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Stolen Projects Answered

What is one to do if they start a collaboration and someone else steals it out from under them and publishes it as their own Instructable? The Colaboration system is too flawed and I will never consider working on projects publicly again. They should be hidden from view of all but members of the collaboration itself. I had a project titled USB UPS and opened it for collaboration. A user (neelandan) saw it, copied the idea, threw together amateurish circuits and published the parts to it as his own. I had planned on publishing a very professional step-by-step for a usable project. Now the idea is moot since it's already been published.


Wait, IT VIOLATES THE CC! Since he took the work, and did not give credit, the instructable violates the creative commons on the collaboration.


There are four parts to this, each of which I will address separately.

1) LasVegas, I will be sad to see you go, but it is your choice and your content. If you want your account removed, send me a note and I’ll do it immediately. No hard feelings.

2) Your reasoning behind being upset at neelandan strikes me as silly and amateurish. As per our “be nice” policy, this is meant as not well thought out and not professional rather than as a pure negative – let me explain. Having developed a few companies and patented technologies, I have come to consider initial ideas to have little value. The real value in something comes from the hard work that goes into making it great. Examples of this abound; it is often referred to as great execution versus poor execution.

Neelandan saw your idea, paid you the highest compliment by wanting to do it himself, and posted his version. If you thought his version was poorly done, wouldn’t the right thing be to post your own very professional step-by-step? Don’t you think the community would appreciate a version of the idea documented with the greatest of care and dedication? I sure think they would – in fact, I’m betting the future of Instructables directly on the community appreciating the best instructions written by the most passionate people, not simply the first version of those instructions.

If someone posted a better Traditional Polynesian Ice Canoe or a clearer description of How to drill a hole I would applaud and encourage them. Heck, if someone posted a better version of how to drill a hole, I’d even change the links of my other Instructables to point to their better version so that I always provide the best reference.

The concept described in an Instructable never becomes moot simply because it has been previously published. That is one of my favorite things about this site and about how-to in general: There are multiple, equally valid, right ways to get to the same thing. The thing that separates these equally valid and right ways is their execution. Look at the staying power of the MintyBoost! compared with the myriad of other USB chargers.

So, you feel you’ve been scooped by neelandan, but I beg to differ. It’s execution, not timing that matters.

Also, I do not wish to single you out on this matter, and I apologize for essentially having done just that. I have seen a number of comments on recently posted Instructables roughtly saying “don’t post this, it’s already been done.” Those comments are out of line and represent a trend I am addressing here.

3) From the comments in this forum, I gather there has been some nasty comments between crash2108 and LasVegas. We have a “be nice” policy described here. I’d like to say it’s a strict be nice policy, but I’m not everywhere all the time. If someone posts nasty, non-constructive comments, please bring it to my attention and flag it. I will remove comments and ban habitual offenders as appropriate.

4) The content LasVegas attempted to post as an Instructable that I suggested be posted as a forum topic instead appears here in one of his comments. I prevented it from being published as an Instructable because it was not a finished project and so, not an Instructable. My decision was based purely on the community’s desire to only see finished projects in the Instructables area and had nothing to do with the specifics of the content he wished to publish.

Now, it’s time to all play nice and build cool stuff!

However, at first, he published WORD FOR WORD what the collaboration was, and there is some real demerit in that...


11 years ago

i'll put in my 2 cents too. - it seems to me the problem is what you are using instructables for in the first place. different people have different goals. are you here to learn something? are you here to get famous? - it seems that LasVegas' main reason for publishing on the site is to get name recognition for his/her original ideas. - probably there are other users with a similar goals, but i think that many posters and the vast majority of readers are a lot more interested in learning how to make the project than in the mere concept of what it is. - i myself took a look at one of neelandon's projects, i could care less about making a USB UPS. the part that i found fascinating about the project was the how it was built - the low-budget construction methods. does LasVegas see any merit to those? - if LasVegas has a better or different way to make the same thing, that to me is just as interesting. the specific construction methods are where the value is for the readers, because each reader has different skills, tools and materials available to them. - as eric pointed out: ideas are cheap, execution is where it is at. and: readers are just as interested in a better way to an age-old idea than they are in a new idea. practicality vs. novelty. - i do think it is the responsibility of anyone who posts to credit others if that is appropriate. eg: "i got the idea/plans/work for this from ".

If I'd been out for personal fame, I wouldn't have considered Collaborations in the first place. Collaborations, by their very nature, require sharing credit for a project. Had the system been used properly, neelandon would have joined the collaboration and contributed his ideas and unique construction techniques to the collaboration. This would have resulted in a single Instructable with both of our work showing two (or more had more collaborators joined) ways of accomplishing the project. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that Collaborations are being used this way. I will not be leaving, but will not be using the Collaboration system until it's improved. I'm reposting those Instructables that didn't contain insults toward my wife or myself. I will continue to post comments on those that post great Instructables. I may also post more Instructables in the future. I just won't make them Collaborations. They will appear when I've completed them on my own.

If you point out the negative, non-constructive comments to me, I'll be happy to remove them.

Anything from crash2108. While they may not appear terribly offensive on their own, when taken in context with his extremely insulting private messages they are.

i agree with your first paragraph in the general case. i haven't looked at half the projects in question here so i'm not going to try to judge this specific case. the instructables team just introduced 'collaborations' so i'm not sure any particular mode of use is well established yet.


Reply 11 years ago

also, i look forward to see your projects!

Allow me to clarify: I had seen LasVegas' USB UPS and that started me thinking. I already had a USB hub, half finished, and was thinking of the power supply part of it. I had the parts for Li-ion charger and a buck-boost converter, and modified LV's schematic to use my parts and then came back and looked for the collaboration to post to it. It was gone. It had only been renamed, but my searches did not find it, so I posted the diagram as a fresh collaboration with the same title ( I did not remember the original author, to ask him permission). As per LV's request I have deleted that collaboration. I must give him full credit for thinking of the idea of a USB UPS. Once that idea is formed, it is easy to implement, which I have done using integrated circuits from Microchip and Texas Instruments. Of course, I have done so in separate instructables, but the credit for thinking up the original idea still belongs to LasVegas.

When the Collaboration system was introduced, I thought it was a wonderful idea. Intro) Steps of a proper Collaboration Step 1) Create an idea that could be implemented by anyone. Step 2) Post it as a Collaboration. Step 3) Others see the Collaboration and join as Collaborators, adding their own ideas and work. Step 4) All participants show their work within the Collaboration showing multiple ways of achieving the same result. Step 5) Complete Collaboration is published giving credit to all Collaborators for a job well done. Step 6) Others read a complete and combined Instructable that's so much more complete because of combined input. Instead, what Collaborations has become, is a source for ideas for others to jump in and publish as separate Instructables getting full credit for the original idea. When the collaboration is later published under the original author's name (since no-one joined the collaboration), it's seen as just another implementation of the previous post's idea opening, that member to insults and attacks from juvenile members.

With all due respect, this looks like a miscommunication. neelandan has explained his or her side of the story and retracted the new collaboration. Everyone here recognizes that you are the original author and deserve the credit. It's too bad that ewilhelm thought you were posting a derivative work, but that too can be cleared up. Now we have neither collaboration up and you have removed your previous projects due to some unrelated, yet unfortunate, comments from someone else entirely.

Yes. neelandan did retract the Instructable (not collaboration) that exactly copied the original idea when It was brought to his attention. The original Instructable that implemented half of the idea remained up, and almost immediately after the copy of the collaboration was removed, he published the other half of the project as yet another Instructable. All that remains is to publish the joining of the two Instructables as a third completing the original project. The original Collaboration and schematic are moot since it's hardly an original idea any longer and not a Collaboration since it has/had only one member.

what happened said instructable/collaboration? I don't even see it published under his name.... Something here just doesn't add up -- Eric's mantra (as per his posts here) emphasizes the owner (singular) - the person that brings the idea foreword and shows the effort invested into it. There's gotta be an element here I'm (we're) missing...

The "said instructable/collaboration" has been pulled since it's allready been republished by someone else. Since it appears to be okay to steal someone else's work and publish it as their own, I've removed all my instructables and collaborations. If you can remember what they were, your welcome to use them and publish them as your own too!

I actually just went through all of your old instructables VIA google cache-- other than some debate on pancake color, it seemed fine.... Still, I don't see any USB UPS posted by ewilhelm or any comments made by him on that matter (a "feature" per say on instructables is that your comments stay in your profile even if the original was deleted). Can you provide a link to the republished project? I just can't find it here or cached elsewhere...

The USB UPS was never published! It was open as a Collaboration in the Make Group. It's not there anymore because I REMOVED IT! Since it had already been published in someone else's name by throwing together components into a mass that would never be practical. It's senseless to continue the project since If completed and published, I would be the one accused of stealing it and then I would have to face additional PRIVATE mails attacking my wife and myself. FORGET IT!

If it was never published anywhere -- -how could someone have stolen it? All I'm asking for is a link (or even the title) of the instructable that stole this idea.

You posted here and I'm hoping its to seek some sort of resolution (which is both understandable and respectable) which we (the community) can find IF we know what's happening ;) If you're posting here as a form of self service, please stop wasting our time.

As for the matter of private messages. DO NOT delete them. Threatening messages are illegal and traceable and I'm sure the community will not tolerate them. From personal experience, I find making these conversations public much more effective (which is 100% your call).

As I said over and over. IT WAS A COLLABORATION! It was available to be viewed (and copied) by anyone entering the Make Group. It's no longer there! It won't be! I don't know if you can read the now unpublished and un-collaborated project before I remove it permanently. but it's here. Go ahead and use it if you wish.

No. I no longer wish resolution. It's already been made clear that this behavior is allowed and encouraged. I have removed all current and future Instructables. If I feel something is worth publishing, I will do it the way I've always done previously, such as http://mame.how.to/ and http://iopener.how.to/

I think we're missing each others points....

You're saying that someone took your idea from the collaboration and published something here on instructables as their own using your idea.

I'm asking for a link to that something that was stolen - not the collaboration that's no longer up (only you can see that link at the moment).

THE COLLABORATION WAS VISIBLE BY ANYONE THAT VISITED THE MAKE GROUP! Since it's no longer a collaboration, no-one can view it. Because of that, I will post it here just as EVERYONE could see it when it was a collaboration:

Title: Rechargable Battery Extender or RBE (Was USB - UPS)

NOTE: Since every pertinent portion of this Instructable has been published since this was placed into the Collaboration system I'm publishing it as-is and will add to it when I have a working project.



No longer just an idea. I've got a schematic and parts are on order! This is actually going to work and will likely fit into a mint tin! This is using the MAX1181 Li-Ion charger and the MAX1797 DC Up-Converter. SW1 switches between 100mA and 500mA charging. The chip automatically trickle-charges when the battery is below 3.1v.

See new graphic…


Right now, this is just an idea. It's to create a battery device (probably lithium) that is both charged via USB and supplies USB power. USB signals would be passed through is both input and output are connected, but the power to the output would be strictly from the battery supply. When the device is connected to a USB source, the battery would charge at a maximum rate of 500mA while it could be charged faster with an alternate 5v supply. On the output end, there could be a 5v out port, but it would be positioned such that the 5v out port could not be used simultaneously with the USB out port.

See attached graphic…

Picture 3.pngPicture 1.png

This is really weird. Why the hell would Eric take your idea and publish it? Of all the people to do something like that, he is the last person I would suspect. He's the CEO and wants to help people do more, not steal their stuff. Sorry to hear about any personal attacks. I have a pretty thick skin for comments since I reviewed games for a popular gaming site for a while, but they can get to you. And if anyone really did cross the line you should save the messages and let others know. Before you leave I'd like to hear the whole story. I don't want you to leave (thanks for the CD idea, by the way) and there should at least be something to clear this up and resolve it.

Sorry... I copied the wrong name... It was the user "neelandan" that stole the info and published it. I don't know how I inadvertently copied Eric's moniker, since I'm sure I copied it from the same exact location as I got it above! My apologies to Eric for the mistake.

Ahh okay, I understand. Here's my input to this (of the things public now). 1. Idea is similar 2. Implementation is different than the direction of your collaboration 3. The community supports more than one project with different implementation and the same end goal. I personally think neelandan should have given you credit for the idea if that's where he/she found it - but its really not necessary (just a good and recommended gesture). If s/he used the exact same circuit that you posted in your collaboration, then yes - I would hands down call that stealing. As this community thrives on open source and likely your license was open - this type of activity is to be expected. As for the project that was taken down -- I never saw it, but I don't doubt it. That is quite "bastardly" and it should have gone in your collaboration. I'm sure the community would deal with it if it was still around. I feel that user credibility is very important in this type of community. I hope this does not sever your connection with this site - you've posted some great stuff in the past. Just keep in mind that if you don't want someone to implement your idea -- don't post it publicly on the internet :/

You know… That's exactly what I thought originally; That Mr Neelandan had simply come up with his USB Li-ion battery charger on his own without having seen the Collaboration. That is, until I changed its name and suddenly he posted a variation of my initial drawing under the original title, even stating that he'd seen it posted by someone else but couldn't find it.

My conclusion is that Collaborations are simply a source for others to steal ideas and publish them as their own. Especially if they can beat the other to building the project no matter how. Since the "Collaboration" isn't actually published, the theif gets full credit.

If you put the effort into the project -- we'll know... even if someone publishes something else. I do agree that it makes it easy for someone to go foreword with your project - I guess you could call it a risk. But no worries, there are some great members here - the crap just tends to float to the top :/

LasVegas is correct, he did have the USB-UPS collaboration up first (in the collaboration section). Whenever I visit the site, I check for updates in most of the catergories (instructables, forum, and collaborations. And occasionally the blog). In fact, in neelandan's original posting of his version of the USB-UPS, he stated that he had seen someone else post a project similiar to the one he was posting, but couldn't find it and so he thought they had taken it down. I checked the collaborations and it was still there. So I'm guessing he only checked under "instructables" for the project. I went back to neelandan's instructable to link LasVegas's but he had already beaten me to it. LasVegas please don't leave just because of an incident like this.... I'm sure there has to be some way to work things out... maybe ask him to give you the credit for posting up the idea and schematics?

It's not just because of this incident. Since I first started posting, I've been attacked personally by one crash2108, both publicly and privately (Referring to my wife's hands as "hairy transvestite hands," among other insults.

And finally when the rest of my project got published by Mr. Neelandan, I decided to post my collaboration (since the rest of it was already published) and was told by Eric that I wasn't allowed to because I hadn't done all the work.

Okay! No problem! I don't need Instructables! I just thought it would be fun to share with like-minded people. I love fixing problems. Making something new out of something old.

I could have dealt with crash2108, since I assume he's to young to care about other's feelings. It's just not worth sharing if others can just steal my ideas, claim them as their own and get not only full credit but special recognition for all their hard work!

I also would like to add that you didn't have to visit the MAKE group to see it, all you had to do was click on the Explore arrow at the top and select Collaborations from the list.

I give up. When I discovered this site, I thought it would be fun to post how-tos on the many things I enjoy. Instead, by publishing anything here, I opened myself up to personal attacks toward my wife and I by children that are allowed to post anything they wish. Then having my Collaboration stolen by another member and published in his name was just the last straw. It's just not worth it. I have removed all of my Instructables and will no longer publish to this site.