Understanding the Roles and Uses of Web Tutorials


  • Ben Lafreniere University of Waterloo
  • Andrea Bunt University of Manitoba
  • Matthew Lount University of Manitoba
  • Michael Terry University of Waterloo




Tutorials, Learning


In this paper we identify roles and uses of web-based tutorials through an examination of tutorials’ comments sections. Through this analytical lens, we find that web tutorials serve a variety of needs, providing: in-task help for users with an immediate, specific goal to accomplish; a means for users to proactively expand their repertoire of skills; and an opportunity for novices to shadow and experience an expert’s work practices. We also find a number of emergent practices in tutorial comments. Users post “help-me” stack traces, a type of comment useful for debugging tutorial content; use comments sections as opportunistic support forums; and turn to comments sections for social and technical validation of their personal skill sets. Collectively, these findings enrich existing perspectives on web-based tutorials and argue for new mechanisms to support these various use cases.




How to Cite

Lafreniere, B., Bunt, A., Lount, M., & Terry, M. (2021). Understanding the Roles and Uses of Web Tutorials. Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, 7(1), 303-310. https://doi.org/10.1609/icwsm.v7i1.14413