Understanding the How of Web Hosting

I’ve done reviews of a few different web hosting providers on John Chow dot Com before, but today’s review is a little different. Instead of promoting a particular provider, HostHow aims to “create the largest free repository of web hosting tutorials on the net.” For anyone who is confused about any aspect of hosting a website, HostHow hopes to provide you with the best answer possible.

The Web Hosting How-To Guide

They say that Web 2.0 is all about collaboration, with the monetization behind of secondary concern. When you consider places like Facebook and YouTube, they were originally designed to provide users with a valuable service and it was only after the user base was established that they started tossing in some advertising. It seems that Julian Patrick Stockwell, the guy behind the web hosting tutorial site, is taking on the same philosophy, because you won’t find any advertising on HostHow. At least not yet.

As I mentioned above, HostHow is a collaborative tutorial project, so the number of articles on web hosting is supposed to grow exponentially as the site continues to mature and expand. There isn’t all that much on there right now, because the site is currently in “pre-launch.” Over the course of the next couple of weeks, Julian will be seeding the site with as many tutorials as he can.

Here are a few examples of what you can expect. Remember, HostHow is based on user-created content, so the editorial mileage will vary.

Welcome to Two Years Ago

The concept of collecting a mass of web hosting knowledge in one place is a good one and I particularly like the collaborative aspects of HostHow. What I don’t like is the layout. Welcome to the land of old school WordPress.

hosthow-layout.jpg

Some people call it clean, but I say it’s far too plain Jane. Worst still, Julian failed to enter anything between the <title> tags, so when you visit HostHow, you don’t get a descriptive title in your browser at all. This can’t possibly be good for SEO purposes, let one user experience. You’ll also notice that the login page looks terribly dated as well. Mr. Stockwell needs to be welcomed to 2008.

But wait, there’s more. I understand that HostHow is still in a “pre-beta” kind of stage, but broken links are a definite no-no. A few broken links within articles aren’t nearly as bad as having links to empty categories, but that’s exactly what’s happening here. If you click on the Linux category in the sidebar, you get this 404 page.

hosthow-linux404.jpg

The same is true of other categories as well. Realistically, there’s no point in having the links to the categories if there’s no content there yet. In like manner, HostHow has forums too, but they’re pretty empty right now. Hopefully, that will change as a larger community starts to develop.

hosthow-forums.jpg

Free Web Hosting for Contributors

You might be wondering why anyone would feel motivated to contribute to HostHow in the first place. Well, you do get “paid”, in a sense, for providing some tutorials to the site. More specifically, everyone who submits 10 or more tutorials gets treated to free web hosting. What’s not clear is that how long this web hosting will last. Is it 10 articles for one year of hosting? We’re not sure.

That said, HostHow is offering a special deal to all John Chow dot Com readers. Instead of the usual requirement of 10 tutorials, you can get in on the free web hosting after submitting just five articles. Julian has asked that all those interested should comment in this review post, so that he can verify that you are indeed a reader of John Chow dot Com.

Who Wants to Win a Nintendo Wii?

To generate some buzz, HostHow is giving away a Nintendo Wii during the pre-launch period. Everyone who submits at least one tutorial before February 12th will be entered into the contest. The winner is based on the number of pageviews, as reported by Google Analytics. Think you got what it takes to write a killer web hosting tutorial? You just might score a Wii in the process. The winner will be announced via RSS and if he/she makes contact within 24 hours, the winner gets a bonus Wii Nunchuk too.

Click here to win a Nintendo Wii from HostHow.