Background

CellarTracker is the world’s largest collection of wine reviews, tasting notes and personal stories from people who love wine (cellartracker.com). CellarTracker is a free site that offers cellar and tasting note management tools.  CellarTracker also uses a voluntary annual payment model (known as a Freemium business model).  According to VinTank, CellarTracker is an institution in the wine/tech industry.  The CellarTracker database is enormous. Since its launch in 2004, the site has over 980,000 wines and 70,000 producers logged, over 1.6 million reviews.  The site garners 25 million page views per month from several hundred thousand unique visitors.

Problem Being Addressed

Snooth.com is a rival wine social networking site founded in 2006 by Phillip James.  According to VinTank.com, a digital think tank for the wine industry, Snooth is scraping data from CellarTracker, reorganizing it as their own, and using it to grow their business.  For example, ever single user tag for wine on the Snooth site appears to have been scraped.

Action Taken

Eric LeVine, CellarTracker founder, is currently exploring his legal options and may sue Snooth.  CellarTracker user tags and comments are still in use on Snooth.com.

Problems Experienced

Snooth has done an incredible job building a strong media site for wine that has significant traffic, albeit measured using specious methodologies.  They have also blazed an amazing path with business development and acquired deals with Epicurious, Wine and Spirits, and more.  Snooth has been a pioneer in mobile as it relates to trying to create a retailer locator tool for wine.  Finally, they create excellent weekly content (mostly led by Gregory Dal Piaz) that enriches the lives of wine consumers everywhere (Vintank.com).  It is unclear how much of this growth has been enabled by scraping, though it is likely considerable.  Undoubtedly, scraping has caused CellarTracker damage, damage in lost page views, new users, or business deals.  This attack was preventable.

Recommendation

CellarTracker would benefit greatly from an anti-scrape product like Scrape Defender. Scrape Defender would have prevented Snooth’s scrape in the first place. This would have freed Eric LeVine from this headache and given him more time to spend on his passion: Improving his site’s software.

References

http://www.vintank.com/2011/01/is-snooth-scraping-data-from-cellartracker/