In a recent effort to scrub its site of neo-Nazis, domestic violence enthusiasts, and other internet bottom-feeders, Reddit has begun shutting down subreddits on a case-by-case basis. This week, the crackdown ensnared an unlikely forum: the beer-trading subreddit.
Paste reports that r/beertrade was shut down this week, deactivating one of the most popular online communities of beer traders. Beer trading—for the n00bs—is how beer nerds obtain sought-after goodies that aren’t available in their area. Individuals post what they are ISO—in search of—and what they have FT—for trade. So, if I live in Missouri, I might be ISO Jester King wild ales with some Side Project beers FT. Usually, forums keep online ledgers of completed trades, so prospective traders can verify that their partner isn’t going to stiff them on some 16-ounce cans of triple dry-hopped milkshake IPAs.
Beer trading doesn’t often involve the exchange of money—that would be beer selling, I guess—but it operates in a legal gray area, since alcohol is a controlled substance and transporting it for sale across state lines is illegal. But beer traders aren’t selling beer, just swapping it, and the cops probably have bigger fish to fry. Still, shipping companies usually have policies against sending beer to another individual through the mail, meaning some traders have to get creative in disguising what it is they’re shipping.
The murky nature of trading is what led Reddit to shut down r/beertrade, stating that it violates the site’s policy against transactions involving controlled substances. A Reddit employee posted this explanation:
The update does encompass these subs. We considered this a lot, and this change is not due to any bad actions by these particular communities. However, due to the controlled nature of alcohol, Reddit is not built to ensure that the sales are happening legally, and so we can no longer continue to host communities solely dedicated to trading of alcohol or other controlled substances.
Still, traders are pissed, with many sounding off in the replies to the above post citing what they consider Reddit’s arbitrary application of the site’s policy rules.
Rest easy though, neckbeards, there are still plenty of online homes for beer trading, including BeerAdvocate, TalkBeer, and increasingly, in the comments threads of breweries’ Instagram posts. Just don’t tell FedEx, k?