This is probably my most "meta" Instructable to date. It's not anything particularly useful, just an idea that occurred to me while I was browsing around and musing on the stuff people do to get you to, for instance, click on their videos on YouTube. Thankfully Instructables doesn't have much of this sort of filthy trickery, but this is a quick peek into what the site might look like if we did.
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an hour after I published "How to make cereal", I received a PM from a member of staff, telling me that it had been unpublished due to my abuse of the featured stripe and would only be republished once I had removed it.
If you do this for real your Instructable WILL be unpublished and you will probably not make any friends among the moderators.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
Exactly what it says on the tin. I wrote "How to make cereal" in a few minutes to demonstrate this on. No great shakes, but that's the point- this doesn't depend on you having any actual content besides a couple of images.
Step 2: Publish It, and Wait
Hopefully, you have written a series of useful, good quality Instructables without any naughty words (or worse, naughty pictures) and you have picked a time when the staff are awake, so your Instructable will breeze through the publishing process.
Step 3: Your Instructable Is Up
After a while, your Instructable should appear in the most recent list. Now we can start editing it to make it more appealing to literally everyone.
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...
Firstly, you will need a screenshot of your published Instructable. The magickal publishing process resizes images to be roughly square and 130 pixels wide.
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
This is why we chose a thumbnail with a dark top left hand corner. You will want to cut out the "FEATURED" banner, taking care to stick to the part that overlaps the thumbnail image. I'm not going into how to do this as it's out of the scope of this Instructable, but it's not overly difficult in MS Paint or Photoshop/GIMP.
Step 6: Put the Banner on Your 130 Pixel Thumbnail
Not much to say here. Paste the FEATURED banner you just cut out of the donor thumbnail onto your own one, making sure to align it properly. The actual featured banner extends beyond the edges of the thumbnail, presumably to stop this sort of trickery, but we can't have everything. Crop down to the 130 pixel thumbnail and save it.
Step 7: Finish the Job
Save that file (as a lossless format such as BMP- this is important, so that the banner looks official rather than crunchy and JPEG-y), upload it, and set it as the intro image for your Instructable. Now republish, and wait for it to filter through the publishing system a second time.
You can see my Instructable in its natural environment, and read through it here.
Step 8: Final Thoughts
This method does have downsides. The banner doesn't extend over the edges of your thumbnail like the genuine one does, but by the time someone has clicked on your Instructable and noticed that the intro image has the banner embedded in it, they will be distracted by your amusing and fascinating writing and read through your Instructable despite being tricked into doing so.
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.