It would be really interesting to have an off-the-record chat with Jason Alström over a beer…
11/22/2011

…or even Todd, but I would draw the line at the acidic Candice!

In the past couple of weeks I have received a whole bunch of electronic correspondence about the apparently continuing spiral of insanity that is occurring over at beeradvocate.com. I visit the site much less frequently these days, so am frankly a little out of the loop, but as you all probably know I have had a very special interest in such events in the past. If you are not familiar with why my interest lies there, take a look at this earlier blog post that should bring you up to speed!

It appears that there is a ever-increasing determination to delete and/or edit threads that in ANY way, contradict the company line or provoke any kind of thoughtful discussion about the site and its contents. This has been accompanied by an apparent, minor epidemic of deleting and/or suspending users accounts for utterly trivial transgressions, or perhaps even no transgression at all (other than a difference of opinion). The evidence for this over-zealous ‘moderation’ (although the moderation ceased to be ‘moderate’, years ago), is as follows;

1. The amount of electronic communication that I have received in the last few weeks about the current, deteriorating state of ‘moderation’ at BA.

2. The creation of the following twitter accounts in addition to the original (I think), @bawatch; @OccupyBA, @NotBeerAdvocate, @beeradvocatesux, @BAComplaints, @BannedOnBA and @AlstromBrosFail plus many other twitter users complaining about being banned.

3. Chad (video beer reviewer) devoting  this and this video on the subject.

4. Another video

5. This beerit thread, here.

6. This cartoon.

7. Many other posts such as this and this and this (one of my favorite stories) and this, plus a whole bunch of others that I haven’t got the time to catalog – you get the picture!

(Of course, although different, this stuff goes hand in hand with things like the Clown Shoes debacle, too).

It really is confusing to me. They are continuing to alienate the very people that make BA what it is and it seems counter-productive to persistently totally quash any kind of dissent. It castrates discussion and means that meaningless, ‘what should I drink tonight’ type threads dominate the forums. I’ve said my piece about most of this stuff before and whether the extraordinarily aggressive and foul-mouthed Candice, or the seemingly fragile ego’ed Todd is at the center of the behavior I have no idea, but either way it seems paranoid in the extreme and exhibits an incredible lack of self-confidence.

I’ve always thought that Jason seemed to be the more reasonable member of the trio, but of course that wouldn’t be difficult, and I felt that he might be taking a different view than suggested by the manic behavior of his sister-in-law and brother, but of course whatever his view REALLY is he could never express anything other than the party line; that’s why an off the record discussion with him would be SO interesting to me!

I still think BA is a great resource, and unlike others who complain about the lack of technical prowess, the lack of an iphone app and the general ‘crappiness’ of the site, none of that really mattered to me because the site always gave me what I needed. I still subscribe (and enjoy) the magazine and am even considering renewing. It also appears that BA is chugging along quite successfully with the magazine going strong, advertising revenue apparently up, employees being taken on and expansion and improvement continually promised. In that respect maybe they really DO know what they’re doing, and even if they DON’T, I’ve always maintained that it’s THEIR site and they can run it in any way they choose! However, none of that detracts from the fact that I was personally treated appallingly badly, and it appears many, many others feel exactly the same way. My experience is far from isolated. It just seems such a shame.

So, how about it Jason? Bring your brother, but let’s make it a ‘boys night out’. I’ll buy the beer if you leave the tip! ;-)


10 Comments

  1. Chad of Chad'z Beer Reviews

    Good post, Ding. Those links were very helpful. I wish I had read those BEFORE I made my “Boycott BA” vlog last week.

    I think you have something of battered wife syndrome. The crimes of the Alstroms speak for themselves and you yourself know what it’s like to be bullied by these clowns firsthand, yet you still apologize for them and say you still use the site. Why? The forums or banal and vapid and the snobbery is of nazi proportions. The absolute worst is those who slurp the bros and the website despite all this evidence of their douchebaggery in their words.

    C’mon man, shit or get off the pot. You can’t post links to anti-BA threads, videos and blogs and then say “…but I’ll probably renew my subscription.” The relationship is over, time to move on.

    Reply
    • Ding

      Chad, you raise an interesting point, but to be honest my answer is simple. Of all the beer magazines I subscribe to, and all of the beer web sites I visit, I still think that in many ways BA is the best. I agree about the useless forums and I agree about the appalling behavior of the moderators (to cast aside all of my contributions at the drop of a hat is unforgivable after all I gave to the site) but at the same time if I want look up details about any particular beer, I’m likely to go to BA rather than RB or anywhere else.

      Reply
  2. Chad of Chad'z Beer Reviews

    I’m surprised. Technically speaking, Rate Beer has a larger database. It’s also run like a corporation rather than a fanclub so it’s much more professional AND they’re actually on web 2.0!

    I’d challenge you to ween yourself off BA altogether. Try going a day, then two days, then a week, then two weeks, then a month, etc. If you can cut the cord you’ll probably realize you really didn’t need BA after all.

    That, or you’re just a beeraholic and can’t get enough. :D

    Reply
    • Ding

      Chad – since my ejection from BA I’ve spent days (and sometimes up to a couple of weeks) in a row, away from the site, so I CAN stay away for extended periods. I agree that the db at RB is better (but it’s only 1 out of every 1000 beers that I cannot find on BA that I have to reference on RB), plus it’s a much more worldly community (which is a big plus for me), but the graphical interface hurts my eyes (with its animated gifs).and I HATE the ticker mentality and two line reviews. I just like BA much better in nearly all respects. You also have to remember that I wrote approx. 10,000 posts over there plus thousands of reviews. That leaves a mark!

      Reply
  3. Matt (Banned BA handle mnstorm99)

    I was also a loyal member (five years) who was banned. I also hold the opinion that it is their site and they hold the right to do whatever they want. However, I sent three emails asking why I was banned as well as asking who I might be able to apologize to (I am aware that I said the Todd and Candice xtranormal video was funny) with no response. I maintain that I was a customer, even if I was no longer a subscriber, as the site runs on advertisements. I also have friends who subscribe to the magazine because I showed it to them. Maybe I am only one person, but at some point I just hope they recognize what they are doing for their own sake…before they lose their business.

    Reply
    • Ding

      Yeah, it’s confusing isn’t it? The lack of response, the incredibly sensitive nature of certain topics, the painfully slow development of the site and the appalling bad treatment of very long-standing members is really odd. I can’t work out a philosophy or an end game for them. That’s why I’d love to chat with Jason.

      Reply
  4. Traquairlover

    It is a weird situation. Candice has always been pretty . . . touchy. Todd gets on his high horse sometimes, but also seems rational sometimes. However, both of them seem to have gotten worse over time (I wasn’t around for the Venom situation, so maybe it started getting bad even before I joined). Jason always seems normal.

    Myself, I didn’t check in there for weeks after they banned you, Ding. It just was so petty that I lost the sense of fun. Nowadays, I do still use it but not like I used to. Many of the other users I enjoy(ed) interacting with are on other sites, but not all. One of my favorites is jesskidden and he and I are members of another site (realbeer.com), too, but I always have technical issues with it for some reason. The threads have more activity on BA than most of the others, though. I’ve just never really gotten into RB (though I have an account). At some point I’ll probably get banned, but for now I spend a little but not much time there.

    If you do get to chat with Jason, he’ll probably be fine, but what will that change?

    Reply
    • Ding

      I wouldn’t imagine it would change anything, but it would be good to ask him a whole bunch of questions and perhaps get hold of my 10,000 posts and the few missing place reviews as an archive. I don’t suppose I would ever go back to BA as ‘Ding’, but I cannot help but feel a great sadness about the way things ended.

      Reply
  5. Dan

    I think for a lot of people, it’s very simple; the site with the best trading community wins. At the moment, that’s BA by a mile…healthy lead over RB, and a huge lead over /r/beer and thebeerspot.

    Reply

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