Monday, 25 January 2010

CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2011

I’ve been somewhat tied up this past couple of days. We’ve got our branch Good Beer Guide selection meeting coming up this weekend, and I’ve been kept busy filling out a load of boring Survey Forms. The joke of it is that these forms haven’t changed much since the early days of CAMRA, and were primarily designed for old-fashioned typesetters.

We all know that the world of printing has moved on since then, but these antiquated forms are laid out in a series of blocks. Entries for each section have to be made within the relevant squares using BLOCK CAPITALS. One is not supposed to break words at the end of a line – very frustrating when you have a word that is just one letter too long to fit at the end of a line! In short, the forms are a proverbial pain in the butt!

The even bigger joke though is that these forms are not now the final format in which the data is submitted to the guide editors. Instead some poor sod (our Branch Chairman and his wife) will have to sit down at a keyboard and input all this data onto the National Online GBG Submissions System. In short local branch members are doing the bulk of the Good Beer Guide editors work for them. So what exactly is Herr Protz being paid for?

Why also have I wasted the last couple of evenings writing out pub descriptions and beer lists in BLOCK CAPITALS, a form of writing I haven’t used since primary school? Come on CAMRA get a grip, stop taking the piiss and stop taking your hard-working members for granted!


Richard said...

Would it be a difficult job to redesign the forms (if I'm understanding the problem correctly)? Most branches these days have someone semi-skilled in layout or design.

Curmudgeon said...

Our branch has set up all the likely GBG entries on a database, which means that the details only have to be checked, not re-entered in full. The total pool of maybe 50-60 contenders doesn't vary hugely year on year. Surveyors use the forms to collect the address, facilities etc but would generally compose the description electronically rather than on the form. Descriptions can then be e-mailed to the survey co-ordinator who can then just cut and paste them into the database, which then generates output in the form required by St Albans for submission.

Tandleman said...

We have our selection meeting on Sat. I'm not looking forward to filling in the forms.

Paul Bailey said...

We have all our pubs on a data base, following the survey work carried out late 2008-early 2009 for our local "Gateway to Kent" Pub Guide, (copies still available at just £4.99 each). Unfortunately I'm not sure how compatable it is with CAMRA's National Online GBG Submisions system.

I'm certain we'll get there in the end, and yes I was being slightly tongue-in-cheek about the wretched survey forms. I think the origianl idea was that they would be "machine-readable" - hence the little square blocks to write each letter in. I don't think they ever got the system to work, but we're still living with the legacy of this idea.

ChrisM said...

We use an online database which branch members upload their surveys to. The relevant entries can then be transferred to the national database at the touch of a button. Of course there is the odd hiccough, and not everyone has internet access, but it's certainly reduced the amount of work that I and the other branch officials have to do. (The database can be found at if anyone wants to have a look at it - it is designed by South Herts branch {I think} and they offer it to other branches with continual support and updates.)

Our major issue is the size of the branch area, we have to cover all the way to Berwick and most of our members live in Newcastle - and with the weather as it has been we haven't got long until our selection meeting to get the surveys done.

Of course, no matter how you do it, the selection meeting is still usually long, tedious and fraught!