Friday, March 23, 2007

wikiHow: Advice from Anyone

Here is an interesting application of wikis. A website called eHow now has a social wiki called wikiHow. On wikiHow anyone can write instructional material about anything and some other member can modify it. Today there are instruction How to Turn Around a Bad Day at Work. I also see related links to How to Lose Your Fear of Being Fired and How to Call in Sick When You Just Need a Day Off. I do not think you find that last topic addressed very often, maybe for good reasons. Over 100,000 people have looked at that last one.

Not all the help is work related. I see instructions for wrapping a sari, designing your own home, making ricotta cheese, reading aviation routine reports, and hacking a coke machine. There is obviously no ethics panel reviewing the subjects. It looks like you have the right to say anything.

At the bottom of each page is the user name of the creator of the instructional page and names of those who have modified it. You can vote whether a page is accurate.

Next time I need some strange advice, like how to cut in line at a bar, I will try this site.

Seriously, I can imagine legislators or congress people looking at this and say that "There are a few bad pages - let's shut it down!" That would be very wrong. There actually is very much that is good and helpful and democratic. This kind of website is what makes the web so interesting.

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