With all due respect to Kevin Smith, the web is no longer only for complaining about movies. In fact, there are a large number of very helpful sites that teach you how to do things. These are do-it-yourself sites, but we're not talking about building a deck or baking a cake -- the web is full of more general interest sites that give quality instruction on all sorts of fun and useful projects. Including, sometimes, how to build a deck or bake a cake.
In this horribly-titled, but hopefully useful round-up we will specifically focus on such general purpose sites that include some sort of rich media instruction (generally video). We also might throw in a tech-focused site or two, since this is after all, a tech-focused blog.
If you know of any instructional sites that are missing from this list, please mention them in the comments below.
- Instructables - "The World's Largest Show and Tell," as the site calls itself, is a community where people can create and share guides that cover a variety of topics from art and crafts to food, technology, and the home. The multi-page guides are well illustrated and users can rate and discuss them.
- SuTree - The recently redesigned SuTree aggregates video tutorials from over 250 sources. Their library includes over 11,000 videos covering just about every topic you can imagine. They republish videos from a bunch of other sites on this list.
- TrickLife - A user generated video tutorial site covering a large number of topics. Their "Computing" section is one of the most active and features a number of great tutorials about how to use various computer programs.
- VideoJug - VideoJug is one of the largest general purpose professionally produced video tutorial sites. They host over 15,000 video tutorials in just about every subject under the sun, including some tongue-in-cheek tutorials like this one: How To Use CSI Techniques To Find Out Who Used Your Coffee Mug. The videos include text as well to make them easier to follow.
- Expert Village - Expert Village calls itself the world's largest video tutorial site, and with nearly 49,000 videos, they might be right. Expert Village produces videos using a network of "experts" in various fields. Anyone can sign up to be an expert and the site contacts those it feels would do well hosting a video tutorial series.
- eHow - eHow is a very large tutorial site covering a wide range of topics. Many of the tutorials were created by their editorial team, though some are user submitted. The presentation of the tutorials isn't very compelling (generally on a single page, broken into steps, without much in the way of rich media to aid instruction), but the site does have a small and growing video tutorial library.
- Household Hacker - A really cool video tutorial blog that instructs on how to achieve a number of "hacks" using common household items (usually these have to do with technology). As an example, the video embedded below demonstrates how to charge and iPod using an onion and some Gatorade (not sure why you'd ever want to do that, but, still pretty neat):
Note: Household Hacker is a humor site, some of the tutorials have some truth to them, but you probably shouldn't try them.
- Make: Podcast - Make Magazine is, in general, one of the coolest DIY magazines out there, instructing each month on a variety of awesome projects. Their online video podcast is a great collection of tutorials on how to do cool things like make a potato cannon or screen print your own t-shirt
- 5min - The "videopedia," as the site calls itself, 5min is another repository of user created video tutorials. Their hook? All the videos must be under 5 minutes in length. This site is great for someone who wants to learn how to do something on a tight schedule.
- ViewDo - Another video tutorial site that relies on user contributions, ViewDo also mixes in some tutorials created in house. ViewDo covers a ton of topic areas, and one of the nice things about the site is that videos can be downloaded to a portable media player (like an iPod or PSP) and watched on the go.
- Sclipo - Sclipo not only encourages people to share their knowledge, but also provides a utility for them to do so via webcam. As on most video sharing sites, users can rate and comment on clips.
- Helpfulvideo - This is a rather strange site that mixes up video tutorials with video classified ads. I'm not really sure where the crossover is, but if you're looking to buy a used car then learn how to change its oil filter, then perhaps this site is for you.
- TeacherTube - TeacherTube is a straight up YouTube clone aimed at providing an outlet for educational videos that I gather can be used by teachers in class. Some of the videos were pretty good, but the site seems really unfocused compared to the rest in this round-up. Then again, what kid wouldn't love Dr. Loopy Discusses the Water Cycle? (Um, don't answer that.)
- Koonji - Offering people-powered guides, in my August review of Koonji I compared the site to Instructables and Squidoo.
- Squidoo - Speaking of Squidoo... While not totally focused on tutorials, Squidoo's lenses are a font of information about all sorts of stuff and often include how-to guides (or links to them!).
- About.com - Who could forget About.com? Not us! Buried in the editorial of About.com are hundreds of tutorials, including a growing amount of video content -- you just have to dig for it sometimes.
Image credit: docman