Website suggestions?
March 22, 2010 6:43 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for suggestions for websites that would be interesting, useful and informative to a group a adult newcomers to the internet.

I have about 2 hours, a network with internet access, a projector and about 15 adults who have limited experience on the internet. Wikipedia, Google, IMDB and of course Metafilter are examples of a number of sites that I would like to walk them through just to realize the possibilities and then have them explore in more detail. I can provide them with live links over the network so fumbling with URLs will not be a problem, and I would appreciate your nominations for well organized general interest sites that would provide some structure to an introduction to the internet.

Suggestions for downloadable (free) apps such as Google Earth would also be welcome.
posted by Neiltupper to Technology (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
TV Tropes?
posted by arcticwoman at 6:58 PM on March 22, 2010

Snopes so they can check out these email forwards?
posted by deezil at 6:58 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

Are they new to computers, or just the Internet?
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:59 PM on March 22, 2010

Well, Google Earth is going to totally melt their brains, but I suggest Flickr. My family is rather spread out, and using Flickr has literally changed our lives for the better. We now share family pictures from all over the world, comment, keep in touch, keep family insides jokes alive by photographing certain things, ect. We've had 'theme' contests (everyone take a picture of themselves with a balloon and post by next Monday ect) Flickr has made my family stronger and better. It's amazing. I admit there are probably better photo sharing sites, but my grandmother can use it, so it works.

(thank god we live during the internet)
posted by archivist at 7:02 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by hortense at 7:08 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Everyone's gotta learn facebook eventually.

Do they know email? Avoiding scams etc.? That's a big one.
posted by modernserf at 7:09 PM on March 22, 2010

posted by knile at 7:13 PM on March 22, 2010

NYTimes or their local paper.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:16 PM on March 22, 2010

Craigslist is a good one, especially if you're in a metropolitan area. Ebay is awfully 1998, but they've probably heard of it & some might find it fun/interesting. Amazon's another one that's so big they must know OF it, and might like to know how to use it.

For free apps, try skype? Demonstrate calling your cell phone, or computer-to-computer calls, or just text IM someone.
posted by knile at 7:19 PM on March 22, 2010

ask each person to write down 1 interest, hobby or question. Some people will be amazed at recipes, others will want to shop, etc. It will engage the class more if it's about their interests. They don't have to see everything at once, the intarwebs are too big for that anyway.
posted by theora55 at 7:37 PM on March 22, 2010

Facebook to keep in touch with relatives. I have members of extended family I've never met friending me, which is, interesting.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 8:12 PM on March 22, 2010

Weather - try weatherunderground, but any site like that. They can look up the weather for anywhere, and the normal weather for that area

Try comparison shopping for a used car in your area. ( has useful free ratings and info on cars)

Try looking at real estate listings, and show them how you can narrow down your search in different ways, and how much information there is about houses online. (,,, etc)

Try planning a trip to some exotic destination - you can look up airfare, hotel costs, maps, hours for tourist destinations, restaurant reviews, etc. for shoes. If they're older, try the websites of catalogs they may order from in real life, for example.

Go to Youtube and look for classic songs or tv shows.

Show them Amazon's wishlist function.

Show them useful government websites -- the DMV, the town library (if you can renew books online), the federal government's anti-scam websites (eg FTC), utilities, etc.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:13 PM on March 22, 2010

Show them *reputable* medical sites - eg mayoclinic, pubmed, etc.

Explain that "edu" or "gov" extensions are usually reliable, but "com" sites may not be as reliable (though of course many are).
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:15 PM on March 22, 2010

I see now that you're in the Vancouver area. Yelp seems to have pretty decent coverage there.

Following LobsterSmitten's suggestion, show how searches multiple travel sites.

Google Earth is super neat, but ramp up to it (if at all) with Google Maps.

At the risk of sounding idiotic, might I suggest a handout with categories & sites & brief descriptions so that they can make notes? I find that many Internet/computer-scared folk (FINE, I mean "my parents") love printed copies of things to take with them between computers.
posted by knile at 8:28 PM on March 22, 2010
posted by Jacqueline at 8:39 PM on March 22, 2010

Definitely printed copies!

You could have a list of ten or twenty topics with a few sites listed, and see what they want to look at. Researching genealogy, classic cars, other hobby things on top of general reference stuff. has all kinds of stuff, including old movies.

If they are from BC they might enjoy this blog by mefite Rumple about the archaeology of First Nations sites on the Pacific coast, which has all kinds of fun tidbits.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:41 PM on March 22, 2010

Vancouver is Awesome is an excellent, local introduction to blog-ish sites.
posted by ripley_ at 9:41 PM on March 22, 2010
posted by brundlefly at 11:02 PM on March 22, 2010

If you're going to deal with shopping - Remind them that if they're buying stuff from a US company, that they'll pay import fees and sometimes "brokerage" fees to the shipping company, which can be really expensive - so even if the US price is lower, it can end up being more expensive to buy and import from the US than it would be to just buy from a Canadian store.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:28 PM on March 23, 2010

I will second the "show them the local library website" advice. Our state has an awesome program, available through the libraries, that provides access to medical databases, consumer reports, readers' advisory services, and tons more stuff, all in one spot. When I used to teach seniors at my library how to use the program, they would get so excited about all the information available to them. Maybe your local library has some similar resources? It can't hurt to check.
posted by Fui Non Sum at 3:56 PM on March 23, 2010

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