wikiHow

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wikiHow
WikiHow logo 2014.png
WikiHow Homepage Screenshot December 2019.png
wikiHow Main Page in December, 2019
Type of businessPrivate
Type of site
Wiki-format how-to manual
Available in19[1] languages
List of languages
English, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Russian, Czech, Japanese, Indonesian, Arabic, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, Hindi, Turkish, Persian
Headquarters,
United States
Area servedWorldwide
Created byJack Herrick and Josh Hannah
Key peopleElizabeth Douglas (CEO)
Jack Herrick (Founder)
URLwww.wikihow.com/Main-Page
CommercialYes ("hybrid organization")
RegistrationOptional, but required for certain tasks
LaunchedJanuary 15, 2005; 15 years ago (2005-01-15)
Current statusActive

Wikihow (styled as wikiHow) is an online wiki-style community consisting of an extensive database of how-to guides. Founded in 2005 by Internet entrepreneur Jack Herrick, wikiHow is a hybrid organization, a for-profit company run for a social mission.[3][4] wikiHow software is open source[5] and its text content is released under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license.[6][7] wikiHow states that it was inspired by Wikipedia, but it is not related to Wikimedia/Wikipedia in any way.[8] Both organizations use the free and open-source MediaWiki software.[8]

The website aims to create the world's most helpful how-to instructions to enable everyone in the world to learn how to do anything.[9][10]

In February, 2005, wikiHow had over 35.5 million unique visitors.[11] As of January 2020, wikiHow contains more than 212,000 free how-to articles and over 2.1 million registered users.[12] On April 11, 2010, a wikiHow article titled "How to Lose Weight Fast" reached 5 million page views, a first for the site. "How to Take a Screenshot in Microsoft Windows" is the site's most popular article.[13] According to wikiHow, four babies have been born in emergency situations referencing instruction from wikiHow articles.[14]

History[edit]

wikiHow was founded by Jack Herrick on January 15, 2005, with the goal of creating an extensive how-to manual with accurate, up-to-date instructions for multiple tasks in many languages.[15] January 15 was selected as its launch date to honor Wikipedia, which was launched on January 15, 2001.[16] Herrick drew inspiration for wikiHow from eHow, a how-to website he and Josh Hannah purchased in 2004. After running eHow, Herrick concluded that its business model prevented it from becoming the extensive, high quality how-to site he wanted to create.[17] Herrick and Hannah sold eHow in 2006, allowing Herrick to focus on wikiHow full-time.[18]

In 2006, the non-profit foundation One Laptop per Child chose wikiHow as one of the content sources for the educational laptops it distributed around the world.[19] On September 21, 2007, the website's 25,000th article was published.[6] In 2009, it surpassed 20 million monthly visitors and completed a redesign.[20] In 2014, Google chose wikiHow as one of the launch partners for Google Contributor, an ad-free Internet product.[21]

Guidecentral acquisition[edit]

It was announced on March 24, 2016 that wikiHow acquired Guidecentral,[22] a website focused on instructions for "hands-on" projects.[23] The acquisition's terms were not released; however, Guidecentral raised over $1 million from investors including NXTP Labs, Enterprise Ireland, and South Ventures.[24]

Operations[edit]

wikiHow provides how-to content on the Internet by allowing anyone to edit pages.[25] As of February, 2015, it contains over 180,000 articles. Most follow a similar format with steps, tips, warnings, and a list of required things, and are complemented with illustrations.[citation needed]

wikiHow uses the wiki method of continuous improvement, allowing editors to add, delete, and otherwise modify content. Once an article is created, community members collaborate on it to improve its quality. Each edit is scrutinized during "Recent Changes Patrol", where volunteers review it according to wikiHow's standards, discarding bad edits (e.g. vandalism, test edits) and keeping improvements.[26][27] Typically, images are created by wikiHow staff, usually under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike-Noncommercial license; registered users may also contribute images.

The central hub for contribution tools is the Community Dashboard,[28] with several dynamic applets linking users to editing tools such as the Spell Checker; the Categorizer, where articles are assigned categories according to topic; and the Cleanup Greenhouse, where low-quality articles are copyedited and revised for style and format.

Quality review process[edit]

By default, newly created articles are de-indexed from search engines, blurred to obscure their content, and hidden with a notice that they are in "quality review". Logged-in users can dismiss the warning to view the new article. "New Article Boost" allows certain users with the "New Article Booster" right to review the articles and bring them up to standards if possible.[29] Articles meeting these standards are "promoted", removing the notice and blurring effect and making the article publicly visible and searchable. If a New Article Booster finds a newly written high-quality article, they can mark it as a Rising Star.[30] By default, RS-marked articles are promoted and placed on a main page for an unspecified period of time.[31] Below-standards articles, and those that need work before publication, are "demoted", removing them from the New Article Boost list, retaining the blurring and notice, and moving them to the "Articles in Quality Review" category.[32]

Deletion system[edit]

Articles with content that conflicts with the site's deletion policy (such as those submitted as jokes, concerning sexually explicit or hate-based topics, or significantly inaccurate or incomplete) are also demoted.[33] Titles identified as duplicates per wikiHow's Merge Policy are merged.[34] Similarly to Wikipedia's Articles for deletion discussions, wikiHow lets users nominate articles that meet deletion criteria; other users and administrators then discuss whether or not to delete them.[35] Like most wiki sites, wikiHow also has a speedy deletion system for pages that are obviously nonsensical, spam, or otherwise inappropriate.[36]

Registration and user rights[edit]

Workshop on women on wikiHow at Wikimania 2012.

Like many other wikis, registration on wikiHow is optional, and privileges such as creating and editing articles are available to those without an account. In compliance with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), wikiHow users are required to be at least 13 years old to register. COPPA is regularly enforced and site administrators are expected to block anyone confirmed to be underage, though editing privileges may be restored if the company receives a consent form signed by the user's parents or legal guardian.[37] Underage users can still edit anonymously, but they are advised not to post their personal information.

Over 1 million people have created accounts, and over 15,000 people contribute to and edit wikiHow per month.[38] Volunteer contributors call themselves "wikiHowians". The most active, experienced and trusted wikiHowians may gain additional editing privileges to help them administer and protect the website. New Article Boost rights are granted to users with at least 300 edits, and who pass a three-part test on wikiHow policies.[39] People with NAB rights can use a special tool that lets them edit recently written articles to ensure their quality meets wikiHow's standards before they are made visible to all readers. Experienced users who are considered competent and "level-headed" may be considered for adminship, allowing them to use more powerful maintenance tools.[40]

Community engagement[edit]

At least once a year, wikiHow organizes a conference where active community members are invited to gather for an extended weekend to get to know one another. Each conference is held in a different city, and is known as a "meetup".[41]

wikiHow's headquarters are located in a house in Palo Alto, California, dubbed the "wikiHaus". wikiHow's staff consists of a small group of employees with various specialties including engineering, marketing and community management.[4][18]

Business model[edit]

wikiHow's initial startup costs were, to some extent, financed from Herrick's sale of eHow. It is now funded from advertising on its pages.[42] It does not seek contributions, and it is run as a "hybrid organization"—a "for-profit company focused on creating a global public good in accordance with our mission".[43] As of mid-2020, wikiHow was soliciting contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic.[44]

Licensing[edit]

wikiHow's text content is published under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 (by-nc-sa 3.0) license, allowing it to be modified and reused for non-commercial purposes as long as the original authors are attributed and the license is not substantially changed. Authors retain full copyright to their content, may publish it elsewhere under different licenses, and grant wikiHow an irrevocable license to use it for any purpose.[45]

Opt-out ads[edit]

wikiHow lets readers control whether advertising appears alongside content. Registered, logged-in users do not see ads[46][47] except those from external video providers.[48]

In November, 2014, it was announced that wikiHow would participate in Google Contributor, a service allowing website users to make monthly donations to support their favorite websites and not be required to see ads on them.[49]

Reception[edit]

wikiHow has won multiple awards, including a Webby Award for Community in 2009,[50] and the Co-Creation award in the Open Innovation competition, organized by The Guardian and Nesta in 2010.[51] Mashable selected wikiHow as runner-up for best wiki in its Open Web Awards in 2008.[52] In October, 2018, Gizmodo included wikiHow in its list of "100 Websites That Shaped the Internet as We Know It", referring to it as "a consistently useful resource." [53] More recently, Forbes recognized wikiHow in its list of "The Best Small Companies Of 2019". [54]

A PBS journalist reported that the "wikiHow app has an excellent set of articles to help you in just about any situation, from helping someone who is choking to handling vehicle emergencies, to natural disasters."[55] The New York Times reported: "Type in a few key words about the problem into the app’s Search page and the guide will return some advice. Its information pages are clear and well laid out. They begin with an introductory description, then offer a list of steps to follow. The app displays the necessary tools and items, and includes tips and warnings."[56] Lifehacker has described wikiHow as the "ever-handy guide site."[57] wikiHow has been positively described in many other media, including Inc. Magazine,[4] Cosmopolitan,[58] TechRepublic,[59] Condé Nast Traveler[60] and PC Magazine.[61]

wikiHow has also been the target of satire and criticism for its notable abundance of arguably eccentric articles. For example, American Public Radio show Wits has a segment called "wikiHow theater", where actors read obvious or ludicrous wikiHow topics, such as "How to Make People Respect Your Pet", for comic effect.[62] Two accomplished poets published a book called "How To Feel Confident with Your Special Talents", where each poem's title is taken directly from a wikiHow article.[63] Vice parodied wikiHow's article "How to Break Up with Your Boyfriend".[64] The Huffington Post created a list of bizarre life skills, such as "How to React to an Ugly Baby", that "you could only learn from wikiHow".[65] Illustrations are often criticized for being strange or eccentric.[66][67] Other publishers have criticized wikiHow for hosting instructions on topics of questionable social value, such as "How to get a thigh gap"[68] and "How to stop a wedding".[69] Other websites have created "worst of wikiHow" lists to highlight topics that are "deranged",[70] "brilliantly bizarre"[71] and otherwise controversial.

References[edit]

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External links[edit]