We kicked off the MakerWorld Open Beta on the 21st of September and we believe it was warmly received by many creators who began importing their models to their MakerWorld accounts from other online sources like Thingiverse and Printables.
New innovative features, such as One-Click Printing, allow newcomers to the 3D printing world to effortlessly initiate a print with a user-friendly interface and streamlined process. This, along with our incentives for creators sharing their exceptional models on our platform, contributed to why the platform quickly gained popularity.
Other than a temporary DDOS attack on our site when the open beta was launched, the kickoff was extremely smooth and successful. Within 5 days, MakerWorld has more than 20,000 daily active users. The majority of the models on MakerWorld are proudly uploaded by the original creators and we have a long list of brilliant creators on our site.
The Import Block
There was a spike in the number of models imported on day one, but after 24 hours, we observed a sharp decline in uploads and received several reports from users about difficulties using the import feature. This prompted us to further investigate. Subsequently, we found that imports from Printables were blocked.
The method we use to verify authorized model imports involves adding an individual MakerWorld link to the user's bio on other platforms. This is because only the account owner can edit their own bio, which helps prevent unauthorized model imports.
Regrettably, the term “MakerWorld” was flagged as spam soon after our open beta users started the import. Any entry containing "MakerWorld" in the Bio was removed by Printables on Sept. 23rd, which prevented creators from transferring their files to MakerWorld. (Update: as of Sept. 27th, Printables now rejects any bio descriptions containing text or links related to makerworld.com)
A chart detailing when our domain was flagged offers a clear visualization of the repercussions.
We also want to highlight that our prior import feature functioned as expected before the public beta without any constraints, and the block was implemented after the Open Beta.
We understand that other model websites wish to retain models on their platform, but we believe that competition can foster advancements and improvements for our users. Restricting the export of models to another platform does not necessarily reflect the freedom everyone expects for their own intellectual property. Since the block was put into effect, our team has revamped the verification process to use a uniquely generated string, bypassing our makerworld.com domain, which resolved the issue, at least temporarily.
Reverse Engineering and Cyber-Attack？
Printables has cultivated an impressive platform for sharing models crafted by talented creators eager to showcase their work. We openly acknowledge that we turned to Printables for inspiration and insights, but no automated bot or script was ever employed; only individual testers manually interacted with the platform. These testers did upload a handful of models to Printables, including a sparse few problematic ones, and even reported some of them to check the moderation procedures so we can calculate how many head count should we reserve for moderators. All these models were subsequently removed by our testers if not previously moderated by Printables. There was no malintent in this activity, and no harm was inflicted upon anyone, other than the very minor added workload of moderation for the moderator.
Studying other competitors in the market is part of business, and we would be foolish not to do it as we strive to do better and bring requested features to our customers. We don't think that studying Printables in order to improve our platform is a crime, just like we don't think any competitors buying our printers for reverse engineering is a crime. We feel honored that other companies want to look into how we provide the innovations in a lawful manner.
Prior to launching the MakerWorld Open Beta, we thoroughly tested the import feature to ensure only the rightful file owner can import their models into MakerWorld. That is why Printables noticed links to the test environment. I think that was not a cyber-attack nor crime since it is for good, and no one was hurt.
Did we spam Printables? Absolutely not. We did reach out to roughly 50 creators, a majority being Bambu Lab printer users, to inquire if they were interested in beta-testing MakerWorld. Nonetheless, we avoided any spam-like tactics. We approached everyone individually and manually, with the utmost respect and merely presented an alternative should they be inclined to explore our platform.
Our View on Competition
Mutual respect and equitable competition will pave the way for a more luminous future, with the consumers reaping the most benefits. As for the model hosting platform, we believe it is the creator who own their model and they should have the freedom to host their creation on multiple platforms. As we've articulated in past blog entries, we champion competition, recognizing it as the driving force behind technological and industrial progression.