Untappd - A Case Study

In recent years there has been a lot of complaining about the few ratings and entries on RB, particularly in comparisons to UT (which is accurate). I had a firsthand experience with the power of UT recently. Thought it would be worthwhile to share my observations:

A new brewery opened up in my neighborhood in Baltimore. It was an homebrew shop that turned into a brewery. As common for breweries, they anticipated a fall 2018 opening but didn’t open till late January.

I skipped opening weekend and the second weekend but came in on the Tuesday after. Meaning the place was open for 11 days. In those 11 days there were only 6 beers available for purchase.

Since I am currently deciding my role on RB, I have not added the brewery or the beers to RB. Instead, I checked-in on UT.

For the 6 beers, after 11 days , there were ~140 check-ins per beer. Additionally, there are a total of 24 beer entries.

24 Entries??? There are only 6 commercially available beers since the brewery has been open legally. The other entries are likely homebrews from the shop. These would have never been allowed on RB.

~140 check-ins in less than 2 weeks. RB could never meet those numbers. The user base on RB has never been that strong. Even if there was a hot shot, sour, barrel aged, jesus tears new brewery opening up it would never be able to draw such a large crowd. As typical, the vast majority of check-ins did not have words and the numbers were very different from mine. Also, I am not sure the styles were accurate.

This experience has shown me that RB hasn’t really gotten much worse in its db. I do experience less camaraderie, less activity, and see less RBians but I am more convinced that JoeT has been accurate in saying that there are still a lot of people rating (more than ever apparently). However, UT is tapping a very different market of people. People that likely would have never wound up on RB anyway. The RB db was at once probably the best but likely always poor in comparison to all the available beer. UT now has the most complete db (for recent times). The issue, for me, seems that RB has always been RB, which is a small segment for geeky beer drinkers. UT is the exact opposite of that. We used to have some pride in our geekiness b/c we could say we are part of this small and specialized group. But now that beer knowledge (and beer assessment) has become democratized. Which means a lot more people are doing it but at a lesser level on average.

I don’t know, just a bunch of thoughts that no one may find all that interesting.

10 Likes

Admin work is the big difference between RB and UT, everything is validated by admins here… UT is a land of multiple duplicates and fake places. This is the major bonus this site have over UT. Everything is verified.

UT being more popular is mainly because the phone App is working perfectly (RB is still full of bugs and missing basic functionalities), and for a very long time now (on the contrary, RB is still on the beginning process of implanting one that don’t rely on the website all the time).

Those points UT attracted a lot more people to UT over the last years, which result in a more complete database way more quickly. Even if it’s full of duplicates, at least it’s in the database and it has enough ratings to have a real score for the new beers, when in RB, new brewers often struggle to get enough ratings to have their beers scored correctly… And if you have less users vs a rapidly expanding beer scene, you don’t have a complete database, many users just wont bother if they don’t find the products and will switch platform to the most popular one, that’s a vicious circle…

Still, RB seems to me the better place because I don’t like many things on UT like the excessive award system, the fact that everybody take pics of their glass and that the few useful reviews are lost in a sea of useless ones.

RB will need to find a way to attract more people if they want to survive, but without becoming a poor UT clone. One thing I always advocated is to make every ratings (reviews, quick ratings and ticks) count in the beer score and be public (with an option to toggle it to private if a user prefer it to stay private / offline rating). They just need to keep the long reviews prioritized in display in every way.

7 Likes

I personally find it funny that overall top 5 (!) rated beers in untappd are ABInBev products. If rb’s top 5 was ABInBev products, everyone and their mother would say that RB is biased…

12 Likes

Now this is the heart of it for me.
The market HAS changed. Way more people are interested in drinking ‘craft’ beer some because like us they think its better, some because they have bought into the marketing, some cause that’s what their friends drink… …

None of this is bad. Along side this along comes social media, where clever brewers, influential friends etc can impact in a way they couldn’t before.

Along side this comes the documenting your life as you go. Selfies(which as far as im concerned is still something i do in the bedroom when the wifes not in the mood) , photographing our meals etc, and in steps untapped. Oh look i had this beer here.

So the beer market has widened brining a wider demographic, life for many has changed bringing online documentation of what were doing. On top of this social media (Facebook/Twitter) gives us an online place to keep in touch with friends and people with like minded interests. Suddenly i dont need to hang out on rb to chat beer. Some of my friends are or i can access beer folk in the same place i access my non beer friends.

Im 100 percent sure id be an untapped user if i hit beer now. It’s quick simple easy. BUT im also 100 percent sure id have missed out on what i have now.

Many people including many here think im just ticking. Hell theres no denying thats an element. But rb has made me think about what i like, and though many rates have spelling mistakes galore. You will find if you look those i really have something to say. Same with the attributes. Many fall into a standard pattern. But that just highlights those where aroma outshines. Or that everything amazing but its got low overall as its not really a beer but some chocolate syrupy tasty mess

I think (and many people i respect hold different opinions) that RB needs to find common ground. Make it easy to attract new people (with out the new we die) but also allow and encourage the more thoughtfull review (but be aware many people think rb users are self proclaimed experts. ALL IM AN EXPERT IN IN WHAT I, AND I ALONE LIKE) give space to both. Accept both as valid ways to enjoy and track an individual beer life.

And here endeth the sermon.

7 Likes

Link? That would fascinate me

This is wrong perception. Yes, UT has way more casual users. But also some of the craziest beer geeks I’ve met, also beer judges, homebrewers, professional brewers and people from the industry.

1 Like

Ome thing to take into account. Does Untappd not allow multiple check-ins of the same beer. So one person has four pints of the same beer and it counts four times.

Depends what are you looking at. There are total and unique checkins.

UT has admins aswell. Regular people like on RB. But as it has peen pointed out the user base is much bigger so more false entries automatically. And another point is the knowledge, people on RB have a bigger knowledge and background and interst in beer, hence they are here and actually rate and describe a beer. People on untappd are the broad mass they dont know much of the, most of them at least. This equals in way more work for the fe admins. I know one of the admins for Germany and he is really busy cleaning up, if I find bigger mistakes I contact him directly and he is submitting the change.

Just put in a year in the name, and then you can have two or more unique cheks of the same exact beer.
Miss spel the beer name, then you olso have two or more unique
Breweries that use several labels for the exact same beer, then you get two or more unique cheks

These are just bad quality of the db on untappd
The quality of the db here on rb is way better - and it is the main reason i will stay here

Hopefully the good data quality here will stay good, but we will see

2 Likes

Also don’t forget a lot of breweries handle their untappd profiles and take care of beer lists.

1 Like

And pics on the beers’ profile pages.

Affiliated users also exist here, they just don’t botter anymore…I’m ok that they can enter new beers or if they could update a place …but they can be trouble for admins, especially when a beer have bad ratings…or if they don’t follow conventions…

A lot of misconceptions being thrown around here. Apparently there’s a limit on tagging users so I won’t tag everyone I’ve responded to, sorry.

  1. “Beers aren’t verified at UT like they are at RB” @Viper666.Qc
    Wrong. We verify everything too. There are currently 5000+ pending in England alone and we have the biggest admin team outside of the US. You guys have no idea just how many beers are being released and added on a daily basis if you think this is easily manageable and is absolutely insane compared to how much is added to RB.
    Some are near enough impossible to verify, small breweries, only 1 or 2 checkins, often no photos. Unless we can say for sure it doesn’t exist, we leave them. Not sure this is inherently bad?

  2. A land of duplicates and…
    So submit a merge? It’s very easy to do. You can’t expect admins to find all these themselves, UT relies on user corrections as much as RB does.

  3. Fake places
    UT uses FourSquare/Swarm for place data, which itself allows anyone to create a place for anything, so I don’t think you can blame this one on UT. But yes you are right in that there are many “fake” places, usually peoples houses or “funny” street names. But who cares? How is this impacting your use of the app? It’s extremely obvious what is fake and what is real. People’s homes don’t even show up in searches anyway as they’re private to the user who created them.

  4. “people on RB have a bigger knowledge and background and interst in beer”
    You’d be surprised how many of us Ratebeerians are also on Untappd then. If you’re talking users in general then yes you’re absolutely right, RB reigns supreme over UT. But in terms of admin? Nah, it’s pretty much the same. RB has some insanely knowledgeable people who I’ve interacted with over the years, but so does UT, they’re just less visible because no public forums.

  5. Does Untappd not allow multiple check-ins of the same beer. So one person has four pints of the same beer and it counts four times. @BeardedAvenger
    It allows multiple checkins. If you were to checkin 4 pints of the same beer, it would count 4 times towards the beers total checkins (an ultimately useless stat), it would count 1 time towards unique checkins, and as for how it affects the beer’s average score, it will be an average of your 4 checkins.

  6. @cgarvieuk re: top rated beers being ABInBev
    Yes, @martjoobolut is right. It’s Goose Island variants though, not Budweiser or anything like that https://untappd.com/beer/top_rated so you can argue it’s deserved. But yeah it’s somewhat ironic and I find it odd too.

  7. RB seems to me the better place because I don’t like many things on UT like the excessive award system. @Viper666.Qc
    I tend to agree if I’m honest. However, you might be surprised at how effective some of those badges can be, especially ones for rarer styles/countries. You find people going out of their way to try new styles, or trade with people from smaller relatively unknown countries. I think this is a good thing and a healthy one for the beer industry. So it’s not all bad, even if you find it annoying, as many do.

I’m not sure if you were saying this was a bad thing or a good thing, but just to clarify what’s happened here (if you tell me the name of the brewery I can verify).
Homebreweries (and thus, homebrewed beers) are allowed on UT but are not counted towards any stats, they also appear at the bottom of search results so any commercial entities are always first.
If/when a brewery goes commercial, their status is changed and they become eligible for inclusion in top rated lists etc. Their previous beers will still be marked as homebrew though, and should be marked as out of production by an admin (this’ll rely on user submitted corrections) which in turn will hide them from the public list and they will no longer count towards that brewery’s total beers.

  1. Also don’t forget a lot of breweries handle their untappd profiles and take care of beer lists. @iznogud
    Yes, and for the most part this is incredibly helpful. Actually a large amount of corrections I’ve submitted here on RB are thanks to the brewery themselves on UT handling/correcting stuff before admins even get to it. It really helps reduce admin workload (except when they get things wrong, which thankfully doesn’t happen too often).

  2. Adding vintages to raise unique checkin count
    Yep, this is a genuine problem, and one which literally everyone hates. Users who do this intentionally are usually flagged. Breweries must opt-in to allow non-legitimate vintages to be merged into the parent entry, and sadly many just don’t care about it which is why so many exist.

  3. Miss spel the beer name, then you olso have two or more unique @bergstaden
    Remember it’s a mobile app, misspellings are common, people are often checking in beers not in their native language. Your own post proves this. And again, submit a correction when you come across these things, just like you would on RB.

6 Likes

https://untappd.com/beer/top_rated

actually, only 4 of the top5 are AB-IB - Rare 2010 was before they were bought.

Rare 2010 is also Top10 in our list, but the others come quite late.

To the rest of the discussion: yes, Untappd definitely has got the law of large numbers working towards it, while many local beers hardly ever get out of the bayesian bias on RB. That is not so much important for me, who uses RB to keep track of my own ticks and the ticks of my friends: I care more about what particular people write about a beer than about scores. Still unfortunate for us that we don’t have accurate statistics on many beers.

3 Likes

Also if you tick the beers in production box only one AbInbev beer in top 50 will show.

@LazyPyro submitting a correction , request to merge does not help when nothiong is done about it for over 3 years.
I live in a small town with 3500 in town centre and 5600 in the entire municipality.
We even have a small brewery.
Over 3 years ago I signed up to untappd to have a look, register the local brew I had.
Saw mistakes, alias of label beers - proposed meregers of alias beers and nothing has happend for these 3 years. Logged in those local I had on untappd and now 2 beers that are unique are merged into other beers.
Take a look at the two links below. The difference in numbers between rb an untappd is for the most part just label, alias beers.
https://www.ratebeer.com/brewers/roros-bryggeri-og-mineralvannsfabrikk/13606/


If mistakes - alias beers - arent fixed in over 3 years ?
I can send you some info to clean up the brewery, then perhaps untappd can look a little bit better as well

Yeah ok this makes sense now, Scandinavia as a region is not as well covered on UT as it is on RB, by users or admins for that matter.
There’s no pending edits in the Norway queue for this particular brewery though, but I’ll take a look and cross reference with RB and see if I clean it up a little. I’ll message you at some point for any further info to help clean it up.
P.s if a beer was incorrectly merged with another, we can always reverse it as long as there’s some evidence to show that they are in fact different beers, then everything will be back to how it was.

Thank you @LazyPyro for setting the record straight on some of these misconceptions of UT. It’s irritating as F when people keep parroting the same nonsense they ‘heard from someone’ - like repetition creates truth or something.

UT is far from perfect - if it was, we’d all be there and not here. But the notion that they don’t give two Fs about the quality of their database is total bullshit.

3 Likes

I know my responses are futile and fall on deaf ears sometimes so it’s nice to know someone reads the things I write. Thanks.

Long post incoming because I’m bored and can’t sleep, first here’s a TL;DR:

  • Both sites have their pros and cons
  • Admins on both sites are striving for the best and put in a ton of work for which they receive little to no recognition.
  • Be happy that multiple sites exist and push each other to improve.
  • Realise that some problems we experience are somewhat localised to our region, and may not apply to the entire site as a whole.

Most of the complaints don’t bother me personally but the one thing that does is the implication that UT admins are lazy or unknowledgable about beer. You can say that about a large portion of casual users I’ll give you that, the nature of the app and virtually no barrier to entry almost encourages carelessness on the part of the users, despite efforts to curtail that.
But admins at both sites know damn well how much work is involved, and all of us do it voluntarily, so slagging off other admins just because they do their work for a different site… I don’t know, I just don’t get it. Pretty sure there’s a few people who admin for both sites too, or used to at least. Shouldn’t underestimate people’s passion and dedication to beer. A lot of us really care about what we’re doing and strive for the integrity of the database(s).

I’m not blind to UT’s problems either, and I hope people don’t think I’m on some pro-UT crusade against RB, I mean RB has enough to content with right now, not least of which is backlash against the ABI buyout. Some of the complaints posted here about UT are perfectly valid, the fake vintage issue is well known, and there are some regions that for whatever reason just aren’t well covered, as bergstaden’s post above demonstrated, but that doesn’t mean the entire site is this bad.

Same thing happens on RB too, it’s just that due to the smaller size it’s not seen as such a big problem. I don’t think we can realistically make the argument that we’re so much better here, I mean sure, in some areas we may well be. But for example I’ve had corrections for top UK beers that took over a month for someone to look at, and it was something that was instantly verifiable, I even linked to the source of the information. I don’t blame any of the admins for this though, we’re all volunteering our time, we can’t be permanently on each and every thing someone submits.

There are mutual benefits borne of both sites too. For example when someone adds a new beer on RB and an admin needs to verify it exists, does anyone seriously think they completely ignore Untappd’s existence? Chances are it has hundreds of checkins there already, some of which will be showing pump clips with the name and ABV etc.
On UT when there’s an older beer with few ratings and little info, does anyone seriously think admins completely ignore RB’s existence and not check here for info?

To sum up… I have no life and spend far too much time on both sites, I feel like I see the best and worst of both of them on a daily basis, yet I still have no intention of stopping what I do for either site.

I don’t think people perpetuating myths about UT and RB (there’s a lot more of it now that ABI have 100% ownership), and people dispelling them, will ever end and I’m not sure why I bother responding sometimes but I just like people to have more of a fuller picture of what’s going on. If only one person reads what I have to say then that’s ok, better than nothing. I’m going to bed now.


Basically, if UT doesn’t work for you, then don’t use it, stick to RB. And vice versa.
If you’re lucky, you can comfortably use and enjoy both.

/rant

14 Likes