Public Lab Research note

Help improve the step-by-step guides people have posted on

by warren | December 06, 2017 19:43 06 Dec 19:43 | #15323 | #15323

There are over 300 activities posted on the Public Lab site -- ranging from fully illustrated step-by-step instructions to more informal notes on how to do things.

But just as anyone can post an activity on, we can use everyone's help in improving them.

Remember, good activities (read more about this here) include:

  • a purpose! Why are you doing this?
  • a list of materials needed
  • a detailed sequence of steps to follow
  • how to confirm you've followed the steps correctly
  • a hypothesis or expected outcome

Really good ones also have:

  • a clear description of your conditions (e.g. lighting, temperature, or other relevant factors)
  • a list of questions to explore next (unknowns, or followup activities)
  • a request for input (there's always room for improvement -- invite people to offer feedback!)

Look for an activity that could use some support

Here's a list of all activities:*

Scroll through it to find some really nice ones that could just use a bit more structure or perhaps some illustrations or a parts list -- and leave a comment!

Offer suggested additions -- you can even write up proposed additions yourself, sourcing parts and compiling links, and offer it as a suggestion for integrating into the post.

Offer help to authors

In general, be helpful! Nobody likes to be told their post is not good enough. Start with what you love about the activity and offer to help people make it even better.

Offer to take up some of the work! I often tell people that I'd like to help get more people trying their activity out, and offer some helpful changes for how it can be made more accessible.

Documentation is hard!

I love when people find a difficult point in a process that I either forgot to document well, or if they think of a better way to illustrate a step. Offer people this kind of help -- documentation is hard!

I did this Help out by offering feedback!

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