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[BrickLink] Dan Jezek's mother comes forward

DadsAFOLDadsAFOL USAMember Posts: 617
Read more...

bricklink.com/danjezek/20130528message.html

And comment on the future of BrickLink...

bricklink.com/message.asp?ID=730575
«13

Comments

  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    Remind me to care about all the improvements when they actually happen.
    LegoFanTexasdougtsoldtodd33Dark_PegasusFollowsCloselycardgenius
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    tensor said:

    Remind me to care about all the improvements when they actually happen.

    Amen...

    With all due respect to Dan's Mother, who of course will never really get over her son's passing... it has now been used too many times for this purpose, to put everyone off for promises in the future.

    At some point, they are asking us all to accept Bricklink's problems because of a personal tragedy. We all feel for her, but at some point, we are paying good money to have a working site, and one just has nothing to do with the other after 3 years.

    ------------

    Either sell the site, fix the site, or admit that it is all over your heads. Any answer is fine, but we're beyond "just give us time" posts.
    TheLoneTensordougtsoldtodd33MatthewFollowsCloselycardgenius
  • BrickarmorBrickarmor USAMember Posts: 1,257
    edited May 2013
    ^^Callous, thoughtless, and misplaced. -1 for you @tensor.

    Thanks to @DadsAFOL for expanding the circulation of this missive and for continuing to be a linchpin not only in the "business" of BL but also the community, proving that the two are not mutually exclusive.

    I really can't rehash the entire BL saga as it has been going on (and on), but the cynicism and acrimony are uncalled for. Sigh.
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    edited May 2013
    Explain to me how I was callous and thoughtless. I'd really like to know how a site that has proven so essential to aftermarket Lego gains a pass on being so indolent when it comes to the most basic Internet standards. If they really wanted to demonstrate that they want to improve, they would not ignore everything that has already been said about and directly to them and would actually do the improvements.
    dougtsoldtodd33
  • mrseatlemrseatle Member Posts: 410
    Call me callous, but i'm still wondering about the circumstances of his death... People saying not to inquire about it makes me even more suspicious...
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    mrseatle said:

    Call me callous, but i'm still wondering about the circumstances of his death... People saying not to inquire about it makes me even more suspicious...

    It makes no difference to me whatsoever what the circumstances of his death are.

    I have 3 children, but I make no claim to understanding how his Mother feels, all I know is the idea of losing any of my children is horrific and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

    No matter the reason, accident or not, self-inflicted or not, does not change the pain to the family.

    I just think that 3 years after the fact, it no longer should be the reason for failure to run a business properly. At some point the business must move on. Maybe with this family is not the place, which is why I said either fix it, sell it, or admit defeat.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 18,209

    I find it quite a strange statement. Especially this part

    The last three years have been a very personal journey for me. Our struggles to bring better security, improve performance and restore functionality – a price paid for that security – was tinged with knowing many of the investments we were making through outside technical support were practically invisible to the folks on BrickLink. Our failings, where they occurred, were made clear to us, and we responded every time to try to correct things if we could. That is an on-going process.

    Mentioning a personal journey in one line, yet the rest of the paragraph is not personal stuff. It is about their failure to make their site secure. And we know the reason they were invisible. It was because they failed to do what they were intended to do. It shouldn't be "correct things if we could", it should be "correct things".
  • CapnRex101CapnRex101 United KingdomAdministrator Posts: 2,282
    No disrespect to anybody at Bricklink intended, but you can talk about improvement for as long as you like. Quite frankly, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, and right now I think quite a few Bricklink users are in desperate need of some proof that things are going to be improved...
  • AFFOL_Shellz_BellzAFFOL_Shellz_Bellz Member Posts: 1,263
    edited May 2013
    If the bricklink users want improvements the appropriate thing to do is provide constructive criticism rather than make negative statements here where they do no good and have the likelihood of spreading malice.
  • CapnRex101CapnRex101 United KingdomAdministrator Posts: 2,282
    @AFFOL_Shellz_Bellz - I am under the impression that many of the people at Bricklink who are in a position to improve things there simply ignore advice they are given. The website makes perfect sense to them and they seem unable to appreciate the fact that it is rather disjointed and unattractive for anybody who is not so experienced on Bricklink. Thus, the site has not progressed and has been left behind by current trends online, so we are left with what we see today.
  • AFFOL_Shellz_BellzAFFOL_Shellz_Bellz Member Posts: 1,263
    Being uneducated in building websites I tend to just deal with what is . . . and I surely can't speak to what others have tried to accomplish. I do know that complaining about it here will not change anything. That doesn't mean their complaints are not valid.
  • SirKevbagsSirKevbags Fairy Land Member Posts: 4,030
    I'm not a big BL user so I'm just viewing this from a general market perspective. I think most would agree that by current standards BL is out of date. Demands for change have not been met and why do they have to be? Despite all the criticism have revenues dropped significantly? I very much doubt it.

    It needs a competitor to give it a kick up the arse. Competition will force it to adapt or die. We already have the minifig site from @silentmode There is a new set selling platform coming soon from @TyoSolo and I wish both sites well as they are being driven by commited AFOL' s.

    From reports an actual BL competitor is in the pipeline and who knows there could be more. If and when these sites appear is when we will see changes.
    y2joshTyoSoloindigoboxdragonhawk
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 18,209
    edited May 2013

    Competition will force it to adapt or die. We already have the minifig site from @silentmode There is a new set selling platform coming soon from @TyoSolo and I wish both sites well as they are being driven by commited AFOL' s.

    I agree. Having traded with both of them, I really wish them well. I hope they provide the niche areas well in future. But BL is something different to both, and there is a place for all three. BL has a long head start on all these new start-ups, and so should be easily possible for it to adapt and survive if the CEO wants it to and is committed to keeping it running. It really needs to be run for today's (and tomorrow's) users, rather than in memory of her son.

    For every site with market share that saw off rivals, there are others that effectively crashed and burned.

    If they want their son's site to exist in ten years' time, they need to let it (and fund it to) adapt and not stay in the past. There will always be a legacy left by Dan Jezek, what he built was fantastic. Whether it is a money-making legacy that is still used is another matter.
    TyoSoloMatthew
  • piratemania7piratemania7 New EnglandMember Posts: 2,096
    I think we should all get along and build with bricks.

    Personally, I think it is more respectful to let it be, with her son and even her. She should mourn and do what she needs to do but the site is now separate from this no?

    I mean, like everyone is saying, if the site is to grow it need some professional outside influence, and maybe even more funding?

    I know nothing about all of this, but taking the tragedy piece aside, we also are talking about a website and system we have all been using for some time.

    Imagine a great competitor to brickset popping up! And HUW frantically trying to keep everyone here???
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 18,209
    edited May 2013


    Imagine a great competitor to brickset popping up! And HUW frantically trying to keep everyone here???

    I'd jump ship if a better site came along, one that did something that I really wanted that brickset didn't do, and Huw constantly ignored people saying that it needed this functionality. But I don't think it will happen. Suggestions for improvements are often made, and nearly always followed up quickly. I've only been a member here for 15 months, yet I've noticed quite a few (function) changes in both the main site and the forums. I've been a member of bricklink significantly longer, and cannot think of anything that has been changed which was an improvement (aside from catalogue updates). Virtually every change I can think of has been no improvement at best, minor annoyance (auto-log-out for example) or damn right stupid (not being able to update password or email address). And yet many sensible suggestions are made there, and none of them are actioned.

    Take a site like swapfig. After all his own work on his baby, Drew still took ideas from the community to improve the site further. One important one (for me) was to add the ability to search by continents and not just countries, for postage cost minimisation. It was suggested, and it was actioned. And if you think about it, there would never had been the need for swapfig at all, if the people that ran minifigseriesswapsite or whatever it was called (sorry, I forget it, as I stopped using it due to lack of function) increased the functionality of their site as the users wanted and asked for.

    If a site is one-off then it can get by not listening to its users. If something else comes along that is willing to listen and improve as the users want, it will grow.

    Often people say that the catalogue is the most important thing bricklink has. It isn't. It is the users. If the users leave for a better site, no matter how many improvements they start to make to try to catch up, they will have lost their most important asset.
    BrickarmorCapnRex101kylejohnson11LegoFanTexascardgeniuspiratemania7Supersympa
  • BeardedCastleGuyBeardedCastleGuy Member Posts: 127
    It is the Jezek family's call on how to run the site, and if they want to keep it like it was when Dan was alive and running they can make that choice. Sadly if they do it's unlikely to last, people will accept and learn how to it it and the way it looks, *but* letting it get hacked *twice* - via the same method almost a YEAR apart? That says they are not keeping up with security issues and that will just *not* do for a BUSINESS website. I understand there are emotional impacts and issues to change, but time moves on and if they want the website and BUSINESS that it comes down to being to survive they need to TAKE CARE of the security of the BUSINESS.
    Online sites that stay static pretty much do not last, especially if they involve money, when you look at the ones that continue to survive over time, they grow and evolve. Look at Amazon, while the basic of the interface today would be recognizable to someone whom used it on day one, the scope of the offering and it's back-end have changed a TON.

    The new niche competitors that are starting up, I wish them well. I hope they will grow and prosper and expand into places that are well rounded and wide focused ecommerce sites (aka I'd be happy if they supplant BL's role in online Lego sales).

    I honestly don't ever see Huw being *frantic* to retain users, judging from my interactions over the years he seems to be a very steady, stable kind of guy. Besides Brickset already has competition for most of what it does, it's just not all in the same place.

  • CapnRex101CapnRex101 United KingdomAdministrator Posts: 2,282
    edited May 2013
    To run just about anything effectively in any situation, finding the correct balance between taking on board the views of others and making clear and concise decisions is the key. Here at Brickset for instance Huw and the Brickset staff ask the community for any suggestions on improvements every year and therefore the site continues to improve.

    Bricklink on the other hand has been neglected by those who are in a position to make decisions, who seem to simply ignore the suggestions they are presented with. Their logic would seem to be "if we can use it, anybody can." Thus the site has failed to keep up with trends and now looks dated compared to many other popular Lego websites.

    Recently changes have been implemented at many different sites used by the Lego community, with Flickr updating its image (to its detriment I might add) in the last week or two, Brick Fanatics making some recent improvements and Brickset making moves towards updating the appearance of the site. Bricklink however persists in its outdated ways and I am afraid this is likely to continue.

    As something of a Classics fanatic, the best analogy in my view is that of the city of Sparta. A consistent determination to remain insular and refusal to move with the times meant that they were left behind in technological advancement and skill when compared with emergent states such as Athens and Thebes. Just as the Spartans had no intention to expand, so the staff at Bricklink are evidently unwilling to improve the website, and that will result in abandonment when the inevitable modern competitor comes along.

    Quite simply, it seems to me if no improvements can be made at Bricklink, or the staff are simply not willing to make them, a new site must be found. I hugely respect the efforts and industry of Dan Jezek and the founders of Bricklink, who created a unique and brilliant website for us all to use (no need to worry, I will restrain myself from an Alexander the Great analogy). Now that the 'golden years' have passed though, I for one eagerly anticipate the opening of the website currently in the works which is being designed as a competitor for Bricklink, and I would hypothesize that I am not alone in this feeling...
  • adello25adello25 U.S.A.Member Posts: 360
    Bricklink may not be the perfect site, but I can say for sure, that I would much rather Bricklink exist as is, than for it not to exist.
    legoprodsFurrysaurusBrickarmorLegoFanTexasCCCindigoboxpiratemania7LegoboymadforLEGO
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,401
    Suggestions on how to run Bricklink better appear in this thread:

    http://www.bricksetforum.com/discussion/5044/bricklink-hacked#latest

    This thread is about Dan Jezek's mothers message to the Bricklink community.

    I also don't need to know details about Dan's death. All I know is that Dan would probably want Bricklink to be constantly updated and run properly. As a parent, I would want to keep my child's legacy alive.

    kylejohnson11Dark_Pegasuspiratemania7
  • SilentModeSilentMode UKMember Posts: 549
    Thank you for the kind words!

    I haven't used BrickLink for quite some time now, mostly due to it being anti-competitive and more about sales than LEGO (which is fair enough). I do think that part of the reason why it's in such disarray is because there hasn't been any competition.

    I would definitely support an alternative to BrickLink, both as a fresh start and a kick in the rear. It wouldn't have to compete; people should be free to choose one or the other, just as was intended with a certain other recently-launched site.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409

    I do know that complaining about it here will not change anything. That doesn't mean their complaints are not valid.

    Actually, I disagree...

    The more complaints here about it, the more likely and driven someone else will be to build a replacement web site to compete with a broken Bricklink.
    Brick_Obsession
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    I agree with @LFT , especially if you consider the forum is Brickset to voice the opinion about Bricklink. It will have an effect, for better or worse.

    "When a butterfly flaps its wings..."
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    adello25 said:

    Bricklink may not be the perfect site, but I can say for sure, that I would much rather Bricklink exist as is, than for it not to exist.

    If those are the only two options, then yes I agree.

    I suggest a third option, a new site that works properly.
  • Dark_PegasusDark_Pegasus Member Posts: 37
    edited May 2013
    @Brickarmor - Emotional, irrational and failing to take into account a variety of factors such as how the site expects people to pay for it's usage and they have a right to updates to the service. When these are delivered then the issue has been put to rest, talk does very little to aid users so -1 for your post in trying to shame @Tensor.

    He has it right in my opinion. The world needs more people to speak up and not hide behind political correctness, fluff and conformity; Actions speak louder than words, exactly as he put and quite rightly so. This is a business and should be treated as such.

    My sympathies to the family, however if you are unable to continue your son's legacy in a proper fashion which is clearly the case here, then it is only fair that you pass it on to someone who can, otherwise you infact do a disservice to their memory.
    Pitfall69PaperballparkdougtscardgeniusTheLoneTensorLegoFanTexas
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409

    Actions speak louder than words, exactly as he put and quite rightly so. This is a business and should be treated as such..

    As my Mother said to me very long ago...

    Talk explains, actions inform...

    There has been enough talking, Bricklink's actions will now inform us of their true intent.
    Brick_ObsessionDark_Pegasus
  • y2joshy2josh Member Posts: 2,002
    Pitfall69 said:

    I also don't need to know details about Dan's death. All I know is that Dan would probably want Bricklink to be constantly updated and run properly. As a parent, I would want to keep my child's legacy alive.

    I have a huge amount of respect for what Dan started with Bricklink, and I intend no disrespect here, but what a lot of people seem to forget is that, even three years ago, Bricklink was about five or six years out of date.

    For a long time, Bricklink's greatest strength was that it was the only site that did what it does. As LEGO's popularity grows, however, it should be expected that new sites offering similar services will pop up. I obviously don't run Bricklink, but I feel like if this were my own livelihood, that's a trend I'd want to stay ahead of rather than try to play catch-up later, though I say that with no way of knowing what the folks in charge of Bricklink are imagining for the future of the site.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    I think it is worth pointing out again that there are two issues here:

    1. the death of Dan

    2. the failure of Bricklink to keep up with the times

    The first issue, we all can feel for his Mother, the loss of a child is terrible, no one is speaking ill will of her or him on a personal level (at least I'm not anyway)

    The second issue, we all understand that after such an event, there may be a period of disruption and challenges to a small family owned business. However 3 years later, that time has since passed.

    The first issue should no longer (in my opinion) be used as an excuse for the second issue. The letter appears to attempt to keep them tied together, and this is why the whole issue is getting the response that it does.

    If the letter was simply an appeal for prayers for Dan and for her family, and nothing else, I'm sure there would be an outpouring of sympathy and support without the harshness towards Bricklink. If the letter said, "due to the emotional trama, I've decided I cannot continue with Bricklink and wish to sell the site", I'm sure the attacks would stop at once and everyone would be much more understanding.

    The problem is, she won't do her business and she won't get off the pot, to use a phrase... If she is suffering and unable to run the business properly, ok, we can understand that, fair enough. Then sell it and move on with life, leave his legacy in hands that will do it justice. If she wishes to continue with the business, then at some point she has to put the emotions aside and be a businesswoman.

    She appears to be trying to have her cake and eat it too. That never ends well.
  • Brick_ObsessionBrick_Obsession in a "Brick" house - Calgary, AlbertaMember Posts: 654
    Laws of the jungle, the strong survive.

    Bricklink has been a pioneer and a leader for a long time. So long that perhaps they just grew acustom to it. Reminds me of a commercial.

    Lots of old men sitting around a board room, complaining that times are changing and people are more informed with the internet. The CEO proclaims "We've been doing it this way for 50 years" essentially ignoring the fact that the world is ever changing. I see the same philosophy being applied at Bricklink.

    It's time "the old dog" had a challenge from a young pup. I wish all those who are starting new endeavors to offer people different avenues and choices the best of luck. I hope that Bricklink realize that times have changed and that they embrace the competition coming their way and rise to the occassion.

    My two cents.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 18,209

    adello25 said:

    Bricklink may not be the perfect site, but I can say for sure, that I would much rather Bricklink exist as is, than for it not to exist.

    If those are the only two options, then yes I agree.

    I suggest a third option, a new site that works properly.
    There is of course a fouth option, a broken site where the owners are willing to listen to the community with the intention of fixing it. And community doesn't just mean big sellers that have been there for years and are used to the quirky ways to get things done.
    kylejohnson11
  • cardgeniuscardgenius Member Posts: 153
    edited May 2013
    Sony, MySpace, Nokia, HP and many others have learned the hard way and it appears that the owners of BrickLink will too. It's only a matter of time before a new competitor comes along and takes the "Marketshare Crown".

    I like BrickLink a lot but I'd drop it in an instant if something better came along. But if they rolled out a new site with better interface and more features, I wouldn't even think about going somewhere else.

  • 19741974 Member Posts: 141
    I luv BL, it's just fine as it is (<- for a buyer, not sure if I was a seller): But as a seller noted; those shops pulling in +10k USD a month are NOT going to use another site before they're sure they can maintain the same income. Large income means a large user/buyer base. That's not going to happen with ANY other site for a real long time

    Don't complain about BL here, do it at bricklink's forum ;)
  • 19741974 Member Posts: 141
    Sony, Myspace yadda etc, had/has a lot of competitors, BL's got none. Ebay is quite different. Even if BL doesn't change a thing, I'm sure no upstart competition will gain any hold as long as the majority of sellers stay at BL

    BL is just a medium. The sellers and buyers are at BL. Why should they choose another place? Fancy graphics don't really mean shite with us +30 year old AFOLS ..

    Taht said, it's pathetic with the income BL is doing that they just don't hire the right people to do BL v2. A lot of those competent people are actually also AFOLS

    Too bad that Dan died (*), but it's passed that. BL is _also_ a business. Business should be taken care off, just like a famliy member

    (*) I've been in the same situtaion, I know the hurt :/

    indigobox
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    given the nature of bricklink, the timeframe, that the person who developed it is no longer here, its entirely likely that any significant improvement would likely require a complete rewrite. given that the owners have not the skill required then getting in a third party to do that coding would likely cost more than its worth in the short term. its entirely likely that the best route for the owners is to sit tight, take the current income and accept that a better alternative will come and so be it. that one hasnt yet not only instructs us as to the particular complexities of develpoing such a site that is a step improvement to bricklink (despite that some here seem to think it can just be put on the table) but also the cost involved of getting a third party developer to do it.

    the tasks involved arent remotely trivial, the technology isnt transferable or extendable to other sectors ( at least that i can see) , the market is what it is. my gut says that the coming bricklink killers will fail to deliver the basics let alone the features people are hoping for.
  • 19741974 Member Posts: 141
    I agree. Way too much talk about 'much better sites with fancy features', not enough evidence

    Managing thousands of sellers/buyers, a hundred countries, mindbogling many different shipping costs and many tens of thousands of parts + pics plus millions of interconnected ways to search is simply not something you just 'do'

    Of course that is what Dan just 'did'. But back then he was alone, he started out small and slow with the help of all the BL users

    The upcommers can not do that. I don't see this possible without a boatload of money behind. And that money has to be recouped by fees and/or ads. Both are bad. BL's 3% are actually quite low in this biz and there's no ads

    But let's see ..


  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    edited May 2013
    1974 said:

    Sony, Myspace yadda etc, had/has a lot of competitors, BL's got none. Ebay is quite different. Even if BL doesn't change a thing, I'm sure no upstart competition will gain any hold as long as the majority of sellers stay at BL

    Amongst your ramblings you wrote this. I'm not quite sure of your point either. Sony was one of the biggest players in the electronics industry until LG and Samsung came in and innovated, undercut and stole massive market share. MySpace had zero serious competitors until they did in the form of Facebook who completely destroyed them. Let me restate that... Facebook didn't merely steal market share, they completely destroyed the entire business that was MySpace.

    There is your parallel. BL = MySpace. Before Facebook, MySpace was insanely powerful, resting on its laurels, relying on outdated technology and terrible business leadership that didn't think anyone could challenge them. Well, 2013 is here now and MySpace as a viable business no longer exists.

    The moment someone with both solid investment capital and vision looks at the Lego aftermarket, they will see that if they get a good solution in place they will completely destroy BL - destroy, as in out of business.

    Until that day, we are forced to use a site that ignorant people claim is "fine as is," but rest assured, that day will come.
    cardgeniusYellowcastle
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    1974 said:

    Managing thousands of sellers/buyers, a hundred countries, mindbogling many different shipping costs and many tens of thousands of parts + pics plus millions of interconnected ways to search is simply not something you just 'do'

    Sure it is, give me a million dollar development budget and I'll have a site up and running in 6 months that is better than Bricklink is today, sans the users of course. Let me run for 3 months with no fees and that will fix the user problem.

    The trick is figuring out if a million dollars of capital is well spent producing a Bricklink v2 site. It is quite possibly not. Even if BL brings in a million dollars of revenue now, that wouldn't justify doing the above.
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,288
    edited May 2013

    that one hasnt yet not only instructs us as to the particular complexities of develpoing such a site that is a step improvement to bricklink (despite that some here seem to think it can just be put on the table) but also the cost involved of getting a third party developer to do it.

    the tasks involved arent remotely trivial, the technology isnt transferable or extendable to other sectors ( at least that i can see) , the market is what it is. my gut says that the coming bricklink killers will fail to deliver the basics let alone the features people are hoping for.

    It's not trivial, but neither is it that technically complex. Instead, the two largest hurdles to developing a worthy alternative that Bricklink boasts were derived from the community of users:
    - the catalog of parts, inventories, and images
    - the user base of sellers and buyers
  • SirKevbagsSirKevbags Fairy Land Member Posts: 4,030
    For those that are in this market as developers how much money and/or man hours are we looking at here to take a site from nothing to being ready for end users?
  • akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 1,032
    edited May 2013

    For those that are in this market as developers how much money and/or man hours are we looking at here to take a site from nothing to being ready for end users?

    I don't know if this would help, but a year or so ago I was looking at the possibility of a website similar to BrickLink but in a completely different marketplace. I got quotes from several developers after discussing the idea and showing them the example of BrickLink. I was quoted around $10,000 to have the site up and running in about a month.
  • Gavin83Gavin83 Member Posts: 251

    I do know that complaining about it here will not change anything. That doesn't mean their complaints are not valid.

    Actually, I disagree...

    The more complaints here about it, the more likely and driven someone else will be to build a replacement web site to compete with a broken Bricklink.
    Thing is I think if a real competitor is built Bricklink will improve the website to keep their users. Therefore someone has to question if they really want to put the time and effort in just to effectively get Bricklink to improve.

    I understand there is a competitor being built at the moment but I don't think it'll be successful. To truly take a large portion of the market you'd need a serious amount of capital and given the amount of time it'll take to turn over a profit it really isn't worth running for anything other than a hobby.

    But we'll see.

  • Gavin83Gavin83 Member Posts: 251
    akunthita said:

    For those that are in this market as developers how much money and/or man hours are we looking at here to take a site from nothing to being ready for end users?

    I don't know if this would help, but a year or so ago I was looking at the possibility of a website similar to BrickLink but in a completely different marketplace. I got quotes from several developers after discussing the idea and showing them the example of BrickLink. I was quoted around $10,000 to have the site up and running in about a month.
    The real problem is the sets/parts database and how you'll go about populating that. Images is a big problem too. You won't be able to use the images from Lego and certainly not the images from Bricklink so the question is where will they come from?

    Having thought about this there are only two options I can see of having even the slightest chance of taking on Bricklink:

    1) A large company with lots of spare cash ie: something like ebay developing a seperate lego auction website.

    2) A large(ish) group of AFOL's developing the website in their own time. This will give enough manpower to built the website and manage it on an ongoing basis but of course this option will mean no one will ever really make any money.

    Other than that someone has to be willing to lose a lot of money, at least in the short term.
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 810
    akunthita said:

    I got quotes from several developers after discussing the idea and showing them the example of BrickLink. I was quoted around $10,000 to have the site up and running in about a month.

    Speaking as an experienced web developer myself, that's way off base. I would guess that the developer(s) you talked to either wasn't talking about the same idea as a BrickLink model, or didn't understand it, or is simply inexperienced.

    It really depends on what you're using for technology, though. What components you can use that are pre-built, which ones you build from scratch, and how much stitching together you have to do.

    BrickLink itself is pretty much built from scratch, as I understand it. I don't think he built it on any existing framework, or using much in the way of software packages for (say) user management. I'm not sure I would throw out a meaningful guess, but 6-18 months sounds more reasonable offhand. Depends how much you'd want to replicate (like forums, alerting, wishlists, private messaging, feedback, etc), how many developers you had, and what tools you're using.

    ... And of course how much business continuity you've got. Do you have a code repository, a dev site, a staging site, regular backups, QA, regression tests, HA strategies, etc.? If you're flying by the seat of your pants and have NONE of those things, you can go faster. But you'll likely have a more error-prone site.

    DaveE
    cloaked7Yellowcastle
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    Gavin83 said:

    The real problem is the sets/parts database and how you'll go about populating that. Images is a big problem too. You won't be able to use the images from Lego and certainly not the images from Bricklink so the question is where will they come from?

    That is actually by far the easiest problem to solve. It is just a matter of time and budget.

    I think you underestimate the ability to produce a database once you have a development budget. You simply need to hire a pair of interns and pay them $10/hr to take pictures or to generate 3D images of each part. Yes, there are thousands of them, but once going, this shouldn't take but a month or two of work, total cost, maybe $10,000 all up.

    That might sound like a lot of money, but it really isn't, not if this is a professional project.
    Gavin83 said:

    Other than that someone has to be willing to lose a lot of money, at least in the short term.

    It isn't "losing" a lot of money, it is "investing" a lot of money. :) It may seem to be a small difference, but it really does matter. The investment now is expected to be paid back over time, vs. just losing money that you'll never see again.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    davee123 said:

    Speaking as an experienced web developer myself, that's way off base. I would guess that the developer(s) you talked to either wasn't talking about the same idea as a BrickLink model, or didn't understand it, or is simply inexperienced.

    I thought the $10K was way too low as well. I was charging that 15 years ago for early CSS web sites, a Bricklink clone today should be much higher.
    davee123 said:

    I'm not sure I would throw out a meaningful guess, but 6-18 months sounds more reasonable offhand. Depends how much you'd want to replicate (like forums, alerting, wishlists, private messaging, feedback, etc), how many developers you had, and what tools you're using.

    I would think that you would establish a core set of features that must be working on day 1, then a plan for day 90, day 180, etc.

    The idea being to get a functional, working site to go live with, offer 3 months of no selling fees to get everyone to come over and try it, with regular rollouts of new features so show that you are activity developing it.

    It has been many years since I've been active in web development. I do have friends that still do it, but I don't keep up with it like I used to. I'm curious as to what you think of my 6 month timeframe for the core site and $1 million developement cost (that is perhaps the first year's budget).
    davee123 said:

    ... And of course how much business continuity you've got. Do you have a code repository, a dev site, a staging site, regular backups, QA, regression tests, HA strategies, etc.? If you're flying by the seat of your pants and have NONE of those things, you can go faster. But you'll likely have a more error-prone site.

    DaveE

    :) Yes, that is the "business" part of the whole thing, and the sort of thing that all people who want to run anything bigger than a hobby business need to consider.

    I continue to be amazed how many hobby web sites crash or have problems and they did not have a current backup and have to roll back to older code or even worse, rebuild the side. What crazy people run a web site open to the public these days and don't have multiple copies of the site updated every day and stored offline?

    A business site that takes people's money must do even better.
  • majorplayermajorplayer Member Posts: 5
    I think what is needed is a buy-out from someone who has the resources and the passion to continue what Dan started and what his mother says she has at least tried to sustain. The security thing can be taken care of. From what I see and hear, they just put a lot of effort and money, I suppose, on the security side, although it probably looks worse before it gets better. That's just the nature of things. What really makes me laugh, though, is all those people who think that Bricklink is dying while it's growing by leaps and bounds. Take a look, you can see it. I think they're at a crossroads, though, and now is the time to make some major changes. If they don't, then I think they could see things begin to decline, business-wise, but at least they are talking about changes as though they mean it.
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,288
    Gavin83 said:

    The real problem is the sets/parts database and how you'll go about populating that. Images is a big problem too. You won't be able to use the images from Lego and certainly not the images from Bricklink so the question is where will they come from?

    That is actually by far the easiest problem to solve. It is just a matter of time and budget.

    I think you underestimate the ability to produce a database once you have a development budget. You simply need to hire a pair of interns and pay them $10/hr to take pictures or to generate 3D images of each part. Yes, there are thousands of them, but once going, this shouldn't take but a month or two of work, total cost, maybe $10,000 all up.

    I agree with @Gavin83 here. It's not a technical challenge, but the time, labor, and discovery of information to build the catalog makes it the hardest. Keep in mind that this effort really should not be done by taking the information from Bricklink, unless you want a messy legal battle on your hands.

    All the parts need to be photographed or modeled, and their colors and variations known. All the sets need to be inventoried, which is going to be ridiculously hard for retired sets. And then, of course, the inventories really should be verified by a second check, just as Bricklink does. Most of the existing images and inventories technically don't belong to Bricklink, so I suppose you can try to get (read: pay) the producers of the content to allow you to use them, but those same people also happen to be among the more invested and loyal Bricklink users.

    As for the part that you seem to think is hardest -- the e-commerce infrastructure -- there are countless tools, best practices, and methodologies from which to draw, and countless engineers with the technical ability to implement.
  • EKSamEKSam Member Posts: 349
    edited May 2013
    Something like Bricklink will cost way more than $10,000 and a month to build and be functional. If it was that simple every Tom, Dick, Harry and their second cousin would have done it.

    @ LegoFanTexas In my humble opinion you are over simplifying it. Where will these 10$/hr interns find all the parts to photograph? Is there such a place where all the Lego sets produced so far and their parts listed and or displayed? And I am not talking about Lego official database or bricklink here.

    Have to agree with @rocao here, why reinvent the wheel? The car is already built. Its the people on Bricklink who have provided the expansive data and acquiring it from these individuals would be the key. And these AFOLs who would demand the best, they will not settle for any rinky dink, fly by the seat of my pants operation.
  • Gavin83Gavin83 Member Posts: 251
    edited May 2013

    That is actually by far the easiest problem to solve. It is just a matter of time and budget.

    I think you underestimate the ability to produce a database once you have a development budget. You simply need to hire a pair of interns and pay them $10/hr to take pictures or to generate 3D images of each part. Yes, there are thousands of them, but once going, this shouldn't take but a month or two of work, total cost, maybe $10,000 all up.

    That might sound like a lot of money, but it really isn't, not if this is a professional project.

    This is extremely labour intensive, it really isn't that simple. If your physically taking pictures of the parts yourself you also need to have access to all the parts, this in itself isn't easy. Creating 3D renders is probably even more time consuming, although you'd get around the sourcing parts issue.

    The actual development part is far less time consuming, although if your paying external developers to do it the actual man hours will be more expensive.

    It's a difficult mix. It's far too much work for a hobby website to do from scratch but at the same time I don't think it's a sound enough investment from a business standpoint. Which brings me onto my next quote...

    It isn't "losing" a lot of money, it is "investing" a lot of money. :) It may seem to be a small difference, but it really does matter. The investment now is expected to be paid back over time, vs. just losing money that you'll never see again.

    Sorry I badly worded my post. It is of course an investment, I just don't think it's a reasonable investment and I'd be surprised if you saw a return from it. Lets look in the short term. Theres the development costs. The costs for producing the database (lets say it cost $10,000 as you suggested) plus costs for hosting, advertising, staff and office space if your doing it properly, plus the general costs of running a business, insurance, tax, accounting costs, etc. This could easily approach $100k before the website have even started running.

    To have any reasonable chance of gathering enough users to make it stand on it's own merit you'll need to have no fees for a period of time. You said 3 months but I think it would need to be more like 6 months. That's 6 months without any income while still paying all the costs above.

    Even when you start charging fees it'll take a while to break even. You'll be unlikely to reach the $1m a year figure that Bricklink currently make as currently they've a bit of a monopoly, the more competitors there are the less each will make. It'll take years to make your money back on this one, if at all.

    This is exlcuding the external problems of which there are several. If Bricklink decide to update the website because of competition for example, people will be a lot less likely to leave. There is even the possibility that the golden age of reselling has passed and it'll start to collapse in a few years, or even a possibility that Lego will come down hard on resellers and start to wave the magic lawyer wand around to make such Websites disappear.

    From a personal selfish viewpoint I do hope a successful competitor starts up as I do honestly believe this would kickstart Bricklink in launching an updated version. However, given the amount of risk involved with such a project there is no way I'd invest.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    rocao said:

    I agree with @Gavin83 here. It's not a technical challenge, but the time, labor, and discovery of information to build the catalog makes it the hardest. Keep in mind that this effort really should not be done by taking the information from Bricklink, unless you want a messy legal battle on your hands.

    Two thoughts:

    1. I am well aware of what it takes to do this, but with something like this you can streamline the process and once you get a few people going on it, you'll get rapid professional results.

    There appears to be about 31,000 parts in the Bricklink database. 2 people working 40 hours a week, doing 30 parts an hour (a part every 2 minutes), would take 13 weeks to have it done. Cost? At $10 an hour, about $10,000. Of course that doesn't include the cost of the parts, but if I ran such a site, I might well want a complete inventory of all 31,000 parts for reference, so perhaps we'd just buy one of everything in whatever the lowest priced color was.

    So my cost was reasonable, my time is perhaps a bit off, but if it takes 6 months to go live, then 3-4 months to build a database is not unreasonable.

    2. I'm not all that sure Bricklink "owns" the database. It could be considered a derivative work, it also could be considered LEGO property, or it could be public domain. It also depends on what country we're talking about. The laws for use of material vary greatly around the world.
    rocao said:

    All the parts need to be photographed or modeled, and their colors and variations known. All the sets need to be inventoried, which is going to be ridiculously hard for retired sets.

    Just as I type this, I had a thought... Rather than trying to "build" a parts database, perhaps just doing the sets is enough. If you build an inventory of all the sets, then you have your parts database, for the most part. :) There will always need to be additions, but I suspect you could get really close by simply doing the last 10 years of set inventories to build your parts database. It also gives you the color variations at the same time.

    LEGO already offers the PDF instructions online for all sets going back about 10 years, so that provides a good start. As for doing all the sets they have ever made, that is indeed an interesting challenge.
    rocao said:

    And then, of course, the inventories really should be verified by a second check, just as Bricklink does. Most of the existing images and inventories technically don't belong to Bricklink, so I suppose you can try to get (read: pay) the producers of the content to allow you to use them, but those same people also happen to be among the more invested and loyal Bricklink users.

    I always thought the content was owned by LEGO, since none of the copyrights have expired. I'm not sure that anyone who has actually typed in the inventory to Bricklink could claim any ownership, but of course I'd hire a good IP lawyer first before just assuming that. :)
    rocao said:

    As for the part that you seem to think is hardest -- the e-commerce infrastructure -- there are countless tools, best practices, and methodologies from which to draw, and countless engineers with the technical ability to implement.

    I said that was hard? That is by far the easiest, those tools no longer have to be done by hand for every site.
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