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Collections - a problem? Answered

First off, this post is in no way targeted at any specific authors, and is just a piece of opinionated feedback. However, I will make reference to the data that I found about certain users.

I love Instructables. Specifically, I love being able to browse the recent section, to see what fantastic ideas people have come up with and shared with the world. However, I hate being confronted by a wall of 'Collections' - it really does bug me! It is not new work - yes, it can make it convenient to look at recipes that all use tofu, or DIY quadrocopter plans to compare them, but it is not new content! I don't want to be offensive, but when you make 88 collections in under 2 weeks, it comes across like you're just begging/spamming for votes and don't have anything useful to add of your own design/

I propose a filter, that would allow you to remove collections from your viewing on 'Recent', to stop them clogging up the page if you so wish - not a policy change to stop collections from appearing, but an option to do so. 

As a separate proposal, I suggest that the views for collections be disabled, to discourage spamming, and promote original content.

I'd love some feedback from others, so please do chip in. If you want, you can PM me if you have the desire for a more private conversation.



Done. Thanks for your patience, everyone. And a special call-out to the OP for being so understanding on behalf of the folks actually tasked with putting this together.

We've already recaptured some of our rightful search rankings, and SdR and DIMMN (the interns) displaced Pinterest and Buzzfeed with content aggregated in the same place it was created. A cursory search for "DIY Bed Frames" should demonstrate some of the value behind this experiment, and that's before we've done anything other than aggregate and rename.

I've looked through this thread and am still trying to figure out the point in collections. Somehow I missed the huge flood of them, but when I do see them, it is just a bunch of Instructables which I have already seen. Is it meant to be a way to find a lot of content related to what you are searching or what?

I find collections useful for grouping my favourites. There is no other way to group them.

Short answer, "yes".

They can be used to collect and then share a group of projects on a theme, then shared with a single link.

HQ seem to use them for two reasons; to present all the winners of a contest, or to steer web searches towards the site, then ensnare browsers by presenting them with a bunch of cool stuff at once.

Other uses I can think of:

● A teacher gathering the work of a class into one place.
● An interviewee creating an online portfolio to share with potential employees.
● A collection of projects that must be followed to earn a Scout badge or in-house qualification.
● A prolific author sorting their own projects into themes.
● Creating an archive of other folks projects that you have followed.
● A blogger or journalist pulling together projects for an article.
● A commercial supplier collecting projects that use their products for publicity or advertising purposes.


I was wondering if it was an attempt to grab people who find them via a Google search. Bam! You see a bunch of cool projects and assume the rest of the site is full of them... which it is.

Thanks for the response.

You're welcome.

Also, see Wilgubeast's comment above.

There is a "type" filter on the explore page that allows you to choose which type of content to browse. You cannot exclude only collections, however you can look at only recent step-by-step, photos, video, and so on.

Er... I think that's part of his job...

Oh no, none of us dispute that Kiteman - I just think it's a bit of a shame that they've been saddled with it and that it will forever be associated with their accounts to boot! They are just following orders, and I can't disagree with interns who do that :)

Oh yes, they're easy to spot (Only two of them though). But please, this isn't about them in the slightest - they're just fulfilling their job as assigned to them, and aren't to blame for it, in my opinion.

I posted an instructable on the 17th and it ant getting any love, as it got drowned by a flood of Collections. within 5 minutes it was on page four of the "recent page" with zero views.
I too love a bit of feedback about my work, as I write this there have been no comments on it, as no one has seen it...even if some one said "that's crap" it would be better than nothing.
sorry must be a full moon Im Mr Grumpy today :-(

This flood of collections has been going on for over a month now. Please figure out a way to cut down on these "reruns" so we can see new content. I'm about ready to leave the site, between this and some other hassles lately.

I agree, it's gone past the point of being an experiment for the interns to run, and into lunacy. Seriously, lots of the collections being made are virtually redundant, as they are not a good stepping stone into the site and add very little, in my opinion.

I agree a zillion percent. The collections get very few views, yet take up space that would have been taken by real instructables. Just look at any page of recent instructables -- most collection Views will be in the single digits. Seems like someone thinks "watering down the soup" is a good plan.

The flood of HQ-generated collections will continue for about 3 more weeks. They will all hit the recent page and feed without being hidden. (Don't think I don't notice the problem, I also subscribe to our RSS feeds and spend a great deal of time in the recent feed.) After we hit critical mass for showing off the feature, the volume should decrease.

It may be frustrating in the meantime, but please bear with me. The idea here is to simultaneously gain some traction via search and to get more people on Instructables to create collections of their own. It'll negatively impact those of you who spend a ton of time among recent Instructables, but we want to get the casual browsers to see and use the new feature.

If it's still a problem AFTER I muck up the works with all of these collections, then we'll see what we can do about beefing up the filters.

Are you almost done with this "experiment"?

Around mid-day today I looked at the views on the last 100 collections posted, and what I found was that the average number of views was slightly less than 2 per collection (the actual average was 1.91 per published collection). That's substantially less than normal recent instructables. Looks to me like your plan is heavy on the downsides with no apparent upside. And you're still planning to keep this up for 3 more weeks??

Thanks for digging into the data a bit. Perhaps this experiment will not yield good results. But we're still going to push through and see what results we get, both in terms of immediate pick-up and the long tail of search traffic.

At this rate, the collections-building portion of the experiment should be complete before the end of next week. Then the next phase begins, one that will not flood the recent feed with reruns in collection form.

Please, please, please, stop or at least slow down the collections.

I see the flood of collections has continued. This makes looking at recent instructables way too painful. I think I'll take a break from instructables for a while and come back after the flood is over.

I am sorry to hear that. I have considered doing the same but I am hoping things will get better. Others are put off by the collections too.
I am hesitant to show the site to friends now.
I suppose I would feel better about the collections if I thought they were well done, but many are poorly done. (Some recent collections have offended me)
I am following you now, I hope you will post again when you return.

If there are specifically offensive collections, please send me a PM and let me know. Or just flag it as inappropriate. Hitting a quota for an experiment is one thing, offending people in the process is something else entirely.

I will send links tomorrow. What is the quota you are trying to reach?

I agree that something should be done about the flood of collections that have been on the site lately. I think the ability to create collections is great and allows people to group instructables on similar topics, but right now it's been hard to find the new original, individual ones that have been posted. It's about like seeing nothing but re-runs on TV...

I'm the one who unleashed the firehose of collections projects upon the recent feed. We'll continue cranking them out, BUT! they'll bypass the recent feed and oughtn't clutter up your RSS stream. (Sorry about that, we got some new interns who are awesome. Too awesome.)

That's not a long-term RSS filtration solution, but it'll certainly help in the meantime.

They're still cluttering up the recent page.

I'm having to look for actual projects in between the Collections - can't you find something else for "Danger" and "Sam" to do with their time? Limit them to 2 or 3 each per day?

What he said. Can there be a separate place for collections?

I agree, I don't have much time, but still like to go through the recent page. Seeing all the collections is a bit annoying, limiting might be a good idea.

Cheers - as I said, it isn't that big a deal. I don't think it was just your interns though, if i'm honest :)

The filter already exists:

It might be worth noting that the filter being requested by the OP isn't directly available from the pull-down, but you can get it manually. The pull-down gives you "only this" filters (like "stepbystep-true" or "guide-true"). If you edit the URL and change "true" to "false", then you get everything except that choice, for example,

is what the OP has asked about.

(Not) wanting to be difficult, but I decided to also filter out videos (a petpeeve of mine) but I guess filtering out more than 1 type is not do-able? or can you somehow "stack" the guide-false and video-false (and/or others) in the url? my instinct says no.

Don't know. I figured out the "-false" trick just by editing the URL to see what would happen. What's quite amusing is that the page title changes from "Recent Instructables" to "False Recent Instructables" :-)

No, you can't stack filters. I tried /stepbystep-true/video-true/ and got back an error page.

Yes, it was the way the url looks that made me think it was not possible.

Usually it would be using a variation of the ?x=y&z=a to allow stacking. (stacking is probably a really bad choice of word, but I will stick to it for this conversation now that i started with it). Ofcourse they could have done it so it is possible in some other way - could even have configure the server so '/' would be the argument seperator, though as you point out, they didnt.

Sometimes I hate being right :-(

"Sometimes I hate being right." It's a terrible burden, isn't it? Happens to me all the time :->

The server code using pseudo-directories (basically, server-side redirection) for filtering, dates from very early in the site's history. I think if they tried to change it now, it would have knock-on effects all through the back-end code, the database, the Web page links and JavaScript, and on and on.

Indeed, luckilly I do get to be wrong on the rare occasion :-)

Yes, it is a bit of a "painting oneself into a corner" problem. Once you have decided on an approach you may be stuck with it, for better and worse. Had they picked a different approach back then, we would likely just be talking about a different issue today :-)

(and the links do look much cleaner this way, some sites seem to think that their links will never be seen by a human and we get these insanely long and cryptic urls)

You wrote, "(and the links do look much cleaner this way, some sites seem to think that their links will never be seen by a human and we get these insanely long and cryptic urls)"

Interestingly, that was Tim's original vision. URLs were never meant to be seen or generated by individual "users" (and maybe not even authors). He envisioned authoring systems more like Dreamweaver, where you graphically connect a hyperlink to its document, and the software generates the necessary URL.

As it turned out, the original HTML spec was so simple that most of us could use plain text editors to write pages directly. That led to a strong sense at the time that URLs should directly reflect the file structure where the documents were stored, and that they should be simple and readable.

I remember some of the pre/early-html hypertext authoring tools (I took an IT education in 92-96(ish)) - as a sidenote I would say we are lucky we can see the urls - imagine the click-bait spam otherwise

Yep. As the system moved out of my community (particle physics) into the real world, many of the unconscious assumptions got violated :-/

Sorry, I wasn't clear enough - I meant exactly what kelseymh said below, in that it would be more convenient to have a filter that gave you everything but collections. I don't know, I guess it's just a pet peeve of mine.

What are your thoughts on the removal of views for collections? I'm aware it might be quite a controversial topic, but it would certainly help reduce spam.

Cheers Kiteman, you're awesome.

Is it possible to filter them out of the rss feeds? because that is how I tend to get here, seeing something interresting in the feed... if that is flooded with collections the new creations simply gets lost in the noise or effectively pushed out (i currently use igoogle which limits to the 9 most recent. Unfortunately I will have to find a new service soon as they are closing it down, but that is an entirely different discussion :-))

So as far as opinions go, I must agree with the overall sentiments of the poster here.

I don't know, I don't use RSS, sorry.

Well, so far it has not been a problem (usually only been annoyed when theres a flood of spam, but as that gets removed it pushes those older posts back up again) But I did get slightly annoyed by the collections too - but that is so far a one-time issue so I havent bothered to look into solutions.

Perhaps someone else knows.

Thanks for the quick reply nonetheless.


I am told that if you grab the RSS from the filtered page, then the feed will (should) be filtered as well.

Unfotunately it seems the filters can not be set as "everything but collections" (or alternatively "only X, Y and Z" - leaving out collections) but instead you select which (single) type to see (ctrl-select does not work either).

and after testing this i reloaded this page and saw kelseymh's followup.