Updates to the Guidelines, House Rules, and Terms of Service

Today we’re introducing some updates to LEGO® CUUSOO’s Guidelines, House Rules, and Terms of Service based on things we’ve learned over the last two years. These changes will help focus the contents of your projects toward what we’re able to commercialize through LEGO CUUSOO. We’ve seen a lot of great ideas and models from you, but not everything fits what is practical or possible to make and sell.

Now that we’ve been through a few LEGO Review periods, it’s easier to decide what types of submissions work as potential sets and what kinds don’t. In order to nurture a pipeline that’s more in line with what is possible to produce, these changes narrow the scope of what we’ll consider.

What’s changing?

The new Guidelines, House Rules, and Terms of Service clarify and refine what types of submissions we’ll consider as potential LEGO sets. Our goal is to make review decisions more quickly, which means new CUUSOO sets will get into your hands sooner.

Highlights

Here are some changes we would like to highlight:

New Guideline What This Means 
Brick-Based Construction Toy Projects Only Please only create projects suggesting standard LEGO sets and not new parts, software, websites, apps, or non-LEGO brick based products (backpacks, mugs, etc).
One Project = One LEGO Set Projects should only suggest single stand-alone LEGO sets, and not a series of products or a playtheme.
No Minifigure Series or “Battle Packs” We no longer allow projects suggesting solely minifigures, minifigure collectibles, “battle packs,” “character packs,” etc.
Only Use Authentic LEGO Parts Please do not include non-LEGO brand bricks in your projects, whether from competing brands or after-market customizers.
No Company Logos or Team Mascots We no longer consider projects consisting of company, team, or organization logos or mascots.
Please Don’t Use Our Logos You may not use the LEGO Logo (or represent it), or any of our other logos in a way that could imply we endorse your project. See this guide for clarification.

CUUSOO Sets and Potential Playthemes

LEGO CUUSOO is set up to evaluate and release single LEGO set concepts that reach 10,000 supporters, and not playthemes, product ranges, or parts. The LEGO Minecraft concept proved so popular that the LEGO Group decided to release more sets as a continuation of our license agreement with MOJANG. This is really exciting because even more people will be able to celebrate their love for building, both with LEGO bricks and in the Minecraft universe!

While this naturally gives hope that your concepts could also make it to “theme status,” our team still sees future scenarios like this as incredibly rare. Nevertheless, it is a possibility, so we’ve also added Guidelines language that clearly states we don’t offer credit or compensation for any potential follow-up sets, since those are developed by us outside of LEGO CUUSOO.

New House Rules

It’s occasionally necessary to remind people of our expectations of respect, etiquette, and fair behavior, so we’re adding these two House Rules:

  • Respect Privacy. You may voluntarily link to your social media accounts on your profile but please do not share your email address, phone number, or other contact details. Never share someone else’s personal details that are not readily available on their LEGO CUUSOO profile.
  • One Account Per Person. LEGO CUUSOO is designed for creative people who play fairly and honestly. Secondary accounts will be removed when discovered and users who operate multiple accounts risk being permanently banned from participation. Please refrain from creating “team” or group accounts.

Guidelines, House Rules, and Terms of Service, oh my!

We refer to these a lot, but what is the difference between them? Here’s how these documents relate to each other:

CUUSOO Guidelines House Rules Hierarchy - Cropped

Moving Forward

Our team has learned a lot over the last two years of the LEGO CUUSOO Open Beta. We’ve browsed your great projects and ideas, and have had the privilege of evaluating those that make it into the LEGO Review. We’ve learned volumes about what’s possible to produce and what isn’t within the CUUSOO framework.

As a result of these changes, there are now many existing projects we won’t consider anymore. Many projects that no longer fit will soon be removed and their creators notified. Owners of projects that can be modified to fit the Guidelines will also be contacted. To simplify the administration of this change, projects with over 1,000 supporters will have until December 31 to make the necessary changes, and projects under 1,000 are asked to make the necessary changes before they reach 1,000 supporters.

Know that we can’t express enough how much we appreciate the passion and energy that goes into each and every one of your submissions, even if we’re not able to make them. Thanks again for enthusiastically sharing with us the things you would like to see made into future LEGO products and we’re looking forward to making more LEGO wishes come true as we grow.

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.

 

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!

Congratulations to the Firefly Serenity playset reaching 10,000 supporters! Here’s our decision on fit with the LEGO brand.

First and foremost, huge congratulations to tbone_tbl for reaching 10,000 supporters on LEGO CUUSOO, and toward everyone for all of the support of the Firefly Serenity Playset project!

LEGO CUUSOO gives the opportunity for adult LEGO fans to submit product ideas. You submit some incredible things, and we’re huge fans of all of your work. This is a beautiful model and a skilled rendition of the beloved Serenity from Firefly built with LEGO bricks.

When reviewing projects for production, the LEGO Jury first looks at how the concept fits the LEGO brand. We learned the IP was questionable regarding a brand fit, and since we anticipated this project reaching 10,000 the team got a head start and reviewed the project on these criteria.

LEGO produces toys for children. Therefore all LEGO products, regardless of age target, must be content-appropriate for this core audience. With this in mind we have decided that as cool as the Serenity model is, the Firefly TV show and Serenity film contain content that is not appropriate for our core target audience of children ages 6-11. While we know this news will disappoint those who supported the project, we will not be producing this as a LEGO product.

Opening ourselves to new product suggestions invites popular ideas that don’t always fit our brand. We are grateful for the spirit behind projects like the Firefly Serenity and for the opportunity to be challenged. It keeps us sharp and looking toward the future of the LEGO brick.

New Guideline and Instructions for Collaborative Projects

In the first six months of operating the global version of LEGO CUUSOO, we’ve seen an encouraging pattern emerge: collaboration on projects. Teamwork makes us smile. Some people are very good at building a model or illustrating a concept with good artwork. Others are good at promoting their project and gaining traffic from other websites to increase their supporter count. By working together, you can complement each others’ strengths and increase your success.

So, we’ve updated our Project Guidelines so you can “legally” collaborate with other builders and feature others’ work with permission. Projects are still owned by the project creator or owner. As a project owner, you can collaborate with one or more fellow CUUSOO users to build the LEGO model or concept artwork to communicate your idea. All collaborators must have a LEGO CUUSOO account and adhere to the Guidelines and House Rules.

To register your collaborative project, have each team member read Guideline #6 and register your collaborative project with us via the instructions. This way, we can log each collaborator so we know that they have given you permission to include their work in your project.

Happy Collaborating!

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