eHow: help is on the Web

But are you ever going to find what you're looking for on a site that offers advice on so many subjects? For that reason, eHow (http://www.ehow.com) recently reorganised itself into a channels format that makes navigation easier.

"Originally we had a home page with indexes of all how-tos," says Joe Vause, vice president of business development. "It was pretty extensive, so now we've rolled out 15 channel centers that provide a broader view of what we offer."

The site offers thousands of tips on handling everyday events such as buying a car, fixing a computer, or buying a home if you have bad credit. The site also delves into less-conventional territory, offering advice on how to tell if a coworker is flirting with you and how to date your spouse.

You can now more easily find these bits of advice by surfing the new centres, which include Automotive, Careers and Education, Computers & Home Electronics, and Health.

If you can't find what you're looking for, says Vause, your search is noted by the service, which requests your e-mail address. Someone from eHow will look into the matter and send you an answer to your question.

"We respond to something close to 98 per cent of all inquiries," claims Vause. "Unless something is asking something completely appropriate." You won't, for instance, find any bomb making tips on eHow.

What you will find is a set of how-tos with brief step-by-step instructions. Advice tends to run on the vague side, but the service offers tips on just about anything you can think of, from what Vause calls expert peers.

These peers have a wide range of knowledge. In a quick scan of the site, I noticed that the same peer who penned How to Groom Your Horse for a Rodeo also wrote How to Calculate Your Loan-to-Value Ratio and How to Clean Crayon From Carpet.

"We consider an expert someone with experience," says Vause. "Expertise doesn't necessarily mean a title. It may, but to us a mother's advice on raising a child is perhaps more valid than a doctor's."

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Paul Heltzel

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