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New Instructables Categories and Channels Answered

What's new
Over the past few months, one of our big projects has been building new categories and channels for Instructables.  We're doing this to make it easier for users to find content and to make more compelling products for advertisers.  Much of the existing content has been recategorized by algorithm or by someone here at the lab, but we'll need your help both in making sure we (or the robot) got it right.  So, I wanted to give you a heads-up before the new scheme goes live, explain why we think it's important, and ask for your help!

Why we're updating categories

The existing categorization scheme with its 18 channels has served us well, but we've outgrown it.  First, the channels are too broad to meaningfully help a new user find more of the content they are excited about.  Should a new user arrive to a knitting Instructable from a Google search, they often have trouble finding other knitting Instructables within the Craft channel.  Related Instructables are helpful, but aren't clicked as often as we'd like, and don't give an immediate sense of the variety and number of knitting Instructables we have available. 

The primary and secondary channels associated with an Instructable put yet another stumbling point in this new user finding more great content.  To new users, it's not immediately obvious that we allow multiple channels per Instructable, so when they are browsing through the Craft Instructables, it can be confusing to see a project with LEDs or a home repair project that happen to have Craft as their secondary channel.  This has been a similar point of confusion for our advertisers, who don't understand our current channel system.

I'll be sad to see our two-channel categorization scheme go, but it's a necessary change to improve the way the site functions.  It feels a little bit like we're growing up!

How the new categories and channels work

To address these issues, we've created five new top-level categories and, within each category, lots of new channels.  Each Instructable will be placed in a single category and a single channel within that category.  The new categories are Living, Outside, Play, Technology, and Workshop.  

Living has all things related to crafting, decorating, cooking, parenting, and organizing.
Play has all things related to fun and games.
Workshop is everything one might do in a workshop or shed: home improvement, woodworking, and working on cars or bikes.
Technology and Outside are very similar to the existing Outdoors and Tech channels.

Only five top-level categories might seem like too few, but remember that the vast majority of new visitors come directly to an Instructable via search - these folks will see other channels related to the Instructable they're viewing. For example, someone first coming to Instructables via a search for a sewing project will see that the project is in a sewing channel, that we have a knitting channel, and that both are in our Living category. Someone who has an account on Instructables is smarter than the average internet-searcher (in my opinion), so our community will quickly learn how to navigate the new structure. Hopefully we'll all discover lots of new Instructables in the process!

How to recategorize your Instructables

Log in, and go to your Instructable.  Click the "Change Keywords, Category(s), License" text in the Author Options box, and you'll see a section called "New Categories."  Pick a top-level category from the upper drop-down menu, then select a channel from the second menu.  Hit Update, and you're done!  When the new organization scheme is visible on the site in a few weeks, this is the category and channel your Instructable will appear in.

We're still working out the kinks in this new system, and expect to be creating and combining channels as needed to make finding things on the site easier.  While you must pick a category, if you don't see a channel that matches your project, you may choose to leave it unsorted.  We'll keep an eye on unsorted projects, and will either sort it or update the channels as needed.

Thanks for your help! 
We hope this new scheme makes it easier to find the projects you want to see on Instructables.

33 Replies

user
kelseymh (author)2010-03-24

I'd like to request an additional channel under living -- either "accessibility" or "assistive technology".

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canida (author)kelseymh2010-03-24

I've added it to my list! 

Once the dust settles, we'll check numbers and see if it makes sense.  I bet the upcoming health by design contest will give us more to fill out this channel!

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kelseymh (author)canida2010-04-12

I hope you can get this deployed sooner rather than later.  With the Humana contest, there have already been several I'bles I've reviewed which cannot be clearly classified except with a non-existent "accessibility" or "assistive technology" channel -- prosthetic limbs, the T-hook, and so on.

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ansanma (author)2010-03-26

Which are the differences between "decorating" and "decorations" channels in living category? Thanks!

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kelseymh (author)ansanma2010-04-11

Looks like that's been fixed in the official rollout.

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MichelMoermans (author)2010-03-27

Just an idea but I have a suggestion for an extra catogory.

How about an extra catogory called "guides"

And all the guides that were made could be in it.

this way when your casually browsing instructables not looking for anything specific you can quickly go to a guide on a subject that arouses your interest.

also this will allow people to check if something has a guide before searching for it.

A little offtopic perhaps but some of these guides need to be updated more and since most of the guides were made by instructables staff it shouldn't be hard to update them regulary.

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kelseymh (author)MichelMoermans2010-04-11

It's already there, but not as a category.  Go to Browse and you'll see three "tabs" -- Instructables, Answers, and Guides.

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bertus52x11 (author)2010-03-25

Cars and motorcycles are separate channels within "Workshop". 
Bicycles not! I think they deserve a separate channel.

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kelseymh (author)bertus52x112010-04-11

Hmmm.  Bicycles are found under "Outside".  But cars and motorcycles are not.

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Kiteman (author)2010-03-25

Haha, my "How to Sea Watch" has ended up in gardening...

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lemonie (author)Kiteman2010-03-25

You've never made a connection between the sea and gardens...?

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zack247 (author)2010-04-11

WOW! when i logged in today i noticed something awesome and different with the site! I must say this new design looks really awesome! i have only seen this page and the home page, but i can tell it looks much better than it did before! i am absolutely WOWed by the new site. its awesome!

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Wasagi (author)2010-03-30

 I personally like the way that it is now, something about the categories the way they are. It helps with browsing for random Instructables within a broad range, which I tend to do. Though, it's probably just because I'm so used to the current system, and I can definitely see how the new arrangement will help, once we all get used to it.

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Wasagi (author)Wasagi2010-03-31

 Also, I just noticed this while making an instructable, but I kinda like putting it in two categories, it seemed helpful

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Rotten194 (author)2010-03-24

I have to say, after re-categorizing all my instructables, that I like the new categories a lot more. Should make browsing Instructables easier.

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canida (author)Rotten1942010-03-25

Cool, thanks for the feedback!  Give an update in a few weeks when the new categories go live on the site.

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n8man (author)2010-03-24

 I started to change mine but I found most of them had already been changed. 

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canida (author)n8man2010-03-25

Make sure you're happy with where they are!  Some of them were easy to recategorize by algorithm, but some will have ended up in wacky places due to od keywords.  If yours are all properly sorted, consider yourself lucky. ;)

Christy

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n8man (author)n8man2010-03-24

 You might want to add a Help section for instructables on how to use Instructables.

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Jayefuu (author)2010-03-24

Thanks :D

It might be worth clarifying in your post that users can change their new categories by clicking "Change Keywords, Category(s), License" in the author options. It took me a few minutes to find it. :D

Doing mine now.

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Jayefuu (author)Jayefuu2010-03-24

"Error 403 -- You do not have permission to view this page" is the message I get when trying to change my "New Categories".

Also, what if an ible fits in two categories? My CD roofing has been put in home renovation, it fits there well but also fits very well in /living/reuse, do I have to pick between which I think is most appropriate or will get the most views?

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Jayefuu (author)Jayefuu2010-03-24

I don't know if this is the place for bugs, but it also appears that the keywords in a few of my ibles are gone.

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lebowski (author)Jayefuu2010-03-24

 Yes, you'll need to decide which category/channel it should be in. You can only have it in one. 

Are you looking at keywords in your author area or in the "related:" links in the sidebar?

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Jayefuu (author)lebowski2010-03-25

It was a problem with the author area. They appear to be back now. How odd!

Should the channels not be in alphabetical order?

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canida (author)Jayefuu2010-03-24

Thanks - changed to clarify!

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Tool Using Animal (author)2010-03-24

Don't like the term "outside", but otherwise a good move.

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kelseymh (author)2010-03-24

I have the same problem Jayefuu reported -- after selecting a category and channel for one of my unclassified I'bles, I get a popup box from Firefox saying "Error 403 -- You do not have permission to view this page."

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lebowski (author)kelseymh2010-03-24

 Yep, we have a bug. We'll have a bug fix release up within an hour or so.

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PKM (author)2010-03-24

Am I right in thinking that this idea could have originated in the guides?  As it is, you see "Bikes" or "Knitting" or "Solar Power", click through and get a handful of closely related Instructables and a little introductory spiel.  I thought this was a great way of organising Instructables but the format was always a bit experimental.

If the idea of "channels" for specific topics is the evolution of the Guides, are Guides still going to exist?  Are they going to go in a different direction, perhaps as a set of Instructables that could be seen together but might not be a general enough topic for a channel?  I'm imagining a guide for "Dinner party guide" containing Instructables for an entree, dessert, cocktails, invitations etc.

(I know you could already do this with an Instructable, but it feels a bit cheap writing an 'Ible that's just links to other people's and minimal other instruction.)

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canida (author)PKM2010-03-24

We're definitely keeping Guides - people love them!  And yes, you're right that the success of Guides (combined with the difficulty of search and browsing) informed our new categorization scheme.

I like your idea for new Guide themes - will pass it along!

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Kryptonite (author)2010-03-24