Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tutorial etiquette: A few thoughts

I'm trying to come up with tutorials on a regular basis now, so I thought I'd share some thoughts I've been mulling over recently...Tutorials aren't an easy thing to do, and making an illustrated one is a lot of work. I think we are really fortunate to have people out there who are working hard to share their knowledge -- I have learned more than I could have imagined thanks to people I've never met!

So I've put together a few thoughts on tutorial etiquette based on my own recent experiences.

Communicate with the creator of the tutorial. Thank them for posting the tutorial. Offer your feedback. Let them know the impact their hard work has had on you. Did you find a new craft you love? Did you share the link with others? Did you have fun making their project? Send a small picture or post your comments to their blog to let them know you appreciate what they've shared with you.

I really can't stress this enough. One of the major crafting sites I visit seems to have a large number of people who don't know the word "thanks". So I rarely post there, preferring to share my work with people who actually show they appreciate it. I'm not expecting a parade in my honour, but it would be nice to get a "thank you" instead of a personal message wanting another tutorial or more information that is readily available from someone too lazy to do their own searches or read actual books from the library!

But I digress...

Tutorials are not guaranteed. Let the creator know the problems you had with the project, let them know the joys as well! The only way we learn is through constructive criticism, so be polite and let them know what didn't work. Perhaps you did something wrong or perhaps they posted something faulty (like telling you the lotion would make 100 grams and it made 1000!) One of the first bath & body projects I tried was a dismal, over the top, no one has ever been able to make it work failure. So I went on a search to find out what I did wrong. (Turns out the recipe simply doesn't work....) I found the Dish and learned so much from it. (So I guess the moral of the story here is failures lead to learning!)

Do not ask for more tutorials. I posted a picture of a book I made, and four years later, people still write to me to ask for a tutorial. I write to them to tell them where to find the tutorial -- Marie Browning's awesome book on bookbinding, available for purchase or from the library -- and still they write to me. (And if you want a tutorial, at least say "please"!)

Do not post the work of others as your own -- online, book, class, etc. It's one thing to share something you found interesting by linking to it, it's another to post it with your name on it. This is a complete dishonour to the person who took the time and energy to create the tutorial and was kind enough to share it with us for no reason other than kindness.

To summarize the above, show some appreciation for those people who take the time out of what is probably a very busy life to post tutorials! Classes cost money (well, not our classes...), and require you to leave the house.

(An aside....I was shocked when I joined the Dish to find cosmetic chemists sharing knowledge they paid for at university (and spent years learning)! They had no obligation to help us, yet there they were day after day sharing because they were kind, caring people. And what did I learn from them? Tons!)

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