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Do VOTES have any meaning? Answered

EDIT(8/26/12): Since I posted this many of the contest official rules have included a clear explanation of how user votes are used to determine the finalist.  It most cases it seems 49% of the eligible entries are chosen solely on user votes.  This clears up all the confusion I had based on the previous wording of the rules for contests that are now over.      

I recently read a blog post about the Make if Real contest that said that the winners were decided by votes, but I know that is not the case.   I looked at a few of the current and past contests and found out there is no way to view how many votes an instrucable has either during or after a contest, which I read is becasue people were trying to rig the voting.  So if judging is not based on votes and there is no way to know how many votes you got then why do we have the option to vote?  Having a vote button seems misleading.  



Voting has a major meaning!

The finalists are selected by the votes (eg the projects with the top 20 votes), and then those are handed over to a judging panel who rate each project from scratch (without knowing exactly how many votes they got), which selects the winner and runners-up.

Vote-rigging used to upset matters when the entries were sortable by the number of votes - unwitting members would be more likely to vote for a project that had already received a number of fake votes.

Attempts at vote-rigging still occur, but they do not affect the final results because they do not affect the view-sorting, and HQ has clever ways and means of identifying fake votes, and removes them from the total before selecting the finalists.

Which is a long way of saying "Yes, voting works, please keep doing it".

So, in reality, the earlier a project is posted to a contest, the better a chance it has of becoming a finalist since it will be available on the site for a longer period of time, thereby allowing more people the opportunity to see it and vote on it? That would seem to give projects entered earlier in the contest and unfair advantage over projects that are entered later. Someone might enter a project the last day of the contest that is worlds better than one entered the first day, but the better project has a significantly less chance of being selected simply because there isn't enough time for the vote to accumulate.

Or am I reading this wrong? I do that sometimes, you know ;)

They should average the votes over the time it’s been posted so it’s even no matter when you post.

That's why staff always choose a few that don't make it in from votes. However, posting early doesn't necessarily equate to more votes. The early entries get buried at the bottom of the list and get progressively fewer views as the contest goes on.

So if you changed account 100 times and vote will it then still count???And will it reach finals even if its an ugly ible?

not that there's anything wrong with sock-puppets...

You can only change your account name one and the associated email account that your Instructables account is tied to cannot be reused by another at the same time.

To defeat the system and vote fraudently would require a very committed effort.

Reminds me of the time a teacher told me that nobody had *ever* gotten away with cheating in his class, period...raising in my mind the question of whether he had omniscience or something. ;)

I think it works because fakers rarely play the long game - if they created several accounts now, and over the next few weeks, used them occasionally over the next few months. then that's a bunch of fake votes that would be undetectable.

Question? What if i had tons of friends that wanted to vote for me, that did not have accounts and created accounts so they could vote for my instructable, would those votes be removed? Because i entered my Ible in the Epilog contest and got tons of favorites and most likely votes (87 favorites to be exact) but some one with only 20 favorites one a place as a finalist!? Of course that doesn't mean much as far as votes go but 20- 87, 87 is bound to have more votes?

Votes only account for part of the finalists. When an ible with a considerably lower view count compared to the others makes finalist, it generally means it was chosen by staff. Staff picks are a way to level the playing field for ibles that are entered late in the contest (and have less chance for votes) or are less flashy but still high quality.

I'm so glad that it is not based solely on votes. I have seen too many quality entries in many contests that don't win just because the writers or creators are either shy or honest and do not tell friends and family to vote for them. I personally do not even tell my family and friends just because I would like to get honest views from the more objective total strangers.

It is also fair for the later entries.

No, only about half of the finalists are chosen be votes, the rest is chosen by staff members. They once said that they have a method to eliminate cheaters (those that open accounts, just to vote for themselves). I have seen it quite a few times that an entry with a lot of votes didn't make it into the finals.

From what I gathered the voting is a totally subjective thing.
Seeing what makes it into finals and get's a price sometimes only makes me wonder.
This topic is going on for years now, maybe it is time to make the entire contest voting and winning thing a bit more transparent?
Could be a way to make people understand why their great ible did not even make it into the finals while ibles of far less quality or content did.

I'm not sure I've mentioned it to you before, but the voting process did used to be entirely transparent, with both up and down votes, and every vote being visible to every member.

Unfortunately, things got nasty, with some people actively working to put other projects down, using fake accounts to post negative comments on projects that were doing better, down-voting projects as soon as they appeared, and generally flying in the face of the "Be Nice" policy. When views were factored in (slightly negating the negative votes, because you had to view to vote), people started posting projects that were purely click-bait, and won prizes purely because of their title or thumbnail image.

The contest process has been modified many times in the last decade, and, whilst never perfect, it is as good as they can do. If anybody has any ideas of how to improve contests, they are always welcomed by HQ; start a Feedback forum topic, or send an email to service@instructables.com.

If they were genuine friends, with genuine (if new) accounts, that would count. Many people publicise their entries via other websites, purely to encourage people to join up and vote. If, however, you created a bunch of fake accounts and voted, they would be removed.

Favourites and votes have only a very weak correlation; favourites are not the same a "likes", they're more involved than that, indicating a like of the project and a potential desire to recreate it for yourself. A vote, on the other hand, is an appreciation of the project for it's own sake; it's originality, the quality of the writing and images.

A "favourite" does not mean the button-clicker thinks you've done a good write-up, and a "vote" does not mean the button-clicker has any plans to recreate your work for themselves.

I read that from someone else too but that doesn't seem to align with the rules. They state "THE NUMBER OF VOTES EACH ENTRY RECEIVES FROM REGISTERED USERS OF THE SPONSOR SITE IS NOT ONE OF THE CRITERIA USED TO EVALUATE ENTRIES OR FINALISTS AND WILL NOT DETERMINE THE WINNERS" and "Selection of Finalists: In the first round, after the Voting Period closes, Judges from the Sponsor's editorial staff will rank each eligible entry on the basis of a composite score based on the Criteria. The entries with the highest scores will qualify as finalists, and the number of finalists selected will be as identified in Section A above."

No where in the rules am I seeing that the votes decide the finalist and its seems that the rules say there is basically two judging periods of which only the Criteria plays a role. Maybe I missed something or I'm just not in the know, but how do you know this is how the finalist are selected? Also if votes decide the finalist why is not clear in the rules?

I believe that the staff could do a good job of stopping rigged votes but don't know why its needed.

The rules aren't clear for the same reason that only certain countries can enter - the lawyers got involved.

The votes are not the sole criteria for selecting finalists. You have to remember that only one entry per person is allowed to win a prize, and some entries will be disqualified (eg they're from staff, or have been copied from elsewhere), so the finalists are chosen from the top-voted projects that are allowed to win.

I'm sorry the text is not clear to us normal humans, but you can take my personal word for it that the votes are vital to the success of the contest.

Well I guess I can accept that, based on my repect for your effort and contributions to this community. The rules still say that votes are not one of the criteria used to eveluate finalsts. It would be nice to hear from someone on staff but they might not be able to speak up for those same legal reasons. It just seems so simple and beneficial to add that to the rules that I can't understand why its not done.

That's correct, votes do not evaluate finalists, they select finalists.

The legalese is a pain, I agree, but it is as much inflicted on staff as on the rest of us mere mortals.

Now that actually makes sense, evaluate vs. select makes the difference. I guess that makes the lawyers-1, me-0.

It is not possible to see the number of votes you have received for a contest entry.

is there some way to check the number of votes we receive for a project after the contest is over, this allows us to know how did the public like it. thanks

No. You can know how many people liked it through views (ish), favorites, and comments.

I don't get this either, the Sensors Contest Finalists where announced today and i was wondering how a Instructable with 600 views and 6 Favorites beat a bunch other Instructables that have 2000+ veiws and 200+ Favorites. You would think that the Instructable with more traffic would get more votes. Then they don't tell the amount of votes each entree has so you wonder if it is rigged somehow.

Half the finalists are chosen by the staff to level the playing field for ibles entered late in the contest or that are excellent but somehow got overlooked.


3 years ago

I'll put in my two cents on a two year old topic. My experience tells me that taking your time to develop a following makes the difference. The better your instructables are, the more people will want to see what you come up with next. When people follow you, your instructables end up on their homepage whether it's featured or not; and while this does get you more exposure on even non-featured projects, it is ALWAYS best to try to present your project in a manor that will get it featured. I made these same arguments shortly after I joined and only by experience did I realize that as many votes as you think you are getting, you're not getting the votes of people with many followers. Featured projects bring followers, and followers bring votes. Be patient and develop your skill at writing instructables, people will take notice!

This is why I stopped entering contests. Instructables seems like something you have to "do". I "do" youtube and other things and don't have time to cultivate a following here too. The contests gave me incentive to start posting stuff and was really a major motivator for me to make some neat content. This phenomenon of getting a lot of votes makes it something of a popularity contest. When some of my stuff didn't even place compared to obviously lesser content, I realized that there was something much more than the content itself that determined winners, let alone even making it into the finals to start with. Also, if I spend extra time to make something awesome and it gets in later it gets less votes, so I also lack incentive to take the time I need to pull off something good or more in depth, or even bother if I'm getting a late start, for instance taking the time to incubate a great idea. I don't necessarily think it's wrong the way it's set up, but it doesn't necessarily favor the best content, and as someone that doesn't have time to spend on social media because I'm busy doing cool things and producing related content, I don't cultivate a presence and am basically an outsider. I'm sure if I put in a lot of time cultivating a following and relationships and generally participating in the site it would be different. So, the system as it is doesn't really work for me and since I don't usually get a lot of traffic for my other web stuff off the views I get here, I pretty much lack incentive. I like the site and the community here a lot, but I can't just drop in and do a contest and have it work, so I don't unless there is a judges prize, because I've won two of those, and I'm assuming that was because votes play less of a role.

You've won two contests with only four instructables. That's pretty good. Producing good eye-catching content is all it really takes to win contests, so please don't let your disappointment discourage you from doing that.

I'm not going to say that a following on the site isn't valuable when it comes to contests, because the more followers you have, the more eyes are likely to see your work and the more opportunities you have to generate votes. However, a following outside the site isn't nearly as valuable, so there's no need to spend extra time on social media to win a contest. I don't. People visiting from external sites are far less likely to vote because most of them don't have accounts.

If you want to gain followers to up your chances of making finalist based on votes, generate quality eye-catching content and enter as many contests as you can. Quality content will bring in followers and contest pages give your project more exposure to those that might follow you.

All that being said, half of the finalists are chosen by staff, so while votes may favor someone with a large following or a particularly pretty ible, a high quality ible with no votes still has a great chance of making the finals. I'm also pretty positive that the finalists are chosen before special judges choose the judge's prizes, so you would have already been chosen for the finals either by vote or by staff before you were chosen for the judge's prize.


6 years ago

If the votes count then on long contests (like Make it Real), the entries that are submitted first have an unfair advantage then entries that are submitted in the last week of the contest because they have over an extra month to be voted on then later entries. Instructables staff can also affect the voting by featuring an entry or even a greater effect by putting an entry in the email newsletter. In a way they are saying these entries are more deserving to be noticed then others and therefore they will get more votes as they will be seen by way more eyeballs. I feel Votes should have NO effect in a contest in order for everyone to have a level playing feild. But that is just my opinion.

If votes shouldn't count, why vote?

There is no perfect system. They used to keep voting for after entries closed - that was unfair on early entries that had slid down the lists.

If you don't want votes to count, that means that a small number of people have to read carefully through hundreds of entries in detail, a pretty unworkable idea.

As for projects being featured, that is the point - such entries are deserving of extra attention, so they are given it, in a system independent of the contests.

But do you think that the people who are voting are "reading carefully through hundreds of entries in detail"? No, they see something featured or see something a friend posted or see a thumbnail that catches their attention and they may read that entry and they vote for that. They pretty much ignore 90% of the other entries. So people like you with a great following and reputation on the site get more views and votes and someone new with a great last minute entry gets ignored...

I would rather have 4 staff volenteers to take 50 entries each and pick their top 10, then as a group review then all to get the top 20. OR on Entry submission take a bit of extra time and have the moderator rank the entry from 1-10 then have the judges only look at the top ones for the finalists. As you see there are many ways to do this without a huge amount of extra effort.

To use Voting (but to be absolutely fair) maybe implement it this way: No voting should be allowed until the submission deadline is over, all entries should be displayed in "random" order on the contest page once voting starts and no contest entry should be featured once the voting starts.


Been there done that - that way, it was unfair to people who ended up on the later pages, since members tended to give up after a few pages when there were ten or twenty pages of entries to go through.

Like I said, there is no properly fair way of voting for contests, unless you can find some way of forcing members to look at every entry.

Trust me, quite a few selection processes have been tried over the years, and none of them have made everybody happy, but the current version does seem to be the best so far.

I cannot fathom why the random sort isn't implemented. :-\

However the pages are arranged, people get lazy and give up after a few pages.

Which is *exactly* why it should be random! The only way for voting to ever approach fair is if every time you load the page, it's random what projects are on it.

I had the same idea. Not neccesarily random but it rotates through all the current ones... Slowly adding more in as people enter.

Very good point. The easiest way might be to add 'random' as a sort order, and make that the default sort order for viewing the finalists.

This is where online-contests really don't work like people think contests should work.
If you go to e.g. an agricultural-show (animals, vegetables, preserves etc.) then you look at everything in the category, or nothing. The judges do the same.
Internet is very-much dominated by popularity, position and page-hits.


I agree with you about how people vote, but if someone posts a truly great instructable it will be featured regardless of their status on this site. I don't think voting should be removed but it should not be the only deciding factor in selecting finalist, after all the non eligible entries are removed. Going to a non-voting system would put an enormous amount of work on the staff, there were 800 entries into the shopbot contest and grading all of them would have been unreasonable. I like the "random" sorting idea, maybe that could be standard for viewing entries but the rest of the sorting options would still be there. Having user input, ie votes, for the contests is important but I do wish the rules were a little clearer on how they are used.

I have a question. Because votes do matter, how do Instructables posted late in the entry period have a chance of winning?

Semantics but in general terms, half the number of finalists are voted in to be finalists, staff and other related official staff like sponsors pick the rest of the finalists. Then, staff and a crew of random judges picked by staff, I got to be one once, rate and rank the finalists independent of the other judges. The scores are then all tabulated in some secret bunker somewhere to produce the list of winners. Yes, if an ible makes it to the finalists, they all have an equal chance of winning. If an ible is awesome, it will get noticed no matter how late it is posted.

Potentially, yes, but it does not seem to have happened (for instance, some of the most popular members of the site cannot win a contest because they are staff).