Wednesday, 15 July 2009

The Cider Workshop...

Will the real: The Cider Workshop please stand up?

As you trawl round the internet, you can come across all sorts of domain names and titles for websites, groups, etc. etc. Sometimes the websites are real and as expected, but sometimes they are devious traps set by the calculating to catch out the unwary. Occasionally they are there to trick you into parting with your hard-earned money and are therefore blatantly illegal.

However, there are some folks who go out of their way to trick you into logging-on to their site just for getting hits and to stop you accessing the site you may want to get to. I'm not talking about porn or major crime here - just cider. Maybe it's driven by fear or something to hide. Or from having made a mistake but not being prepared to admit it. Or maybe being totally wrong but being unable to see anyone else's point of view?

Some months ago, a few like-minded and democratic cider-makers got together after being blocked from and effectively kicked-out of the on-line cider group they belonged to. They were ex-communicated by the group and websites owner, Andrew Roberts, because they stood up for one another, dared to speak their minds, believed in open and free-speech - and believed that campaigning and fighting for real cider and real perry was best carried out on a variety of fronts. Well the latter is fine in a democracy or where you think you have a voice and a say, but not in an autocracy where one person thinks their word is the only way: a despot.

So one by one, all the free-thinking and long-standing members of this cider group - which claims to be (quote) "...the main body representing real cider enthusiasts and small producers in the UK..." (unquote) - left because of their own frustrations at seeing free-speech crushed and fellow cider enthusiasts ejected from the group just for mentioning other groups with similar and roughly parallel aims. It soon became clear that Andrew Roberts lives in a virtual world - not a real one - when it comes to talking about, having knowledge of, and campaigning for real cider and real perry. He doesn't make the stuff, just drinks it and pontificates about it.

So the free-thinking cider-makers and enthusiasts got together and set-up their own group. It was democratic from the start, involving a small group of people from across the globe who not only drank real cider and perry but most importantly, made it. This small group quickly flourished and soon encompassed a wide range of very expert and knowledgeable people, often because they had also been blocked from ukcider - for that is what the old, dying group was called - for flirting with or daring to join the new kid on the block: The Cider Workshop.

Now it is quite common for a number of on-line groups to exist side-by-side and share membership and knowledge - car clubs for instance. The Cider Workshop hoped to do just that and collaborate with ukcider - but unfortunately Andrew Roberts was having none of this and so started a "Cider Workshop" war. Someone has joined the Cider Workshop discussion google group under the false and misleading name of "CiderWorkshop" - originally it was "Wokshop" but we won't hold that against him - and is using the false email address of: Now who would do that if they didn't have something to hide? This person has been asked to use a username which cannot be confused with the real admin side of the real and genuine The Cider Workshop - but they have refused. Now why is that? Who could want to cause mischief by pretending they are something that they are not? Some have suggested that it must be Mr Andrew Roberts, but that remains to be proved. But their actions are certainly devious and, most suspect, ultimately malicious. The posts which emanate from this character are also bizarre.

It gets worse... If you google "ciderworkshop" you'll will get lots and lots of hits that lead you back to... yes, you've guessed it: ukcider or, surprisingly Mr Andrew Roberts; he even uses a photo of himself alongside the name "Cider Workshop" on sites like the knol and edocr. Now why is that when he has nothing whatsoever to do with The Cider Workshop - unless it is intentional of course.

Andrew Roberts also uses "CiderWorkshop" on twitter - why, when "his" website is ukcider? Unless he is out to deliberately deceive and undermine any attempts to get a truly democratic and friendly cider discussion group and cider resource site, up and running? Some may claim that Mr Roberts is afraid of any competition whatsoever. I'm sure that deep inside he is so concerned with promoting real cider and real perry in the UK, that he is more than happy to let ukcider stand on it's own without trying to prop it up with false domain names and false links to lead all searches to ukcider.

Oh, I mentioned edocr earlier. I hear on the grapevine (not sure whether it is true or not) that my good friend Rose Grant is very unhappy that Andrew Roberts appears to have lifted some of her work from her own blog without permission in order to post it elsewhere in connection with his name and links to ukcider? (Alongside tags falsely leading to "ciderworkshop" of course. By falsely, read "to ukcider"). I do understand though that Rose's argument is over moral and intellectual rights seeing as she wrote the blog herself in her own style. Is nothing sacred? Plagiarism is a very low act indeed.

But plagiarism and cloning are exactly what you will find on ukcider's wiki it seems. Many folks tried to remove their work when leaving the group, deleting it en masse - but it has miraculously reappeared it seems. There has been the odd clumsy attempt to re-write stuff, but unfortunately the names of the recently departed are still to be seen attached to articles which they thought they'd deleted. It is very easy to spot re-written articles when they are re-written by someone who personally seems to know very little about the subject in hand.

Allegedly a number of providers and web owners have removed some of these false links set up by Andrew Roberts to ukcider which purported to be links to The Cider Workshop group and website. Likewise, someone hiding behind the logo of ukcider has been attempting to get permission to use photographs from the flickr website under the false user name of "Cider Workshop". Now who could that be...? Answers on a postcard to....