Site improvement suggestion (we need meta-categories too, btw) Answered
I have a feature request/suggestion for instructables.com.
My suggestion would be to provide a menu bar option (where "Explore", "Groups", "Forums", and "Contribute" are currently) for a user of the site to suggest and request a type of instructable, and provide information about what they'd like to see.
I feel that this will provide a number of benefits, and virtually no drawbacks. I will attempt to list a sampling of both if I can... I'm going to begin a couple of terminology conventions to make my idea easier to write out. From here on out, I'm going to refer to REQUESTORS as people that have an idea for an instructable that they either would like someone to pick up and do from beginning to end, or possibly a little assistance on an instructable that they've began and have a stumbling block that they need help with. I'm going to refer to WRITERS as people who write up an instructable, simple as that.
-- This will allow people one central location to ask this terrific community for help with an idea that they've got in mind.
-- It would serve in a way similar to the "want it" option on ebay does... Only to create a marketplace of ideas. Currently on Instructables, there seems to be, at least in a small way, a reputation system where the quality and quantity of your instructables may be a source of pride and mutual respect for the users. Some WRITER may be looking for ideas to write up, whether from beginning to end, or help solve someone else's stumbling block. They go out to the requests page (or even do a search for it) and see if anything strikes his or her interest.
-- If you think about it, a lot of the biggest and best user contributed sites are successful based on the workflow organization, and how efficient they are (wikipedia comes to mind). This idea would further increase the efficiency of instructables.com, allowing for larger rates of growth. I'm not going to place value judgments on growth for growth's sake, but that's for the people that provide this great site to consider and decide for themselves.
-- It would help clean out the forum a bit.
-- I guess it could also help tip the balance in the "marketplace of ideas" that I mentioned before. Right now in instructables, it's not always easy to tell what a user has to bring to the table in a discussion unless they've got a few instructables out there to judge. If you have a request system, you could look at what kinds of things they ask, and get to know them a little better that way.
--in my opinion, one of the biggest neat benefits would be the additional opportunity for isolated users to connect with others who are interested in the same types of things as they may be (or you, or me). This would enhance the learning environment, the sense of community, and benefit everyone.
--frivolous requests (like that never happens now, right?)
--time and expense for implementation
--site aesthetics, maybe?
I'm certain that my idea could use some tinkering, but that's kinda the spirit of this site, isn't it? I already have some ideas about this along the fringes, but I'd rather wait and see if this gets any kind of response.