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Standards for being featured dropped? Answered

This is anecdotal, since obviously I don't review every single featured Instructable. I just happened to notice two recently that have some nice photos but otherwise seem kind of "incomplete". Absolutely no offense meant to the authors, I'm sure they put a lot of effort into these projects, but the documentation seems lacking and not up to the standards of "someone should be able to reproduce the work":

https://www.instructables.com/id/Colorful-LED-Christmas-tree-automaticlly-flashing/

https://www.instructables.com/id/Functional-Nintendo-Controller-Coffee-Table/

The latter especially has nice photos of what is obviously a really nice build, but totally lacks a materials list, wiring diagram, cut instructions for the wood - all information that's essential to actually do the build. There are a couple (nice) comments pointing this out.

Just wanted to point this out - not sure if there's someone new on the community team who might be featuring things just because they have nice photos, without checking the text, or if there's been a change in the standards for featuring that I'm unaware of.

Discussions

I thought I was the only one that was seeing this. There have been some really unattractive primary images lately that have had me wondering why some ibles were featured. The images turned me off so much that I didn't view them, so I can't attest to the content.

I strive to create content that is feature worthy because that has been a level of distinction anyone can attain with some hard work and ingenuity. It isn't a competition with a few winners. I hope the standards remain high so that those who visit the site will see our best foot put forward and those who have their ibles featured can continue to feel proud of a job well done.

Glad it's not just me. I'm trying my best not to sound like a crotchety old man with "back in my day, all the Instructables were better..." (especially since I've been on the site less than 2 years). I absolutely understand that there will be some borderline cases that are mostly a matter of opinion depending on who decides to feature it. But, I have seen several recently that do not remotely meet the featuring criteria, primarily:

Project is detailed enough to be repeatable

Every step has sufficient explanatory text

Parts/materials/ingredients/tools list included, with links to sources as needed

Granted, that post still has criteria for photo and video Instructables, which no longer exist. So, if photo Instructables (which had much less stringent criteria) have sort of been merged with regular ones as acceptable...maybe it would help for them to update/clarify the criteria in the official post?

Anti Rape Gloves (aka offensive weapons) surely they contravene the site standards?

I think that's a different conversation - whether a project is dangerous, offensive or whatever (not offering an opinion either way in this case) vs. whether it is well-written and well-documented. It looks like there are plenty of other projects on taser gloves:

https://www.instructables.com/howto/taser+gloves/

And I remember a fuss a while ago about a DIY-tattoo project that tons of people commented was medically unsafe because of risk of infection or something. You could also argue that projects like this are certainly NSFW and don't really fit the generally kid-friendly theme of the site:

https://www.instructables.com/howto/taser+gloves/

But, like I said - I think that's a separate conversation for another day, not what I originally intended to talk about here.

You're right, it is a conversation for elsewhere/elsewhen, but just a small correction: the site aims to be family friendly - families have members of all ages.

It seems the opposite may be true now. I'm happy to see that featuring to channel is back, but now there's hardly any new stuff on the homepage each day. One of the ibles near the bottom was posted three days ago. There's got to be enough great content to fill the homepage each day for those of us that check it regularly.

Over the last two days, only two ibles have been featured to the homepage. I'm all for high standards, but there has to be more homepage quality content.

Huh. I've been kind of busy so haven't been checking out the home page as much. Maybe they over-corrected the problem and will find a good middle ground eventually...

Anti Rape Gloves (aka offensive weapons) surely they contravene the site standards?

The important thing to remember here is that featuring projects is NEVER a bad thing. We are giving those authors an extra chance to be seen, and we're rewarding their hard work. Featuring a project makes an author feel awesome and that means they have a higher chance of sticking around, publishing more things, and becoming part of the community.

Some of our biggest authors started out making pretty janky instructables, you know? There's a definite learning curve here, but encouraging authors means they could stick around to figure it out. :D

The reason we have so many people on staff (and volunteers, too!) that feature things is so we get a diverse mix of projects on the front page. Everyone on staff has a slightly different idea of what should be featured, and so does our community. And that's a good thing!

As of right now we are featuring more instructables than ever before, and we're featuring things that maybe might not have made the cut before, but I don't think it's a bad thing. I've always thought instructables is just as much about inspiration as it is about learning how to do something. Both of the projects you linked to are well documented enough that someone could base their own project off them, and that's just what we want to see. :)

Thanks for the clarification - I certainly didn't mean that these authors should have their featured status revoked in this case, as that would be pretty harsh and possibly scare them away from submitting more content. I just wasn't aware that "inspiration" or "show and tell" type Instructables were still eligible to be featured, since, as makendo pointed out, the distinct photo/video/step-by-step Instructable categories got removed a while ago.

Personally I always prefer Instructables with detailed step-by-step directions and a materials list, since they make projects more accessible for beginners, but I work in K-12 science education so I'm a bit biased. I can understand how "that's really cool, I want to figure out how to build my own" still has some value for the site. Obviously you guys are in charge :-).

Maybe janky, but it didn't get featured :-).

(but seriously, I didn't join the site until 2012...was "featuring" a thing when the site first launched? Or was traffic low enough that everything just made the homepage?)

Traffic used to be a *lot* lower - I used to be able to read every single published project in detail.

For a while, there were two levels of featuring - "Featured", and "Featured to the front page".

That might be coming back. Insert winky face emoticon here.

Not sure on a time frame, but it sounds like some work is being done to tweak the featuring function, and go back to a tiered system.

That way there will be a place to put good but not (yet) great content so we can encourage new authors with a feature and 3 months of pro, but not have their content appear on the homepage. As it is now, really high caliber stuff sits next to "we're giving them a taste"-type stuff, and obviously this confuses a handful of users.

It might be an idea to have a chat with the Community Team about that, since they'll be the ones applying it...

No photos, but you did an amazing job at explaining the process so no photos were needed.

I agree that helping a user to get better is a good thing.

But I thought this site is mainly for Insructable that people can actually do themself.

Featuring content that is either totally incomplete or just a collection of pictures with no instructions on how to make it should not be allowed.

After all you incourage more peple to post stuff that is utterly uselss for others.

There should be at least some sort of distinction that clearly shows it is just something a user wants to show off but not actually something that can be made based on the content.

Information is good, but we already have copy cats and users with very limited options when it comes to building something, do we really have to confuse them even more by featuring things that can be made?

I mean even for the search bar it says: "Let's make...", not "Let me show you how good I am...." ;)

Featuring content like this is only encouring outhers to provide more incomplete, copied or otherwise unusable "Instructables" - just my opinion though...

The more I think about it, the more I think I agree with you and somewhat disagree with jessyratfink's statement that "featuring an Instructable is never a bad thing." I agree that featuring what we're calling an "incomplete" Instructable provides positive feedback to that author to submit more similar Instructables - not necessarily to submit more detailed ones. Personally, I almost feel "cheated" when I click on a project with a cool thumbnail and then see that there's hardly any documentation.

Of course, you have to take selection bias into account here - those of us who bother to browse the forums and participate in a discussion like this to begin with might be more inclined to think that Instructables need to be "detailed." There could be a whole host of casual users who like to just browse the site to look at cool stuff. While personally I'd rather not see the site go that route (kind of turning into a Pinterest-ish thing), from a business standpoint I certainly understand if Instructables wants to cater to both audiences. Ultimately, I'd be happy if, as you said (and I said in another comment), there was a clear distinction between "step by step" vs "show and tell" Instructables, so I know what it is before I click on it.

Featuring is mostly a tool for encouraging authors, and erring on the side of generosity is probably the right thing to do. There are exceptions of course - instructables like this one infuriate me, because not only is the quality terrible but all the images are blatantly stolen. I remember flagging it, and the only result was it making the newsletter... sheesh. The fact I remember it after 4 years gives you an idea of how annoyed I was, but the site has had the last laugh - it's earned them 178k views...

*for the record though, I think removing the distinction between photo and step-by-step Instructables does make this more confusing. Based on the other comments, I'm not the only one who had a "hey, this isn't actually an Instructable" reaction. Having the two separate categories clearly identifies the author's intent.

I just though I have a quick browse through featured "Instructables" and must say I am very disappointed.

Let me try the way of total noob:

I use my friend, Google, to find a tutorial on how to make something.

Some links direct me to Instructables.com.

I see a name that tells me I get instructions, I see a search bar greeting me with "Let's make", alco catergories like "Create" and Explore - great! I must be in the right place!!

But then you find what you are looking for and all you get is a collection of images with some very proud comments, but nothing to actually repeat what is shown.

Don't get me wrong, I still like seeing a good desing or project, but if it can't be build because it is totally incomplete it has no right to be listed as an Instructable, let alone be featured on top of it!

You encourage poeple to post useles crap - sorry to say it that way but if it can't be done it is crap IMHO.

Add another section and call it picture stories, Look what I can do, I want to show off - whatever you like just keep Instructables Instructables and unfinnished, incomplete or simply totally useless collections seperated.

I can find plenty of really good Instructables, full of information and detailed step by step instructions, some with severa thausand hits - but in no way featured...

It is like promoting push bikes during a car show for high performance cars....

There used be something called a "photo instructable" - basically a one-stepper that showed off something you've made (I have a couple of these, but they're no longer identified as such). Just like regular instructables, they could be featured even though they rarely told the whole story - I think they were mostly intended for either very simple projects or for ones that had been only sketchily documented if at all. So I think the line is a bit fuzzy: if you've made something cool enough, especially if it has great photos, it will generally get featured even if the documentation is lacking.

I mentioned this in another reply above - photo (and video) Instructables are still listed in the official "Featuring Checklist" post, last updated in July:

https://www.instructables.com/community/Featuring-C...

So, according to the less-stringent criteria for a photo Instructable, the projects I linked to are OK. According to the step-by-step criteria, they aren't (insufficient explanatory text, no materials list, not detailed enough to be repeatable). I guess it would help clarify things if they updated that post.

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JM1999

3 years ago

https://www.instructables.com/id/Need-a-Light-Quick...

You have the little incomplete list running here I see?

What do you all think about the linked 'le? (half an 'ible)

As soon as it was entered into the contest I didn't think it would stand a chance of being in the first 100 but it made the finalist stage!

I wouldn't call it an "incomplete list" - I want to follow the "be nice" policy and not sound like I am calling out other authors on their work, or going on a witch hunt to find "bad" Instructables. The two examples I provided at first are just two that I happened to notice very recently. While ultimately I don't 100% agree with jessyratfink's reasoning above, I can see where they're coming from, and I personally just won't spend a ton of time reading Instructables that I view as incomplete.

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JM1999

3 years ago

Some projects can get featured if the editor likes the front photo believe it or not!

Not a joke, just not entirely correct.

A decent first image is certainly a factor, though, in attracting the attention of the Community Team or staff.

Kiteman, as a site veteran, maybe you have more insight - am I missing something here? I help out in the Clinic a bit, and I've seen authors asking for help with Instructables that are way more complete than these and didn't get featured. The two I linked above seem like they shouldn't even be remotely borderline cases - they're flat out incomplete. I'm sure the community team is swamped and they don't actually have time to read every single Instructable word for word, but it seems like these definitely fell through the cracks.

The folk who featured those projects aren't online right now, what with time-zones and everything, but suffice to say for the moment that there is some discussion happening behind the scenes.

I have to agree here and would complain even further.

The first is a nice LED tree, but not an instructable at all.

In fact it nothing more than a product description with a link to the site selling it.

What of that is an instructable? Incomplete and not more than advertising IMHO.

The second is a show off but not an Instructable either.

Makes me wonder how much more is out there that is impossible to do for the user reading it.

And why is something like that featured?

For me featured means there is something good about it, being Instructables I would expect a good Instructable but nothing like these two "projects"...

I flagged both of them as "incomplete". Not sure if that will attract the attention of anyone on the community team, or how widespread this is. Like I said, I tend to scroll through the front page and look at thumbnails, but only read text on projects that catch my interest.

I agree, neither of these look like Instructables to me. As nice as they are, especially the second one which is actually something hand made.

(I must admit I ordered one of the LED christmas trees...)