A message from Sam (Dogfish Head) on current RateBeer changes

Discussion in 'Beer News' started by SamCalagione, Jun 6, 2017.

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  1. Sammy

    Sammy Grand High Pooh-Bah (6,988) Dec 1, 2003 Canada (ON)
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    they have certainly lost a number of unpaid people who volunteered for them, whether they were vocal or not.
  2. cavedave

    cavedave Grand Pooh-Bah (4,083) Mar 12, 2009 New York
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    Jean Van Roy (Cantillon) apologizes for his decision. Worth reading:

    "To all my friends on Ratebeer,

    The decision I took wasn't aimed at the people rating beers and commenting on RB. Some of you are personal friends. A lot of you are great and passionate beer connoisseurs, and I did not mean to question your integrity.
    If my decision hurt some of you, I apologize. I took it sincerely and honestly.

    A year ago, when I decided to cancel the presence of Birra Del Borgo at our Quintessence, I said "For us to open the Cantillon doors to ABInbev is to allow the fox to mind the geese". Today, it's clear to me that the fox is getting hungrier every day. I know that ABI only took a minority part in RB, but ABI is not a charitable organization - if they did it, it's for business, and business only. "Which business?" is a question that remains open.

    In addition to this, the awards given out by RB every January are the most important ones for the craft beer scene. RB/ABI giving awards out to the cream of the crop of the beer world will be like McDonald's giving stars to restaurants.
    Not with me, and not in my name.

    Cheers to all of you.

  3. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Do you also have a pointer to a description and details of the decision he made? I can assume it was to stop cooperating with Rate Beer but this announcement suggests there was something he said/did earlier.
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  4. cavedave

    cavedave Grand Pooh-Bah (4,083) Mar 12, 2009 New York
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    I thought this brief message would be self evident from the quoted apology, but here it is in the best translation avail.

    "Like Sam Calagione, owner of the brewery Dogfish Head, I also decided to ask the website ratebeer.com to withdraw all opinions and comments on beers from the brewery.

    As a reminder, sending bought shares of the most important social media in the brewing scene.
    After the takeover of breweries, distributors, producers, this is the social media.
    The Giants of industry have the means to control everything and are in the process of doing so.

    Today, the craft brewing scene is still powerful enough to react quickly, to stick together and to make, as far as we can,"
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  5. zid

    zid Grand Pooh-Bah (3,036) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    That would be as ridiculous as a tire company giving out prestigious stars to fine-dining restaurants. :wink:
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  6. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania


    Yes the decision was self evident, but not how he presented his decision nor why he might have felt the desire to further explanation or to reassure his fans it was not questioning their personal integrity. DFH used a different starting point as background as part of their announcement.
  7. jesskidden

    jesskidden Pooh-Bah (2,969) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Wonder what the reaction would have been from both the website owner and beer geeks if, previous to this deal, Anheuser-Busch (or MillerCoors) had asked the site "to remove all their beer reviews and mentions on the RateBeer website immediately" ?.
  8. beerluvr

    beerluvr Pooh-Bah (1,764) Jan 2, 2001 Canada (ON)
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    Good on you Sam, love the show of integrity!
  9. Wolfhead

    Wolfhead Initiate (0) Sep 1, 2009 Illinois

    Sam, while I like some of your beers I love your integrity

    Not a fan of Rate Beer, even less so now

    Someone above mentioned "journalistic integrity" thanks for that laugh
  10. BergBeer

    BergBeer Maven (1,393) Aug 21, 2013 Hawaii

    Excellent well thought out statement.

    I celebrate this transparency.
  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Grand Pooh-Bah (3,169) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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  12. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Pooh-Bah (2,569) May 3, 2016 Illinois
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    Funny, they don't mention anything in the rating formula about if your brewer or affiliate just buys the site....

    "3) The rating was made by a brewer or brewer affiliate
    Ratings by brewers or their affiliates of their own products is a strictly forbidden at RateBeer. The ratings and the accounts of those making the ratings are swiftly deleted and account renewal is forbidden for life. 'Blackballing' brewers for blatant misconduct in this regard may be considered in extreme cases. "

    Perhaps the simplest thing to do would be for Inbev to remove all their beers...
    Lone_Freighter and cavedave like this.
  13. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

  14. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Initiate (0) Aug 29, 2012 Nebraska

    While I understand your point, and the whole idea of there being a conflict of interest here has been beaten to death, I think it's not terribly difficult to understand that there is a marked difference between ACTUAL IMPROPRIETY (a brewer rating their own beers/products) and a conflict of interest (which is a situation where the risk of impropriety is heightened due to the aforementioned conflict of interest).

    I'd also point out that, strictly speaking, that rule covers their new ownership from manipulating ratings to their benefit as well, since that would simply be a more direct form of brewers "rating their own beers".

    To that end, would a disclaimer noting that their ownership has no ability to unduly influence the ratings system to favor their own beers do anything to satisfy you?
  15. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Pooh-Bah (2,569) May 3, 2016 Illinois
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    About as much as a president saying he won't collude with Russia...
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  16. sj3324

    sj3324 Initiate (0) Jun 9, 2011 Missouri

    Is it just me, or does anybody else find it odd that BA just sent out an email about Ratebeer selling out that was sponsored by Dogfish Head? Seems like a brewer sponsoring something like that could be a conflict of interest to me. I don't know much about the journalistic integrity codes, etc so maybe it is acceptable, but I find it odd.
    Heres the photo:
  17. cavedave

    cavedave Grand Pooh-Bah (4,083) Mar 12, 2009 New York
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    I imagine you are the only one to make that ridiculous equivalency on a site that attracts more fair minded folks that that, but I could be wrong.
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  18. Todd

    Todd Founder (13,172) Aug 23, 1996 Finland
    Staff Super Mod Pooh-Bah Society Trader

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  19. Jaguar10301

    Jaguar10301 Devotee (399) Mar 1, 2010 Maine

    I read a couple of pages, but honestly with how long pages are on BA I don't have time to read through fully right now.

    The whole discussion about journalism I would point out that Facebook, Twitter, etc... are considered media companies today. While Ratebeer may accumulate user data it is a part of the media. While each review may not be journalism, the results and algorithms that present it is clearly the product of Ratebeer and should be subject to journalistic integrity.

    As for the main point. I never used Ratebeer, I do see their rankings in a lot of craft beer stores and I will probably discount their worth now. I rarely bought beer based on them though.
  20. NCMonte

    NCMonte Initiate (0) Jan 28, 2014 North Carolina

    Some folks better pray In-Bev doesn't buy the street in front of their homes. :grinning::grimacing:
  21. sj3324

    sj3324 Initiate (0) Jun 9, 2011 Missouri

    Thanks for the response, sorry I didn't read the whole thread. I wasn't saying there were any problems, just that there COULD be, similar to how Sam says there could be problems with ratebeer. I trust that you guys do things the right way, as you have, just as I have no reason to believe ratebeer will change the way they operate. Just because ABI has a minority stake doesn't mean they are going to change existing ratings or how things operate going forward. IN MY OPINION, the two situations aren't that different, and I just found it amusing. Apparently I am alone in that thought. (It's not the first time my opinion has been "wrong" and likely won't be the last. That's the great thing about sites like this, every differing opinion is welcome.)

    Just because there is a chance something could happen, it doesn't mean it will!
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  22. zid

    zid Grand Pooh-Bah (3,036) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    cavedave, you have always been a big proponent of beer reviews. In the recent past, you've called certain AB-InBev critics "chicken littles." Here we have a case of a brewer asking to have beer reviews removed because of the potential for AB-InBev to unethically take advantage of their position. You are congratulating this gesture. Now let's say that your reviews were removed (hypothetically) as a result of this despite there being no evidence of wrongdoing. Would you feel like those actions are justified? Does removing them do more good than bad? Are the existence of your reviews particularly dangerous to "craft beer" or is this a case of "chicken littles?" BTW, I think it's not only fine but good if your views are multifaceted - I'm asking for the sake of discussion.
  23. cavedave

    cavedave Grand Pooh-Bah (4,083) Mar 12, 2009 New York
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    I am on record for the last 50 years of life applauding folks for acting on their moral stands, even if they are ones I don't personally act on. In my life I have put liberty and future on the chopping block for stands I believe in, and I am always glad to hear of others taking stands. Rather than do an inventory of the conflation in your post I will leave it there. Cheers!
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  24. zid

    zid Grand Pooh-Bah (3,036) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    It's all good - you're not running for office. :wink: Didn't mean to rub you the wrong way. I wouldn't have asked if I wasn't curious about your take on it and how this is different. Cheers.
    cavedave likes this.
  25. cavedave

    cavedave Grand Pooh-Bah (4,083) Mar 12, 2009 New York
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    No worries, I have no idea of the ins and outs of this deal at RB and I have no reason to believe that the review system will be corrupted, or won't be, and I have no comment on any of that, nor should any of us.

    I am in favor of reviews, specifically ones that are under 1500 words, examine beers by ASTMD/O by a thoughtful person with an objective mind and good palate.

    BA has always been the voice of this, changed and diluited over the years as did the scene in general, but here is where you will find the best database and contributors. We even have a weekly thread that is basically a celebration of honest reviews added to the database, and how it makes us better able to choose and enjoy beer. I suspect there will be more folks coming, we should welcome them.

    Personally I find "the other site" lacking in the review area, and one would almost think it was already owned by Three Floyds, lol, when it comes to favorable treatment given a brewery.

    And I also think there is such a thing as taking a moral stand and keeping quiet about it. You do leave yourself open to charges of marketing your high moral standards, although Mr. Calagione makes the point of trying to rally the other brewers to follow his lead as pretext.
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  26. woodchipper

    woodchipper Grand Pooh-Bah (3,059) Oct 25, 2005 Connecticut
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    I think this week I will make my 1st Dogfish Head purchase in over a year. I wasn't staying away on principle, but I think Sam deserves some of my money based on his principles.
  27. xxbassplayerxx

    xxbassplayerxx Initiate (0) Mar 16, 2016 Kentucky

    If I am reading that correctly, he's not apologizing for his decision at all. Perhaps a lack of clarity, but if anything, he seems to be doubling down on his decision.
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  28. SCW

    SCW Initiate (0) Jul 25, 2004 New York


    We were the first ones to comment on the story, several days before Sam. We didn't issue a formal press lease though - kept it grassroots here on BA. You can see it here.

    I hope you understand our position. If you have any further questions though, feel free to respond to us on that original thread.
    drtth likes this.
  29. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Initiate (0) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    Although it might appear this way on the surface, there is absolutely no conflict of interest with a user-generated rating site being owned, partially or otherwise, by a brewing company.

    Said sites, and their print media equivalents, have sponsors. Do those sponsors, who are inevitably in the same business, receive preferential treatment?

    To my knowledge, no.

    Here's the rub, if there was money to be made by artificially inflating ratings, ABI would probably do it. However, there isn't, so they're not doing that. They've bought into RateBeer for much, much more insidious reasons.
  30. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Initiate (0) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    AZBeerDude72 said: So now the question is how much traffic will relocate from Ratebeer to BA, curious if we will see a lot of people joining BA?

    I certainly have. That's not saying much, because RB has been . . . umm . . . lacking good dialogue in their forums for quite some time. The exodus that the revelation of this decision has caused has and will continue to lessen that dialogue even further. I want to talk about beer and a place with dead forums is decidedly not the place to do that.
    AZBeerDude72 likes this.
  31. MNAle

    MNAle Initiate (0) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    Opinion or fact? I might believe this, but I have no facts to actually back it up. Do you?
  32. MNAle

    MNAle Initiate (0) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    I agree. I posted there a few times some time ago, and quit due to lack of "action", so to speak.

    I do like the stats they keep on beer reviews under a member's account, though. That part is better than here.
  33. Todd

    Todd Founder (13,172) Aug 23, 1996 Finland
    Staff Super Mod Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    As announced in BeerAdvocate Talk, we'll be adding extended user stats on profiles with our next big update. And we've got plans for the new app, too.
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  34. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Initiate (0) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    I have no specific hard evidence to back this up, but it is the only way the investment makes sense. When other transactions in other industries have happened for similar purposes, it isn't a stretch to think of why this one occurred. That said, it is just conjecture and, very probably, always will be, as those two companies aren't going to release specific details, especially ABI.
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  35. meefmoff

    meefmoff Pooh-Bah (1,786) Jul 6, 2014 Massachusetts
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    This seems more than a little overstated. Accepting advertising from, and being owned by, another business are two fundamentally different things, even if they both present some potential for abuse.
  36. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Initiate (0) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    "partially owned by"

    Yes, there IS a difference, but you can be beholden to either, as you've said.

    Complete ownership would be a very different story, however.
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  37. KarlHungus

    KarlHungus Initiate (0) Feb 19, 2005 Minnesota

    I hope these stats include a user's average beer rating. When it was displayed in the past it was nice to reference when a person's rating of a beer seemed way off.
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