Friday, 15 August 2008

Goethean the troll

There's an argument going on in the wikipedia beer pages. Sorry, discussion. Seems like there's always an argument about something. This time it's about . . . . no, I can't be bothered to go into it here. These disputes are dull to an outsider. To an insider like me, they're still dull, but with a large order of annoyance on the side.

Whenever such arguments start, a charming chap with the handle of Goethean always crawls out of the woodwork. A troll with the manners of a warthog and the social grace of a hyena. Maybe I'm being a little unfair on the animal kingdom. Goethean is set on the removal of anything that disagrees with his homebrewer/BJCP brainwashee view of the beer world. And he's prepared to kill (figuratively) to get his own way.

Goethean is the main reason I no longer actively contribute to wikipedia. Unfortunately, he's typical of the type of sociopathic loner that bullies more reasonable contributors into submission or departure.

I'm pleased to welcome creepy Goethean as a reader of my blog. Look forward to entertaining you over the coming months, creepy Goethean.


wwsd said...

It's quite painful to go through the English Wikipedia's articles on beer, and the 'Discussion' pages are even worse. The arrogance is astounding in some cases, for example, the entry on Kölsch. In it, the first paragraph basically regurgitates the whole 'homebrewers' side of the nasty little argument from a few months ago:

Unfortunately, it seems to be difficult to reason with people who argue from an entirely different mindset. If you sent them to taste beer at a trappist abbey, they would probably be like: "Hmm, I don't know. It's not sweet enough to be a good Belgian Strong Dark Ale. It's okay otherwise, though." Well, unless it's Westvleteren, which is apparently the Holy Grail.

It's pretty embarrassing that the Dutch Wikipedia has a better entry on ale: identifying it by the English ales, while noting that English-language countries (only America really, right?) also use the term for top-fermenting beers from other countries. Whereas the English entry just goes on about 'Belgian ale', 'German ale', etc.

I suppose it's impossible to unite English and American mindsets in one 'transatlantic' wiki, even though the latter is based on incorrect assumptions, factual errors and cultural misunderstanding. You would have less difficulty teaching them that we do not speak German in the Netherlands, that it's fine to say 'Holland' and that not all Dutch people are stingy and cynical bastards who hate all Germans.

Ron Pattinson said...

The Kölsch article is crap, you're right. But I've had enogh of fraustrating arguments on the wikipedia.

Take a look at the link to the BeerAdvocate discussion about this last wp argument. Loads of personal attacks against me, arrogance and even a weird belief that the wp beer articles are UK biased. It's depressing how many ignorant wankers there are out there who think they are fucking experts.

And it's getting worse. There's a whole fantasy beer history been created that beers almost no relationship to reality. What's funny is that sometimes I have authors quoted back at me to counter my arguments. Authors who've asked for my help with their research.

wwsd said...

Fantasy history? Nah, American homebrewers just understand Belgium better than the Belgians themselves. As such, we learn that Westvleteren, St. Bernardus Abt 12 and Rochefort 10 are all Quadruples. Oh, and that a Belgian Dark Ale with a lot of alcohol is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale...

Really though, it probably is a useless endeavour to fight over it on the wiki. Even without crappy wiki articles, Americans interested in beer will probably end up on some rating website and adopt the same mindset. Wankers will always exist, it's just depressing that well-meaning people looking to learn about beer will first have to jump over a hurdle of complete nonsense.

I did read the discussion on BA. What's really grating is all the vitriol and anger. All because some guy with a website has a different opinion on beer, and can back it up with more research than just American style guidelines made for homebrewing competitions.

Particularly irritating about the forum discussion, is that these people will all work together to make sure that the wiki displays the 'right' information. It's so easy for this goethan guy. He just has to say: "Oh, this Pattinson guy is arguing against our dogma. And he has disagreed with me on wiki, therefore, he is an asshole!" Next thing you know, it's mobilisation and total war.

In that sense, wiki has made an accurate simulation of the real world: the best lobbyists and demagogues mobilise the people, and in the end, America wins.

Ron Pattinson said...

I had to laugh when Todd suggested deleting my BeerAdvocate user. What exactly crime have I committed? I disagree with their dogma. I've yet to insult anyone or call them an idiot, which is what I now get on a regular basis. It's quite scary, in some ways.

Dale said...

Americans get a lot of things wrong, excepting arrogance.

Kristen England said...

The whole BA and RB sites are wrapped around this dogma. If you change it then what will they do next!? :)

Seriously though...I deal with this everyday. I say a beer is not the BEST beer in the world and then I get 100 emails saying that i shouldn't have my position if I don't agree. I ask if they've been to the brewery and had it there. Answer is always no let alone had any 'BEST' beer more than one in their lives of which they shared with their buddies and only drank about 1oz.

I'm not used to dealing with these ex-dungeon and dragon mooks. One guy spills drivel and the rest listen and repeat.

What are you going to do. People either way to learn or they do not.

Mike said...

The reason the English Wikipedia is full of nonsense is simply that most of the articles were written by American homebrewers who used _solely_ American sources such as the bjcp and it's followers: beeradvocate and ratebeer. The Dutch and German versions are so much better because the editors there didn't/don't use those sources.

But there are really two separate issues here: 1. the lack of reliable information and 2. the incredible level of incivility.

My feeling is that much of this incivility comes from the idea that all beers are and always have been separated by "styles" and that there is a divine authority which separates and determines the style.

When people come along and say that this "divine authority" is neither divine nor an authority, the True Believers strike back with all their might.

It's sort of like the Crusades all over again: the True Believers will seek out and destroy the non-believers, which will make the world safe again for The Word of God (or, in this case, the bjcp, beeradvocate and ratebeer).

Josquin said...

I agree with you all totally about the problematic language and frames of understanding in the English Wikipedia beer style articles. But at the same time, I read some of these comments with considerable chagrin. Is it really helpful (let alone intellectually honest) to map these problems onto musty, ignorant nationalistic prejudices? Doesn't this get in the way of the dialogue that is crucial to progress on Wikipedia?

To be sure, with all the kneejerk defensiveness, stonewalling and--yes--trolling on that site, it's often near impossible to accomplish positive change. At the same time, though, I hope I'm not the only one disturbed by how these conversations devolve into mindless blanket statements about the Americans and the English. No one is perfect, but we really can do better than this; that's all.

Joe said...

"At the same time, though, I hope I'm not the only one disturbed by how these conversations devolve into mindless blanket statements about the Americans and the English."

Don't worry. You're not the only one.

EnglishBrewer said...

Grow some balls you sniveling little bitch. Jesus Christ, I've never heard so much bitching. It's embarassing to have been even linked to this god-awful "blog." So some Americans want the inclusion of some American Barleywines? Cry.

How's that for problematic, bitches?

Ron Pattinson said...

englishbrewer, great knee-jerk reaction, there. Pity you didn't bother reading the argument before you came up with this wonderful piece of eloquence.

To be honest, I don't want twat like you reading my blog so fuck off and don't come back.

Ron Pattinson said...

englishbrewer, I suspect you may be creepy cunt Goethean. In which case double fuck off you creepy cunt.

Should you not be Goethean, just fuck off.

In either case, don't come back.

Anonymous said...

Little Ron:
You will lose your battle with BJCP, i'm in the process of having dozens of editors sign on and begin to revert your edits. Have a nice day.

Kristen England said...


The BJCP is not in the market of getting into battles with people or organizations. The guidelines are for our own purposes and not meant to be the end all of anything or for any other purpose than our own. There are a lot of people out there that are abusing the guidelines in that they try to use them to tell people what 'styles' are supposed to be like/ have been like.

They try to use them as an arguing point. Some of the styles in the BJCP are a combination of a few different styles. Our nomenclature is not meant to be used to tell other people or other countries of what their beers are supposed to be like.

It is true that styles are only a snap shot in time for any given 'beer'. HOwever, I can tell you for sure that the BJCP IS in the business of being as correct as they possibly can when it comes to historical styles. Historical styles are based off writings about these beers from their OWN time. Not from the writings of people today. People very much miss this fact. You can't claim a historical style and disregard how the style was actually brewed at the acme of ts production. Its a shame most people have never read original literature and use books, resources, etc that are frankly incorrect at best even if they are well written.

Finally the BJCP is very appreciative of any person that wants to help and actual research styles, beers, etc. That being said there are a massive amount of people trying to stand on principle and try and speak 'for' the BJCP. Simply, any information that has strong roots, great citations, is good information not matter how much it goes against what the common person thinks. Its hard to argue with one original source. Its nearly impossible to argue with numerous original sources all claiming the same thing. To get a group of individuals together to disparage and denigrate someones work derived from an original source is not just petty, its asinine. The status quo is not always right.

The are not infallible and are doing our best, everyday, to get better. This is the reason why I use my full name and title so people can see we are making an effort and that you can contact me directly.

Just so I'm not being misunderstood, I had a massive roll in the last update of the guidelines, I am the BJCP continuing education director and do speak directly for the thoughts and opinions of the BJCP.

If any of you think I'm trying to stick up for Ron you are very much misunderstood. Go back through our arguments. You can see that I challenge him when I think he's gone to far, has overstepped his bounds or is frankly wrong. That being said, Ron has made some great additions to my own knowledge of beer and continues, despite constant criticism, to try and educate people. I have the utmost respect for him...even if he is a 'T' sometimes. :)

Kristen England, Ph.D.
BJCP Continuing Education Director

Anonymous said...

Ron, the Alstroms are typical, but far from the worst, of these big online personas that hide in the corner in public. It's all 'hell, yeah!' and 'locking this one out' online, but you can see their mettle in real life when they can't even say 'hello' without several beers.

'Respect beer', my arse. They do a terrible disservice to beer worldwide. Keep up the good work!

Jonah said...

I live in the USA and I used to go to the BA website. That is until I found your blog. I really enjoy your historical work. I home brew beer and cider, and your beer tables are awesome.

I too have had run ins with Todd from BA. If they don't like a post they will delete it out of hand.

The American beer scene seems to be all a bunch of little boys showing who's is bigger. Its sad and bothersome.