wikiHow Main Page on October 2013
|Commercial?||Yes ("hybrid organization")|
|Type of site||Wiki format How-to Manual|
|Available language(s)||English, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Hebrew, Hindi|
|Created by||Jack Herrick and Josh Hannah|
|Alexa rank||148 (March 2014[update])|
wikiHow is a web-based and wiki-based community, consisting of an extensive database of how-to guides. wikiHow's mission is to build the world's largest and highest-quality how-to manual. The site started as an extension of the already existing eHow website, and has evolved to host over 163,000 how-to articles as of September 24, 2013. In January 2012, "wikiHow had 35.5 million unique readers from over 200 countries or territories. These 35.5 million different people visited it a total of over 44 million times in the month."
On January 15, 2005, the two owners of eHow, Jack Herrick and Josh Hannah, started wikiHow––a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest how-to manual. While eHow already contained instructions on how to do thousands of things, wikiHow allowed a community of volunteer contributors to build something even bigger and better. On April 28, 2006, eHow was sold to Demand Media and wikiHow was launched as an independent site on its own www.wikihow.com domain.
wikiHow reached 50,000 articles on January 27, 2009. On March 11, 2011, the number of how to articles hit 100,000. As of September 24, 2013, there are over 163,000 articles, about 708,000 registered users, and almost 12.5 million edits made.
Content and article format
wikiHow is a wiki, which is a website that anyone can edit. wikiHow operates on open source software and an open content licensing model, allowing free use and community ownership of the content.
Any visitor to wikiHow can create a new page and write about how to do something. Articles posted on wikiHow follow a standard format consisting of a summary, followed by ingredients (if any), steps to complete the activity, along with tips, warnings, required items, links to related how-to articles, and a section for sources & citations. Pictures may be added to the articles to illustrate important points or concepts. Once the page is submitted, other visitors can edit or improve the page. Anonymous contributors and the wikiHow user community work together to improve the quality of information provided on the site, fix or remove incorrect instructions, and revert vandalism.
wikiHow's deletion policy prohibits articles on topics that are advertisements, spam, inaccurate, jokes, potty humor, sarcastic, sexually charged, hate/racist-based, mean-spirited, impossible instructions, social instructions impossible for an individual to accomplish, universally illegal, copyright violations, below character article standards, focused on recreational drugs, political opinion promoting or criticizing a particular political party/candidate/official, vanity pages, or extremely dangerous and reckless.
The site's initial start-up costs were to some extent financed from Herrick's sale of eHow. It is now funded from advertising on its pages, on the grounds that "...tasteful advertising is the most unobtrusive way to fund our operations." 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".
wikiHow's content is published under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike (by-nc-sa) license, which means that the content can be modified and reused for non-commercial purposes as long as the original authors are attributed and the license is not substantially changed. The authors retain full copyright to their content and may publish it elsewhere under different licenses. They grant wikiHow an irrevocable license to use the material for any purpose.
wikiHow is one of only a handful of major websites to allow readers control over whether advertising appears alongside content. Those who are registered and logged in do not see ads, unless it is an external video provider.
Prior to adopting the Creative Commons license, wikiHow had been criticized for initial content policies that sought to make a profit from volunteer contributors. The site has also been criticized about the reliability of articles written by non-experts, such as "How to stop cutting yourself", or the relevance of articles written about such obscure subjects as "How to taste dark chocolate".
As wikiHow continued to grow, it began to attract more media attention. Columnist Mark Patinkin from the Providence Journal wrote an article about wikiHow in late 2009, commenting that he found many interesting articles on a variety of different subjects. In the same article, he said [regarding some of the article topics]:
Some were too dicey, like How to Mount a Unicycle. Others had daunting titles: How to Change a Partition Size Using Easeus Partition Manager. Some were too long, like How to Be Organized. Others too obscure: How to Care for Sea Monkeys. Some too hard: How to Play a Glissando on a Wind Instrument. Others I didn’t want to know about, like How to Cook a Snake. Some simply grossed me out: How to Cure a Cat of Constipation. Others demoralized me: How to Check out a Library Book. Do people no longer know?
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