. :-)

Here are a few thoughts...

I imagine both Commons and Wikisource would be keen to have the material available. However, Wikisource in particular doesn't have a community that will just get on with transcribing letters. So you'd need to be careful that NAS don't expect that they will get a whole load of transcribed letters for free. 

I'm not quite sure what Wikibooks would think about this kind of thing - I think it's more aimed at textbooks than source material - but you might as well ask and see what you get.

Since Wikipedia is by far the biggest and best-used project, finding a Wikipedia link is probably quite valuable in terms of impact. Since 99.99% of the individual soldiers are non-notable, you could approach this by using materials for the war memorials as Andy suggests, or with reference to the individual battalions (we actually have poor coverage on Wikipedia of things like war-raise battalions), or perhaps the towns. 
 

Due to
the accessibility requirements imposed on any body like the archives,
there is a need to transcribe such documents before they can make them
widely available.

Obviously if they use Wikisource as a transcription tool, then they will need to make the documents widely available, and then transcribe them. :-)

It would be really interesting to see a GLAM initiative which used Wikisource as a transcription interface. There are plenty of non-Wiki GLAM initiatives which have custom-built transcription methods (e.g. Old Weather) and Wikisource has strengths but some disadvantages as well. 

 
But, I've a hunch this is
something that could be excellent for waking the wider public up to
projects other than Wikipedia, recruiting local history buffs as new
content contributors, and getting cultural institutions to 'think
outside the box' around working with us.

Yes, this is why WWI is a big opportunity. :-D

Chris 

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Re: [GLAM] Soldiers' letters

Andrew West-4
In reply to this post by Andy Mabbett-2
On 25 October 2011 23:07, Andy Mabbett <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> A QR code could be placed at a relevant war memorial, it points to
>> a Wikibook collecting all the soldiers' letters, with scans and transcripts.
>
> I'd rather the QR code point (via QRpedia) to a Wikipedia article
> about the memorial, and have that point to relevant pages on commons/
> Wikisource, and the book.

I would have thought that very few war memorials would be notable
enough to merit their own article on Wikipedia, and even if an article
did exist, it would not be the place to put all the letters and
ephemera associated with the individual soldiers listed on the
memorial.  In my opinion, Brian's suggestion of using Wikibooks to
gather together all the scans, transcripts and other relevent
information in a single place, and linking to it from a QR code is
definitely the best solution.

I think that it is dubious whether a QRpedia code is warranted in this
case, although potentially a Gaelic Wikibooks project (does not
currently exist) could mirror the contents of the English Wikibooks;
and for a similar project about Welsh soldiers there is both an
English and a Welsh Wikibooks project that could both host the
information.

Andrew
[[User:BabelStone]]

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Re: [GLAM] Soldiers' letters

Richard Symonds-2
In reply to this post by Gordon Joly
No real limit for article length on a modern smartphone, no.

Richard Symonds

On 26 Oct 2011, at 12:13, Gordon Joly <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
>
> OOPS. I was thinking about the size of QR Codes.
>
> Articles? Is there a limit?
>
> Gordo
>
>
>
>
>
> On 26/10/2011 12:11, Gordon Joly wrote:
>> On 26/10/2011 11:10, WereSpielChequers wrote:
>>> If the QR code is for use on mobile phones then we may not want much
>>> more than a stub either. What is the maximum article size that would
>>> work on the typical modern phone?
>>>
>>> WereSpielChequers
>> My experience is 1 cm at a distance of 10 cm.
>>
>> That is off the top of my head.
>>
>> Gordo
>>
>>
>
>
> --
>
> Gordon Joly
> [hidden email]
> http://www.joly.org.uk/
> Don't Leave Space To The Professionals!
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia UK mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://mail.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimediauk-l
> WMUK: http://uk.wikimedia.org

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Re: [GLAM] Soldiers' letters

Fae-6
In reply to this post by Chris Keating-2
> It would be really interesting to see a GLAM initiative which used
> Wikisource as a transcription interface.
...
> Chris

The best GLAM example of using Wikisource so far is Dominic's work
with NARA in the USA - see
<http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Wikisource:WikiProject_NARA/Completed>.
I used the example of
<http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Objections_to_Woman_Suffrage_Answered>
at the all staff presentation at the British Library as an example
where a formal archive's catalogue links directly back to Wikisource
as an 'official' transcription.

I am hoping that NAS can use a similar approach.

Cheers,
Fae

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Re: [GLAM] Soldiers' letters

Andy Mabbett-2
In reply to this post by Gordon Joly
Size of Qr codes is governed by three things:

* Number of characters encoded
* Amount of error correction
* Expected distance from the user's device

The first two of those determine the number of squares making up the
code, the latter the size of those squares

On 26 October 2011 12:13, Gordon Joly <[hidden email]> wrote:

> OOPS. I was thinking about the size of QR Codes.
>
> Articles? Is there a limit?
>
> Gordo

> On 26/10/2011 12:11, Gordon Joly wrote:
>> On 26/10/2011 11:10, WereSpielChequers wrote:
>>> If the QR code is for use on mobile phones then we may not want much
>>> more than a stub either. What is the maximum article size that would
>>> work on the typical modern phone?
>>>
>>> WereSpielChequers
>> My experience is 1 cm at a distance of 10 cm.
>>
>> That is off the top of my head.
>>
>> Gordo

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Re: [GLAM] Soldiers' letters

Andy Mabbett-2
In reply to this post by Andrew West-4
On 26 October 2011 12:21, Andrew West <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 25 October 2011 23:07, Andy Mabbett <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>
>>> A QR code could be placed at a relevant war memorial, it points to
>>> a Wikibook collecting all the soldiers' letters, with scans and transcripts.
>>
>> I'd rather the QR code point (via QRpedia) to a Wikipedia article
>> about the memorial, and have that point to relevant pages on commons/
>> Wikisource, and the book.
>
> I would have thought that very few war memorials would be notable
> enough to merit their own article on Wikipedia,

I think many are sufficiently notable; especially if we are able to
source information about the people they commemorate.

> and even if an article
> did exist, it would not be the place to put all the letters and
> ephemera associated with the individual soldiers listed on the
> memorial.

That's not what I'm suggesting; the Wikipedia article should link to
the relevant commons/wiki-source pages/ categories (and a category per
memorial would be appropriate in such cases)

>In my opinion, Brian's suggestion of using Wikibooks to
> gather together all the scans, transcripts and other relevent
> information in a single place, and linking to it from a QR code is
> definitely the best solution.

I'm not sure that presenting a mobile device users, especially one
with a casual interest, with a link to a Wikibook is the best
approach.

> I think that it is dubious whether a QRpedia code is warranted in this
> case, although potentially a Gaelic Wikibooks project (does not
> currently exist) could mirror the contents of the English Wikibooks;
> and for a similar project about Welsh soldiers there is both an
> English and a Welsh Wikibooks project that could both host the
> information.

You'd loose the language-detection facility offered by QRpedia.

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Re: [GLAM] Soldiers' letters

Tom Morris-5
In reply to this post by brian.mcneil-2
On Tue, Oct 25, 2011 at 22:55, Brian McNeil <[hidden email]> wrote:
> A QR code could be placed at a relevant war memorial,

Is that such a good idea?

I like QR codes as much as the next person, but sticking them on war
memorials may probing the limits of taste in Wikimedia outreach.

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Re: [GLAM] Soldiers' letters

Andy Mabbett-2
On 26 October 2011 17:55, Tom Morris <[hidden email]> wrote:
> On Tue, Oct 25, 2011 at 22:55, Brian McNeil <[hidden email]> wrote:

>> A QR code could be placed at a relevant war memorial,
>
> Is that such a good idea?
>
> I like QR codes as much as the next person, but sticking them on war
> memorials may probing the limits of taste in Wikimedia outreach.

The suggestion was "at" not "on" - it should be possible to place a QR
Code on nearby information point, for example, not on the memorial
itself.

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Re: [GLAM] Soldiers' letters

brian.mcneil-2
In reply to this post by Tom Morris-5
On Wed, 2011-10-26 at 17:55 +0100, Tom Morris wrote:
> On Tue, Oct 25, 2011 at 22:55, Brian McNeil <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > A QR code could be placed at a relevant war memorial,
>
> Is that such a good idea?
>
> I like QR codes as much as the next person, but sticking them on war
> memorials may probing the limits of taste in Wikimedia outreach.

Believe it or not, that's why I was careful to say *at*, as-opposed to
*on*. I know I've a reputation for being crass, insensitive, and
bloody-minded; but, "vandalising" war memorials is something I'd not
contemplate. :P

I'm glad to see others chime in regarding the potential for certain
memorials being non-notable, or having insufficient reliable sources to
get beyond stub status. The point here is not to drive traffic to
Wikipedia, but to allow people to quickly access very personal
documents.

Even just doing everyone listed on a single monument will be notable
enough to garner press coverage. From that, it will - hopefully - be
possible to encourage other non-wiki people to get involved and carry
out the same work for their local memorials.

I've no idea how far this should be pushed, or how far it might go if it
gains traction. The fallen of WW-I were not repatriated; I lived in
Flanders for over ten years, I've seen the rows, and rows of white
crosses in war cemeteries over there. I know a very large number of
people visit these sites every year. If anyone can suggest a way to
tastefully cross-link memorials in the UK listing those who died with
the actual graves, that would seem the next logical step here.




Brian McNeil.
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Re: [GLAM] Soldiers' letters

iain.macdonald
In reply to this post by brian.mcneil-2
As I've remarked before - every so often I decide to unsubscribe from this list, then something else interesting comes up.

Some of these memorials don't even have information notices (the one in the village I grew up in, for instance). Where there is sufficient information for one, might the WMF/projects/WMUK/whoever collaborate with local authorities - supplying info, images etc for an information board, which could in turn point people in the direction of further resources?

(Disclaimer: I haven't thought that through. I'm thinking aloud.)

Iain
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [Wikimediauk-l] [GLAM] Soldiers' letters
From: Brian McNeil <brian.mcneil@...>
Date: Wed, October 26, 2011 10:37 pm
To: [hidden email]

On Wed, 2011-10-26 at 17:55 +0100, Tom Morris wrote:
> On Tue, Oct 25, 2011 at 22:55, Brian McNeil <brian.mcneil@...> wrote:
> > A QR code could be placed at a relevant war memorial,
>
> Is that such a good idea?
>
> I like QR codes as much as the next person, but sticking them on war
> memorials may probing the limits of taste in Wikimedia outreach.

Believe it or not, that's why I was careful to say *at*, as-opposed to
*on*. I know I've a reputation for being crass, insensitive, and
bloody-minded; but, "vandalising" war memorials is something I'd not
contemplate. :P

I'm glad to see others chime in regarding the potential for certain
memorials being non-notable, or having insufficient reliable sources to
get beyond stub status. The point here is not to drive traffic to
Wikipedia, but to allow people to quickly access very personal
documents.

Even just doing everyone listed on a single monument will be notable
enough to garner press coverage. From that, it will - hopefully - be
possible to encourage other non-wiki people to get involved and carry
out the same work for their local memorials.

I've no idea how far this should be pushed, or how far it might go if it
gains traction. The fallen of WW-I were not repatriated; I lived in
Flanders for over ten years, I've seen the rows, and rows of white
crosses in war cemeteries over there. I know a very large number of
people visit these sites every year. If anyone can suggest a way to
tastefully cross-link memorials in the UK listing those who died with
the actual graves, that would seem the next logical step here.




Brian McNeil.
--
http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Brian_McNeil - Accredited Reporter.
Facts don't cease to be facts, but news ceases to be news.


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_______________________________________________
Wikimedia UK mailing list
[hidden email]
http://mail.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimediauk-l
WMUK: http://uk.wikimedia.org
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