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Republishing Past Instructables and Some Ideas for Contest Improvement Answered

I have seen many users entering instructables into current contests that were published at an earlier date, some even placing. Because of this I am wondering about Instructables feelings toward such things.

I have several Instructables which were published within the last few months that never had the chance to be entered into a related contest, but now there are some contests that fit perfectly. Am I permitted to publish a new version of those Instructables in order to qualify, or are some of the past examples of this being done just what got through the cracks?

In any case, I would like to suggest a few options for improvement, any of which would help greatly:

1. All contests should allow any fresh instructables to enter, at least those created only a few months prior to the starting date.

2. Users should have warning of what contests are to come in the near future. This would at least allow those who are currently working on new content to know whether or not to delay publishing by a few days in order to qualify.

3. A new instructable could be allowed a limited number of contest entries (3 for example), to be used at any time in the future until they are expended. This would allow users to enter into related contests as they appear, but still force the creation of new content once the entries for past instructables are gone. This would also clear up much of the unrelated clutter in contests because users would be more careful not to use up their entries in contests that their instructable really doesn't fit well with.

Any of those options would be a much appreciated courtesy to those who provide the content for this site, much of which seems to be labeled ineligible to the contests by mere days because there was no warning to wait. I understand that contests are made to inspire new content for the site, but I do not believe that those who have recently contributed without that incentive should be left out. Any of the above options would keep the same effect as the current system, yet also be good to those who contribute before a reward is offered.

Overall my point is that instructables made within the past few months to a year are still fresh content which is bringing traffic and revenue to the site. It is only fair that the creators should still be eligible for recent contests.


The problem is that it's such a slippery slope, NightHawkInLight. I see what you're saying (and have experienced that frustration of BUT I JUST PUBLISHED THE PERFECT ENTRY FOR THAT! many times), but I just don't see how it's workable. I wouldn't say I'm "happy" about it, but I don't see how it would make it any fairer to give a grace period or how it would truly help - the practical effect would be to move all contest entry deadlines back two weeks. It might make some people lucky, but on the whole, not a huge improvement.

That said, I don't know how to combat the "save your ibles for contests that might come up" syndrome. I don't know what a good solution would look like.

Actually, my thought could be simplified further: Just have all contests open on the first day of the month. That way everyone knows that there will not be another contest popping up for x amount of days, and can then decide if they want to wait and see.

What do you think of the idea I had to have no starting deadlines on the contests but only allow instructables to be entered a limited number of times? That way every instructable can have an equal number of chances in the contests. Old instructables would only very rarely show up, because the creators would have to be very patient to not use their entries at the first opportunities that arise. Of course, you couldn't give all past instructables three new entries if the rule were implemented or there would be a flood of fossils in the contests for the first month. The new feature would have to be given only to instructables created after it was implemented.

Or how about this: Contests could accept all entrants that were created after the first of the month in which the contest was opened. That way people know that if they post early in the month they will be eligible for any contest that is to appear over the course of that month. If months are not a good enough guide to follow, it could be that any entrants are accepted that were published after the date of the last newsletter.

It seems that there's got to be some way to get a little bit of the guesswork out of it.

The automated contest-entry system does not actually allow you to enter projects that were published before the start-date. As Caitlinsdad says, to get in you have to re-publish from scratch, with a "significant improvement". Between entering and results, entries go through three levels of human intervention, so anybody bending the rules will get found out. The majority of people involved are long-term members who make a habit of looking at as many projects as possible, and will recognise re-published projects.

Having said that, if you spot an entry that should not be there, you can always PM a member of staff or email the address at the bottom of the page.

As for dates:

Even if you allow pre-published projects into a contest, you've got to draw the line somewhere, so there will always be people who miss out on a contest.

"Even if you allow pre-published projects into a contest, you've got to draw the line somewhere, so there will always be people who miss out on a contest."

I replied to this point already in a post below. Of course you need to draw the line somewhere with a deadline, I'm suggesting that it should be drawn further back. If there is not going to be forewarning of a contest that is in the near future, users should have some grace to enter if a contest is opened shortly enough after publishing that they could have waited to qualify. As it is now, if I come up with a great idea for an instructable that doesn't qualify for current contests, I have no idea whether or not a contest will be opening in the next few days that it might qualify for. If I published it today thinking it might be months before a qualifying contest appears and something does open up tomorrow, I'm left out due only to lack of information. Allowing eligibility for instructables published a short time before a contest would correct for that.

Also, your point only applies to the first option for improvement that I suggest, either of the others would leave nobody out in the cold. Simply providing more information about upcoming contests before they are opened wouldn't hurt anyone. Likewise, having no starting deadline for contests but only allowing a limited number of applications per instructable would give everyone an equal shot to enter. Use up how many times an instructable can be entered and you've had your chance, there's no discrimination there whatsoever.

OK, so you forewarn people that there will be a contest coming up, so don't publish your Turkish delight recipe yet...

Unfortunately, I just published my Turkish delight recipe 20 minutes before you gave the notice. Do you push the date back those 20 min? What about Dave, who published his the day before? Mick, who published his the day before that?

It doesn't matter where you draw the deadline, there will always be somebody on the wrong side of it, and they will always think they have a good case for the deadline being moved...

Projects are already allowed a limit of three contest entries. It just so happens that they are only allowed to be entered into contests that are already open, because, as I said, the line has to be drawn somewhere.

Yes, I get that. In fact I spent the majority of my last post responding to the first time you said it, but I will do so again. Yes, people would still post their instructables before notice of a contest is given. However, if notice is given a month, or even two weeks ahead of time, the vast majority of people would not want to keep their instructable to themselves for that long in order to qualify. Therefore, the people that posted before notice was given would for the most part realize that they would not have wanted to leave the instructable unpublished for that long in order to qualify.

There are people unhappy with the current system, I am proof of that. Your argument seems to be that since someone will always be unhappy there is no reason to consider how to improve.

I have put time and effort into several ideas on how to improve the current system. I would like to explore the possibility that the contest process could be made better, but it seems you cannot entertain such an absurd thought. Please, I do not want to participate any longer in an argument about the nature of deadlines. If you think that my ideas would make the contest experience less enjoyable for the majority of users, by all means, just say it. Even better, if you have an idea that would improve on one of mine, or something else that would satisfy more people I would like to know what it is. Surely your creative mind can think of some way you would like to see the contests improved. Entertaining ideas about how the site might change isn't going to kill anyone. That's what feedback should inspire.

I'm going to leave this, because you are just not getting the point.

You want to change the system to your advantage, because you seem to be focused on material gain from your work.

Most members are perfectly happy with the system, because they are Makers first, and contestants second.

That's the deepest insult you could give me. I am not trying to work anything to my advantage. All I have been trying to do here is promote a discussion on how to improve the current system and have thus far only been defending my thought that something could use to be changed. I have already told you my motives, to create a more enjoyable contest experience for more people. I am trying to improve a major part of what keeps new content flowing to this site. I could be wrong as to how to go about it, that is why I keep asking for other thoughts. You should know how deep of an insult telling a maker he is only in it for material gain is. Just because I enjoy having more people see what I've created doesn't mean that's what I'm in it for. I really don't want to be enemies, but I'm finding it difficult to like you when you have provided no constructive thought, and are now becoming condescending and hurtful.

Insult was not my intent, so I apologise.

However, I stand by all my points - the line has to be drawn somewhere, and the only places it can be drawn with any fairness are either at the time the the contest is announced, or from the day the website was created (and even then, I bet there'd be somebody who complains about this project they posted on their own blog the day before...)

Alright, thank you for clearing that up. I may have overreacted, and I know I haven't been too cheery in my responses myself.

It looks like this disagreement is mostly a matter of differing opinions on what effect change might have - In which case, I don't think either one of us will convince the other. I respectfully disagree with you, and I can live with that.

I believe if you have a significant change or improvement to the original instructable, you can unpublish and republish the ible to enter into the contest. It is in a grey area as to what amounts to significant change and it is reliant upon the contest entry being entered in good faith.

You have to draw the line somewhere for allowing entries in the contest period. Grandfathering in entries may be an administrative problem and rules are rules, just look at the trouble ibles is having just trying to conform to international laws.
It does dampen the motivation for publishing something and waiting for the right contest to pop up. Usually, the Halloween contests are a good catch-all for most projects published during the year and do allow prior published projects.

They do put out a a newsletter to announce some upcoming contests and they do announcements as forum topics. I guess you need to subscribe and be actively looking at the forums to notice. With so many contests going on, I think they can do a better job of managing them like a better sort order on the contest listing to see what is new and getting ibles pushed through the filters and approved for contests on weekend or off hours.

I think the element of having a contest announced and using that time to actually think up the project for it is part of the creative challenge of a contest. I see it as no fun to go against someone that already has a project to pull off the shelf and enter it into the contest. I guess if you are pressed for time, if you only have the summer off from school to work on something, the onus is upon you to go by the contest schedule and not them making it convenient for you to enter. It is what it is. Good luck.

"You have to draw the line somewhere for allowing entries in the contest period. Grandfathering in entries may be an administrative problem and rules are rules"

I think you missed my point. I don't want all past instructables to be eligible for current contests, only fairly recent ones. 'Rules are rules' isn't really a valid statement for this section of the forum. This is an area to post regarding the site and its rules so that they may be changed for the better. If it were really a matter of rules are rules a feedback forum would be useless.

"They do put out a a newsletter to announce some upcoming contests and they do announcements as forum topics. I guess you need to subscribe and be actively looking at the forums to notice."

I did not know that, thanks for letting me know. Even so, I think the whole process would be better if they were more obviously posted on the site, or if one of my other suggestions were implemented.

"I see it as no fun to go against someone that already has a project to pull off the shelf and enter it into the contest."

That may be your feeling, but really a contest spans a long enough period of time to implement and complete almost any project, certainly enough to be competitive with past projects. Why should a user who put in just as much work as anyone else two weeks earlier have their project disqualified because they got the idea without the inspiration of a contest? If anything, it is much harder for that person than it is for the one who plans their project specifically to win the contest.

Keep in mind once again that I am not suggesting that all past projects should be able to enter current contests, only those that are quite recent. Not allowing those recent projects in gives the users who created them a significant disadvantage, as they then need to come up with two brilliant ideas on the same subject in a short period of time if they hope to enter. It's hard enough for a person to come up with one good idea. Just ask any school kid who's trying to fill the pages of a paper how easy it is to come up with more than your first thought on a subject.

I do see what you are getting at and I have no problem with being able to discuss it. Let's say they did implement a change that allows any instructables published two weeks prior to the official contest period be allowed to enter. The next person will come along and argue that anything published a month prior be allowed...and so on. What determines "fairly recent"? Instructables would have to provide you with an answer.

Right, I do understand that recent is a term that needs to be determined. I did not set a specific time because I know that it should be something that is decided by more than myself. I would be much happier to see a two week period than nothing at all. If I could set the time myself I would probably chose to make it 3 months, as I believe Instructables created that recently are still relevant and still bringing traffic to the site.

I'm not trying to get things to go my way 100%, I simply would like an improvement that makes the majority happier.

Since I don't see anybody falling over themselves to agree with you, I'd say the majority are happy.

There are only 40 some views on this thread, 20 of which are probably mine, the other 20 yours and caitlinsdad. I don't think that's a very good sample size of the users here.

That point also stands against your own argument - you are a sample size of "1", out of many tens of thousands of members.