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Put links in descriptions to a website of a supplier Answered


I was contacted  by a supplier who asked me if I would like to put links in the description to their website where you can purchase the components that I used.

I have no problems with that but is this allowed on Instructables?


Kind regards,




Answer 1 year ago

Dear Jack A Lopez,

Yes, these are my instructions, my website and my product and I myself develop different options for using carbon tape. If this is not prohibited by the rules, I will be happy to write about it in the profile and instructables.

Jack A LopezShenzhen

Answer 1 year ago

Hello Shenzhen,

I should have written to you sooner, like about a month ago, at the same time I wrote a comment, pointing to you as an example.

My goals today are to try to defend my comment, about the difference between honest and dishonest (less honest?) linking, and to also make peace with you, and your defenders, to the extent this is possible.

So, the first thing I have to do is apologize to you, Shenzhen, because I have screwed this up, in two ways.

The first apology is for making a comment about you, behind your back, i.e. without telling you about it first, because that was rude. No one likes to have people wispering about him or her.

The second apology is for me failing to warn you about danger in a timely manner. This second one is a failure through inaction, analogous to seeing somebody walking down a sidewalk, about to step on a banana peel, or a pile of dog poop. I mean the considerate thing to do is to yell out a warning, like, "Hey! Watch out! Don't step on that!"

One excuse I have for not writing to you sooner, is that I really do not like telling other people what to do.

In fact, in my experience, pointing out someone is doing something wrong is a poor way to start a conversation, because advice about what someone is doing wrong... It's usually not advice that someone wants to hear.

Another excuse for me is that I am not certain about the actual danger, or seriousness, of inaction. I mean, this thing on the sidewalk. Is it a rattlesnake, or a piece of rope? Is it a banana peel, or a candy bar wrapper?

If it is rattlesnake, you would probably want to know about it. If it is a candy bar wrapper, well, you might think I was being overprotective, or weird, or even rude, for trying to warn you about it.

By the way, on the subject of, "the rules", I am not one of those people who take rules very seriously. Moreover, I try to look to my own behavior first, and follow my own personal rules, before pointing fingers at others.

My own rules, that I try to follow: 1) Be nice. 2) Be truthful. 3) Stay out of other people's business. There might also be a zeroth (0th) rule about defending myself and my reputation. Also there might be a fourth (4th) rule about the expense of time and effort.

Sometimes these rules come into conflict with each other.

As an easy example, if I read some stupid comment on the forums here, it would be very tempting to write a comment of my own to correct that comment with a comment of my own (because of Rule 2, truth is important) However, the best course of action is usually not to comment at all, because of Rule 1 (Be nice.), and also Rule 3 (Stay out of other people's business.), and also Rule 4 (A comment is not worth the effort.)

Also I can imagine a circumstance where Rule 3 and Rule 1 come into conflict, and this is the situation I described previously, of seeing somebody walking down the sidewalk, about to step in a pile of dog poop. Normally, I would prefer to stay out of this person's business (Rule 3), yet courtesy (i.e. being nice, Rule 1) demands that I yell out some sort of warning.

By the way, the metaphorical rattlesnake, or pile of dog poop, about which I feel the need to warn you about, is a monster called FTC (Federal Trade Commission), which is a part of a much larger monster, called the former US government, and rules the FTC has in regards to disclosure in product endorsements.

Also, I am not trying to scare you, by dropping the name of this big TLA (three letter acronym) government agency. It turns out I only recently found out about the FTC's involvement by doing a search for words like, "blogger affiliate endorsements disclosure",


I mean, I already knew that disclosure was a decent (Rule 1) and honest (Rule 2) thing to do, but I did not know any governments were involved.

I do not recall the exact search I used, but some of the articles that came up are still in my browser's history, here:




Do I have to explain why disclosing business relationships you have with products you endorse, is a decent, honest thing to do?

I mean, from the perspective of someone looking at your blog, or in this case an Instructable, it kind of comes down to a question of: What is motivating the endorsement?

Is the product being linked because the author believes in the merits of the product? Or is this product being linked because the author makes money when you buy the product through that link?

It is possible for the motivation to be for both reasons simultaneously; i.e. the author is making money from sales that happen at the linked URL, and the author truly believes this product to be the preferred answer to the task at hand.

However, it is also possible the desire for the author to make money, is actually the stronger of those two motivations. The other motivation, being a desire to help the reader, and to help him or her find a product for to fill some need, or solve some problem.

I mean, if the overriding goal is to simply solve the problem, or meet the spec, then why not link to the web site of a competing seller? Or every competing seller?

That would be honest (consistent with Rule 2), and it would be being nice to others (consistent with Rule 1). Although it would certainly take more effort (violating Rule 4), to discover and link to those other URLs.

Of course the main problem with linking to competitors, is this would violate Rule 0, which is self-defense, and defense of reputation.

Also by the way, I am not sure if Instructables.com has any rules about disclosure of business relationships in links to product sellers. Also I mentioned the FTC's rules for endorsements, and I think I linked to those in one of the URLs I linked to previously in this reply.

It is also worth noting, that I don't know what actions, if any, FTC or Instructables.com, actually takes against people that break their rules. It might be they rarely do anything, or that when they do act, they will write you a warning first. That is a guess on my part. I mean, honestly I do not know how they do their thing. It just seems like, giving you a warning first, would be the courteous, civilized way to do it.

At this point, I feel like I have done my best to live up to my own rules, of Rule 0 (defending my rep, by defending a comment I wrote previously), Rule 1( being nice, by letting you know what I know about disclosure rules and stuff), and Rule 2( by truthfully telling you everything I know about this topic, which I admit, is not much)

I regret that I had to break Rule 3 (by paying attention to business not my own), and Rule 4 (by spending time and effort on writing another looooooooooooong reply to a comment on an internet forum)

Also I feel bad about breaking Rule 1 ( by being NOT nice, by making a comment about you, without writing to you about the same day)

Do you think there is more I should write, in the interest of honesty? Or maybe less, in the interest of minding my own business?

I think I should also mention that I am nobody special here at Instructables. I do not know anyone on the staff. I do not have any influence with these people, and I myself, am almost totally ignorant about the rules here.

Also I want to mention that I am not a tattletale. I am not particularly interested in enforcing rules, or snitching, or running and telling your name to those in charge. I am not plotting, or lobbying against you. In fact, I think the only time and place I have ever mentioned your username on the forums here, was just that one comment, 24 days ago, on this topic.


In summary, I think I've said, written, everything I feel I have to say here.

Also I am not going to say that you must, or should, follow my advice regarding putting a disclosure notice in front of product links.

What was the goofy Zen advice Morpheus gave to Neo? I think he told him that he could only show him the path, but he, Morpheus, could not walk the path for Neo.

Anyway, I hope this message finds you happy and healthy, and accomplishing great things, and I wish you success with your business endeavors, and I wish you peace and harmony with those you live and work with.


Answer 1 year ago

It's possiblt that shenzen is the actual manufacturer of the products, that he believes in them, and wants to make people aware of their many uses. That being said, they could probably be combined into one instructable, but then each of the individual projects is better found by separating them into seperate instructables with specific keyword tags to those projects. If his many similar instructables are not being featured, and he isn't charging outrageous prices for his components, I don't see the issue. How many people out there are cranking out very similar instructables at a high rate. So what if he's making a living off instructables. It is one thing to condemn somebody for selling something, but as long as we continue to buy things, we are part of the problem too.


1 year ago

Yes you are allowed to link suppliers, it makes it easier for people to re-create the Instructable.

Things may only get questionable if you profit from the links through some affiliate program. While I'm not sure if it's against the rules, some people may not like the idea.


1 year ago

Sure because it falls under, where you acquired the components as a help to members who make your project for them selves :-)