Wikihow

Common Sense Media says

Sometimes-iffy wiki teaches collaboration -- and skepticism.

Age(i)

2
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Quality(i)

 

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.”)

Privacy & safety

Kids can remain anonymous, even if they submit entries, and block emails from other users. If they write a how-to they would later like to remove, they can do so if it's within a day or so of posting. If the entry has already been edited by others it can't be deleted, but authors can remove their bylines at any time.

Though kids as young as 13 are allowed, this site provides no controls for parents.

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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

This review of Wikihow was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 11 years old August 8, 2010
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

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
Kid, 10 years old November 4, 2012
AGE
11
QUALITY
 
LEARNING

Great!

Nice How To's
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Educator and Parent Written byLois Wade November 2, 2012
AGE
13
QUALITY
 
LEARNING

Good place to learn writing skills.

wikiHow is a How To site which encourages collaborative writing and editing with the goal of creating accurate instructions. The community is relatively friendly, the users tend to help each other, and the interface is fairly easy to use. Note that the GOAL is creating accurate instructions. If a user sees a problem with a set of instructions, they are encouraged to fix the problem. Thus, the information is continuously evolving, usually for the better. The wikiHow community has chosen to ban certain types of articles, including Dangerous, Hate or Racist, Illegal, Sexually Explicit and Political. While the above categories do not weed out all objectionable content, they do tend to make the site a lot more family friendly than most. Profanity is generally limited forums rather than articles, and tends toward descriptive rather than pejorative use. Kids over 13 should be fine here. Younger children should be more closely supervised.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much swearing

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