FAQ Center (UNDER CONSTRUCTION!)
I noticed a lot of Frequently Asked Questions around the forums from new members, so I decided to do something about it. Be sure to check back here if you ever have a question. Or, just ask any member to help!
So go out there, and Start Making!
Instructrables has recently been upgraded, and changed. Please wait while I update this FAQ to the aforementioned changes
Table Of Contents
1. Getting Started
1.1.......................What is Instructables?
1.2.......................How does the Site make money? Is it profitable?
1.3.......................What is the Instructables Robot?
1.4...................... How can I get started here?
1.5...................... Who can Help me get started here?
1.6.......................What does DIY mean?
1.7.......................What can I write an Instructable about?
1.8.......................What's the difference between an Instructable and a slideshow?
1.9 ......................What is a video on Instructables
1.10....................How can I unpublish my Instructable?
2. The Community
2.1.............................How can I make text effects like bold, italic , small text and upper small text?
2.2............................ Why doesn't my Instructable show up on the search page when I type the name?
2.3 ............................What kind of material is considered offensive? What kind of material should be avoided?
2.4.............................Why am I asked to give a number when I send a Private message to someone?
2.5.............................Can I ask for homework help on the forums?
2.6.............................How can I improve the community?
2.7.............................I've spotted an offensive ad! What can I do?
2.8.............................Can i post Instructables in other languages?
3. Other Instructables Features
3.1.............................How do contests work?
3.2.............................Are contests decided by the staff or the community?
3.3.............................What is Burning Questions?
3.4.............................Why is Burning Questions Held?
3.5..............................If Burning Questions is chosen by the staff, then why does it have a voting option for the Instructables?
3.6.................................If I submit 2 answers to Burning Questions, and they both win, do I get 2 Prize Packs?
3.7.................................What regions are eligible to participate in contests?
3.8 ................................How can my Instructable get more views?
3.9.................................How are Instructables featured?
3.10...............................What does an Instructable need to be featured?
3.11...............................How can I be selected to be able to feature?
4.1..............................Is it possible to intern at Instructables?
4.2 ..............................What is the Community Section?
4.3...............................What is the Marketplace?
4.4...............................I just saw a comment that says it was posted -xx minutes ago! What should I do?
5. Current Events and Glitches
5.1............................... I just rated an Instructable, but it says that it hasn't been rated yet!
5.2 ...............................5.2 I just saw a comment that says it was posted -xx minutes ago! What should I do?
1. Getting Started
1.1 What is Instructables?
In a sentence:
Instructables is a web-based documentation platform where passionate people share what they do and how they do it, and learn from and collaborate with others.
A bit more in depth:
It was created by Eric Wilhelm, a mechanical engineer, and launched in August 2005. Instructables is dedicated to step-by-step collaboration among members to build a variety of projects. Users post instructions to their projects, usually accompanied by visual aids, and then interact through comment sections below each Instructable step as well in topic forums
While a member of the Media Lab at MIT, Wilhelm co-founded Squid Labs, an engineering and technology company specializing in design and consulting. Instructables started as an internal Squid Labs project, which Wilhelm has since spun out as an independent company and acts as CEO.
The original content focused mostly on such projects as building electronic or mechanical devices to solve common problems around the home. The scope of the project has expanded to include a larger array of categories, including arts and crafts, food, home, life, offbeat (first known as "not liable") and recently knex, transportation and tech. The site allows uploading of photos, diagrams, video and animation to help explain complex terminology and mechanisms in clear and understandable terms
Read more about the history...
Also, Read our About to see who works here
1.2 How does the Site make money? Is it profitable?
The site is mainly supported by ads, which you see in the sidebars and sometimes at the top of the page. Here is the full explanation
Is Instructables profitable? - Almost. According to ewilhelm , the site generates enough money, that it usually covers its running costs, but not quite enough yet to be constantly profitable.
1.3 What is the Instructables Robot?
The Instructables Robot is Instructable's mascot. His main function is to greet new members and alert members when they receive comments or messages. The robot is friendly and welcoming. You can easily find him around Instructables.
You can tell the robot to alert you if you receive a comment in your personal settings. Likewise, you can tell him to stop doing so anytime at your personal settings.
Nobody knows how exactly the robot came to Instructables.....time may tell......
1.4 How can I get started here?
You probably want to upload an image to your profile. You can do that here , as well as change some of your other account settings, like making View all Steps in one page your default.
After that, check out How to make a great Instructable , The Guided Tour of Instructables, and the Help Group if you have any questions.
1.5 Who can Help me get started here?
ANYONE! all users are helpful. If you are confused, or have a question, don't be afraid to ask in the forum of a member of the community. Our members are happy to help newcomers get comfortable. You are more likely to get lots of help through an open thread, but you can ask questions privately (say, for a project in development) through the "Private Message" system.
Have a look at other FAQs in the FAQ Section
1.6 What does DIY mean?
DIY means Do-It-Yourself. It means that instead of buying expensive stuff, make it yourself and save some money. The main idea of Instructables is to make things and share them with others. You will be surprised about how much money you could save if you do things yourself, and we are here to help you.
1.7 What can I write an Instructable about?
Bearing in mind our family nature, anything at all. If you're passionate about it, and want to tell others how you do it, then write an Instructable. If you're looking for inspiration, check out the Burning Questions to get you started. When you're a bit more familiarized try entering our Contests
1.8 What's the difference between an Instructable and a slideshow?
In an Instructable, you show detailed step-by step details on how to make or do something. A slideshow is used when you do not have enough documentation or material for a full Instructable.
In a slideshow, you can show off projects or things that you have made. If you want to show something, but its not enough to fill an instructable, you can show pictures of it in a slideshow and write a short summary of the project.
1.9 What is a video on Instructables?
If you do not want to write a full instructable, but you want to present something that can't be fit into a slideshow, you can embed a video as an individual section.
1.10 How can I unpublish my Instructable?
It's a slightly-roundabout route, but if you click the edit function, then the publish, and unpublish options appears lower down the screen.
2. The Community
2.1 How can I make text effects like bold, italic , small text and upper small text?
Read this helpful Section by Instructables member NachoMahma
2.2 Why doesn't my Instructable show up on the search page when I type the name?
Instructables are reviewed by the Robot and his human minions before being added to the public pages. Be patient, it may not have gone through the filter yet. Is your instructable lacking images? Sometimes instructables without images fail to go through the filter.
On weekends and Holidays, where there is an influx of people posting projects, it may take longer than normal for it to show up in the Most Recents. If there is a problem with your work, someone on staff will PM you.
Your instructable may have been caught by the spam filter. If it has, contact anyone in the Instructable team, and they will check it out for you.
Just Be Patient.
2.3 What kind of material is considered offensive? What kind of material should be avoided?
Pornography - Any and all pornographic material is considered offensive. Posting images or links that include pornography is strictly prohibited. This is a family friendly site, children often browse this site.
Language - If you wouldn't show it or say it to your headteacher at school, don't show or say it here.
Insults and flaming - We have a "be nice" policy here. Please be positive and constructive with your comments or risk being banned from our site.
Spam - Spamming, misleading links and site advertising on the forums, orangeboards, instructables, and Private Messaging are strictly prohibited. However, offers and advertising are allowed in the For Sale Section
2.4 Why am I asked to give a number when I send a Private message to someone?
This is called a Captcha. A captcha is when you are asked a number or word that appears as an image or sound. The purpose of this is to stop automated spam robots from spamming our Community.
2.5 Can I ask for homework help on the forums?
Of course! Our community is more than happy to help any way possible! Be sure to post in in the right category, because you wont get much science help in our craft section!
2.6 How can I improve the community?
You can help our community in many different ways:
Be positive and constructive in your comments. We are a friendly and welcoming community, feel free to comment and incorporate yourself into forum topics and discussions. Our members are happy to help and guide newcomers in any way they can.
Report offensive material. If you spot material that might be considered offensive or SPAM, click the "flag" button next to the comment or instructable. The Staff will review and take action if necessary.
2.7 I've spotted an offensive ad! What can I do?
If you spot an ad that qualifies as offensive, right click (not left click!) on it and choose properties. In Firefox, you can right-click and select "Copy Link Location". Copy the URL and report it to a staff member so they can take immediate action. If possible, it is also good to take snapshots of the page (On your keyboard, press Prt Scrn and paste it on MS paint or another image editing program) then present it to a staff member.
2.8 Can I post Instructables in other languages?
Of Course! We would be extremely happy to add instructables with languages other than english. If you need help with some words or terms, feel free to ask around on our community!
Proper grammar and spelling are compulsory in any language. We have a lot of users who are fluent in many languages including Spanish, German and French.
3. Other Instructables Features
3.1 How do contests work?
There is no complete answer to that question, as different contests have different rules.
Usually, a contest follows these steps:
1) A staff member usually announces that a new contest is coming, and what the theme will be, so members will start getting ideas
2) The Contest is announced in the front page
3) A staff member will post an instructable on how to enter the contest, and will show full details about it.
4) The Contest is then opened for entries.
5) After a specific time, the entry deadline closes and the winners are chosen either by the staff of by community votes (Depends on the contests specific rules) and are announced.
There are two kinds of contests:
- Regular contests are the ones that last a month. These contests also set the month's specific theme. These contests are usually sponsored by a company that is related to the theme. For this reason, prizes almost always come from the companies themselves. Regular contest feature more expensive prizes.
- Speed contests are those that only last a predefined time. They are called speed contests, because users have to submit their entries before a close deadline. Since they last such a short time, there are usually more than one speed contest can be held in one same month. In some rare occasions, there can be more than one active Speed Contest at a time. Speed contests usually have more and less expensive prizes than regular contests.
3.2 Are contests decided by the staff or the community?
It depends on the Contest's specific rules. When an Instructable is chosen by the community, the winners may have multiple categories, such as best rated, most viewed, most votes and others.
When the staff decides the winners, they usually take the community's reaction to it as a factor in choosing the winners.
3.3 What is Burning Questions?
Burning Questions is a regular event in Instructables, where the staff (usually Noahw since he manages it) posts a list of Wanted Instructables that haven't been made.
Users submit their entries and the best instructable that answers a question on the list wins a prize. Since there are so many prizes (One for each question), Burning Question Prizes are less expensive, so there can be more prizes.
(Originally, the prize was an Instructables Shirt, but as the community grew, more instructables were requested, and the prizes were getting more expensive, so now, the prize is usually a Prize Pack consisting of various Instructables Merchandise)
When a winner is chosen, the staff will send him/her a Private Message telling them how to claim their prize.
The staff publishes a new round every now and then (currently, we should be expecting Round 5.)
Although the rules are posted in the same posts that the questions are announced, these rules are important, and if not followed, an entry wont qualify:
- The Instructable must have pictures in every step. These pictures must be related to the instructable.
- The Instructable must be of good quality. It must have proper grammar and steps must be clearly understandable and detailed
- The title must be the same as the question, or else it wont be accepted. If the question is how to fold a shirt, the Instructable's title must be exactly that.
3.4 Why is Burning Questions Held?
Burning Questions has 2 purposes:
- Getting people to create Instructables wanted amongst the community
- Improving the site's "googleabilty". Since many questions start with How to...., it helps the site appear more prominently amongst search engines like Google.
3.5 If Burning Questions is chosen by the staff, then why does it have a voting option for the Instructables?
Burning Questions winners are chosen by the staff. The voting option is available because Burning Questions has been implemented into the new Contest Section, because of various reasons.
Although it is the staff who choose the winners, the community's response to the instructables is also a factor in the decision.
3.6 If I submit 2 answers to Burning Questions, and they both win, do I get 2 Prize Packs?
No, if you answer 2 questions in one Burning Questions Contest, the staff will send you a surprise extra gift along with your Prize Pack.
3.7 What regions are eligible to participate in contests?
Some contest are open to any country, while sadly others are not available for some countries. Take your time and carefully read the rules and details of contests so you can save time or make arrangements.
3.8 How can my Instructable get more views?
The main thing you can do to get more views is to make something interesting and likable.
If you want more views, try posting a forum topic so people can learn about it. Instructables with good and clear steps might even be featured on the Front page- the most trafficked part of Instructables.com
3.9 How are Instructables featured?
Members who have shown to be very helpful inside our community are handpicked by the Instructables staff and are given the ability to feature an instructable is they consider it meets the criteria for Featuring. As Instructables are featured they appear on the homepage, the most trafficked part of the site.
3.10 What does an Instructable need to be featured?
It needs to be good - clear, easily-read Instructions, plenty of useful photos, in focus and probably using your camera's Macro Function (Click here for additional info on using the macro setting) , and additional notes on the images to explain extra points.
You should use full and proper language - capitalize sentences, check your spellings and don't use sms-speak. (cuz-because). English isn't compulsory, but correct grammar and spelling are.
If it is original idea, a novel approach or an enjoyable read, with carefully-arranged images, then it is more likely to be featured.
3.11 How can I be selected to be able to feature?
If you produce consistently-good Instructables, and especially if you take an active, useful part in the community, you may be approached by Eric ( ewilhelm ) to join the team. There is no set number of members of the team, but new members are not often invited.
4.1 Is it possible to intern at Instructables?
-Check regularly at our We're hiring page for more info. Instructables member TimAnderson is also running an internship program documenting Heirloom Technologies
4.2 What is the Community Section?
The Community Section contains the Forums:
You can choose to either view topics by category or View All in an option at the top of the page
- General Forums - General Discussions of DIY. You can talk about anything, not just DIY
- MarketPlace - Forums for job offers, Internships, Kit sales and other sale sin general
- Help - Ask for help, report a bug, or just give your feedback on Instructables
4.3 What is the Marketplace?
The MarketPlace is a special part of the forums dedicated to bussiness like Job offers, Interships, Kit sales, and other sales in general.
You can sell your stuff, or buy someone else's. This section is still fairly new, so some changes might still happen.
5. Current events and Glitches
5.1 I just rated an Instructable, but it says that it hasn't been rated yet!
The current rating system is fairly new. Before, the rating system was simply the option to give it a plus, or a minus.
Our new Rating System is based on the one described here
The new rating system, consists of the ability to give it a rating from a scale of 0.0 to 5.0. This system is represented by a line of stars. You may also give ratings like 3.5 and 2.5.
This new system is not yet complete, and there are a few bugs to work out. Currently when you rate something, it is queued to be processed during Instructables' overnight Bayesian rating algorithm-run and does not update immediately.
Until it is complete, you might notice somethings, like for example, that most Instructables will have a rating lower than 4.
5.2 I just saw a comment that says it was posted -xx minutes ago! What should I do?
This is a small glitch we are currently experiencing. The staff is aware of this, so please, do not report this as a bug or make a forum topic about it. It is nothing serious and out staff are working to fix it.
Instructables runs on a couple of servers. Sometimes, the serves receive different information, and when they each compare their information, they might get confused and say that the post was made at a time that is not possible.
The following people have contributed to this FAQ:
I hope this Section has helped answer any questions you might have.
Have a question that should appear here? Private message me and I will answer as soon as I can.