How to Play Instructables




About: Geeky artist. MUST. MAKE. STUFF. More stuff at:

the instructables instructable

While my friends are shooting avatars or counting ducks and llamas, I have fun on instructables. I joke that it’s my favorite online game.

You might think, "instructables is a great website for learning how to do stuff, but it’s not a game". My son even took offense at this idea. I like the game concept as a fun perspective, especially for someone with a competitive nature like mine. Come take a look through this instructable on how I play and maybe you’ll join me. And enjoy it as much as I do. Or maybe you already play and can add to what I've written.

Step 1: Play Your Way

There are many ways to set instructables goals for yourself or to try to win real prizes. There are virtual prizes like in any good computer game as well as actual, non-virtual, arrive-in-the-snail-mail prizes. You might win an instructables pro membership or tee shirt. You choose how you want to play and how real to make the game.

Step 2: ​Playing Solitaire

I started enjoying instructables in 2009 by looking for things I was interested in. After a while it got hard to keep thinking of new things, so I made a game of typing random words into the “Let’s Make_________________ “ search to see what would come up. The idea was to see how many things I could find of interest to me that I never would have thought of on my own. I’d have fun finding a project or idea that really amazed me. Two of my favorites were the duct tape canoe and a 76' suspension bridge.

In the above screen shot, I typed in "faux" and got quite the eclectic mix of projects. From a fake fox tail to painting faux stone (that's mine!)

Step 3: Contests - Play With Others

Contests are truly games. You pit your instructables against other instructables by real, live, creative people like yourself. You compete for tangible prizes that are mailed to you if you win.

I love the contests. Most are moderated, so you wait a day or two to see if you made it in. Then you can monitor your instructable to see if people are looking at it. I pit my own instructables against each other to learn what people are interested in. Sometimes it really surprises me! It’s also very social, since a contest entry is a good way to get new subscribers and have conversations with others interested in what you’re doing. I’ve had great feedback, suggestions and encouragement from other members.

To enter, just select the Contests menu and click on view contest. Instructables will guide you through the rest.

Step 4: ​Get Featured - Win Fame

I love being featured. It means I’ve done a good job and more people will see my instructables. It means I’ve won. You can’t really do anything in particular to assure being featured, but you can know that staff or volunteers look at your instructable and decide if it's worthy. Some things are more likely to get you featured - like being timely or seasonal, having great photography, having a really interesting or quirky idea. Instructables gives you the percentage of your instructables which have been featured. This is a fun number to play with and try to increase. It’s the get-more-featured game.

When you’re featured you also get a really nice message telling you how wonderful you are. I totally feel like a winner when one of these messages shows up.

Step 5: ​Get Popular

Members click on the hearts to favorite instructables they like and want to save. An instructable may get lots of views, but few hearts. Or it may get a high percentage of hearts to views, which is what I hope for. I like a high percentage of hearts, because that means people think my instructable is useful and want to save it.

Step 6: ​Awards – Win, Uh, Awards

Instructables gives you awards for all kinds of real-life accomplishments. Things like getting 10,000 views or 10 featured instructables. These awards are presented as icons that appear on your instructables homepage. I sometimes see an award someone else got and think, “I bet I can do that. Game on!”

Step 7: ​Stats

Stats are fun too. You can see how many views you’re getting, when you got them and where they came from.

Step 8: Just Play

I hope this instructable gives you some new ideas for having fun on the instructables website. I’ve mentioned a number of ways to play, but there are lots more - like getting and giving patches, joining groups and of course, making projects. I'd love to hear your ideas. Please leave them in the comments.

Recently, I was at an anime convention when someone called out, “I like your instructables tee shirt!”

“Thanks, I won it.”

: )



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16 Discussions


4 years ago on Introduction

Excellent! I've been playing this game for years. I think it's the most fun you can have online.

Regarding your last note about someone recognizing your shirt, I finally had that happen to me too! I was hiking with my family in the middle of Utah while wearing an instructables shirt, and a guy passed me with one on as well.

We both kind of stopped and stared at each other! It was really weird (but awesome) because we had this instant connection, without saying a word. We were both like, "hey, who are you?!"

It was a major highlight of "the game" for me, so far. We chatted it up and had a good laugh. Fun times!

4 replies

That's great! thanks for sharing this. I've never seen anyone else wearing the shirt and I live near San Francisco (where they're based). Now I have a new game - I Spy instructables tee.

seamsterRhonda Chase Design

Reply 4 weeks ago

I was just wandering around and happened to see this old comment and had to add an addendum. That guy I saw was Troy (tomatoskins), who we ended up hiring a few months after I posted this comment, and he's been here ever since! : )

seamsterRhonda Chase Design

Reply 4 weeks ago

There are a handful still in SF, but most of the staff you'll run into on the site these days are spread around the country working remotely. : )

Wow, you've got an awesome number of views!

Getting featured often does really drive people to look at your instructables. So far my experience tells me the following about getting featured:

1) Bold, clear illustrations or photography really, really help! I've always owned a camera with a close up lens and never regret the investment. Make sure your best image is the main one.

2) Using a photo editor to improve the image and crop it nicely is a good idea. This instructable was done in Photoshop and with screen captures.

3) Find a contest your instructable is perfect for. I think instructables that demonstrate what a contest is about have a better chance of getting featured.

4) Keep the title of your instructable clear and short. If it's too long, it gets cut off and no one can tell what you've got. Also, I used to think a cute or clever name made a difference, but I don't think that anymore. I keep it real simple.

5) I think when you post matters, but I'm not sure how yet.

6) Sometimes you just can't do anything. I was sure my favorite instructable would make it to the homepage and get a zillion views. But somehow everyone must have missed it's awesomeness.

I hope this helps! Let me know how it goes. ~R


4 years ago on Introduction

I also love the way that they do the badges, and contest.


4 years ago on Introduction

cool how do get one featured though. what do they look for?


4 years ago on Introduction

I know it's not what you meant, but this put me in mind of creating an "Instructables" board game in the Monopoly style..!

1 reply
Dr The BoB

4 years ago on Step 8

Heh heh, I know where you are coming from. Instructables has become my "lunchtime read" at work, and I'm just starting to get to the point where I'm starting to explore the random side of the search feature.
I don't know that I would call it a game per se, but I do enjoy my little quest for nuggets of inspiration.
Good to know that the end isn't in sight yet! :)

1 reply

Thanks! I've seen a lot of your instructables. You done so much in such a short time. You win! : )

Passion Make

4 years ago on Introduction

Awesome writing. Inspirational. I enjoy everything in this site and hooked to the "Game" :D


4 years ago

I love this Instructable! What a great reminder of how "fun" something can be without wasting time on games that probably won't win you anything! At least I have shirts to show for my efforts.
Thanks for this!

1 reply

Thanks! That's pretty much what I told my son. And I get to chat with nice, creative people and not blow them up : )