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Frequently Asked Questions

This article lists questions that are frequently asked, along with answers. Please check this list first before posing a new question.


1 Introductory Questions
     What, Why
2 Membership
     Signing up
     Logging in
3 Adding & Editting Pages
     Acceptable Content
4 Deleting Content
5 Images
6 Other Media
     Google Maps
7 Tech Questions
     Markup Language
     Accessing Content
8 Moderators

Introductory Questions

What, Why

Q. What is Building History?
A. A website containing information about the status and history of buildings in the UK. Data about buildings, the roads and towns in which they exist can be added and modified by members of the public using a wiki style interface.

Q. What is the point? / Why bother?
A. The purpose is to create freely available data in a simple and logically organised interface that anyone can access.

Q. What makes Building History different to other websites?
A. Building History allows any building in the UK to be added, not just those that are of notable interest to the masses.


Signing up

Q. Is membership free?
A. Yes

Q. How do I sign up?
A. Go to the Create Account page.

Q. Why should I become a member and contribute information?
A. There are lots of reasons, centred primarily around personal enjoyment, desire to learn about your area, collaborate with others and share findings. Certainly it's not for everyone, but you're encouraged to give it a go if any of the above is of interest to you.

Q. Why is membership required to edit pages?
A. Whilst it won't fully prevent, it's to help minimise vandalism. That way more effort can be spent on improving the site and less on reverting malicious edits.

Q. How does Building History make money to cover its costs?
A. Currently it doesn't. In the future we will investigate ways to make the site self sufficient, however we will look to do this through donations, fund raising, sponsorship etc rather than charging for membership.

Logging in

Q. What happens if I forget my password?
A. Go to the login page and enter the email address you signed up with into the forgotten password box. We will then send you a link that will let you change your password.

Q. Can I retrieve my old password if I forget it?
A. No, in the interest of security you can only change it to a new one.


Q. Will you share my email address with others?
A. No.

Q. How do you protect my data?
A. Before storing, passwords are encrypted using a 1-way algorithm, for which there is no known method of decryption. When logging in the password you enter is encrypted using the same algorithm and compared to the one on file. That way your password is never stored on our servers in a format that can be re-used.

Adding & Editting Pages


Q. How do I find a town?
A. Either use the Location Search or Browse link (both shown at the top right of every page).

Q. How can I add a new town?
A. Please contact us. There is not yet a form for doing this.

Q. What is a defined as being a town?
A. To keep things simple a town is any city, town, village or hamlet.

Q. What information can I add about towns?
A. There is no set guide, however it should be kept to information about the town's history relating to its roads and buildings. Links and short articles about notable buildings and roads can be added.

Q. Can I rename an article?
A. Not currently. Please contact us if needed.

Q. What links can I add to town pages?
A. Any that give significantly more information about the town.


Q. How can I add a new road?
A. Once you have created an account and logged in, find the town where the road is located (using search or browse) and then click the add new road link.

Q. What if a road runs through multiple towns?
A. Add an entry for each town, then link them together.

Q. Why is there no unknown road category, like there is for buildings?
A. It is assumed that it can be found whether a road still exists or not from freely available online maps. This isn't so easy for buildings.

Q. Can I add bridleways?
A. Yes, provided that they are named and lead to buildings. Otherwise add an entry if required to the article page of the nearest road.

Q. Can I add footpaths?
A. Generally not, unless it is named and there is specific reason to do so. Otherwise add an entry if required to the article page of the nearest road.

Q. Can I rename an article?
A. Not currently. Please contact us if needed.

Q. Can I add private roads?
A. Yes

Q. Should I add unnamed roads?
A. Generally no, you should (if required) mention it in the article of the nearest road.

Q. Should a former road have buildings listed?
A. Only if the road no longer exists. If it has since been renamed then the former buildings should be listed under the page for the current road. If a section of the new road no longer exists then buildings can be added to the page of the former road for that section.

Q. What links can I add to road pages?
A. Any that give significantly more information about the road.


Q. How can I add a new Building?
A. Once you have created an account and logged in, find the town where the building is located (using search or browse), click on the road (adding a new one if required) and then the add building link.

Q. What if there is no add building link on a road page?
A. Edit the road page and look for a [[nobuildings]] tag. Remove or replace it with a [[buildings]] tag.

Q. What is defined as being a building in the context of this site?
A. A building is any permenant structure that can be inhabited by humans.

Q. What does the unknown category mean?
A. The unknown category means that the person who added the building to the site doesn't know whether it still exists or not. Reference to it may have been found to it in literature for example but the exact plot on the road is not known, so it cannot be assertained whether it has been incorporated into an existing building or not. If you know the building's current status then please help improve Building History by changing it to former or current from unknown.

Q. Can underground structures be included, such as mines?
A. Yes.

Q. Can I rename an article?
A. Not currently. Please contact us if needed.

Q. Can I link to a building from the town page or from a different road page within the town from where the building is located?
A. Yes. Add the road name for the building to the tag. For instance if The Hippodrome is located on High Street then the tag would be [[BC|High Street|The Hippodrome]]

Q. What if a site has multiple buildings? Should I create an entry for each?
A. As a general rule you should use one article, unless individual buildings would have their own address if a letter were posted to it. If multiple articles are created then they should be linked together, with a short entry for each in the main article.

Q. Can I add an article for an individual flat?
A. Generally no - it should be mentioned if relevant under the page for the building which it is contained within.

Q. What if a building is on multiple roads?
A. Add an entry for the main road, then if required an another for each road that applies with a redirect to the main article. See the formatting guide for information on redirects.

Q. What if a building isn't on a road?
A. Use the nearest road, that you would use for access.

Q. What links can I add to building pages?
A. Any that give significantly more information about the building.

Acceptable Content

Q. Can I add advertisments to pages?
A. No.

Q. If a building is used commercially (such as a pub, guest house, restuarant, shop etc) can I mention it's current products and services?
A. Yes, but please keep this information to a minimum (one or 2 sentences) and write it in an encylopedic style. Information that appears to be written like an advertisment is liable to be removed.

Q. Can I say who lives at or owns a property?
A. No, not unless this information is already in the public domain or you yourself are the owner and give consent.

Q. Can I put contact information on for the owner of a building (phone number, email address etc)?
A. No.

Q. How long can articles be?
A. Currently there is no set limit.

Deleting Content

Q. How can I delete a road or building?
A. Add a tag to the start of the page in the format {{delete|reason for deletion}}, where reason for deletion is the reason. A moderator will in due course review and delete the article if appropriate.



Q. Where can I find information about laws concerning the taking of photographs in the UK?
A. This guide gives a 2 page introduction, updated as of March 2009. Important: Building History is not your lawyer - we not in a position to offer legal advice.


Q. How do I add pictures to a page?
A. See the Image section of the formatting guide.

Q. How many pictures can I add to a page?
A. The maximum allowed is 30, in order to comply with Flickr's acceptable use policy.

Q. Do you support Photobucket?
A. Not yet, but we will do soon.

Q. Can I link to pictures on a site other than Flickr?
A. As a general rule: no. If you operate an established site with pictures that you'd like to use in BH articles please contact us to discuss.


Q. Can I add other people's photos from Flickr?
A. Yes, provided that they are licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Q. Can photographs contain scenes of violence or nudity?
A. No. Please keep Building History suitable for use by minors.

Q. Is Building History affiliated with Flickr?
A. No.


Q. How can I remove a photo without an account?
A. Please contact us.

Other Media

Google Maps

Q. How can I add a Google map to a page?
A. See the Google Maps section of the formatting guide.

Q. Why can only one Google map be added to a page?
A. To ensure quick page loading times.

Q. How can I add Google Streetview to a page?
A. See the Google Streetview section of the formatting guide.


Q. Can I add audio to pages?
A. Not at the moment. If you have a specific need please contact us to discuss.


Q. Can I add video to pages?
A. Not at the moment. If you have a specific need please contact us to discuss.

Tech Questions


Q. Are bots allowed?
A. In theory yes. Please contact us first however if you are thinking of writing one. It may be more efficient for us to run tasks server side.

Markup Language

Q. Are infoboxes supported?
A. Not yet, but they will be. In the meantime if you have suggestions for ones that should be included please contact us.

Q. How do I suggest a new tag?
A. Contact us.

Q. Why did you create your own markup language when others already exist?
A. To keep you on your toes.

Accessing Content

Q. Can I download the entire database?
A. Not yet.

Q. Can I access data in formats other than html?
A. Not yet.


Q. What software is used by the Building History web site?
A. The software used was developed from scratch for the purpose. It was written in PHP, MySQL and Javascript, with various Perl scripts running on the backend.

Q. What servers are used by Building History?
A. The software has been written to operate on multiple servers, however it's still running on a single Linux box. It uses Apache, MySQL and PHP (LAMP).

Q. Is the software open source?
A. No, not currently. It may in the future be released under an open source license.

Q. Can I download the software used by Building History?
A. No, not currently.

Q. Why does Building History not use an existing piece of software, such as MediaWiki?
A. Various have been tried and whilst have many strengths it was decided that none were ideal for the job.

Q. What was the Building History software written with?
A. Nano: and Putty:

Q. Are any developers required?
A. Potentially, dependant on your skillset and interest. Any contributions are of course unpaid. Contact us if interested and you'll be considered in the future as and when.


Q. What is a moderator?
A. Trusted members who have extra rights on the site to help keep the site running smoothly.

Q. Is there a list of existing moderators?
A. For privacy reasons, no.

Q. Are more moderators needed?
A. Potentially.

Q. How can I become a moderator?
A. Contact us, with a bit of information about who you are and of any relevant experience you may have.

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