Help Yourself … Using the Web: The Top Websites

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In the spirit of self-help movement, and with the (great) help of the Web, you no longer have to depend on somone else to figure something out, solve a problem, or learn something new. In this article, we cover some of the various sites that exist now to assist you. These sites vary in their approach, but they are all quite deep both in the variety of content and the detail that they cover subjects. I’ll do my best to break these sites down into some broad categories, but note that there is a lot of overlap.

Probably the oldest of these sites is How Stuff Works which was started by Marshall Brain (yes, that’s his real name!) in 1998 with a handful of articles mainly on science topics. It has now grown to thousands of articles. Imitators now include eHow, wikiHow which follows the Wikipedia model for user contributed and edited content.

Sites which not only give you information on how things works, but also how to do things include: So You Wanna, How To Do Things, and Wise Geek.

If you want to learn something, particularly new skills, or get greater in-depth info on a subject, there is Wikipedia of course; Tutorial Find, which is a directory of web sites and pages that have tutorials on many subjects, but particularly computer related ones; even the BBC has quite an extensive Learning section. If you are or have a youngster in grades K through 8, then take a look at FunBrain which has lots of interactive learning.

In the community-based sites, of which wikiHow is also one, there is Yahoo Answers which takes both questions and answers from its readers. There is a moderation and point system so that the lower quality material doesn’t stick around too long. Also, in the community category, but also practically in its own category is Fixya, which aims to provide troubleshooting and user guides for all sorts of consumer electronics. Fixya already has a database of many of the most popular CE devices out there as well as a very strong community answering questions posted by other members.

Last but hardly least is VideoJug, whose tagline is “Life Explained. On Film.” Pretty apt. VideoJug was only recently launched but already has hundreds of videos on many subjects. They tend to feature the more whimsical and entertaining videos on their front page, but dig a little deeper and there are some pretty good clips that, while not academically deep, are presented by subject matter experts.

Update: Shame on me for forgetting another great source for getting help and info on your Consumer Electronics: Techlore. Techlore has thousands of users and hundreds of articles and thousands of posts in their forums covering pretty much any CE device you can think of. It’s also a good place to refer to if you’re researching a new gadget.

List of Self-Help/Info Websites Mentioned in this Article: