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LUGnet - is it worth it?

dodgedodge Member Posts: 14
edited April 2011 in Community and Events
I'm part of a newly-growing LUG in Saskatchewan, Canada (Saskatchewan Lego Users Group: www.sasklegousersgroup.yolasite.com , plug plug...) and I was considering joining LUGnet to get our name out there.

I'm just curious, for those in groups that have joined, if the benefits of the site have been worth it?
If it's helped to draw in more members to your group?

Any comments would be appreciated.
Schwallex

Comments

  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 799
    You might have a misunderstanding of what LUGNET is... You can:

    1) Get a posting setup for LUGNET. This will allow you to post via NNTP (newsreader), SMTP (email), or HTTP (the web) as an individual, provided you give your real name and email address.

    2) Get a personal membership to LUGNET. This will allow you to keep track of your sets on LUGNET, let you host limited web content, post via HTTP without using the email verification system, vote in LUGNET polls, and prevent advertisements from appearing when logged into LUGNET. I believe this costs $10, and you should complete (1) first.

    So, if it's worth it to you as a person, go for it. But there's nothing about having a LUG "join".

    If you want to create a discussion group on LUGNET for your LUG, you can ask the administrators to add it, but there's no cost involved-- you just have to convince them to add it. Then people can post to that group assuming they've got posting ability there.

    There's also the LUG map that LUGNET hosts. That's a service that hasn't been updated in quite some time (to my knowledge). Again, it's technically free, you'd just have to let the LUGNET administration know that your club should be added, and get them to add it. But I don't believe it's in frequent use, so don't get your hopes up!

    DaveE
  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    I've looked at LUG map and didn't really find it helpful. There really should be an easier way of finding local LUGs and more importantly getting relevant information about them.
  • mkoeselmkoesel USAMember Posts: 97
    By and large, other sites like Brickset, EuroBricks and FBTB have superceded LUGNET as far as being a gathering place for AFOLs.
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 799
    Yeah, LUGNET, although still functional and useful, is mostly out of common use. It's a testament to the community from late 1998 to maybe 2005. Back then, it was *THE* central hub of the LEGO community. But LUGNET administration started decaying, and other websites started popping up left-and-right, which has pretty much left us without a central hub anymore. The administration officially changed hands in 2006 to Rene Hoffmeister (who runs 1000steine), but it's really just been keeping it alive for historical reasons rather than try to revive it to its former glory.

    Today, the definitive Set Guide is probably either BrickSet or BrickLink (previously it was probably LUGNET, and before that the Pause Guide, which LUGNET purchased).

    For LEGO discussions, it's pretty scattered (used to be LUGNET). Probably the most active discussion forum for hobbyists is EuroBricks, but there are a ton of them out there (FBTB, Classic-Castle, Classic-Space, now BrickSet, Trains-n-Town, Classic-Pirates, Forbidden Cove, and tons more).

    There were a few other tidbits of functionality that LUGNET had (web page "hosting", Mosaic Maker, LUG finder, etc), but those were never really very widely used.

    Primarily, the best reason to still use LUGNET is if you're an old-school NNTP user. If you want to use a newsgroup to discuss LEGO, LUGNET is the place to do it. ATL and RTL are still technically "alive", but they're even more dead that LUGNET.

    DaveE
    Schwallex
  • dodgedodge Member Posts: 14
    Thanks for the good info.

    I had never felt comfortable navigating around the LUGnet site, so I didn't know if it'd be worth my while. I have enjoyed the other outlets that have been set up over the past couple of years (Brickset especially) so I think I'll stick with them.

    Thanks again fellow builders!
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,068
    Sadly what davee123 says is true... for the first 5 years of the current century LUGNET was AFOL "LEGO Central"... but sadly (without naming names) the "romantic" partnership that ran LUGNET disintegrated... as sadly the partnership that ran PEERON did as well, and they are both literally on "cruise control".

    I am rather disappointed that Rene Hoffmeister (of 1000steine) has let LUGNET run on cruise control (last main page announcement is nearly 2 years old)... perhaps running both LUGNET and 1000steine is too much work?? I am also disappointed that Dan Boger has let PEERON run on cruise control as well. Last year I was trying to add some catalogs to the PEERON catalog database, but nothing became of it, and no replies. This is still the case today as someone recently complained on Bricklink. The irony is that both of the websites "significant others" are still involved in LEGO.

    Bricklink, on the otherhand, with the untimely death of Bricklink owner Dan Jezek (without progeny or spouse)... has continued on without "Admin Dan" as he is fondly remembered, and continues to thrive.

    With both Lugnet and Peeron, Clark Stephens, the database Admin has been trying to do the best without help, but alas, it's not enough.

    The situation with both LUGNET and PEERON is sad indeed... and one bad side effect is that there is no central catalog repository for "all" LEGO catalog and instruction scans.

    Funny thing is.... there are about 1/2 dozen of us AFOLs that could put together a library of virtually every LEGO catalog going back to 1950 (1st catalog).

    Cheers,
    Gary Istok
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,245
    edited April 2011
    ^ Lucky Brickset is still going strong then, isn't it, Gary :-)

    I get the impression that some 'old school' AFOLs resent Brickset and don't acknowledge it as a useful resource. Maybe they remember the tiffs I had with Todd back in the day when the Lugnet database was the only one out there and it was the new pretender.

    I recently asked Dan B if I could licence the Peeron set inventories (for reasons you will know following unsuccessful attempts to get permission to use those from another site) but I didn't get a reply and I haven't pushed it. It would be a shame if they were 'wasted', but the site is so slow and unusable that they just languish there, unloved and uncared for :-)

    I'll be more than happy to set up a repository for catalogue scans: It has been suggested before and I could contribute UK ones from 1969-77 and 89-2011 but at the moment I don't have the time to scan them.
  • mkoeselmkoesel USAMember Posts: 97
    Boy, it sure would be great if there were some way to get set inventories and instructions scans incorporated here at Brickset. If the sites aren't being maintained, I don't really understand why there's resistance on the part of the content owners? Then again, I never understood the drama Huw referred to in his post either. All I know is, once Brickset got up to speed I pretty much abandoned LUGNET. I suppose the community remains somewhat segmented even today. Bit of a shame really.
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 799
    At the time, a lot of people disliked the idea of fragmenting the community. Some people were strongly opposed to ANYTHING else, believing that it would result in a disparate, weak community. And, well, they were right, honestly. The community today doesn't have a strong central core, and although we're more numerous, there's little communication between groups. Whether or not that was unavoidable is another issue-- the way the web went, I think it was destiny. There are solutions that could have dramatically helped to keep everything tied together, but that was simply WAY out of scope for anything that fans were going to be doing in their spare time.

    As for why there would be resistance, well, two reasons:

    1) People want the tools that they put together to be useful and timeless. Nobody wants to see their own hard work get trumped by the "next big thing".

    2) It's arguably counterproductive to have multiple sites with the same data. If LUGNET says a set came out in 1971, BrickSet says 1972, and BrickLink says 1969, who do you believe? Maybe someone at LEGO was able to confirm one of the dates with (say) BrickSet, but then it's a logistics game to update the other two sites accordingly, and nobody will want to do it.

    The argument there is that it's better to have ONE site that does (say) inventories, and let them be the PRIMARY source for all the other sites. That way, once its fixed in one place, it's fixed everywhere.

    Downside is of course then you've got a single point of failure. If Peeron's the primary source of inventories, and then the site dies, there's no system in place at other sites to maintain the data on their ends.

    DaveE
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,245
    edited April 2011
    ^ I think it was inevitable that the community fragmented. Several things caused it, IMO: Todd not delivering on his grand-plan, the release of Star Wars causing the number of AFOLs to mushroom and KFOLs becoming AFOLs who have never even heard of Lugnet. Looking back just 10 years, you'd be lucky to find a minor on a LEGO site (er, that doesn't read quite right, does it :- ) ), now we are awash with them...

    > It's arguably counterproductive to have multiple sites with the same data.

    There's nothing wrong with a second opinion and in many cases there is no right answer and probably never will be to things like dates because half the time LEGO doesn't know.

    > The argument there is that it's better to have ONE site that does (say) inventories, and let them be the PRIMARY source for all the other sites.

    Agree entirely with this. This is why Brickset has web services and so on, to make it easy for people to use the data so (a) they don't have to create their own, and (b) they don't create their own (if you see what I mean...). Unfortunately other sites don't see it like that and by not making their data available, they risk others competing with them.

    I see no reason why we can't start up our own catalogue scan repository regardless of the others out there. I can't do everything at once, that's all that's stopping it.
  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    What was the drama people keep referring to?

    Also, everyone should know that technology keeps moving forward. If you don't keep up, you'll be left behind. If you don't evolve, you'll become an ancient dinosaur. The biggest problem with these older sites is that they seem to have given up on being kept up to date. I like that Brickset is in a constant state of improvement and I hope this continues into the future.

    Also, for those people who want their work to remain relevant, the best way to do so is to open it up to as many people as possible. That means if you're Peeron and someone wants to use your data, you should let them. Openness with information gives it wider distribution and more relevance.
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,245
    edited April 2011
    ^ Looks like great minds think alike, and our posts 'crossed in the post' :-)

    The 'drama' can be read at http://www.bricklink.com/messageThread.asp?ID=102699&nID=487128. I won't pass any more comment on it here but suffice to say that I don't hold out hope of ever displaying BrickLink inventories at Brickset due to the nature of the community there. The crux of the problem can be read here: http://www.bricklink.com/message.asp?ID=487185. Many of the more community-minded members there came to my support but I felt the strength of negative feeling was such that I could not proceed, and risk losing access to their minifig images (although that is less important now)

    Having said that, all the code is in place to retrieve and display them but I'm not going to make it publicly available. However I will enable it for anyone who PMs me with their Brickset user name. Brickmatic, I've saved you the trouble. See if you can spot any differences :-)
  • mkoeselmkoesel USAMember Posts: 97
    edited April 2011
    @davee123

    People want the tools that they put together to be useful and timeless. Nobody wants to see their own hard work get trumped by the "next big thing".

    I can certainly appreciate the emotions involved. However, if the data is stagnating and the site is simply withering, I say that the right thing to do is open it up for others in the community to find ways to make good use of it. Personally I'd rather see the legacy of all my hard work live on than simply have it decay and waste away.

    Resistance in this regard would seem to only contribute more to the conflict and disjoint comunity. Can't we all just get along? :)
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 799
    Wow, I actually found that thread hilarious. Currently, there's no link to BrickLink from BrickSet on a per-set basis. So if the functionality were provided, that INCREASES the chance of sales to BrickLink. So, there's added advertising to be gained by BrickLink, possibly resulting in more sales. Great!

    Cost to BrickLink? Bandwidth. That's variable depending on whether or not BrickSet caches and/or hosts images, and how often it caches set data. Probably pretty minimal given the amount of traffic that BrickLink gets, but worth a look. But there's no developer cost, and no maintenance cost.

    Sounds like a win-win to me for both BrickLink and BrickSet, unless BrickLink actually winds up hosting tons of bandwidth. I don't see how free advertising on BrickSet is in any way detrimental to BrickLink.

    DaveE
  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    edited April 2011
    ^^^ Thanks Huw, both for the compliment and enabling the feature. I checked out my sets and see the change. I think it works great and is a shame that some individuals over at Bricklink felt so strongly that they needed to fend off your good faith attempt at essentially giving them more exposure because of some weirdly perceived malicious intent on your part.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,068
    After reviewing that thread once again Huw... I was surprised that some of the "more vocal" members weren't involved.... you know who I mean... ;-)

    The "image" ownership issue gets resurrected every 6 months over there... which always makes me shake my head in disbelief. Had image ownership been determined 10 years ago... from day 1 when some of the reference sites were established, it would have been easy to concur. However so many images on LUGNET-PEERON-BRICKLINK (I can't speak for Brickset, since I haven't referenced it that often) have "undetermined" ownership (or images gotten off of public auctions)... that it becomes impossible to determine who owns what. But they like to keep pounding their heads against the wall... even though Bricklink Admin will do nothing about it (it would be akin to opening Pandora's Box).
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,068
    DaveE.... another thing that causes me to shake my head in disbelief over there is the disparaging use of the name "fleabay", "feebay", "evilbay"... etc... for Ebay. They curse it, and yet... where do most people think that most of the older sets on Bricklink come from?
  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    edited April 2011
    ^^^ Based on the thread it also looks like bandwidth would be an non-issue consdering they use the same host and there appeared a good working relationship to figure out something if it became a problem.

    Also, another way to look at it is that some users wanted to leverage the parts database as a bargaining chip to have a publishing enterprise severe relationships to those users' competitors. This is completely unreasonable because they overestimated the value of the database and underestimate the value of the opportunity to gain exposure at the publishing enterprise. Just stupid on their part.
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 799
    The bandwidth issue ought to be effectively minimal. As it stands, yes, it *could* be an issue. The functionality on BrickSet currently sources images from BrickLink. And furthermore (don't know if this is the case), it could create a hit to the BL inventory system on-the-fly when the page is requested from BrickSet.

    But both of those issues can be effectively solved by caching. Once-a-week (or whatever) request inventory updates, and request updates to images. You could probably even make the image updates even less frequent, since they're not likely to change (they're just likely to add images that they didn't already have).

    For the sake of reference, I've done that before (pulled BL images), and I got about 28.6 megs for images of parts used from 2009-2010. I'd guess in the ballpark of 100 megs if you downloaded ALL the images. And BrickSet already allows download of their complete inventories, which wind up being several megs (I don't have the info in front of me). So, bandwidth cost would be something like:

    1-time download of 100 megs
    once-a-day/week download of (say) 10 megs

    Also, caching solves the outage problem. BrickLink goes down every night at midnight USA Eastern time, for about 10 minutes. Not sure whether or not the inventory is accessible at that time, but caching would guarantee that it wouldn't be a problem for BrickSet.

    Anyway, I'm baffled by people's adamant stances on the subject. They bemoan bandwidth costs without even trying to get an estimate on what those costs might be-- obviously, if BrickSet is causing 50 gigs of traffic every day, that's significant! And if it's causing 10 megs per day, that's peanuts. The stance OUGHT to be "if the bandwidth is guaranteed to be less than X, we're OK with it, and if it's not guaranteed below X, it's not OK." Then the onus is on BrickSet to guarantee the bandwidth load.

    DaveE
  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    ^ The hosting provider that Brickset and Bricklink both share provides an unlimited bandwidth package, which is what Brickset uses and Bricklink probably uses. I get the sense the hosting service applies common sense and doesn't fiddle with strict metering rules. Since they share the same host, caching it would increase the total bandwidth for the hosting provider. Therefore, I think the best approach is not to cache and I think that everyone involved on the administrative end for all parities would agree to this and costs would remain pretty much the same.
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 799
    While true at the moment, technically, BrickSet's payment of bandwidth and BrickLink's payment of bandwidth are independent, even though they're with the same server. If (for example) BrickSet or BrickLink were to switch hosts one day, you'd have a problem. Furthermore, if BrickLink/BrickSet changed their bandwidth options with NorthStar (or if NorthStar changed its policies), you'd also have an issue.

    Anyway, as a developer, I'd vote for caching because the data isn't very volatile, and it's a more solid solution in case there are changes to either system. Plus it should help to shut up all the naysayers at BrickLink :)

    DaveE
  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    ^ No, the naysayers are Bricklink would then argue we were stealing their intellectual property by caching it ;)
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,245
    The inventories are cached, in fact all existing ones are already saved in the Brickset database. I've put a date of acqusition in there too and I think there's provision to fetch individual ones again, in response to user request (viewing the tab) once a month or so. So, the extra bandwidth used is negligible.

    I could cache the images too, and host them along with all the others at 1000steine.com, but there are arguments for and against.
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,187
    edited April 2011
    As @Huw well knows I've been a strong advocate of trying to integrate Bricklink set inventories, and obtaining significantly increased functionality as a result, within Brickset. I've therefore spent a fair while trawling through the discussion threads pertaining to Huw's request to use these inventories. It's interesting that the vast majority of those involved in the discussion thread(s) seem very supportive of this initiative. There were however a vocal few who pushed back extremely strongly. Regrettably, their arguments appear to be driven by flagrant and transparent self-interest, and they seem too stubborn or just blinded by greed to see the bigger picture and realise that closer ties to Brickset would actually result in GREATER sales, particularly of individual elements, as those elements in the Brickset parts listings would actually have linked right to the Bricklink database of sellers.....! Beyond the facile arguments about 'image rights', the biggest concern seems to be that Brickset provides links to the likes of eBay, Amazon etc.. and thus provides competition to Bricklink. Right - so presumably users of Bricklink have never heard of these....? I'll desist from ranting further here, but suffice to say that the arguments against don't hold up to scrutiny, and the entire online LEGO community is worse off all round as a result.

    As an aside, kudos to Huw for behaving with commendable courtesy and restraint through all this; most people would probably have just gone ahead and made the data available. Let's just hope that in the sad absence of Dan (R.I.P.) some clear leadership somehow emerges within the Bricklink community and that whoever it is will be able to see beyond the end of their nose and realise that there's a wider community out there and its in everybody's interests to foster cooperation.
    Schwallex
  • Cam_n_StuCam_n_Stu UKMember Posts: 368
    Interesting post by Troy towards the end of that thread at BrickLink:

    "...the BrickLink Catalog and Inventories are and have always been freely
    downloadable for members of the community to use as they see fit. While we may
    not always like how the info is used, this was Dan's perogative and it will not
    be changed..."

    That sounds rather like a creative commons intention and if it is documented somewhere perhaps sufficient to allow the use by Brickset. Would the admins over there be able to confirm that or even agree to Brickset's request without 100% member agreement for the overall good of both communities? Perhaps even via a BL member referendum/poll?

    Personally I am puzzled and disappointed by the stance of the 'no' voters on BL. If indeed the set inventories are a 'sales tool' as suggested by Timothy_Smith on the BL thread then they should use it as such... Agreeing to it would add links to BL from just about every page on Brickset and as Huw has said it would undoubtedly bring in new buyers that would otherwise not have heard of BL (where as I suspect they have already heard of and most likely used eBay and Amazon!) and make it easy for people to identify missing elements and click through to buy them from BL. It seems to me the 'no' voters are playing a dangerous game of brinkmanship which will sooner of later result in a, likely Creative Commons, effort to replicate the set inventories and allow re-use without the benefit to them of driving additional people to visit (and buy from) BL.

    There are obviously some people in the BL community, and I am not surprised about this as it is counter-intuitive, that have yet to realise that in the new world order of open-source, creative commons and mashups it often makes better financial sense to allow free reuse of your 'intellectual property' than it does to prevent its reuse and hope that people will come directly to you to get it - they won't unless they know you exist and you are offering all the functionality they require - which BL doesn't as it is foremost a marketplace rather than a cataloging tool.

    Hopefully a resolution can be reached with BL and I can start simple click thru buying of my missing elements shortly after!
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,245
    You've hit the nail on the head there, Cam. That's why I encourage Brickset 'mash-ups'.

    I'm not going to ask their community again, but if those of you reading here want to start the discussion in their forum again, then please do.
  • TonyV5TonyV5 Member Posts: 14
    As a newish AFOL & not knowing any other fans personally, I've trawled lots of LEGO related sites. I used Peeron a lot in the beginning as a inventory, but not very intuitive & no up to date scans so I used "Brickfactory.info" a Dutch website for scans, and seems to be kept up to date.
    As for a set list & database I now use BASEBRICK, as you may know it's linked to Bricklink & Peeron.
    As for LUGNET, any one finding it for the first time is put off with the very out of date content of the front page & dated layout.
  • bmwlegobmwlego Long Island, New YorkMember Posts: 761
    Wasn't aware of the backstory between BL and BS but I am glad I read this thread. It is refreshing to be a part of the Brickset Forums. The discussions here are intelligent and respectful this thread being a prime example of this type of in depth discourse.
    Schwallex
  • 1000steine1000steine Member Posts: 1
    Sry guys for raking up this thread, but I just found it. Two things: A) LUGNET, B) BrickSet

    A) When I got LUGNET years ago, absolutely no further agreements were made between Todd and me, which results in me having a site with an almost broken community, a trademark which I don't own (LUGNET) and a mountain of code. And I mean really, REALLY a Mount Everest of code. To be honest, I never inquired, so don't blame Todd, blame me instead :) Anyway, the site was going to be closed, so I offered my help in taking it, maintaining it and paying for it (which I still do month by month by month). There were first plans which turned out to be impossible to do with the existing code "construct", so it was pretty clear from the beginning, that it would be a lot of work to develop the site further. I kept it running, esp for the NNTP people, biggest mistake was probably leaving the homepage as it is in 2009. Still, you can consider the LUGNET site just "sleeping", not dead. Time will tell, soon enough :)

    B) If you right-click any set picture here on BrickSet to see where it comes from, you might be surprised. But Huw is doing such a great job in maintaining this site, that, for me, it is taken-for-grantedness that I do that. I always did and always will do, as long as Huw is happy with it. I even let my provider set up a brand new dedicated server a few weeks ago, just for hosting images from BrickSet and for running 1000steine.de (LUGNET has its own server). If you ever wondered, why Peeron and BrickLink are slower in loading images than BrickSet, though BrickSet has an HUGE amount of traffic, well... it's because BrickSet is simply worth it, but tell me about it, you all know that :)

    -Rene
    Cam_n_Stu
  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    @1000steine Thank you for your contributions to LEGO community, and especially the Brickset community :)
    Cam_n_Stu
  • SchwallexSchwallex Member Posts: 121
    Excellent thread. As someone who came out of his dark ages just a couple years ago, I only just began catching up on all these things. Too bad the BL threads with further info have gone the way of the dodo. On a second thought, it's probably better that way, for everyone involved. Peace out.
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,112
    wow, talk about bumping an *old* thread..
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,245
    Thank you for doing so, I don't think I read Rene's response at the time!
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