Instructables

The Social Problems That Plague Instructables - A Discussion for Everyone

Disclaimer: Nothing I say relegates to any sort of EULA/terms of service instructables may have. This is strictly concerning a matter of taste and public interest. I don't really know anything about the "legal" matters here, in fact, I could care less - I'm just seeking a practical solution. Before I begin my ranting and raving, I'd like to begin with these few questions. I don't expect you to respond tit-for-tat in list answer form - these are broad questions that you may choose to answer in your response I suppose, but the purpose of them is to get you thinking a bit: 1. Do you feel as though the quality of an instructable is important? 2. Does it bother you when you read an instructable that is very sloppy and appears as though no effort was put into making it appealing to the reader? 3. Does it bother you when you see instructables that tell you how to create things that appear to be ostensibly simple, as if you are being instructed on doing some menial thing? 4. Do you ever feel as though people post instructables in order to gain attention and don't seem to care about the instructable itself? If so, does that bother you? It appears to me that many people feel as though the content of Instructables.com is crummy at times. It looks as though more often than not as of late, people are posting a lot of negative comments on certain instructables. The populace is simply becoming frustrated with the amount of poorly-written, lame duck, perhaps "half-assed" instructables that are popping up on the site. Allow me to purge a bit before I create a storm: I am a man who preaches "For each, his own." I usually fall towards a laissez-faire policymaking attitude and I seek to just "let it lie" if necessary. I find that things work better uninterrupted. This is why I think I have held back here for a while about my thoughts on Instructables I didn't appreciate. Usually I would just mark it with a "-", leave a comment about what could be improved, and flag it if it was inappropriate. The problem is, I started to do this too much over time. Maybe I just became too acquainted with the functions, but it feels to me as though it is the quality of the instructables that have waned. I am evidently not alone with this feeling. I have remained as reserved as I can, but I think it is time to speak out about something because other people are starting to shed light on it. Perhaps we should be a little more conscientious about what we post. As the site grows, I think it is important we keep it tidy and nifty looking. There will be tons of new instructables every day, but I think we should reduce the number of them that many of us find pretty crummy. Perhaps a more overt ranking system. Instructables is a really awesome site that has a very strong backbone - it was founded by people who really cared about it's potential. They actively upgrade the website to our whims and make it as best as they can make it. At the least, we owe it to these people to post our best and brighest works and make instructables look like a decent site. My personal opinion: I hate to sound like an elitist jerk, but there are a lot of trashy instructables... they're not worthy of being labelled as instructables. It seems like every day the number of atrocious posts increases. At times, it seems as though instructables is no longer treated as a decent site, rather, it's just a landfill for people to post their junk. I won't name anyone or any specific instructables, but honestly, there are some that are just there to garner attention and get our juices flowing. It's not fun. Tear this to shreds, gents. G'nite ;).

gyromild7 years ago
*Okay..i'm taking note of what Frenchcrawler said: English Is Not My First Language. I've been spending hours, almost daily on this site for quite some time now, mostly project shopping. But havent contributed much to the community though.. I must say that there are a lot of instructables that are too simple. But that somehow causes people to say "Hey, i could do it a lot better than that" and come up with an even better instructables. Plus,I think quite a few people will actually be disheartened or shy-away (from contributing that is), if all the instructables they saw are on par with that "CO2 Laser Metal Cutter" thingy or that "Thai Iced Tea" (which are really cool, btw) Look at it one way, simple/menial instructable maybe a good thing.. But on the other hand, it could also lead to the knex-gun/pen-gun scenario, where someone comes up with a simple 20ft gun, then some guy try to outdo it with a gun that works the same way, but shoots 30ft. And it goes on and on.. Hmmm..
You know, you've just mentioned the best arguments I've read for "simple" instructables. Considering how they do in fact spur people to post something "a little better" I'm convinced of their place.
yes, yes yes, and yes
zachninme8 years ago
This may be crazy, but what if every Instructable was a collaboration, open to everybody? It would basically be an organized wiki...
Many misuse the Collaboration setting and publish as a collaboration, when in fact, there are no collaborators. Usually if I see "Collaboration," I immediately dismiss it as a kids ramblings and go on the the next Instructable. I learned, on the other hand that by making an unpublished Instructable into a collaboration, others can read it without joining and turn around and publish part of the idea as their own. Until Collaborations become a read and participate by invitation only, I will no longer use that feature.
The best Instructables require a strong voice. I find that wikis tend to average and sometime silence strong voices. Collaboration is intended to allow people to work together. That could even be very large numbers of people, but we still maintain the concept of a "lead author" or an owner of the project who is the only one that can add collaborators and publish.
Reminds me of a quote by David Coblitz--A committee can make a decision that is dumber than any of its' members.
Another suggestion (to add to your already large list):

I was just updating myslef on the new instructables and came across this one: http://www.instructables.com/id/EUWMRVNNFVEUJ7Y28T/
I personally don't mind if someone's second language is english and attempts to write up an instructable in english (as long as they include that fact in their into), but this got me to thinking about how many people would rather just spell and use grammer in whatever way they want then have to find and use a checker. One such example (in which trebuchet was trying to be nice): http://www.instructables.com/id/EPESC11DWVEUHCALDX/

So maybe another idea would be to place (or integrate) a spelling/grammer checker (perhaps even a translator) into the make an instructable section, so that members would be less likely to publish an instructable with bad grammer.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this?
It's grammar...
Thanks for the catch and fix...
mikesty (author)  FrenchCrawler7 years ago
... half a year later.
What an awesome place this is! I just discovered it today and started reading; Next thing I know it’s three hours later! I love any and all ideas, and while I’ve seen some that could stand an upgrade, very few struck me as totally worthless (Snapple bottle not withstanding.) Maybe I’m too much of an optimist, but I think that things tend to sort themselves out over time. People who are too sloppy to do careful work (this includes writing Instructibles) tend to not follow through on other things. In other words, these people will probably disappear all on their own in time. Anyway, I guess this is my introduction: Hi, nice to meet you. I hope sooner or later I can provide something fun and worthwhile myself. Looks like a great community to be a part of!
ewilhelm8 years ago
I just add a "How to write a great Instructable" collaboration to the Instructables Help group.
mellamokiwi8 years ago
im am sorry because i am one of those people who have posted a stupid instructable thinking completly peple would appreciate it. I am going to try harder to make better instructable and not to waste space. When i found this site i absolutly loved it because i can find so many different ideas and i really want to share my ideas with others. I think i will be more careful to filter out some un necesarry things because know i know this site isnt as free as lets say myspace
Do you mean the "sticker from a magazine picture"? 'Cause I think that's a great instructable. (Perhaps you unpublished and earlier one?)
sticker or decal...i think decal sounds better
westfw8 years ago
Well, they already are to the extent that the comments can extend the instructable. There are several projects I can think of (mostly food oriented) where the interesting bits extend well into the comments from several different people (that Queso instructable was one; several alternative recipes and quite a bit of philosophy..) And there is certainly an ego component to publishing an instructable; I don't think I'm any more likely to make all my intructables collaaborations any more than I'm likely to put them all entirely in the public domain. I'm happy to take feedback, advice, and criticism, but THEY'RE MINE! (and the potential for abuse would be very high. Instructable Spam. Ugh!)
spinach_dip8 years ago
1. Do you feel as though the quality of an instructable is important?

I just wish there was a moderated RSS feed. I want to see the simple stuff, like Tim's
http://www.instructables.com/id/E1JG589AF1EQ6T2AC1/
I don't like 57 different types of rubber band guns made with office supplies. If you all could figure out how to filter that out, that would be great.

2. Does it bother you when you read an instructable that is very sloppy and appears as though no effort was put into making it appealing to the reader?

I left a comment on this instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/EFQACE9HWCET9K5KYO/
If we could get everyone to summarize what the heck the instructable was about and why one would want to do it on the first page that would be great. And if you say “hack your scanner for better output”, you need to state that you are doing something with a radio scanner or a sheet fed scanner or a barcode scanner.
Also, cost breakdowns are good. Even if it does not end up saving money. Some things are worth doing anyway

3. Does it bother you when you see instructables that tell you how to create things that appear to be ostensibly simple, as if you are being instructed on doing some menial thing?

Simple can be good. I cite Tim's cord thing example above. I don't need instructables on how to pick my nose

4. Do you ever feel as though people post instructables in order to gain attention and don't seem to care about the instructable itself? If so, does that bother you?

I liked the kee klamps stuff, but the fiery furnaces pizza one crossed the line for me. There's nothing noteworthy there and the pictures don't add anything either.
mmt spinach_dip8 years ago
Particular to the instructable posted by Tim mentioned above, I think there's an entire class of instructables which are captured by a single image, require little direction, but are totally worthwhile. The silly EE Tray I made (and still use frequently :P) should have probably just been three pictures on a single page.

I wonder if there are ways to direct an instructable (vote I guess) toward particular levels of experience, or perhaps specific skills required. Quickies such as Tim's cord trick would find themselves slowly grouped, where as Homebrew Laser Cutter would find a different home and perhaps a different RSS feed.
One problem with one image instructables that have little or no directions: I don't believe they qualify as an instructable since they don't actually instruct, but instead tell you that all you need to do is look at the picture to figure out how to put something together.
An example: http://www.instructables.com/id/EE5OGLZHRWES1762KH/
(which never was set up with instructions as was implied in the comments).
Moderated feed - Agreed. This is one of the biggest and fastest growing problems. I've been calling this "+1" in my mind. A feed that gets projects added to it once they've passed some rating threshold, or perhaps are posted by people who have some measure of "trust." Obviously, this introduces an element of gaming to system. The fiery furnaces pizza was put in by YarisWorks, an advertising campaign for the new Toyota car. They wanted a bunch of how-to's on their site and I offered them groups on Instructables that they could then syndicate the feeds. While I didn't have a problem with the pizza, it was on the low end of the scale. For you, it seems like it comes down to having some sort of vetting process before Instructables are surfaced into the main part of the site. I imagine in the future there will be so many new Instructables per unit time that no one will be on the raw, date-ordered feed. Instead, there will be ways to get feeds of things that will interest you. But, we're not there yet -- right now, a moderated feed might not have any new projects for a couple a days. Is that ok? Also, if most of us move to the moderated feed, who will do the vetting? The pen-gun crowd?
But, we're not there yet -- right now, a moderated feed might not have any new projects for a couple a days. Is that ok?

It's OK by me. I have an RSS reader that polls sites I find worthy and let's me know there's new content. I'd read much less on much fewer sites if I had to go there manually myself with the browser. In my personal blog, i might publish 3 or 4 things a month. I hope there's not a bunch of people checking back to my site every day in the hopes to read something new. That might get a little frustrating. That's why I have the feed in the first place

What might be cool is that if the is a really good instructable, it nearly always ends up on the Make feed. I find a lot of uninteresting stuff on the Make feed, but I can usually figure out whether or not I want to read the link by the text that comes across in the feed. Anyway, If I could somehow AND together the Make feed and the "latest" instructable feed, and only read the ones that appear on both list, that would have a very high signal to noise ratio. I'm sure, however that I'd miss things like Tim's cord thing.

Also, if most of us move to the moderated feed, who will do the vetting?

Yup, and I don't have any really good answers. Adding a slashdot or K5 or Digg meta moderation is one route. There's nothing as an original idea I can suggest on that track. I read instructables because I enjoy it. If the S/N ratio on the site goes down, I'll likely find something else to read. Sorry, but there's little I have invested in this site beyond a few comments. I'm more than willing to one-click spam, but to get me to contribute to the vetting process, I'd need to be properly motivated.

I will say again, if somehow you were to filter out every instructable that did not, in the first step, explain clearly what the subject of the instructable was about, and why one would want to do/build/construct whatever the subject was about, it would filter out 90% of the crap (the spammers would game this system, but you already have an effective system to deal with that)

I hate to pick on FrenchCrawer, because I like reading his stuff, but he had an instructable that showed how to mine dirt for iron specks. Nowhere in the first step was it stated why anyone would want to mine dirt for iron specks. Now he did have an instructable elsewhere on making ferrofluid from those iron specks, but that was not stated in the first step. (I did end up reading it, and hopefully I offered positive feedback)

I may hate whiskey sours, but if I read the first step in my RSS aggravator and find out it's a step by step on how to mix the drink, making the sour mix from scratch (fresh-squeezed lemons and such), well I can make an informed decision on whether or not I want to read further. I might want to anyway, because perhaps I like amaretto sours, and the making of the sour mix from scratch is interesting, (perhaps I don't like the artificially flavored stuff made from high fructose corn syrup that's in the stores).

If the title says “cool drink” and the first step says “this is how I make a really cool drink!” Well, I might not waste my time on it.
I'd like to take credit for the ferrofluid, but I never did an instructable on it. That was Prank, I just linked it to his instructable (in the comments) as an example of what you could use the filings for. Don't worry about picking on me, I can handle the constructive feedback (as long as it's not insulting for no good reason... as some people choose to do). I realize that I should have better explained the reasoning behind why anyone would want to mine dirt for iron filings, but for some reason I didn't. Perhaps later when i have some free time, I'll go back through all my instructables and update them as needed to help improve their quality (probably next weekend, I'll try and do this). I would do it now, but I'm splicing RCA cables to have 2 outputs cause I have like 50 cables and don't feel like paying for some of those adapters (1 input, 2 outputs)..... :P
Yea, and even though I would never mine dirt for iron specks (mostly because I have access to spent photocopier developer), I did like reading that instructable that you removed pending further work.
Unfortunately, it is becoming colder outside so I've been working on other projects. But I figure next spring I'll turn the contraption sideways and have it spin off the dirt while gathering the iron. Hopefully I'll have made a better electromagnet to use with it by then (I just bought a spool of 10,000 feet, 24 AWG wire off of eBay for misc. projects ;) ). In fact I just took apart my taser and attached it to a wooden shovel handle for self defense purposes against ATVer's and such (no offense to anyone out there who likes to ride offroad, but when you ignore "No Trespassing" signs and attempt to ride around, or run over, the landowners trying to stop you then that crosses the line). The taser was too small, but now it has reach. I was thinking of adding another capacitor, but decided to wait to see how well it works first. I'm having some trouble finding volunteers though.... I didn't take pictures of the process and I wasn't going for quality, so I decided not to put it into an instructable (besides it was a simple process...)
Suggestion: As registered user “Spinach_Dip”, I pick who I trust most. Say if among trebuchet03, TimAnderson, ewilhelm, Canida, FrenchCrawler, and fungus amungus; if two or more of them say it's worth a look, then it would be added to my feed. In exchange for doing the summing of feeds and creating me my own custom garbage free feed, Instructables would then ask me to read and rate a few new instructables. Just like the spam filtering, it would be a flag up or down, the results of which feed what other people might see So I'd rate users as I read their articles or comments, and I'd rate some of the new instrctables, and I'd get a cool custom RSS feed for the trouble This trustworthy weighted system is close to what epinions.com or amazon does. I might be conned into rating stuff in exchange for a better S/N ratio.

Three flags:

  • not crap
  • summarized correctly, with the spelling checked
  • I like it, recommend
I can see something be both non-crap and recommended, yet not summarized correctly or without needed photos.

I'd like to be able to choose the feed I wanted. In my case, I'd want a feed composed of people who I trust that say that these instructables are not-crap and either formatted correctly or they like like it. That would filter out all the pen-gun stuff (I would hope)

The pen-gun crowd might think the mango-sushi is total crap. I can't see the pressure cooker beef stock rating very highly with them either. That's OK, they have a different feed from the peers that they would trust.
Oh and while you are reading my feedback, How about feeding the animated user icons from a different server or something? That would make them easy to filter out. Animated user icon GIFs add absolutely nothing, yet people love them. I can see how you would bow to your user base and offer them but I find them incredibly annoying. I'm thinking of getting greasemonkey and writing a rule to block 32x32 GIFs from this site. Serve just the animated user icon GIFs from say static3.instructables.com, and I can kill them with Adblock. Note that I can see how useful animated GIFs might be in an instructable, sorta like a low-bandwidth movie
...and have you ever considered how easy it is to game the “sort by most active” thread by just appending a bunch of extra comments, using the reply field?
...because I sure have.
Yay.... I'm on the list of most trusted ;)
vatosupreme8 years ago
I Agree with this whole heartedly. Instructables is a great concept. One of the things that make it neat is that anyone can post a project on it. Without this feature, the site would be less original and too much like Make or other blogs. Because of this, we have to allow for lower quality projects to be posted. With that said, I think there are a couple of features that could be added to the site that will allow the better projects to rise to the top while the poor ones fall. As others have mentioned, it would be nice to see a way for only registered users to rate different projects. (1 vote per user type of thing) Or, possibly better, that people who have actually taken time to create instuctables would be the only ones able to rate a project. Referencing Westfw’s comment about the queso, I think it is ridiculous that people like D Love would have the audacity to say such rude things about a project when they haven’t done one themselves. (by the way, Chili’s restaurant uses Velveeta to make their queso sauce and they probably sell 5 million dollars worth of the stuff each year.) I am also noticing that many of the new instructables start the same way by apologizing for it being their first one. (I personally think that if you are going to apologize, you should wait to publish until you have a product you are comfortable with.) I wonder if people don’t know how to do it? If so, I think that a comprehensive guide to making a quality instructable should be on the main nav bar so people can easily reference the correct way to do things and see what is expected. I have seen some instructables on how to make instructables, but I think that it should be easier for new people coming to the site to see the right way to do things. I think the best way to make the site stronger is for the community to decide what it wants and give the community the tools to accomplish it.
I'm pretty sure only registered users can vote -- and with that - only once. But I like the idea that only users that have created a project can rate a project. Part of me agreeing might have something to do with the fact that I have already posted several projects.

I think I also agree about the apologizing thing. At first, I was fine with it (everyone's nervous their first time :P), but now it just seems like a 'cop out.'


In the spirit of your last sentence - I propose a user made set of guidelines (approved by the admin of course) similar to what fungus amungus posted earlier. Should someone 'screw up' a project, they can be directed to said guidelines and know what the community expects from them (instead of just the admin).
I am hesitant to enfranchise only people who have made a project. Giving different weights to votes from people with more projects, comments, whatever..., however does seem like an interesting concept. What are some negatives to a weighted voting? What is the best way to tell a user they have screwed up? Right now, you can rate a project or flag it. Neither of these are particularly good for telling people that they published too soon. I've been thinking about expanding the flaging system to include more options. It's tough, though because buttons and links (even in hidden, drop-down menus may lead to more confusion about what to do. Some ideas: 1. flag for violation of TOS (copyrighted, spam, or otherwise not correctable into a proper Instructable; grounds for deletion, not just unpublishing). 2. flag for incompletion (Instructable published without pictures, with missing steps, etc..; can be corrected and republished) 3. flag for poor subject choice (there's instruction and pictures, but the subject choice is inappropriate or just plain stupid [how to wink might be a good example of crossing this line]) 4. flag for possible danger, lack of proper warning, or missing safety equipment/concerns. After a certain number of flags (maybe 5?), different things would happen to the Instructable: 1. deleted, note sent to author explaining why 2. unpublished with tips for better Instructable sent to author 3. unpublished with guidelines for projects sent to author? Maybe delete? 4. remain published, but warning shown to viewer before Instructable can be viewed (like YouTube's "click here to enable this account to see things for 18+ years olds) The rating would then be reserved for expressing an opinion about a finished Instructable and would only be used to rank Instructables. I.e. a negative rating would not make an Instructable disappear, it would just send it to the bottom of the pile. Kind of confusing writing it up, let alone expecting people to follow it. Although, Craigslist does have some pretty confusing flagging and it's doing just fine.
It boggles my mind how successful craigslist is given its interface. A weight system appears to be a good compromise. I'd take into consideration:

1. # of Projects Published (perhaps also projects in queue too)
2. Average Current Rating of projects published (to weed out ratings by "junk" posters)
3. # of comments posted AND number of comments received
4. Member Age -- as far as how long you've been registered
5. Flags Against the user (Something tells me you might not have that in your db)
6. Some other variables.

Put it in a nice little formula and go. I'd think if the negatives outweigh the positives, you'll have issues. And then, there's situations like canida's taxidermy -- its not socially acceptable everywhere (so lots of flags).


Do you track flags per project on the admin side of the site? I'd figure out a threshold (I guess 5 if that is within a good tolerance) and then unpublish, and then shoot off an eMail to the creator. There are of course drawbacks - again Canida's project is a perfect example (sorry, I don't mean to pick on you ;) ). This is why a human moderator is preferable -- someone that you can trust to make the call.


To tell a user they did wrong.... Send them an eMail to say that their project has been unpublished. Also send them a guide of possible things that went wrong - spelling, grammar, copycats etc. Ideally, this list should be constructed by the community (likely the same group that has deemed the project less than satisfactory). This way, everyone knows what to expect and what is expected because they were sent a direct message.
I totally agree, I was going by rating, but flagging may work out better. I would think though that the threshold would be higher (depending on how many people are registered on this site) cause as you pointed out that not as many people are acceptable of some ideas out there as others are. I'd say around 10-15 or so flags, which depends on the average amount of users who access and comment on the site daily. I was just thinking about another feature (as if there weren't enough :P ) that I think some people might like to see. Maybe a member list section much like the search feature on myspace where you can browse members by last login, amount of instuctables, and, if a rating system is put into place, by their rating.
I find people by comments and instructables, and I don't know if that would be a good idea. It would seem that people could do things to get high on the list, or on the list in general.
1. # of Projects Published (perhaps also projects in queue too) Well, some people don't have a camera (ie me) and it makes it hard to publish Instructables. Also, why not add the concept of groups? Because if I'm in MAKE: and Robotics, I won't like a mango salsa recipe, and vice versa. So if I gave it a "-", it wouldn't could as much as someone who is in the same group.
*grin* I'm happy to be a lightning rod/test case. Hate mail is attention, too.

I'm also happy to put in time as a moderator.

I disagree on the idea of only those who ahve made a project voting on one. that feature is tied in with favorites and I think it's important for people to be able to do that. Considering that only a few people are rating project right now I think that this needs to be made more common, not less.
I believe this too, but I think that if a weighted rating system is put into place, it would also help with the problem. Maybe if a user hasn't posted an instructable, but has been a helpful part of the community for a while (say like 3 or so months), their rating would go up along with their "voting rank". If someone has just made a new account, I'd say it would only be fair that they start off at the bottom of the ladder until they gain the respect of the community and the right to go up in how much their vote counts.
Only registered users can vote. I have also been thinking about weighted systems where votes by "trusted" people count more. Becoming trusted could be number of Instructables x you average Instructable rating, number of comments, ratings on projects that others like (this might have an unintentional averaging effect). This brings up an interesting point: ratings on comments. Does anyone remember when we did this? We removed it because it was deemed too confusing and at the time didn't do anything besides collect data. Do you want to rate comments and would you do it if poorly rated comments disappeared below a user-set threshold? We could also use highly rated comments to add "trust" to users. There is a "take a tour" link, but I am remiss in updating it to the new site. I apologize for that.
Sounds like a good project to be opened up for collaboration!
The idea, I mean. I've started one and will open it up to collaboration shortly. I'll post a link here when it's ready for help.
You beat me to it!
Or they could place a button in the "contribute : new instructable" area (that says something like "Help" or "Creating an Instructable" that will take them to an easy to follow guide. I'd also suggest making the button stand out somehow (maybe have it red and/or bold). Oh wait.... they've already got "Not sure what to do? Take a tour…" at the top of the page. Anyhow I totally agree with you.
westfw8 years ago
I thought I'd point out that I think Instructables still beats out things like the "electronics DIY" "community" on Google's Orkut by quite a large margin, presumably because the emphasis IS on *contributing* - even a trivial contribution on instructables is better than yet another annoying question that amounts to "will someone do my homework for me?"

I would like more granularity in the rating system; there's a big difference between one of Lady Ada's fascinating and lovingly documented instructables and (say) my recent motor control hack. There are a lot of instructables I wouldn't mind giving a positive nod toward, that I'm not quite ready to have my name up there as "westfw likes it."
Suggestion: Maybe have an "add to favorites" button instead of automatically adding it when we rate the instructable. I just made an image to help expalin :) At the top right, I figure showing the number of times each button (positive/negative) was pushed and then the average so people would know where the instructable stands. And have the add to favorites button somewhere near the rating system. Perhaps in each member's profile have which instructables they rated positive and which negative. Also if the idea to unpublish an instructable after the threshold has been reached, the ratings should be reset so that if the person just tries to republish it as junk again, the same people as before can once again vote on it.
RatingSystem.jpg
Dr. No8 years ago
How about some sort of point system where the author of the instructable receives x amount of points when someone views their instructable or gives it a good rating or something. To create an instructable, they would have to use up y number of points, and would be thus inclined to make sure that it was well written and thought out so they wouldn't waste their points.
I said it before (except in an instructable), but here it is again:

I was just looking at WikiHow and how they decide which posts should be deleted while giving everyone a heads-up about why. Maybe we could use the same system, but have something like a set number (neg. rating) that once it is reached the post is then deleted. Also perhaps have a message appear automatically when the halfway mark (or quarter) of neg. ratings has been breached, saying that the post will soon be deleted unless the rating goes back up. Just a thought...
Here's one ex: http://www.wikihow.com/Be-Like-Me-;)

Except instead of giving the post 1-2 weeks, have it set to once the number has been reached to be deleted. Also it would give the "poster" some time to change what needs to be changed to keep their instructable up and running.
ewilhelm8 years ago
First, this is great! I love getting your feedback in such a thoughtful and well presented way. Second, let me stress this is a conversation, so if you disagree with me, make a convincing argument; I might change my mind. Often, I'm not sure about the right thing to do and so just want to try out a whole bunch of things. I'm going to respond directly to people's comments so it gets into their comment tracker (we have an unfinished watchlist feature that adds the comments on Instructables and topics from things you're "watching" to your comment tracker that should solve this problem in the future).
trebuchet038 years ago
My Answers:

1.Yes - but what is "quality" is up for debate
2. A little - in some cases (and it is sometimes not evident), the writer is "speaking" in English but English is not his/her native language. However, in other cases "what" is replaced with "wat" and "you" is replaced with "u" etc. etc. This is not AOL and I prefer not being dumbed down to that level.

3. westfw made a good point on that. However, somewhere on the instructables site it says something to the effect that things posted should be how to do something and not a component of how its done. Say, how to walk - not how to take a step.

4. Yes, the manager thing elsewhere in the forum is a perfect example.


I don't know who else is using it - but Firefox tool has this nifty little spell checker built into the interface (red - underline for misspelled words). And with the huge selection of third part spell checkers (such as tinyspell et al), gross spelling error bother me a bit. You ma have noticed my spelling > you comment in the past.

But, that's not to stay I'll stop coming here. I have a few websites open while I'm working or studying. And most of the time - I'm studying (Mech engineering student) :P I frequently take breaks to keep my attention and that is why I stop by here frequently.

Instructables still gets some great projects - but they are mixed in within caustic soda bombs etc. Those projects are def. worth the visit :P

Question, are you the same person that made those brass goggles? I just realized how similar that flicker account name is to your instructables username :P
Saying that "qualiy is up for debate" is true enougn, but I think we can all agree that there are some bare minimums that should be adhered to.

Here are a few:
- Spelling and grammar. Instant messenger-speak has no place here. Take the time to spell the whole word, capitalize the first letter in a sentence, and spell check. If the title itself has an obvious spelling mistake (not to be confused with a typo), then there's obviously no solid intent. Foreign-language speakers are an exception.
- Pictures. Pretty much every time someone posts and says that pictures aren't necessary it's pretty much laziness and there will be people who don't get it.
- Completed projects. Why bother putting up just the first half and then say that more is coming? It's still laziness and they're shooting themselves in the foot because if they ever do get around to finishing it it will be past the first page of instructables. It's like those websites that are "under construction." Who wants to go back?
- Copycats. So your pen launcher has the rubber band on the side and not the top. Who cares?
- Spam. Blatantly copied projects with an obvious lack of understanding of why it works. Also projects where kids are just trying to have a laugh at posting crap.
I absolutely agree - not only does it help with quality, but spelling is just common decency.

The beta site mentioned something about group moderators coming soon. I think that will help weed out some of the crap (which always floats to the top :P). If moderators can make projects private and send out a quick blanket message to the creator that he/she needs to fix it to meet standards, I think that will greatly reduce these problems.


Yeah "I'll add more later" kinda sucks. Telling people to "come back soon" never works (with very few exceptions) :P
Dr. No8 years ago
It does seem that this site has some really lame instructables that the author spent about 30 seconds making, but thats just my opinion
Yes to all your questions, however even thou I've posted a negative comment or two, generally I feel I'd be better serving myself by posting a decent instructable instead of ragging on someone else's.
westfw8 years ago
Welcome to "Sturgeon's Law." I tend to feel content and intent is more important than neatness and "quality." Mere simplicity or meniality (?) isn't so bad; lots of things that are simple after you've done them once or twice may seem entirely unapproachable without some "booster" introduction. Cooking is a good example, as is tool use. How to use some software feature it took you a long time to find is a fine topic for an instructable. Neatness and spelling are good things, but that's why REAL publications have editors. OTOH, posting pictures of you doing something stupid/etc (Famous last words: "hey y'all! Watch this!" bothers me. Likewise reposting questionable instructions that you found elsewhere that you haven't actually done. And especially outright plagerism. And I don't particularly like feeling like "adult supervision", either. Sigh. Why do so many people seem to equate "creativity" with, um, "hooliganism"?
westfw westfw8 years ago
And finally, I don't care at all for negative comments about an Instructable where the author DID try. Consider http://www.instructables.com/id/EGKJFYJPE6EP287OMD/ ; I doubt the author will be back. Posted a recipe, said it was good, and all he got was "eww! Velveeta! Yuck!" Sigh.