In my writings, I’ve stumbled upon and have written for www.ehow.com/ whose tag line is “How to do just about everything.” First, let me assure you that I’ve only opted to author articles that I know something about. And secondly, the articles are reviewed by an editorial staff prior to their publication online. So someone’s checking although I’m not certain to what extent they’re fact checking or simply checking to determine that the submission meets their style guidelines (i.e. every sentence starts with a verb... creative writing, it is not).
I’m still on my soapbox about participatory journalism, so, please, allow me to cite a few examples. I recently saw the following titles as available assignments for members who have signed up to write for the site.
“How to make a stapler” which leads to my next question (probably yours too): Why would anyone want to? I can write that article in one sentence, starting, of course, with a verb: Go to your office supply store or the stationery aisle of any department store and buy one.
“How to build a house on piers.” Now I can appreciate that someone with coastal property might want to build a house on piers. The interesting spin on this title was its category. It was listed under “careers and advancement” and not “home improvements.” I suppose if you were in the construction business, you might consider the ability to build a pier-supported house a career advancement. I’m certain it takes more skill than building a house on a regular foundation.
“How to build a bowling alley in your garage” listed under “business.” First of all, I haven’t seen any garages in my life that are the length of a standard bowling alley. Have you? I guess if I extended my garage to accommodate a bowling alley, I’d want to make some money to recoup the expense thereby putting this title in the business section.
“How to create a nursing certificate.” Seems fishy to me right off the bat. To make it more suspicious it was listed under “crafts.” It's crafty all right.
Here are two of my favorites:
“How to make an ankle holster for a gloc” and “How to make a taser gun out of a lighter.” With a tip of my hat to Dave Barry: “I swear I’m not making any of this up.”
Finally, I saw this title: “How long does an arrest warrant stay active?” Probably longer than you’d like. I wonder if the person requesting this title read the two before it, and that’s when the trouble started.