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Day in the life of ...Instructable staff

In contests I often see projects from Instructables' staff. So they are actively participating in the maker scene. But I what else are you guys doing ? A job at a site like instructables must be something like "do what you like and you'll never work one single day in your life", isn't it ?

What happens behind this html site in real life ?
Wired coffee serving robots swarming around ? People in mad scientists lab coats ?

Would like to know that :)

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wilgubeast2 years ago

Some combination of the following:

-The developers are adding features, fixing features, trying to figure out whether we need old features, testing features, and releasing features. Also, making sure that the supports for those features don't fall down. This week has been all iPad, contest pages, and social logins in between putting out surprise fires because the internet is hard.

Since they need to get work done and can't justify taking an hour to discuss how to build battlebots over bowls of ice cream, the site is what they make until build day. On the last day of every month, they're released from their headphones and project management tools to build stuff like this:

https://www.instructables.com/id/5-Stranded-Mystery...

https://www.instructables.com/id/Bent-Plywood-Night...

https://www.instructables.com/id/Make-a-Meat-Sculpt...

https://www.instructables.com/id/Space-Viking-Costu...

https://www.instructables.com/id/3D-Printed-Record/

-The editors (aka community managers) make stuff in between making authors happy. This week has been figuring out who at Cricut can give us the prizes for the Papercraft Contest after the guy we'd been working with left the company. (Sorry papercrafters! We're not just twiddling our thumbs!) Also, figuring out how to get judges who read and write simplified Chinese so we can judge the Green Electronics China contest that we started without anyone on staff to actually read the entries.

We're pretty out there, so hop onto a Friday forum to ask more specific questions.

https://www.instructables.com/community/Friday-Foru...

https://www.instructables.com/community/Friday-Foru...

-We have a newish internal group dedicated entirely to making stuff. They're the impossibly prolific authors whose projects get featured almost every other day. Randofo leads them in making custom projects for our sponsors in between quietly refusing to 3D print Porsches and all the other goofy fluff that comes with working with ad agencies.

-Our sales team tries to sell ads, contests, content, custom css, and pretty much anything we can throw a price tag on. They're the ones who actually make the site run, as Autodesk's patronage is shaped like an expensive workshop rather than an infusion of money to operate ad-free. We've got folks in Cleveland, New York, and San Francisco who match up companies and agencies with our community to make cool stuff together. Robot, of course, gets a cut of that action (and uses it to pay salaries, buy prizes, and incentivize battlebot brainstorming meetings with ice cream.)

-The artists in residence program brings in awesome artists and makers and designers and tinkerers from around the world. They get to build in our shop, get paid a stipend, and hang out for a few months just making Instructables. They're either building stuff, trying to find a place to store what they've built, or frantically preparing to present their work on the final day of their residencies. That, or excitedly showing off their progress at our Show and Tell meetings twice a week.

https://www.instructables.com/group/air/

-Shop staff keep the Pier 9 workshop running, and keep the AiRs and pier staff up to their ears in cool workshops, seminars, trainings, and operational equipment. They also keep the waterjet jet-like. Otherwise it's just a very sad and dirty above-ground pool.

https://www.instructables.com/id/Future-Stair-Repai...

Oh, that stair-repair was three months ago. How's it holding up?

Good! I just kicked it this morning.

Thanks.

Natalina2 years ago

Like any major website, there is a lot which needs to be done everyday to keep it maintained and moving forward. Some of the major components are the community team who manage contests and engage with authors and partners, the dev team who build and maintain the site, and the ad folks who keep us all able to do what we do. We also have shop staff, and a design team who create in-house content.

Most of the staff who work here have a passion for making things, and try to fit in projects amidst their job responsibilities. I love having the AIRs around as they are making awesome stuff all the time, which creates an inspiring environment even if I don't have time to make anything for a while.

There are not coffee serving robots, but there is a manhattan making machine, and lab coats have definitely been worn on occasion (usually paired with liquid nitrogen ice cream :)

Hello. My name is Gary and I make pretty pictures that go in various places on the site.

Working here is a lot of work... if you consider strolling in at noon hungover and still smelling like last night's bad decisions, and then staring blankly at your screen/monitor/both for a few hours before finally opening Photoshop and Illustrator "work." When the creaky gears in my head start finally moving, I'll push some pixels around for a while back and forth ad nauseam until I finally decide to save the images and push them to the content and/or sales teams. Every once in a while I'll get up from my desk and shamble over to the community and dev teams and regale them with stories from the previous night since they're all far too responsible to engage in shenanigans that a man-child like myself does. "It's Wednesday. That means you went out on a Tuesday," they'll say, covering their noses since the smell of whiskey is still on my breath despite the fifteen mints I've popped since first sitting at my desk in the morning. That I'm still employed is astounding.*

All kidding aside, this is by far the coolest place I have ever worked: the space itself, the people, and the "vibe" that this place gives off. Although I don't get to work on "fun stuff" (read: turn my borderline "bro" ideas into reality) as much as I'd like, seeing and hearing about the AiR (Artist in Resident) folks' projects is a constant inspiration. That I get to spend my days around such creative and passionate people is pretty freakin' awesome. Seeing people's various work in progress projects, talking about pie-in-the-sky ideas (I have some that I can't wait to do and document!) with coworkers - especially mikeasaurus, audreyobscura, and wilgubeast, since they're the most receptive to my ridiculous ideas - sometimes, I think to myself, "I can't believe I work here."

It isn't just all fun and games and goofing off launching foam darts as far as possible, though. There is plenty of work to be done, fueled by endless cups of coffee and tea. The thing with the team here is that everyone does what's required of them, fitting in their own projects in with their job responsibilities. Even though some of it is rote, mindless work (just like any other job), it has to be done. But everyone really does believe in what they're doing at some level or another.

Some random cool things that you don't really see in the videos of The Pier floating around on the internet:

The workspace. It's an open office here, and like most other tech companies, peoples' personalities are reflected by their desk(s) and surrounding areas. Some of us have our desks covered in My Little Pony tchtokes, some are pretty clean and minimal. We also have a "Know What Would Be Cool? sliding glass wall with post-it-notes and a Bonsai Kitten floating around the office.

Tremendress Tuesdays. It's a pretty casual environment; jeans and tshirts (and lots of plaid) are the norm here. On the first Tuesday of every month, people are encouraged to wear something a little... different. Past attire has included colorful wigs, wedding dresses, 3 piece suits a la Mad Men, leather pants, birthday suits (just kidding). You get the idea.

The water cooler. Yes, we have a water cooler. In the morning we'll gather around it and gossip and discuss Game of Thrones. Well, not really, but it's also a fancier version of a Soda Stream. It takes forever but thankfully the "Wall of Fame" that ewilhelm posts site stats to sits right next to it... so we can look at graphs that chart our awesomeness while the machine slowly dispenses carbonated water.

The artwork on the conference room walls. Our conference rooms are named after mythological sea creatures and when we first moved into the space, various Autodesk employees illustrated the creatures with Sketchbook Pro. I got to do Scylla (the room with the swinging table) and Moby Dick.

*Just kidding. Unless there's a baseball game, of course.

canida2 years ago

This is a bit dated (3 HQ locations ago!) but gives some great insight:

https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Live-an-Aesthetic-Life-by-Wearing-Eating-/

mmmelroy2 years ago

it's a place where ideas come to life. It's neat being able to watch the AIRs come in looking bewildered and excited, and observing their projects come together morning by morning as I walk by their stations to my desk.

But there is alot of work to be done to keep our site live and refreshed, and that takes more than just coffee and ideas to come to fruition...

Spoken as a member of the development team.

Kiteman2 years ago

I have an insight into that, but my time at HQ pre-dated the move to Pier 9.

There is some interesting video here:

https://www.instructables.com/community/Pier-9-in-t...

... but it would still be interesting to here from current inhabitants of Pier 9. Maybe a few of them could keep a video diary for a day and let us see it?