Intro: Writing an Instructable
Navigating the Instructables website can be confusing to beginners. I plan to clear up mysteries surrounding Instructables. This Instructable uses the old editor which more people are familiar with.
Step 1: Netiquette
Netiquette are the general (unwritten) rules regarding being courteous to others in e-mail, websites, blogs, etc. One day at YouTube.com, I saw a few people had started a flame war about racism. One person was apparently African-American and the other Caucasian. The people were arguing pointlessly over a rap music video. Remember that no one controls what you see, granting your school, employer, or government does not.
A flame war is when comments are exchanged that are hurtful or threatening. To avoid starting a flame war do not do some of the following:
1. USE ALL CAPS (THIS IS CONSIDERED SHOUTING!)
2. Use racial slurs
3. Make attacks at opposing viewpoints
The main cause that people who would not just walk up to someone and start an argument in public is that people feel anonymous. Also, consider that people from another country might be using your Instructable and might find slang confusing and offensive.
Step 2: Instructable Topic
Here at Instructables.com you may think that everything you could write about has already been covered. Well, that is not true. I would suggest that you search for a potential topic first to see how many people have already wrote about it. The search box in the upper left corner is where you begin. Try to use short keywords and several synonyms.
Are you still stuck? I would suggest visiting the Burning Questions group. This group offers forums for requesting and answering people's questions. I found this group was helpful for ideas when I have been stuck. (Yes, everyone can get stuck.)
Finally, you could ask friends and family for ideas. One Instructable I wrote is a concept for school or business firewall circumvention. The idea arose from the need for a way for students to message and browse the Internet during school hours.
Step 3: Getting Started
After creating a user account the next step is to write the Instructable. From the home page click Submit and then Instructable in the submenu. The next page that is loaded requires the title of your Instructable and a short description. Near the bottom of the page you can also add images from your computer or an URL that is related to your Instructable.
When you are done with your description of the Instructable, click the button at the bottom of the page which says save & add first step. Writing the steps is about the same procedure. Each step page requires a title and description. You can add pictures to your steps, too.
Make sure that you use the save buttons and not just close your Internet browser or go to another page. Failing to click one of these buttons will erase your hard work. Also, notice that you can just save & preview your Instructable.
Step 4: Collaborate
Collaboration is when an author teams up with several other authors to work on one Instructable. This could possibly help to provide different perspectives on a topic. As the primary author you would be the only person who could add or delete authors. Primary authors is the person who started an Instructable.
When you are editing an Instructable, you can click the collaborate tab at the top of the page. At the collaboration screen, make sure that the enable collaboration has a check beside it. When you click the add/remove collaborators button, a box should popup asking to add an author. Type the author you like into the box and click the add button. Also, if you already have authors you can see their names and remove them from the project if you like.
Step 5: Preview
As with any work that humans do there are usually mistakes. Everyone, including me, rereads their writing for errors.
Perhaps this is where collaboration would become useful. I remember when publishing one Instructable I accidentally said that I claimed responsibility for actions. I quickly changed it when someone commented about it.
When you are on the editing screen you can choose to save and preview your work by clicking the save & preview button at the bottom. If you want to preview without saving, click the preview tab at the top of the page.
Step 6: Publish
Yay! We have wrote about a topic, remembered to be ethical, proofread, and maybe even collaborated an Instructable. The final step of publishing speaks for itself. After you publish you may decide to submit your Instructable to a group.
Groups are networks of people, blogs, and Instructables, which have the same interests. After you write an answer to a Burning Question be sure to immediately submit it to the Burning Questions group because someone may be trying to write the same Instructable.
Maybe you would like to start your own group. This Instructable happens to belong to a group I started. My group is called Instructable Writers. I noticed a lack of a group aimed at helping people write good Instructables and started it.