Top websites 2007: Info and reference

On average, 34 million monthly visitors head to About.com for guidance on subjects such as careers, child-raising, and technology. Newly sprung is the company’s video player with over 500 videos, as well as Guidesites, an expansion of its Web channels overseen by professionals such as a licensed health counselor and a world news columnist. Don’t have time to sniff around the site? Go to the What’s Hot Now sidebar.

How Stuff Works
www.howstuffworks.com
By Corinne Iozzio
No matter how old you are, at some point you’ve looked up at an adult holding some toy or contraption and implored, “But how does it work?” Odds are that dear old Dad made up a pretty convincing story at the time, but now, in the age of the Internet, we have the means to dig down and find out how everything really works, from a dog fight to the animation on an episode of The Simpsons. The experts at How Stuff Works share their knowledge on any and all subjects, and we recommend taking advantage of it.

The Library of Congress
www.loc.gov
By Lisa Ruefenacht
As the online rolodex of the Library of Congress, this site houses numerous reference materials, digitized collections, films—basically any content you’d ever want to find. The Library of Congress is the only library in the United States that contains everything ever published in the country, so if you’re stuck trying to find something, chances are the Library of Congress will have it.

Merriam-Webster Online
www.m-w.com
By Kyle Monson
Besides the regular ol’ stuffy-dictionary features, Merriam-Webster Online teaches you your own mother tongue with fun stuff like the Word of the Day and daily crossword puzzles, and even a user-submitted “Open Dictionary” that lets you submit your own words and definitions.

Nolo
www.nolo.com
By Kyle Monson
Nolo is an excellent online law resource center for non-lawyers. Get legal documents, advice, and information for your business or family, or turn to the site’s lawyer directory if you’re squeamish about taking the law into your own hands.

Snopes
www.snopes.com
By Corinne Iozzio
Before you forward that so-called “true” story that landed in your inbox this morning to everyone in your address book, you better check Snopes to make sure it’s not completely full of you-know-what. It’s an extensive index of urban legends, common fallacies, old wives’ tales, strange news stories, rumors, trashy gossip, and more. If it’s on Snopes, funny or moving though it may be, it’s totally untrue.

The Straight Dope
www.straightdope.com
By Corinne Iozzio
Every class had that kid: the one who would ask all the dumb questions you were dying to ask but felt too embarrassed to utter out loud. The Straight Dope is the grown-up, online version of that kid. Published in the Chicago Reader and penned by ghostwriters under the name Cecil Adams (aka “the smartest person in the world”), The Straight Dope tackles burning questions from “Who invented the smiley face?” to “Did Mussolini use castor oil as an instrument of torture?” with a delicious combination of sarcasm and profanity.

Urban Dictionary

www.urbandictionary.com
By Vicki B. Jacobson
This user-generated online slang dictionary doesn’t just teach you new ways to swear; it can actually expand our common vernacular. For example, on August 1, the Urban Word of the Day was “baby bear,” which is an adjective for when “things are just right.” And here we thought it was just a fairy-tale character! Also, if you don’t have time to check the site every day, get your daily dose via cell phone at urbanwap.com.

Wikipedia
www.wikipedia.org
By Brian Heater
Love it or hate it—though most likely, your feelings are some combination of both—you can’t ignore the current poster child for the wisdom of crowds. Launched in 2001, Wikipedia has become the go-to online resource for global knowledge, with nearly eight million articles written in 253 languages. We’d think twice before quoting it as a source for an academic paper, given the sometimes questionable authority of its authors, but that doesn’t stop us from consulting the encyclopedia several times every day.

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