Category talk:Articles containing how-to sections

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New category[edit]

There is a need to keep track on these kinds of articles. I'll be adding a lot of links here shortly.. some articles are a mix of encyclopedic content, some parts describing the issue as it is, other parts telling the reader what to do. While the how-to content may be entirely useful and valuable, it may introduce an unwanted style change in an otherwise descriptive article. Should the category be renamed, feel free to suggest some alternatives. Santtus 12:35, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

What's the border between howto and how? For example, I would be interested in the way how air was blown into the vessel in the bessemer process. Would that qualify as howto? (talk) 12:03, 3 January 2009 (UTC)

Defrag does NOT[edit]

The page on defragmentation does NOT contain a how-to. It doescribes how a defragmenter works. This can only be considered a how to if you are trying to *program* a defrager. I'm going to remove the link. Fresheneesz 19:38, 4 June 2006 (UTC)

bode plot[edit]

A section I wrote in bode plot describes "how to" draw a freehand bode plot. That might qualify for being in this category. Fresheneesz 19:46, 4 June 2006 (UTC)

Guidelines for editing?[edit]

What would be a practical way to help editors in editing out the how-to content? Suppose that a text is changed from style a)

-first open the regulator valve

to the style b)

Proper procedures for operating a <unspecified device> include -opening the regulator valve - ...

How much is accomplished? The resulting text still has a relatively bad style, even though it does not instruct directly. Should a complete rewrite be done instead? Santtus 12:23, 22 July 2006 (UTC)

I agree with having a guideline. Having written an article which you think would be informative but somehow tagged as plain how-to and advert kind of hurts. A guide line should be set and maybe some template for it. (talk) 08:08, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
Writing a guideline for this a future goal of mine. I don't think it alleviates the need for a tag, though; it simply means that (unlike the current situation) there'll be a decent guide to rewriting to redirect people to from the template. Chris Cunningham (talk) 10:49, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

How-to future uncertain in Wikibooks[edit]

Discussion copied from template talk:move to Wikibooks, under the heading "Be careful about strong recommendations to move to Wikibooks"

There is a movement within Wikibooks to cull a considerable amount of content off of Wikibooks, and the How-to guides are one of the items being debated strongly. I'm just warning that any strong warning about moving the content to Wikibooks should also be met with a jaundiced view that it might as well be deleted altogether in a more permanent manner. Certainly for this reason alone, you should not automatically delete templates like the How-to template. This was a very, very, very bad idea and should be reverted as additional instructions specific to "how-to" guides may be important in the future.

Mind you, this isn't saying that deletion of all how-to guides on Wikibooks is inevitable, but I am giving fair warning here that it might happen, and other non accredited college course specific textbooks may also be deleted in the future. BTW, yes, this includes kids books and perhaps even high school textbooks. It is not a pretty picture right now at Wikibooks. Adding this template may just be simply putting the equivalent of a speedy delete template from Wikibooks on the article. --Robert Horning 20:04, 19 July 2006 (UTC)

I agree with your concerns on the future of Wikibooks, and I understand the need to communicate this through this template. On this basis I'd agree that two separate templates are needed. I'd hope that the issue with how-to content in Wikibooks would be settled as quickly as possible, so that more informative warning may be used instead of the current. I feel that this issue should become clear in about week, or if not, I'll rephrase the template to include the warning in a subtler fashion. Santtus 21:47, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
Don't count on this being resolved in the next week or so. This is an issue that may be resolved in about a year or so. I'm serious. It takes a week sometimes for Wikibooks participants to clear their throat. Still, it is important for the Wikipedia community to know that this is an issue on Wikibooks, and that proposing a move of content to Wikibooks may simply result in its out right deletion. If you don't think that is the best approach, join in the policy discussions. Of course, much of this is because Wikipedia deletionists have become quite active on en.wikibooks lately. --Robert Horning 15:32, 20 July 2006 (UTC)
Edited the template to include your concern in a less bulky way. Santtus 10:31, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
I've removed that from the template... how-tos are perfectly acceptable on wikibooks. ----SB_Johnny|talk|books 23:03, 11 September 2006 (UTC)
Just a further note: this was a bit of an overreaction on Robert's part, and as far as I know he didn't mention the changes to this template on wikibooks. We don't have a policy like WP:POINT, though if we did, this would probably fit the bill. --SB_Johnny|talk|books 11:38, 16 September 2006 (UTC)
I know this is resurrecting an incredibly ancient discussion, so to say, but Johnny is incredibly mistaken with the reaction of several deletionists that were very active at the time I started this discussion. There indeed was a movement to remove How-to content from Wikibooks and move it to Wikia or some other 3rd party project such as did eventually happen with the Video Game guides. Merely by bringing this issue up and calling the bluff of the individuals pushing this movement was I able to convince those pushing for the culling to back off. I was not trying to be disruptive, but to be pre-emptive in dealing with this issue.
Anyway, How-to books have been solidly established on Wikibooks for some time, and whatever movement there was to remove them has long since disappeared. I could point to historical discussion on Foundation-l, Textbook-l, Meta and other places where I did have cause for concern, but that is old discussion. I just can't leave these "lies" unanswered and besmirch my reputation here, giving Johnny the last word. I should note that I wasn't the one leading the charge to have them removed, but it did get support from some former WMF board members that I'll leave in the dust of history as well. --Robert Horning (talk) 03:57, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

Clarification about moving things to wikibooks[edit]

The main problem on the wikibooks side with moving articles or fragments from wikipedia is that stubs don't get developed as quickly on that project as they do on here. IOW, we're much less likely to have someone searching around for something, seeing a stub, and developing it into a book (in part because writing books takes a lot more effort, and in part because our community is just smaller than wikipedia's).

If anyone's interested in giving us a hand, there's curently a proposal (b:Wikibooks:Request for enabling special:import) on the table to enable special:import on wikibooks to make transwikis easier. Aside from making it easy for admins to import articles, this would also ensure that at least one admin is aware that the material has been brought over, and that page histories are moved as well in compliance with the GFDL. Any support would be appreciated. --SB_Johnny|talk|books 11:38, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

How should we edit the how-to articles?[edit]

This isn't all that obvious. First of all, what is the kind of unwanted how-to? There are few clear-cut cases, but also a large grey area. Please take a look on the existing articles tagged as how-to, and share your ideas on what guidelines would be best for editing the most of the articles. Santtus 15:36, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia is not a how-to guide. Whenever I see recipes or game walkthroughs, etc, I remove the content with a detailed edit summary. JoeSmack Talk 16:05, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
You know, this might be the sort of thing best handled at WP:NOT's talk page instead. Few, if any people will read about it here. FrozenPurpleCube 05:23, 17 April 2007 (UTC)


I believe I removed the how-to content on this page - I would appreciate if someone experience could take a look to see if I cut too much, not enough, etc. If it's good, perhapd the front-page notice could be removed? DrippingGoofball 22:42, 14 July 2007 (UTC)


The page Exfoliation (cosmetology) contains a bit of how-to information in the last section. Not sure if it's enough to qualify for this list or not. Rip-Saw 07:36, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

"How-to's" are often an integral part of mathematics[edit]

I was surprised to see the Runge-Kutta integration method article's example section tagged as an unwanted "how-to". I am a professional mathematician with a PhD. In mathematics, good examples are often key to understanding the theory. By removing such examples, we will end up with a boring soup of "facts" which people will have a hard time understanding. One reason why I like Wikipedia is precisely because it is not presumptious: it dares to give simple examples illustrating difficult concepts. There are already many math books out there which do not do this. 19:45, 2 November 2007 (UTC)NikoB

I totally agree. (talk) 13:58, 22 December 2007 (UTC)
Any artificial language is better discussed with how-to method simply because of its mathematical nature. KonsolScript happens to be one of the many computer languages. Unlike Pascal (programming language), KS existed for just 2 years (since time written)-- KS would not have such a significant history to mention (other than the usage) like Pascal (article) does. Many other newly crafted but working languages suffers the same from the accusative tag. (talk) 08:23, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
The KS article serves largely as an advocacy platform. That a language is new and hence has little to note about it means that it probably doesn't deserve a long and detailed article at all. The KS article delved into such minutae as setting up one's environment and creating one's first files; it was basically a transcribed manual. This isn't an appropriate angle for an encyclopedia article. Chris Cunningham (talk) 10:31, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
Still, Pascal does have a how-to section in Language constructs -- a method that cannot be removed when it comes to math. (talk) 01:05, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
WP:OTHERSTUFFEXISTS is not a valid argument. The Pascal article could do with some serious work itself. Chris Cunningham (talk) 10:39, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
IMHO, it is very well valid to me. And I also agree that Pascal article also had a lot of editing done. But like I said, presently, there is no how-to tag on it but it contains sample codes discussing the syntax -- perhaps I should be removing the comments on KS codes too, eh?. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:47, 9 January 2008 (UTC)


Is there a reason why wikipedia should not have how-to content? 23:50, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

Because almost all of the time it leads to unprofessional-looking, unencyclopedic articles. Wikipedia's neutrality is extremely important, and the minute one goes advising readers how to do things (or presenting articles like education material) that neutrality is compromised. Chris Cunningham (talk) 14:17, 22 December 2007 (UTC)
I strongly believe that the reason "Why many student uses Wikipedia as their reference" is because of its ingenuity. Based on the definition of encyclopedia from The Free Dictionary (, it is "a large set of books, descends from a phrase that involved coming to grips with the contents of such books" and "reference work covering all knowledge", which I think should also consist a how-to. (talk) 08:37, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
Wikipedia is not a replacement for the rest of the Internet. By ensuring that it remains descriptive and not prescriptive, and editor can be assured that the information within is well-sourced, neutral and intended to present information from an objective and comparative angle. WikiBooks exists for guidebooks and manuals. Chris Cunningham (talk) 10:35, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
Internet has never been considered by most universities as resource for all knowledge but specific websites like Wikipedia. I agree that Wiki-admin should clean-up messy and/or trashy articles. My article has been revised by some volunteers to help qualify the stay in wiki-pages. But I still do not get why such how-to a big deal when it comes to math discussions. The list of de-howto has at least 4 math-natured articles like Dynamic HTML, Java, Logo and especially "Conversion of units"... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:44, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Because Wikipedia is not a textbook, and it should not attempt to teach subject matter. Just saying "math" doesn't somehow exclude any mathematical articles from being approached from a descriptive rather than educational perspective. Chris Cunningham (talk) 10:39, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
There is a thin line between attempting to teach subject matter and explaining how something works, an encyclopedia is after all a means for explanation, not just a collection of facts. How-to content can be absolutely vital in aiding the reader's understanding of a subject. Wikipedia should explain both theory and practice of its subjects, as many encyclopedias do. While I agree that we shouldn't be teaching people how to create D&D characters, discussion on some of the finer details on polar alignment for instances are not out of the question. Perhaps what it boils down to is that How to subheadings should be relabeled as Methods for. That way wikipedia is not saying "this is the way things should be done", but "this is the way things are usually done". Conrad Leviston (talk) 00:06, 11 March 2008 (UTC)


I see no how-to content in the RDRAM article. There are two external links to how-to information, namely

  • How to install RAMBUS memory
  • Illustrated Guide for Installing RDRAM

Should those outside links simply be removed?

The article does contain a good bit of discussion of applications, but that is all germane to the history of this type of memory. Anyone who is researching RDRAM would probably want to know something about its history, including history of applications, because RDRAM turned out to be a significant but failed branch of RAM technology. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dratman (talkcontribs) 13:37, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

De-tagged. Chris Cunningham (talk) 10:41, 7 January 2008 (UTC)


I have attempted to redraft the Hayfever section on treatment & prevention. Can the 'how to' tag now be removed? Halon8 (talk) 17:46, 10 August 2008 (UTC)

Reference vs. how-to[edit]

Is it a "how-to" (and thus forbidden) to list things like CSS properties for the reference of web developers?


font-weight: bold;


font-style: italic;

If it is forbidden, could you please refer me to the rule or guideline which explicitly forbids lists of properties or functions? --Uncle Ed (talk) 02:24, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

Hang on, what?[edit]

These are the most ridiculous sentences I have read in the last week or so:

'An article about knitting ought not sequence the factual information, suchwise that a reader could derive from it how to perform knitting. Similarly, an article on black pepper ought not mention that ground black pepper is used as food seasoning, or even that the use of black pepper is for it to be ground into food seasoning.'

Why are some Wikipedians so obsessed with destroying Wikipedia's factual integrity in order to attain some sort of bogus 'professionalism'?

--jmenkus [T] 21:15, 9 March 2011 (UTC)

 Done - I've been bold and removed it. Black pepper article is A-class and mentions seasoning in its very first sentence. Obviously a bad example. --M4gnum0n (talk) 09:06, 14 April 2011 (UTC)

Suggest change to first paragraph, per WP:NOT[edit]

This category page goes way beyond what WP:NOT says, and I propose changing it to accord exactly with WP:NOT, no more and no less.

hide discussion of earlier, overly-complicated proposal
WP:NOT does not forbid the presentation of information that implies to the reader how to do something; it only says that such information must not be presented using how-to wording. The relevant section of WP:NOT (shortcut: WP:NOTMANUAL) says:
Describing to the reader how other people or things use something is encyclopedic; instructing the reader in the imperative mood about how to use something is not.

IOW, WP:NOTMANUAL is about style, not content. Yet this article forbids not only instructing the reader, but implying to the reader how something is done:

(A) "Where factual content is presented in a sequence or context that implies the reader do something, such as knitting, it falls into HOWTO."

And then it goes so far as to say that the reader should not even be able to derive how-to information from an article:

(B) "In other words: An article about knitting ought not sequence the factual information, suchwise that a reader could derive from it how to perform knitting."

Neither A nor B follows from WP:NOT, and both go way too far. The language discussed just above about black pepper is a good reductio ad absurdum example of this page's logic, yet the knitting example is pretty absurd also. All we really need to do is reiterate WP:MANUAL and go no further than that.

I propose striking the wording that is unique to this article and simply quoting the wording of WP:MANUAL. The proposed text is bolded here for clarity:

Instruction manuals. While Wikipedia has descriptions of people, places, and things, Wikipedia articles should not include instructions, advice (legal, medical, or otherwise) or suggestions, or contain "how-to"s. This includes tutorials, walk-throughs, instruction manuals, video game guides, and recipes. These content types can sometimes be identified by the use of explicit or implicit first person communication to the reader. All factual content can be used as HOWTO content, by a sufficiently intelligent individual. Where factual content is presented in a sequence or context that implies the reader do something, such as knitting, it falls into HOWTO. In other words: An article about knitting ought not sequence the factual information, suchwise that a reader could derive from it how to perform knitting. As WP:MANUAL says: "Describing to the reader how other people or things use something is encyclopedic; instructing the reader in the imperative mood about how to use something is not." Note the how-to restriction does not apply to the Wikipedia: namespace, where "how-to"s relevant to editing Wikipedia itself are appropriate, such as Wikipedia:How to draw a diagram with Dia. If you're interested in a how-to style manual, you may want to look at our sister project Wikibooks.

How does that sound?

--Middle 8 (talk) 20:35, 27 April 2013 (UTC)

UPDATE: This category page simply needs to be updated with the current wording of the policy page WP:NOT. I'm just going to cut and paste the relevant section (from WP:NOTMANUAL) and be done with it. --Middle 8 (talk) 00:32, 5 May 2013 (UTC)
Done. --Middle 8 (talk) 00:51, 5 May 2013 (UTC)