From time to time we will be featuring interviews with administrators from different forums and fan sites that we think you should know about. We have a small backlog of interviews and will be posting them on a fairly regular basis, in no particular order. All featured sites will be Lego-related (duh) and are places that you can go to immerse yourself even deeper in this highly-addictive hobby of ours.
To kick off our series, we bring you an interview with Mark Larson (aka Hinckley), one of the Admins of Eurobricks.
TBB: So, Mark, tell us little bit about yourself. What are you known for, other than being an Administrator for Eurobricks?
Mark: I live in Chicago with my partner, Jocko, and work as a graphic and web designer. I occasionally work as an actor but took a break over the last year. It started out as a voluntary break and has turned into an involuntary break as I can’t seem to get cast again. I am also the defensive captain & a linebacker for a flag football team, which is funny for anyone who knows me because I don’t look like a linebacker and I help coordinate a wrestling club…it’s not easy having a Napoleon Complex.
I also have my own LEGO site, BrickZone.net, where I tell a number of stories including Fabuland Housewives and The Many Adventures of the Whacker and the Walrus. It is one of the few places on the net where you can find Fabuland MOCs (although they’re becoming more common) and I also have a number of Castle and City MOCs and customs and set reviews.
TBB: How did you inherit Eurobricks?
Mark: Oh, excellent. I can’t wait to hear how JP reacts to this question. I haven’t inherited Eurobricks. It belongs to JP (EB member #1: jipay). He and EB member DoubleT founded Eurobricks in 2003 to provide a site where there weren’t as many strict rules and guidelines as there were on some other sites.
I was promoted to the Root Admin Group through hard work and participation or possibly by a long period of shameless Megablocks-kissing, depending on who you talk to. JP and Bonaparte are the other members of the Root Group and we make decisions about the site together with the rest of the staff. Despite the ranks, each staff member has an equal voice in site policy and other issues. Admins are the techies, Moderators help keep order and Regulators take care of our indexing.
TBB: What is your vision for Eurobricks?
Mark: Our staff views Eurobricks as an excellent community for LEGO fans. There’s a forum for every theme, a gaming forum, contests and great discussions of techniques, layouts & other topics that affect us as LEGO fans. Not to mention some great MOCs and WIPs, which are indexed in a pinned gallery topic in every individual theme forum. Personally, I enjoy seeing someone bring us a creation as a WIP and improve it over time to be an excellent creation through constructive criticism in the community. We also have a lot of great tutorials, a customization forum and the Reviewer’s Academy, which was recently created to help new users learn good posting habits and how to create good cohesive reviews and take good pictures. We also like to post news about new LEGO sets…
We have two theme-specific portal sites: Classic-Pirates.com and Classic-Town.net. These sites work not only as portals to EB but as exhaustive catalogs of each theme. Mister Phes pours a lot of work into Classic-Pirates while TheBrickster & WhiteFang keep Classic-Town’s blog updated with interesting MOCs, stories and activity in the world of LEGO Town. TheBrickster has a great personal site for Wild West MOCs.
Here is a quote about the future of Eurobricks from our esteemed ambassador CopMike:
“I think we are a bit different than the average LEGO community in the world – we´re the most “community” oriented one!!! We have raffles, both free & $$ for people to get cool stuff & help pay for the forum. We have the Reviewer’s Academy and things alike to really make people take part & evolve, and we have IRL gatherings each year where we meet and take part of each others real life also. And for that we have made exclusive sets & parts packs for the members, we have all kinds of games & fun and visit the LEGO people that works in the parks. We have had people flying/driving/going by train from almost all over the world to meet up. Granted, people do that all the time for LEGO things – but that´s for BrickCon, BW etc. This is an on-line community!
I think we´re ahead of a lot of the other communities here, and that´s something that we should take even further.
We´re among the broadest communities regarding different lines/catagorys – everything, even Fabuland is talked about here.”
TBB: Is Eurobricks only for European Lego fans?
Mark: Everyone is welcome at Eurobricks no matter what country you live in. I’m actually from the States and most of our staff and members are from outside of Europe as well. We recently changed our tagline to “Uniting LEGO fans around the world” to reflect that.
TBB: Eurobricks has an “interesting” reputation in the Lego community. Can you talk a bit about that?
Mark: A lot has happened in the past between Eurobricks and TLG. Admittedly, Eurobricks hasn’t always made the best choices. A lot of poor decisions on posting news were made but that has certainly changed recently. In defense of some of Eurobricks’s past action, the staff used to operate under a “Six month rule.” This rule stated that pictures found of a set six months or less before its release were fair game to post and was believed to be set by TLG Community Relations staff. In all the conversations I’ve had with TLG employees, this rule was never set by them. Apparently, it was a misinterpretation of an argument that preliminary pictures shouldn’t be posted because clone brands can manufacture a copy in as soon as six months-so they could beat TLG to the release date. I have no idea where this misunderstanding occurred as any research into the matter results in a cold trail.
I will say that due to some unfortunate decisions in the past, people think of us as “leakers” and a bandwagon seems to have formed for the community to think of us as the bad kids. That’s unfortunate as nowadays our picture posting policy is no different from other sites- say Brothers-Brick.com, for one example.
TBB: Are you trying to change that reputation?
Mark: Yup yup.
TBB: How are you going about that?
Mark: We now have 14 people on our staff, most of who have been added in the last year. JP’s original vision of a site with no rules has been modified to include posted guidelines about how we expect people to behave which makes it easier for us to set guidelines about posting and community interaction. One thing we are asking is that people don’t post pictures that are stamped confidential. While it’s exciting to see new sets and it’s also hard to stop super-fans from searching for them, when something is clearly not meant to be posted, we see it as our responsibility to take it down. We’ve also added guidelines for the staff to make sure that we are all behaving the same way and relaying a consistent message to members about behavior and posting.
Having our first ambassador, EB member CopMike, and having staff members that participate in real-life events we have started an open line of communication with employees at LEGO Community Relations. If we find something questionable posted, we bring it to them.
TBB: I know that many people join Eurobricks because of your reputation. Is it a shock for them, when they run into the new way Eurobricks is being run?
Mark: I’m not sure they notice, really. I think people expect news posts like that to be taken down. It’s part of being a LEGO fan. Our community is about so much more than news that most people are on the site for other community activities and see news as a bonus. And with the way things are posted on picture hosting sites, new images are usually everywhere by the time we see them anyway. And no matter where a picture is, people like to discuss it with people they know. A lot of times, “leaks” are posted on our site by members and the staff takes them down when we notice them or are requested to do so.
I will add that the way TLG recently released news of the 10193 Medieval Market Village was incredibly smart and it seems they’ve been listening to feedback from the ambassadors and I hope they continue to do that with news in the future. It will make things a lot easier for people who operate sites like Eurobricks and the Brothers-Brick if they continue in this fashion.
Many thanks to Mark for answering our questions!