Introduction: How to Ask a Question in Instructables.

Picture of How to Ask a Question in Instructables.

In cooperation with several of the regular answers of questions here I have put together this short "how to get the best answer to my question" instructable.

Step 1: Search Instructables

Picture of Search Instructables

Use the search box at the top right of the page - This will give back any similar subjects - Your question may well already be there.

There are some questions that get asked over and over (like "how do I talk to this girl/guy?") - if you have a search, you may not need to ask the question at all.

However don't ask the same question again, a couple of days later, just because you don't like the previous answers. Very rarely will the denizens of the answerers give a flippant or silly answer without provocation, so the answers you receive will in the main be the best we can manage with the information offered

Step 2: The Question

Picture of The Question

OK so you want to ask a question of the many users of this site. To tap into their extensive and worldly knowledge.

So what is the best way to:
a) get a suitable answer which will help you
b) Help the kind people who give their time and knowledge for free to help you.


Be clear in your mind what information you need.

Start your question at the beginning NOT in the middle.

Write your question in very clear terms outlining any/all issues or restrictions.

Be realistic.

Step 3: Extra Information

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Tell us where you are (country will do).

What access you have to tools, materials, cash limits.

What your skills are - It's no good asking for information to resolve the energy crisis in the world if your unable to screw in screws or solder an electronic  joint together.

How much time and money will you want to spend on this project?

What have you done or found out so far.

Step 4: Some Things Just DON'T Work

Picture of Some Things Just DON'T Work

Perpetual motion in any form

Free energy

Most things Ilegal

Most things that would in any sensible persons opinion be a danger to you and or your neighbours.

Anything very complicated for next to nothing.

Almost anything complicated that includes skills that are beyond your ability.

Step 5: Be Polite - We Do This for NOTHING

Picture of Be Polite - We Do This for NOTHING

Be nice - it isn't just a matter of conforming to society - all the people answering you do it for nothing, most are going to be 30+ years old a little nice goes a LONG way.

Try to check the spelling - it isn't going to cost anything to down-load a spell checker and use it. Avoid text speak if only in the interest of clarity. Remember most of this site is in English, a very little of it is in Spanish, but none of it is in SMS. DON'T use leet speak, SMS speak or any shorthand that can't be read by any of our members for whom English is not their first language.

If you have a question, and it needs illustrating with a photo, PLEASE make the effort to make a decent, focussed picture of it.

RE-READ your question before posting, your talking to strangers so ask yourself:  Am I being totally clear - Is there any better way to get a quick answer (Google is usually the option - try it) - Am I asking too much - or is the time scale ridiculous (Urgent isn't going to work over a global internet system be patient) 

Step 6: Lastly

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Just out of interest to us - (to keep us offering answers you know) - Come back and tell us what success you had. Publish an instructable and credit your knowledge suppliers. Say Thanks.


smitty61955 (author)2017-08-21

How do I remove cured Wipenew from my headlights? Thank You!

LuisE47 (author)2017-07-05

Hi all,

I have been into DIY Solar / Wind for a while. Everything been working great until I planned to replace my lead acid batteries for the 3.6V LG HG2 3000mAh 18650's. With the lead acid I could power my house anytime during day (using solar panels) or night off-grid with ease. So, I bought a lot of 200 18650's and spot welded them in 4S50P. Balanced them, and all that good stuff (time consuming, and a learning experience). Installed a BMS on it too, have a 30 Amp charge controller for 4x100W solar panels which I reserved for this project. Now, I have been searching for a while if these 18650's can be used anytime (connected to solar panels and with the power inverter feeding the house at the same time) ... with no success.

Can I solar charge and use these 18650's simultaneously or does it has to be charged first, disconnect from solar, and then use with the power inverter?

rickharris (author)LuisE472017-07-07

I suggest you copy and paste the question into a new question in the answers section. More people will see it.

This is just an instructable to show HOW to ask a sensible question.

LuisE47 (author)rickharris2017-07-07

Will do, Thanks

xpalix (author)2016-03-06

Really any questions? Okay well can't hurt to try I gues. I am making a laser game/tag system and I would like an IR detector/sensor that can tell the difference between a direct hit and a near hit fly by so that the "bullets"can still cause sounds on a near hit. The sensor should be as invisible as possible but should have a very clear and acurate detection.

rickharris (author)xpalix2016-03-07

Well you will be better off copy and past the question into the question forum rather than attaching it to my instructions.

At the top of the page you should see "ask a question" take it from there.

BUT for my opinion you will only be able to detect a direct hit on the sensor. You could have several in a cluster so you can be wounded but I can't imagine any way to detect an IR beam passing by.

Usually the "laser" games i have seen make a noise from the gun to indicate a shot and I guess if your not hit you can assume a close miss.

MattS401 (author)rickharris2017-04-11

i don't see the ask a question button that you are mentioning. could you take a screenshot with an arrow pointing to it? (i am new to instructables)

xpalix (author)rickharris2016-03-07

I'll post the question on there then I gues. Thanks for your help. If I don't find a better solution i'll just tweak the sound to be a bit louder.

daf85cf (author)2016-02-02

i fitted two 1n5402 diodes 200v in series in a 12v system is it safe

if not it will do a lot of damage any help would be great

rgds tommie

rickharris (author)daf85cf2016-02-03

1. I have no idea where or how you have fitted these diodes. i need a diagram and a photograph of what you have done.
2. put this into a separate question by selecting the explore, then Answers buttons from the home page. then select ask a question.
You will get a wider response.

nazza123 (author)2016-01-14

I am not sure this is where I am meant to be putting this question but here goes. I have taken on a project to brighten up my tired paint work on my car and I have sanded. primer coated. and started to apply the base colour coat when two drops of paint landed on the hood I want to fix these dark spots before I go any further I have never painted a car before and don't want to spend the earth to fix it pls someone help what should I do

Retmi (author)2015-08-31

Subject: Bluetooth Communication Freeze

I am using 2 ARDUINO NANOs, communicating between them through 2 bluetooth devices HC-05 and HC-06. HC-06 is transmitting data continuously to the HC-05 at a baud rate of 57.6 Kbaud.

.I noticed that approximately 90 minutes after the 2 devices are paired and connected, the communication between them freezes. At this time, the 2 ARDUINO NANOs are still alive, and the status LEDs of the bluetooth devices show they are still connected. The only way to reestablish communication is to remove power from one of the devices and apply it back. This causes the 2 devices to disconnect, then search and connect again.

I would appreciate any comment on this issue, mainly about the possible reasons of this communication freeze and ideas to solve it.



rickharris (author)Retmi2015-12-15

No point in this comment being here you should put in in as a question.

iceng (author)2011-07-20

Some young people are under the illusion that we can help them bend
the laws of physics of which they know only one ( probably gravity ).

We are not Wizards but older people with discrete Knowledge, experience and we I get it wrong sometime.

There are ranters, conversationalists, liars, re-qualifier-addoners, tricksters,
sex inquisitors, and weapon makers that ( I try to avoid ) and most should
go to the forums.


T0BY (author)iceng2015-06-17

The young exist to be irritating to the elders, the elders to be irritating to the young.

broskiz (author)2012-11-24

im sory for a dumb question, but i just submitted a question and i cant find it! haha how can i fin it?

rickharris (author)broskiz2012-11-25

Questions can sometimes take a day or two to get posted up especially if the Bot sees some odd words in there. You can look at your profile and see all the questions you have posted - Clicking on them will take you to where they are.

If you have had an answer you should get an Email notification.

Toga_Dan (author)2012-06-06

thx, rick. Noted.

Toga_Dan (author)2012-06-05

Hey guys! love the site, and just launched my 1st 2 instructables! "Monkey hunter Physics" And "monkey Hunter Physics Easier gun build" in the Ed challenge contest.

Question: I was given to understand that the contest closes at midnite Pacific time tonite. It is now 9:40 in the Rockies, Mountain Time, which makes it 8:40pm Pacific.

Entries no longer seem to be being accepted. (3 hrs early)

Is there any way to remedy this? I have 2 more Instructables. 1 complete, "Ballistic pendulum physics" and another, "30 rockets for $5" Nearly complete.


rickharris (author)Toga_Dan2012-06-04

You will get a better audience for this if you post it as a direct question here

(may be too late now)

blkhawk (author)2012-02-02

This should be a mandated reading before anyone post a question.

fanfare123 (author)2011-08-11

Excellent post/"Instructable Instruction"! This is my first time here and I'm sure
I'll be visiting often. I'm always looking for creative/innovative ways to fabricate/repair/create things of all kinds. Thanks! --James in Seattle WA USA

rickharris (author)fanfare1232011-08-11

Plenty of ideas here - Just give the right information and someone will turn out to be an expert. :-)

RedneckEngineer (author)2011-07-20

Oohhh I got a new link to put in sooooo many questions now! Good job rick.

I do have a question though. Why does it say "403 Forbidden
Request forbidden by administrative rules." under the pics for the steps?

I have no Idea - posted it as a bug some time ago but so far no solution - It's persistent though on all my instructables. kind of one up man's ship! :-)

Do you have some type of link in your "about me" or something that might be triggering the filter? Just a thought.

Good one - You solved the issue - the web site I put for my home site was giving the error. Thanks

Glad to be of service. Every once and a while I get things right, good to see its fixed.

Ill check but as far as I know nothing has changed.

steveastrouk (author)2011-07-20

COUNTRY is SUCH an important field to fill in, I don't understand why people don't. Like the recent question from someone wanting to know where he could get his bike painted...Several answers pointed out shops in the UK, the Netherlands, whereever.... not much help for a kid in Ohio.


Phil B (author)2011-07-19

The questions that try my patience are from people who have never published an Instructable and are not asking in order to learn, but to make a statement, like, "Why bother (doing what you presented in your Instructable)?" or that imply, "That is dumb! I am much smarter and have a much better way, (but I am too busy being so wonderful that I do not have time to make an Instructable demonstrating my way.)" Anyway, thanks for your Instructable. I do not believe I have any questions about it, other than to say, "Do I sound old and crotchety?"

rickharris (author)Phil B2011-07-20

"Do I sound old and crotchety?" :-) aren't we all?

I agree - It's always a problem with an open unmoderated medium - but better than keeping genuine creativity out. (I guess).

If you have any suggestions for anything else that might go in here I am open to ideas.


PKM (author)rickharris2011-07-20

"Aren't we all"- some of us are young and crotchety :)

I think the point that most needs stressing is that a question shouldn't be "my XYZ doesn't work- how do I make it work".  The questions most likely to be answered, and most likely to help other people, seem to take the form

- What I'm doing
- What I'm stuck with
- What part I need help with

"I'm building a recumbent bike, but the frame flexing is messing up my chain tension- how do I maintain proper chain tension over a changing distance" is a far better question than "how do I fix the chain tension on my recumbent".  

Of course, there are also open-ended questions like "What telescope should I get for looking at the planets" or "Where can I buy 1.21GW flux capacitors in North Dakota" which might not fit that formula quite as well, but still having broad context and a specific query tends to make a good question.

I suppose this is just an elaboration of "What have you done or found out so far"... I just like detail :)

rickharris (author)PKM2011-07-20

No doubt anyone who reads the Instruct6able will read these comments as well - OK there is a LOT of doubt in there but we can hope.

I agree that many questioners seem to expect mind reading. i get that a lot from my Wife.

Phil B (author)rickharris2011-07-20


steveastrouk (author)Phil B2011-07-20

"Do I sound old and crotchety"
Well, yes, but you aren't in an exclusive club, there are many members in it with you.....


Phil B (author)steveastrouk2011-07-20


Kiteman (author)2011-07-19

If the rating stars were working for me, I'd give this four.

If step six (search) was moved to step 1, I'd give it five.

rickharris (author)Kiteman2011-07-20

Done. (anything for 5 stars!)

Kiteman (author)rickharris2011-07-20


steveastrouk (author)2011-07-20

Oh yeah.

"Don't ask the same question again, a couple of days later, just because you don't like the previous answers. Very rarely will the denizens of the answerers give a flippant or silly answer without provocation - see above, so the answers you receive will in the main be the best we can manage with the question offered."

rickharris (author)steveastrouk2011-07-20


steveastrouk (author)2011-07-20

How about

Most of this site is in English, a very little of it is in Spanish, but none of it is in SMS. DON'T use leet speak, SMS speak or any shorthand that can't be read by any of our members for whom English is not their first language.

If you have a question, and it needs illustrating with a photo, PLEASE make the effort to make a decent, focussed picture of it.


rickharris (author)steveastrouk2011-07-20

Had included the SMS bit but will expand with your suggestion. Thanks.

AndyGadget (author)2011-07-19

(Best answer Rick?)

rickharris (author)AndyGadget2011-07-19


About This Instructable




Bio: Retired technology teacher - 2 kids, I have an Hons deg in Design and Technology - 28 years as Computer systems engineer Trained as Electronics engineer in ... More »
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