Updates to the Project Guidelines and House Rules

Today we have posted an update to the LEGO CUUSOO Project Guidelines and House Rules. This document outlines how LEGO CUUSOO works and communicates what we expect in terms of project content, basic quality, and what kind of behavior we welcome on the site. All new submissions to LEGO CUUSOO are reviewed to ensure they follow these Guidelines, and we moderate user behavior based on the House Rules.

In the last couple months, we’ve posted more specifically about our brand standards and what content we allow. Today we have integrated those standards into the Project Guidelines and House Rules, and have added two new sections to the page; Acceptable Project Content and Basic Project Quality Standards. The original Guidelines content (rights, royalties, plagiarism, etc.) hasn’t changed, and you can find it under the first section, “How This Works.”

Acceptable Project Content
The Acceptable Project Content section incorporates the framework from the Brand Standards blog post several weeks ago. This section is a guide to help you understand what types of projects we will accept. It’s a framework for our decision-making. Our team will apply the standard, but we won’t explain each decision in detail.

The section adds also a couple more rules about project types. For instance, projects should be product concepts (LEGO CUUSOO isn’t a gallery), drawings and photos are OK (as long as you position the project as a LEGO product), and we don’t accept ideas that propose new MMORPG games–projects of that nature are outside of the scope of LEGO CUUSOO.

Basic Project Quality Standards
The Basic Project Quality Standards section outlines a few things you should pay attention to when creating your project:

  • Make sure your photos are clear and well lit (not dark, blurry, or pixilated)
  • Any altered images should be clear and easy to read; we don’t allow jagged edges, poor cropping or compositing, hard to read text, or scaling distortions
  • Titles and descriptions should be clearly understood (really, who likes to read TONS OF CAPS AND EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!! anyway?)
  • Finally, we’ve seen people submit projects where the image doesn’t match the discription at all, and won’t accept those

You can read the full changes on the LEGO CUUSOO Project Guidelines and House Rules page. For those interested, we’ve also done a refresh on the email messages you receive when we accept, reject, or delete a project, so the reasons become much more clear.

Cleaning Up Existing Projects
Some projects posted before we implemented our pre-approval process on March 29 might not follow the Acceptable Project Content framework. We are reviewing and removing these projects in descending order by number of supporters, but with over 3,000 published projects this will take some time. If you find a project that you don’t think fits our standards, you can tell us by using the “Report This Project” link on the right-hand column of the project page. We will then receive your report and make a decision.

Pre-Approval is Good, but not Perfect
We’ve been pre-approving new project submissions now since the end of March. This allows us to filter content we deem inappropriate for the LEGO brand, with one caveat; some things are not obvious on the surface and the filter won’t be perfect. There are especially so many IP-related projects that though we try, we can’t give every IP a thorough review. Projects that are obviously over the line will be caught, but expect that we’ll make mistakes from time to time and let something through we’ll remove later.

How do I know what’s OK?
We’ve provided the Guidelines and House Rules as a framework to communicate our standards. We know it can’t cover every possible situation, so we offer this simple advice; remember that are many LEGO product ideas that both appeal to older fans and do not present an issue for our younger fans. When creating your projects, our advice is to stick to what’s safe. While not every model or IP makes for an appropriate LEGO product, you can still share your creation with the world on sites like Flickr and ReBrick.

LEGO CUUSOO is a learning process for us. Opening ourselves to your product suggestions has tremendous opportunity. In fact, allowing people to publicly suggest new products and build audiences that want them in the open is brand new territory not just for us, but quite cutting edge as a practice overall. Doing this also opens us to risk of criticism for our decisions. That’s great, because it means people care about what we’re doing. So, we’ll stay focused on the good that has happened with LEGO CUUSOO so far, and the great things to come as we grow.

As always, best wishes with your LEGO CUUSOO projects!

Brand Standards: What makes an appropriate LEGO product?

Ever since we announced that the Winchester, and now the Firefly Serenity playset did not pass the LEGO Review, there has been some speculation about how we will handle various LEGO CUUSOO projects that skirt the line of the LEGO brand standards.

The LEGO Company sells construction toys for builders of all ages. Over the last ten-plus years, LEGO products for teens and adults have proven very popular, including LEGO Mindstorms, the UCS series, and the LEGO Direct Exclusives to name a few. Adult builders create incredible models that reflect their passions and interests. As the LEGO Company creates products for an older audience, we takes great care to ensure that everything we produce is appropriate for children and the parents who trust us.

LEGO CUUSOO has opened the floor for you to submit product concepts to us that we can consider for production. As of March 29, all new projects are first held in a queue and approved by a moderator before being posted to the site. We’re able to catch a lot more things this way, but some things are not obvious on the surface and we can’t give every project a thorough review. Projects that are obviously over the line will be caught, but some will inevitably pass through.

Our team is very aware that some potentially inappropriate projects remain active on the site; most of those projects were posted before we began approving new projects. We’re in the process of examining questionable projects and removing the inappropriate ones. This will take some time. Look forward to updates in the coming weeks that refine the Guidelines and House Rules as we work to communicate more clearly what is acceptable and not. Understand that we will not produce products that are related to these topics:

  • Politics and political symbols
  • Religious references including symbols, buildings, or people
  • Sex, drugs, or smoking
  • Alcohol in any present day situation
  • Swearing
  • Death, killing, blood, terrorism, or torture
  • First-person shooter video games
  • Warfare or war vehicles in any situation post-WWII to present
  • Racism, bullying, or cruelty to real life animals

The determination of how a project fits these above standards will be at our discretion. There’s always a chance that something will be approved, then removed from the site after being reviewed in greater depth, or not approved during the LEGO Review stage for projects that achieve 10,000 supporters.

Conversely, there are plenty of LEGO product ideas that appeal to older fans and do not skirt these lines. Our advice is to stick to what’s safe. Remember, some things are more appropriate for you to build with your own bricks and share online yourself. There are many great ideas out there, but not all make appropriate official LEGO products.

As always, best wishes with your LEGO CUUSOO projects!

Approval Process for New Projects on LEGO CUUSOO

Dear LEGO CUUSOO Users,

Today we introduce an approval process for new projects, similar to how the Apple App Store handles new app submissions. Our team will check for adherence to the Guidelines and House Rules. We do this so that we can maintain a healthy community by only allowing appropriate projects from the start.

We’ll check for plagiarism, too, but can’t guarantee we’ll catch every instance. You will still be able to report projects that aren’t based on original work, and if we confirm a project uses someone else’s work, we will remove it.

Once we examine your new project, we’ll either approve and publish it, or let you know the reason it was not approved so you can edit it and submit again. Please understand that by approving and publishing your project, our team is not endorsing your project as a product idea.

It’s our hope that adding this review step will provide a better experience than the old setup of allowing you to publish your project and then removing it later if it doesn’t follow the community standards.

Thank you again for using LEGO CUUSOO and best of luck with your projects!

The LEGO CUUSOO Team

Updates to the LEGO CUUSOO Terms of Service and Guidelines

Over the last couple weeks, we’ve made some key updates to our Guidelines, House Rules, and Terms of Service, which we have outlined in two earlier posts here. We’re making these changes to provide a foundation so we can continue building LEGO CUUSOO and help your projects succeed. Here we’ll walk you through the most significant changes. You also might want to review the entire Project Guidelines and House Rules so you are familiar with all of the changes.

Improving Project Quality
Many of the projects on LEGO CUUSOO are very high quality and we are amazed at the talent and creativity expressed here. We’re working to help increase quality on some of the lower quality projects as well. The new Guidelines, House Rules, and TOS are motivated in large part by the desire to build LEGO CUUSOO into a vibrant, creative community of high quality ideas that have strong potential to become LEGO products.

A Focus on Original Work
LEGO CUUSOO exists to allow you to share your original ideas and to help you make your LEGO wishes come true. LEGO builders of all ages put a lot of effort into their creations, and naturally take pride in them. It isn’t fair for you to upload someone else’s work as your own. Therefore, LEGO CUUSOO only allows users to create projects based on their own work, without exceptions.

Projects We Allow
Here are some details on the types of projects that are welcome on LEGO CUUSOO:

  • Original Projects – If you submit an original idea that you conceived yourself, it reaches 10,000 supporters, and we opt to produce it, you will receive the standard 1% royalty.
  • Projects Based on Third-Party Intellectual Property – We welcome projects based on third party intellectual property (such as movies or games). If one of these projects reaches 10,000 supporters, we will handle the necessary licensing arrangements (so don’t worry about that). Like any LEGO CUUSOO project, you must provide your own original model and cannot use anyone else’s work. If we produce a product based on your project and original model, you will still receive the 1% royalty.
  • Theme-Based Projects – You are welcome to create projects to introduce a new LEGO theme or product line. (Note: We initially restricted these projects with the new Guidelines update, intending that such a rule would improve project quality by making projects more focused. However, we recognize the effort you are putting into projects like these and will instead work to help increase quality by offering our own tips and suggestions that will encourage others to support).
  • New Part or Element Projects – It is difficult to quantify up-front how many kits in which a part will be sold, and over how many years. We’ve decided it makes more sense to compensate part designs with a one-time flat fee that we determine. That fee could vary, which is why we don’t define it up-front, but it will be fair and proportionate to what the royalty would be for a LEGO set project.

Removing “Bring Back” Projects
LEGO CUUSOO is designed for you to submit your own new and original ideas to be considered as potential LEGO products. Since “bring back” projects are links to retired products the LEGO Group owns, they aren’t original or new and aren’t appropriate for CUUSOO. We will be contacting owners of “bring back” projects and removing them over the course of the next week.

Protecting Our R&D Efforts
There’s naturally a possibility that you could post a Project without knowing the LEGO Company is already developing a similar product. Because our product development timelines span months and even years, we ask that you understand overlaps of this nature are unintentional on our part. By participating on LEGO CUUSOO you agree that if this happens, you will not claim infringement against us. In return, we promise you that we will not take this clause in the TOS and Guidelines as license to be opportunistic, and will respect instances where your projects predate our efforts.

Creating a Positive and Respectful Environment
LEGO CUUSOO is meant to be a fun and respectful atmosphere. We’ve established the House Rules so you can help us keep it that way. The House Rules have two important updates this week:

  • Please keep your comments coherent. Refrain from using incomplete sentences, ALL CAPS, txtspeak, chatspeak, and the like. Respect other users by writing comments that are easy to understand.
  • We don’t allow advertising, religious preaching, or political campaigning and we do not allow content that is intended to put down anyone else’s political or religious views. Also, LEGO CUUSOO is not a format for you to advertise your business, employer, or non-profit. For context and explanation, refer to the House Rules.

Shifting Gears
We’ve made these changes to provide a foundation to help your projects succeed. We believe the new Guidelines communicate more clearly the types of projects that we are looking for and provide a clear baseline from which we can encourage high quality ideas and curate content appropriately. Now that these updates to the Guidelines and Terms of Service are in place, we’re shifting gears toward helping you increase the quality of your projects and attract more supporters.

Happy building!

Responses to Questions Regarding Changes on LEGO® CUUSOO

We saw your comments on LEGO® CUUSOO regarding the coming changes to the site. Several of you expressed questions and concerns regarding our post yesterday about the new requirement that from January 12, users must be 18 or older to have a Project on the site.

One user created a new Project called “No to 18+!” to protest the coming change. Other users commented there expressing opposition, support, questions, and concerns. We were really grateful to see that the comments were polite and civil, even from those who disagreed. Thank you for keeping comments constructive, and thank you for being so passionate about sharing your LEGO ideas with us through LEGO CUUSOO.

No-18plus

Our team read every single comment within the “No to 18+!” project, took note of the concerns you expressed, and used your questions as a basis for this response. The project itself has now been removed, because it is not a LEGO product idea. We allowed you some time to vent and ask your questions there, and now we are responding here on our blog.

 

LEGO CUUSOO is in public Beta, which means we’re encouraging users to participate while we continue working out bugs and making feature improvements. By inviting your participation now, we’re able to learn much more about what will make a great site and experience than we would with a closed test site.  Thanks for your patience through the inevitable snags and glitches during the beta process.

Here are some questions gleaned from the comments, along with our responses:

Q: I am under 18.  Can I still support projects on LEGO CUUSOO?

Yes. Users who are at least 13 years old are welcome to support others’ projects and comment on them.

Q: Why is the age to create a project being raised to 18?

During the course of writing our new Terms of Service, due to be published after January 12, we have determined that users must be 18 years old or older to enter into the agreement with us.

Q: Will I be able to restore my project once I turn 18?

Yes. We are not deleting your projects, we are simply un-publishing them from the website. You will be able to re-publish your project once you are 18.

Q: If my project is unpublished, when I turn 18 will it still have the supporters I have already earned?

Yes. You will not lose your supporters when your project is un-published.  When you re-publish your project it will have the same number of supporters you had before.

Q: I am over 13, but under 18. May my parents create an account on LEGO CUUSOO and may I upload projects through that account?

If your parents create an account on LEGO CUUSOO, the account belongs to them and the LEGO CUUSOO Terms of Service apply to them. Therefore, our agreement regarding the necessary commercialization rights to any projects created is with an individual who meets the legal requirements.

Q: I am under 13. May my parents create an account that I can use on LEGO CUUSOO?

We’re sorry. LEGO CUUSOO requires individuals to be at least 13 years old before they can create an account.

Q: Kids and teens are the LEGO company’s target audience. Why are you restricting them, and if kids under 13 can’t vote, how will you know what they want?

Legally we cannot allow users under 13 to participate on a website that is open to all ages unless we comply with very specific rules to protect them. LEGO CUUSOO is intended for a grown-up audience. We believe even though project supporters are over 13, the amount of support required to produce a product is significant enough that it demonstrates demand and a market opportunity upon which we can make an educated decision to develop and release a new product.

Q: How will you give credit to users when more than one person has uploaded a Project related to a particular idea?

Other crowdsourcing sites that invite users post their ideas for product development have created methods to solve this issue and allow multiple users to contribute to a common idea. Some of these systems weight contributions based on effort and value added, and we think that’s a smart approach as long as it is transparent to you. We are investigating how we wish to approach this on LEGO CUUSOO.

Q: I’m concerned that another user will take my idea. How are you going to handle that?

There are two types of “ideas” submitted to LEGO CUUSOO; “generic” ideas and unique ideas that you conceived entirely yourself.

Many projects are “generic” ideas of things that already exist in the world built with LEGO bricks; for example a LEGO elephant, or a LEGO vehicle from a movie.  If you post your version of something generic, we won’t stop someone else from posting their own version.  This means the value of a generic project is in the substance behind your work, combined with the popular support. If two users publish the same generic idea and one does a better job communicating and gaining support, it is only fair to give weight to the better executed project.

In short, you can’t squat a generic idea and be the only person allowed to submit that concept to LEGO CUUSOO.

If you come up with your own unique creation (vehicle, story, etc.), that is not based on something generic (or someone else’s intellectual property), that idea is yours and it is unique.  We won’t allow someone else to submit your idea, change it a little, and benefit from it.  We’ll know it is yours based on when you submitted the project and the fact that it is not based off of someone else’s LEGO creations on the Internet.

Q: How do you plan to address the number of low quality projects that are on LEGO CUUSOO?

We have been discussing various solutions to the issue of low quality project submissions. We believe in a two-sided approach: The first solution is to educate the community on elements of a good project, providing examples and how-to guides. The other approach is to review individual projects for quality and moderate accordingly, or to consider moderating all new projects for quality and adherence to the Guidelines before they are posted to the site.  We will continue developing our approach to project quality and keep you informed.

Thank You

Thank you for your patience as we’ve taken the time to consider and respond to your questions. We hope the above responses provide some clarity.

In the coming weeks, we will expand on the thoughts introduced here regarding project quality, what makes a unique project and things you can do to improve your project submissions.

We understand that some of you are disappointed by the news of the new project age restriction, and we’re sorry for being the bearers of bad news. There are certain rules that we must follow to provide this opportunity to submit your product ideas and see them produced as official LEGO products. Thank you for understanding that we truly appreciate LEGO fans of all ages.

The LEGO CUUSOO Team

New LEGO CUUSOO House Rules

As we look forward to revealing and launching Hayabusa and sharing the results of our LEGO Review of Minecraft, we’re happy to see all of the creativity you are putting into your LEGO CUUSOO projects.  There have been some great new projects over the last few weeks and some cool new content on some of the older and more popular projects, too.

LEGO CUUSOO is striving to be a constructive environment where people can share their creativity and new ideas.  The site remains in beta, which means that we are still developing and testing the site and making tweaks to the rules and crowdsourcing model so the site fulfills our vision.  Thanks for understanding that and adapting with us as we learn what behavioral standards make for that constructive community.

Unfortunately we’ve seen some undesirable behavior in some of the projects here on CUUSOO.  Users have been uploading others’ ideas as their own, spamming in the comments, trolling, and even using the comments as a chat room rather than to discuss the projects themselves.  As a result, we’ve taken some disciplinary action as we’ve seen fit.

Minifig-mechanic

Site updates are coming

We have been working on a series of updates to the Guidelines and Terms of Service that make it more clear what types of projects and what kind of activity we want to encourage here.  These are due for release in early January.  We’re also going to make it a lot easier and more straightforward to report stolen content.

While we hoped the tone of conversation on LEGO CUUSOO would stay constructive until then, it has not, so we are implementing the new House Rules portion of the revised Guidelines now (based somewhat on the House Rules on LEGO ReBrick) and will follow up with more comprehensive and clear Project Guidelines soon.

LEGO CUUSOO House Rules

It is your responsibility as a user to keep your interactions fun and respectful, so the atmosphere remains positive with a focus on sharing new ideas for LEGO products. To make sure that everyone has a good time, we have made these common sense house rules:

  1.  Be respectful.  When you comment on others’ models, keep your remarks positive.  Even when you have suggestions for improvement, keep a constructive and respectful tone.  Don’t be offensive, creepy, abusive, humiliating or intimidating and don’t harass or impersonate others.  Please also keep your remarks on-topic.  This is not a discussion site, comments on LEGO CUUSOO should be focused around the Projects you are supporting.
  2.  Play nice.  LEGO CUUSOO is to be a good, clean environment.  Don’t create Projects related to alcohol, drugs, tobacco, sex; or any kind of content containing realistic or extreme violence, or content intended to shock or disgust.
  3.  We will step in if we must.  We reserve the right to remove any comments or content that is in violation of these rules. Repeated or excessive violations of the House Rules will result in a ban from LEGO CUUSOO.

Examples

In addition to the House Rules above, here are some examples of good behavior and bad behavior to help you know what is acceptable and what is not:

Keep comments on-topic:

Good

Bad

Great model!  I love the use of cheese slopes.  Have you considered adding XYZ to it?

Cool.   Hey, come and support my project about LEGO Galidor. http://lego.cuusoo.com/ideas/view/12345

Keep comments constructive:

Good

Bad

This is a good effort, but the color scheme is not that great.  Try using fewer colors.  Stick to two main colors with a couple accents.  It’ll look better, and I think you’ll get more supporters that way.  Good luck!

This sucks.  I’d never vote for a rainbow warrior like that.

Please don’t do these things:

  • Don’t use the comments as a chat room: “Hey everyone, let’s have a team discussion. Everyone comment below this now.”
  • Don’t attack or threaten: “You’re a loser, Bob.  I’m going to come and get you.”

Thank you for working with us to keep LEGO CUUSOO a positive atmosphere, and thanks for your patience as we make a couple necessary adjustments.  Most of all, thank you for sharing your creativity here on LEGO CUUSOO and good luck on your journey to 10,000 supporters for your projects!