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Originality Answered

I've entered contest before, and I just read (before I just skimmed everything) the originality counts. What would be original? What if you're working on an instructable and somone else just happens to post the same thing that you've been working on? Would it not be original anymore?



10 years ago

It doesn't really matter when two people post the same idea- it's happened plenty of times before. What matters is how well your instructable is done in terms of your documentation and presentation. Just to the best job you can. As an example, none of the Halloween costumes I've made are that original- plenty of people have made them before and a lot of people have done a much better job than I have. What is original is the way in which I make them that makes them more accessible to the average person.

Amen, brotha. That's why I post my stuff. Especially my "make it out of trash" instructables. Can't get cheaper than free.

What Honus said!

We're big fans of multiple takes on the same idea- what matters is putting your own spin on it, giving it your new and creative treatment.
You'll find lots of truly creative projects on the site that are very similar to classic projects, but with an awesome twist that makes your head spin.

The Flash: red-suited super-fast superhero created a few decades ago.

Dash:: red-suited super-fast superhero created a few years ago.

Is Dash unoriginal?


10 years ago

I'm going to catch a lot of flak for saying this. So be it.

Flash (the Wow! factor) seems to count for more than originality (or other factors).

I entered two projects in the Science Fair contest. One is a neat toy, is fun to watch, and has been done a million times (quite unoriginal). The other is a completely original version of a somewhat boring scientific principle. The instructable I wrote for the toy entry was incomplete while the serious instructable even included the appropriate mathematical derivations.

The final scores were 6.30 and 6.64 average. The two drastically different instructables should have drastically different scores. The toy instructable also has 10 times as many comments as the serious instructable.

The original contest description stated several criteria including creativity (originality), educational value, etc. But my project with a high entertainment value did almost as well as the project that really was original.

I'll get off my soapbox now.

I beleive your instructables received a similar scoring because one of the contest criteria was entertaiment value and not because of the Wow! factor.

I think the Wow! factor helped to have more visitors and comments but it didn't affect the judging for this contest and the proof is the instructable that made me won:

I posted three instructables for the Science Fair. I assume one of them had the Wow! Factor because it became very popular and had a lot of visitors.

However, the one that made me won was this one. It may be boring for many people because it has a few visits and comments (compared with the other one).

But this fact didn't affect the scoring the judges gave to both instructables (in fact, I'm really happy that this instrutable won and no the other one. I think it was fair).

I'm sure the judges made a great job and also tried to find a balance between the contest criteria and I'm sure they wil continue like this in next contents.

I haven't been around long enough to know for a fact one way or the other, but I believe too they are as fair as possible. Judging something like this can not be easy. I mean if everyone was making "lemon meringue pie" it would be easy to judge the "best one", but all these "projects" are very diverse. Judging them is not a job I would care to have.

Hi Luke,
I'm a big science nerd, and totally loved your projects. A couple of responses:

1) Accessibility and Advertising. I found the guinea-and-feather experiment much more interesting, but only after viewing the videos- it wasn't obvious how awesome the apparatus was until I'd seen it in action. This may argue for structuring your Instructables differently to best display the really cool parts of each project, whether that means relocating the video or doing a better job of pointing out the particularly neat features in the intro.

2) Flash and Repeatability: as you've noticed, flashier projects get more comments and pageviews. It's a question of accessibility (see above), ease of digital explanation and transfer, and (percieved) repeatability. Some of my favorite projects (ones that got more of my sweat and tears) are very low-pageview. Of course, when someone does connect with one of those I'm extremely excited- much more than when people see my more popular projects.

3) Judging: is difficult. We want to factor in all the different parts of the project, and each individual brings a different set of assumptions to the table. There's a balance to be struck between entertainment and education.. We try to even this out by making sure we have a large field of judges, and carefully documenting the process.

So, that's my brain dump- hope it helped a bit. If you've got any specific comments or questions, feel free to PM me.

LL, I like both the ibles, and both are creative. They are quite similar, in that both illustrate physics concepts. What you call the Wow! factor could also be the Does it communicate something interesting? factor:

One is a simple setup, with quite complex behavior most people have never seen before. And it's fairly easy to replicate.

The other is quite an involved instructable (impeccable craftsmanship) on a simple concept most people remember from school, with a relatively uninteresting payoff (and a video with a full minute of watching a vacuum pump empty the vessels...)

I'd say that the first ible does a very good job communicating to the average person, while the second one probably appeals more to engineers...While your solution to the 2nd problem was amazingly creative, the behavior evidenced isn't that intriguing (a bit like building a Hummer to illustrate the wheel.)

You are over-thinking this one. Somethings are just inherently more interesting, particularly if they have visual appeal.

And contests are extremely difficult to judge. Try grading projects in a subjective field like art or music, it's very tough... Instructables is 75% communication skills, not scientific ones.

Just MHO, hope this doesn't seem too harsh...

How about originality of the presentation of the WoW factor? ;-)

Originality.... ah... I would say that if you make something and are very worried about someone else posting exactly the same thing, then chances are, it's not that original.

Processes! Just because someone has the same goal - doesn't mean they had the same process. Steel isn't a very new or novel idea... Just add some carbon to iron (among other things)... But! It's the processing that counts - how you form the steel that gives it it's particular qualities.