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WikiProject Beer

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Beer from the cask
The Guinness Brewery in Dublin, Ireland
Hops in a hop yard in Hallertau, Germany
A tent at Munich's Oktoberfest, the world's largest beer festival

This week, we ordered a round with WikiProject Beer. Started in March 2005, the project has seen many ups and downs, shifting from a thriving community in 2006 to a battlefield in 2007 to a shell of its former self in 2008. Since then, old and new contributors have gradually rebuilt the project, which now includes over 100 members working on 1,700 pages. The project covers the beverage, breweries, brands, festivals, organizations, drinking games, and drinking establishments. Contributors are invited to peruse the project's collection of online sources when creating and expanding articles. WikiProject Beer is part of the large WikiProject Food and Drink family, serving as a parent for the Pub Task Force and sharing resources with the Beverages Task Force, Bartending Task Force, WikiProject Wine, and WikiProject Spirits. We interviewed SilkTork and Farrtj.

What motivated you to join WikiProject Beer? What kind of beer do you prefer?

SilkTork: I am a beer writer, so it was natural to join a project dealing with that topic. At the time I joined it was a large, active and friendly project, and we made positive progress on working together on articles, sorting out the categories and building up a set of article guidelines. Unfortunately there was a period of dissent over using home brewing style guidelines as reliable sources, and it became unpleasant as there was a lot of edit warring and arguing. Most participants, myself included, drifted away, and the project diminished. Fortunately the users at the heart of the dissent have left and not edited for some years, so it would be great if people returned and new members joined. There have been a trickle of new members joining who have been doing good work; User:Farrtj is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable new member who has written a Good Article on Stones Brewery.
Farrtj: WikiProject Beer was the first Wikiproject I joined. As a casual Wikipedia user I had always found that Wikipedia articles always suited my needs, until I encountered the beer related articles, many of which I considered to be weak. For the first time I saw articles where I could feasibly expect to improve an article. I may write about beer in the future, and this project seemed like good training ground for that. I like stout most of all.

On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate Wikipedia's coverage of beer and related topics? Are there aspects of beer that are better covered than others?

SilkTork: We need more people to work on improving articles. We only have two Good Articles: Beer and Stones Brewery, and one FA, noitulovE (which is about a Guinness advert, and not directly a beer article). I have been tinkering with Brewing for years, and keep meaning to get back to work on the Guinness article and its related articles: Guinness Brewery, Diageo, Arthur Guinness. Guinness was a Good Article but was delisted in 2007. If people have a favourite beer or brewery, they are urged to join the project and get writing!
Farrtj: I see Wikipedia's coverage of beer related articles as a weak point in Wikipedia's arsenal, but maybe that's because beer and breweries are an area that I have considerable expertise in. I don't wish to be negative, but I will say that whilst my experience of WikiProjects is fairly limited, WikiProject Beer seems to suffer from a serious manpower deficit.

What are some of the biggest challenges to improving articles about beer? Does the project deal with a considerable amount of vandalism? How frequently does the notability of drinks and pubs become an issue?

SilkTork: Now that the disputes are behind us, I think the main problems are 1) enthusiastic beer drinkers listing their favourite beer brands, sometimes with their personal opinions on the flavour, rather than providing encyclopedic material; 2) brewers writing their own articles in advertising language; 3) a lack of decent reliable sources from which to build articles; and 4) not enough people willing to write in depth and quality on beer related topics.
The notability of individual brands and pubs is an issue. It is difficult to pin down notability as some brands and some pubs may be mentioned or reviewed many times on the internet - informal beer and pub rating websites are very common, and there are also a number of beer bloggers.
Farrtj: Manpower deficit is the prime issue. I don't really disagree with what User:SilkTork says on the issue.

How difficult is it to find images for beer articles? Are there any articles badly in need of photography to which the readers of the Signpost could easily contribute?

SilkTork: There are many images stored in Commons - though more are always welcome. There have been problems in the past with people stringently applying copyright law to images of beer labels and putting up beer images for deletion, sometimes entire categories, but since Mike Godwin said: "I don't believe there's a copyright problem with photographs of wine-bottle labels", deletion nominations of both wine and beer labels have declined markedly.

Describe the relationship between WikiProject Beer and its parent, WikiProject Food and Drink. Does WikiProject Beer collaborate with WikiProject Wine or WikiProject Spirits? Have you been involved in any of the task forces for bartending, pubs, and beverages?

SilkTork: User:Jerem43 of Food and Drink works closely with Beer, and is responsible for much of the look of the project pages. While many beer articles fit under Food and Drink, many also fit under WikiProject Companies, and much of the material in our notability guidelines is taken from WP:ORG. The Pub Taskforce was set up with great enthusiasm by a few of us a while back, but then drifted. It would be awesome if people could get behind that to work on organising and assessing our many pub articles - too many of them are advertising stubs for non notable pubs, but some of the material could be used in the nearest appropriate settlement article. John Brunt V.C. (public house) could be merged into Paddock Wood, for example. Indeed, I'd like to see more information on pubs in settlement articles, such as Covent Garden#Pubs and bars, as that puts them in context.

Next week, the Report will drop by a major metropolitan area in the world's second largest country geographically. You'll be visiting the archive until then, eh?


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