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Wikihow

(i)

 

Sometimes-iffy wiki teaches collaboration -- and skepticism.
Parents recommend

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This site promotes respectful collaboration and can give kids a sense of accomplishment. It's to be commended for fostering teamwork and banning sexually explicit how-tos and any that promote hate, violence, illegal activities or profanity. However, the quality bar could be set a little higher. Though they are
in the minority, the articles Wikihow allows that do glorify irresponsible, immature or negative behavior keep it from the highest rating here.

Violence

No murder or mayhem, but some of the how-to fight articles teach mild vigilantism, such as “How to beat up a bully.”  How to kill characters in popular video games is also covered. 

Sex

Sexually explicit and sexually “charged” how-tos are prohibited, but this still leaves plenty of room for some dicey stuff; for instance, numerous variations on “How to be a hot girl.”  Videos are not overtly sexual but can have adult content including one in which a young woman uses a cucumber to demonstrate the correct way to put on a condom. In another, a nude female with strategically placed long hair teaches “girls” how to “look good naked” when sitting and walking.

Language

The site seems pretty clean, in keeping with the no-profanity policy, but some strong language slips through in how-tos that contain modern song lyrics (e.g. “F--k me on the dance floor”) and in the forums and article discussion pages where user exchanges can get heated. Discussion pages that contain swear words such as asshole carry reader warnings but there is no profanity filter option. Ironically, the site features how-tos on circumventing profanity filters by inserting punctuation or running words together.

Consumerism

Advertising is not intrusive but the Google listings can be X-rated. For instance, clicking on an article about blocking Internet porn generates a gaggle of Google links leading to porn sites. We don’t normally recommend that kids register with a site if they don’t have to, but registering here is a no-brainer. It doesn’t require sharing any personal information and it hides all ads except the 30-second spots that play before some of the how-to videos. These all seem to be G-rated mainstream commercials for yogurt and the like.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

How-to articles on recreational drug use are banned but drinking and smoking entries are not. The majority of the these are of the admirable "how to quit" variety, but some promote dangerous behavior ("How to chug beer") or spoof bad habits (“How to drink beer while running a marathon.”)

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this wiki is easier for kids to contribute to than Wikipedia or eHow, but can be just as error-prone. It also contains some mildly objectionable material and sexually explicit Google ads. However, the ads can be turned off and kids can find lots of fun projects to undertake, even writing their own how-tos. Parents might want to supervise, though.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Despite iffy content here and there, Wikihow is actually a pretty good choice for kids interested in collaborative writing because it's so accessible and relatively safe. Kids can post articles anonymously and do not even have to submit an email address to participate. There's valuable experience to be gained here in learning how to research, write and edit coherently. There are also lots of great how-tos here for kids, too, like making a yo-yo. The most objectionable aspect of the site are the adult-oriented Google ads that can pop up from time to time.These are easy to turn off, though.

Online interaction: The site’s goal of producing high-quality how-to articles encourages contributors to support and treat one another respectfully as they trade edits. Peaceful collaboration seems to be the case for the most part, but kid contributors might have to deal with the occasional dustup including rough or angry language.  

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how wikis are by their nature not completely reliable sources of information. How can kids know when information is trustworthy and when it is wrong? Where can they doublecheck their research? (See our tips for using Wikipedia.)

  • Families can also talk about respecting others' opinions even if we do not always agree.

  • Discuss why some entries that do not promote a healthy lifestyle or attitude are allowed to stay on Wikihow. How can kids respect free speech while using their own common sense?

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Website details

Genre:Creating
Pricing structure:Free

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 11 years old August 8, 2010

Brilliant Idea =]

Great Site, Really Good. It Tells You Everything You Need (Or May Need) To Know How To Do. Like If You've Fallen Out With A Friend, Just Search "How To Make Up With A Friend". It Tells You How To Keep Diaries Secret, How To Do CPR, Things That Might One Day Be VERY Useful To You. Even Extreme Situations Are All Covered. I Signed Up And I've Never Had Any Issues With The Site. I Love Contributing To Articles, It's Brilliant Fun If You Like Giving Advice.
What other families should know
Educational value
Educator Written byJune Days November 1, 2012

Review by a wikiHow Lover: Honest and true

wikiHow is a how-to manual that gives people every day advice. While reading the site is fun, it's even more fun to write on it! I think that wikiHow gives kids the chance to work on their English, punctuation and grammar skills (Because wikiHow is a writing site), and lets them meet with new people. It almost builds maturity. While the site can't be totally clean (wikiHow gets trollers, spammers and vandals, but it's taken care of in a reasonable amount of time....Anywhere from 1 second of the bad edit, to a few days), it does have a bit of language (Mostly occurrs in the Forums). Nothing too bad though. It's usually taken care of. It also helps people collaborate to build the manual. Assuming good faith (Always assume the best) and collaborate with people to make the site clean, fun, and productive.
Kid, 12 years old June 28, 2010
There is a lot of good and a little bad. Very educational. Kids can learn a lot. GREAT WEBSITE.
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Educational value
Great messages

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