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I'm tired of "It's my first, be nice" Answered

Am I the only one who's tired of the people who use this little disclaimer as an excuse for a poorly written, poorly documented, non-unique, or otherwise substandard instructable? As far I'm concerned a first-time attempt is no reason for poor quality. If anything, it should mean they have taken extra care to ensure that everything is done well, in hopes of creating a good first impression and building some respect and appreciation from fellow contributors. Looking through the top rated instructables, a rather large number of them are their contributors first (and often times only) instructable, so obviously it is possible to create an excellent instructable your first time around. A person can keep a work in progress in their "unpublished" area indefinitely, so if extra documentation, proofreading, or the like are necessary, a person has all the time they need. So often it seems like the people using this excuse are rushing to get their project published, treating instructables more as a message board or even instant messaging. This is not how its meant to be. If a person has a unique idea, or frankly anything worth posting, unique or not, nobody is going to beat them to it. People need to slow down and make the best instructable they can, rather than falling back on the "it's my first, be nice" excuse. Above all, people need to take a little pride in their work.



Reply 11 years ago

Fair enough (but I was thinking about spelling and grammar, rather than technical stuff).

Wow, you replied before I even posted! So tell me, do you use your powers only for good or have they corrupted you even just a smidgen?

Gosh. W'appen? I must have been watching Heroes as I posted (it's just started in the UK). I'll be beaming into New York next...

(Strikes heroic pose, hands on hips, legs akimbo, jaw jutting.)

39 comments and we've hardly touched "this is my first instructable". It seems we're all more concerned with poor-quality postings? There's no need to advertise that this is one's first time, but people like to say "Hello, I'm new here". "My first instructable" is by way of an introduction, and it's inevitable. Perhaps etiquette would be to post a comment to the effect of "welcome to instructables, please follow this link (quote from ewilhelm on what a finished instructable is) and best wishes for future projects"? L

Perhaps we should encourage newbies (I've not been here long, so maybe that's me as well) to put the "it's my first" comment just there, in the comments? Constructive stuff about the Instructable (ways to improve it) could follow that thread, and the Instructablist (Instructableer?) could edit their posts as required. When the Instructable is "ready", the "my first time" thread could be deleted.

But you can't delete comments on your own and constructive advice should remain for others to see anyway.

Actually, the comments have generally headed in the same direction as my thinking, so maybe it was just a poorly worded title. My main issue is with people who use "this is my first" as an excuse for poor quality, I have no problem with the people who use it purely as an introduction to a reasonable quality post.

I agree with your issue, but I'm unsure whether this is commonly used as an excuse (for laziness). There are a large number of users who have joined simply to comment (no picture uploaded, no instructables). A user will feel their status elevated by posting an instructable, and when that's what motivates, you can get an excuse of an instructable. Now I'm coming around to your perspective. They put up something just so they have an instructable, then they feel the need to mitigate this action. Yes, you're right. Regards L

Spelling and grammar are far less important to instructragbles than the meaning of the entire project. The purpoose of the site is to share ideas and generate a common goal of increasing the technological scape of humanity in one way or another, not to spell-check. If someone has a good idea that may progress humanity to an upper level, this just might be the place that it may be found at; spelling/grammar has little to do with it. I'll take an exceptional idea from an illiterate far more than a mediocre idea from a genious any day.....

Spelling and Grammar establishes credibility and shows how much effort you put into said idea. Plenty of good ideas never make it anywhere because of this... Likewise, plenty of mediocre-bad ideas go global -- just look at The Sharper Image nowadays. Lots of so-so thingamabobs (expensive ones at that) and they sell due to the credit established behind the name. More so than sharing ideas - We're selling ideas to niche/target audiences. Most of the foodie stuff I post is targeted to those in the collegiate lifestyle. If someone else sees the idea and says "Hey, that's something I can/want to do" -- that's mission accomplished and makes me happy. I'll bet if I included muddy directions and poor to no pictures, I wouldn't get the response I've gotten thus far :) Meaning is lost when the audience is too busy struggling to understand an introduction :/

I agree with ya somewhat, as when someone spells "accelerator" as "excelirater", that ruins credibility, but the occasional typo should not be a discussion upon itself. It is quite important for people to make their projects clear, and I can't take the above person very seriously, but I do not dwell on a typo as a deciding factor on one's credibility. As I understand it, this is not an ad-site, it is a place for people to share ideas and inspire each other in their own creative endeavors. As far as some of the below comments go, People liek Bill Gates and Steve Jobbs have hired-hands to do their advertising, and it is THEY who do the spell-checking/etc. You would never know if Gates was a poor speller because his marketing department would correct it for him.

I agree with you ;) The occasional typo is perfectly fine - no one is perfect. I think I posted that somewhere in here :P Hell, it matches my blood type... type O :P

The problem comes when it's obvious that no effort was invested.

As I understand it, this is not an ad-site

Apparently, that's not necessarily 100% true. The admins mentioned that the reason the advertisements in the forums are not deleted because there's nothing in the rules/TOS that say otherwise. Apparently they're building a section just for advertising - to help makers find what they need (maybe) :)

Believe it or not, before they were big, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs did not have anybody writing their scripts. They were the marketing brains that made their companies what they are today.

The problem is that some people never spell check or anything. Some times it makes the projects impossible to do. Either way, it's extremely annoying.

Language and grammar are necessary to convey an idea. Shoot... That's the very reason we humans developed them! A good idea must to be described in such a way that it can be repeated. If it could be described using "1337," it's likely lame. A genius isn't going to waste his time describing a mediocre idea.

I disagree with one point :P A genius will take a mediocre idea and sell it as the latest, greatest must have idea ;) It doesn't even take a genius (IQ wise) -- but the act itself is a good sign :)

I would say a great marketer (read Bill Gates, Steve Jobs) can take a mediocre idea and make it the latest, greatest, must have idea. This doesn't take a genius, but it most definitely takes a great command of language and grammar!

>Grrr!< Now you've mentioned it, I see it everywhere!

and who's spelling and grammer is going to be the standard? american english german translated to french translated to american english a great idea is a great idea even with misspelled words and bad grammer and if i can't spell does that make my ideas less

Any language translated, even with some of the most cryptic translators, use better grammar that some of the Instructables I've seen (All apparently written by pre-pubecient US or Canada Americans.). Translators also rarely misspell. A great idea expressed with bad spelling and grammar is illegible and therefore moot. No one would ever know what the idea was. If you can't spell, use a spell checker! They're free! If you can talk, you can use proper grammar. Most of the bad grammatical errors I've seen in forums and Instructables were either a result of laziness or the idiotic 1337 (leet) talk which one would never use when having a real discussion.

I'm afraid to say I use 1337 talk during daily life. Mainly because it annoys my boss. Plus I'm old enough to know better = )

Spelling and grammar are standard within language.... "Standard" and language are "synonymous" ;)

Imagine someone posting in Swedish with misspelled words and improper language use.... How can someone that doesn't speak/read that language possibly have it translated to a language they understand. Considering the international community - it makes it that much more important (especially when you consider how much attention it takes to read auto-translated text in the first place) ;)

I honestly can't think of a sane person that would put their life in the hands of a doctor with a radical new idea for treatment if that doctor can't put his/her idea to paper coherently. If s/he can't do that, how can others in the community check his/her work for flaws. Are we all doctors? Some of us are (not necessarily M.D.s). But similar to what you said -- your job doesn't make your idea any less than another (but it could make it less credible).

Again, ideas are great... But they are only thoughts if not conveyed.... And if not conveyed with any credit, they're just the child that everyone asks "What the hell did his/her parents do?"

Hehe, just looking down the comments that I haven't seen until now... looks like others are thinking the same as far as language is concerned :P

What makes it worse.... Spell checking is VERY easy especially with software like TinySpell or even by using a browser like FireFox2 that has built in spell checking.

My last point.... I've noticed an interesting pattern/phenomenon on instructables with regards to spelling "debates" as this. And it's VERY good for instructables as it means the site has a healthy growth rate.... This same subject comes up regularly (every other month or so I think). And usually, it's by a member that wasn't registered the last time the topic came up :P Every time it ends with... yeah, spelling and etc. etc. are important things to keep in mind (typo's etc. excluded).

These "debates" do change policy (at least explicitly stated policy) around here though -- just look at the list that Weissensteinburg posted.

It doesnt make your idea less, but it does make it less of an instructable.

Quote from ewilhelm on what a finished instructable is:

- details a finished project with instruction (not just links to instructions)
- has clear images that you took of your project (web-found clip-art is not acceptable)
- uses proper spelling and grammar
- contains appropriate cautions or safety considerations
- does not violate someone else's copyright
- does not violate the Instructables terms of service
- is typically written about something you are very passionate about and want to share."

i think what is written in canadian english should stay canadian english

Did you read trebuchet's post? He very clearly summarizes my motivation for posting this: "Meaning is lost when the audience is too busy struggling to understand an introduction" You may have an amazing idea, but that doesn't matter if we can't figure out what the idea is. As far as standard spelling and grammar, British and American English spellings will both be acceptable, author's preference would determine which would be used. Near as I can tell, British and American English have the same grammar, so thats not an issue. If the instructable was written in a different language, then obviously the spelling and grammar of that language would apply.

I am relatively new to Instructables and rarely check on the Forums. But it is windy and raining outside, and the two hockey games on TV are both Eastern Conference games and of little interest to me. So I decided to kill some time here. This subject line immediately caught my eye (perhaps because of the missing apostrophe) and I have to say I agree with Andrew546. The Instructable on Instructables stresses the use of proper spelling and grammar, and gives plenty of guidance on how to do one properly. Yet some people who are providing instructions on working or playing with electricity, fire, explosives and other combustibles can not find the shift key, insert all three letters in the word "you" or correctly spell many of the nouns they recommend using, much less the verbs describing what to do with them. I agree that spelling and grammar establish creditability, and am reluctant to try anything (particularly if it might explode) recommended by someone too careless or sloppy to turn out a decent text. Besides, I am a blonde and therefore currently considered by society intellectually challenged (I do not know what knex is) and subject to countless internet cartoons like the Blonde girl's Geometry Test (which is really pretty funny). Still, I figured out how to run a text through spell check before posting it to an Instructable, and the system gives one ample time to check, recheck and edit before publishing. Ignoring those features seems to me to be an insult to the system and the people who developed it. I do not know what can be done about it, but I am glad to know that other people also see it for the irritating and tiresome situation it is. Thanks Andrew546.

perhaps because of the missing apostrophe

You kill me! Ha!

Sorry, but if you were killed by a KNEX gun (or KNEX spear, bow and arrow, knife, sling shot, Altoids tin launcher, etc.) it could not have been me. There would be, however, an abundance of other suspects at this site.


11 years ago

My first project was https://www.instructables.com/id/EIMFOHPWRZEXCFHWVP/ - I made sure that I read up on loads of other instructables first, had a camera handy and the idea nicely laid out. I've probably made dozens of spelling mistakes - but I enjoyed making it and won a competition with it! = )

It was the competition that spurred me into making an instructable and I've always fancied being a bit inventorish. Now's my chance to unleash it upon the world!

Next instructable will be a straw bale shelter for my allotment constructed from waste materials = )

Correct use of language is extremely important to many of the instructables here. A misunderstanding could cause anything from wasted time making something that doesn't work, to serious injury or police involvement.

A case in point - I recently posted an Instructable for building a simple jet engine fuelled by a form of alcohol rendered undrinkable. The correct name of the fuel is "methylated spirits" or "denatured alcohol". However, here in the UK, it is usually known as "meths".

I referred to "meths" all the way through the Instructable, blithely unaware that, to American readers, "meth" is an illicit psychostimulant.

There is context to consider. In my opinion, "sloppy" language is acceptable if the Instructable is intended to be humorous, and abreviated phrases like "IMO" and "AFAIK" are perfectly acceptable in the forum or comments.

I think that as long as people are willing to contribute, who cares if they missed an apostrophe, or mispelled 'mechanism'? Heck, I just retyped an entire 8-page instructable for someone! People were burying the guy in 'learn to type, nub' comments because of his poor grammar. He had a great idea, but nobody seemed to realize it. I agree that 'first time instructable-ist' is no reason for bad ideas or sloppy work, but give them a break. It IS their first time. They'll learn the ropes eventually.

Sure it is their first time making an instructable, but
is it their first time writing?
Is it their first time telling someone how to do something?
Is it their first time taking pictures?
Is it their first time spelling words?

I didn't think so. Just because its your first time creating an instructable doesn't mean your not well versed in the skills necessary to create a decent one.

I deeply appreciate that everyone cares so much about the quality of the site. It's too bad this is a printed and not a verbal, in-person medium -- I'd like you to see my eyes so I could easily convey the sincerity in this statement. Yes, poorly written Instructables are annoying, yes I do remove Instructables that cross a line. Perhaps that line is too low, but I tend to err on the side inclusiveness rather than exclusiveness. Having said that, three points: 1) Don't let the idea of a presenting an idea distract you on this issue. I agree that great ideas speak for themselves and, maybe, can transcend grammar and spelling. However, an Instructable is for sharing what you did and how you did it. Without the how, it's not an Instructable, and poor spelling and grammar seriously get in the way of showing the how. What you did, without the how is better suited for the forums. (Not to say poor grammar should be in the forums, though!) 2) If spelling and grammar are a serious impediment to sharing a great project (for non-native English speakers, who choose not to post in their native tongues, for example), the balance should be made up with great pictures. I'm guessing that this conversation wouldn't be happening if every poorly spelled Instructable had stunning pictures. 3) My personal approach to this problem is to lead by example. I try to set the bar high by posting well-written Instructables with great pictures (I hope). In terms of how we deal with this as a community, here at Instructables, we're desperately trying to finish a bunch of of new stuff, including more ways to bring to good stuff to the top and to get the junk off as soon as possible. You guys are telling us you don't want to be distracted by junk, and we'll soon have tools to make that happen. In the meantime, thanks for bearing with us while we get the new stuff out there. Also, in case it wasn't clear, I consider this a conversation and will always try to listen respond as I can. So, keep letting us know your thoughts.

I'd like to add something to what Andrew posted.... Everyone makes mistakes. And sometimes, proofreading yourself won't catch all of them. So, if someone says... "Hey, you misspelled XXXXXX" - don't take it personally. They're watching your back ;) This, of course, assumes that it's evident that you put effort into your work.... I say this, because I just realized that I misspelled "Pseudo" in the title of one of my instructables posted awhile ago when I went to use it in a link. And yes, I went back and changed it.

I agree. I, and I hope everyone else wont pee their pants if a word is misspelled, an apostrophe is missing, or they used "me" instead of "I" I believe most of us are just against things such as using one letter for a three letter word (r-are u-you) and saying cuz instead of because. Its the laziness that bothers me. And of course this includes the people who just have crazy spellings for things because the letters are easier to reach than the correct spelling.

Maybe everyone should just get firefox, which checks your spelling automatically.

on a more practical note, maybe a spell checker could be integrated into the editing interface.

Every program on my computer checks spelling automatically. This is a built-in feature of Mac OS X (10.4). Well, all but Firefox!


11 years ago

I agree, but some people are total nubs and don't know how to make one, and they learn within their second or third. If they don't, they will get comments that say "this sucks". What I really hate is instructables that aren't proofread or spellchecked or anything. People who type "thisis the bedt instrucable evr! u will be amazzed!"

Remember though, you don't want to give people a bad first impression of Instructables.

True, we don't want to intimidate people to the point of them not posting at all, but on the other hand you don't want people to be turned away because the first project they saw was a one-step wonder documented in Paint and written in 3-year-old. I think we should have a set of basic standards. It could possibly be implemented in such a way that first time contributors will be directed to these guidelines when they create there first. Either that, or it could be displayed as a sidebar in the editing interface, just a gently reminder of basic standards.

Well, theres a happy medium to it, like, try to do the best you can first time around, but don't expect people to ooo and awe at it because you're new.

there should be a editor group that has enough permissions to change only misspelled words in all instructables

I was thinking of something like that, but I think having this "editor group" be able to directly edit a project is taking it a bit far. I think what would be better is an option to submit it for editing and ideas for improvement from this group before publishing it for all to see. Something like an "unpublished, but viewable for editing" section.

I Kind of agree with you, spelling and grammar is never excusable, but some people will mess up something because they cant understand a future...hell, for my first instructable it took me 10 minutes just to figure out the image notes. And of course we should always be nice to people, not just when its the first.