Change of Ownership at Let's Make Robots

Duane DegnDuane Degn Posts: 10,002
edited 2015-09-21 - 18:25:52 in Robotics
RobotShop purchased Let's Make Robots a few weeks ago.

Here's the press release.
http://www.prweb.com/releases/letsmakerobots/robotshop/prweb12932558.htm

I figured things wouldn't be the same under new management but I could have never guessed how dramatically the place would change.

I won't try to summarize the drama that unfolded since I don't want to make it one sided and I don't want to spend the time trying to relate a balanced story. The threads showing what lead up to the mass bannings have been deleted (by RS).

The result of these contentions is lots of the long time contributors to the site have been banned blocked. The large list of banned blocked (edit: Apparently there is a difference between being banned and being blocked. Either way I couldn't log in. Only Chris the Carpenter remained blocked as of Sept. 21) individuals includes the Frits Lyneborg who started LMR , Chris the Carpenter (also a member here) and myself.

It's been a surreal experience to see how dramatically a site can change so quickly.

Edit: I'm much more upset by all of this now than I had originally been. RobotShop is now using content without permission from the content creators. Make sure and read the posts below for more information about what happened.
In addition to the people I mentioned earlier, at least three other (former) members of LMR who also belong to the Parallax forums have been banned blocked.
(21 Sept., 2015) I don't know if content is being used without permission. I left some content in place as I voluntarily left.

Edit (20 Sept., 2015): I've received an apology from the new owners. My account is again active.
Edit (21 Sept., 2015): I let LMR know they can close my membership with them. They wanted me to remove this post but there were a lot of people wondering what the heck happened there. BTW, I still feel like I have done nothing wrong with regards to LMR. I don't see how I broke any rule and I think my description of events which took place is honest and without exaggeration.
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Comments

  • TtailspinTtailspin Posts: 1,326
    edited 2015-09-18 - 15:31:51
    Sorry to hear that Duane, I know you were really fond of LMR.
    Mass banning and thread deletion was not the best opening move for the new owners of a LMR type of web site..

    All good things must come to an end, I guess.
  • What I find ironic is the fuss started over changes to the rules of the site intending to make it more "family friendly". I personally would have welcomed many of these changes but the way changes were implemented have caused many of the members who were in favor of the changes to remove their content.
    I was banned for removing my content.
  • Ttailspin wrote: »
    All good things must come to an end, I guess.

    Except Parallax, of course. :)

  • ercoerco Posts: 19,546
    WHAT? Who would dare ban my hero Duane? I was recently considering spending more time over there to gain exposure but clearly LMR is in a spiral dive and I won't waste my time. I must hear more about this debacle. Sorry to hear they imploded, I can't imagine what they were thinking.
    "When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when others make it after you."

    - Pablo Picasso
  • How were the changes implemented?
    Founder of Kinvert
    https://www.kinvert.com/
  • Well I found some stuff only available through Google's cache.

    That looks pretty brutal. I can only imagine the next couple pages of these ostensibly old forum users and this julie.

    webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:pJzeuRxH86YJ:letsmakerobots.com/appropriate-lmr-usage+&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
    Founder of Kinvert
    https://www.kinvert.com/
  • Duane DegnDuane Degn Posts: 10,002
    edited 2015-09-21 - 18:37:15
    (This post has been heavily edited after receiving an apology from the LMR owners.)
    Well I found some stuff only available through Google's cache.
    That was a bit before the storm.
    I think it did illustrate what the new owners wanted to change.
    erco wrote: »
    I must hear more about this debacle.

    As many of you know, I wrote a lengthy description of the events as I saw them. I've received an apology from LMR so I've removed much of this description. To their credit, they did not ask me to remove this. Edit (21 Sept., 2015): They did "ask" me to remove this post. I was told I was "unwilling to move forward". I think it fair to say my membership at LMR was contingent on removing this post.

    Here's a very short version.

    The new owners, RobotShop (RS) added a new rule about obscene language to LMR's list of rules. This rule was resented by some members at LMR who proceeded to swear up a storm in the SB. I personally thought this was to be expected and I thought some of them might be willing to accept the new rule. I had a hard time imagining why RS would want to pay LMR expenses if the site wasn't family friendly.

    In response to the storm of bad language, the new owners closed the SB temporarily. I think this was the probably the largest contributor to the events which unfolded. Even though it was clearly stated the SB was only temporarily closed, the loss of the SB was very bothersome to many LMR members.
    Many of us found the reply from the RS CEO to our complaints about the closure of the SB insulting. In protest to the actions being taken and the reply given, I removed my content from LMR. I then found I had been logged out from LMR and when I tried to log back in, I received a message indicating my account had been blocked.

    People who were not opposed to the new rules were mad enough at RS for the way the SB had been closed (or the reply to our complaints) to remove their content. The removal of content caused the member to be banned (technically not banned, "blocked," but it felt the same as being banned). Now people who were not opposed to the new rules and who didn't care a whole lot about the SB being closed learned their friends had been banned blocked for removing their content (which is not against the rules). This made other members mad enough to remove their content which resulted in them getting banned blocked. It appeared to be some sort of catastrophic snowball effect.

    I think it's safe to say the majority of the top content producers at LMR had left. Many of these members didn't object to the new rules but they did object to the way their friends were being treated.

    Besides the content deleted by its members, there have been lots of deletions by RS. Almost all indications of the debate which took place have been removed from the site.

    Last night, many hours after I had been banned blocked I received an email indicting I could return to LMR is I asked (I'm not sure if I have to say "pretty please" or not). Edit: I've since received an apology and my account is again active.

    I'm very disappointed how this change in ownership/management of a site was handled.

  • Not sure if they've heard of the 80/20 rule, but it sounds like they just wronged the 20% of users that created 80% of the content on the forums.

    Get together a few guys, one should be very well connected and liked by a BUNCH of the people from the forums before RS took over.

    Start a new forum. It can be total crap, just make sure you can smoothly transition your stuff when you upgrade.

    Certainly one of you can find a way to host it. If not, there's a chance I could host it as a subdomain of my site (though that's not ideal).

    Plus... Parallax has a Robotics forum! I only post here about stuff related to Parallax. Not sure what sort of stuff these LMR guys built. But hopefully they could enrich these forums.

    and if Parallax wants I can delete this post as well.
    Founder of Kinvert
    https://www.kinvert.com/
  • I had thought of joining LMR a few times in the past, but I guess that won't be happening now.
  • Seairth,
    Except Parallax, of course :)
    I don't know anything about LMR or how bad it got but from reading the descriptions here I see that this very forum was perilously close to such a meltdown in recent weeks/months.

    A forum software change, rule changes, a clamp down on what can be said and when, users banned or at least threatened with banning, significant contributors disappearing or at least threatening to do so.

    Luckily I think the worst scenario has been avoided here.

    I could be totally wrong but I'm observing that:

    a) Smart, creative, productive contributors to anything can be, shall we say, difficult.

    b) The drive for "family friendly" and "politically correct" is at odds with such creativity.

    What do we want? The rough and tumble of debate? Or the happy grins of the burger flippers?

    I do hope I'm exaggerating in my evaluations here.

  • Hi Duane and fellow explorers of taking things to even higher levels.

    Just like Duane I also have been banned from LMR , for just placing blogs into draft mode.... not even one deletion.
    Go figure.......
    Highest regards to all....
    Gareth
  • Gareth wrote: »
    Just like Duane I also have been banned from LMR , for just placing blogs into draft mode.... not even one deletion.

    Just when I thought I couldn't be surprised again.

    I really think the transition to "family friendly" could have been made. There were a lot of us not particular against the new rules, just the heavy handed way they were being enforced.
  • Not sure if they've heard of the 80/20 rule, but it sounds like they just wronged the 20% of users that created 80% of the content on the forums.

    Get together a few guys, one should be very well connected and liked by a BUNCH of the people from the forums before RS took over.

    Start a new forum. It can be total crap, just make sure you can smoothly transition your stuff when you upgrade.

    Certainly one of you can find a way to host it. If not, there's a chance I could host it as a subdomain of my site (though that's not ideal).

    Plus... Parallax has a Robotics forum! I only post here about stuff related to Parallax. Not sure what sort of stuff these LMR guys built. But hopefully they could enrich these forums.

    and if Parallax wants I can delete this post as well.

    I have a shell of a forum setup.

    I hope to see things repaired at LMR. LMR is/was a large community full of excellent projects. The regular memebers are suffering a loss. I wouldn't want to put anymore distance between them and people like LMR banned.
  • That will sort itself out. I'm not trying to separate anyone, but I hate to see people kicked around like this and I hope they have some options.

    Hopefully it can get a spike in activity at Parallax :)
    Founder of Kinvert
    https://www.kinvert.com/
  • ercoerco Posts: 19,546
    WOW. That is a textbook case of how to alienate an entire community. What a travesty! The only upside I can imagine is that maybe we'll see more of Duane & Gareth in here.

    IMO, cameleon can neither spell nor transition a website properly. "LMR was going nowhere". Well he just fulfilled that prophecy.
    "When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when others make it after you."

    - Pablo Picasso
  • Duane DegnDuane Degn Posts: 10,002
    edited 2015-09-19 - 21:14:34
    They had backups of the robot pages. They've restored the pages which were deleted (including mine).

    I don't see how this isn't theft.
  • Heater & others: I've had no experience with RS or LMR so I've just read what you have posted. The reasons stated be the CEO behind the "family friendly" restrictions are not very different from what Parallax has for its policies and reasons yet there are still bright, creative, productive contributors here. A very few have been forced out over the years and a few have left. I can't speak to the reasons for the forum software shift although I understand that support had become difficult at best. I suspect that the combination of a big management change along with an abrupt enforcement of a poorly stated major policy change was what did it
  • xanaduxanadu Posts: 3,284
    edited 2015-09-19 - 22:32:54
    Duane Degn wrote: »
    They had backups of the robot pages. They've restored the pages which were deleted (including mine).

    I don't see how this isn't theft.

    Okay, they're dead to me. Sorry Duane, that's not right at all.
  • Duane DegnDuane Degn Posts: 10,002
    edited 2015-09-20 - 00:31:59
    xanadu wrote: »
    Okay, they're dead to me. Sorry Duane, that's not right at all.

    I had thought they were just dumb in how they handled the transition. But this new action of putting up people's content without their permission strikes me as dishonest.

    As I mentioned earlier, I would have welcomed the new rules. I'm still amazed how they managed to make so many in a community hate them so fast.

  • Keith YoungKeith Young Posts: 569
    edited 2015-09-20 - 03:07:35
    That's opening them up for legal trouble.

    Don't stand for them putting YOUR content back up (if that's the case, maybe they own it?).

    Plus I think you should usually be able to delete your own content. Crazy.
    Founder of Kinvert
    https://www.kinvert.com/
  • cameleoncameleon Posts: 1
    edited 2015-09-20 - 07:56:54
    Hi Everyone,

    We are very sorry of the turn of events since we purchased Let's Make Robots. Our intention was to have a family friendly website where robotics enthusiasts of all ages could come learn about robotics and share robotics projects to other members. We were very surprised and it was incomprehensible for us that some members would not approve of this change and our desire to welcome everyone that is interested in learning about robots and how to make them. We have been working hard since 2003 to bring robotics to everyone's service and take pride in listening to our customers and making sure we offer excellent service.

    We do understand that change can be scary and this caused a reaction from some older LMR members. While it was not our intention for things to get this far, please understand that we had to protect the RobotShop brand along the way. We do admit that there could have been many ways to react to this situation but, we have not banned any LMR members. We are in contact with some members of the community as their accounts have been blocked temporarily in order to ask further questions for security reasons.

    We do care to resolve this in a timely manner and apologize to everyone effected by recent changes to the LMR community. Our intention is to make the community grow in a friendly environment where everyone is welcome to share and ask questions no matter the age or experience.

    We remain very much open and hope to resolve any issues still in effect.

    Thank you,

    Mario Tremblay, CEO
    RobotShop inc.
  • Duane DegnDuane Degn Posts: 10,002
    edited 2015-09-22 - 03:13:42
    I received an apology from the new owners. My account is again active.

    I've edited my post above to be more concise (and a bit less negative).

    I'm still very mad at how my friends and I were treated but I'll wait a bit before deciding what to do next.

    If things were up to me, I would not have forced the new family friendly rule on members of LMR since this is not what many (possibly the majority) of LMR wanted.

    When I learned RoboShop had purchased LMR I fully expected these new rules about language. I think the new owners have a right to add these rules and I had personally looked forward to a LMR to which I could refer my nieces, nephews and neighborhood children.

    I'm not sure if I will continue to participate at LMR or not. I'm presently doubtful I will.

    Edit: I hope things are well with Gareth. His content is/was absolutely amazing. He's inspired many of the things I've done.

    Edit: I'm back out of Let's Make Robots. I was told I wasn't "moving forward" since I had said I thought Mario had behaved poorly. As soon as I told them I no longer wanted to be a member, my posts in the "apology" thread were deleted. It's a very strange situation at LMR. In part of the post about moving forward Mario says "We can argue and explain different points of view over and over again but we may never fully agree." The different points may have been explained over and over again but the record of these arguments is gone. Posts asking about what happened are deleted and posts trying to explain in general terms why people were upset are also deleted. I find this all very disturbing.
  • TtailspinTtailspin Posts: 1,326
    edited 2015-09-20 - 18:31:23
    Taking something apart is easy, Putting it back together, Not always so easy.
    Especially if the something just wants to keep throwing all your Tea into the harbor...

  • Keith YoungKeith Young Posts: 569
    edited 2015-09-20 - 23:22:06
    I hope you manage to fix this, Mario. I really hope things work out for you guys, Duane.
    Founder of Kinvert
    https://www.kinvert.com/
  • PublisonPublison Posts: 11,021
    edited 2015-09-22 - 17:00:22
    Look in to hiring a PR Consultant.

    It's going to be tough to clean up this mess you guys seem to have made. I hate to see a good online resource get butchered.

    Putting back up the content that the users themselves created and later removed doesn't strike me as the way to win the hearts and minds or your market segment.

    Especially if you want kids there, people want to know their privacy etc is respected.

    Imagine dealing with COPPA through this. You want this to be a kids environment, there is enough red tape associated with COPPA to lasso the solar system, and you guys aren't letting people delete what they wrote?

    I hope you manage to fix this, Mario. I really hope things work out for you guys, Duane.
    You may want the edit your past post and quote the people you mean to be addressing.

    It looks like you are addressing two people?

    EDIT: Keith and I have talk, and everything is cool.



  • There we go. I have a tendency to try to stand up for people and fix things. In this case I think I'll just watch. Too many sides to this.
    Founder of Kinvert
    https://www.kinvert.com/
  • cameleon wrote: »
    Hi Everyone,

    We are very sorry of the turn of events since we purchased Let's Make Robots. Our intention was to have a family friendly website where robotics enthusiasts of all ages could come learn about robotics and share robotics projects to other members. We were very surprised and it was incomprehensible for us that some members would not approve of this change and our desire to welcome everyone that is interested in learning about robots and how to make them. We have been working hard since 2003 to bring robotics to everyone's service and take pride in listening to our customers and making sure we offer excellent service.

    We do understand that change can be scary and this caused a reaction from some older LMR members. While it was not our intention for things to get this far, please understand that we had to protect the RobotShop brand along the way. We do admit that there could have been many ways to react to this situation but, we have not banned any LMR members. We are in contact with some members of the community as their accounts have been blocked temporarily in order to ask further questions for security reasons.

    We do care to resolve this in a timely manner and apologize to everyone effected by recent changes to the LMR community. Our intention is to make the community grow in a friendly environment where everyone is welcome to share and ask questions no matter the age or experience.

    We remain very much open and hope to resolve any issues still in effect.

    Thank you,

    Mario Tremblay, CEO
    RobotShop inc.

    Welcome to the forum. Don't be surprised, you're dealing with some of the best roboticists we know. They're full of surprises. You all share the same goals, don't go doing anything rash anymore. Same team Mario.
  • Let's Make Robots has a new Terms of Service.

    I'll only comment on one section of the TOS.

    It appears by visiting the link below they may consider you are subject to the terms of service. I imagine I'm not understanding what I'm reading or they made an error in composing the TOS but I'll quote one section here as a way of warning.
    By using the Services in any manner, including but not limited to visiting or browsing LMR, you (the "user" or "you") agree to be bound by this Agreement, including those additional terms and conditions and policies referenced herein and/or available by hyperlink. This Agreement applies to all users of the Services, including without limitation users who are vendors, customers, merchants, visitors and contributors of content, information and other materials or services on LMR.

    Surely I'm not understanding the terms correctly since it seems to say by visiting the site, you agree to the TOS.

    http://letsmakerobots.com/legal
  • Allowing your browser to download a web page from a site in no way can be legal reason for holding terms of service upon you. As a visitor to the site, you cannot be legally bound in any way. That is like having a TOS disclaimer on a freeway billboard. Is the TOS the first page any visitor to the site sees?

    In other words, their legal department made a "major oops" with their wording..........

    ps. good luck with getting section 1.17 to hold up in the U.S.
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