On websites like Ratebeer.com and BeerAdvocate.com users can review beers they've tried and post them for all to see. Both websites keep track of the number of reviews for each user, and this number can be viewed by everyone on the site. This can lead to some users being motivated by 'struggle' to be the top reviewer, or more accurately, the reviewer with the most reviews. The number of reviews gives a semi-accurate number of the number of beers a user has tried. Of course, not all people review each beer they actually try. Still, this counting can be annoying to some and the meaning of life to others.
Ticking is fairly similar, although instead of randomly trying a beer to review it and have your overall number increase, the 'ticker' has a list of beer to try (say, top rated American Double Imperial Stouts) and checks off each beer as it's tried. Each 'conquered' beer receives a tick next to it on the list. As with counting, this ticking drives some beer lovers crazy. But why?
One answer comes from those who detest turning beer into a means to an end. "Enjoy the beer not its number", is what they might say. Others view 'ticking' as adding hype to certain beers that are rare for various reasons (one time brew, limited distribution...). This hype can tarnish reviews and reputation of these beers.
Tickers and Counters have their reasons; it's fun, keeps motivated to try new beers, provides marketing for brewers, etc. Who's right? Well, first, who cares? Both sides believe they are right, and the other wrong. It wouldn't make much difference to declare a winner in this debate. Yet, I say they are both right and both wrong. Here's what I mean:
There are many aspects to beer that can be/are enjoyable. For me, looking at my total number of reviews on BeerAdvocate.com gives me a sense of adventure, "wow, I've traveled much in the beer world". I don't strive for a mile-stone number, but I do recognize the current number. I do keep a list of beers I want to try, but it's my own list, not a list of the Top 100 or Best 50. I tick the beers from my list, which has rare beers, popular beers, beers from other regions and beer from certain styles I like. By 'counting' and 'ticking' I have come to enjoy the beer, the allocation of beer, and the journey beer loving provides. In the end, I don't really care how other people enjoy beer, just as long as they do.