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Why?: Contest, Finalists, OAE, and... WHAT? Answered

EDIT: This has turned out to be a really long post. Please see the top comment if you don't want to read everything, or if you aren't a scanner (seriously...). I did my best to stop my longforumtopicisitis disease...

I don't really know how to write this "topic". I know I'm not the only one that's a bit upset about it. I'll do my best to keep it short, but if you might get pretty confused if you don't read (almost) everything.
I would really like to hear your 100% HONEST opinion. I am looking for criticism. Don't worry if your response sounds harsh.
Thank you.
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Instructables member OAE has posted several forum topics about contest winners in the past months. I understand the fact that he is annoyed some Instructables that win in contests aren't original, aren't documented very well, and lack pictures. It does bug me a bit when these types of Instructables win, but I guess that there's normally a reason for that, since most contests don't lack entries...
He also mentioned the fact that he was pretty annoyed about the fact that he doesn't win. I DO NOT want to insult him in any way, but even though his Instructables are fairly well documented, I wouldn't expect for one of his Instructables to be a finalist. Brooklyntonia wrote that "A paper airplane on a cutting mat doesn't scream click and vote.", and I agree.

However, I seem to have the same (I think) problem with my Instructables, and I think that it has  just gotten a bit too much. I've won in 3 contest with 86 I'bles (think of that as 50, if you know what I mean...), which is why I feel a bit weird for "complaining".

It's not that I publish Instructables just for winning in contests. Far from that. SOOOOOOOO MANY times in the past year, I have posted an Instructable that I was absolutely positive that would win in a contest, but it wasn't even a runner up! I have SO MANY! It would take me an hour to post half of them, but here are some:
Articulating 70W Spectrum-Balanced LED Panel for the Lamps & Lighting Contest
How to Make a Wooden 6" Bench-Vise for the Wood Contest
The Flat-Pack Bandsaw for the Flat-Pack Contest (less than the others, though...)
How to Build a Wooden Drill-Press Vise for the Hand-tools Only Contest
9 Unusual Tool Storage Methods for Your Workshop for the Living without Closets Contest
Make Your Own Plywood Mallet! for the Plywood Contest
World's Most Over-Engineered 14-in-1 Soldering Station! for the Leftovers Contest

Please correct me if I'm wrong: These Instructable are featured, well documented, meet the contests requirements, contain well lit high quality photos, are original (90%, of course...). I "politely encourage" people to vote only in an Instructable that I think will win...
I would understand not winning at all once or twice, but not even being a runner up even once? WHAT am I doing SO HORRIBLY WRONG?

What discourages me even more is that even though I want to build something that I really need, I will wait for months until a contest opens, start making, spend a ton of time on the Instructable, and then I realise that I waited for so long, and my I'ble hasn't even won! Benne, however, even though we both publish somehow similar content, has mastered this somehow!

If I make something, I have to type up the Instructable immediately, because my short term memory is pretty bad. I wrote about this a bit here. If I calm the excitement down, I might be able not to publish it right away, but that will just discourage me, since I will feel that I haven't accomplished anything (aka positive feedback, etc...). Then after waiting several months, I will publish the I'ble and still not win?

Imagine your boss, at work, saying "Okay (your name), you've spent 10 hours working, but I'm going to pay you only next year. Oh, nevermind, we're having budget cuts. I'm not going to pay you at all" Wait, WHAT? WHY?
I'm making this sound as if it's a bet, which is okay since you don't get "paid" from Instructables, but never getting anything at all is annoying. Also, publishing Instructables is not extremely addicting (A REAL one... ;) 
I think I am following the contest guidelines, but not winning again, and again... Why? Is there something that I don't know?

Thank you for reading!

Discussions

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Yonatan24

1 year ago

*World's longest forum topic!*

For short, what I'm looking for is why specifically my (or maybe yours too?) Instructables don't "scream click and vote", when I think that other Instructables that won aren't documented as well, and aren't that much of a great idea...

Thank you!

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Brooklyntonia

1 year ago

Trying to analyze why specific ibles win contests in order to make the perfect ible and win every time is pretty futile. Sometimes they make finalist because they related well to voters, sometimes it's because staff or sponsors put them in the finals. Whether it's clever ideas, great pictures, or documentation, there's always a reason. Just put out the best product you can and always strive to make the next one better. With hundreds of entries and only around 20 prizes in each contest, even good ibles won't be awarded prizes. Sometimes you just have to acknowledge you got beat. Keep making.

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mtairymdBrooklyntonia

Reply 1 year ago

I agree with Brooklyntonia. I've often thought I might have a winner only to see that I wasn't selected. In the end, I've looked at the selected finalist and realized that they actually did have better ideas/projects. Also, I've judged quite a few contest and that task is quite time consuming. With that, I don't envy the team having to down-select finalist from 200+ ibles.

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Yonatan24mtairymd

Reply 1 year ago

I'm a finalist in the LED Contest! :)

This Instructable, and several others like this were a finalists, but they were removed. I mean, that isn't a bad Instructable, but if that is real, it's just a homemade variable resistor...

Even though I'm not sure exactly how it works, I'm sure it's really time consuming, I'd be happy to judge a contest, but I'm pretty sure I can't judge a contest that I've entered in, and if I didn't enter, chances are that I'm not interested in those types of Instructables (food, crafts, etc...).

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christa627Yonatan24

Reply 1 year ago

Yeah, that's always been my thought too, any contest I'd have enough interest and knowledge to judge, I'd probably want to enter, and judges aren't eligible to win, of course, so...

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Yonatan24christa627

Reply 1 year ago

Unless you didn't have the time to enter...

Or many times, in my case, the theme of a contest inspires a project, but I'm not done with the project/Instructable by the time the contest closes.

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Yonatan24Brooklyntonia

Reply 1 year ago

I don't (think) have a problem with acknowledging the fact that I got beat.

Almost a year ago, I won as a Runner Up in the Shelving Contest. This was my first win, and I was (almost!) the happiest person on earth... Back then, I did wonder why I was "only" a runner up, but now I know exactly why. My Instructable won mostly because of the idea itself, and not because of the actual Instructable. That's the best way that I can explain it...

The thing that's a bit more discouraging is the fact that so many times, I didn't win at all! Contest after contest, (almost, I'll have to add) Nothing!

In my opinion, I see many Instructables that won (as a runner up, or anything else), while their Instructable is very poor, and mine, again, in my opinion, is way better.

As I've mentioned, I've won in three contests. Since those wins, I've made my Instructables WAY better, but now I have no wins. That's what I don't understand...

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BrooklyntoniaYonatan24

Reply 1 year ago

You should only compare your project to the top half of the finalists, because chances are high those "poor" instructables were finalists due to votes. Staff can put good entries with less votes in, but they can't remove less good ibles if they have the necessary votes. A loss just means you weren't in the top of the votes or in the top of the small number of overlooked ibles staff get to throw into the ring.

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Yonatan24Brooklyntonia

Reply 1 year ago

Ahhh... I see!

I've seen the Instructables of only a couple finalists, but all of them look to me like they deserve a win!

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Yonatan24Brooklyntonia

Reply 1 year ago

And... I'm now a finalist!

I checked back on the LED contest a few hours ago, and I have to admit that I saw several weird finalists... I guess they changed several, because if I remember correctly, there are a couple more I'bles that weren't there before...

Mistakes? I'm on mobile...

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OrigamiAirEnforcer

1 year ago

"Instructables member OAE has posted several forum topics
about contest winners in the past months. I understand the fact that he
is annoyed some Instructables that win in contests aren't
original, aren't documented very well, and lack pictures. It does bug me
a bit when these types of Instructables win, but I guess that there's
normally a reason for that, since most contests don't lack entries..."

The only thing I can say is that people should understand that not all that glitters is gold and judging a book by its cover is a mistake.

"He also mentioned the fact that he was pretty annoyed about the fact
that he doesn't win.
"

It is annoying to find out that you may work for months only to be told the fruits of your labor are no better than those of someone who took mere hours--especially when it was taken from others to boot.

My values are substantially different than others in this regard. Who's right? The eye of the beholder beckons--you be the judge.

"I DO NOT want to insult him in any way, but even though his
Instructables are fairly well documented, I wouldn't expect for one of
his Instructables to be a finalist. Brooklyntonia wrote that "A paper
airplane on a cutting mat doesn't scream click and vote.", and I agree.
"

Despite constant efforts and outreach on how I can make those well documented publications better, I still frequently receive correspondence from viewers who do not even bother to actually follow the I provide directions before barraging me with their complaints about the very same instructions they have ignored.

As far as winning contests goes, I'm about at the point where I no longer care. I have seen plenty of contests come and go. Some of significant interest to me, others not. Only twice have I ever been selected as a winner. Luck hasn't been on my side in the contests and I don't figure on that changing any time soon.

-OAE

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Yonatan24OrigamiAirEnforcer

Reply 1 year ago

"It is annoying to find out that you may work for months only to be told the fruits of your labor are no better than those of someone who took mere hours--especially when it was taken from others to boot."

Exactly. Less can be more, but when it happens so many times, it's pretty discouraging... I know what you're talking about.

"Despite constant efforts and outreach on how I can make those well documented publications better, I still frequently receive correspondence from viewers who do not even bother to actually follow the I provide directions before barraging me with their complaints about the very same instructions they have ignored."

I've seen the comments that you're talking about. Everyone get these once in awhile. Your Instructables get quite a bit of those, which means that you probably attract more of the average internet user, whose IQ is very, very low.

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OrigamiAirEnforcerYonatan24

Reply 1 year ago

"Exactly. Less can be more, but when it happens so many times, it's pretty discouraging... I know what you're talking about."

Regarding things that are not equal as equal only provides incentive to go with whatever is acceptable, not what's best.

"I've seen the comments that you're talking about. Everyone get these
once in awhile. Your Instructables get quite a bit of those, which means
that you probably attract more of the average internet user, whose IQ
is very, very low.
"

I ascribe it to viewers being a little overly eager to finish or realize the goal of the project, rather than handling it in a calm and timely manner. Being that a large fraction of my viewers are undoubted young, this isn't entirely unexpected, though it does become grating when the instructions should be perfectly sufficient but go unheeded.

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Yonatan24OrigamiAirEnforcer

Reply 1 year ago

They probably click on your Instructable thinking that they're going to get a "fold this part, now fold that piece like that. Now flip it upside down, and fold that in half".

What they then see is extremely detailed Instructions, which are not they were looking for. Simple. They should have searched on YouTube...

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OrigamiAirEnforcerYonatan24

Reply 1 year ago

"They probably click on your Instructable thinking that they're going to
get a "fold this part, now fold that piece like that. Now flip it upside
down, and fold that in half"."

Some of my very early efforts were similar to that due both to the far greater simplicity of designs at the time, as well as an inattention to preciseness. As things have gotten a bit more precise, more detailed instructions have become crucial for success. People need to understand that although things may look elaborate at a glance, for the most part this is only looks--not actuality.

What they then see is extremely detailed Instructions, which are not
they were looking for. Simple. They should have searched on YouTube...

I have put serious consideration into making video tutorials for my aircraft; however, thus far I have not actually done it because time spent making such tutorials is time taken away from research and development of new aircraft and the Instructable tutorials for them. To me making tutorials when written/photographic instructions exist is unnecessary duplication. Yes it'd be great to have all of these things--but if there is significant cost to implementing the duplication, it may not be worth it.

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Yonatan24OrigamiAirEnforcer

Reply 1 year ago

To be honest, I think that for someone like you, it would make way more sense to make videos. Step-by-Step Instructions are way harder to follow.

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OrigamiAirEnforcerYonatan24

Reply 1 year ago

Though everyone can have their own opinion, mine is to the contrary. Based on the sorts of comments peers of mine receive, I think that step by step instructions are superior--provided they are well executed.

On the YouTube videos that other paper airplane makers produce, comments like "slow down" and "I can't see what you're doing" are quite common. The first comment is a bit entertaining given the presence of the pause button in most cases, though for crucial steps speed can be a factor. As far as seeing things goes, being clear about what is being done can be difficult.

At some point I probably will produce a video tutorial to experiment with the idea and format, but I have no idea as to whether or not I would make it something standard.

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mtairymdOrigamiAirEnforcer

Reply 1 year ago

I agree with yonatan with regards to the videos. However, I think you should do both the videos AND instructables. Cross-referencing each by embedding the video in the ible and adding a link to the ible in the YouTube description works nicely.

There are a few reasons for doing this. First, you've already done most of the work. Set up a camera and film the build. When I say "most of the work", I'm referring to the design/concept for the project. Editing a video, adding text, music, etc. does take time. An easy and NOT recommended way to make videos is to just take your instructable pictures and make a slide show. I've done that occasionally - mostly post build.

Second, by cross referencing, you are increasing your audience. As you probably know, many people go straight to YouTube for searches. Have text early in the video that say "see description for detailed instructions" which links back to instructables.

Lastly, you do make money from YouTube - look up Adsense. This might offset some of the issues people have from not winning contest. My videos are posted on my teenage son's account. Honestly, his YouTube channel is a mess of random stuff so it will never have a massive following. However, it does make money every single day - enough to pay for his car insurance. BTW, if you are a data geek, the YouTube/Google analytics are pretty impressive.

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OrigamiAirEnforcermtairymd

Reply 1 year ago

YouTube is certainly something I do wish to move into. I have given a fair amount of thought to what I wish to do and how, I have just been too preoccupied with other things to proceed further than I have.

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Yonatan24mtairymd

Reply 1 year ago

Agreed.

I've just set up my YouTube account a few weeks ago. I still haven't set up Adsense, but the analytics are pretty impressive!

I'm a bit of a data geek, which is another reason for why I'm upset with the new Instructables update...

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Yonatan24OrigamiAirEnforcer

Reply 1 year ago

Just a question... Has anyone sent you pictures of an airplane that they made from one of your designs?

I've started making quick videos for my Instructables. I think a quick video of the airplane flying would increase the chance of winning dramatically. I mean, after all, why would someone vote if they don't even know how well it works?

If someone made me an airplane, I'd probably be able to fly it 1-2 meters. If I see that you made an airple that flies 20 meters, why wouldn't I vote?

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OrigamiAirEnforcerYonatan24

Reply 1 year ago

"Just a question... Has anyone sent you pictures of an airplane that they made from one of your designs?"

If you mean examples of my airplanes made by others to my specifications, yes. The Turbo UltraVulcan probably has the largest number of viewer submitted photos.

If you meant a derivative of one of my designs developed by a viewer, these do turn up--albeit more rarely.

As far as videos go, they're something I've wanted to do for some time, but have never conquered. Being a one man operation as I am, launching a paper airplane and then filming it is not a particularly easy task. I will have to figure out a way to overcome the problems with that setup before I can frequently use it.

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Yonatan24OrigamiAirEnforcer

Reply 1 year ago

Yes, that's what I meant. I don't recall ever having that many submitted photos in any of my Instructables. That is A LOT!

I'm a "one man operation too". As for the setup, you can try something like my first Instructable, until you find something better...

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Cherzer

1 year ago

So I didn't actually read any of your Instructables, but from perusing your list, it looks like most of your Instructables revolve around making tools or organizing them.

I don't WANT to make the bulk of your projects. I might NEED to make them to make something else I want to make, but it would only be as a means to some other ultimate end. But, I'm really glad you spent the time posting them, because I've mentally noted to go look at them should the need arise.

From my analysis, my advise to you is to submit end game projects if you want to win. What can you make with your super awesome maker space that will not become part of it?

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Yonatan24Cherzer

Reply 1 year ago

Correct. Making my own tools, LED projects, tutorials/"life-hacks", and a but of organization in between.

Exactly. I make something that makes something that I use for making something else.

I don't want to make things I don't need. I don't have the motivation, time, or space. I think that the only thing I can do for contests, is all sorts of "life-hacks" like I've done before. These are pretty fun to do:

https://www.instructables.com/id/Top-10-Vise-Hacks/

https://www.instructables.com/id/9-Unusual-Uses-for...

https://www.instructables.com/id/-Unusual-Uses-for-...

I always try to think of the most original-er-est ideas, so it can take a couple of months until I can think of everything... :)

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TheHomeschoolHouse

1 year ago

I'm pretty new to the community, but one thing I've wondered about is that people are able to vote for 2 months time or so? So for those people who entered a contest at the very beginning verses people who entered later - is there a significant difference in the amount of votes they receive simply because others had over a months time of views/votes? I have wondered if this makes an unfair impact on who makes the finals.

I've entered a lot of contests, and with the current contest page setup, I personally don't think there's a benefit to entering early. Most people don't want to click "more entries" more than a few times. The earliest entries get buried at the bottom of the list as it gets longer. The daily views count drops significantly after it drops of the front page of the contest. Therefore, everyone generally gets about the same amount of exposure.

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Yonatan24TheHomeschoolHouse

Reply 1 year ago

You can vote for an Instructable as soon as it has been entered in a contest.

If someone votes for you every 2,000 views (for example), the longer your Instructable is up (before the contest closes), the more votes it will get.

However, if your Instructable it REALLY good, it should probably win anyway. For short, the earlier you publish it, the better.

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Yonatan24Yonatan24

Reply 1 year ago

Oops! I accidentally clicked "Make Comment"...

If a contest closes while you have 3,000 views (lets say 2 votes), it wouldn't be as good as if it closes when you have 15,000 views (7 votes). You might win, just because you published it a week earlier!

Hope this helps :)

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caitlinsdad

1 year ago

42.

Robot works in mysterious ways.

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Yonatan24caitlinsdad

Reply 1 year ago

You are a professional at making me unable to understand your comments... I'm guessing that I understood correctly, and that you mean this? Probably not.

Ah...

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Downunder35m

1 year ago

Thing comes to personal opinions and often mood.
Getting votes is one thing, getting reconised for the finals totally different.
With a bit more time I could sit here and enter a lot of contest but still I wouldn't.
At least not for winning anything, just to get more views on something I like showing.
All I say is that in many cases I fail to see why some Ibles even made into the finals while others that looked like they totally nailed it are not even in the runner ups.
These "discussions" pop up every few months, especially after bigger contests, so it is fair to say that other users at least wonder too.
Having a totally closed system for the contest does not help with transperency either ;)
I already suggested that for the finalists a statement from those who made the decisions would be a good thing once the contest is sealed.
Going to check all the great contests an who wins in the end would just make me loose it again for already known reasons, so most of the time I just ignore the contests now unless I feel the need to publish one of my drafts one day LOL

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Yonatan24Downunder35m

Reply 1 year ago

If people don't vote for you, you won't become a finalist!

I publish Instructables because I like showing what I've made, but when I think I'll win so many times, and don't, I get tired of it.

Take a look at the prizes of the Lamps Contest. Those are things that I really want, and again, I've published an Instructable that I thought would win, but it didn't. I mean, there are many great winners, but I thought that my I'ble was definitely better than some of them...

After all, what I like doing the most is making stuff. When I don't enter I'bles in contests I don't win. When I do, I still "don't" win (I'll still have to put that in quotation marks...)

"All I say is that in many cases I fail to see why some Ibles even made into the finals while others that looked like they totally nailed it are not even in the runner ups." Yup. Exactly...

Example: One of the runner-up winners in the Hand-Tools Only Contest published this Instructable. I'm not saying that's it's a bad Instructable, but I would think that My Homemade Vise would be more likely to win... I mean, I used Hand Tools to build a Hand Tool for the Hand-Tools Only Contest! After not winning in this contest I learnt that typing SO MUCH, and spending 50+ hours only on the I'ble itself doesn't guarantee a win... So I tried other ways of making an Instructable, but that didn't help either...

I would think that the fact, that for projects, I prefer "usefulness" over "cool" might affect my chances of winning, but even that has been proved wrong...