Instructables

The Clinic

Welcome to the clinic, a place to get help and constructive criticism on your projects. Here's a brief intro on what it is, written by AngryRedhead:

"Some Instructables don't get the attention that they deserve. Many times the reason boils down to presentation, and if the presentation is off in one way or another, an Instructable might flop no matter how wonderful the project is. The presentation of an Instructable requires a certain set of skills which involve story telling, technical writing, planning, and photography. Even the most experienced technical writers and photographers still benefit from an edit or an outside opinion. As an author, it's difficult to see the flaws and errors because your thoughts and experience fill the gaps that might leave readers puzzled. It happens to every author.

If you feel you have an Instructable that isn't getting the attention that it deserves and you would like some ideas on how to improve its presentation, please post a link to it! We're not here to tear it apart or to tell you that you're the most horrible, stupidester person in the whole wide world. We're here to give you ideas for improvement and hopefully get you more attention and recognition for your project ideas. Think of this like editing or proofreading which is something everyone needs regardless of experience, intellect, and knowledge.

If you would like ideas on taking your idea to the next level and making it bigger and more awesomer, please say that you would like this extra advice. You can even post a link to an unpublished instructable if you like, but just remember, please check out the featuring checklist first since this will tell you all of the things that the best instructables have."

So... that's what this forum topic's for. There's a team of seasoned Instructables authors watching this topic, waiting to give you help!



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Kiteman2 years ago

Starting your first Instructable?

Then you need to read this how-to guide.
Kiteman Kiteman11 months ago
(Please remember that comments here are the opinions of those making the comments, and do not guarantee that your work will be Featured or win a contest.)
nwalt312 days ago

hey i worked really hard on this instructable and i was wondering what more i could do to make it featured?

http://www.instructables.com/id/Army-Of-Two-Paintball-Mask/

JM1999 nwalt315 hours ago

You have a few grammar mistakes in there, for example in step 10 you have put; "back pack and I sowed it" it should be sewed.

I also wouldn't want fiberglass on my face or even near it like you have shown, mabye put another layer there.

Nice job though, I like it!

nwalt31 JM199943 minutes ago

thank you so much for the advice

JM1999 nwalt3121 minutes ago

That is totally fine!

I hope the information has helped you and I hope to see it featured soon!

JM19993 days ago

Can someone please tell me where I went wrong with this one?

http://www.instructables.com/id/Origami-octahedron...

Hmm.. Maybe show how to make the water bomb bases? You have really great photos and I think the 'ible is definitely "feature worthy" though. I voted for you in the teach it contest :)

OK, I will get some photos on the bases up and see what happens from there!

Thanks for the vote!

It looks good and I agree with Thederpyninja, but I would also add more images in the last step. Some of what you're saying seems confusing. Perhaps if I was actually making one it might make more sense, but a couple more pics of what you're describing might be nice.

Ok, I will hopefully have it changed within the week.

Thanks again for the reliable source of information.

No problem JM1999, and good luck!

Thanks!

Is this what you were thinking when you said to add how to make a waterbomb base? I think it is totally finished now thanks for the help!
(removed by author or community request)

That looks like a very nice 'ible, I think it is feature worthy but unfortunately I can't feature stuff :(

I voted for you too.

Thank you so much :)

That is totally fine !

M3G6 days ago
M3G M3G3 days ago

Any suggestions?

JM1999 M3G6 days ago

That looks really neat, I voted for you in all 3 contests.

If I had posted that I would have been wondering what I could do to make it better.

There aren't any other Instructables on the topic you have posted so that is even more puzzling.

I would just let it slide and focus on another Instructable in the hopes of getting it featured.

M3G JM19996 days ago

Thanks for the reply!

JM1999 M3G6 days ago

That's totally fine!

http://www.instructables.com/id/Building-your-own-Micromite-Companion-Minicomputer/

I'd love any constructive criticisms toward getting this featured.

Wow.. Nothing? I was told if I changed my images to originals, the Instructable would be featured (Was done immediately), but I can't bring any attention to it now. Help?

I have never found diagram insturctions very interesting, look at my profile, your 1 instructable is more than any 1 of my non-featured instructables.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Raspberry-PiCade-B...

Howdy Y'all Any suggestions on how to improve my write up would be appreciated. I am getting a lot of views and want to ensure that it is the best it can be. My writing is my weak side.

Thank you

Carl

Looks like you're already doing a decent job since it got featured. One potential area for improvement - the lighting is a little harsh in some of your photos. Not sure if it's from a camera flash, or a nearby bright light aimed directly at what you were working on, but there's a lot of glare on some of the parts. Don't get me wrong - the photos certainly aren't bad, they're in focus and were good enough to get you featured. It might still be worth looking into some of the "how to take good photos" Instructables to make them even better:

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Take-Great-...

As for writing - I didn't have time to read the whole thing, but it couldn't hurt to go through and proofread. Here are a couple random examples:

- Step 7, second paragraph: "It is maid with a strip of Tyvek" should be "made" not "maid"

- Bottom of the Introduction: "If you drill into your leg (, table, hand, arm, etc...)" shouldn't have a comma right after the opening parenthesis

- Beginning of step 1: "I used a 19” 4:3 planar monitor specifically because about 10 years ago the company i work for bought several hundred", the lowercase "i" after "company" should be capitalized

You get the idea.

Ben, Thank you for the constructive criticism. I will revisit my directions to ensure that it is properly formatted.
Nikus21 days ago

Hi!

Please, can you look at my project. Why is not featured :(

http://www.instructables.com/id/RC-FPV-tank/

Looks like you got featured, nice job! Sometimes it just takes the staff a few days to notice and feature something, so don't panic if a project doesn't get featured right away.

Okay, so I made an Instructable that I believe could use improvement, but I am not 100% sure what else I can add to make it the best. I would love some help! Here it is:

How To Neutralize Spiciness In Your Mouth

Hello!

I was wondering if anybody had any feedback on my Instructable: The Ultimate DIY Guide for Quadcopters?! It got a lot of popularity at first, but now its slowed down quite a bit, and also not many views!!

That's just normal behavior I think. When featured, it gets on the front page many people see the thumbnail and click on it. Maybe they share a bit.
But as your instructable gets pushed back by newer featured instructables, people will have to scroll and go further to see it which they will do less and less likely with increasing "distance" from the front page.
In the end, you'll only get views from people who searched google or the occasional link on an other website. (instructables aren't very viral like youtube videos)
The view statistics pattern for all my instructables look like this image.


statistics.png

Hi friends! I have made this 'ibles. Tried to write and gather materials clearly. Basically it was fr the Hunter-Gatherer Contest. Can you suggest what else is lacking. This was my dream project but did not get featured. I would like your feedback. Thank you!

http://www.instructables.com/id/Tropical-Fruit-Ver...

I've just sent you a PM : )

Thank you so much for the suggestions you had given and for the help in the editing part. It got featured now after editing. :) It is so kind of you to help me out.
Passion

Thank you so much :)

benet067126 days ago

Is it possible to change the license for my instructable, after i have published it?

Yes it is, you have to go to the edit section an you should see it there.

What do you guys think of this i'ble? I have worked hard on making the tutorial clean and presentable, but it wasn't featured. I believe many members would enjoy this project. Does anyone have any suggestions? I would greatly appreciate any help, tips, or comments.

Thanks for your help,

-KTC

http://www.instructables.com/id/4x4x4-LED-Cube-Arduino-Uno/

Looks like it got featured now. Nice job!

Yes, it did! Thanks!

nodcah3 months ago

I worked pretty hard on this one: DIY Fingerprint Scanning Garage Door Opener.

Thanks in advance!

-Nodcah =D

Teisha nodcah26 days ago

Nice job getting featured and winning the sensors contest!

nwalt312 months ago

Hello I spent a lot of time on this build and would really like to see it finally get featured, can someone help me out? Here is the link. http://m.instructables.com/id/Creating-Costume-Armor-With-Pepakura/

Teisha nwalt3126 days ago

Looks like it's been featured now. Nice job!

yoda3331 month ago

Hello instructables,

I recently entered the lego contest with my arduino controled automated lighthouse. I worked really hard on this one hoping to get it featured. However it was not featured, I believe many members would enjoy my project. Does anyone have any suggestions on getting featured? I would greatly appreciate any help, tips, or comments.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Arduino-Controlled...

Ben has given some great advice, but I also noticed that 5 of the finalists in the LEGO contest were not featured. That seems very unusual to me. It is possible that there aren't a lot of authors that are confident in what makes a good LEGO ible or the ones that do know are more picky than in other categories because I thought your ible looked pretty good. I'm definitely not an expert in LEGO or arduino though.

You're right that is weird, thanks for pointing it out! We've had some changes over in staff recently and it looks like legos were part of what slipped through doing this time. We are taking actions to fix this, and to make sure it won't happen again.

To be honest I'm kind of surprised this didn't get featured. I'm not very familiar with reviewing LEGO projects, but it looks like it has everything you'd want in a good Arduino project: pictures with clear backgrounds, a parts list, nice circuit diagrams made with Fritzing, downloadable code. Even though you didn't provide literal LEGO-instruction-manual style build instructions, I don't think anyone really does that.

That being said, here are some suggestions I think could help make it better:

- The blue-green text on the cover image is a little hard to read. I'd make sure the text stands out clearly from the lighthouse and the background.

- The cover image also seems a little grainier and lower-resolution than your other photos. You want the cover photo to be your prettiest, shiniest one.

- Part numbers, or even better, links to the exact parts you used for your materials list can make it more newbie-friendly (since there are a bazillion kinds of transistors, diodes etc. with different specs that beginners won't understand)

- It doesn't look like the LED is on in any of the photos. I'd definitely take some shots of that, including some in low light so the LED really stands out.

- Along those lines, a video or at least a GIF of the whole thing in action with the motor spinning would be good.

Those last two points MIGHT be why it didn't get featured - technically there is nothing in the Instructable proving that it "works." That's just a guess on my part though.

Thank you for your advice. I greatly appreciate your prompt help. I will definitely be using your input to improve my ible when I get free time. I did attach a video though. It is in the last section of my instructable.

Ah - I didn't notice the video since it was attached all the way at the bottom of the last step. I'd recommend uploading the video to YouTube or Vimeo and embedding it on the first step, so it's much more prominent. People are way more likely to watch it that way since they don't have to download and open an attachment.

JM1999 yoda3331 month ago

That looks cool.

JM19991 month ago
makendo JM19991 month ago

I suspect you already know your photos aren't really up to feature-standard. However, you can get great results even from a cheap camera - get a big piece of white card and curve it up against a wall outside (but not in direct sunlight). Place your project on there for your photos. And check out Ben Finio's comments below - he has lots of good feedback on similar projects to yours.

JM1999 makendo1 month ago

I don't have the money (or the allowance) for a camera at this point in time, I only have my dads HTC desire smartphone and I don't even have a piece of card to use.

So, I am just lacking in photos? If so would it be possible that if I added better photos it could still get featured or is it too late?

Thanks for replying.

Jayefuu (author)  JM19991 month ago

It's never too late! I had one Instructable featured two years after I wrote it.

makendo Jayefuu1 month ago

Jayefuu is right, but I'd recommend you just treat the older ones as good practice and put your efforts into making your new projects better.

And your smartphone camera probably has more MP than the cheap 2001 3 MP point-and-shoot I used for most of my early instructables - the main thing is to get the lighting right. Jessyratfink recently published a good instructable on how to get the most out of your smartphone camera.

JM1999 makendo1 month ago

Yeah, the smartphone is 8mp but it is getting old (4 years old) and the camera lens is getting stuff on it that I can't clean off, I will definitely take your advice though thanks.

nevets_mcd1 month ago

I've had decent luck at getting my Instructables featured before in the past , but my latest one doesn't seem to be getting any views. It was created for the Toy Building blocks contest. As Lego building is my number one hobby it is disappointing that no one is looking at what I think is one of the best projects I've done in my lifetime. Is creating giant Lego displays really not interesting to others? What am i missing?

http://www.instructables.com/id/Large-Collaborative-Lego-Displays/

I think your biggest hurdle to getting hits in this case is having a really great image that makes people want to click. The cover image for that ible is a bit hard to read. It was likely really impressive in person, but a closer image that makes someone curious might be better.

wilgubeast1 month ago

This is now in the homepage community menu.

Great! Much easier to find now.

I just saw that, and the other changes. Good call.

Hello, could you please go through and review my instructable? I'd appreciate it if you could give me some tips on making my instructable worthy of being featured.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Aergia-The-Android-controlled-TV-Remote/

So, this looks like it has everything that a tech Instructable would normally need to get featured - good photos with white backgrounds, a complete parts list, circuit diagrams, code, etc - very thorough and well done. It looks like there's one big problem though - the title is "Voice controlled TV remote", but unless I'm really missing something, it isn't actually voice controlled. The final step of your project says "You can now use the app and 'Aergia'. Click on any button in the app
and your TV will respond to it just like it would after
receiving a signal from the Remote Control." but there's never anything about voice commands.

I'm not sure if that was just a mistake on your part when you created the title, or if you were planning on adding voice commands later, but published the Instructable early? Either way, making sure the title matches the project is important.

Finally, there are some typos - not bad enough to make it unreadable, but it couldn't hurt to proofread. For example in the first step, there's a "your" that should be "you're", you alternate whether or not Android is capitalized, and "bear" should be "bare". I don't think minor typos like that will prevent a project from being featured, but it still can't hurt to fix them.

Thank you for reviewing my instructable. I have just updated it with info about the voice recognition feature. I am now working on a video to showcase this feature.

Ok - I'm not sure if you published it prematurely so you could make the deadline for the Battery Contest, but FYI that can be a little risky and/or frowned upon. In general it's best to make sure the major content of an Instructable is complete before publishing - then you can go back and make minor fixes to things like grammar or slightly better pictures, etc. From this contest FAQ:

Can I edit my Instructable after it's entered in a contest?



Short answer: YES!



Long answer:

You can make any modifications you want to an Instructable that's
already entered! We get so many entries that there's absolutely no way
we'd be able to police it even if we wanted to - but it's never
something we want to discourage.



Improvement is always a good thing as far as I'm concerned. :)



However, I must caution you: it's best to get those changes done before
voting closes. The voting period matters the most because that's the
time that we start looking into picking finalists.



Another slightly related caveat: don't publish a mostly empty
instructable and try to fill it after the contest ends. We're starting
to see this happen more often, always with a promise that updates are
coming. You can never tell when we'll be reviewing it as a possible
finalist, so chances are you'll get overlooked going about it that way.
We are currently looking at 50-300 entries per contest, so anything
incomplete doesn't stand a chance these days!

Thanks a lot Ben for your insightful review. Your comments have been very useful for me.

I just hope that my instructable can be a finalist in the Battery Contest as I have put in a lot of hours and efforts in my project.

Wow - featured AND a finalist in the battery contest. Looks like those improvements were worth it! Well done - I must say that I'm jealous, I really wanted that DSLR...good luck in the judging phase!

Hahaha, the clinic really helped me improve my instructable. Now I just can't wait for the decisions to be announced!

009agent2 months ago

Could anybody suggest some improvements to my Instructable?http://www.instructables.com/id/Beginners-Electron...

Thanks in advance

amansell12 months ago

HI

i just posted this instructable. I am looking for ways to improve it. Do you guys think an led bar that lights up would be a distraction? Also, did i describe it enough? would someone else be able to do it?

here is the instructable

http://www.instructables.com/id/Compact-Macintosh-Audio-Visualizer/

Hi - this is definitely a really cool hack - I like the video in the intro. The Instructable could definitely benefit from a few things:

1. Proofreading - capitalize your i's, make sure you don't miss spaces between words or parenthesis, make sure sentences end in periods, etc.

2. This might seem dumb, but I'd explain a little bit in the introduction about what an audio visualizer is. Just imagine that you are someone stumbling across the project who has never heard of an audio visualizer before. How would you explain it to them? Can you provide any good background links (Wikipedia etc) they may find helpful?

3. Photos - you even say "sorry for terrible pics" in the intro - I wouldn't call them terrible, but there's definitely room for improvement. Some of them are a little blurry or have a lot of background clutter. You don't need expensive lighting or a fancy camera to take good photos - there are a lot of Instructables on how to take good photos with cheap equipment. Scroll down and you'll see some suggestions in the other comments.

4. Writing - in some places, for example, "Step 2: Find a candidate", I would favor complete sentences over bullet points. When you say "please try to fix your mac before you do this" - does that mean you should ONLY do this on an old, otherwise broken/useless computer? Are the changes you're making completely irrevocable? Again, this might seem obvious to you, but imagine that you're someone stumbling across the project who has never seen it before.

5. In step 3 - you explain HOW to do it, but you don't really explain WHY you're doing it. Again, try to write for someone totally new to the project. You need to explain that you are connecting an audio source to the wires that control the CRT, so you can visualize the audio signal on the screen. That might seem obvious or redundant but it can't hurt to explain it in detail.

6. Step 3 is the place where better pictures would help the most - some of them are blurry so it's hard to see what to do. I'd also recommend making a diagram, just with colored wires, because that completely eliminates background clutter. It doesn't need to be super fancy - a free program like MS Paint is fine if that's all you have access to.

Hope this helps!

thanks ben!

will start working on improving with your suggestions! I will definitely make some diagrams and work on making the instructable into paragraphs!

Akin Yildiz2 months ago

is it possible to get featured using a 3-5 megapixel smartphone camera? or do we have to use a digital slr? or can a regular human priced pocket digital camera do the job like a nikon or smtg?

I use a point-and-shoot (Canon Powershot D10) for all my photos. You definitely don't need an SLR (although I'm still hoping to win one in a contest one day...). It's amazing what you can do just with decent lighting and a good background. My "photo booth" consists of two $15 clip lamps from Target, two "daylight" CFL bulbs, and a piece of white posterboard. It doesn't need to cost you an arm and a leg.

I also started using GIMP to clean up my photos and get that really nice, white background. For tech Instructables I use randofo's Simple Bots projects as examples.

There are also a bunch of Instructables on how to take good photos, and how to set up a cheap home photo booth. Here's a collection of them:

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Take-Great-Pictures-1/

winning one would be so cool. and yes i have stumbled upon some of those posts lately and realized that it is all about lighting and background. your reply is extremely informative. I am actually trying to donate a corner in the house for some photography. what I didn't realize when I first started posting here was that you also have to be a writer and a photographer while creating crazy stuff... can be very time consuming! thank you very much!

Yep - the point is to write instructions that are good enough that someone else could follow them to completely reconstruct your project from scratch, not just to show off what you made. I always think you can NEVER be too detailed with the writing. Things that might seem obvious to you won't be obvious to someone who has never seen the project before. So, especially if your goal is to get featured and win contests, you should always be as thorough as possible - take as many pictures as you can, and do a written description for every step of the process without skipping everything.

Obviously this is way more time consuming, but it also helps level the playing field a little bit - an amateur with an extremely well-documented project can beat out a professional engineer with a poorly-documented one in a contest.

I have used a $10 tracfone to take all my pictures ok so now its 5

http://www.tracfone-orders.com/bpdirect/tracfone/PhoneDetails.do?action=view&productVariantExtensionId=30409559

I have 2 featured lighting and background helps

very good to know, thank you. i'm definitely getting featured with my next post..! it's my only goal in life at the moment :)

AmateurHour2 months ago

Can anyone give me advice to get this bench featured http://www.instructables.com/id/Superhero-Kids-Be...

I think I did a decent job explaining it with words and pictures but any advice would be appreciated, thanks!

M3G AmateurHour2 months ago

I think it looks awesome, great work! My only suggestion would be to list the dimensions of the pieces as you attached them together (for example, "first I glued a 14" to a 16" piece at a 90 degree angle. I then attached that to a 32" piece at another 90 degree angle, forming a "h" shape"). Hope I've helped!

AmateurHour M3G2 months ago

Thanks I'll add that in!

AmateurHour2 months ago

Anyway I can improve this Instructable?

http://www.instructables.com/id/Pallet-Wood-ShelfC...

It seemed pretty clear and turned out pretty nice. Was it too simple?

spunk AmateurHour2 months ago

I'm not a woodworking expert - but I think you wrote a very nice and well explained ible. The pictures showing the process of making are very nice and crisp but the titel picture doesn't have that quality.

You could make a new title picture to show the beauty of your shelf. I recommend taking the picture in a setting with daylight. Take a look at this ible:

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-take-pictur... There are lots of advices about taking pictures.

You may consider decorating the shelf a bit. Placing some nice objects on your shelf not only "explains" it's purpose :), objects also give the spectator hints about the dimensions of your piece.

This ible shows a nice decorated shelf: http://www.instructables.com/id/Rope-Shelves/

I hope this helps...

AmateurHour spunk2 months ago

Thanks for the ideas to make it better! I changed the pic to one that fits your advice. I hope it gets featured :)

Robson Couto2 months ago

Some suggestions and advices about my first instructable?

I tried to make it the most detailed i would.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Arduino-and-NRF24L...

Very good for a first time! Maybe change the title a bit(less technical) or possibly a better cover photo. Other than that it was great you are very skilled at reverse engineering!

Thank you!

I'll try do to these modifications.

Raphango2 months ago

Hello!

Please, could you take a look at my Instructable? I don't know what I did wrong so I didn't have it featured.... =(

http://www.instructables.com/id/Animated-Sonic-Rul...

Thank you very much in advance!

Hi! Photo instructables (that basically have one step) are much less likely to get a feature, because they are much more of an explanation of the project, instead of a complete step-by-step instruction. This can sometimes work out really well, for a recipe for example, but for a project like this people would rather read a step-by-step on how you made it and how you programmed it, with pictures during these steps. The fact that you already have 10 subscribers after your first instruct able, does show that people are really interested in what you do :)

Ok... thank you so much for your help! =D
Have a nice sunday! n.n
asrivastava102 months ago

is there something wrong with the presentation...The idea seems great...executed it in a good way..!!!

http://www.instructables.com/id/Touch-Flashlight-cheap-no-adruino/

Background is very cluttered in nearly all photos - try a piece of well-lit curved white card as a backdrop. Arduino, not adruino.

Hello -

My instructable is a thought experiment so photos would be almost exclusively decorative. I was thinking of diagrams and/or equations ...

I guess what I'm asking is - my instructable makes sense to me, how can I make better sense of it to others? What would help me communicate my idea more effectively to you?

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Construct-Y...

Thank you!

your Instructable will only make sence to the right type of person , most people get turned off by equations add lots of cool pictures including the cover best I can suggest

FabricateIO3 months ago

Thoughts on improvements for this 'ible? http://www.instructables.com/id/Multi-Mic-Speech-T...
We thought we did pretty well, but our last one had a much better reception.

Hard to say. It is a really good instructable and a very cool idea. The title, though descriptive, isn't very catchy. For example live and simultaneous are basically saying the same thing so it's redundant. I would also capitalize more on what you will use it for and not what it does. Building a smart home that's voice control from scratch and for $30 bucks I'd check that out! Anyways its a great guide.

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