Announcing the Terms of Service [Editorial]

Somewhere during our tremendous growth over the last couple of years, I feel that The Brothers Brick has taken a bit of a wrong turn. Yes, there are things we could do better, but no, I’m not saying that we’ve done anything wrong.

Rather, our audience has shifted from the people we first began blogging for — adult fans of LEGO like ourselves — to a vast silent majority and an active minority of apparently younger LEGO fans. Let me say this once and for all: The Brothers Brick is written by and for adults, as well as for those who are capable of behaving like adults.

As I said last week in my editorial about not posting leaked poor-quality photos, I want our contributors and readers to lead the LEGO fan community toward a more mature, constructive, informed level of discourse.

Over this past week, I’ve been more than a little disappointed in some of the comments our posts have received. I expect more from our readers than vitriolic furor over our straightforward coverage of the LEGO fan community’s reactions to the inauguration of a new president. And particularly confusing (and hurtful) have been those comments assuming that The Brothers Brick is our “job” — when in fact each of us gives up our spare time to do this. For free.

I frequently get home from my real job at near 8:00 in the evening, and then I spend the next three hours poring through my RSS feeds, answering your e-mail, checking forums, and blogging what I find. And that’s just weeknights; I probably spend more time per day on weekends. It’s hard work, even when I only find one or two things that are “blogworthy” in a day.

Still, we do this because we like to, not because we’re obligated to.

I never wanted to codify any rules about how I expected Brothers Brick readers to behave, but with intervention seeming like it’s necessary more and more frequently, I’m today announcing the Terms of Service.

As a legal document, the Terms of Service page is long, so here’s a summary of the most important points:

  • You must be 13 years old to use the interactive features on
  • Don’t be a jerk. Play nice.
  • We don’t guarantee availability of now or in the future.
  • We reserve the right to take whatever action is necessary to keep The Brothers Brick a civil, safe place for all our readers.
  • We reserve the right to change our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy at any time.
  • The Terms of Service now encompasses our existing Privacy Policy.

The Terms of Service are not up for discussion, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t interested in hearing your thoughts in the comments on this post. Let us know what you think, and don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions.

86 comments on “Announcing the Terms of Service [Editorial]

  1. Ramone

    Andrew, I just wanted to say thank you (and to Nnenn, and co.) for putting forth such extraordinary efforts on this blog. Not only do I frequently perused the images, but I’ve also benefited from information posted here, having purchased Pirates sets from Toys R Us before they sold out at our local store, and more urgently–I was one of the lucky few to get the Lego Castle Advent Calendar thanks to BB’s posts.

    In recent days I’ve come to feel ashamed of a comment I made on the Obama art figure. I feel stupid for taking the troll bait and responding to another comment that was already off-topic. I acted in haste, when I knew better to just let it pass. Please accept my apology for further derailing the focus of the blog–to admire, appreciate, and discuss The Brick. I take responsibility for acting like a fool serious. And while I can’t promise to curtail my opinion, I CAN be more thoughtful about how I will respond. I encourage all commentors here to do the same.

    Thanks again.

  2. Tim David

    Re: the 13 years thing, I actually read the ToS 8-)
    It says ” The Website is available only to individuals who are at least 13 years old.”
    Thats not actually true. You might want to reword it.

  3. Josh

    Now this is more like it. Thank you everyone.

    @Lich Barrister – Thank you for your comment., I appreciated it. Your suggestion for a Junior TBB is a good one. That is definitely a niche that could be filled by such a site as you describe. You are right that we can’t expect 12 year olds to magically become mature and literate when they turn 13 (my daughter turned 13 this week, so I have first-hand experience ;) ).

    However there are a lot of issues involved. The main one is time. We simply don’t have it. Keeping TBB relevant is a huge undertaking. I know I’m not ready to take on a sister site.

    A second issue is regulations that govern sites for minors under 13. There is a lot involved, regarding gathering of information and such. That is actually the biggest reason that we disallow anyone under 13.

    Could it be done? Sure. Would it serve a valuable function? Absolutely. Is TBB going to do it? Probably not. At least I don’t see us doing that in the foreseeable future.

    Again, thanks for your comment. It was a pleasure to read!

    @Frediochi – You are right. We do miss stuff. I think its inevitable. I’m constantly running across things that I missed last week, last month, or years ago. Sometimes I post them, sometimes not. There is definitely a timing issue involved. And you are correct, we have to make choices. I resolved last year to actively hunt for people who were posting outside of my “normal” sphere. I think I’ve achieved some success at that, but it needs to continue. We will always have room to improve. I’m glad that you recognize that.

    Your idea of an automated list of builds is interesting. I don’t know that I could ever trust an automated system like that though. We currently have a good list of contributors that Andrew and I exercise very little control over, but at least they each have a defined reason why they posted each item.

    Thanks for your comment!

    @Ramone – I just wanted to clarify one thing. It pops up a lot. Nnenn and Nannan are not the same person. Nnenn is a builder of spacecraft. Nannan is a contributor on TBB. Just wanted to clear that up. Thanks!

  4. Chuck

    I think what a lot of you forget is that it is not an obligation to blog every single blogworthy MOC. If you feel that those MOCs should be blogged, then start a blog and post them there. However, don’t complain that they are not being given attention here. TBB, like any other blog, exists to publish people’s opinions. If you have a different opinion, so be it, but don’t get angry at the bloggers if you don’t see some amazing creation blogged. I would advise, instead of complaining here, shoot one of them an e-mail, and maybe it will be blogged.

  5. Bryan

    I want what Perry wants and especially that cup of coffee with my TBB :)

    Thanks TBB for whatchya do to both inspire and confound especially with complicated snot and greeblage and also always paying attention to presentation. Beyond brick-building, I’m thinking of upgrading my presentation equipment and methodology. By the way, reference to some how-tos on that topic are always very appreciated. Some things I’ve seen recently through TBB where people have been experimenting with different lighting has especially piqued my interest in the photography aspect. Again thanks for my favorite blog – in my downtime following the various online avenues which you are so good and pointing to is always enjoyable. No complaints here at all.

  6. Curtis

    What if TBB did a weekly recap of notable MOC’s? I’m sure you get suggestions for many that are worth blogging, but for one reason or another don’t get blogged. Say you organized those MOC’s into one weekly post that isn’t devoted to a single person or MOC but instead a collection of builders and MOC’s. Maybe just small thumbnails, no descriptions or commentaries, just the photos under some sort of ‘weekly recap’ banner. It’s just a suggestion that would allow more to be shown, take it or leave it. I’m mostly happy with how things are done around here.

  7. Peter

    Hey Andrew, Tim, Nannan, et al,

    Just wanted to drop a big Thank You. I’ve never met any of you in real life, though I hope to, and I wanted you to know I really enjoy the work you put into this thing.

    As nnenn’s biggest fanboi, I don’t think you blog any one builder too much. Thanks for keeping it real. And to that Dave of Dave and Stacy guy: dude, right on!

    Pay your dues, kids. Only then will you earn my respect.

  8. AaronSneary / ColourSchemer

    There are comments? There are arguments in the comments? Heck, how’d you guys hide this from me so long, I could have been verbally abusing the noobs and whiners.

    Oh, yea, I know why I didn’t see the comments. Your content rocks so hard, it’s more than enough entertainment when I have click time.

    Keep serving up awesome posts, remember your fans and delete your ney-sayers. They can bad-mouth you elsewhere!

    Thanks again for an awesome site.

  9. DARKspawn

    It is the nature of the internet that those who disapprove are the most vocal and the most likely to comment. The rest of us 6996 daily visitors (to use the stats from Josh’s post above) are thrilled to be here. What puzzles me is that if the haters feel so strongly about opinions expressed by The Brothers Brick staff why do they come back and visit at all? Very Troll-like behaviour in my opinion.

    I don’t usually engage in commentary on TBB, but I am a frequent visitor & have had the honour of my creations being featured many times (possibly even almost as much as poor Tyler & nnenn) on this site, something I am quite proud of. I consider myself part of the TBB community & am extremely thankful for the efforts of its contributors. As a member of the “not so silent” majority, be sure that for every vocal hater there are several hundred avid, yet silent, readers. Thanks guys.

    However I feel I have to make the observation that coverage of politically motivated MOCs have only recently started appearing on TBB. All of which (to my memory) have been American. I don’t doubt that the majority of your visitors are American, but I would like to point out that many of us aren’t. Although the Troll-like comments were amusing to begin with, they quickly got old, and to be honest, a little worrying.

    Also, the choice of creations covered appeared (to me, an outsider) to be completely in support of the American Democrat party. This doesn’t bother me at all on a personal level, like most of the world’s population, I was happy to see the back of the Bush administration (omg I expressed a political opinion! just remember I am an Australian & it doesn’t count anyway). Again, this is cool, however you have to expect backlash. You Americans seem incredibly divided in political views, whereas in Australia political commentary is taken with a grain of salt, it appears that some of you yanks really get your backs up about it. Although I can’t help to think that in most cases we’re hearing the poster’s parents talking, rather than a well thought out political opinion.

    Thanks agin, Brothers, your site is a constant source of inspiration for me
    /end rant

  10. Josh

    Thanks for the comment, Aaron! Regarding the recent posting of political MOCs…I would like to point out that the views and statements of the contributors are not the official views of the blog. If they were, this would be one extremely confused and schizophrenic blog! :D

    Officially, the blog has no official political views. But I bet most of the contributors do! As for myself, I don’t fit with either political party. In the rare times that I do get into political discussions the person I’m talking to always thinks I’m on the “other” side. Republicans think I’m a Democrat and the Democrats think I’m a Republican. Even the Libertarians don’t like me. I’m also too much of a capitalist for the Socialists. I call myself an Independent, but that really means nothing. Guess I’m screwed. ;)

    As for Australian political MOCs, you are going to have to bring that up with Tim. He’s our down-under correspondent.

  11. Marc Nelson Jr.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this is the world’s best LEGO blog.

    I could care less which builders you highlight – I only care that you highlight excellent MOCs (which you do!). Just like in any other field, excellence is not evenly distributed throughout the population, so it makes sense that some builders are posted about more than others.

    I completely respect that you (mostly Andrew) post things with a political point of view. It’s not my point of view, but I like your honesty and the I appreciate the chance to see a different point of view.

    The only negative comment I’ve ever had about TBB concerned the leak policy and, well, you did ask us for our opinions…

    Anyway, keep up the great posts and I’ll keep reading!

  12. BJR

    I know my comments that “zero politics” sounds heavy handed but what I have noticed is when politics, religion and sports are discussed common sense and maturity for many go out the window.

    If you want to post those things then be heavy handed with the comments that are out of control and those that are immature will move on to the next place they can troll.

    Or shut the comments off for something on those topics.

    Frankly, it is TBB’s house, whatever rules and policies they create I will follow and support even if I disagree, because it is there house.

    Well done to those here, I do enjoy reading.

  13. greenglo

    TBB may want to look into both registered comments and comment rating.

    These allow for:
    1. Easy reporting of people breaking the rules.
    2. The ability to ban and make people accountable for their comments.
    3. The ability for the users to rate comments, so that idiotic comments slowly fade away or become invisible.

    The way the comment system is set up now puts almost all the responsibility on the bloggers who are already very busy. Anonymous commenting on many major blogs have been removed.

    As a web developer I know it sucks to redo your site, but I feel it is a necessary change to keep people responsible to your rules and fully realize your vision.

    My favourite example is

    And the best lego blog in the world is brothers-brick!

  14. m055

    Lets face it there is an overall message that comes across on this site…drugs anyone!?…seriously this blog is like crack. Amazingly great. How can you complain about free opiates? Recognize the hours it takes to cut and measure the purest and best. “This is not your father’s blog?”…its not your childrens blog, those kids need fresh air and exercise. When your old and stiff…then…start your own blog, cause we still won’t care for you opinions. LOL. Jk.

    This site is great! Thanks for your dedication and the time you take everyday. It’s so obvious that the bloggers on here are of a higher calibur; if not the best lego bloggers out there. That even TLG garners you guys respect and also that of iyour readers…two recent examples would be the survey that came through this site not to long ago and also the opportunity we all had to give our own ideas for new lego sets.((readers applause)). You guys are great…hope to meet some of you in Chicago!

  15. Andrew Post author

    Thanks for all the kind comments everyone. I’m just catching up after rather a rough day at work, so I really appreciate this show of support from the generally “silent majority.”

    Josh has already hit several important points, but I also wanted to respond to some of the great ideas suggested so far.

    A kid-friendly younger sibling of The Brothers Brick is a smashing idea. Unfortunately, the legal complications of running a site for kids under 13 are prohibitive, and we simply don’t have the time for a second site. Fascinating LEGO Model of the Day and The NXT Step are both specifically run in a kid-friendly way, so there are alternatives for parents who want to let their kids interact on a LEGO blog.

    Yes, I’ve been considering moving to a comment model that requires registration. It’s actually not a huge change, so I’ll likely roll that out with the next WordPress upgrade I do.

  16. Blackbeard

    I run a number of Web sites, and I make a living doing it (barely). I was astonished to read that Brothers Brick is a labor of love, because there’s clearly tremendous labor here. Personally, I find running the sites I run nothing short of exhausting and to run a site without it being a livelihood is quite amazing.

    You guys (I assume you’re brothers, no I haven’t had time to read it all) are doing a wonderful job. I often check in here during the work day for a few minutes of cheering up.

    Thanks for creating a great site, I hope you keep it up. No matter what, though, know you’re appreciated.

    — Black

    P.S. Also know that readers can often be jackasses. I can’t count the number of nasty letters I’ve gotten (including a few death threats — seriously). Many readers are cool, but there are a few who, as a buddy of mine would say, are full-goose bozo-nutters.

  17. Olog

    I <3 TBB, otherwise I wouldn’t be checking it every day four times.
    Let the haters be haters, there’s no use trying to convince them. If people are capable of holding a grudge or being insulted by a post made on a Lego blog, then it’s clear they’ve got no reason being here.

  18. Josh

    @Blackbeard – Thanks for the comments. Its good to hear from someone who knows what goes into sites like this.

    Just letting you know a little background. We aren’t brothers. The name of the blog came from a naming contest, soon after Andrew asked me to join him. Its a reference to the Brothers Grim. They told stories to entertain and inform. We try to do the same thing in a Lego setting. The other contributors came in at various times. We also have a handful of behind-the-scenes/secret honorary brothers and one honorary sister. They act as a sort of ad hoc advisory board. ;)

    Our contributors are scattered all over the Western United States, Australia, and Sweden.

  19. Nathan Wells

    A REALLY interesting twist would be that we were actually all brothers, but we didn’t know it. *Dun dun DUHN* ;)

    Yeah, that’s all I have to contribute – my excuse it that spring classes started today!

    But, really, thank you all for your support. It’s nice to hear the “silent majority” pipe up, you should do it more often!

  20. AwesomeStar

    Being 14 (and a wee bit) I just scrape the pass, but I fully agree with Andrew. I spent half an hour trawling through the stupid comments of that Obama/Bush MOC you blogged and I got sadder with each one. Lego is a fun way to express yourself, or make art, or simply just to play and have a laugh. It isn’t there to write bad comments about. Bringing politics into Lego is dangerous, sure, but it really shouldn’t be that people comment dumb things about it, while thinking about politics instead of the art, the Lego.

    So thank you, Andrew. Here here.

  21. Bruce

    I want to complain about the high level of intelligence in some of your readers. I mean seriously guys, they use words like Sisyphean and even spell them correctly. I’m not smarterer enough for this blog. I want comments like “Gr8!!!!!!! That MOC rulzzz!!!” It’s especially good if people use all caps. Maybe I’ll go start my own blog.

  22. Robbiew

    I have never posted before. As one of the silent majority, I want to say thankyou for running such a wonderful site.

  23. Erik

    Ive been following your blog for about over a year now and its one of my daily inspirational inputs. I truly apreciate the effort you put into this since there is no way I would have the time to search for all theese great Mocs on my own. So a big thank you for all your effort.


  24. Optimystic

    Exxos-While I am not in any way offended by your comment, I do think that 16-‘s should be allowed to register or post comments, some of us are able to be mature, for instance not giving in to peer pressure and abadoning lego when all of our friends do, something which happens a lot in the 11-14 age group. I personally think that we can be mature, or at least be given the chance.

  25. Lenny

    Dear Brothers-Brick Staff,
    I wanted to make a note thanking you guys for everything you do. BB is updating regularly, and is a regular part of my day. Recently I changed jobs from one that allowed me time to interact with the LEGO community to one that did not. Although I love my new job, I hate being separated and I hate not knowing what is going on. Brothers Brick allows me to keep tabs on the latest and the greatest LEGO Mocs, and to keep a connection to my favorite hobby, even if I don’t have the time to build and participate like I used to.

    Furthermore, so many of my friends are featured on BB, that it allows me to keep a little up to date on what is happening in their lives. I know blogs like this are time consuming, and sometimes seem unrewarding. I want you guys to know how much I appreciate the work you do, and that I will continue to be a big fan for a long time to come.

    Once again: THANK YOU!

    -Lenny Hoffman
    lenny dot hoffman at gmail dot com

  26. Josh

    @Optimystic – You are allowed to register and comment. It is only minors under the age of 13 that are not.

    @Lenny – Hey Lenny! Its great to hear from you. I’ve wondered if you had been lurking anywhere. I miss seeing you around on CC. Glad to know that you are still alive and kickin’!

  27. Optimystic

    Josh-I know that 13 ‘s are allow to post comments/register, I was just replying to Exxos’s comment.

    And also guys don’t let the minority who complain get to you, most of them probably don’t know what it’s like to run a blog of this status.

  28. kakam

    Hey, hey TBB, I appreciate that you guys go through all this work to keep this blog up and running. I for one am glad that this is one of the few places where everyone (for the most part….) is friendly to outsiders and to those who don’t quite understand all the Acronyms.

    To all of you, Thank you, and a huge thank you to TBB’s dedicated bloggers!

  29. Rong Yiren

    A big thanks to the guys who run this site. I love TBB! I check in several times a day just to see if anything new has been posted. I certainly appreciate the times my MOCs have been blogged and I definitely love seeing all the other MOCs that show up on these pages. TBB is a major source of motivation and inspiration for me. Keep up the awesome job! : )

  30. Lino M

    I’m sorry it took a negative situation to have to come to this but I applaud the staff at TBB to come to this decision. It is clear by doing this that they strive to bring it back to what this is supposed to be about…and that’s highlighting Lego related news, showcasing some of the best Lego creations this planet has to offer and bringing light to extremely talented builders whom I (and the Lego community at large) would have never known about. I was shocked and appalled at reading some of the short-sighted, narrow minded comments (having nothing at all to do with Lego) that lead to this decision. Keep up the great work you guys and keep showcasing TOP NOTCH work and don’t give in to pressure and ridicule from the haters. (Haters, you want to be showcased on here more, then step up your game…oh, and a good personality goes a long way). Note that even with my unique name, I have registered using my real name and my well known flickr handle. This means I am and always will be mature enough to own up to all comments I may leave. Keep up the good work. Good luck and good night.

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