No it is not *your* technique – credit is currency and should be paid [Editorial]

In what I believe is a first (apologies if I’m neglecting credit) for The Brothers Brick I’ve decided to write a somewhat counterpoint editorial to Andrew’s latest editorial.

Andrew argues, with merit, that demands for credit are excessive and potentially “stifling (of) others’ creativity”. While I don’t disagree with his major points I do feel that his post has risky consequences which I do disagree with: discouraging credit when it can and should be given.

As a medium with a finite parts pallette, building technique is not just a means of aiding the design process but an integral part of the design process. Technique is not just a tool but can be an inseparable part of a creation. This is, for me at least, one the most interesting aspects of building with LEGO (and/or other construction toys).

The LEGO fan community has developed in an environment of sharing, cooperation and mingling of ideas. From the earliest days of through to the diaspora of today one of the key elements of the online community has been the active sharing of the techniques that go into a model in addition to the sharing of the model itself.

However, this sharing is encouraged, at least in part, by the giving of credit where credit is due. If someone knows that a clever trick they’ve spent hours developing will be used by others without so much as a thank you they may not feel so compelled to spend the time to show a cutaway version.

Likewise if someone sees a neat idea they’d agonised over being used and lauded without acknowledgement a week later by a more experienced builder they may feel justifiably aggrieved. Credit isn’t just polite, it is a driver of the shared creativity that drives the hobby.

So no, it is not your technique. If you got it from someone else then give them the credit they deserve for their creativity so that they’ll feel happy sharing other techniques. Credit is a currency and if you don’t pay for the service you may find it goes away.

60 comments on “No it is not *your* technique – credit is currency and should be paid [Editorial]

  1. tedward

    I think I have to side (mostly) with Tim on this one. If you consciously use a technique (ie: searched it out to solve a problem or “saved” it on your browser bookmarks) you should say thanks by acknowledging the source. If however you happen to use a simple technique you may have seen months ago or that is now in common usage you are not even likely to remember the source or even that it was something you did not create. In that case I’m not going to fault someone who does not acknowledge the source.

  2. chrism

    If you consciously use a new technique that is not yours and you know the source, then it’s simply common courtesy to acknowledge the source.

    However, if the AFOL community insists that builders footnote every MOC with a list of sources, people will simply stop posting their work to public forums, either because they’re fearful of reprisal for failing to note all necessary sources, or because they simply do not have the time to research the origin of each techniqus. It’s a layer of bureaucracy that is certain to stifle sharing, hamper creativity and demoralize the community.

  3. Fred

    Well that’s settled. Thank god the entire community has solved this burning issue.

    I want to give credit to /someone/ for coming up with sarcasm but, I just don’t know where the hell it came from.

  4. tedward

    Thanks Fred for that really helpful and meaningful contribution to this discussion. [Credit Fred for the invention of sarcasm.]

  5. Shmails

    What happens if you figure out a new technique without the creator giving away the secrets? Is the simple act of posting a MOC with new techniques enough, or do you have to show the actual trick to deserve credit?

    I am wondering because I am creating something using a technique I figured out by studying a few pictures in depth, trying things until I figured out how the original idea was created. I am in no way copying a technique, but I am using it in my own way. Where does this one lie in the gamut of this controversy?

  6. gambort Post author

    I personally feel the answer is fairly simple: you give as much credit as you feel is deserved, plus a little more. It costs you nothing to list and link to the ideas that inspired you and makes the people that inspired you feel good.

  7. Catsy

    It costs you nothing to list and link to the ideas that inspired you and makes the people that inspired you feel good.

    One of the reasons why currency is actually a very poor metaphor for this purpose.

  8. Fred

    After watching the Lego community for years before TBB or Flicker was around I can quite confidently say that this is OLD news. Go poke round LUGNET long enough and you’ll find threads that go on FOR EVER on this kind of gibberish.

    It’s a wonderful idea and all but, frankly it’s just an emotional issue that bubbles up from time to time because rather than organically growing, the community turns on itself from time to time (Brick Flotilla manages to float an entire blog about the behind the scenes drama).

    TBB should stick to doing what it does best. Highlight wonderful MOCs and other Lego news. Interview great builders. Discuss photography methods. Do yourselves a favor and stay out of the muck. It’ll blow over on it’s own.

    And yes, telling people please and thank you IS a very nice thing to do.

  9. gambort Post author

    If there was no room for discussing the same old things we’d have a very boring world. If you’ve been around for that long I’m sure you’d be aware that I have too. I’m well aware that there is nothing new here but there is a new audience who won’t have seen a discussion five years ago on LUGNET (or even heard of LUGNET).

    And as someone who’s been around the community that long I’m sure you’re also aware that there is always some old bore pointing out that this discussion has been had before ;)

  10. Fred

    Yes, my post is just as worthless as the rest of them. Until someone stops bitching and starts building, it’s all a wash.

  11. gambort Post author

    I should note that I too have been that bore. Writing for TBB and running numerous flickr groups has forced me to realise that the same old discussions will keep coming up because there is a steady stream of new people who haven’t had them. It’s not a bad thing and, on rare ocassions, something new is even added.

  12. Fred

    Maybe along side LEGO Techniques you should start a new collection of classic arguments in the community. Start with prices and colors and work your way up. Then just redirect people.

    Ahhh.. Issue with Cutting or painting a Lego element?
    Please see Complaints Log, Volume II, Section 4d, paragraph 2.

  13. worker201

    I don’t think you and Andrew are actually disagreeing. I think (could be wrong) that Andrew believes in giving credit in situations where credit is due. Credit is due when you are using a specific technique you first became aware of from someone else’s creation – but giving it a definition is unnecessary, because you know when you’ve used someone else’s ideas. That’s all well and good, and I think the whole adult community is committed to behaving in this way. Andrew was specifically writing about ideas on how to deal with situations where credit is not due, but some jackass has claimed it anyway (examples – parallel development, common and unattributable techniques).

  14. Catsy

    I’m not sure I agree. Wealth is created by innovation.

    While true in and of itself, I’m not seeing the relevance. If I understand your argument correctly, coming up with a new technique is innovation, and recognition/credit for having done so is currency/wealth–therefore you should give credit where possible, because it is like “paying” for said innovation.

    It is an interesting mental exercise, but not a particularly apt analogy. I don’t disagree with what you’re trying to encourage, but the idea that you’re “paying” for someone’s ideas with recognition of their agency creates the false impression that giving credit for building techniques costs the giver something. Currency is zero-sum: when you give someone a thing of value, it is taking something from you. You may be getting something in return–that is, indeed, usually the point–but you are giving something up. It is inherent in the concept of currency itself. I think there are market analogies to be made, but that visualizing the giving of recognition (credit has a dual meaning in this context, one that confuses rather than clarifies) as a transfer of wealth doesn’t really work.

    With that said, I like the social dynamics exposed by your theory: that the building community is collectively enriched by innovation, and that giving credit where appropriate helps encourage further innovation, thereby creating a cycle where the community is further enriched. That in and of itself is worthy of discussion.

  15. Thanel

    Been following both these discussions and Worker and Catsy just hit on points that I think are really worth highlighting. Andrew is saying that clamoring for credit–especially wrongly–figuratively subtracts something from the adult/building community, while Tim is approaching it from the other side and emphasizing that giving credit when appropriate is adding something. In that sense the currency analogy– to represent growth, creativity, innovation and respect–is apt.

  16. Biggerjim

    worker201 expresses my thoughts exactly. I’m new to the fan community and I think I would be intimidated to try and credit every technique I discovered that may or may not be original. However, I feel credit would be due if I were to intentionally imitate a certain technique and use it in my own creation. In a way I think I agree with you both.

    On the flip side I would also feel uncomfortable with people picking apart something I built telling me where credit “should have” been given or that what I thought was my idea really belongs to so-and-so.

    This is both the point and the caution. Be generous in giving credit and humble in claiming it.

  17. Creative Anarchy

    I’m on Worker201’s riff as well. I look at a lot of mocs both from this blog and brickshelf and worlds around the web. If I saw a technique that I liked and god forbid I rememberred where it came from, I still couldn’t be sure if they innovated or immatated it. If I pieced togather an exact assembly from someone else’s work or used a pattern developed by a user it wouldn’t likely be anything I’d post to the web unless I built a different iteration from it. If I build something and someone feels they need credit for it, it’s not as if I’ll argue. It’s not as if it costs me anything to give them that currency.

  18. PeteCorp

    Citing referenced sources is a sign of professionalism, be it journalism, essay writing, or Lego building. Journalists can not cite every common phrase or jargon used but are diligent in quoting lifted references when appropriate. There are no copyright police for MOCs, unlike other intellectual media, so it is not unlawful to “steal” an idea. But when seasoned Flickr and Brickshelf lurkers like myself see obvious inspirations and no reference given, I would discount the credibility of that builder’s works if I saw no attempt to at least “give a shout out.” The Lego community is just like the blogging community. We link to each other in order to mutually drive up traffic and as a common courtesy.

    I used to be a little paranoid when tech-jacked but I have come to terms with others learning from what I have built. After all, imitation is the highest form of flattery. My skills greatly improve by learning from others online as well. Of course I am always happy when I see my name mentioned by others as an inspiration.

    With all that said, I would like to admit I am doing something even more evil than “drive-by tech jacking.” It may be a cause and effect. Whenever I come up with a radically new technique, never before seen, and powerful enough to spark revolutionary changes in future Lego creations, I just don’t post it online. That is it. I know it is evil, but it saves me a bunch of wondering if someone were inspired by a certain way I did something. Yes, I know if others were all mean like me, Lego innovation will grind to a halt. So I still share common creations- just not these few I have on my shelf.

    The Lego Group tech-lifts all the time (you know, shop-lift, tech-lift). The Lego Group is constantly stealing the user community’s ideas and passing it as their own, with some potentially harsh implications.

    Brickforge’s Greek Falcata and spear copied in Lego Collector’s Series 2
    NoVVember Vic Viper theme = Space Police Raid VPR
    Arealight’s Aayla Secura head
    Arealight’s Boba Fett two piece jetpack and helmet

    Lego never gives credit to individuals, and only says they troll a bunch. That is fine for some things but it can potentially stop other users from continuing to share their ideas. I am sure Brickforge and Arealight will have to double think their next investment, and wonder if after all the hard work and mold making, Lego is just going to swoop in and take the idea for their own.

    So bottom line is MOC citing is not required but if blatantly obvious, a small footnote would be professional as well as appreciated by the sensitive builders out there.

  19. Andrew

    Biggerjim wrote: “Be generous in giving credit and humble in claiming it.”

    And that, dear readers, is the sweet spot between the two perspectives Tim and I have shared in our editorials. :-)

  20. gambort Post author

    PeteCorp> It is people like you that drive Andrew’s post. I’ve seen your repeated clawing for credit for your mecha frame. The sad truth is, it’s blatantly derivative of other micro-mech frames like sugesasa and others and it’s not all that innovative. Yet, you act as though you invented the internet. You belong in Andrew’s post as a bad example, not mine as a good one.

    Your examples of TLG ‘stealing’ are equally poor. The Vic Viper example is the only one that even warrants an answer as as the other’s are based on ‘real’ things. To clear something up for you: VVs aren’t a fan invention but from a game (so your argument is moot to begin with) but the set was designed by Mark Stafford and credited as such IN THE NoVVember group

  21. Catsy

    NoVVember Vic Viper theme = Space Police Raid VPR

    I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but the designer responsible for the Raid VPR is an AFOL himself and openly acknowledges the inspiration for it.

  22. Will Will

    I’m an AFOL. Love me some LEGOs, and love making dioramas which I have adorning my “play room”.

    … at the end of the day, though, we’re talking about LEGO. I mean, it’s LEGO building. It isn’t the U.S. Patent office. We’re playing with LEGO, and bickering about who puts blocks together when/how/whodunnit 1st? Weird.

    No offense. Honestly, I’m not trolling, and I am a fan of LEGO and this site, but these “technique” things make me laugh a little. Who knew LEGO was so serious?

    … Now, I have to finish my trees for my Endor diorama. Anyone have any techniques for me? ;)

  23. legovaughan

    Thank you Tim, for pointing out that the “PeteFrame” is anything but. That has really bugged me for some time now, and probably anyone else who is familiar with the techniques of izzo, kashiwa, zizy, squieu, sugegasa and the other mecha masters that should have been credited.

  24. Brad

    @ PeteCorp:

    You write, “There are no copyright police for MOCs, unlike other intellectual media, so it is not unlawful to “steal” an idea.”

    This is incorrect (unless “idea” is taken to mean exclusively “building technique”, but I’m assuming you are referring to MOCs in general since that’s how you started the sentence). Copyright applies to a creative work even if the creator hasn’t SAID that it does. Just because there is no one looking for violations or because individual builders have little recourse, does not mean that is lawful to violate copyright.

  25. Brad

    Oy. I fail at posting. The last two paragraphs of my post are left over bits from editing. I was going to delete them before I posted. Is it possible for one of the TBB bloggers to remove those last two paragraphs, or will my shame stay forever?

  26. gambort Post author

    Will Will> When a bunch of people play together they need ground rules to make it work. Have a look at small children and they’re already experimenting with it. Adults are no different. We are discussing the ground rules.

    legovaughan> I’m pretty sure I’ve highlighted that before but it’s always nice to do so again. Young PeteCorp is stupid at best, dishonest at worst.

    Brad> Done.

  27. PeteCorp

    I gave credit where credit was due. Though I borrowed some techniques, I have made my own techniques too. In the beginning I was offended for not being referenced for potential inspirations but now I am more mature about it. Just because my mech are Japanese style does not mean they are derivatives of Japanese builders.

  28. Herman

    The second image is an excellent example of an idea anyone can come up with.

    Yes, if a technique you learned from somebody else really helped you you can give credit. But I browse through a lot of stuff. I see so many little things. And I build with Lego for fun so I wasn’t planning on keeping track of sources. Keeping track of my Lego and buying via Bricklink is already a managment task that is an unfortunate result of my hobby, but necessary.

    It’s a difficult situation. I might come up with some idea myself that somebody else claims I’ve copied. So giving credit is a nice courtesy but no one has the right to accuse anyone of copying their technique.

    It’s just Lego and we’re all doing it for fun, right?

  29. gambort Post author

    “It’s just Lego and we’re all doing it for fun, right?”

    You know every time I see that statement I want to kill someone (that’s an exaggeration for the literalists out there). You do understand that different people have different ways of having fun, right?

  30. TooMuchCaffeine

    For what it’s worth, if I see something and it immediately sparks an idea, then I’ll make a mental note of where I saw it and the credit will be given when the final MOC is published.

    The “you stole my technique” crowd make me so cross it almost gives me a nosebleed. My assumption is that anyone who feels the need to whine and seek credit for “their” technique is almost certainly not the originator anyway – it’s amazing how decent social skills and decent building skills often go together.

    Equally, if someone uses something you know (or are pretty sure) they’ve lifted from one of your MOCs, just suck it up and go build something else even more steal-worthy. Credit is nice, but it’s not worth getting grumpy about.

  31. Jargon

    I think that my response to this discussion will simply be a personal one. I can’t change anyone else. I’m just going to play nice and respond calmly when others don’t.

  32. LegoLyons

    I agree with Gamborts statement more than the other one, its always nice to get credit, when someone uses an idea of yours. And I think its just good manners to acknowledge this fact.

  33. Jean C

    I think it was a wise old person that once said “You cannot expect to get respect, but you can always decide to give it”.

    I think that perhaps credit for LEGO techniques is like that. You can’t expect to get credit for those that you invent or discover, but you can always decide to give credit to those that do invent or discover them.

    It was perhaps another wise old person that described therapy as talking about a problem until the problem is solved, or until the problem doesn’t matter any more.

    I think perhaps that credit for LEGO techniques is also like that. You should give credit for techniques until the technique is either known by the credit (The Lowell Sphere for instance) or until giving credit to the inventor/discoverer doesn’t even matter to the inventor or discover anymore.

    But perhaps it’s not. Perhaps it’s a bit of both or neither. Perhaps I haven’t considered it deeply enought or perhaps I’ve over thought things.

    But at least I didn’t say “Just build”.

  34. The Mad Physicist

    I get asked how I do certain things on a fairly regular basis and I’m always willing to take a few pictures of a partially disassembled MOC to help out, but it is with the implicit assumption that if the person who asked uses it they’ll refer to the source. I think that is a reasonable assumption to make and, fortunately, most people who ask and who copy the techniques seem to think so too.

    If it were commonplace for people to use what is in those detail pictures to then go pretend the idea was theirs, for me the consequence would be that I’d stop posting them and that wouldn’t be my loss.

    If somebody writes a comment on something you’ve built and claims you used one of their ideas when it’s something you did come up with yourself, tell them that it’s yours and that you weren’t aware they did something similar. If they keep it up regardless you have every right to tell them to go stuff themselves. However, if you did knowingly pick up the idea from somebody else, where’s the hurt in giving credit?

  35. Mike

    As far as the whole “currency” debate goes, I agree 100% with Tim. I would also disagree with the statement that giving “credit” does not cost the person giving the credit anything, but I would say it does, as it really does subtract “worth” from your build. If I see a great creation that is totally based off of someone else’s idea (or creation), the creation loses value in my eyes.

  36. Peppermint_M

    Hmm, this is a tough one. A while back I checked this blog and saw a space cycle built using a motorcycle cowling, quite similar to one I built. I had a bit of a hissy about it. Then I realised that I am not the only person in the world to have thought of such a technique or core “look” to a MOC. I don’t believe the builder saw my MOC and thought to build one like it (but if they did I am flattered) and I don’t believe they set out to rip me off. I guess if you see a MOC and you like it and build something similar, just mention that you saw something like it and did it yourself. We don’t need Harvard refrencing for a MOC, you don’t need a bibliography full of links to your insperation. Just a slight acknowledgement that the idea came from elsewhere and you riffed it yourself. Some “techniques” are far from unique, get over yourself and if you must, feel a little smug when someone uses a technique you “invented”. Now, if they build the exact same MOC or re-post a picture of something you built… That is another thing entirely.

  37. Herman

    It does lose “value”, yeah. Stacking up Café Corners is hardly going to impress anyone, even though the building itself will look good. (a bit of an extreme example but you get the point)

    Bottom line is you have to rely on others to get credit.

    I would be frustrated to see a copy of some part I’ve created that is genuinly impressive without any credit to me, but I would be even more frustrated if someone claims that I’ve stolen an idea even though I came up with it myself.

    I mostly agree with Mad Scientist.

  38. proudlove

    I lean more towards Andrew’s post. I tend not to attribute tech to anyone, even when consciously inspired by someone elses creation. This is mostly due to laziness though, as I can never remember where I actually saw said tech. Also, I never assume that the creation in which I saw the tech was the first to use it, even if the builder claims it be the first. First and foremost in my mind when I build is the idea that there are a limited number of ways the elements can be put together, who am I, or anyone else for that matter, that I can claim any tech as my own. I’ve even used more controversial ‘owned’ techniques intentionally to draw out the idiot who claims he ‘invented’ it.

    Of course, this means that I won’t ever claim ownership of any technique that I come up with. Even if I use a tech that I have never seen, I am aware that it has probably been done before. The only time I’ll speak up about such issues is when someone claims a technique as their own that I know I’ve used or have seen used earlier. Even then I refuse to attribute the idea to anyone, I just point out that they’re not the first to use it.

  39. chrism

    As someone relatively new to the AFOL community, I find this discussion rather alienating.

    I think it’s important to give credit to a builder when you’re directly influenced by one (or more) of their techniques. Most MOCs, however, employ a collection of techniques, many of which are picked up through casual observation and are only articulated in a creation months later.

    Enforcing a community protocol that demands a full bibliography for each post is onerous, and most builders would find it impossible to comply. Here’s an example: I used ice cream-as-smoke in a townhouse I made for my sister for Christmas. I saw the technique employed in a number of creations over the past couple of years, though I can’t recall which ones, specifically. And even if I could recall a specific creation that influenced me, how would I know if that builder was the first one to use it? What if I give credit to the wrong builder? Is there some sort of statute of limitations on techniques, where they cease requiring credit and enter the public domain?

    I thought the entire point of sharing our creations online was to learn from each other and encourage creativity. I didn’t realize that this community had become so corrupt by hubris.

  40. The Mad Physicist

    Chrism, what would you do if somebody were to ask you where that wonderful idea to use icecream as smoke came from? Would you claim it as your own, or would you be honest and reply that is somebody else’s? I’ve seen instances of people building things that were clearly based on my MOCs or techniques that I’ve come up with (I’m talking about very specific things here), who when asked vehemently denied it. It’s not something to loose sleep over, but it just isn’t nice.

    In most of the things I build, I’m not at all worried about whether or not somebody else may have done something similar before. Nobody expects everybody else to keep a library of techniques with names of particular builders associated with them so that they can add a lengthy bibliography to everything they build. That wouldn’t be reasonable and it would stifle creativity. However, if an idea I picked up elsewhere was crucial for my MOC or if some other builder helped me figure something out, then giving credit is the decent thing to do, irrespective of whether they were the first to come up with it. It really isn’t that difficult or all that much work.

    If this concept were really as hard to grasp as some of the contributions to this discussion suggest, I’d seriously consider not showing pictures of the inner workings of my models. Why should I do favours to people if they’re not willing to do something in return? How much work is it to type: “HumVee based on MrYoder’s”, “Flanker model inspired by Mad Physicist” or “VW Beetle design copied from Mr. Zumbi”?

    Not a hell of a lot.

  41. chrism

    ^ Mad Physicist, I think you miss my point. I stated up front that if you employ a new technique that comes directly from another builder, it’s only right to credit them for the influence. That’s not in dispute.

    The issue is when a technique becomes more commonly used, making it a difficult to determine where the technique actually originated. The ice cream smoke is a perfect example. I’ve seen it used in multiple MOCs, but I have no idea who came up with it, and would have no idea how to cite the influence.

    And to answer your question: if someone asked me where I got the idea for the wonderful technique, I would happily tell them I saw it in another MOC, mostly likely something featured on The Brothers Brick. I would never claim it as my own.

  42. The Mad Physicist

    I don’t think I missed your point, but I think you worry about something that nobody is actually asking you to do. As I wrote “Nobody expects everybody else to keep a library of techniques with names of particular builders associated with them so that they can add a lengthy bibliography to everything they build.”

    As my nickname here indicates, I’m a physicist, and as such I publish papers in scientific journals. I’m not expected to attribute every single technique or every single bit of mathematics I use to the people who first invented them, because quite a lot of them are well-established or commonplace (and attributing them to a particular person would sometimes require archaeology). I am, however, expected to refer to journal papers and books that specifically influenced what it is that I do. (In case of doing research that probably does mean keeping notes or a database).

    I don’t know where the idea to use icecreams as smoke came from either. There’s no conceivable way you could find out who used it first and as long as you don’t start claiming that it was you when it actually wasn’t, nobody has any reason to complain. If somebody does claim it as their own in a comment, my suggestion would be to reply to them that you’ve seen it somewhere else but don’t know who used it first. Case closed.

  43. Jargon

    Chrism, I think that as you grow to know the AFOL community better that you will find a lot less hubris than you currently expect. It surely exists, but much of what’s being displayed in the current conversation is atypical in my experience.

  44. Catsy

    I would also disagree with the statement that giving “credit” does not cost the person giving the credit anything, but I would say it does, as it really does subtract “worth” from your build.

    I categorically disagree with this. And in fairness, perhaps that’s inevitable, because we’re dealing with a term that is both subjective and unmeasurable in this context: “worth”. I would say first to define your terms.

    What is “worth” here? What are we trying to measure? Currency of any kind has an empirically measurable value. And even in the commonly-accepted metaphorical uses–for instance, the concept of “political capital”–there is still a somewhat measurable value exposed by the term, such as the degree of influence one has.

    I am going to assume, for the purposes of this discussion, that “worth” is used here to mean “popularity”. I am doing this because a common frame of reference is needed for discussion, and because “popularity” on Flickr is something that can be measured in a very abstract sense in terms of page views and favorites. There are of course many other angles to popularity and worth of a MOC, but we can’t measure those.

    That being said, it sounds as if you are defining the “worth” of a build as a function of how many completely original techniques it uses. I think it is unquestionable that coming up with an original, well-used technique adds value to that build–assuming you are defining “value” in terms of popularity. A build that introduces a new technique gets more views and favorites, if only for reference to the technique.

    But just because introducing a new technique makes something more popular does not mean that crediting the inspiration for it makes it less popular. This is not a competition, and neither popularity nor artistic value are zero-sum. Most people do not think of something as a new technique because you did or did not credit your inspiration, they think of something as a new technique because they haven’t seen it before. Whether or not they’ve seen it before has nothing whatsoever to do with what credit you do or don’t give in the description–in other words, it depends not on anything you do or don’t do, but on the memories and experiences of the viewers.

    They are going to arrive at your image whether you credited your source or not. You get a page view regardless, and if they like your image they will add it as a favorite. The point where the giving of credit affects anything is after they have already visited your page.

    What have you lost?

    In my view, the only way in which giving credit for the source of your inspirations subtracts anything from the person giving credit is if you believe the value of your build is dependent on others believing that you came up with the techniques in it first. And if you did, then you deserve the added “value” that comes with recognition for your accomplishments, to the extent that means anything to you.

    But if you didn’t come up with the technique in the first place, then you don’t deserve that added “value” anyway. The only thing you are “losing” by crediting the source of your inspiration is unearned value that would be added by allowing others to think that you came up with it first. To the extent that you believe you are gaining any value at all by allowing people to think this, it is a lie of omission.

    All of this wanking, of course, requires that you believe that you are actually giving up anything at all by crediting your source. I do not, and I think it is a very dangerous mentality to cultivate if you do want to encourage people to credit. Like many others here, I think that trying to keep track of who first came up with every single technique in use today is a fool’s errand that occupies time better spent actually building. But I think you should credit a particularly unique or useful technique if you remember where you got it from and it figures significantly in your build–it really does cost you nothing except the time spent typing the words.

  45. Magnus

    There was only one time when I felt like someone was “lifting” my idea.
    It wasn’t even a building technique or copying a MOC, it was for a camo scheme for a military fig. My military factions have been fairly visible on Flickr for a few years now and while I don’t feel like I in any way own “rights” to using certain color combinations, I do think the look of my factions is recognizable enough to know when someone was directly inspired by my figs. And there was a kid who posted a pic of some little fig that looked almost exactly like he was from my fig army. Same colro legs and arms, same color and style of helmet – and I think he may have used a bley torso instead of the old style gray I use.

    It was just one little fig, no big deal at all really. Anyway, I bring this up because the thing is, I thought it was a little strange that he didn’t mention me, but most off all I was just disappointed that he didn’t do more to make it his own.

    Copying someone elses stuff is a little lazy, doing so without giving them credit is a little disrespectful. But it’s also antithetical to the whole poit of a creative medium like LEGO.

  46. The Mad Physicist

    Chrism, I completely agree with Jargon.
    As ever with a discussion like this it draws out a lot of people with fairly explicit points of view. I too care about this issue (probably because I make a living generating and disseminating ideas and, consequently actively hate plagiarism), but I don’t see it as a big problem. (Copying pictures is another matter.)

    I’ve been sharing pictures of MOCs on-line since early 2005, am a fairly prolific builder and am probably reasonably well-known (at least to followers of this blog). In all that time I recall only a few instances where people claimed (wrongly) that I’d copied somebody else’s ideas without attributing them to the right person. Other people claiming ideas as their own that I know they very likely copied from something I did happened a few more times and did piss me off, but it is still outweighed by the many times that people actually do give credit.

    You’re likely to run into jerks wherever you go on the internet, but the majority of on-line LEGO builders aren’t out to give anybody else a hard time.

  47. Mike


    I think my main difference is that I unearend value the same as you do, or something like that. Clearly I don’t really have a very good undestanding of economics.

    I think your last paragraph is a really good point though, that we shouldn’t see crediting as giving something up as it will dissuade people from doing such–makes good sense on my end.

  48. Catsy

    ^ It’s not a question of economics, it’s a question of logic.

    If you assert that something gains value if people think you came up with it first, and thereby loses value if you credit the source of your inspiration (by making it clear that you did not think of it first), you are making an implicit assertion that said value depends not on whether or not you actually did invent the technique, but on whether or not your audience believes that you did. In other words, that the value depends not on the factual truth of the proposition, but on what others believe that truth to be.

    It then follows that any value you “gain” from allowing others to believe you invented a technique–which you allow by making a conscious choice not to inform them of the source of your inspiration–is gained dishonestly through a lie of omission.

    Hence my statement that any such value is “unearned”–and in my mind, worthless.

    Now, I need to be clear that I do not think that this is how things work: I do not believe that a creation loses any “value”–in whatever way you wish to define that term–when you credit your sources.

    If anything, it adds value to you personally, in the sense that it increases your reputation as an ethical builder; to your creation, in that it creates an association between your creation and your source’s creation that raises the visibility and expands the audience of both; and to the community, in that adds positive reinforcement to the cycle of innovation to which Tim was referring.

    It is in every conceivable respect the opposite of a zero-sum, I-gain-you-lose relationship.

  49. Kevoh

    Petecorp says “Whenever I come up with a radically new technique, never before seen, and powerful enough to spark revolutionary changes in future Lego creations, I just don’t post it online.”

    I do this too y’all! I cured cancer and AIDs and invented cold fusion but I’m not going to share with anyone. You’ll just have to believe me. Radical!

  50. Bunbrick

    Talk about radicals sparking revolt… ;-)

    I would be even more at awe of Kevoh right now if he confirmed the ongoing rumours that he accomplished those accomplishments with actual LEGO bricks.

    *will reserve his credit for Kevohplc stocks*

  51. ColourSchemer

    Biggerjim wrote: “Be generous in giving credit and humble in claiming it.”

    I interpret ‘claiming’ as ‘accepting after offered’, and so I would suggest adding:

    “and extremely careful in requesting it.”

    I’ve seen many people demand, insist, request, beg, and plead credit for something they believe themselves responsible for creating. And sometimes they’re wrong about being the source. But almost always they look like tools. “Flattery is the greatest…” and all that.

  52. rh1985moc

    I am currently building an asylum. It features a tall hollow tower with a spiral staircase running through it.

    I fiddled for ages to try and get the staircase right, several ideas tried. In the end I came up with one I was happy with.

    Scrolling through brickshelf later I found a very similar design. Actually it was virtually identical; mine didn’t have a handrail though. That was the only difference.

    In this case a coincidence; and it happens. I don’t think it hurts though to just put a passing mention in a photograph if you have clearly been inspired by another’s technique. Assuming they were the first to do it of course; and there is the grey area.

  53. Binkmeister

    I’m not exactly known for my MOCs or inventing any techniques, so maybe my view is a little simplistic.

    If I know where the idea came from, I’ll say. If I don’t, I won’t. I’m not going to do a lot (or actually ANY) research to try to determine provenance of a technique I might use. I will admit that I get irked when seeing demands for attribution, whether it’s deserved or not – and how would I know? Begging for credit just seems… petty.

    Anything and everything can be inspiration.

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