Literally minutes after I finished writing this Instructable, probably no more than half an hour after I published "How to make cereal", I received a PM from a member of staff, telling me that it had been unpublished due to my abuse of the featured stripe and would only be republished once I had removed it.
If you do this for real your Instructable WILL be unpublished and you will probably not make any friends among the moderators. I did this so you don't have to. Please do not attempt to recreate this stunt.
Step 1: Write an Instructable
Step 2: Publish It, and Wait
Step 3: Your Instructable Is Up
Yes, that's right, this technique doesn't just appeal to one niche group like K'nex fans or people who like papercraft or doing things with weed whacker engines- everyone will want to view your Instructable more once you follow this simple process.
Step 4: You Will Need...
Secondly, you will need to find an Instructable that has:
- been featured, or been a finalist or winner in a competition
- has a thumbnail that is plain and dark in the top left corner, with no white borders.
I chose the DIY USB Hard Drive, by gmgfarrand, as meeting all of these criteria. Don't worry, you won't be ripping off any of the work of the person whose Instructable you use. Thanks anyway, gmgfarrand, for facilitating my fakery.
Step 5: Get Editing
Step 6: Put the Banner on Your 130 Pixel Thumbnail
Step 7: Finish the Job
You can see my Instructable in its natural environment, and read through it here.
Step 8: Final Thoughts
That's the theory, anyway.
Also, this method only works for the thumbnail of an Instructable in the browse view- if it appears in a "related" box, or on a person's profile page, the thumbnails are smaller so the banner will be shrunk and appear less realistic. In this case, you will have to consider which view you are more concerned about the image being "convincing" in, and make the thumbnail the appropriate size.
Then, of course, there is the danger that the Instructables staff will not be happy with the co-opting of their banners and remove your Instructable, but that's a risk I'm willing to take. I have screenshots of mine, anyway.
As I said in the intro, my test Instructable was unpublished by moderators minutes after I published it. If you try the same trick I am sure the same thing will happen to you- there may even be an automated system to detect the featured/winner stripe on intro images. If your Instructable gets unpubished you can count on not getting very many page views. I can hopefully write this off as an experiment, but if you persist in trying this type of tricks you will probably become unpopular.
Please, for your own sake, do not try this at home. Thank you.