New site features

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I've just made some changes to the site today.

  • In the user survey I ran last year, one criticism was that the simple 'out of 5' score for reviews did not allow for reviewers to adequately rate the set. I have therefore added four new attributes so you can now rate the set 'overall', 'building experience', 'parts', 'playability' and 'value for money'. At the moment nothing more is done with the scores, other than showing them when reading the reviews but once there's a few hundred reviews in the new format in the database I'll be able to generate lists of 'sets rated best value for money' etc.
  • While working on reviews, I thought I'd implement a HTML editor to let you use bulleted lists, headings, bold and italic etc. I'm hoping this is a success but if it becomes apparent that people aren't using it properly I'll have to remove it. (Update: at the moment this only works in IE and FireFox, sorry!)
  • I've also improved the display and filtering of reviews on the main reviews page, on the 'reviews written by xxx' lists and also the reviews for a specific set which are now on their own page like this one. You'll also notice in the search results table that there are links to the set review pages in the rating column.
  • The set details pages now feature a live data feed from eBay showing the lots available on your local eBay site. I hope you find this useful: my goal is to make it easier to find specific sets on eBay at Brickset than on eBay itself.

I'm sure you won't hold back on letting me know what you think of these changes... :)

79 comments on this article

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By in United States,

Thank you Huw! :)
7op

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By in United States,

You rock Huw! This is just amazing! WOOT WOOT :)

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By in Germany,

WOW! All these features! I have to get used to this new "layout"! BTW, "helpful reviews" are reviews that doesn't have single "not helpful" rating, right? Hmm... I'll do a review using the HTML thingy... BTW, you said there would be more old set images! When will they come? Hey, here's a new feature you could implement: EDIT reviews! Another feature: Can't you display the sets for sale from BRICKLINK? For example, you could display the sets for sale of Rally Truck available at Bricklink!

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By in Germany,

BTW, found a bug: When you press "Enter" in the reviewing page, the page goes at the start, as if I pressed "Space"!

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By in Curaçao,

"helpful reviews" are those that have something like 75% helpful ratings.

The old set images will come: they take a while to process and bluemoose is better at that than I, so they'll come as and when he has time.

I will implement editing of reviews to enable you to go back and rate sets on the 4 new attributes soon.

Unfortunately BrickLink does not provide a data feed showing availability of sets there and it doesn't pay referral fees like eBay does so it's not in my interest to show them anyway.

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By in Germany,

@Huw: What I meant by "editing" reviews is to go back, change the 4 attributes, and change the text itself! BTW, In my review, Brickset WANTED me to insert a value for the "value for money" attribute, but I'm NO expert! You should make it optional!

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By in Germany,

Darn, too late: chavez has beaten me to the first review with the "HTML editor"... :P

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By in Germany,

Hang on... eBay PAYS you to show the "liva data feed"? If so, how much, if possible? Woah... my posted review looks EVEN better than in the editor... LOL, bricks as bullet points... love it...

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By in Curaçao,

@alemas,

Chavez's review has appeared a single block of text, I don't know if that was intentional or a bug somewhere. I've asked him.

I may allow review text to be changed although they'd need to be moderated again which would be a nuisance.

I'm not sure I understood your bug report, if it's still a problem could you elaborate?

eBay doesn't pay me to show it: only when someone clicks through on a link and then buys something which is the same with the other eBay links and sidebar thingy.

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By in Germany,

@Huw: Hmm... Ok, it works like this: I press the "Enter" button on my keyboard, and it takes me at the TOP of the page. Anyway, the key DOES work, just with that bug.

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By in Germany,

BTW, let's just say that I was the first to post a review with bullet points and heading...

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By in Curaçao,

>I press the "Enter" button on my keyboard, and it takes me at the TOP of the page

That's because the submit key has focus and if you press enter without entering a review it will re-load the page and tell you to fill the form in properly. So not a bug, expected behaviour.

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By in Germany,

@Huw: It doesn't reload the page, it takes me at the top of the page, no reloading! You could try it!

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By in United States,

sounds like a nice set of new features! just a quick question: is the html editor cross-browser compatible? it seems not. i'm using chrome on mac, and not seeing the toolbar that is mentioned in the suggestions above the main text box. can we use straight html in the case that the editor doesn't work? if it's not cross-browser, i'd suggest using CKEditor - it's pretty robust, and works on everything. i love the idea of the categorized ratings system, though. one thing, though, regarding the ratings - shouldn't the 'overall rating' just be a compiled average of the categorized ratings? it seems like you could still rate something a '5' overall, while rating build experience, parts, playability and value all '1' for instance, which wouldn't make sense.

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By in Curaçao,

@vysane, it is FCKEditor which is what CKEditor was called until a year or so ago.

I've tested in IE8, FF 3.5.7, Chrome and Safari 4.0.4 on PC and it does seem as if it only works on IE8 and FF which is a nuisance.

FCKEditor integrates nicely with asp.net: I'm not so sure about CKEditor, and from what I can tell it now needs to be licenced, and it's not cheap.

You can try entering HTML, although as you don't get a preview before you submit it won't be easy to do so.

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By in Germany,

@Huw: HELP... That... CKEditor predecessor... did they change the name because people thought the name had swearing in it? It sounds too close to... you know...

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By in Curaçao,

@Alemas, quite possibly, but FCK are the author's initials...

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By in Germany,

@Huw: One reason not to name something after your initials: People might think you wanted to swear... Oh well...

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By in Germany,

Also, another feature: To check if a person's review is in English. I noted one user posted a review in... French. And most people here are English. How can a review be helpful if people don't speak the language?

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By in Bolivia,

I miss that reviews don't appear any more in the main page of a set. I think at least the top 3 most helpful reviews (or random ones in case there are no helpful reviews) should appear... At least cut down or something.

For this matter, the ebay list gets too long for some sets, perhaps limit it to five entries and add a more... link?

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By in Germany,

@vexorian: Same for me...

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By in Curaçao,

@Alemas, the site's users come from all over the world. The French review will be useful, I am sure you can guess, to French visitors...

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By in Germany,

@Huw: Oh well... all right... in other words, Brickset's a global site, right? :)

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By in Canada,

Thanks for all of these changes Huw, however one thing is bugging me that you seem to have replaced the reviews section with Ebay ads instead, I can still find the reviews but what made you do this change? I liked the old way of having the Ebay ads in the sidebar and the reviews in the center.

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By in United States,

@Huw - I was using FCKEditor for a long time in CMS implementations, though in PHP, not .NET, so don't know about the compatibilities there. According to the site, CKEditor can be used and distributed for free if you're using it in an open-source project. If it's a closed-source project, and only used on your personal site, then yes - it looks like it's $375. CKFinder (the file browser), on the other hand is not at all distributed with an open source free license.

@Alemas - The issue of the initials was brought up on the discussion boards a while ago, and I believe it was changed both to separate the new version from the old version and clear those cultural language hurdles. I believe Fred C. Knabben is Polish.

I could see adding a spot for the most recent review for each set, or maybe a truncated excerpt with a link to the whole thing, as well as limiting the results for the eBay listings, or containing it in a fixed height div with a scroll bar.

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By in United States,

I love it Huw. This is one of the best updates ever made. I just hope non-owners wont abuse this system either. ;)

BTW, would it be against the rules to rereview sets just to utilize the new attribute rating?

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By in United States,

This is awesome, Huw! I can't wait to write a review! :)

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By in United Kingdom,

I really like the ebay links at the bottom I've already found them to be very useful. As for the reviews, well I don't write them only read them, but I'd say that it's good you can rate sets on a number of criteria. However, in my opinion the new layout of the reviews themselves doesn't work as well, the ratings take up too much vertical space and I don't like the indented review text, so I guess I like the functionality but not the layout.

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By in Ireland,

Hurray! I must get writing some now!

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By in Curaçao,

I'm sure there's further improvements I can make to the display of reviews etc. As you know nothing here at Brickset is set in stone and I'm always keen to hear your comments and suggestions. Let me consider what you've said and see what I can do...

However in defence of having so many eBay listings at the bottom, they do often show alternative images of the set: the box or minifigs, for example, which is effectively cool content for free :-)

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By in United Kingdom,

All good i'm sure, but I still can't update my collection :(

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By in United Kingdom,

Personally I like the ebay links. As I have a couple of sets for sale I think it's quite cool to see them at the bottom of the page, and if it helps me sell them, all the better!

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By in United States,

Thats great! Now reviews will be abit more cooler! (not that they weren't cool back then! :))

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By in Curaçao,

@Paul, email me and tell me why...

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By in United States,

THIS IS THE BEST SITE EVER (and getting better)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:)

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By in Netherlands,

Can we get a feature to search in bricklists? There are so many now I need to look through all pages finding lists that are interesting.

The new features are super by the way!

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By in Curaçao,

@darnolds, I am planning on improving bricklists later in the year.

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By in United States,

awesome improvments huw! oh by the way alemas gave me an idea by what he said about the french reveiw, would it be possable to have a bottun for the reveiws where they are translated into another language? cuz its kinda unfair how other lego fans who dont speek english cant read the reveiws. just an idea.
p.s. i'm new here so i dont know if a bottun already exists.

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By in United Kingdom,

@Huw - I like the eBay links at the bottom so no need to defend them from me, I use eBay a lot so find it very useful. It's only the new review layout I think could do with some more thought. Keep up the good work, this must take up an extraordinary amount of your time & we all very much appreciate it :-)

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By in United States,

Its all good, but I liked being able to scroll down and see all the reviews. Now they are on a separate page. Also, I noticed that someone said that when pressing enter it took them to the top of the page, and you said that was normal. However, when writing a review, you have to press enter to make bullets, and yes, its does bring you to the top of the page every time, which is irritating. So if pressing enter is trying to post the review, that's a problem, cause we can't use paragraphs or bullets without pressing it. Pretty sure that's *not* expected behavior. Thanks.

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By in Curaçao,

@atkinsar, email me your ideas, or a screenshot: I'm sure you must be seeing something different as the review format seems fine to me!

@mars4life, thanks, that's not how it should work. What browser are you using? I'll have a play and see if I can replicate the problem.

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By in United Kingdom,

@huw, aw yes, the old browser ctrl-F5 caching monster rears its ugly head again! Checked this morning and it all looks a lot better, previously I was seeing all of the ratings above the review text with quite a lot of space between each rating, followed by indented review text. The ratings now appear to the left-hand side of the review text and it all looks great.

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By in United States,

Huw, regarding the eBay links, I have an additional suggestion. I don't know if this suggestion would dog down the site, but I would find it helpful to see a count of the number of eBay listings from the lists view. That is, in the "Buy" column where it currently says "eBay" and "Amazon," maybe it could instead be "eBay (3)" if there are three lots available. This way, I could scan my wanted list for sets available without having to click on each set to go to its detail page.

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By in Germany,

@Huw: I'm curious about one thing: What programming language do you use for this site? And... how many lines of code are there for this whole site?

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By in Australia,

Any chance of having an option (user prefs?) that reverts back to the old way, of having Reviews immediately below the main Set article?

Another small option, to improve usability, if you're not going to go back.. is to put a number in brackets, next to the "Reviews" link..

so you can see that there ARE some reviews..

RB

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By in United Kingdom,

For some reason my settings have changed from UK to USA. It now says I live in the USA not the UK and so everything is now in dollars and it links to ebay.com not ebay.co.uk, what has gone wrong?

Jon

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By in Curaçao,

@atkinsar, glad it sorted!

@markwell, that is a great idea but quite difficult to do. The data is read from the eBay RSS feed when you load the details page. It does cache the data and it could remember the number of matches, but it only gathers that data when someone loads the page. There's nothing in place that periodically goes off and checks eBay for matches of every set. And don't forget there's eBay.com, .co.uk. .com.au, .at, .de, .ch, .ie and so on to check as well!

@Alemas, it's coded in Microsoft ASP.net with a SQL Server database back end. There's also a splattering of javascript using the jQuery library.

@RohanBeckett, The number is actually already shown under the score: 'n reviews'. Ideally the 'read reviews' link wouldn't be there if there aren't any so I'll see if I can remove it.

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By in United States,

Alemas had a good point earlier. There are a few reviews in other languages that we English speakers might find very interesting. Perhaps you could integrate an online translator (i.e. Google Translator) into Brickset. This is obviously not a top priority, but it would be a nice addition if you have some spare time. (That is, with all the countless hours you already spend working on the site! :)

Also, I think the new eBay links are a GIANT asset. However, to me, the reviews are much more important and should be displayed underneath the sets as they were. I am not saying that the eBay links are a hinderence by any means, but it would be nice if the focus went back to the reviews. Perhaps a link to eBay results for a set could be posted in another, individual window as the reviews are now.

Thanks for listening to my rant... :)

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By in United States,

how about a tabbed format, showing the reviews or ebay lots depending on which tab is clicked? best of both worlds ;)

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By in United States,

Thanks huw! Could we have minifig bricklists?

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By in United States,

washen- yeah i agree too, the ebay links are nice, but the reveiws are more importent.
p.s. to replay to you last sentnce. your welcome LOL.

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By in Germany,

@Huw: Ah, no Linux or C++, eh?

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By in United States,

@Alemas: .NET is coded in either VB or C# which is then compiled into native .NET code. It can only be hosted on a Windows server platform, so yes, no Linux.

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By in United States,

I'm still deciding whether I like the new rating system for the sets. I think I like it.

I have something for you to consider. I was wondering if you could make it so we could choose a color for our words in our review. I think that would be awesome.
Thanks.
Sev

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By in United States,

mokey-they already have pics of the 2010 advent calender? wow, christmas is in like 11 months.
republic commando sev- that would be cool. good idea!
huw, could you have a list of catagories for bricklists so its easeir to search for bricklists. like if you wanted to read all the,''worst sets of each year,'' bricklists. oh and would it be possable to make it where you can comment on the bricklists?
p.s. yes i like bricklists.

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By in United States,

huw, I am using Firefox.

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By in United States,

@itsaturkey: Thanks! I got the idea from BZPower. I've been a member on their for a couple years, and you can choose the color of what you post in. I thought it would be cool to do it here.
Sev

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By in United States,

republic commando sev-yeah i've heard of BZPower but i dont know what it is, besides that its bionicle.
p.s. my fav commando is sev too :D

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By in United States,

I've now sent in two reviews, I think they have been approved...

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By in United States,

Just FYI, the editor function works in Firefox on Mac. I did get a strange error message the first time I tried to submit my most recent review - it specified that I needed to 'Enter a review', which I had, of course. I submitted a second time and it worked.

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By in Germany,

Thanks for all the new features you've added the last months, Huw.
Personally I like it more to see and read the reviews below the item description.
That's the main reason why most people come here to visit this great site.
I don't need the ebay-auctions right below.
Routemaster

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By in Curaçao,

Thank you all for your comments and suggestions. I recognise that you'd prefer to see reviews than the eBay links, I will see whether it's possible to show both, either side-by-side or via a tabbed interface.

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By in United States,

I'm not sure if anyone asked yet, but wouldnt it be better to put the overall rating at the bottom of the list?

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By in United States,

Cool Upgrades Huw!

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By in United States,

I miss seeing the reviews after I click on the set. I always read them.

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By in United States,

@Huw, I know you already said that you're looking into putting reviews back on the main set page in some way - but wanted to add that it does greatly reduce the visibility of the reviews, which is one thing that generates repeat traffic.

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By in Germany,

Hey Huw, you should do something like this: Right now, when you're logged in, you can rate even your own reviews! It shouldn't be this way! Could you do something?

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By in Curaçao,

@Alemas, that's always been the case. Why shouldn't you have the opportunity to rate your own review: you can give it a head-start to being regarded as 'helpful' :-)

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By in Germany,

@Huw: Well... I was thinking of LEGO.com's system, so I thought you could "adopt" it... This was just to make the site "fairer"!

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By in Germany,

Noticed a change: You now split the eBay links into lots where you can BUY and lots where you BID!

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By in Germany,

This glitch appeared since a few months: For a few minutes, the eBay links come from the AMERICAN site! It still happens now! Why does that happen?

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By in Curaçao,

Alemas, can you send me a screenshot? It all appears to be working properly here. What do you mean by 'For a few minutes' ?

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By in Germany,

@Huw: Um... can't send emails to people... but I'll explain: Sometimes, it looks like Brickset connects to the AMERICAN eBay, not the English one, and displays all the auctions/stuff to buy from the AMERICAN eBay! The giveaway is the price in dollars! It happens for... I don't know, 20 minutes? It's as if Brickset thinks I'm in the US! Also, when this happens, the sets in the "New at LEGOshop.com" bar mysteriously disappear!

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By in Curaçao,

What does it say in the footer? e.g. "Your IP address is 127.0.0.1 and Brickset thinks you are in United Kingdom"

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By in Germany,

@Huw: Uuhh... problem is, it happens for a few minutes, and it disappears for several days! And the glitch has disappeared now; everything's normal! So you got to wait a few days to tell... Sorry...

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By in Germany,

@Huw: THE GLITCH IS HAPPENING NOW!!! Brickset says I'm in... nowhere. There's an empty space where there should be the country name! It's as if Brickset forgets where I am...

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