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Important Changes to Contests - May 1st Answered

Hello everyone!

As most of you have probably noticed, we haven’t changed much with our contests over the last several years. But this year we’re changing that, thanks to all of you and your important feedback! In 2018, we are going to be trying new things when it comes to contests. We believe these changes will lead to a larger variety of winners and even more incredible instructables!

With that said, we’d like to announce two major contest updates starting on May 1st.

#1 - Every instructable can only be entered into ONE single contest.

At first, this may seem like bad news, but we promise it’s actually good: the new rule will allow more authors to win prizes! We’re reducing the number of prizes ONE instructable can win, but this will allow for more winners overall.

While we’re sure some of you will be disappointed, this is a great way to level the playing field and simplify the process for both authors and judges. The old contest system allowed an author to enter three contests with one instructable, which greatly increased the number of entries per contest.

Along with increasing the number of entries per contest, the old system tended to pit new authors against much more experienced authors who understand that they can up their chances of becoming a finalist by working multiple contest themes into an instructable.

We hope this new contest rule will encourage our authors to commit fully and enthusiastically to one contest theme and create more focused projects, instead of stressing about making something to qualify for three separate contests!.

#2 - We are creating more Prize Packs.

Currently, if you win a contest at any prize level you will get an Instructables prize pack, some stickers, and whatever other random swag we have lying about in our prize room. As it turns out, this has created a situation in which our best authors end up filling their homes with piles of instructables T-shirts.

We recognize that winning T-shirts over and over again is boring.To make Prize Packs Great Again over the next few months, we are going to roll out new Prize Packs on a permanent and limited edition basis. When you win a contest, you will be able to select the standard T-shirt prize pack, but you will also have new choices coming soon.

Make sure to keep an eye out soon for new Instructables swag we know you’ll love!



2 months ago

N°1 sounds quite fair. But on the other hand, some contests are open to almost any entry regarding their themes (just like the "colors of the rainbow" or "trash to treasure"). To me, these contests were some kind of "bonus" contests, to add some challenge to an existing project: I have a project, but if I see the "colors of the rainbow contests", I'll try to make my project more colorful. Or with upcycled objects to fit the "trash to treasure contests". But I think it is a good idea anyway, let's see how it turns :)

N°2 is also a great improvement. I remember there were some mugs before. Are they going to be part of the new packs? Or the notebooks from the "I made it madness"? I hope to be part of the finalists soon to find out!

We are thinking about mugs, but likely different ones than we had before. We are still working on the finer points of this. Is there anything you would like to see?

Tote bags? Or Instructables socks, that would be very fun! And some pencils, it is always useful.

How about something like small multi-tools with the Instructable robot on them. Maybe another useful little gadget.

Agreed. Any small tool, especially of the type that is easily lost/worn out/broken but regularly used e.g. builder's pencils, tape measures (metric for outside of US), bits for drill/drivers, rulers, notebooks, pins/needles, levels, utility knives would be handy

Yep. I like the idea of tape measures (I think you can get some with metric on one side and imperial on the other), maybe a 6-inch metal ruler, screwdriver with bits, utility knife.

All tape measures in the UK typically have both imperial and metric printed on them, so shouldn't be hard to source. Its a good idea, something relatively cheap to purchase but even small 1m tape measures are useful and have a habit of disappearing.

There's a multitool as a prize for the rainbow contest.

Arduino's with the robot screen printed onto them.

Thanks for pointing this out. That should not be allowed. I will investigate.

Can we enter two different Instructables into the same contest?

I'm guilty of #1. I usually don't even pay attention to the contest until I'm ready to hit the publish button. At that point, I look down at the contest and usually click on anything that might be remotely related to my project. Funny, with that randomness, I've only been rejected from a few entries :). The change is a nice improvement and should clean up the contests.

As for #2....Thank you!

"I've only been rejected from a few entries" - Yeah, I've seen the same in general. For the sake of trying not to offend anyone, they accept just about any project for any contest. I wasn't too fond of that. It takes all the merit out of being accepted.

I have noticed that too, now that you mention it...

I just got the new goody bag of things with my prize and I absolutely love it. Especially the design of the notebook and the card. Huge compliment! The card is a nice touch.

After seeing it I think a slightly thicker (maybe hard cover) notebook would be a great runner up prize.

And obviously a huge thank you for the MacBook!

If I have an instructable project registered in a contest before May 1st, can I register this project after May 1st in a second contest if this second contest started before May 1st?

I am also very happy to see the improvements by the Instructable Team.

Super!!!! I'm looking forward to see the new changes! Thanks Randy!


2 months ago

I am very happy to know that.

I'm pretty happy with these changes. #1 I think it's completely reasonable to prevent a single I'ble from completely sweeping up a whole bunch of contests (as has often been the case in the past).

I think this is fairer and less frustrating. While being entered in
three contests theoretically gives you up to three chances of
winning, it will be good not to see the same I'bles in multiple

#2 Also a good way to go, nice one :-)

I'm curious to see if the Halloween contest will be divided into multiple categories again this year (like it used to be), or if it will be like last year where everything was in one single contest. I'm hoping it's not the latter!!

Im not 100% sure, but I think it might be one large contest again. We typically plan the Halloween contest over the summer, and will take a much close look at it then.

Great improvements I think.

I understand people comments below about #1, but I'm finding it sometimes unfair when seeing a single Instructable winning several grand prices. Of course, when you win in one contest, your I'ble will do good in another one as well if it becomes a finalist. Especially since once you're a finalist many of the things which are taken into account are similar, like quality of writing and photos, provided information and extra files etc.

And about #2, yeah, I'm always in the need of limited edition Instructables items.

But since we're talking about contest improvements, maybe a simple suggestion. Once the contest is closed for entries, it would be nice if the final date for entering is changed to final date for voting. And after that the date the winners are announced.

And I never can remember how to change final time to enter to my time (GMT+1). I'm not even sure I think it is a good idea, but the last 24 hours the date can be accompanied by this many hours left for entering.

Try Googling "__am/pm San Francisco in my time" I think during the last two days of the contest it should be displayed in hours left, not days.

Calculations or searching is not the problem, It's just that I'm to lazy to do it. :) And its just more convenient to see hours left I guess.

Thanks for sharing!..Both updates seems fair to me.

#1: I actually always though it was a fun challenge to try to build something that fits into three contest, but I can totally understand the change.

#2: Thank you!!

I completely agree with you there. I enjoyed the challenge of trying to think up a project that would meet 3 different criteria while still being new, interesting, and original. Maybe we'll get to see a special contest that speaks to that type of challenge in the future though. One can hope!

A good step I suppose, though it's hardly all that is needed. Limiting entries to one contest might cut back on the trend of a few projects grabbing up scads of prizes, but there are other things that still need addressing too. Chief among these issues is electoral reform.

Tying the votes to a relative calculation (such as votes/viewership) is a fair measure to allow smaller, less popular projects a decent chance at the ballot box. This would mean that a popular project would be judged based on how many of its viewers it impressed, not simply snowing other less popular projects under with its superior supply of viewers. Making things about a percentage rather than outright numbers would make things far more competitive.

I've been watching contests evolve since the beginning of the site, and I think they're done about as fairly as can be. These tweaks are a further improvement, though. A couple thoughts in response to your comment:

Votes have no ultimate bearing on the selection of finalists (a careful reading of the contest rules reveals this). As has been explained numerous times, staff use votes to identify the first half of potential finalists for consideration but will still rule things out for a variety of reasons.

"Outright numbers," despite your implication, have never been used to select finalists. The criteria outlined in the official rules spells out the considerations used to select finalists, and I've seen plenty of entries selected as finalists that have relatively low views.

From what I've seen, I'd say the criteria really just boil down to two main aspects: quality documentation + interest factor (and sometimes one will outweigh the other).

Instructables that hit those two aspects solidly in relation to the theme almost always end up as finalists. Unsurprisingly, these Instructables often have higher views and engagement, but it's the quality documentation + interest factor that made them finalists, NOT the views.

In other words, just like votes . . . views ultimately don't really matter.

The only statements I have ever heard out of staff regarding contests are roughly "half of winners are determined by the votes, half by staff judgment." It's fair to surmise that the absolute count of votes is indeed important. Altering things to a percentage based system would only sharpen the process and encourage participation.

Admittedly though, the best system would be one that eliminates the subjectivity of voters altogether. Let performance and objective statistics be the judge--make the project's object be what matters.

annieoakley is spot-on actually. Absolute vote counts don't guarantee anything, as all potential finalists are weighed against the stated criteria and judged among staff before finalist final lists are finalized and community judging round starts. Votes are for fun and offer of glimpse at how the community feels about a project, and can help determine finalists but do not guarantee it.

If votes are meant in that fashion, then there ought to be a downvote option (a la Reddit). As it stands, disapproval is unseen as there is no way to show it at the ballot box. Therefore, overall approval cannot be gauged.


What I hope to see in the future are contests with very regimented goals and assessment standards. Those would garner interest I am sure.

But why would a downvote button need to be added? For the trolls, which we don't have many of? What would make you downvote an Instructable? It would just decrease the chance of slightly more controversial I'bles of winning. And if only 50% of finalists are decided by votes then a good Instructable should win anyway.

Disapproval is seen in the form of less votes on an item vs. more votes on something else. In a general political election you don't down-vote a candidate; you either vote or don't vote.

It's all academic though, considering votes don't carry any formal weight.

Which will mean that if someone publishes an incredible I'ble, and it goes viral on Pinterest and brings hundreds of thousands of views to an Instructable within a few weeks (need examples?), they have no chance of winning, unless half of the winners are still decided by the staff.

I wonder though how the percentage of vote/views would change before and after being in the newsletter. If you posted an extremely nitch-ed I'ble that got 150 views and 2 votes it's going to be higher than an I'ble the got 50,000 views (600+ votes!?!)...

The math dictates that the situation would remain perfectly competitive for popular projects. They have the pools of viewers to draw upon. The forgotten projects do stand to benefit from this system, but only insofar as its bringing fairness. Judging votes/views as a percentage would bring things to a far more level playing field.

As above though, I welcome the elimination of subjectivity in assessments. Performance based analysis is even better.

This would absolutely not bring fairness. If an author who has written a very crappy instructable, gets his family and friends to vote for it, he might have less than a hundred views, but a lot higher voting percentage. This way it would actually be bad to get a lot of views from outside of instructables (which should always be the goal), since those viewers don't have an account and therefore can't vote. Btw. I think there are way more people complaining, because they are convinced that their instructable was more "successful" than others (in terms of getting a lot of views), but they only ended up winning a runner up prize. I am not sure if anybody except you is complaining, because they would like to win with an unsuccessful instructable (usually they ask how to get more successful). I am honestly not going to respond to another post from you concerning this matter. You have been told how to improve your ibles in order to win, but you said that you shouldn't have to... So there is no way for me to help you. Putting a lot of efford into a build is not the same as writing a good instructable, but if you follow a few rules and have a great build your chances of winning are extremely high.

There is no reason to believe this system would swing any meaningful advantage to smaller instructables: if you have an instructable with 50,000 views see 1% voter participation, it ends up with 500 votes. If you have an instructable with 500 views see 10% voter participation, it still ends up with only 50 votes. All of the math says the bigger instructable will still retain an inherent advantage.

I hardly have a personal stake in this; my frequency of posting has dropped dramatically in recent months and my involvement with contests has similarly fallen away. (To answer you, there have been people complaining--many about "overspecialization" in contests and such things as 3D printers' projects taking over.)

Thanks for your suggestion about voting. We are going to be reexamining the voting process at some point in the future, but this is something we don't want to rush. All potential systems have pros and cons that need to be considered carefully.

Can an I'ble be entered to only one contest at once, or can it be entered to a second contest if the first one closes? (when both start before the I'ble was published - just like I've entered an Instructable into four contests once.)

*ᴱᵛᵉʳʸᵒᶰᵉ ⁻ ˢᵉᶫᶫ ᵃᶫᶫ ᵒᶠ ᵗʰᵉ ʰᵘᶰᵈʳᵉᵈˢ ᵒᶠ ᴵᶰˢᵗʳᵘᶜᵗᵃᵇᶫᵉˢ ᴿᵒᵇᵒᵗ ˢʰᶦʳᵗˢ ʸᵒᵘ ʷᵒᶰ ᵃᶰᵈ ᵘˢᵉ ᵗʰᵉ ᵐᵒᶰᵉʸ ᵗᵒ ᵇᵘʸ ᵃ ᵗᶦᶜᵏᵉᵗ ᵗᵒ ᶠᶫʸ ᵗᵒ ᴴᑫ ʷʰᵉʳᵉ ʷᵉ ʷᶦᶫᶫ ᵃᶫᶫ ᵗʰʳᵒʷ ʳᵒᵇᵒᵗ ᵖᵃʳᵗˢ ᵃᵗ ᴿᵃᶰᵈʸ ᵘᶰᵗᶦᶫ ᶦᵗˢ ʳᵃᶦˢᵉᵈ ᵗᵒ ᵗʷᵒ ᶜᵒᶰᵗᵉˢᵗˢ⋅

Or I believe it's New York.

You would need to sell more than just robot T-shirts to be able to afford NYC. :)

Anyhow, it is one project to one contest (open or closed).

If you think you can't buy a plane ticket by selling your I'bles shirts then you haven't yet meet Brittliv ;)

So no winning in 2 contests just like there are a few winners that won in four contests.


2 months ago

I love the second change!

I have a question though: for cooking contests where the prize pack is an apron instead of a T- shirt, does this new system apply as well?

All contests will now have a choice.

Under the new system you could potentially win a cooking contest and request a prize pack themed around workshop tools instead (for instance). Or, the other way around.

This will leave everyone with more choices.

1: can up-coming contests be publicised well in advance, to give folk time to decide if they want to save hitting "publish" for a particular contest, or to plan projects specifically for contests?

2: YAY! I sometimes have an entire washing machine load with nothing but Robot shirts!