First up is Fancyapint? This describes itself as “a pub guide to London pubs and other pubs in the UK” and claims to have 33,686 pubs on its database. One of the pubs featured on the front page is the Grey Horse in Manchester. It’s a smart-looking site, although perhaps with a little too much advertising clutter. However, it’s let down by a rather clunky search facility based on Google Maps, and if you’re looking at a particular pub it doesn’t show a list of other nearby pubs. There are quite a lot of pubs listed outside London, but the selection comes across as somewhat random. The Black Swan only has a placeholder. Like most of these sites, information about pubs is entirely dependent on content submitted by users.
Then there is Pubs.com, which says that it is “an independent guide to traditional English pubs”. This is another professional-looking site, and has a better search facility which will display all listed pubs close to any selected location. However, once you’re outside London the coverage is very patchy, much more so than Fancyapint?, and often seems to add up to no more than a scattering of pubs that readers happen to have come across. For example, there are only 11 pubs listed within 20 miles of Stockport, and none in the town itself. There’s no mention whatsoever of the Black Swan. Having said that, where there is a listing the entries are reasonably informative, with a general description of the pub and also opening hours and food serving times which few of the other sites mention. See, for example, this entry for the Marble Arch in Manchester.
To my eye, Pubs.com is the better of the two, but both are very much London-oriented and so don’t really stand up as national guides. If you were only interested in pubs in London they would probably be a lot more useful.
However, as I said in my previous post, what is really needed is for one site to develop sufficient critical mass that it starts to attract all the user contributions that are currently spread too thinly in ten or more different places.