Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ethics and Beer Blogging

My very first beer-related avatar...
It should be obvious to anyone reading this post that drinking craft beer is my hobby. Some people collect stamps or coins or travel brochures from motel lobbies; I collect beer drinking experiences. The problem with my hobby is that there is very little physical evidence left behind--other than my ample and ever-expanding beer gut--to represent the actual "collection". Sure, I could collect bottles or bottle caps, but that doesn't provide much detail, and my memory isn't all that sharp--according to my wife, anyway.

I started Beer Guy PDX back in February 2013 as a way to keep track of all the delicious craft beer I drink. It was really nothing more than a personal diary, a glorified spreadsheet, and I really didn't think anybody would be interested in reading my very unprofessional reviews and rants. Sure, I always imagined somebody out there was interested. I believe most bloggers are an odd mix of introversion, hope and hubris, myself included.

Looking at the analytic data on my blog, I know that about two hundred people read my blog posts every day. It's not a massive readership, but I certainly do have a loyal group of followers. The fact that people actually read what I write has absolutely changed the WAY I write and the content of my blog. For example, I now include news of upcoming beer festivals and events. I post information that I believe may be useful for tourists and local beer enthusiasts. Media and branding professionals send me press releases and I post many of them because I want to help promote the centerpiece of my obsession: Oregon craft beer. And while I do not consider myself to be a real "journalist" by any stretch, I have come to the conclusion that my little bit of power requires a little bit of responsibility.

I've created my own ethical tenets for beer blogging. They are as follows:

1) Keep it positive. I've read some pretty scorching beer reviews in other blogs. Personally, I don't see how that's at all useful or helpful. One of my main goals is the promotion of craft beer, particularly Oregon craft beer. It is a selfish goal, I will admit. The more successful the Oregon craft beer industry is, the more delicious beer there will be for ME to drink! WIN, WIN! If I taste a craft beer that I don't really like, I usually won't review it. The way I see it, there are so many fantastic craft beers that deserve a good word, it would be a waste of time to focus on the occasional clunker. There are some exceptions, like my coveted "golden turd" award, but those reviews are always tongue in cheek and about a brew that really, really deserves the turd.

2) Reveal any perks and freebies. I don't sell any ads on my blog. The ones you see are from Google AdSense. I don't have any control over the specific ads displayed and I receive very little money. They help pay for my web service fees and that's about it. Sometimes, brewers will send my a beer or two in the mail to taste and review--I know, right? How awesome is that? Also, I get invited to media events--beer releases, special tasting dinners, comped festival tickets. I always make an effort to be right up front about these situations. My opinions and my taste buds aren't for sale and I don't ever want it to appear that someone is buying a good review.

3) If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. This one goes along with number one. Another blogger wrote a mean-spirited review of a local beer festival a while back, and I found it so offensive I couldn't finish reading it. Much of the "review" focused on making fun of other festival goers for their personal physiognomy. Somebody was fat, somebody was skinny, somebody else was wearing white after Labor Day. That's not cool. I try to treat everyone with the appropriate level of respect and dignity. You won't find any mean in my blog, and if you do, please call me on it. I'll make it right.

4) Give credit where credit is due. I always try to cite the source of my information. If I snag a photo or a quote from someone else, which is rare, I'll post the credit. If possible, I'll post a link to the source.

5) Promote responsible imbibing. I never drink and drive and I will promote the use of public transportation and designated drivers as often as possible. Don't drink and drive.

6) Make it right. If I ever make a mistake in a post, I promise to always fix it as soon as I know about the error. I'll always take full responsibility for any screw up I make.

That's it. I hope my little ol' beer blog is a place people feel safe and comfortable visiting. I use some salty language from time to time, but hopefully, it's never too offensive.


1 comment:

  1. So, I just discovered you today via twitter, and I love this post. It's honest and a good way to be clear on exactly how you approach things.

    I'll admit, these aren't precisely my tenants at my blog, though exceptionally close. Probably part of why I love this. I try not to be mean or disrespectful, but I'll absolutely speak up and out when necessary. That said, I basically don't review beers but exceptionally rarely, so when I am not positive, it's usually larger than a "clunker" of a beer.

    Looking forward to perusing more of your blog. Thanks!