iFixit unveils "Wikipedia" for tech repairs that go beyond Apple devices

Announcement timed for Earth Day, with iFixit doing its part to cut e-waste

iFixit, which has made a name for itself by tearing apart hot new devices like the Apple iPad and Google Nexus One smartphone to show what really makes them tick, Thursday unveiled a publicly accessible and editable wiki designed for people to share their expertise at fixing things.

"We're opening up our guides to the world. Think Wikipedia, but for repair," writes Kyle Wiens, co-founder of iFixit, which sells parts and service tools to fund its mission. 

The company estimates its repair manuals have been used to fix more than 1 million Apple devices.

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Initial repair guides on the expanded site target Apple products such as Macs, iPods and iPhones, but also iRobot Roomba cleaners, LED Christmas lights, car brakes, game consoles and cameras. The public can edit text and images in the guides.

iFixit serves consumers, but also IT shops and equipment refurbishers, according to Wiens. "They need this information far more than consumers do. We're currently used by every IT shop that has to work on Macs but isn't Apple authorized," he says.

We asked Wiens whether we might expect to see repair guides on the site for enterprise IT gear, such as Cisco routers and switches.

"We have to find people who have access to that hardware and are interested in sharing," he says. "Large IT shops that need to document internal procedures are a great use case. Sharing this information with different groups throughout the company over multiple locations can be a huge hassle, and it's not generally proprietary to the company. Much better to open source it and collaborate with other IT workers who need the same information. Working together, we should be able to create a very valuable resource."

It’s no coincidence that iFixit is introducing its repair wiki on Earth Day, as the company says part of its mission is to prevent people from tossing broken devices into an ever-expanding e-waste pile.

"Our society is manufacturing new products at an unsustainable rate, completely ignoring the waste stream it's generating," Wiens writes. "We must reduce our rapid consumption of devices and move past our throw-away culture. Repairing devices and extending their life spans can go a long way toward fixing the problem."

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