Sunday, April 11, 2010

The joys of WikiHow

I'm not sure how I first came across WikiHow, but I'm endlessly amused. It's a collection of how-to articles on a variety of subjects which anyone - yes, Billy, absolutely anyone! - can edit. Some of the these articles teach useful skills that everyone should learn; for example, operating a mini excavator, hanging a door, or kicking one down. Others fall in the line of hobbies - the site will teach you how to make a zoetrope, or a crop circle. The crop circle article suggests the best way to flatten cornstalks in a regular pattern (stand on a plank with a rope tied to it, and walk with a shuffling gait) and the best methods for alerting the media to the incipient threat of alien invasion (anonymous phone calls, presumably from a payphone). Be careful, though - if you bring a can of pop to drink while making a crop circle, be sure to pick up the container when you're finished! This is a dead giveaway.

Other articles deal with more nebulous tasks, like how to be a good person. (Step Two: Accept everyone around you as your brothers and sisters.) The secrets of political correctness are revealed in another article. All you have to do is examine the citizenship status (step 5), medical records (step 4) and and religious background (step 6) of every person you meet before speaking to them, and you're good to go! Unless, of course, you encounter someone who reads negative inferences into the words you choose (step 7), or who wishes to be referred to using special language of their own invention (step 8). In either case, the misunderstanding is your own fault, and you will probably be fired from your workplace (Warning 1) and become a social pariah (Warning 2).

But the articles get weirder. "How to Amuse Yourself When You're Home With Nothing to Do" is marketed toward bored children whose parents have left them alone in the house for half an hour. After exhausting the more obvious options ("5: Play with a not-so-jumpy pet, like a turtle." "9. Spend some time on your laptop/computer, that's always a good passtime.") the authors suggest harassing strangers ("13: Have a "hug-a-thon" by asking people that pass you on the street if they want a hug!"). Older children might enjoy the guide on How to Persuade Somebody that Religion is a Bad Thing - after selecting a likely target for conversion (step 1), and subtly shifting the topic of every conversation towards religion (step 2), you need only point out "some of the great facts about atheism. For example, state that religion puts people into groups." Repeat until your friends are all converted, or until they refuse to talk to you, whichever comes first.

My favourite, though, is the one on "How to Sing in Church Without Feeling Embarrassed," which should be mandatory reading for everyone, ever. Stop being self-conscious! Just sing!


Steven said...

Wonderful. I see many blissfully unproductive hours - even weeks - ahead of me!

Maxwell said...

That's a great blog post! wikiHow truly is amazing. I also retweeted your post about it.