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Community Software

Postby Brickd » Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:59 pm

hey everyone, as a longtime fan but someone fairly new to some of these community hubs, it has been interesting to see the different setups. i actually work in tech building community products (previously at Yahoo! and MySpace, and now at a startup), and so i tend to always look at the underlying tech as well.

i was curious if any of the older members could talk about where this forum grew out of, and also other forums you frequent and why you like them? i tend to prefer Vanilla Forums (http://vanillaforums.org/) over phpBB from a design standpoint, but appreciate the flexibility of this.

as an AFOL trying to get into the scene, it have found navigating the different resources to be a bit nebulous, and am trying to get a sense of the history of the community.
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Re: Community Software

Postby eilonwy77 » Sat Aug 07, 2010 12:03 am

That's a very interesting question. I look forward to seeing the answers to your question. ;-)
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Re: Community Software

Postby JoshWedin » Sat Aug 07, 2010 12:41 am

I'm an older member! [Josh waves his hand] :)

Classic Castle grew out of the Lego community on Lugnet, which was/is a lot clunkier than this. I wasn't in on the founding, so I don't why phpBB was used, but it has worked well. We recently upgraded from an older version and it was fairly painless, as I recall.

Tony Sava could speak to this more directly though.

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Re: Community Software

Postby Brickd » Sat Aug 07, 2010 1:59 am

JoshWedin wrote:I'm an older member! [Josh waves his hand] :)

Classic Castle grew out of the Lego community on Lugnet, which was/is a lot clunkier than this. I wasn't in on the founding, so I don't why phpBB was used, but it has worked well. We recently upgraded from an older version and it was fairly painless, as I recall.

Tony Sava could speak to this more directly though.

Josh


thanks for the info! i'm looking forward to learning more. what has happened to lugnet? it certainly seems like it hasn't gotten a lot of love recently...
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Re: Community Software

Postby JoshWedin » Sat Aug 07, 2010 2:02 am

Many things happened to Lugnet. But the bare bones is that it was old, never getting upgraded, and people wanted more. And out of that, the forums were born. Like with anything, the birth pains were horrible and there are still some hard feelings out there. :) But Lugnet is basically dead....except for the set database.

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Re: Community Software

Postby Bruce N H » Sat Aug 07, 2010 7:42 pm

Hey,

The good thing about Lugnet was that it was one place where people from different themes all came. Unfortunately the functionality was really limited, and the administration was in great flux - the original founders aren't active these days, for a while it was kind of run by committee, then Renee took it over, but by then other communities had spun off. As other communities, such as this one, were created, there was hue and cry by some that we were fracturing the community, but others saw that a variety of forums led to greater creativity and development of the hobby.

I also wasn't one of the founding admins, and Tony or Ben could tell you much more, but CC grew out of a discussion about Castle World (no, not that one, the site by the same name that came before). CW was a community story site, but it was run by one person who let it flounder and didn't update it. Others volunteered to take over the administration, but the owner didn't want to give it up. So those involved, and I think this happened at a meeting at BrickFest, decided to start their own site (this one). Originally the idea was to focus more on people writing castle stories illustrated by LEGO, but it quickly expanded to cover all aspects of the LEGO Castle theme. A lot of us continued to post both here and in the castle section of Lugnet in the early days, but got a lot more response and discussion here, so eventually we stopped posting on lugnet. Over the next couple of years other specialty community sites grew up for LEGO Space, LEGO mecha etc.

As to the complaints about fracturing the community, after this site had been up a year Tony did some statistics and showed that there were many more posts and different people posting at CC than there had been in the previous year when discussion was centered at Lugnet. (It's not really true that Lugnet was ever the "only place" that people posted - in particular the German community 1000Steine was always strong, and FBTB was a very strong site devoted to the Star Wars theme before Classic-Castle ever came along. Plus there were two huge communities devoted to Bionicle, which was a shunned topic on Lugnet, which tended to have older members.)

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Re: Community Software

Postby Kosh » Sat Aug 07, 2010 11:47 pm

One of the things to remember about Lugnet is, it was a custom piece of software and that Multiple ways to post to it. Which made it harder for anyone to just come along and just start running it, Lugnet was (is? still perhaps) capable of *3* different ways to enter a post. NNTP newreader, email or the web interface. Yes there was some issues that I view as Lego/life balance ones amongst the founder(s) (depending upon how you define founder(s) really). Lugnet was a great central melting pot of the themes and I view the early days as kind of a 'Golden age of yore' in online Lego terms. It had some trials and tribulations, some of the members were out spoken and stubborn IIRC (and opposed to each other a little) aka a few had strong personalities and failed to get along. Shrugs, part of it was perhaps it was Such a wide diversity of themes and people in one spot that some of what happened, happened.

I have gone back and looked and the forum's side of Lugnet is pretty dead. Sites that are more niche (CC here for one) or that stick to broad but still less ambitious scope (Eurobricks for example, or Brickset) seem to be a better choice to fulfill the role that Lugnet once seemed to dominate (in my viewpoint). It still is a valuable resource to be sure but it's not what you can call a central gathering point as I feel it once was.

CC is the only Lego forum I am currently a member of (tho if I dig hard enough I could probably find my Lugnet info, if I ever wished to), I've considered joining EB as well but we'll see.
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Re: Community Software

Postby Forestboy » Sun Aug 08, 2010 5:01 am

Being only in the community a little over a year, I have no insight to give, but I do recall a great discussion about LUGnet (and the reason it's a ghost town) on LAMLradio #43 – LEGO News for June 1st. It's great to listen to if you ever get the chance.

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Re: Community Software

Postby Brickd » Sun Aug 08, 2010 8:03 pm

thanks everyone for all of the thoughtful and insightful replies, it is definitely fascinating to learn a bit of the history.

do you know if there has ever been a discussion about reviving the LUGNET domain, but putting new software behind it? or have there been discussions about starting another catch-all destination, perhaps even if its only purpose was to help get fans to the best discussion that suits there interests? LUGNET still is the number one result in Google when you search for "Lego discussion" and "Lego community", so there is definitely an opportunity to use that to help people get going more quickly.

there are a great deal more freely-available web software packages that create better-looking and more user-friendly sites than were probably available when LUGNET was constructed (like BuddyPress and Vanilla) that could create a more welcoming and easier to navigate environment. while i had been following Brothers Brick for a while, it was more difficult to find things like brickset, mocpages, classic-castle, and other resources.

i guess my main objective is that it would be nice to have some sort of destination that could serve as a Lego "orientation" of sorts...
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Re: Community Software

Postby Kosh » Mon Aug 09, 2010 3:51 am

That's a question you'd have to ask on Lugnet I suspect. But remember that it's in the hands of a caretaker, I do not believe the terms of the transfer were made public.
Personally I'd rather see people work on reinvigorating Lugnet than just replace it, it may be a bit of a custom 'mess' but it's a decently working unique 'mess' that just needs some attention in my view. It appears to be fairly dead, not a stone cold corpse as it were. Perhaps dead is too strong a word, comatose, hmm still probably not quite right.... Perhaps 'Well into decline' would explain it better. Really it's the users that have slowed down there not the site itself, I suspect it's humming right along.

Times have changed, many people are not looking for an all knowing posting site, many tend to be looking for a niche site and get thier news from a blog opposed to the all encompassing site Lugnet once was. As for it showing high in the ranking, I believe it should there are a LOT of posts there historically and there may be some sub sections that gather a lot of traffic still. I have moved on in my habits and Lugnet for me is not a regular stop anymore. If anyone has differing views on this I would like to hear them.
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Re: Community Software

Postby Brickd » Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:06 am

i'd definitely love to see Lugnet get some energy put back into it.

by not having some sort of hub, it makes it more difficult to find the community that is right for you. in some ways, this high barrier to entry can be helpful, because it sets a threshold for how much you really have to want to find the right place in order to get there, which maintains a certain level of quality. however, it also makes it more difficult for more casual or timid fans to get involved.

i do think that generally, for communities, having some sort of hub, even if it is just a gathering point to help ferry people to the right destination, can be a helpful thing.
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