Placeopedia and YourHistoryHere

mySociety yesterday launched a pair of Back o’ The Envelope projects based on Google Maps. — Connect Wikipedia articles with the places they represent — Share local and geographic history and trivia.

There are a few things to say about both projects:

1 – As is normal with mySociety projects the code for these projects (excepting Google maps) is open source. We hope that by providing a ready-made annotation system, people will find it easier to make their own publicly-authored layers of information.

2 – Both sites syndicate their data under open source licenses, and in a location-queryable fashion. This is really important, as it allows for all types of nice local history to be syndicated to tourism sites, local community discussion boards, blogs and so on.

3 – We’re calling them ‘Back o’ the Envelope’ to contrast them to the big, polished and time consuming projects we run like and


  1. You say that the syndicated feeds from these projects are available on a Creative Commons license: which one is it?

  2. Nice page. But why build a separate database of georeferenced articles-coordinate pairs when Wikipedia-articles already have a coor template? (c.f. What’s the difference?

    What about an interface from Placeopedia to Wikipedia, where coordinates get inserted there (if there isn’t already one)?

    — Geonick

    P.S. And why .com in and not .org – isn’t this CreativeCommons?

  3. James, they’re separate sites because they are for different audiences, and we wouldn’t want to make either more confusing. Placeopedia is probably most likely used by Wikipedia fans, whereas YourHistoryHere we hope to get used more in the community, for example in schools.

    Charles, I’m not sure what the situation with licensing is…

    Geonick, hopefully Wikipedia will take on data from Placeopedia, and integrate a good user interface for geocoding into Wikipedia itself. Meanwhile, Placeopedia is easy to use, and is gathering useful data.

    It’s a .com rather than .org for no really good reason. For other mySociety websites, such as, we’ve used .com because the public in general is more famililar with it, and more likely to type it in.

  4. And another thing…

    Placeopedia says that it’s meant to generate content that can be used in Wikipedia, and I’m guessing one of the reasons why the content is released on a CC license is to allow that. It’s worth noting that of the current 7 CC licenses, only content under 2 (CC-by and CC-by-sa) can be incorporated into Wikipedia, since WP is free to modify and allows for-profit syndication.

  5. Tom and Placeopedia Team,

    Could you place in each article a link with the coordinates similar to your data in the XML or KML Files with the latest 50 entries ?
    Oh, I see you already have some kind of API with the Latitude and longitide as input. What about hte other way round ? You search for a name of a place and fet all results with coordinates ? A Google Maps permalink would be enough. It has Lati and Long.