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Free Thingiverse (not a protest)

by tshephard, published

Free Thingiverse (not a protest) by tshephard Oct 3, 2012

Description

Recently, Makerbot closed source their printer much to the dismay of the maker community that helped endorse their brand by spreading the word of their mission to build an open source future based off the designs of reprap.

Makerbot is still a good company, and we'd like to help them succeed. To this end, let's ask them to stay true to their roots and open up Thingiverse. Let's ask them to do a nightly drop onto Bittorrent (or similar) including all CC (or similarly licensed) designs, including images, thumbnails, 3D models, derivatives and like information. Comments would be great too, even if the TOS needs to be updated a bit.

This will help the community at large repurpose the data and create other, innovative ways of utilizing / searching / browsing it. Thingiverse should still and will always remain the central repository for upload and a leader of makers everywhere.

Please like this object, print it, build a derivative, and forward it to your friends so we can make sure the future remains free and open.

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First, Thingiverse is open now, so I don't see what you think you mean by "opening" it. Perhaps you should re-read the terms of service, or ask a lawyer to read it for you, or at least read the explanations of the TOS that have been posted. If, after that, you think that there's something about Thingiverse that needs "opening" I'd be interested to know what that would be, because so far I haven't seen any complaint turn out to be based on a proper reading of the TOS, but is highly selective misreading, apparently motivated by dislike of MakerBot's successful commercialization of "RepRap" printing.

If you're intending to host a mirror of Thingiverse, that's nice of you, as long as you respect the creator's rights. Make sure you write a really good TOS, and get the creator's permission to host their files, generate thumbnails, etc. :-)The reference to github is to point out the irony that you're proposing "opening" Thingiverse by mirroring Thingiverse's content into github because Makerbot isn't "open". This is confusing to me because github is no more "open" than Makerbot. Both of them have open and closed aspects, and run their business by having people pay for the closed aspects. If anything, Makerbot is more open than github, since they're almost completely open, with only a few specific things closed, while github has a few specific things open and everything else closed. I don't say this to complain about github - it's a great service - but to point out that your position doesn't make sense to me.

As far as your anger at MBI goes, please don't take it out on Thingiverse. Thingiverse is a free service that's quite valuable to the 3D printing world, and not just to MakerBot.
I don't understand the reference to github.  

Makerbot built themselves on top of reprap, more importantly, they built their reputation on top of reprap.   I understand that close sourcing key components of replicator 2 is necessary, but it is contrary to what Bre promised the community when they started out.

By opening up Thingiverse I am pretty sure a lot of people would come back to the fold and he would regain loyalty that has been lost.   If he doesn't do this, then I (and many others) will likely encourage and support the development of an alternative leader for the maker community.
I'd have no problem writing the export code for them.  Exports from a file system / sql database are pretty basic.

DownloadThemAll wouldn't be what I'd use, but there is a Thingiverse specific script in github for anyone so interested.  

Certainly, I suspect many people will be resorting to the script (ie, downloading the entire site many times over on a daily basis) if the folks at Makerbot decide against sharing the data in a friendly way.

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Recently, Makerbot closed source their printer much to the dismay of the maker community that helped endorse their brand by spreading the word of their mission to build an open source future based off the designs of reprap.

Makerbot is still a good company, and we'd like to help them succeed. To this end, let's ask them to stay true to their roots and open up Thingiverse. Let's ask them to do a nightly drop onto Bittorrent (or similar) including all CC (or similarly licensed) designs, including images, thumbnails, 3D models, derivatives and like information. Comments would be great too, even if the TOS needs to be updated a bit.

This will help the community at large repurpose the data and create other, innovative ways of utilizing / searching / browsing it.

Thingiverse should still and will always remain the central repository for upload and a leader of makers everywhere.

Please like this object, print it, build a derivative, and forward it to your friends so we can make sure the future remains free and open.
How does this make sense? All of the things on Thingiverse are already free. Haven't you actually read the TOS? When you upload things for them to host, you have to grant them the right to serve the thing and to create derivatives of it (e.g. thumbnails) for the purposes of sharing things with other people. Other than that, they must abide by whatever license you choose. That's a pretty good deal for us, as they cover all of the engineering and hosting costs for Thingiverse.

Amusingly, you advocate uploading things into github, which is FAR more proprietary than MakerBot. While git is free, almost everything else about github is proprietary, and as a percentage MakerBot is more free than github. (NB: github is a great service, and I'm a customer, but it's not all FOSS)You're also incorrect in saying that MakerBot "close sourced" their printer. They did pick a few specific things to close, but 95% of the printer is free. All of the software is free (Miracle-Grue, Conveyor, Skeinforge, ReplicatorG) other than the GUI (MakerWare), and all the GUI does is assemble things and pass them to the free back-end, which does all of the hard work. So if you really don't like their proprietary GUI, use ReplicatorG (which works with the Replicator and Replicator 2 just fine). And the hardware is nearly identical to the Replicator, which is free (the design is free - they don't give printers away for free). Yes, they added a steel frame, plastic panels and a fan. But anyone with a set of calipers could make their own.
I don't understand the reference to github.  

Makerbot built themselves on top of reprap, more importantly, they built their reputation on top of reprap.   I understand that close sourcing key components of replicator 2 is necessary, but it is contrary to what Bre promised the community when they started out.

By opening up Thingiverse I am pretty sure a lot of people would come back to the fold and he would regain loyalty that has been lost.   If he doesn't do this, then I (and many others) will likely encourage and support the development of an alternative leader for the maker community.
First, Thingiverse is open now, so I don't see what you think you mean by "opening" it. Perhaps you should re-read the terms of service, or ask a lawyer to read it for you, or at least read the explanations of the TOS that have been posted. If, after that, you think that there's something about Thingiverse that needs "opening" I'd be interested to know what that would be, because so far I haven't seen any complaint turn out to be based on a proper reading of the TOS, but is highly selective misreading, apparently motivated by dislike of MakerBot's successful commercialization of "RepRap" printing.

If you're intending to host a mirror of Thingiverse, that's nice of you, as long as you respect the creator's rights. Make sure you write a really good TOS, and get the creator's permission to host their files, generate thumbnails, etc. :-)The reference to github is to point out the irony that you're proposing "opening" Thingiverse by mirroring Thingiverse's content into github because Makerbot isn't "open". This is confusing to me because github is no more "open" than Makerbot. Both of them have open and closed aspects, and run their business by having people pay for the closed aspects. If anything, Makerbot is more open than github, since they're almost completely open, with only a few specific things closed, while github has a few specific things open and everything else closed. I don't say this to complain about github - it's a great service - but to point out that your position doesn't make sense to me.

As far as your anger at MBI goes, please don't take it out on Thingiverse. Thingiverse is a free service that's quite valuable to the 3D printing world, and not just to MakerBot.
I'm not against your suggestion, but if I got a request like this where I work, I'd counter with "Who pays for it?"

Bandwidth is NOT free
Storage is NOT free
CPU cycles are NOT free. 
Thinking this way leads to things like the current issue in healthcare with an unfunded and undefined "national medical record database" - it sounds good but it won't work.  

Somebody released a tool a while back to download everything from Thingiverse in 1 pass...  I can't remember what it was called but that's the sort of thing that works.  Any user that wants to can use it to archive today's Thingiverse, and the actual Thingiverse isn't affected (much) more than standard day-to-day usage.
Well, goodwill for makerbot pays for it.   Right now a lot of people are upset by the close sourcing of the printer.  This has damaged their brand and they need to write off a certain amount of goodwill because of it.

Opening up Thingiverse would be a way to repair some of that damage.Yes, we could script and download the data, that's pretty easy to do, but that's antagonistic and may result in someone deciding to simply create their own open / free version of Thingiverse that we'd all get behind.  And why wouldn't we?  

And, yes, bandwidth is not free, but bit torrent is.  Storage / CPU for this is pretty close to free.   
You're still thinking with a zero-cost internet in mind.  Putting data into the stream will require dedicated hardware, and you're looking at a monthly budget for something like this to keep putting the data out there on a nightly run...   not just a few hundred dollars spent once, but X dollars times infinity until you shut it down.  And then there's the question of who implements it - every minute spent on this project is a minute another project goes undone.  I doubt Makerbot has so many idle employees that something like this would be done a year from now, even if they planned to do so starting today, and most employees don't code for work in their free time, or troubleshoot problematic new systems over the weekend.    

Makerbot is only NOW addressing the TOS in a human-readable version, and that was a priority months ago when the TOS was changed.  Do some Google searching and pick up the DownloadThemAll - like plugin and you already have exactly what you want.  Crowdsourced many months ago.
I'd have no problem writing the export code for them.  Exports from a file system / sql database are pretty basic.

DownloadThemAll wouldn't be what I'd use, but there is a Thingiverse specific script in github for anyone so interested.  

Certainly, I suspect many people will be resorting to the script (ie, downloading the entire site many times over on a daily basis) if the folks at Makerbot decide against sharing the data in a friendly way.
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