Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Fed up with BeerAdvocate... Where to go?

So I've posted about BeerAdvocate from time to time. It has a (mostly) wonderful group of users that include professional brewers, homebrewers and plain ol' beer geeks. I've learned a lot about brewing from fellow BA's, and I've met some pretty cool people there. However, I have one problem with the site: the guys who run it. The Alström Brothers (sycophantically referred to as "the Bros") run the site like the Stasi ran East Germany. They constantly chide people for not staying focused on beer like we're a bunch of eight-year-olds. My favorite was a recent "Late Night BeerAdvocate" thread (a sort of open thread where people shoot the breeze about what they're drinking that night) where somebody started the post by asking what people were drinking to pay tribute to Billy Mays. This was promptly deleted because Billy Mays has nothing to do with beer (though he did pimp OxiClean, which I use to clean the majority of my brewing equipment).

For me the last straw came this weekend. I studied in Germany in college and have been looking for a way to brush up on my vocab. Somebody on BA suggested starting a weekly thread in which we would discuss what's new in our (beer-related) lives--auf Deutsch. We called it "Der Stammtisch," which translates roughly into "the regulars' table." It was great. After three weeks I saw my syntax improving; I learned new words; I was thinking German much more often. Then on Saturday I went to reply to den Stammtisch and it was gone. The Bros deleted it because they couldn't moderate what they couldn't understand. I appealed to them to reconsider, but they weren't interested in what we had to say. When I emailed other users who regularly post on den Stammtisch, I found many users felt as I did: that they had been getting increasingly upset with the overmoderation of the forum and that this was the last straw.

Anyway, that's my unnecessarily-long preface to the question I'm getting at... What forums do others post on? I love beermapping.com (and nobody would compare Jonathan to a Stasi officer) but their forum isn't nearly as active as BA's. We've discussed moving den Stammtisch to realbeer.com, which seems promising. Any other suggestions for forums to frequent?

EDIT: I have been informed that der Stammish will indeed live on at realbeer.com! Jawohl!

FURTHER EDIT: I realize that moderating forums is often necessary, and I'm not suggesting they shouldn't try to keep things in order. It's just the combination of (what I see as) excessive moderating AND a reluctance to consider the opinions of members that led me to be fed up with the website.


Blogger Barry (Adeptus) said...

Well, I'm one of the founders of IrishCraftBrewer.com, so I tend to post there (I've only ever deleted about three posts in the past two-and-a-half-years, and that was for spamming ads). It's a very small but close knit community, and everyone is welcome.

I'd heard about the heavy moderation and general quashing of members of BA who didn't follow the party line, so I've never been tempted to go there. I only recently joined realbeer and beermapping, and they look like good communities. If one is small, it might grow as people see how a community should be handled.

2:58 PM, July 07, 2009  
Blogger Adam said...

Realbeer.com's community is my favorite online beer related forum. I'm a bit of a lurker there though. I spend most of my time posting on my homebrew blog.

3:34 PM, July 07, 2009  
Blogger Dawnie said...

Moderation is necessary, to some extent, but the best online communities that I've been a part of do very little of it. Even in a community where people are gathered to discuss a specific interest, there needs to be freedom to venture outside that box. That's how people connect and how communities form. Sure, you can keep the topic range very strictly limited, but then things get boring and the community gets stale.

Rather than moderate excessively as they seem to be doing now, they should just designate an "off-topic" area in the forums and ask people to post those types of threads there. Or move them there. In my opinion, they shouldn't be deleting threads unless a large number of users are complaining that the thread is offensive for some reason.

That said, I'm glad to hear that your German beer discussion thread has found a new and happy home.

6:38 PM, July 07, 2009  
Blogger Russ said...

Thanks for the info, Barry and Adam. And Dawn, I think you're dead on with the off-topic area. That's what beermapping does and some of the best threads (specifically the bacon thread) are there. At the end of the day, you just don't want to come off like a grade school teacher yelling at her kids, because when you do the users will start acting like grade school kids, and that's how I felt.

11:42 PM, July 07, 2009  
Blogger Hunington said...

There's a strange phenom in the on-line world that grants otherwise normal folk license to act like crazed, venom-spewing maniacs. If you have any doubts, consider the maniac you traded barbs with a few weeks back -- in an open forum, even a user-moderated forum like Wikipedia, those people dominate, and crowd-out the casual lets-go-to-a-beer-forum-and-discuss-my-favorite-hobby-enthusiasts. In most of civil society we can have fuzzy lines that people occasionally cross, and our culture gently nudges people back across the line. In the on-line world, the line-crossers dominate, because they are idiots with a lot more time on their hands than normal folk. To remedy this, many moderators draw 1-inch Sharpie bright lines, because the nutcases won't respect anything pencil-thin. Beermaking is the one light, happy, judgment-free, totally casual thing I have in my life, so when I go to a beer forum, I want and expect to be discussing the lighthearted subject of beer. "Give 'em an inch, and they take a mile." If I want conflict, I can just go to work.

12:10 PM, July 08, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree. I just got onto the beeradvocate forums for the first time with a question about which variety pack I should pick up, or suggest some good winter variety packs.

Came back a week later and my thread was gone. Couldnt find a way to message an admins since I've never been on the site, so I made a thread asking why my other thread got deleted.

The thread immediately filled with trolls (in a fucking help forum no less) and the thread was deleted within minutes. I recieve a message for my deleted thread and proceed to reply...

"What did I do wrong? What a warm welcome...."

The "bro" messages me back, "Your attitude is not appreciated here. We aren't going to hold your hand and read you the rules."

So yeah, I asked them a second time what I did wrong since my variety pack thread was on topic and about beers and I've yet to receive an answer. Fuck the beeradvocate community and fuck the bros.

I'd love to see how snobby and dickish they act to my face since they're less than an hour away.

7:40 PM, December 08, 2011  

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