The halfbakery is a community-based ideas bank used by people who wish to propose and develop (not always serious) half-baked inventions. Among many similar such sites (e.g., WorthIdea.com, shouldexist.org, whynot.net, globalideasbank.org, idea-a-day.com), it has distinguished itself by minimalism, irreverence, and a cast of regulars whose takes on suggested inventions are often funnier than the original submission.
Halfbakery can be read by anyone, but only logged-in users can contribute. A user with an account can submit new ideas (the inventions) and add links and annotations to existing ideas. An account is currently gained by e-mailing the "bakesperson," an e-mail address provided on the site. Logged in users can also vote for or against a particular idea. Users are able to edit and delete their ideas, links, annotations, votes, and even their whole account. A few selected users can illustrate ideas, and the illustrations are linked to on the idea's page.
The site is run by the bakesperson, jutta, and a small group of volunteer moderators who can contribute ideas themselves and have rights to delete ideas, annotations and links provided by other users. Moderators, however, must adhere to guidelines and are generally forbidden from deleting the links or annotations of other users. Moderators are unable to see who cast votes or alter votes other than their own.
Halfbakery has a variety of mechanisms for creating and discussing ideas.
An idea is initially created with the following components:
- Title: This is usually short, and often makes use of a pun or alliteration.
- Category: There are many categories, which are created by the bakesperson as needed.
- Summary: Used as a subtitle, this either clarifies the title, gives a summary or a humorous line.
- Description: The details of the idea.
Once created, an idea can be discussed by other users. Users can add annotations, include links to other Halfbaked ideas, and vote on the idea. All user comments, links, and votes can be changed or removed by the users who posted them, and comments and links can also be removed by the idea creator.
The style of writing on the Halfbakery is distinctive. Close attention is paid to grammatical, semantical and spelling mistakes, in contrast to other online forums. Writing is seldom overly formal, but too much slang or contraction is frowned upon. Ideas can be either serious or satirical, but ideas written too formally are not well received. Lack of paragraph breaks usually draws criticism concerning the perceived readability. A common occurrence is a user giving a negative vote, promising to retract it once the offending mistakes have been removed.
As is common on other internet forums, simple faux-HTML tags and action tags, such as <sarcasm> and <backs away slowly>, respectively, are sometimes used for a humorous effect.
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