I really do not like this idea, it’s been brought up before, and we’ve never ever deleted beer ratings except those that were obviously spam.
Major points to consider:
Users with 0 ratings. What harm does the account do by being present? As others noted, sometimes people use the site for info without rating. Some are affiliated with breweries and cannot rate, but still contribute. Granted some have been gone for awhile, but deleting the account discourages them from coming back and again, what harm does it do to leave it?
Users with few ratings. First, how do we define few ratings? I don’t like the potential for a slippery slope here. Second, how do we know that these few ratings are bogus? Granted some are, but for those that are not, we could be losing valuable data. For example, maybe one of these users rated an obscure out of the way beer. I would hate to lose that information just because it was the only thing they ever did on the site. Now, for those ratings that are bogus, new questions arise: what is bogus?
2a: amateur ratings by people who don’t understand craft beer styles. These should NEVER be deleted, we do not rate to style, we use the hedonic scheme. If a person likes the beer, they like it and that is truth, and should stay. RateBeer is NOT a site for only for experts and trained judges. It NEVER has been, that was never the motivation behind it. It is about regular people drinking beer in regular circumstances.
2b: spam ratings. When it is possible to PROVE a rating as spam, them delete it. If a user’s entire account can be proven spam (regardless of how many ratings), then delete them and block their IP.
Following that, there is never a good reason to delete old accounts, inactive accounts, or few-rating accounts, they all may have value in one form or another and cause no harm by their presence.
I’m not sure what “reputation” we are trying to preserve here. RateBeer is over 20 years old, quite likely could make a case for the longest continually active beer rating website in the world (I don’t know on what date BA came online, but aren’t they gone? and I haven’t checked on the Oxford Bottled Beer database in forever, I doubt its still around). Whatever challenges that can be leveled at RateBeer’s data have been done so again and again for 2 decades and we’ve withstood it. It’s done. We won. (well, until we lost to social media, but we’re hanging on, and hey, if you want to talk about a database full of amateurish rates, look no further than untappd, crikey what a mess)