1. What is Yarn?

Yarn is a community storytelling application designed to allow users to create stories, using material from the web and from archive partners such as the BBC, National Media Museum and the Science Museum.

2. Who created Yarn?

Yarn was designed and created during the Pararchive project, a research programme led by the University of Leeds that took place between October 2013 and March 2015.

The project explored the creation and development of new public spaces online, bringing material from large institutions out into the public web for use by various communities.

The project team co-designed Yarn together with communities in Manchester, Bute, Stoke-on-Trent and Leeds.

3. How do I tell a story?

A Yarn story isn’t like a regular story, we’ve created some features to help you get started.

They’ll help you structure your stories quickly, connect them with other stories (written by yourself or other Yarn storytellers), as well as add interesting details to provide depth and context.

So what are these features?

  • Passages
  • Items
  • Library
  • Details
  • Notes

4. What is a Passage?

Every Yarn story is made up of passages of text - think of each one like a scene or even a verse. A passage can be as long or as short as you like.

Yarn will help you put multiple passages together into a sequence that tells your story. If you write each passage so that it makes sense when read on its own, other storytellers will be able to quote your passage and link to it from their own stories.

5. What is an Item?

You can illustrate a passage with items like videos, photos and sounds from other websites and also other Yarn users. You can’t upload items to Yarn, but you can add items you’ve uploaded elsewhere to a personal Library, so you can reuse items and share them with others.

Currently, you can add…

  • Images - any URL ending with JPG, PNG or GIF, or photos from Flickr and Instagram.
  • Videos - URLs for videos hosted on Youtube or Vimeo.
  • Sound - URLs for music, sounds and other audio hosted on SoundCloud.

We’re working on adding new file types and services, but we thought we’d start with the most common formats and the most likely places where people are sharing their photos and videos.

Some websites like Twitter do block their images from being used elsewhere, so bear in mind

(Yarn also supports less common image formats, with URLs ending in JPEG, JPE, TIF, and TIFF).

6. What is the Library?

Every time you add an item to a story, it is also added to your Library. The library is a collection of all the items you and other storytellers have added to Yarn.

You can add items to the library while you’re writing passages for your story. Or you can add some items directly to your library before you’ve even starting writing stories.

This is a great way of collecting material together before you know how you want to organise it into a story.

7. What is a Detail?

You can add details such as people, places and times to enrich and describe a passage as well as help others to find your stories and quote them in their own stories.

There are four kinds of detail:

  • Person - these are the characters in your stories, you can add a name and a picture.
  • Place - you can add places to your stories, along with a name and a picture. Places don’t have to be real, they can be fictional (“Narnia”) or even metaphorical (“Grandad’s car”).
  • Time - the period in which the passage takes place - this can be a date, a year or even something less exact like “my childhood”.
  • Label - this can be any phrase that helps you describe the passage. This can be anything you like - “Eulogy”, “First Loves”, “Career”. If you know what a hashtag is, it’s a little like #that!

8. What is a Note?

A Note allows other users to leave a comment on a particular passage of your story. You can also use a notes as “footnotes” to add context or references to your stories.

9. Why can’t I upload my own videos or photos?

We want you to be able to reuse the photos, videos and sounds you’ve already uploaded elsewhere and get stuck into telling stories with Yarn.

We also wanted to encourage storytellers to use what’s openly available on the web and arrange them into compelling and interesting stories.

By taking those small pieces of the web and orchestrating them into stories, you can use the best of what’s out there, your own items, as well as ensuring you don’t fall afoul of copyright laws.

10. What’s a URL?

A URL a way to know where something is on the web and most commonly referred to as a “web address” or “link”. Here are some examples of URLs:

  • A Youtube video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1ZB_rGFyeU
  • A JPEG image - https://s3.amazonaws.com/2013.publicassets.louisck/img/product/tcs.jpg

11. Can I decide who can see my stories?

You have a number of options are available from the Story Settings page; every story you write can be set to be either:

  • Visible only to you.
  • Visible only to other Yarn storytellers with whom you share the story’s URL but will not appear in search results.
  • Visible to everyone that uses Yarn, and will appear in also appear in search results.

12. Can I decide who can leave notes on my stories?

You can turn the Notes feature on or off for every story, from the Story Settings page.

13. Using items from our archive partners

Publicly available Items from partners can be found in your Library under the Everybody's items tab.

You can find out more about how to become an archive partner and the extra features available to them on the Information for archive partners page.

14. Reporting abuse

Every Passage and Item includes a Report link, which you can click to report any abusive content. When you report an offensive item or passage, we’ll ask you to briefly describe the issue before submitting the report.

We’ll investigate your concerns and, if necessary, remove the offending item or passage.

15. How do I link stories together?

Every passage in every story has a Quote this passage link next to it.

This allows you to include that passage in your own stories. You can use this to link stories from other users as well as make connections between your own stories.