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Contest FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Answered

Here at Instructables we run a ton of contests! We also get asked a ton of questions about those contests. Below is a list of the contest questions we get asked most frequently and also some questions that I feel could use a little more explaining. (Let’s be honest - reading the official rules is not fun.)

Please ask addition questions in this forum topic - I'm sure there are some I have not covered!

General Contest Questions
How do you choose which contests to run?

We do this in a few different ways.

Editorial/in-house - planned based on past contest themes, what’s trending in search, which categories/channels need a little love, new site features or if there’s a certain type of content we want. Contest ideas also come from staff meetings and through the official contest idea forum topic.

I have an idea for a contest! How do I tell you guys?

Please post here and let us know! We can’t run all of them, but we love seeing the ideas you guys come up with.

How do I win a contest?

Post something awesome! Check out this collection of tutorials that will tell you how to write a great instructable.

Why do Instructables employees enter the contests?

We enter contests to set the bar and give an example of the type of entries we want in the contests. We're not able to win them, though!

It's important to note that several employees were authors on the site before they worked here, though, so you might see some wins in our achievements! :)


Entering Contests

Can I enter if my country is not listed in the official rules?

Yes! You can definitely enter.

However, you must have a mailing address in an eligible country to win. If you have a friend in the US or another eligible country that can receive your prize, go ahead and enter!

You can read more about our progress to add more countries to the eligible shipping locations here.

I live in -----, why can't I enter?!

Chances are your country has incredibly strict laws regarding gambling, sweepstakes and contests. We try our best to play by the rules, and if we can't meet the minimum requirements to run a contest in your country, we don't run them there!

That's the easy answer. The hard answer is that it's very complicated and involves lots of risk and scary legal language.

Why isn't my entry showing up in the contest? I entered three minutes ago!

Real humans look at each entry! This means it take take a while sometimes. We work standard office hours, 9-5ish PST. We tend to moderate first thing in the morning, Monday-Friday.

If you enter at the end of the work day or over the weekend, you’ll have to wait until the next business day to be accepted.

Why can I only enter one contest with one Instructable?

It’s all the spirit of fairness. In the past, we've had popular instructables sweep multiple contests with huge wins. This new rule will allow more authors to win!

Why was I rejected from the contest?

The number one reason for this is not fitting the contest theme - we try our best to explain the sorts of entries we’re looking for on the main page of each contest, so double check your eligibility there.

We also sometimes make mistakes or encounter bugs during the approval/denial process. (Checking the wrong box, clicking the wrong button, breaking the back end of the site) It’s rare, but it happens! We’re human and can’t help it, but we do our best to right those mistakes as soon as we know they happened!

Why can’t I enter an instructable I published before the start date into the contest?

We want to see NEW and exciting content built just for the contest. If we allowed old instructables in, we’d just see the same things over and over again. Plus, the number entries in the contests would make it very hard to choose finalists and winners.

Keep in mind that simply republishing an old project will not make it eligible - we check for that. ;)

Our Halloween contests are the only exception to this rule. For example, the 2013 Halloween Contest ended on 11/11/2013, so the 2014 Halloween Contest will accept entries from 11/12/2013 through the end date of the contest. :)

Can I edit my Instructable after it's entered in a contest?

Short answer: YES!

Long answer:
You can make any modifications you want to an Instructable that's already entered! We get so many entries that there's absolutely no way we'd be able to police it even if we wanted to - but it's never something we want to discourage.

Improvement is always a good thing as far as I'm concerned. :)

However, I must caution you: it's best to get those changes done before voting closes. The voting period matters the most because that's the time that we start looking into picking finalists.

Another slightly related caveat: don't publish a mostly empty instructable and try to fill it after the contest ends. We're starting to see this happen more often, always with a promise that updates are coming. You can never tell when we'll be reviewing it as a possible finalist, so chances are you'll get overlooked going about it that way. We are currently looking at 50-300 entries per contest, so anything incomplete doesn't stand a chance these days!

Finalist & Winner Selection

When are the finalists selected?

Finalists are selected starting the Tuesday after the contest closes. The finalist selection process normally ends Thursday of the same week, depending on how tricky the contest is and how many people give input.

How are finalists selected?

Finalist selection is a mixture of sponsor choices, votes and staff choices. We look for all kinds of things when it comes to picking finalists, including:

  • good photos! Pretty photos put you five steps ahead of all the other entries already, honestly. We're going to want to click through and look at it as soon as we see it if it's pretty!
  • good explanation of both WHAT the project is and HOW you made it. Sometimes it can be really hard to figure out what we're looking at. (Personally, if I have to spend several minutes staring at photos and reading to understand it, I'm not very excited about it anymore.) Try to convey the project through both photos and video if it's needed. For example - if it's a rocket, upload a video of it in action!
  • a good story! I read more projects than you could ever imagine every month. I love it when an author takes time to explain why they made the project, or documents the errors they made along the way. That makes an instructable so much more enjoyable to read. :)
  • citing your sources/inspirations - look, we realize there's hardly an original idea on the internets anymore, so we can't fault you for that. But it's only fair to give credit where credit is due. We like that. Plus, it sometimes makes for an awesome story.
  • creativity! Look, I cannot even begin to tell you how many paracord bracelets, Altoid tin survival kits and Iron Man arc reactors I have looked at. My eyes glaze at the thought. Don't just go for the common and easy, take that project and put a new spin on it!!

We always suggest authors read their own work with an objective eye. Does it make sense if you aren’t familiar with the subject already? Did you provide enough description? Are the photos understandable?

How many finalists are there?

To find this out easily, go to the contest page and look at the total number of prizes to be awarded. The number of finalists for a given contest will match the number of total prizes.

Why wasn't my project chosen as a winner/finalist?

This can happen for all kinds of reasons, honestly. See the "How are finalists selected?" question above for a more in depth explanation of what we're looking for.

The most important thing I want to stress is that we are going through TONS of entries for every contest, so it's important to set yourself apart. Choose a clear and concise title, tell us a story, share great photos, explain the project well. If there are projects similar to yours in the contest already, make sure your project exceeds theirs in awesomeness.

Also remember that competition is fierce in the contests, there are always a LOT of amazing entries. When it comes down to selecting winners sometimes it's the little things because when you're comparing awesome to awesome the little things are all you can look at. So be detailed orientated when writing your instructable.

Judging

Who judges the contests?

This is typically a mix of Instructables staff and authors on the site (your peers!). Each contest is normally assigned 10-50 judges.

Lately we’ve had an average of 15-20 judges complete the process. I always try to add as many judges as possible, because more judges means the judging is more fair and helps to reduce bias.

How can I help judge a contest?

If you’re interested in helping us judge, check out this forum topic! I’m also about to start doing weekly calls for judges in the Contest Forums, found here.

To judge, you must have published at least one Instructable.

I send out PMs to judges each Friday, and you might also receive one from audreyobscura.

How do I judge a contest/access the judging ballot?

We’ve written up an Instructable over it! You can find it here: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Judge-a-C...

Once I’ve added you to the list of judges, you’ll be able to access the ballot.

Prizes

How do you pick prizes? Can I suggest prizes?

I've got a pretty small budget prize here, so it's a mix of trying to be frugal but still give you guys something fancy. I try to order most of our prizes from Amazon.com because they have reliable shipping and tons of options.

Right now I've been going back and forth between tools/materials and fancy electronics. I love to give out tablets, cameras and supplies for more projects, because that gives you guys something to make more awesome stuff with!

If you'd like to suggest an awesome prize, do it here!

I don't like these prizes, can I trade?

Short answer: nope!

Long answer: we choose prizes well ahead of time and order prizes at the start of the contest (for 95% of what we run) and we don’t make substitutions. We typically have anywhere from 100-250 winners a month (and increasing all the time!), so it’s not feasible to give choices and sub things out. Only three of us on staff work with ordering the prizes and shipping them out, so that would be lots of work!

However, we have allowed winners to switch prizes with another winner on occasion (both parties must agree and let us know before we ship them!) and we’re fine with you selling your prize somewhere else.

How do I get my prize if I win?

When contest winners are announced, we’ll send you a message with a form to fill out. Make sure to fill this out completely and remember that we require a phone number and that we can’t ship to P.O. boxes.

Winners are responsible for any trade tax or tariffs incurred for shipping to your location. We cannot reduce the value of the prize so you pay less tax (nice try, though, you sneaky hobbit!!).

When will my prize ship?

We try to ship prizes as soon as possible! 75% of our contests have prizes that are easily shipped right away and you should receive notification of shipment within a week or so.

Sometimes we do have to order items AFTER the contest ends or wait for a sponsor to ship the items. If we think there will be a delay, we’ll let the winners know. We’ve been trying very hard to make sure we’re reaching out and updating winners about prize statuses.

Also: VERY IMPORTANT - the sooner all winners give us their contact info, the sooner we can make big orders of custom sizes. Sometimes there’s a huge delay just because we’ve got one straggler. Be a good winner and let us give you prizes, dangit!!

Discussions

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jessyratfinkruudcreates

Reply 4 weeks ago

Yup, looks like something went wrong. May have a bug on our hands! Thanks for pointing this out :)

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tbennett3

7 months ago

every time I try to publish I get “something went wrong, try again later”

Is it me? Did I do something wrong?

I’m trying to enter my draft into 2 contests, is that it?

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seamstertbennett3

Reply 7 months ago

Hi there,

Draft Instructables need to be published live in order to enter contests. When you open your Instructable draft again, hit the Publish button which will take you to a page where you can finalize the title, cover image, add keywords, and submit to contests. Then hit the Publish button on that page and you should be all set; your Instructable will go live shortly, and after the contest team is able to review your project it should be allowed into any eligible contests you've submitted it to.

Please let me know if you run into any other problems and I will be happy to help you out! :)

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tbennett3seamster

Reply 7 months ago

thank you, it worked fine from my pc :)

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Bryan98

9 months ago

hello! I published an instructable on 12th Dec and I want to enter a competition which is 11th Dec, why does it say I'm inelligible?

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Yonatan24Bryan98

Reply 9 months ago

You can only enter a contest if you published your Instructable after the contest started and before it closed/ended :)

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PointyOintment

9 months ago

I have a question about contest scheduling. Do you make any effort to schedule or to avoid scheduling simultaneous, overlapping, or back-to-back contests with similar or overlapping themes? Obviously a project can be devised to be eligible for just about any combination of three contests, but it seems like it would be especially easy when a possible combination is Raspberry Pi, Wireless, and LED, or Hand Tools Only, Fiber Arts, and Homemade Gifts (for example).

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Michal Choma

1 year ago

Can I refuse prize? When I will win, I dont want it.

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MatlekMichal Choma

Reply 1 year ago

I am a bit confused, you want to participate to the contests but you don't want to win the prizes? Then I guess the best thing to do is to not enter the contests ;)

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PointyOintmentMatlek

Reply 11 months ago

I suppose someone could want only one or some of the prizes available for a given contest, and have no interest in the other ones. Michal, is that what you mean?

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Michal ChomaPointyOintment

Reply 11 months ago

When I connected to contest, I find out, that for prizes I must pay CLO and taxes for my country, which are pretty high. That's why I ask, if I can refuse prize, which I can win. Also is question if I can take only one of prizes (e.g. only T-shirt), to pay less tax.

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Yonatan24Michal Choma

Reply 11 months ago

Perhaps you can trade with a different prize with a lower value, one that wouldn't require you to pay?

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spotyrk

11 months ago

Thank you, great job

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34south

1 year ago

Is there anyway to remove your entry from a contest?

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Not_Tasha34south

Reply 1 year ago

go to the ible page and uncheck it from the contest

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34southNot_Tasha

Reply 1 year ago

Sorry for being a noob but what is an ibles page? I have checked the instructables page and all i can manage to do is edit my entry slightly. Also, when i do edit my entry the cover image of the entry and name doesnt seem to want to change in the contest page. Is this because the server needs to remember your entry? This is why i though that unpublishing, edititing and then rebublishing my entry would help, although i am skeptical that i might not be able to repost it again because the server might think it is copied from someone else, or i might lose my spot in the competition.

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BaptisteL8

1 year ago

Hi all,

Do you also feel that contest are less and less original and creative?

Let's have a look at the snack contest (I have to say I entered this one to be clear to everybody) and not attacking any of those I'bles and their authors but Yougourt bread, french croissant, rools, cookies... you could check almost every single finalists with any originality nor creativity. An easy Search on the site will return loads of I'bles on those subjects...

It is almost the same with every contests I have been interested to lately (Light...) I loved woodworking and cardboard on the opposite.

Contests are here to value those of us who share creative, well documented and well written. I am missing a part with the latest contests.

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38renBaptisteL8

Reply 1 year ago

Hello, this comment might fit the feedback forum also!

If you post it again there, maybe I can give you more of my opinion instead of adding onto it here :)

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Dylan91

1 year ago

Hello! Sorry if my question is already answered, but i didn't find it. So my question is: Can I enter 1 contest with more than 1 tutorial? (for example if i have 2 instructables what fit in the contest can i enter with both, or i have to choose one?)

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jessyratfinkDylan91

Reply 1 year ago

A further bit of info: an instructable can only be entered into 3 contests at one time, so if your project fits into multiple contests, try to choose the best ones to add your instructable to. :)

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BrooklyntoniaDylan91

Reply 1 year ago

You can enter as many instructables in one contest as you want. However, only one can be chosen as a finalist.

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marDel22

1 year ago

How long does it typically take for winners to be announced, after finalists have been selected? Noticed the recent Microcontroller contest ended May 8th, but winners have yet to be announced.

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ThirdEarthDesignmarDel22

Reply 1 year ago

The contests usually go something like this (they are quite thorough)...

Contests usually close at midnight on a Monday but voting remains open until the Friday, shortly after which the finalists are announced.

Judging by selected Instructables members (like me and you) runs over the course of that weekend until the following Monday.

Then once that sequence of judging is complete the winners are not usually announced until nearer the end of the week. Sometimes it can take longer as it's not only the opinions of selected Instructables members and staff that count, but also contest sponsors.

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Felix_H

1 year ago

Hi! I want to enter the lights contest with a instructable i made but it requires me to check a box to confirm that the user is an U.S. resident, which i am not. I am from Germany and the official contest rules say that i could enter the contest... What should i do now? Check the box and enter anyway? Thanks for the help, kind regards

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seamsterFelix_H

Reply 1 year ago

Hi Felix,

That contest should be open to those residing Germany. We've fixed the contest page to remove that check-box, and you should be able to enter it now. Good luck in the contest!

Sam (seamster)

Community Manager

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Felix_Hseamster

Reply 1 year ago

Hi Sam!
Yes the contest has been changed and i could enter it. Thanks so much for your help and also for the wishes! Best regards from Frankfurt!
Felix

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protorob

1 year ago

Can't participate (or eventually win) in a contest if I'm in Italy?!

How's that possible?

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random_builder

1 year ago

Could I see the instructable that won thee grand prizes?

It sounds interesting.

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Yonatan24random_builder

Reply 1 year ago

It was entered in the 4th contest after the first on had closed and he had won in it.

I did this with my new SpectrumLED V2.0 I'ble, except I had only one problem. I won only in one contest! Yes, that only has to be italicized.

I entered it in:

If the epilog or make it glow contests would have closed earlier, I would have entered it in the Remix contest too.

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RooKosherbay

1 year ago

When making instructions, do they have to be photos? I like to use Google Sketchup to show diagrams and how some things are assembled

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mtairymdRooKosherbay

Reply 1 year ago

I document most of my projects in CAD. For me, it's easier to create CAD and better for the reader to see actual dimensions versus using words to describe something. I usually take a few pictures during the build but always take nice pictures of the completed project at the end.

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TheGunNut44RooKosherbay

Reply 1 year ago

They don't have to be photo's. Sketchup models are fine as long as they are your original work.

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Yonatan24TheGunNut44

Reply 1 year ago

+1

Just make sure to have enough real photos, so it won't be a bit confusiing for readers.

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random_builderRooKosherbay

Reply 1 year ago

I don't have the final answer, but I saw others that do it, so I am sure you could do that too.

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Technovation

1 year ago

is a project using plexiglass, allowed in the glass challenge?

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Yonatan24Technovation

Reply 1 year ago

Good question, I'd like to know too. If no-one replies, I think you should send an email to service@instructables.com. It would be great if you post the answer here too :)

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TechnovationYonatan24

Reply 1 year ago

So the verdict, glass Contest is only glass related projects unfortunately...

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Yonatan24Technovation

Reply 1 year ago

...How obviously annoying!

I guess that means no cardboard in the papercraft contest too...

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random_builder

1 year ago

Is there any instructables that won grand prize but weren't featured? Most of mine aren't featured and I was wondering if they could still win grand prize.