When I first got into beer in the early 1990s, I presumed that all CAMRA members tried as many different beers as they could get their hands on. I thought that everybody bought the Good Beer Guide and ticked off each beer they had tried, and seek out all those they hadn't. I soon discovered that people who did this were called tickers or scoopers and that, in actual fact, not all CAMRA members did this at all. In fact the more I became interested in scooping I realised that some people have a pretty solid hatred of scoopers, failing to see sense in the hobby and accusing them of being no different from train spotters and other obsessive collectors.
A lot of scoopers would probably agree that their hobby is an obsession and that they are collecting beers in their books or on their hard drive, but I ask what is the harm in that? Brewers make beer; we drink them. Drinking the same beer all the time is just like going to the same destination every year on holiday; it's boring and doesn't broaden your horizons in any way.
Beer festivals should be an ideal ground for scoopers, after all nobody goes to a festival and drinks the same beer all night do they? Most punters don't have a clue what beers they are drinking at a festival will taste like, don't really care anyway, and will probably never see them again, so festivals could fill their lists with new beers. Yet some festivals discourage scoopers. I've read articles in festival programmes deriding them. I don't doubt some scoopers are a nuisance asking for beers that are not yet ready, but it is the customer's prerogative to ask and the staff's prerogative to refuse on the grounds of a beer not yet being ready, and that should be the end of it. Criticisms are made of scoopers bottling beer to take away, but so what, they've paid for it, and it's up to them how and when they drink their beer.
I stopped scooping per se in 2000. I no longer had the desire or ability to travel to every beer festival in the vicinity , and in a fit of madness actually threw out the records of the 3000+ beers I had. I still drank new beers if I saw them on my pub visits but didn't keep a list. However since 2004 and finding RateBeer I have started scopping again. It is though scooping with a difference - i.e. I make tasting notes of all the beers I try, actually trying to understand each beer. And this is my sole criticism of scoopers. Too many don't dissect their beers, and seemingly don't care whether they are good or bad. However it's their money and therefore their choice. One thing is true to say though, despite any problem people have with scoopers they certainly spend enough money behind pub and festival bars, and therefore should be the licensee's friend.
There are some excellent resources for scoopers on the net: Quaffale is a directory of all British Breweries; Beermad aims to list every beer known to have been brewed in the UK since 1986; Scoopergen is the personal website of infamous scooper Gazza Prescott and has more information on the hobby and its followers than you could ever need to know; Scoopgen is a yahoo group used for the sharing of information about beerlists in pubs and festivals as well as other gen. All these websites are highly recommended.