In light of the post I made about the BrickQueen situation last night, I got to thinking about how the LEGO CUUSOO site could be improved, in a way that would keep the IP fanboys and fangirls happy, while giving due praise to those who submit their own original designs and ideas.
I haven’t thought this through nearly enough, but one suggestion I have is for the site to borrow from Threadless’ voting system. Threadless is a site where designers can sell their custom t-shirt designs, as well as take part in various “challenges”, I guess to have their designs printed.
Though it’s obviously not without its flaws and disadvantages, there were a few reasons why I think Threadless’ model is a good one for LEGO CUUSOO to borrow from.
Split projects into categories
The first and probably biggest reason is that the Participate section is divided into several categories, or “challenges”, each relating to a different set of designs. Some of these categories are “curated” by relevant brands such as Marvel and KidRobot, which would give the IP-mongers their own space to submit their fan designs, and to fawn over other people’s submissions, whilst possibly gaining recognition from the brands themselves and making them easier to promote to the nonFOL fan base.
At the same time, there can be other, non-IP categories for those who want to submit their own original designs. There could be “challenges” for City-themed sets, Friends-themed sets, boys, girls, Technic etc., or even a complete freestyle – all of which could be sponsored by some other company to make things more interesting and give the less (as well as more) popular people exposure.
As far as I know (I’m not a member of Threadless) each challenge has a specific voting period, so after project ideas are submitted each project has the same amount of time to be voted on. The “winner(s)” of that challenge through votes can then be mulled over by LEGO and the associated curators to determine which project, if anything, gets made. In an ideal world this would also mean much less of a wait for the outcome of reviews.
The point of dividing CUUSOO projects into categories would be that projects are compared against projects in the same category, not against everything else. It would hopefully help to remove the “I-can-only-vote-for-one” mentality that plagues nonFOLs.
Replace support with voting
I’d also introduce Threadless’ voting system of 1 to 5, even though it’s likely to be abused by immature people (thinking about the “VOTE 5” begging that goes on with other things).
Though people will make all kinds of excuses for not voting, no matter how simple the voting process is made, it has to be made easy if anyone hopes to reach the level of support that CUUSOO is asking for.
I would opt for voting rather than the current “supporting” system, because any time an entry is judged on the number of people behind it (such as Facebook “likes” and retweets), it becomes about popularity rather than ideas and talent. Maybe that’s what CUUSOO is really all about, in which case I wish people would dispense with the BS about “business cases”, “market” and “presentation”.
It’s true that “spite voting” is an issue, regardless of whether we have “supporting” or numeric votes, and I don’t think we’ll ever get rid of it – it’s something the site staff will have to be on the ball with.
Even if the voting system is limited to a simple “yes” and “no”, I’d do away with the extended questions about price and number of copies, and leave any comments people have about the project to be put in the comments section. As LEGO have the final say in producing the models (as mentioned in the beginning), let them make the awkward decisions.
Get rid of royalties
IMO the best thing LEGO CUUSOO can do immediately is to get rid of the whole royalties thing, which has probably caused more trouble than it’s worth. Instead, I think the successful project owners should receive a free copy of the product.
If any of my projects had made it to 10,000 supporters and passed the review, receiving a shiny new box in the post (before anyone else!) would have made my year. I would think that any real FOL would feel the same way, even if receiving 1% royalties (don’t be fooled, it’s a lot) is appealing.
As I’ve said I haven’t thought this idea through, and there are bound to be some flaws in my thinking. However, those are my suggestions for improving the LEGO CUUSOO web site, and at least I have some! Let me know what you think.