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Lessons Learned/Process Documentation Feature Answered

I have found that, in many new projects, there is a certain amount of planning and a whole lot more trial and error (as expected). As such, the second time I make a project may be drastically different based on the lessons learned from the first. When I think about how I want to present the Instructable, there is always a struggle to capture all the failed attempts without cluttering up the "go do this and it will most likely work" version. Perhaps it depends on the project. Sometimes, I want to just see the steps that work. Sometimes, it would be nice to hear every detail on what didn't work along the way and why the creator decided to do certain things and how their creative process flowed.

An idea would be to have some sort of collapsible section of each step that contains all the lessons learned. For example, if you're sewing button holes for the first time in your life, you will probably want to practice a few times. You could capture all the "unused" attempts in the "lessons learned" section of the "Sewing Button Holes" step without cluttering up the satisfactory attempt that you end up going with. This may not be such a useful feature for smaller, simpler Ibles, but could greatly enhance more complex Ibles that involve fairly experimental processes.

Maybe you've never used a miter saw before, so you research it a bunch and read all the Ibles on it and look through the forums. You could link all your research within the Lessons Learned and take everyone through your experiences and trials without bogging down your Ible step with too many photos and thoughts.

On a larger level than cleaning up Ibles, this could possible enhance the learning opportunity in every Ible, bringing emphasis to processes instead of end products. Maybe you could even tag the Lessons Learned sections and make them searchable as their own entities. Maybe you just want to create an entire Ible on each process you used and link it in the step. This could go in many directions...

Thoughts? Ideas? Post links to Ibles that might be able to benefit from something like this?


On the occasions when it would be appropriate, I simply add a step for the mistakes or lessons learned.

I agree with Kiteman. You have to keep in mind that you can edit your instructables whenever you want, so you can make changes, or add a whole new step just to keep your "lessons learned".

 If you have a new step created for lessons learned when doing a process that may not need to be specific to your Ible, I think it would be helpful to be able to search for this process.

Maybe if you could just tag steps separately from the Ible itself. So if all Instructables that include using a miter saw as a step have that tagged to the step, someone researching usage of a miter saw (for which there may not be an all-inclusing Ible already) could easily access the knowledge.

The ultimate goal is to best capture knowledge that is not Ible specific, I guess.

In that case, what you're after is a series of "How to use this specific tool" or "How to apply this specific skill" Instructables, which would say do do this, do that, don't do the other or you'll lose a kidney.

 True, except then you miss all the knowledge in random Ibles pertaining to the topic and only get the ones presented by one person in one Ible and the comments on that Ible. This would be a more automatic way to coalesce knowledge into a findable entity. A sort of way to assemble the wisdom of the masses.

"assemble the wisdom of the masses"

Aren't the masses commonly reffered to as "the ignorant masses"? (at least, in Dilbert comics they are) Could that be a problem?  :)

This was the original Journal Of Unpublished Chemistry idea... People generally want to know how to do something, separating the how-nots isn't helpful. Pointing to how-not from the how-to is part of it. That would be a yes & no I guess....


Perhaps the solution of tagging steps themselves would work, capturing both the How-to and How-not while allowing searchers to find the information without sifting through tons of Ibles that may or may not contain the process they're looking for.

Now that's a good idea. If step-tags populated automatically from the main tags (so they were tagged by default), those who wished could edit step tags to that end.


 Or the reverse -- that step tags would populate the master Ible tags, making the steps more specific than the Ible itself. This could possibly encourage people to write more effective tags because they focus on a much more narrowed-down portion of their Ible as they think up the tags.

I don't think many people could be bothered to tag every step, else that would be fine.


I think the emphasis should be presenting what works and how it was done.  I guess one should be able to deduce what not to do when they do it.  A lot of stuff I have made were "original" and was made up as I went along.  I felt it only needed mentioning in the step as a way for someone to improve upon it if they made it.

I do not feel a need to have a separate lessons learned and would not really document a project with that in mind.  As for a miter saw, I wanted all the information on how to properly use a miter saw.  Hints and tips on effectively using the saw were appreciated but I did not really search for lessons learned on how to use it.

 I don't think you CAN deduce every instance of what not to do when reading someones chosen way. I guess it's a little tricky. If I read a project and want to do it, I try to evaluate each step as I go and see if I can think of improvements. It might be useful to see all the alternate ideas people tried (that may not have worked) so I can avoid attempting those as improvements.

I agree that some projects just GO and you take photos and write about them, though. Those are some of my favorites.

You could always be too safe and overanalyze how to make something and be super efficient in the process.  But there is something about that sense of adventure in gaining real-world experience of learning something unexpected that is truly satisfying, even from a mistake. We love it when a plan just comes together. Make it work.