The Rise & Fall of MOCpages

MOCpages

MOCpages is dead. The largest and most vibrant online Lego community for much of the past decade, the site slowly slipped into a coma over the last few years and it seems its founder, Lego artist Sean Kenney, has this week switched off the life support. And that’s really rather sad.

The Rise

Launched back in 2003, before YouTube, Instagram and Tinder, MOCpages was the place to share Lego creations, being free, open to all, and with no limitations on storage. Creations could be rated out of five (and were ranked accordingly), and comments left for the builder, sometimes even by Sean himself.

An update a decade later brought groups, conversations, and a fancier image uploader, with the site becoming so popular it began to become unstable. New servers restored order, and saw many now famous Lego model makers begin their careers, with Firas Abu-Jaber, Nick Barrett, Ralph Savelsberg and many more counted as MOCpages alumni. Including this TLCB writer.

Sadly this success also brought a fair amount of drama, with in-fighting in particular between younger members becoming a bit of a drag on the community, but that wasn’t exactly the fault of the site. A switch from creations being ranked by their average score to ‘Likes’ (a la Facebook) helped ease the tension, and MOCpages continued to grow, with at least two hundred ‘Halo Master Chief!!’ creations added every day alone.

The Fall

However the site’s unreliability gradually returned. With Sean seemingly less and less interested in resolving the uploader issues and – at times – complete server outages, many in the community turned to Flickr as an alternative, and MOCpages’ glory days began to fade.

There were still gems to be found though, and as such our Elves continued to frequent the site (when it was operable) to ensure that TLCB continued to represent all areas of the online Lego community. But it became increasingly difficult…

With MOCpages ‘down’ more than it was ‘up’ its users became frustrated and moved on, and whilst some reached out to Sean offering to take on the site or volunteer to assist with its maintenance, they were met with a deafening wall of silence from the site’s creator.

Now we can’t begrudge Sean too much; he created the site, users could share their models for free, and some now even have careers in model making as a result of the skills they learned. However ignoring the community entirely (and the huge amount of work many had put into creating their pages, groups, contests, and creations) seems to us to be a fairly crappy thing to do. But worse was to come.

The Death

A shadow of its former self, MOCpages was nevertheless remembered fondly by many of its users, and a band of its more notable alumni endeavoured to restart the community by resurrecting one of MOCpages’ most revered contests. Interest was gained, users returned, creations were posted, and then the site crashed. Again.

And with that, the last hope for a proper MOCpages’ resurgence died.

The site limped along for another year or so with frequent outages, until this month the error message changed, from… well, there being one, to nothing at all. MOCpages had been deleted.

No warning was given for users to retrieve their photos or save their text, and there was no alert for us to get our Elves out, meaning the few that were still there have inevitably died with the site.

The Aftermath

We have now removed MOCpages from our list of sources, but the thousands of links from posts here at TLCB to the site will no longer work. Sorry about that. However if you find a creation publicised here that you like – with a dead link to MOCpages – there’s a good chance the builder will have relocated to Flickr, so it’s worth taking the time to search for them there.

We’re here to keep blogging Lego creations uploaded elsewhere, and whilst we’ll remember MOCpages fondly, if ever we decide to call it a day we’ll try to wind things up via a method that’s not an astoundingly poor way to treat the Lego community.

Should you wish to contact Sean Kenney – regarding MOCpages or anything else – you can do so at his website by clicking here.

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15 thoughts on “The Rise & Fall of MOCpages

  1. What really sent a lot of people packing was the flooding of the New York servers after Hurricane Sandy. A ton of the sites reliability problems stemmed from that. Some of the promiscuous video game ads and the moderators response did not help. I’m sad to see it go but its hardly a surprise, at some point its just a money pit for Sean. You know, unleSs He soLD IT TO LITERALLY ANYONE ELSE! *ahem*

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Noah L. says:

    Sad to see it go, but it was only a shadow of its former self these last few years.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excelent post.
    I would just add that in the early years MOCPages did not host images. Users would have to put the images on other services (like Brickshelf) and on MOCPages they just built the page. After the problems of Brickshelf in the summer of 2007, MOCPages evolved and also started to host images and with that there were also several improvements.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mad physicist says:

    Yes, I started out on MOCpages, way back in 2005. It was great for a couple of years and I got to know several builders that I am still in touch with and attend events with today. (Not literally in touch, obviously, and there are no events right now, due to the pandemic, but you catch my drift.)
    The good: it was dedicated to LEGO builders, so your builds weren’t competing for attention with cute cat pictures or stupid Instagram faces.
    The bad: as a lot of experienced builders moved over to flickr and were replaced by an influx of young kids, the number of interesting builds and conversations waned; instead I ended up getting endless requests to go look at their rainbow-coloured Star Wars or HALO MOCs.
    In 2008 I too moved to flickr and I finally pulled the plug on my MOCpages account a couple of years later. I still miss some of the fun I had using that site in those first few years, but I won’t miss what it became.
    Ralph

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Angka says:

    It was actually a good site to display your model because you could put multiple photos in one page, but you couldn’t reply to people unless they follow you.Sad to see it gone though.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nannan Zhang says:

    I’ve been posting my creations on MOCpages since 2004. Even though activity on the site has been nearly nonexistent, it still remained a good archive. It’s sad to see that is gone now.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. […] mass of unemployment, the place where it all started for many – MOCpages – has been expunged from the internet. Which is quite remarkable really, as very few things ever leave the internet for good. Just ask […]

    Like

  8. twohorse602 says:

    Thanks for this thoughtful summary of what was once a great site. Not surprising to see it go, better that it’s put out of it’s misery.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. G says:

    There’s a lot left out from this article. You guys didn’t mention how the mass exodus from mocpages started because their database permanently deleted all the pictures for half of the mocs on the website, twice. Or how it was revealed that mocpages doesn’t even save any characters in your password past 8 characters, making it super easy to hack somebody’s account. Or how over the years people have repeatedly made offers to lend their services as software engineers to fix the website for free, or even buy the entire website off him for a fair price. Or how instead of responding to those people, Sean blocked them.

    It’s painfully clear that mocpages was never intended to be a community service; that was just a byproduct. Sean Kenney knew that the best way to get more people to slobber over his meciocre-but-large creations was to get as many Lego fans in one place as you can, and declare himself the supreme leader. And it worked, too.

    I’m guessing he stopped maintaining the site as soon as he realized that having a website for all Lego builders worldwide was only highlighting how mediocre his own skills were in comparison. It explains why Sean would rather see the website die than let people help him fix it for free so he xan continue to make money off it, or even get one last lump sum by selling it. He doesn’t WANT the world to know that thousands of people could do his job better, if they just had his resources. He WANTS all the mocs on the website to be lost forever, and just hasn’t been troubled to pull the plug until now.

    I had the pleasure of watching him give a talk at Brickfair VA 2019. I couldn’t bear to sit through all of his megalomaniac rant, but the highlight of it was a story about his anteater sculpture. He told us about how he thought that 1×1 round plates were the smallest Lego pieces (a pretty embarassing thing to say if you ask me) and how he intended to use those for the ants, but how an intern of his got the idea to use minifigure roller skates instead for the superior texture. Despite admitting that it was an intern’s idea, his language through the rest of the story used only first person pronouns. To his credit I don’t think it was a conscious decision, but it’s very telling that subconsciously he reverts all his language to take total ownership of his interns’ work. The whole rest of his talk was like this, and I don’t think I saw him interact with anyone other than Brickfair staff for the entire rest of the convention.

    I think that with the intentional and total death of thousands of original works of art at his hands, people should start calling him what he is: a jealous megalomaniac, and villain set against our community, not a member.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Chip says:

    Every appearance Sean Kenney makes at any convention or other public Lego fan setting for the rest of his life should be met with angry protesters shouting him down, demanding justice for the summary execution of thousands of people’s work, which in some cases was found nowhere else on the web, and also for being a longstanding prick of many years up to, including, and continuing on past that point.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Justin Lamborghini says:

    I found this a very useful article about lego, I hope you have more articles

    Like

  12. nilsobrix says:

    It makes me sad an angry at the same time to see that MOCpages has vanished without any warning. Of course, there were more than enough signs that one day the site could crash completely or just be switched off. After one of the many crashes of the site I started making backups of my most popular and favourite pages. Of course, I have all the photos stored, but not all of the texts I’ve written for the descriptions. So after all there are still hours and hours of work that have been destroyed. We have had great times on MOCpages followed by not so good times and really bad times. I would thank Sean for what he has started, but then I would also thank him for nothing, for how it has ended. A notice on MOCpages a month or a week before shutting it down would have been enough, but for him, the community wasn’t even worth enough for that… So may he be ignored by the community for the rest of his “career”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Douglas Smith says:

      Try using the Wayback Machine at https://archive.org/web/. I was in the same spot as far as backed-up photos, but not the text itself. I haven’t updated my MOC page since 2013, but the Wayback Machine had a 2017 snapshot from which I was able to recover my text. If you still have the link to your page, give it a try.

      Liked by 2 people

      • nilsobrix says:

        Thanks a lot! There was a good copy of my page from August 2018. I was able to find most of my pages there! That’s awesome, thanks again!

        Like

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