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Is this site for us any more; or is it just all about promoting sponsors' products? Answered

This site used to be fantastic...it really felt like a community where people were generous with what they had discovered and wanted to share with everyone else, and I think most contributors come here, still,  and share with that same attitude. But the vibe has very much changed...and quite clearly the site has become far more focused on its sponsors.

What has happened with the search function? When functionality has been limited you know that the site is more about what they want you to see and less about what YOU want to see.

And how long before the site only contains Instructables using Duck tape and that modelling clay stuff I had never before heard of but which now seems to be everywhere on this site?

I am very disappointed that this site isn't really about its users anymore. I used to recommend it to everyone, but when I brought a friend here yesterday I realised that it isn't what it was. It is a very great shame.

(will be interesting to see how long this thread lasts)


As an official Instructables person, I was going to address your points, but it looks like it's been mostly taken care of. So here's a couple things:

As far as duct tape and Sugru taking over, that just sounds like timing on your part. We have a LOT of content. Yes, a lot of people in the DIY space like duct tape (no big surprise) and now Sugru (more of a surprise since it's new). So those get used a lot. But not enough to be taking over.

If you want to see some more common things, check out LEGO, K'NEX, Dremel, glue guns, drills, cakes, solar panels, LEDs, and many more.

In terms of any more focus on sponsors we do have ads and contests. These do help pay the bills and keep the site running. Since contests are skill-based and cannot require the use of any product you aren't forced to use any product. It's the law and, more importantly, rude to do that.

As far as sponsored content, which caitlinsdad brought up, I can talk about that since I've made a bit. That gets produced and is sometimes (but not always) featured on the site and the newsletter, but that's it. It's not stuck on the front page for a week or forced with an interstitial or anything. We also work with the sponsors as much as possible to make the content as interesting as we can. After all, that's what matters.

Even so, there's not that much of that either. Add up all of that and we're up to a few dozen so far.

Also, you don't like the search function. I hear ya. I never use it myself and have requested a change, but I don't make those changes.

wow, this is like the Pope coming out to address the crowd. Thank you for an honest reply.

We stand ready for our maker auditing.

Yup, I'm in my mod-powered Popemobile. Impervious to negative comments thanks to the power of admin powers.

Which I wouldn't use because there's no point in removing comments unless they're totally useless and full of hate. These are far from that.

I'd love to be on here more to discuss these issues, but I'm often doing things away from the site or am focused on specific parts of it.

I understand, you have to bring to justice those that leave the shrimp shells in the sink.

Hah! I leave the kitchen and workshop alone. Trying to control that chaos only makes you crazy.

The site needs to turn a profit, so it follows tha t-
The community is a root, but as these things go when money is involved they go like -


Finally, your apparent dislike of "sponsorship", and your grasping at unrelated issues to try to justify that dislike, carries with it an inescapable odor of whiny entitlement. If you really think the site should be self-sufficient, and not asking for corporate money, then why haven't you stepped up to the plate to support the site yourself?

what a nasty person you are. Do you spend your entire life on here looking for people to snipe at?

I am expressing a sincerely held view and inviting responses from others. Bullying me won't change my view.

I'm not trying to bully. You titled your topic rather nastily and you included lots of unnecessary innuendo regarding motive. I addressed both of your factual complaints as clearly and factually as possible, and separated out my response to your unrelated attack. If you weren't trying to be nasty, maybe you could clarify what you were trying to do, or maybe rephrase your posting to focus on the issues which are really important.

You don't consider "inescapable odor of whiny entitlement" to be very rude?

I certainly do. Rude is not bullying. Rude is rude. I deliberately separated my rude (actually, more like fed-up) response to what appeared to be a desire that you get all the good stuff on the site without the site having any source of income to the rest of your argument. The rest of which, by the way, did have some important comments, or misstatements of fact to be clarified.

I am at a loss to know why it is ever necessary to be deliberately unpleasant towards anyone we disagree with, however strongly.

To make it personal by referring to my not having paid for the site does come across as bullying and entirely inappropriate, as there are aspects of the site which are free, and functions for which one pays. Not needing the extras, I do not need to pay. Nobody has ever suggested to me that the site needs my support.

Does paying for the extras make you feel somehow morally superior to those of us who do not pay?

I think what he's trying to say, is that everyone paid, there'd be no need for the sponsorship which you so hate. Conversely, if no-one paid, there'd be a lot more sponsorship/adverts.

Basically, you don't get something for nothing. Users that pay for or earn (through getting Instructables featured) pro membership get a reduction in adverts and banners. For those that don't support the site, content is still free and usable, but there are a few more product placements/adverts.

I am not complaining about banners etc. My impression, which would now appear to be not entirely justified (I am open to being persuaded), is that some products get a lot of mentions here.

I am interested that in Kelseymh's responses it became apparent that only a tiny proportion of the projects mention the use of sygru, for instance, because if so, why does the name keep popping into my head when I am here, especially considering it is not a product I have EVER seen here in the UK?

I have to conclude that Sugru is being given dispropportionate coverage here . How else would I be aware of it?

I think that in the maker "scene", certain new things come along and people go crazy about them. A few years ago it was arduino, because it was cheap and easy. It became a catchphrase for ALL microcontrollers. Last year, sugru was released. They got a lot of good press because it was an awesome material that was excellent for fixing and modifying things. This year, the raspberry pi just came out and so there's a big trend in projects using those at the moment. Is that what you mean? Come spring, it's likely it'll be Ouya, a new hackable games console that just got a LOT of funding on Kickstarter, or the Leap which is like the kinnect but more accurate.

ok, but Kelseymh just said that Sugru is not specified in any but a small minority of project titles.

That was the point he was making in order to shoot my argument out of the water.

I got emails encouraging me to make sugru the basis of my contest project entries....etc, and whenever I open the site the word leaps out at me, just as duct tape seems to. I do not believe that this is passive or even just part of a user-driven hype. I think it is driven by marketing involved in the site

There was a contest (Nov 2010) based on, and with prizes donated by, Sugru. There was also a Sugru Weekly Challenge last October. Those would have generated a lot of I'bles at the time, and probably e-mail encouraging you to contribute to those specific contests. I don't find any other Sugru related promotions since then.

Are you still (currently) getting product-solicitation in your I'bles emails? I'm asking seriously, because as near as I can tell, there is only one product-specific contest currently running, the Jack Daniels one. The laser and LED contests are being sponsored by particular companies, but they aren't supposed to be company-product specific (as the Sugru contest was).

If you are, would you be willing to either PM me or Kiteman with some examples which we could pass on to Staff?


I don't recall seeing emails as the author describes, but I do recall the Sugru challenge.

What you are all saying is that sugru people have not been over hyping sugru and that apart from a challenge last year there has been almost nothing.

That kind of proves my point.

I come on here far less frequently than when it felt like a community of creative people, yet despite coming here seldom and not being on here as a PRO and seeing all the politics etc (you are all familiar with teh complicated relationships and arguments), I have still seen sugru mentioned all over the place.

And once I asked in one project whether the material would survive frequent bending, and within seconds a sugru employee answered me!

How does information the opposite of what you claim prove your point?

And what is the significance of a Sugru employee posting here? Are people from other parts of the Maker movement not allowed to join this site?

We have members who are purveyors of LEDs, papercrafts, jewellery, food, yarn. We have educators, engineers, biologists, game-designers, graphic artists.

Will you always be suspicious if a specialist answers one of your questions?

FY|, before Sugru had their own forums, they used these. I've met the Sugru folk, they're very nice people.

"How does information the opposite of what you claim prove your point?"

Because despite seldom coming here I still leave with sugru in my mind on the few occasions I pop in, which would seem to disprove claims that they have not been promoted since last October.

Challenge me to name a manufacturer of ANY other product on this site and.....well, in all honesty, I cannot think of a single one. There could be thousands and probably are....but it is interesting that I cannot bring any to mind.

Got to say, although I agree with a lot of what you have said, Sugru doesn't form part of my memories of Instructables.....I could reel of a lot of others, but Sugru just doesn't feature. I don't find it useful for anything I do. YMMV

what I find most interesting (and what serves to make more objective any impressions I have of sugru marketing is the fact that I have never seek it, never used it and never heard of it except on here...and am not even sure it is available in the UK....I know NOBODY who has ever heard of the stuff.

Yet I go away from my infrequent visits here knowing the name and how to spell it, etc

That does not happen by accident. Only an artist in residence would try to argue otherwise

Actually, Its MADE in the UK, I've met the people who invented it (and who are, as has been noted, very nice folks) at various maker faires over the last couple of years ....I just don't see the point of their product.......it seems to me to be a bodging tool like duct tape.

I see it fitting in as a prototyping material, filed near plasticene, Polymorph and epoxy.

Fun fact: The GB fencing team used it on their foils in the olympics to make them more ergonomic.

Haha, I'm working through my inbox, and just got to the same email you must have read!

That's a cool special offer as well.

Oh, I can see that - grippier and more flexible than Polymorph.

You must not be the target demographic of the Sugru company. Or their marketing has no persistence for you. It has been part of a lot of the schwag to be won in challenges and contests. You do see a whole slew of sugru ibles clustered together when they are published since it is a product that can be simply used to generate multiple ibles which seem SPAMlike because it is so product specific. I mention it in my ibles just like there are alternatives - ooglo, epoxy putty, wad of chewing gum, whatever does the job. I have used it from the sample packs ibles gave out one time. It has a limited shelf life and you have to buy it online.

I think I don't like the way it doesn't lend itself to engineered structures, that, and its life span in the damned packet - although refrigerating it helps.

It's like someone handed you a tube of epoxy or a pot of the adhesive from the back of the post-it (r) notes. Sugru applications may be limited to some applications which it is good for, and Sugru is still trying to find out what works.

I have also found it's "unopened shelf life" to be limited insomuch that one can not "stock up" on it, and use it months later. I had to supliment a package I had with automobile body putty just to keep the package I had used from crumbling away. I find it useful, but it hasn't the same shelf life of say a tupe of epoxy. :-)

I run into more Craftsman ads than others. Occasionally an Autodisc ad of course, and other tool makers....sometimes it depends on "WHAT" and where you post as to what ads will be "tailored" to you.

Not in the least. I fully agree with you that if you don't need the extra features, you should not be required to pay (I personally avoid sites where all the content is behind a pay-wall, on principle). And I apologize for my own rudeness.

One of the things which happened during the discussions in 2010 about creating paid accounts in the first place, was that strong community input (both for and against) directly informed the decisions about which features to make pay-only, and which to continue to provide all members.

It was entirely your opening the discussion about sponsorships, in a disparaging way, which set me off. Sponsors are solicited to offset the costs of contests, to provide worthwhile prizes, and to help pay the significant costs of actually running the site (which includes a staff of more than a dozen humans, with office space, benefits, etc., besides the computing).

As presented, your post made it sound like (which in the course of this discussion, is not accurate) you were against sponsorship at all. That obviously raises the question of how the site should support itself. The paid accounts are the only existing alternative. Advocating (or, as I noted above apparently advocating) to drop one method of support, without apparently being willing to participate in the other, is what I disliked.

You have made it clear that what your position sounded like is not, in fact the point you were trying to make. My apologies.

very cool of you to explain and apologise. Thanks. Sorry if I expressed myself badly and caused offense. I am not a "professional" of any kind here. I am outsider, really. Not familiar with the politics etc

I just ACCESS the site (though I HAVE written a few, as you can see)

You know, I have some of the same perceptions as Tinworm. (expects to be glommed on by the corporate shills as one termed it) . I guess I should know better as these should be fhe "feel good" forums but seeing how ibles regards forum participation as an insignificant part of the communication and only analyzes hard numbers, it kinda dropped it down a notch. For what it's worth, I have observed the change in "the vibe" to more "sponsorship". It may be part of the push to get more hard numbers but the non-curating of new ibles - more spamlike ibles or random non-maker stuff ibles remaining on the listings and the NASCARizing/product placement products on ibles from HQ iblers makes is more commercialized. I understand them pushing or promoting a hackerspace or sponsor, especially trying to integrate one as part of a contest, even their own parent company products. Maybe the abundance of duct tape ibles is the result of no one really having access to or wants to pay for the services of 3-d printing or lasercutting. When ibles was an "indie" operation, things did not matter as much as search engine SEO. So yeah, no need to explain yourself . It's your opinion and not something that needs to be cross-examined in a court of logic when the Knights Templar, Defender of the Robot pounce.

Some of this I agree with, some I don't. I haven't seen as many SPAMmy I'bles as you have, probably because I deliberately skip the photo- and video-only sections (which seemed to be where most of the SPAM went, hence my reason for skipping them).

I do see an awful lot of SPAMmy forum topics do not get filtered away, as I think they should be :-( I do my best to catch them when I see them, but it's an endless battle, as you know.

I have not noticed a general influx of "sponsored product" step-by-step I'bles. What I have noticed, especially with the "weekly challenges", is more frequent bursts of "common topic" I'bles. They don't seem to be so much product-based (that seems to be more a trait of the big contests), but just variations on a theme, and they get repetitive pretty fast, at least to me.

The main "product placement" I have noted over the past month or two -- which I don't remember seeing since the Craftsman Tools contest -- is the slew of "done at TechShop" in the titles of Instructables. This, to me, is really annoying commercialization (despite my admiration for what TechShop has accomplished in the past six years). I don't know if there's some financial incentives there, or if TechShop supports their members to do this, or what, but it definitely bugs me.

I get what you both say.

Regarding TechShop, I was there a couple of days ago, and they have a large poster up, promising a free lesson for every Instructables posted that includes the phrase "done at TechShop". Since you aren't allowed to use any of the fun tools at TechShop until you have completed a certain number of (paid for) lessons, I can understand the issue there.

I would take issue with the "non curating" point, though. A large part of the reason for the existence of the Community Team is to bring on new members, helping them to improve the projects they publish, and that is something we spend a lot of time doing behind the scenes [OK, right now I'm doing more Making than curating, but others are spending a huge slice of their day doing that]. From my current perspective (it's a high stool), I can also say that a lot of HQ staff time, both permanent staff and interns, is spent working one-to-one with members on their projects.

"Since you aren't allowed to use any of the fun tools at TechShop until you have completed a certain number of (paid for) lessons, I can understand the issue there."

sounds like Scientology!

Yes, when you reach Tech Level 9 on a catamaran made out of entirely CNCed and 3D printed parts you learn that Dremel is in fact the name of a water god alien being from 23 galaxies away. It's heavy stuff and if you're not prepared for it beforehand it will blow your mind so hard they'll be picking your gray matter off the ceiling.

Techtology? I'm picturing John Travolta trying to use a milling machine....

The TechShop stuff sounds to me like those really annoying "offers" I get from my TV provider -- "recruit three of your friends and get this $50 discount."

From TechShop's POV, and that of the users, it's a great system -- free training on very cool equipment (for the users) and free advertising aimed directly at the right demographic (for TS).

It's annoying for the rest of us, but it is definitely not Instructables' fault (and thanks to Kiteman for the info).

Some of this I agree with, some I don't
That's the point, I usually stay of these discussions when I know it ends up belittling someone expressing an opinion who probably has the same passion and devotion to the site as you or I.  Unless you are prepared to defend your opinion like a doctorate dissertation, I would be scared to say anything here.  And seeing no "official" response from ibles staff, tech support being another matter, you have members at large offering their steadfast opinion on the matter.

I just go for the recent all instructables to see what is going on.  So we have Randy Radio Shack, Jessy 123D, and scooch should line up some baking product sponsor.  What they haven't figured out is really how to push Autodesk.

kelseymh's response was so viscious that I thought he must be an employee, but from what you say, caitlinsdad, they don't need employees on these forums because there are others ready to leap on someone like me. I appreciate the support.

I am glad you form the same impressions.

kelsey and kiteman, if there is no evidence ...if I am wrong about all this, if the emails are thinner on the ground than I feel and if there really haven't been the ibles my sub-conscious registers etc tec...

if I am just plain wrong...

why do I have an impression that others share?

Discussion topics that are verboten or will be derailed riding that train....

1. Religion
2. Scientific theories with unsubstantiated peer reviewed facts and factoids.
3. Religion with unsubstantiated peer reviewed facts and factoids.
4. Veganism and meatisms.
5. Robot caught with his shocks down.

add to the list as you like...

Third, how exactly are you relating either the search engine Instructables pays to use, or the materials which the user community chooses, to "sponsorship"?

Major contest sponsors at Instructables have been Radio Shack (which sells neither), Sears (Craftsman Tools), Home Depot, and various other companies which sell either components, materials, or tools for do-it-yourself projects.

Instructables was bought last year by AutoDesk, the company which publishes AutoCAD among other things. Unless something has changed dramatically in the past few weeks, they do not own or sell either duct tape or Sugru.

Your premises seem lacking in a certain, er, coherence.

Well, I am guessing I am not alone in forming this impression. I don't know the financiel make-up of the place, but I do see a great change in the set-up of the site, away from a very community based sharing and more towards a site which seems to have been edited.

You can diss me all you want, but it doesn't very helpfully reassure me that my views are unfounded.