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 You can even post a link to an unpublished instructable if you like, but just remember, please check out the featuring checklist first since this will tell you all of the things that the best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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Kiteman3 years ago

Starting your first Instructable?

Then you need to read this how-to guide.
(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.)
HowToLou5 days ago

Hi - This video instructable was just published at Hackaday and is getting over 100 views per hour. I think it is very clear and teaches people how to build a $700 laser hat for $60. I have posted 100+ instructables, and a few have been featured. I don't expect most of them to be featured, but I thought this one was pretty useful.

Any thoughts? Thank You.

Is it your video?

If not it can't get featured.

If it is your video I think you should do a better write-up on it and go from there.

It is my video.

Cool, well I don't know much about video 'ibles but the least I can say is give it a bigger write-up and see what happens.

treehog JM199913 hours ago

I'd agree that the writeup is really lacking in detail for each step.

It is my video, yes.

Hmm it's just pretty sparse. Here's a collection of award winning instructables I made:

Take a look at what they did and try to emulate would be my best suggestion.

What specifically do you think is missing from the video?

From the video? Nothing, but we don't feature videos here. We feature instructables. Instructables have a decent amount of text, and TONS of photos. Your instructables had very little text and no photos at all. Look at the instructables in the collections. Does your looks like theirs? If the answer is no, then change your instructable until it does.

The rules must have changed. I only do video instructables, and have had several featured. When did the rule change to what you just said?

I think about 6 months ago we got rid of video style instructables and focused on step by steps. Hence why we recommend checking the featuring checklist. The collection I linked to you, are people who do video instructables and they get featured, just try to emulate them.

Thanks for the info. All my videos are over 95% liked on Youtube, so I hate to mess with the style my subscribers like. I may take a look though.

Don't mess with the video! Just add photos and text to the Instructable itself like in the link MSS showed.

Think of it like a cooking show. It's helpful/fun/enjoyable to watch, but it's nice to have photos and a written recipe when it comes time to cook.

Thanks for that perspective and good advice. I guess I never really thought about what instructables Really is. People that prefer video instruction just go directly to YouTube. People that like pictures and text come here. I hate to read, so I have always focused on watching and making videos. I have 20+ video projects in the pipeline, and think I can be of more benefit to the internet by creating than translating to another medium. Maybe when I run out of ideas, I will go back and do translation.

I see your point though. Some people really prefer reading, or watching, then reading. This explains why I get 50 subscribers a week on Youtube, but only 1 here. I always wondered about that. I am a video black sheep in a community of readers :). Getting featured is not a huge goal for me. I just think that people who struggle with hair loss are being taken advantage of by companies who are selling these laser hats for $700 when you can easily make them for $60. I wanted to get the word out. Its getting a lot of views on YouTube, so thats good enough.

Actually, this just made me recall something. There is a guy that breaks my videos into steps, for his web site, so they are available somewhere, at least.

Everyone loves video! And people would certainly still watch the video if you're worried about views (I assume you're trying to publicize your channel).

Creating a video takes A LOT more time than writing or photographing, but with writing, readers can see all the details in a way and a speed that makes sense to them. If instructions aren't written out, then viewers have to literally take notes like they're in a school lecture (only with the benefit of being able to rewind).

Getting featured should matter because it increases your views by A LOT, and the only way to get into the newsletter is by getting featured which REALLY increases views. Featuring also increases your odds of being noticed elsewhere online.

And there's the snowball effect. The more you publish and get featured, the more views and subscribers you get at an almost exponential rate (just like on YouTube as I doubt you started with 50 subscribers a week). It took me around 4 years to get 1 million views on my Instructables, but I've gained nearly another million views in only 1 year.

However, it's up to you if you want to put in a couple more hours of work (literally) for more views and subscribers and starting that snowball rolling. I personally think it's worthwhile for the sake of promoting your channel, but that's just my opinion. People will watch the video on Instructables, and viewers on YouTube will check out your Instructable, and la-la-la...

Thanks ARH. I am closing in on 3 million youtube views. I know video is a lot harder, but it is what I do. Posting my videos on Instructables helps a little, but it's not my core base. As I see it, either my topic is a blockbuster or its not. I can't see a moderator saying "Wow, this is an awesome project that could really benefit a lot of people, and the video is very well done and informative, BUT its not in text form, so skip it." That would be a disservice to the membership. If I had some assurance that taking the time to convert my medium would get it featured, it would be worth it. Without that, my time is better spent making my next video, which, on average, generates way more views and subscribers.

No one can guarantee anything because no one knows how good your photographs or write-up will be. Fortunately, people here can help so it meets all the featuring criteria, and generally, if you meet/exceed the featuring criteria, you get featured. Period. Beyond that, it's up to the witchery of the internets.

And you don't know that Instructables won't become a good segment of your base until you get featured. A feature rate of 3% is quite low, so it's unsurprising that this site doesn't have a huge impact. The better the feature rate, the better the views, the better the hits. People have gotten featured on television (e.g., The Colbert Report) because of their Instructables (e.g., Useless Machine).

If you go by cost vs. risk, you should just go ahead and work towards getting featured (probably a couple times), and then you can decide whether it's worthwhile pursuing further. I've not found many publicity opportunities that didn't require more work (e.g., Instructables), voodoo (e.g., StumbleUpon), or losing certain rights to my content (e.g., Apartment Therapy). You are the publicist for your channel, so you will have to determine what's a good fit for you.

So do what you want!

ARH - I really respect your tenacity and docile nature. You have taught me something. I thought ibles were featured based on usefulness or impact to the community. You are saying that is not the case. Rather, they are featured based on clarity, for lack of a better word to describe the featuring criteria list. So, by this system, a crystal clear ible on how to wad up a scrap of paper would be featured, whereas a somewhat murky, or worse yet, Video, ible on how to cure cancer, would not. Ok, that is a real eye opener. I would totally not have guessed that. Thank you.

In all the time I have spent communicating with you, I did find time to heed your advice to some extent. I added 8 simple written :) steps. I may even break down and add pictures. While I would like to this ible featured based on its substance, if clarity is all that matters, it may be worth my time to get the word out that people can easily save $600.

Regarding featuring criteria, you really ought to read the featuring criteria for the true situation, rather than resorting to baseless hyperbole. If you don't want to follow the featuring criteria, and not interested in meeting the expected standards of writing and illustration, that's fine. Nobody is trying to stifle your creativity, but you will have to resign yourself to the fact that you will not get featured.

If your interest is solely in the video format, then maybe you'll be happier sticking with a site created for the video format, rather than a site created for quality writing and photography (especially if you already feel you are successful there)?

We find that text+photo step-by-step instructables are much more useful to for people
when they are wanting to follow them themselves - videos cannot be
printed out to use in your workshop, videos that look nice have often been edited so much that important details are missing, and very few people can work
as fast as the video they are following, so end up having to stop,
rewind, watch again etc, which is not easy when your hands are full of
tools or covered in glue etc.

(Oh, and if your aim is to save people money, why do you use lasers? The research data available shows that cheap red LEDs are equally as effective as red laser diodes - you would be able to illuminate the whole scalp for a fraction of the cost of your small square patch.)

Well said. That is precisely why I am not a fan of videos on instructables. They're great for understanding how something moves or functions, but not great for perusing or actually following while making. I very rarely click on videos.

Exactly. Thank you. You guys don't really like videos. That is why you are here. People love my videos, but this is not the place. That is totally fair. You hate videos, and I hate text. I respect your position, and hope you respect mine. Wouldn't it be neat to do a random survey on this. I wonder what percentage of people prefer video or text. My wife is in your camp, by the way.

So, we have established that your videos are popular on a video site, and unpopular on a text/photo site, and that you do not like the text/photo format.

This begs two questions:

> Why are we still having this conversation?

> Why are you still here?

If the answer to the former is to persuade us to move to your position, then you have failed. Time to end the conversation.

If the answer to the latter is to try and garner more views for your videos, then you have likewise failed, since a purely video-based instructable does not meet the standards of this site - video should be used purely as a back-up option in a particular step. The success of the instructable should not ride on the content of the video. So, if you are unwilling to meet the standards of this site, may I politely suggest you focus your efforts on YouTube or Vimeo?

Kiteman -

I am not the only one still having this conversation :)

I post here, because it does generate some more views and I now have 300 or so subscribers that obviously like me to be here. Please show me where it says that pure video does not "meet the standards of this site". Thanks for the invitation to leave, but no thanks.

You started by moaning that your video wasn't featured. Try reading the Feature criteria.

Other than that, this topic is supposed to be for people who want to get featured by doing well, not just because they expect the squeaky wheel to get greased. You have been given the advice you need, but refused to accept it. If you want to continue to discuss the featuring criteria, start a new topic in the Feedback section.

If you look at the comments, I said I already added text, and plan to add pictures to this particular instructable. I also do not appreciate the personal attacks you are making on me. If you look at all my comments you will find no personal remarks, With the exception of the one I made to ARH, and that was a genuine compliment. I think we are done here.

Bye, then.

Listen to your wife. She might be a better publicist for your channel. ;)

If I was aiming for you text/pic folks, yes, but I am a video guy, and flourish on YouTube. This video was posted a few days ago and will have 3,000 views by morning :)

Really? I love videos, but I still need written tutorials with photos for close inspection. I think Mark Montano does a WONDERFUL job of both, and I love watching his videos and reading his tutorials. It's nice to see how materials behave and are manipulated in 3D real world space and what-not.

Granted, you're probably talking about video-only tutorials, but I still like me some tutorials with video. :)

<3 I love videos too!!

You make good arguments. I see your perspective, and it is a very reasonable one, but don't share it. I have read 4 books total, in my life, and have regretted 2 of them, because they were made into movies after I read them. I avoid reading projects, at all costs, but when I have no other choice, I want to scream "Why can't you just show me?!!!". I still think think my stance that I am a video black sheep in your readers world, is accurate. Everyone on this thread either says they don't like/watch videos or they need the writing too. I have yet to hear from anyone that has actually watched the video and has comments on it. Everyone just wants text and pictures. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said this is a site created for writing and photography. Video creators need not apply... unless they ALSO write and pic. But, I guess that is fair. Its not my site and not my rules.

A hyperbole is a great way to prove a point. ARH said "follow the guide, and get featured, Perdiod.", which is not really true. My hyperbole brought out the clarification that there is a "coolness" factor that is not listed in the rules.

Regarding lasers vs LEDs: The Lasers are only 50 cents each and have 3-inch electrically shielded wires, instead of two bare metal posts which would have to have wires connected and shielded. The time/cost equation favors lasers by far. Also, the leading products like the laser comb and laser cap have lasers, not LEDs. That may mean something, or not, but I went with what has the best track record.

To clarify, "coolness" and/or utility are both major factors in featuring. "How to Wad Paper" would not be featured no matter how spectacular the photos and write-up, and "How to Cure Cancer" would win the Nobel Prize, particularly because the researchers wouldn't have just published on YouTube but rather in appropriate medical journals following the format guidelines for those journals regardless of how awesome the research was.

Thanks for the clarification. I thought your original description was too narrow. I used the example to prove the point. Also, I am quite sure if someone cured cancer, they could publish it any way they wanted, and the world would listen. I know you know that, but were also just trying to make a point. The bottom line is that the people that control this web site are the type of people that love text and pics. I, like many others, hate them, so I just don't fit in here.

Having said that, I am convinced I have a really cool topic. I would like to hear any comments to the contrary, if there are any. I think I am shining light on an almost scam-level overpricing of hair loss treatment. I am not convinced that anyone from this clinic has actually watched the video, because I have gotten zero feedback on it, but I am often told my videos are very easy to follow. While I plan on generally sticking with video format, to my own detriment here, I will add the text/photo stuff to this one ible, because I feel it is worth the extra effort to expose the "scam".

The photos *should* be no problem, just open the video in something like windows media player and use the functions there to take still images out of the video!

No extra camerawork required at all!

True, now that I have written the steps.

The number of views argument is invalid - I have twice your views across my text-based projects, and we have at least four projects that each have more views than your entire output.

Good point, Kiteman. Written and Video probably get the same views. It is really about the audience. A portion of the consumers want video, and the other portion wants text. I am just in the video camp.

"Written and Video probably get the same views."

Not here, they don't.

I don't recall saying they did.

"Everyone loves video!"

Except me...

Thank you JM. Exactly my point. People, like you, are drawn to instructables for the text. My videos are rated highly on Youtube, among video lovers, but are out of their element among you readers.

It isn't just that I don't like them it is more the point my computer will jam if I play them.

I also enjoy reading so it is a + that I can't play the videos because it makes me read instead.

Exactly. If my computer would not play videos, it would quickly find itself nestled between my sledge hammer and my driveway.

You know, out of all the pages on the clinic, you have created the longest string of help ever!

Cool! I did that in a facebook group of flowboarders too. Flowboards cost $350 each, and I posted a video showing how I made one for $40 and proceeded to shred the the wave with it! I created a huge storm of comments from the people that were profiting from their way overpriced boards. I try to expose gross overpricing, as I have done with this laser hat.

Here, I learned that I am not like the rest of you text/pic lovers. I respect you, but am not like you. I keep thinking there should be a "video instructables" site for people like me, where you can't get featured unless you have good video. I guess YouTube is sort of that.

JM19992 days ago

Does anybody have suggestions on this 'ible?

I don't think it got reviewed fully not being entered into a contest so some help would be appreciated.

Time to kick it up a notch with the intro photo! Try doing something like this. :)

So what do you think about it now?

That is the best I can do for a cover photo, I hope it gets featured :)

It's much more interesting to look at - feet inside shoes makes shoes look better IMO, but now it's hard to see the lacing (and crossed legs are a little confusing and reduce the presence of the shoes in the shot). Can you get someone to take the photo from low to the ground or set up a camera with a timer, remote release, or voice command? I have my phone set to voice command which makes photographing a lot easier.

So I have to do it - - -again?

I don't mind re-doing it though.

BTW, how do you set up a voice command on your camera? Is there a special app that does it?

You don't HAVE to do anything, but a great intro picture is likely to get you featured with lots of views. Plus this is just my opinion/recommendation and no one else's. :)

I have a Samsung Galaxy (Android), and to do it, click on Camera -> Gear Symbol ->Microphone Symbol. Then you can say smile, cheese, capture, or shoot for the shutter release. SO MUCH better than hitting the button, and it produces fewer blurry pictures. :)

A roll of duct tape helps as an impromptu holder - just stick your phone in the middle of the roll and coax it into the right position/angle. You can't get super crazy with it, and it'll only work for portrait/vertical photos. Still, if you're going for the perfect square thumbnail for an intro shot, it doesn't really matter if you shoot portrait or landscape. :P

Cool, thank you so much!

I will try to get a better intro pic done by today or tomorrow.

BTW, do you work here?

Take your time and get creative.

And nope, I don't work here. :)

Any suggestions on this one...


It's the beginning that lets you down -

Try a new title: maybe "Spark 101 - Blinking LEDs"?

The introduction needs to be shorter, and more of a story - I would stick to just the first and last paragraphs. Put the middle section into a new step, before the set-up step.

Thanks for the suggestions,

How does it look now? I added some changes to the instructable as you suggested.

I could use some tips, I'm not sure the next few steps to take to improve my Instructables projects. This is my most recent one (my second Instructables project):

Thanks to anyone who has feedback!!

Some suggestions:

1. You might want to change your title to something like Giant Touch Sensor Controller. An oversized box is an oversized box.

2. Do up a separate intro which is like a summary to the project. A big part of the audience here does not know what the MaKey MaKey is or what it does. The rest of the instructions are pretty intense and might want to edit some of the narrative style for more succinct steps.

3. Use an intro image, which becomes the thumbnail, of a clearer shot of the controller box with fingers touching it. It is hard to make out at a glance looking at the entire setup to figure out what you made. Use a contrasting background to your plain lasercut box.

4. The video could be improved with better sound and closeup of the items. I had to play it a few times to see it was triggering some garageband like drum setup on the laptop,.

5. It's fine to promote your hackerspace, do it in the intro.

Back again.. I made some changes. I need to get more pics and better video, but I think this might be a start. I tried addressing the name of the project like you suggested, cleaned up the intro, added resource links and summary info for those unfamiliar with MaKey MaKey, and added a more clean intro image. I might post a better one, but regardless am going to add pics for more of the sub steps and try to get a better quality video with good sound and res. Thanks again! This was very helpful feedback.

Thanks!! I will work on this. This was very helpful

I already see a "marketing issue" with my latest Instructable and need some advice.

Although maybe I went a little stupid with the intro photo... I wanted to keep it dark because of the print, but maybe that's not the right thing to do?

pelegren2 days ago

anyone out there can advice me on my 4th instructable presentation, improvement tips,etc?

dot7243 days ago

Hey, could someone give me advice about the desighn layout of my website.

This belongs elsewhere in the forums. Maybe try the Tech forum?

Hello, would anyone please give some advice on how to make this instructable better and if possible get it Featured? Thanks a Lot.

Cute idea! It just needs some extra "cool" injected into it. I don't really have any creative ideas on how to jazz it up, but there has to be something... Maybe do something with a spooky hand pressed against the screen with your own message (just need to do scanner photography in a dark room)? Slender Man style?

Or maybe something with sprites? The Secret of Mana has a whole lot of sleeping in it.


Ok, with some blurring, vignette, and darkening, you can easily animate a single scan so it sort of looks like a hand coming from the darkness and hitting the screen. I did it quick and dirty, but it's seriously just the same image with increasing gaussian blur, vignetting, and darkening. Then you can pull a medium dark/blurred frame, duplicate, and fling it in the beginning before the focused one - you just need to add motion blur. Then some black frames and voila!

Fool around with it and see what cool thing you can create. :)

Also, click the image below to see the animation.


Thanks for the info. My instructable was supposed to be a screen saver that looks like the monitor is sleeping. I'll try adding more "cool" to it but doing a "smooth" animation like yours would be a little hard since the "photo" option takes about 2 seconds to change photos. :/

Dangit. What about doing a customized Magic 8 Ball screensaver (Photo Gallery as screensaver, set to fade with random photos)?

Amazing Idea! ill be sure to include it.

Glad you like it! Be sure to include a "blank" so people can add their own text for whatever they want their options to be and a link for the best font to use.

Good luck!

You ever try to shake a 21" CRT color monitor and yell at it?

Plenty of times! It's how I got my Popeye guns.

Although it doesn't quite explain the anchor tattoo...

Oh, that scanner thing gives me an idea - instead of drawing a face, use scans of your own face scrunched against the scanner bed, one with your eyes open, one with eyes shut, and then it will look like you are trapped behind the screen, blinking.

Dangerous! You should never scan your eyes because of blindness and stuff. You could alternatively take a normal photo of your face against glass. With the right lighting, you can still achieve a black background.

Is it that bright? I had it down as on the level of a photocopier...

Photocopiers are also dangerous although a single exposure likely isn't - it's still not a good idea. Even when I do scans in a dark room, I turn my face away because it's still bright from arm's length. :/

I have a feeling with a spot light in a dark room, you can achieve the effect with a camera and a piece of glass. Not much risk there. :)

There are a couple of grammar issues (your when it should be you're, capital letters missing from the beginning of sentences), but the main thing missing is a bit of the *wow* factor that makes the project stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately, I cannot think of any way of injecting it into that particular project.

Do not be disheartened, though - your writing is improving, and you're only on your third project; it is only a matter of time and practice.

shazni9 days ago

Hi. Can I have some feedback on my instructable Please?. I was wondering whereI went wrong for it not to be featured. Thanks.

JM1999 shazni9 days ago

Maybe change the first and second photos?

I think the first photo may be a pixelated effect but I'm not sure on it.

The second photo you have the ballerinas holding white (flowers?) on a white background, the two first photos may be all it needs to be featured!

Show danger/Jessy and they should be able to give you some helpful tips :)

shazni JM19995 days ago

Thanks, I sent a message to both. I don't know who featured it but someone did. Only it didn't make it to the homepage. :-( so less views. I guess I shall try something else for the paper contest as this doesn't seem to be doing well.

JM1999 shazni5 days ago

Cool, glad it got featured :)

Homepage feature? do you know much about it?

If so I would love more info on it -- it is one of the least talked about things on the site.

Check out the new Feature Checklist, it outlines it very well.

This ible wasn't featured initially (presumably because the photos weren't great) so I reshot the whole thing. Does anyone see any other issues I could correct?

shazni9 days ago
fadecomic11 days ago


Can I have some feedback on ? Thanks in advance.

There are a few little things that should be easy enough to fix.

-Intro Photo. The photo is a bit dark, and there's some general tidying to do to really put the focus on the tree. Look into night photography for some tips, and get your camera lower - don't take the shot at standing height but rather sitting height. The effect might be visible if you take a long exposure so that the bottom is very bright but the top is considerably dimmer. You can do this by making some adjustments to your camera for a long exposure and then occasionally making sound. If you only have your iPhone, then check for "Long Exposure Camera" apps. You'll need to rig a tripod with chairs, books, etc. if you don't have one for your phone.

-Step 2: Step 1: Need some editing on your step titles.

-Combine Step 1 (Materials section) with your intro. That's what a lot of people do for steps that don't have photos because the materials have already been used up.

-Final step is missing a photo. This should be easy enough to fix with just a close-up of the lights on the tree that shows the cords and bulbs and what-not.

Hope it helps! It's a cute idea!

I appreciate the tips. I'm a fairly practiced photographer, but I didn't have a picture of the tree available when I posted the article. I just captured a still from YouTube.

TopDIY12 days ago

Hey everyone,

Any constructive criticism on my recent Instructable:

Thanks in advance and cheers!

It needs a full explanation of the mechanics and why it works. Outside of that, just a better intro photo and some tidying for publishing. :)

JM199914 days ago

Does anyone have any suggestions on this 'ible?
As far as I have seen most shoelace 'ibles get featured so why not this one?

Try to give us 12-24 hours before asking why. Sometimes Community Managers and Team Members sleep, and trust me you want it that way.

OK, I see what you are saying.

Thanks for the pointer.

gizmologist19 days ago


Any constructive criticism on my recent Instructable:

would be highly appreciated!

The biggest issue right now is the intro photo, and the best thing you could possibly do is to re-shoot it in near dark so the lights really shine and give a beautiful glow. I'm not sure what sort of camera you're using (guessing camera on your phone?), so you'll need to search out how to take essentially night time photography. The more of the finished project you can get in the shot, the better. You want people to be awed and to click, and for a ship, well.... it's tricksy when it comes to angle.

Thanks for the feedback!

I've done lots of night photography. I just hadn't gotten around to taking better photos, but you were right. Did a new shoot on two of the models and the page (especially the intro) now looks much better.
Used the flying saucer for intro photo since that's a more recognizable shape.

Very tricky balancing the model lights with the photo lighting. Dimmers help a lot. Any additional comments?

Looks good!

The only thing I noticed is that you might want to put the Instructable in Technology -> LEDs. :)

I disagree. It's about integrating LED technology with crafts.

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