A community-powered search engine for free how-to videos, WonderHowTo.com is like a YouTube for do-it-yourself enthusiasts and the just-plain curious. Launched in January 2008, the site already indexes over 130,000 instructional videos organized into 36 categories and 431 subcategories — from magic tricks and hacking electronics to music lessons and specialized weapons.
Rather than hosting its own videos, the website aggregates content from more than 700 sites around the web, including YouTube, Metacafe, VideoJug and Howcast (source: Katherine Boehret, "A How-to Guide to How-to Videos," The Wall Street Journal, May 2008). Videos may play on different video players or launch in a new window, depending on the content provider.
Screenshot of video titled "How to Make Your Fingers Smoke"
Anyone can submit a video. All you need is the URL where the video is located. Those who submit are also responsible for assigning categories and subcategories. Videos are then reviewed and graded by WonderHowTo's own curating staff before they become available on the site. The grade assigned to each video also changes based on user feedback, so it gives you an idea of what others think about the video. And as a site member, the grade you assign a particular video will determine how it shows up in your search results.
Since the site is virtually a human-curated library of instructional videos, it makes for a pretty effective search engine that takes into account people's innate sense of organization. The site allows you to sort results in a variety of ways, including grade, format, date and most viewed. Below is an example of a video created by WonderHowTo staff, illustrating how to search and refine results on the site:
The success of the site depends on the activity of its users, who discover how-to videos from anywhere across the Internet and share them with others on WonderHowTo.com. To engage users, the site offers a number of social networking tools that enable community members to bond over their common craving for instruction, or diversion, through how-to videos. These include the ability to create and view profiles, leave comments, grade videos, message other members and be matched with other "kindred spirits" with similar interests. Recognition is given to the most active contributors ("Wonderstars") in the form of published lists, such as Top Submitters, Top Graders and Top Watchers.
Members can also create playlists of videos around a certain theme or topic. Site-recommended playlists are featured as Wonderlists; examples include "The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Home Repair" and "The Guide to Mastering Everyday Software."
To give an idea of how quickly the site is growing, here are a few statistics taken mostly from the far-from-static list of numbers scrolling at the top of site pages (current as of around 12 p.m., June 19, 2008):
- 133,205 free how-to videos indexed
- 658 videos added in the past day
- 3729 videos added this week
- 1012 people online, 78 of which are members
- 991 newbies joined in the past 24 hours
- 618,578 unique monthly visits during May 2008 (source: Quantcast)
WonderHowTo.com is a comprehensive resource of great instructional videos and the perfect way to procrastinate productively. So if you find yourself stuck on that DIY project that's been eating up your weekends or you feel like building a portable USB charger out of the blue, you might find a how-to video on the site that can help.