Video: How does the LEGO Review work?

A few weeks ago I was on a trip with some team members, and during the breaks we recorded some interviews. This is the first of several; let’s start off with the topic of the LEGO Review (and what’s taking so dang long!).

In this video, Troels talks with us a bit about his role on the LEGO Review, and how it works. Apologies in advance for the noise quality; it was an impromptu interview and I’ll get a good directional mic in the future.

I know you have been anxiously awaiting the results of the Summer LEGO Review. You’ll have to trust that we’ve been anxiously awaiting sharing some news. We’ve always said, though, that due to what is involved we can’t commit to a timeframe for an announcement.

For every other LEGO product release, we decide what to make internally and then tell you about it when we are ready. A lot of our own ideas fall to the cutting room floor, for many different reasons. In the case of LEGO CUUSOO, you vote up what you want and then we go and see if we can make it. It takes the same amount of time to make a decision, but in this case you’re already anticipating a response from us. This is a challenge, and one through which we’re learning.

It’s a lot of fun to work on potential products that a lot of people have told us they want. At the same time we must carefully set expectations and communicate what we can and cannot do.

… and yes, news of the review results are indeed coming soon. Watch this space.

She stole my idea! A story about original ideas and how they relate to LEGO® CUUSOO

A few weeks ago, I attended an all-day workshop at the LEGOLAND Hotel conference center in Billund, Denmark. The restaurant at the LEGOLAND Hotel serves brick-shaped fries; for lunch I couldn’t resist putting a few on my plate. Being a good Instagrammer, I snapped a photo to show the world what I was eating.

After lunch I checked Facebook, and saw that my colleague Signe Lønholdt (from ReBrick) had already posted a photo of the same fries. She copied me! I was a bit bummed … she took my idea and posted it first, stealing the thunder I thought was mine.

But Signe’s photo was just a plain old iPhone shot. So I tightened my skinny jeans and fluffed my scarf as I scrolled through Instagram filters, observing for example how Lomo-fi brought out the rich colors of my artsy catsup splotch while Walden faded it out. I chose Hefe, wrote a witty comment, and uploaded it.

Almost immediately, an AFOL responded to my Facebook photo; “so that’s the second time today someone has posted those fries on my feed.” Aargh, I had been outed as a copycat. But Signe copied me, I thought, and mine was better!

My thunder was stolen and my faux-hipster ego deflated. I was a copycat.

Fries-signeFries-tim

But who had the original idea? Did I steal it from Signe? Did she steal it from me? Or were we both inspired to post a picture of the fries because of the trend of sharing food photos online? The brick fries are a rather unique food, but neither Signe nor I invented the brick fries. We both independently came to the same idea of sharing a photo of them; the “idea” to share a photo was both of ours.

It’s easy to understand a person who is upset because someone else uploaded an idea they had; they had the spark of inspiration and another person took it! Is that really what happened? No, someone independently had a similar thought and executed it too. I’ve even heard a few people say, “I thought of Facebook before it took off,” like they thought Mark Zuckerberg owed them something. What about Friendster or MySpace? Don’t they deserve Facebook’s success, because they did it first?

Paul Lee, a regular on LEGO CUUSOO, once sent me this Doghouse Diaries web comic to illustrate the principle.

On the site we see two kinds of ideas; original ideas (that you truly thought up yourself) and generic ideas (like a new fire truck, your favorite sports team, or even a new LEGO element that compliments an existing one, like a roof corner).

“Generic” ideas themselves are only a small fraction of the value of a project.

For LEGO CUUSOO, we see the value of a project as the Idea + Execution + Audience. It’s not enough to have a good model, or be the first with the concept. Your project should be produced in such a way that it attracts an audience that in turn shows us the demand for a potential product. Just like Facebook built a more successful social network than Friendster and attracted more users.

This means you can’t “squat” the thought for us to release a new IP or a new generic idea by putting up a photo and a description — even if the model is original. Someone else has every right to submit their own version and attract supporters. However, if you submit something truly your own, and someone else tries to piggyback or copy it, you can use the report button on the project and we’ll remove the project if it comes too close to your work.

I hope this story helps illustrate what we consider original, and what the value of a LEGO CUUSOO project is. But what happened with the brick fries? As of this blog post, I out-executed Signe. My pic got 27 likes and 13 comments, where hers got 19 likes and 8 comments. ;-) So Signe, thanks for stealing my idea. It inspired me to write this post.

 

Improvements to the Activity Feed

The Activity Feed on your My Page has now become a bit more relevant to your daily activities on LEGO CUUSOO. We’ve removed the largest source of clutter on the feed; you’ll now no longer see feed items for each new supporter and comment made to a project you have supported. Now your Activity Feed will show a notification when the following things happen:

Your Account and Project
You’ll receive notifications when:

  • Someone follows you
  • Your project reaches the following supporter milestones: 25, 50, 100, 250, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, … 10,000
  • Your project receives an official LEGO comment
  • Another user replies to a comment or thread on your project

Projects You Support
You’ll receive notifications when the projecs you support:

  • Are edited or deleted
  • Reache supporter milestones (25, 50…)
  • Receive an official LEGO comment

Projects You Bookmark
You’ll receive notifications when the projecs you bookmark:

  • Reache supporter milestones (25, 50…)
  • Receive an official LEGO comment

Finally, when you follow someone, you’ll be notified when they publish a new project. Do you like the changes to the Activity Feed? Let us know in the comments below.

Link your Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook accounts

The comments on LEGO CUUSOO are a great place to discuss projects. But sometimes you want to have longer discussions with your friends on LEGO CUUSOO, whether you’re collaborating on the project, want to talk about your LEGO hobby, or even strike up a friendship. The House Rules are clear that the comments are not for off-topic conversation, but to date there hasn’t been another option to communicate.

People have asked us to create a private messaging system or add forums to LEGO CUUSOO. We’re not planning to do either, because our focus is on improving the process of finding, supporting, and creating projects. Our team is putting all of our efforts into helping enable more and better projects reach the goal of 10,000 supporters so they are reviewed in the quarterly LEGO Review and have the opportunity to become products.

Instead, to help you connect, you may link your Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr accounts and display them on your profile. This way, other users may contact you and connect directly. This is an opt-in feature and you can remove the links at any time.

Adding Your Profile Links
To add these links, log in to LEGO CUUSOO and visit your My Page. Click the Account Settings link on the right sidebar, then select the “Profile” tab. You should see fields that allow you to input the URL of your Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook accounts, like in the photo below. They will show up as small icons underneath your profile photo and username on your profile page.

Profile Links are Subject to the House Rules (Edit)
When you link your profile, your username and publicly visible profile should follow the House Rules. Use common sense, keep it clean, and remember that the LEGO Group’s primary audience is children and families.

Profile-social-media-linksProfile-social-media-chicklet-view

Link Roundup: Your LEGO CUUSOO Tips

Last week, we posted an open call for you to share your tips for using LEGO CUUSOO on your own blogs, and promised a link in return. We received five posts from four LEGO CUUSOO fans, thanks everyone!

Each post contains some great tips and good opinions. Here we’ve picked out a highlight from each one as we share the link so you can go read each post. So, check out these fellow users’ tips and put them into practice on your projects:

  • Huw Millington posted: “Think outside the box: Don’t bother submitting anything that’s remotely like what LEGO is already producing, or is likely to. Come up with something new.” Read Huw’s entire post on Brickset.
  • GlenBricker provides an excellent analysis of “relative support,” or how your project ranks next to other projects. It also gives reassurance that you’re doing better than you might think if you only have a 50-250 supporters. Here’s Glen’s chart comparing supporter count to project ranking:
Project-ranking-and-supporters-glenbricker
  • In a separate post, Glen analyzes what is a realistic minifigure count for LEGO sets. This isn’t a tip we would have thought to share, but it’s totally true (wink wink, nudge nudge).
  • Richard Hayes of BrickFanatics gives us a series of tips, and the one that sticks out to us is to build your idea (well) in bricks. The model and presentation in your cover photo is your best chance at attracting suppporters, so make both high quality if you want people to get on board.
  • CUUSOO user Dralcax shares his list of tips, and we especially like #6, talking about price range. There is no set bottom or top price point for a CUUSOO project to be accepted, but you’ll have a better chance of us accepting your project if it is a reasonable size.

Didn’t write up your tips in time to make it into this post? Share your tips or leave your link in the comments below.

LEGO Minecraft Micro World now shipping and Hayabusa Available Soon

We’re happy to announce that LEGO Minecraft Micro World is now shipping! If you pre-ordered your LEGO Minecraft set on J!NX, they began shipping pre-orders in the order received starting June 13, so if you have not received it yet, look forward to it arriving soon.

If you haven’t gotten yours yet and are you are purchasing other Minecraft-related merchandise, your best bet is to order your Minecraft set from J!NX. If you’re ordering other LEGO sets or are building up your VIP Points, you can order from LEGO Shop at Home. LEGO Minecraft Micro World retails for $34.99 / €34,99.

We’d love to see what you build with your Minecraft set! Send us a tweet @LEGO_CUUSOO or post to the LEGO Minecraft Facebook page.

Hayabusa Available July 8
Hayabusa, the second LEGO CUUSOO set, is on sale now in Japan and will be available to order from shop.LEGO.com starting July 8 and will be sold online to all 23 countries that shop.LEGO.com services and retail at $49.00 / €49,00.

July 13 Update on Hayabusa Availability
After a short delay, Hayabusa is now available in the LEGO Shop in North America. We’ve received updated information about a delayed launch in other markets including the UK, EU, and Asia. Thank you for your patience, you’ll be able to order Hayabusa soon and we will update you once we have confirmation.

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Open Call: Share Your LEGO CUUSOO Tips

If you’ve been on LEGO CUUSOO for a while, you see the vastly different approaches people take to creating their projects. If you follow the site really closely and are active in LEGO fan forums, you’ll also see the different ways people promote their projects from reading discussions about CUUSOO.

We’d love to see more tips and tricks about how to build and promote your projects that can be shared with everyone. And, who better to share this advice than the very people testing these techniques on their own projects?

That’s what LEGO CUUSOO user GlenBricker did when he wrote up this article about how to make and use QR codes on MOC cards to promote CUUSOO projects at LEGO fan conventions. Since it’s summer in the northern hemisphere and con season is in full swing (I’ll be at Brickworld in Chicago this weekend), this is a great tip for any of you looking to promote your project. We know there are more great tips out ther, so we’re hoping you can share yours too.

LEGO Fans, Start Your Blogs
So, this post is an open call for you to blog your best tips for using LEGO CUUSOO and receive a link back to your blog from us. Talk about the ways you refine your projects to articulate your ideas, and talk about your ideas or what you’ve found works best in promoting your projects (as long as it’s legal, of course). Write up your posts between now and the end of next Sunday, June 24 and send them to us. As long as your post follows our little list of rules below, we’ll link to it in a link roundup post that shares the tips with everyone!

Here are the Rules

  • Write whatever tips and tricks you think are best. Keep your advice legal and ethical (e.g. having a celebrity tweet your project by asking nicely = good, setting up a black-hat SEO link farm = bad).
  • Keep your article focused on tips that help your fellow builders. You may use your project as an example, but it should be your secondary focus.
  • Your post should follow the LEGO CUUSOO Guidelines and House Rules for appropriate content and tone.
  • Please write in English. You may include a translation to another language so long as our English-speaking staff can read your post.
  • Email your link to LEGOsupport@cuusoo.com with the subject “CUUSOO Tips Blog Post” by the end of Sunday, June 24.

Disclaimer: we will link to your post only if you follow these common-sense rules. :-)

Don’t hold back (the time has come to galvanize)!