The Lobby: Off-topic discussion

Hello and welcome to The Lobby! Your place to discuss subjects that just don’t fit in our other conversations. Make yourself at home!

Do you want to discuss an issue but can’t find the right place to post it? Or maybe you’re looking for somewhere to chat with your community pals? Well, you’ve come to the right place…

As with any community or conversation it can – and does – wander off-topic. This is perfectly natural, but it hasn’t always been possible to do so on some of our posts because of the precisely defined nature of each subject.

So, at the behest of some of our community members, we created this off-topic discussion area – The Lobby.

Any ideas spawned here in The Lobby could generate new posts for debate and discussion on Which? Conversation, so you – our community members – are able to help shape the direction of our community.

What happened to the original Lobby?

Why do we have two Lobbies? Well, like all good franchises, we wanted to experiment with a sequel. But seriously, the original Lobby was so popular (with almost 13,000 comments), it was becoming hard to load the page.

So we’re starting fresh with what we’re affectionately calling “The Lobby 2”.

No comments from first Lobby have been deleted, and you can still link to comments, but you won’t be able to add new comments.

Guidelines

To ensure The Lobby remains a healthy and friendly place for you all to share your thoughts, musings all of our Community Guidelines apply, with the exception of one:

You may go off-topic… that is the purpose of The Lobby.  🙂

Looking for other areas to talk?

• Website feedback: Let us know about any technical issues, and share your ideas on the future of Which? Conversation

Which.net closure: A discussion about the closure of Which.net

Which? Members: Discuss issues related to our organisation, including governance

Welcome to the Lobby!

So without further ado… welcome! What are you waiting for!?

Comments
Member

Welcome to Lobby II; return of the lobbyists…

Member

I hope this Lobby 2 proves as successful and enjoyable as the first.

Ian, your breakfast offers have been missing lately. Is this due to an absence of crumpets caused by the shortage of CO₂?

Member

Think they slipped through the .net, Malcolm. However, new Lobby, new CEO – perhaps a bright new future for Which? Who knows?

Member

Well, we won’t know at this AGM but 2019 should prove interesting? I hope things change. Otherwise we might be suggesting a Which?2

Member

I thought that we were tackling the carbon dioxide shortage with hot air. 🙂

Member

There will, no doubt, be some topics raised in The Lobby” (v.1) that should be continued here as they were never resolved.

Questions were asked about the ability to see the price of Which? subscriptions and I asked:
“malcolm r says:23 July 2018
Could you not have a Which?Sub so you can put in your requirements and find the best available package, either on a fixed term subscription or a variable one?

It does seem odd, though, that Which?’s products cannot be simply priced in a transparent way. Maybe having to ring up simply puts people off asking, particularly potential new members? It seems easier to find an energy tariff……...

OK, the first part was a bit tongue in cheek, but I think it should be clear what each service/component/magazine from Which? costs, without the need to interrogate them on the phone or have complicated deals. I suggest it will also put off potential new subscribers.

Member

Hi Malcolm, unbundling ideas like these are being explored!

Member

@patrick, thanks.

Member

I wonder why so much of the discussion in The Lobby was about subjects for which we already have relevant Convos. I’m not expecting much change in The Lobby 2.

Maybe we can recruit a few new faces.

Member

Perhaps the moderators should redirect comments where a current Convo already exists. Sometimes it is hard to keep track of relevant Convos.

Member

They sometimes do but maybe a little self-discipline would remove the need and reviving old Convos with new information can help to keep the discussion going. In theory it should help new visitors learn more about the subject but sometimes there is a distracting amount of off-topic discussion in Convos.

Member

Off-topic discussion is something many regulars indulge in from time to time and can be entertaining. Life should not be too serious all the time. 🙂

Member

Of course, Malcolm, but I expect that many have groaned at seeing a long off-topic exchange between us and hardly a relevant post in sight.

Member

I missed my opportunity of a name suggestion – Armadillo 😉

Member

In 18 months when Lobby 2 runs into trouble? 🙂

Member

I presume Which has taken that into consideration malcolm in the “size ” of the server , if not its a bit shortsighted but that might be a good excuse to “shelf it, Wavechange has a point if its going to get shunted every so often into an “archive ” situation then maybe better putting any points of relevance into their relevant convos as the public will have a better chance of seeing them . It just proves my point though – why Technology ? I dont feel anymore the need of posting anything on it here as its irrelevant and will post it on other convos no matter how old .

Member

The best way of ensuring that an off-topic discussion continues seems to be for someone to suggest that it is moved to The Lobby.

Even if The Lobby had not been archived it would have been difficult to locate specific posts or topic so yes an old Convo is the better option for non-ephemeral material.

Member

I prefer Pangolins?

Member

duncan, aren’t the servers provided by Amazon (why do I think this?)

Member

“Pangolins are the Cutest Animals You’ve Never Heard Of”
Applies to me.
https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/pangolin

I assumed Roger’s suggestion was a reference to cafedillo, but maybe I read too much into it?

Member

Yes they are I traced it back but having talked with a Webmaster on a now defunct far right website who was forced to change his server country 4 times- attacked by guess who ? ( the last Iceland ) and the fact he kept on “updating it ” sometimes crashing it I learned a lot from him . Its up to the person renting the servers as to whether the want more memory etc etc in them BUT his words -quote – it costs too much money – he was existing on crowd funding and obviously it was a select group who supported him from Australia/ UK/Germany/France /USA so couldn’t keep going as his Australian family were suffering . Its down to COST malcolm .

Member

assumed Roger’s suggestion was a reference to cafedillo, but maybe I read too much into it?

No; Armadillo was what the original off-topic forum in the original forum was called. Cafedilio was set up (in 2005) following persistent outages at Which?so we’d all have somewhere to meet on a wet Saturday afternoon.

Member

Amazon provide server facilities for millions of users. It’s their biggest earner and well ahead of what they make on the Amazon store itself.

Member

Absolutely Good News !! –HMG has BLOCKED R. Murdoch from taking over Sky News -remember it wasn’t just Sky News that was involved -328,000 UK citizens signed the petition to Cultural Secretary Karen Bradley – the organisation called in the experts did the research, the public chipped in to help . This wasn’t just-sign your name here there was massive organisation in many areas . I have their full report BUT they have given him leave to buy the rest of the Sky entertainment business . From American sources I have been told Disney or Comcast are going to buy the whole lot but its not happened yet , if they do only a certain number of World Media will own over 90 % of everything media/movie etc and will decide what is news or not and will use their might to put forward THEIR view of the world.

Member

This is a complicated and fluid situation. Murdock was told a long time ago that he’d have to sell off Sky News if he wanted to bid for the rest of Sky he doesn’t currently own. However, Comcast have now pulled out of bidding for Fox TV and are concentrating on bidding for Sky TV. Disney have outbid Comcast for the purchase of Fox TV. Comcast have now outbid Murdock for control of Sky TV. Murdock was told last week that he’d have to keep funding Sky News for ten years but would have no control over it whatsoever. He’s losing a lot of money in this bidding war.

Member

Murdock was told on 3rd June he’d have to get rid of Sky news. “The UK government has cleared the way for Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox to buy Sky on the condition it sells Sky News to another organisation.

It also approved a rival bid for the British broadcaster from US media giant Comcast, setting up a multibillion-pound bidding war.

Fox is attempting to buy the 61% of Sky that it does not already own, in a deal valuing the company at £18.5bn, but the bid has been complicated by concerns that it would leave Murdoch with too much control over the UK media.”

Personally, I’d prefer Disney to get Sky, but I suspect they’re more interested in Fox TV and Film studios.

Member

@carneades, “ Armadillo was what the original off-topic forum “. Thanks Ian.

Member

I am sure the government’s decision on the Sky take-over was based on a rational assessment of the balance of control over the media and the national interest and not as a result of pressure from a petition. That’s probably why it took so long – so that the decision would stand up in court if it had to.

Member

And if nobody raised the issue and it was all done behind the scenes with no publicity John ? and you are saying what I always knew — get voted in and then ignore the voters. In this modern world big publicity does help , thats how Which and every other charity operates .

Member

It was never going to be done behind the scenes, Duncan. Every major merger and acquisition has to be scrutinised by the Competition and Markets Authority and this particular one has been rumbling on for some time as different bidders came and went. It has been heavily publicised throughout featuring in all the main news media. There are special rules laid down in law for control of specified national newspapers, so the main issue has been the question of media control given that News Corporation, Fox and Sky together would have been a dominant force. I don’t discount the power of petitions and public engagement but they don’t substitute for detailed examination and consideration of the many complex issues involved. Petitions are a valuable adjunct to democratic processes as they highlight the strength of public interest in a topic, if not necessarily the strength of public opinion. At the end of the day the decision lies with government and has to be made in accordance with the criteria laid down in the monopolies and mergers legislation.

I am not sure what you mean in this context by “ignore the voters”. Nobody votes directly on competition policy at election time [although the policies and attitudes of the respective parties might have some influence] so petitions can cover ground not canvassed during a general election and give an indication of a portion of the public’s opinion but they clearly do not represent the electorate. Having made the fateful decision to elect a particular party into office it is almost certain that the policies and decisions that emerge will be in line with that party’s manifesto and known sympathies; to that restricted extent they will suit the electorate

I do not know how inclusive the petition process is – is it not the case that participation is on a self-selected basis? I don’t know, because I have never been contacted to add my name to a petition on a national issue, or been informed what is up for a decision, and have not been aware of any party political activity on such an issue. It seems to come mainly from pressure groups and from people who are already pre-disposed to take part in petitions and do so regularly. I suspect that, sometimes, realisation of the desired outcome is a coincidence.

Member

The trouble with petitions is the silent majority don’t get a say.

I get the same petitions as Duncan having signed one once, and there have been a few I would have voted against given the chance. Having looked at a few and read some of the comments, it would appear some people sign their name to anything that appears in their inbox.

Every petition should have a for and against before it is taken seriously.

Member

Here is what Dr.Justin Schlosberg, Media Lecturer Birbeck University said about those who contributed to this campaign –quote- The Murdoch’s have long been trying to gain a foothold on British broadcasting .We prevented that from happening and members of **-******* were absolutely instrumental in that campaign. We must remain vigilant : they could come back ,in time,with a re-launch of Fox News UK. We must never allow it-end quote. I take it you dont think the Dr is a fool John ? In June -2017 Karen Bradley announced an even bigger investigation into the deal . Together we sent 65,283 emails to the watchdog tasked with the second investigation (the CMA ) . The CMA invited **_******* to a special meeting to explain why so many of us were against the takeover. Their final report said the deal could hand Murdoch too much control over our news . 113.622 of us signed an open letter calling on the Culture Secretary Matt Hancock to listen to the watchdog and block Murdoch,s bid . And thousands chipped in for adverts on news websites that we knew he would see. This public donation funded organisation full of “get up and go ” full of drive ,initiative and force didn’t “hum and haw ” , didn’t procrastinate , full of fire it went to work , and they send me a full report , thanked me personally for my help , make me feel inclusive , kept me constantly informed –doesn’t that put some to shame ?

Member

The 38 Degrees campaign started more than two years ago, but I would argue that it was far more down to pressure from Hacked off and quite a few MPs who became actively concerned about the effect Murdock was having. When Murdock made no secret of his desire for the UK to leave the EU a lot of MPs on both sides of the house became very worried about the undue influence he was perceived as having.

I doubt the 38 degrees campaign had a lot of effect, honestly.

Member

Of course, I don’t think the lecturer at Birkbeck is a fool, Duncan, or dismiss petitions as irrelevant. What I question is the claim that they are instrumental in decision-making. The government was always looking for ways to block the News Corporation takeover of the shares in Sky that it did not already own. The government’s decision had to be taken on a rational basis complying with the legal requirements in the relevant monopolies and mergers legislation so that if challenged in court it would prevail. To a considerable degree the petition had an emotive, personality-oriented flavour whereas there has always been a rational basis for preventing media concentration.

You are clearly very impressed with 38 Degrees and I can see why. I too welcome this kind of action that could not have occurred until almost every household had a device that could access the internet. There is considerable potential for having much more meaningful public engagement on national issues, but I am in agreement with Alfa that there need to be alternative voting options otherwise petitions can easily be dismissed as tendentious. I agree with you that the 38 Degrees petitions are inclusive to those who have participated but it might be worth exploring ways of making them accessible to more people. Of course, with an either-way vote, the outcomes might not always be what the promoters were looking for.

At the end of your comment you are obviously alluding to Which? [based on previous similar comments]. I don’t think petitions can be compared to Which?’s efforts over the years. Which? was hammering away on the doors of government for many years before on-line petitions were even thought of and they have been consistently successful – eventually – with most of their campaigns. And what Which? has dealt with have not always been the popular issues that have mass appeal as a topic. Building a case and negotiating the intricacies of existing legislation on consumer rights and protection cannot be reduced to the vox pop, vote YES only, type of campaign that petitions are good for. At least Which? looks after the silent majority and backs its approach up with research, testing, intellectual scrutiny, and detailed negotiation at the highest level.

Member

I wonder just how much use is made of petitions, which often come from pressure groups, with a specific agenda.

The government has a means of organising petitions, https://petition.parliament.uk/, which will lead to a debate if sufficient numbers support it. If I recall correctly, from the few I have seen, they allow “I do” support but not “I don’t”, rather like Which? campaigns.

Responding to these petitions will depend upon you being aware that they exist, Where there are significant issues to raise I’d suggest we need a mechanism where as many people as possible are told of their existence. The petition needs to be accompanied by a fair and unbiased summary of the topic. How do we achieve that?

Member

Here is what Dr.Justin Schlosberg, Media Lecturer Birbeck University said about those who contributed to this campaign” It is always interesting to here others views on matters. However, I wonder why I should take any special notice of any individual’s opinion.

Member

Dr. Justin Schlosberg’s an interesting character. A self-described ‘media activist’ his political inclinations appear to be towards the hard left wing and his studies and publications ask a lot of questions but say little in the way of positive courses of action.

However, the questions he asks are important, and the main thrust of those questions is how power can and should be challenged. He is an authority on the media in the UK and, as such, his opinion is possibly more important than many. He’s spot on about the possibility that Fox News may return but covering the UK, and that’s a big concern.

But to alleviate your fears, Malcolm, he dosn’t credit the members of 38 degrees with more than a nod, really; they were “absolutely instrumental” in the campaign, but only as a part of it.

Member

Does that include all your childhood school teachers/University lecturers/ E=MC 2-Albert Einstein / the Theory of Relativity /Stephen Hawkins -Singularity / Freud/ Albert Schweitzer/ I do agree with you on —Alfred .E.Neuman but wasn’t he “MAD ” (magazine ).

Member

But…I was never taught by Albert Einstein.

Member

And is Which “absolutely Instrumental ” in all its campaigns ? For that matter how does Which compare to the other big two organisations in Achieving and winning their chosen media activated policies. I get told of every success and there are many, even small ones achieve action from HMG /Big Business UK. Its easy to pick holes in anything I can easily do that but being continually negative without putting forward a POSITIVE course of action is just complacency in thinking. As a matter of fact it could be looked on as striving to keep the status quo.

Member

That didn’t stop the American government from “requisitioning ” him to help build the Atom Bomb . He said he later deeply regretted doing that.

Member

duncan lucas said Today 11:49:

And is Which “absolutely Instrumental ” in all its campaigns ? For that matter how does Which compare to the other big two organisations in Achieving and winning their chosen media activated policies.

Which? often claims success in some campaigns when in fact other organisations are similarly claiming success for exactly the same campaigns. I think it’s called marketing.

I get told of every success and there are many, even small ones achieve action from HMG /Big Business UK. Its easy to pick holes in anything I can easily do that but being continually negative without putting forward a POSITIVE course of action is just complacency in thinking.

No one was ‘picking holes’ but pointing out that what you posted was not even current news; it’s rather old in fact, and also people were concerned you were attributing too much influence to an enthusiastic campaign group.

The heading for your posting was

Absolutely Good News !! –HMG has BLOCKED R. Murdoch from taking over Sky News and that implied this was a new development – which it isn’t. I’ve known about it for months.

Perhaps it might have been worth focussing on the fact that we allow ex-pats and foreigners to buy British media at all. Just look around and see which press titles have owners that actually live in the UK or are British.

Member

Ian I also have known about who owns the British media years ago but more to the point the small group of massive US conglomerates who own the world media . Sticking CEO,s of various names and calling them smaller businesses is only “Front Facing” propaganda the octopus has many tentacles but they lead back to the —Octopus.

Member

Duncan – I don’t think you can compare Which? with a petition organisation. They are two completely different animals with different purposes.

Which? does not always succeed in the short term with specific campaigns but it raises the temperature and gets things moving in the right direction. That might not be an absolute ‘Win’ but without it other campaigns wouldn’t even get started. Which? is very good at rolling the wicket and moving the sight screens after which play can commence. Of Which?’s 800,000 subscribers only a handful take part in specific campaigning, and many of the people who participate in Which? Conversation, and do the opinion polls, have no stake in Which? or visit more than once. People who want the more popular types of opinion-forming can join the other organisations, add their names to petitions, and get the feedback.

It is impossible to say whether Which? is “absolutely instrumental” in all its campaigns. Probably not, on balance, because some proposals come from a variety of sources and there is a degree of band-waggoning. But with Which? we are getting more than you can get from a petition organisation. Which? is not just a platform that launches short-life petitions; it is actively and deeply involved in the issues and its research and experience inform its actions. And it is still there monitoring after the decision has been taken.

Is it possible to engage in a discussion with petition organisers over the direction in which they should go, or is the question fixed and you either take it or leave it? The well-rounded consumer will be involved in both types of influential action.

Member

Well thats a “virtuous” reply John , even -handed ,yes you have a point or points . Your last paragraph is very relevant , many times I get surveys asking for my opinion , not just those contrived ones to force you to accept one of two answers but long lists of possibilities. As well as that boxes are provided asking for my personal input and I get replies thanking me for doing so . Also I have been asked to start a petition and provided with help .What I get from both is that I am made to feel wanted and valued , if that is a organisational strategy it works on me they seem sensitive to public relations , so yes John I am allowed to put my point on the direction/road that they travel , not only that they come back with a lengthy survey of all petitioners including percentages on all subjects . Their server , obviously is good , I can sign /click directly on entering the website and emails have direct action where I dont even have to sign by acknowledging my agreement by clicking on its done when I reach the website , their programming and server are really good even with 100,000,s of replies no slowing down , no corruption of data , so they are democratic John. Also John they Know my MP and even do provisional emails that I can send or amend to him and local issues are included , if relevant . It strikes me as “professional ” in their approach. Remember they exist on crowd funding so if they weren’t popular they would not have the same facilities, the UK public like them and have thanked them many times even if it is a handicapped child who is not getting help from the local council . I have to admit a lot of the petitions are started by females who are not slow at “getting things done ” and crying out at injustice just like I do.

Member

I was intrigued by your question , John:”…Is it possible to engage in a discussion with petition organisers over the direction in which they should go?”. I found this: “Each week 50,000 members, chosen at random, are asked to vote for their top priorities; only ones where there is a strong consensus will be pushed forward. On occasion the whole membership is invited to take part in votes to decide the organisation’s position on a newsworthy issue. For example, a poll in September 2014 found that members were evenly split on whether to support or oppose military action targeting ISIS in Iraq. As a result, 38 Degrees took no position”.

I have an open mind on the value of such organisations as 38 Degrees, now in its 8th year, and do participate but one big downside is that MPs have become disenchanted with them in general, and are possibly prone to ignoring emails if they come from 38 degrees members.

I’m sure of one thing, however; I doubt any single group or organisation, no matter how powerful it believes itself to be, can match the power of a single episode of a David Attenborough TV documentary.

Member

I believe Which? could do well to ask its members for support or otherwise before it launches one of its campaigns. Presumably it still is an organisation of its members?

Member

I presume Connect is an example of that, but the problem with Connect is that it only asks for opinions on very carefully defined lines.

Which? have a team whose sole purpose is to identify important consumer issues and I do wonder if what you’re suggesting was behind the creation of W?Cs. But here might be a somewhat avuncular attitude that pervades the upper echelons of Which?. That could actively militate against member consultations. And Which? doesn’t have a good track record with its membership in general, remember.

When I became a member (as opposed to a subscriber) in 1996 there was a lot of encouragement from a couple of the directors. They were remarkably open and transparently honest about the place back then. A lot has changed, mostly not for the better. I wait to see if the incoming CEO will approach things differently.

Member

Thank you Duncan and Ian. I am supportive of petitioning – after all it is one of our oldest and most traditional ways of seeking change and is a citizen’s right if not by law at least by custom and practice. Petitioning for a debate in Parliament now has a legal basis

Ian – I am encouraged by what you reported from 38 Degrees but you have identified one of the drawbacks of some forms of petitioning. Templated petitions are not usually taken as seriously as personal ones individually written or typed. I have been involved with numerous petitions or representations on local matters but never lent my name to a national one.

Member
DerekP says:
25 July 2018

“That didn’t stop the American government from “requisitioning ” him to help build the Atom Bomb . He said he later deeply regretted doing that.”

Duncan, as reported by Richard Rhodes, in his 1986 book “The Making of the Atomic Bomb” it was more the other way round.

Einstein did express regret at having helped Szilard to “requisition” the USA into building the atom bomb – before the Axis powers did.

It was also reported that the Americans regarded Einstein as a security risk, so, even if he had wanted to be closely involved, that would not have been allowed.

Member

You reckon Derek ? You do know Einstein was Jewish didnt you ? He supported Zionism which you might understand as being “anti-Deutschland ” in Hitlers Germany having his posts of prestige in Germany being removed from him including his membership of the Prussian Academy of Science . His property seized – price put on his head and his books publicly burned on May-10-1933 . In March with wife Elsa he returned to Europe stopped in Belgium and RENOUNCED his German citizenship .He opposed the Third Reich speaking out about it in the USA ( much to the dislike of the pro Hitler factions in the USA ), which as I keep telling people here Hitler was HELPED by USA/UK banking and well know entities of both at the time because he was against Communism . Many American were PRO Hitler right wing fascist groups were many as were many in Congress and Big Business including the owner of Ford cars ( how many Fords are there in Israel ? ) In 1940 he became a Professor at the Institute of Advanced Studies (Princeton ) and a US citizen . Alarmed at the prospect that Hitler might acquire the atomic bomb Einstein wrote a letter to President Roosevelt in August 1939 which sparked off the Manhattan Project , it was his Pacifist views that made some in the States to distrust him . Saying he was “pro Axis ” is rubbish . I have said I spent decades reading up on German Modern history but as you wont believe me will you believe the State of Israel ? IE – the Jewish Library where he is lauded ? https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/albert-einstein by the way Roosevelt had Jewish connections . So saying Einstein was Pro Hitler is like saying John Lennon was a war mongerer . By the way all this -“we hate Russia ” guess what religion were the top Communists in the Soviet Union , even the one that “removed” the Russian royalty and you dont see Natanyahu PM of Israel joining in the “we hate Russia ” brigade and the not so publicised Russian Jewish State –yes Russia has a Jewish run state inside it . People should be careful where they put the blame. Shalom to you Derek.

Member

Duncan – Derek did not say that Einstein was pro-Hitler; what he wrote was that “the Americans regarded Einstein as a security risk”. That seems plausible to me.

I don’t really see why Albert Einstein was introduced into this topic at all, actually.

Nobody except you has made any comment about Russia in this sub-thread but you are obviously angry about something.

You do seem to go on about Israel and the Jews rather a lot but I cannot work out what you are trying to say; whatever, I don’t think it is relevant to this Conversation.

Member

All I am doing is presenting facts John , if anybody thinks they are lies then let them say where I am lying. Are any one group of people “special” John? I treat everybody the same no matter what religion/race/ country/ creed/ philosophy /colour they are – that called EQUALITY I bow to none . If its a case of “dont talk about it ” even if it comes up in conversation isn’t that repressive ? remember Voltaire – if you want to know who etc etc nothing changes in human nature . Nobody in my book is above criticism , nobody is prefect including myself BUT I admit it thats the difference.

Member

I wish you wouldn’t take umbrage so vehemently when anyone questions you, Duncan, especially when you make provocative comments. I am not saying you are lying and I am not saying you are discriminating – so why put up such resistance? It’s just that I don’t see the relevance of much of what you are saying. I don’t see how this information helps a discussion about petitions.

Member
DerekP says:
26 July 2018

I trust everyone would agree that there is no place for anti-Semitic comments on Which? Conversation.

Member

Agreed.

Member

Ah so its “anti-semetic ” right tell me where its its “anti-semitic ” because I am not letting this go because I suspect thats what you were trying to push . You forget your second last sentence Derek –Einstein did regret—–helped the USA into building the bomb —– before the Axis powers did implying that he wanted Germany to build it first. now isnt that “anti-semitic ? Thats what I was replying to so now you have admitted it complying with HMG — dont criticise Israel as anything said is anti-semitic a word now fired like a gun at any criticism of Israel . Again I say to you where am I lying ? are we talking now of historical revisionism ? If any country has the right to comment on a holocaust its Russia with 27 million Slavs killed nearly 5 times more than the extremely continuous never ending “holocaust ” Hitler via Himmler wanted all Slavs killed – less than animals he said but that doesn’t upset you only when its applied to Israelis . No Derek I refute your post but you are labeling me as would happen now to anyone who so much as breaths any comment on Israel– not fair Derek. As I suspect its probably what you were aiming for . Tell me is one race superior to another ? if anybody thinks that then they think the same as Goebbels.

Member

To clarify, I was simply agreeing with what Derek had said and I have not read the earlier posts.

I would like to see us focus more on the sort of issues that Which? focuses on or we think they should focus on. Discussing warfare and some of the other subjects that are frequently debated in The Lobby may deter those who might otherwise make comments on consumer issues.

Member

Duncan, please stop these sorts of comments, the rest of you stop winding him up.

Remember, this is a consumer website.

Member

Agreed alfa. Sometimes the word “inquisition” springs to mind. Let our arguments be on topics, not about commenters.

However, “ The Lobby 2

This will give you the space to discuss anything that takes your fancy

Member

Some controversial comments have to be addressed and cannot be allowed to stand. In future it would be better to send a memo to the editor rather than debate the issue here because all we get is an even bigger confrontation.

I think we all need to impose some self-discipline in The Lobby Mark 2 otherwise the rules will have to be rewritten to confine the scope of the discussion.

Member

I agree with contesting a controversial comment, but one way is to have it removed or moderated. Anyone who suffers that indignity may realise the boundaries or choose to have a discussion with the moderators. All it takes is three reports (even from one person at the moment, believe. ) Better than the occasional personal ding dong.

There are a number of ways commenters can make a contributor feel uncomfortable when they say something contrary to their own opinion. This can put a newcomer off. Regulars might review their initial reactions and their phrasing when the blood rises slightly. Like emails, a comment can be made in haste and repented at leisure.

Member

As long as its equally applied malcolm , if I am directly accused of something that HMG takes offense to then I am entitled to refute it otherwise, well this is a very serious accusation in my view and its only because I post here I am holding fire.

Member

I’m unsure how the reporting mechanism actually works. Is it three reports for the same criteria, or simply three unrelated reports?

But Derek has made a very salient point: this forum must never allow anything remotely anti-Semitic, racist or misogynistic to remain.

Lest anyone have any doubts, this is part of the internationally agreed (although not by Corbyn) definition of anti-Semitism:

Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.

Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.

Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).

Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.

Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.

Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.

Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the N***s.

Member

A personal or heated argument can only be terminated when one side ceases hostilities. It does put people off and that is the last thing we want to see in Convos. It is natural for us to stand our ground and want the last word – characterised by a few discussions – but only one person can, and that usually means a truce.

I am not convinced that the normal, sometimes slightly robust, interchange, without personal comments, does any harm at all, however.

Member

I’m not sure this is appropriate, really, when we are trying to avoid controversy. This post includes two of the three taboo topics – only sex seems to be missing 🙂

Member

I think it is three reports of any kind, but perhaps Which? will confirm.

Member

Malcolm – I agree with your previous post but one [“A personal or . . .”]. Having re-read this string of comments, I cannot see where anyone has accused anybody of anything.

Member

Ian, I posted this twice:

“I think it is three reports of any kind, but perhaps Which? will confirm.“.

I then reported it three times on the same criticism, and once each on the first three. Each resulted in it being removed and referred to the moderators. Each referral said it would be looked at; only when I tried to report for a fourth time did it tell me I’d already reported it 3 times.

It is a deficiency that one person can decide to remove another’s comment.

@gmartin, please ignore my reports!

Member

Now that two of you are accusing me of antisemitism I am considering further action as I find that profoundly unacceptable . I hope you both can PROVE your points in the future .

Member

I cannot see where anyone has accused anybody of anything.
duncan disagrees. I think this in danger of getting out of hand. I believe the best course of action is for the moderators to remove all relevant comments.

@gmartin, is this the best solution?

Member

The solution is; you must first be conscious of an unconscious provocative comment when it arises and then simply ignore it, otherwise the ego takes charge and you then unconsciously become a party to something you would have preferred not to.

Difficult to do for some I realise, but it gets easier with practice and is extremely effective.

Member

Malcolm: removal of comments is always a dangerous move. You may consider that the best course of action is to remove comments, but I have a very long history of managing forums and I can say with confidence that it should only be a very last resort.

The reasoning is fairly simple. Contentious or simply incorrect postings should always be challenged; that’s what happens in adult societies. Adults should also be happy either to defend their postings with quantifiable evidence, or apologise and withdraw them.

Removal by moderators or admins is viewed as censure or censorship. It creates bad feeling, provokes feelings of resentment and can end up causing issues further down the line.

Mostly, problems are created because people don’t follow three basic rules:

1. Don’t dash off a response, Think carefully.
2. Consider whether the post was a form of humour. Humour doesn’t always work in text.
3. Is your response justified and would you say the same words if you were with a group of friends?

Sadly, things can unravel at times and a post may, as a last resort, need editing or even removing. But there’s always a cost.

Member
Patrick Taylor says:
26 July 2018

I have not read much of the foregoing. Could you link to this internationally accepted text Ian.

I am a little loathe to accept it in toto as I do not like to see the confusion of race, religion, ethnicity, and a particular country ending up as some blanket ban on references to particular action taken by a nation, state or sections of its population.

However the “thread” I do not really think it adds anything to Which? and is a major distraction and should be removed.

Member

Patrick – This comment by Ian earlier today is what you are seeking –
https://conversation.which.co.uk/travel-leisure/the-lobby-2/#comment-1538776

Member
Patrick Taylor says:
26 July 2018

I now see that the Israeli Parliament [Knesset] has passed a law arranging for two classes of citizens in Israel. This seems immediately to highlight an anomaly :

” Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”
I think every democratic country considers all are equal under the law. I see an Israeli cartoonist has been fired for recognising the similarity to Animal Farm and its version of equality.

As for the internationally accepted agreement I am not sure 15% of the world’s nations agreeing makes it internationally accepted other than by a narrow definition of what the term
means.

This article is interesting if more info is required.
independent.co.uk/voices/antisemitisim-jews-israel-labour-party-bds-jewish-coalition-palestine-a8458601.html

Member

As this is continuing and Patrick has made a point and that if I put the same point I would be viciously accused of “antisemitism” . So this will shock you I am in touch and have been in touch with the JVP a big USA Jewish organisation for YEARS who go way beyond any perceived “antisemitism ” coming from me . I know many Rabbi,s , have been invited to Jewish conferences in the States , am spoken to in first name terms , agree with their aims , am on their mailing /members list, and by the way do my accusers know many/most Jewish Orthodox worshipers also oppose whats going on and have been attacked by other Jews for their views ? I am sitting here thinking I will contact them as I have archived the new Lobby and telling them what is going on here I am sure they would be shocked and provide a view of what is happening here who only get their views via “Friends of Israel ” which the JVP know all about , “antisemitic” ? absolute pure bull ! Have any of my detractors been in a synagogue ? I have or been to a bar mitzvah I have . Shalom

Member

Malcolm: removal of comments is always a dangerous move.” Perhaps I should have said moderation rather than removal.

I can only give a personal view and in most cases I’m happy so see arguments robustly made and defended. However this one seemed to have gone a little further in the eyes of one involved and the cleanest way to prevent it escalating seemed to be to defuse it by removing comments that might be, say, misconstrued.

Member

Hi all. As many have pointed out, this is not a debate we need to be having on Which? Conversation. It’s also one that, in the eyes of some, has gone too far, and there is nothing to be gained here by continuing. We always want to avoid removing comments and discussions where we can, so I’m kindly asking that this one comes to a close here.

While the lobby (2.0!) is a place for some great off-topic chat, we all need to remember what we’re known for; friendly, consumer debates with well-informed comments and in-depth knowledge from our regulars – let’s get back to it.

Thanks all.

Member

Patrick; the plural of ‘Lobby’ is ‘Lobbies’ not Lobbys’,

Member

Of course. Lobby for change. Now was it pedant’s corner or pedants’ corner?

Member

We have a new Lobby, a new CEO, so can we now have a new way of posting – LOGGING IN TO POST?

Please @patrick ? Before you inflict the next deluge of verbal diarrhoea on us? 😫

Member

Do you mean Alfa- you have to log in to be able to post ? Many websites have that as mandatory but not all . I think Which,s position is that more members of the public will post if they dont have to log in , whether that stands up to practice, in reality is something only Which will know by checking their data and I do know they have data collectors if not their own at least by third parties so they should know . By logging in to post this puts Which into the more “serious “websites by that I mean its more “prestige ” it depends how you want to look at this.

Member

I agree alfa.
Attracting more contributors – often one-offs – simply to increase numbers seems no reason to avoid the requirement to log in. If someone genuinely wants to contribute to a topic, and not just have a rant, then they will join and, hopefully stay. I guess many may well be put off by the torrent of negative posts that can arrive, when they want to make a useful contribution and see it debated. In generally steer clear until the dust has begun to settle.

Which? is an organisation with serious intent and I see no reason to have that changed.

Member

After a one-off registration I thought we only had to log in once for several weeks of access. The big benefit is that contributors can then find their comment again easily if they have something to add or to find out what other people had to say on it. I think this is what is lacking in the ‘deluge’ conversations – a lack of continuity and development of the submitted thought. Logging-in here is an easy process that only takes a few seconds.

Member

HI @alfa, I’ll chat with the team about it. We’d need to make some changes to the technology and user experience to make that happen, and so it’s working out whether it’s worth doing now or for when the new technology comes in in the future.

Member

Welcome to he first full day of the Lobby II and the day in 1814 when Stephenson introduced his steam locomotive, the day in 1943 on which Mussolini was dismissed as Italian Premier and arrested on the authority of King Victor Emmanuel III, the day in 1965 when Bob Dylan was booed by sections of the crowd at the Newport Folk Festival for performing with an electric guitar and more topically, the day in 1999 on which Lance Armstrong won the 1st of 7 consecutive Tour de France titles, later to be disqualified for drug cheating.

At Malcom’s request, and to celebrate the opening of Lobby II, help yourselves to our fresh cream strawberry tarts and as much chilled freshly-made orange juice as you can drink.

Member

Hello, I’ve been reading these comments with great interest. I recognise many of your names from my time on Convo many years ago. I now work for Alex Neill – our Home Products and Services MD – on business opportunities within the home sector.

As you’ve pointed out Malcolm, the news article we published on the 16th July was solely focused on Amazon to mark Prime Day. Our team scoured through the offers to bring readers a selection of the best deals available on Amazon. It’s important that we cover these big events and popular shopping days – both from a commercial and charitable point of view to ensure we’re supporting the business and tackling any dubious offers. You’re absolutely right to shop around and if the deals aren’t for you, then it’s right that you let them pass you by. You’ll be very familiar with our investigations into whether special offers are as special as they seem and the consumer rights information we provide helps people address take action in these unfortunate cases.

Which? makes money through affiliate links but this never involves compromising our integrity. The payment Which? receives from affiliate fees does not drive our product recommendations, which are based solely on the rigorous product tests and impartial reviews. While this news story was focused on Amazon, you’ll be aware that where we offer the ‘Where to buy’ tab on product reviews, we typically offer a variety of retailers to purchase the product from. We’re just in the process of digesting some research where members have told us what’s important to them when deciding where to purchase an item from to help inform how we develop this in the future.

John, you make some interesting points about how Which? is just a part of your preliminary research. I think many of our members would say the same. It’s worth noting that our Best Buy and Don’t Buy content is only available to members, with the exception of when we have a serious safety concern about a product. In this instance, we make this information publically available with a safety warning. You also mention that encouraging online purchases could inadvertently be supporting the demise of the high street. You’ll be familiar with our best and worst shops surveys where we provide two separate charts for online and high street shops. This particular piece of activity was focussed on online but we want to ensure customers receive a good experience however they choose to shop.

Derek, we are looking at how we can offer links to more retailers to give consumers the right level of choice – some people feel they’d like a comprehensive list in price order, others feel that a focused list of retailers offering the best customer service is the best approach.

We’re looking at how we can offer the best purchasing experience for both members and non-members so your comments have come at a perfect time. As a business looking to continue its success, we need to look at the opportunities outside of our loyal members and the potential to generate revenue from an audience not always interested in a subscription. The views of our valued members are of absolute importance so the key will be achieving this whilst continuing to meet the needs of our members.

This is in regards to this thread: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/the-lobby/#comment-1537569

Thank you.

Member
Patrick Taylor says:
25 July 2018

A very full and polished answer Charlotte – I think that perhaps you are mistaken in some respects.

” “Which? makes money through affiliate links but this never involves compromising our integrity.”
From a historical point of view the organisation was taking money from vendors from 2007 to AFAIK 2016 without informing subscribers that it was. I cannot easily square this with the word integrity.

The Which? subsidiary Which? Financial Services Ltd obviously receives significant millions from commercial companies now but has/is being subsidised by subscribers to a current total of £22.5m.
One of the affiliate links to a large solicitors marketed by Which? as preferred solicitor which would have cost me around £100 more than using a small solicitors in Eastbourne.

WFSLtd would have received £50 from the preferred solicitor. Can you explain why using my Which? subscriber discount with the preferred solicitor I would have been £100 worse off and Which? £50 richer sits with your claim?

Member

Just to add to the “controversy ” AMAZON,s Jeff Bezos -CEO has become the richest man in modern history, with a wealth topping $150 Billion – Amazon employees (pee before you come to work ) are outraged because he won the Axel Springer Award in Berlin. Bill Gates is second -Microsoft –Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook ) – fourth. What do I keep saying – the Lord of the Rings – one ring to rule them all –Amazon – Hail the Chief !, soon to take over UK business –and be thankful for it.

Member

Charlotte, thanks for the reply. I regret I am not convinced. 🙁

The Which? news item on Amazon was straightforward advertising. There were 24 products promoted for Amazon, of which only half were “Best Buys” and others had mediocre reviews. To get a meaningful review of the product you presumably have to log-in as a Which? member, so visitors would not see all the necessary information; they would rely on Which?’s independence, which is not evident here.

8 were not the cheapest despite Which?’s claim “We’ve rounded up some of the best deals and biggest discounts”. And to get these you presumably also have to be a Prime member – also promoted on Amazon’s behalf by Which? “Our team scoured through the offers to bring readers a selection of the best deals available on Amazon. Why only Amazon when better deals were available elsewhere and, indeed, better products.

I do not see how Which? can possibly justify overt advertising of a single supplier in this way. The only purpose, presumably, was to direct people to Amazon to buy, and generate revenue for Which? I do not think a consumers’ organisation purporting to be independent should do this.

Have Which? taken any action through Trading Standards to have Amazon investigated and, hopefully penalised, for selling or facilitating the sale of fraudulent, dangerous and harmful products (e.g. 2-pin plugs, CO monitors, Slime recently)? You see, my concern at this lucrative commercial partnership with Amazon is they will be more reluctant to bite the hand that feeds them.

My view is that this kind of financial link with a commercial organisation, particularly one that seems to have poor credentials, is not in consumers’ interests. I hope this sort of practice will cease later this year – but I’m not holding my breath.

Member
DerekP says:
25 July 2018

But much more importantly, we have to thank Jeff Bezos for rescuing The Expanse and agreeing to produce its 4th season for Amazon Prime.

Member

Really? Damn. Now I have to go over to the dark side…

Member
DerekP says:
25 July 2018

Possibly a sort of “Clarissa Mao moment” for Bezos?

Member

Indeed. 🙂

Member

Am off line for much of the time so will have to make an effort when the web reaches me for a week or so. How many pendants do we have? Sunday Times, “The Pedants Are Revolting” somewhere in the archives back in the early 2000’s. Worth a read if you can find it. I have mentioned this before some while ago. I thought I would make a mark here, just to register. So long for now.

Member

I sometimes wish that the “Pendants” would revolt Vynor , it would show they still have some life in them yet . As several American analysts are saying maybe Brexit with no agreement and harsh times/lack of food (yes I remember that well ) will stir the emotions , wont stop lavish meals in Westminster though.

Member

I thought that we had abolished pendants when we abandoned the death penalty?

I hope your temporary absence will only be for recreational purposes, Vynor. Look forward to seeing you back.

Member

Happy sailing Vynor?

Member
Patrick Taylor says:
25 July 2018

As regular readers of Conversations , and ordinary members of the charity, may know I have a very poor opinion of this consumer body’s ability to spot problems on the housing front. This ranges from shoddy building, onerous leases, to the use of tame solicitors. These matters have of course been around for quite a few years without comment by Which?

Here is a current scandal story –
theguardian.com/money/2018/jul/12/new-build-clawback-overage-persimmon-complete-survey

And two for the price of one in that we have incompetent solicitors [possibly panel?] and also the snagging problem.

Quite a few years ago the Dutch consumer body lobbied and got passed a bill that meant purchasers of new properties retained 5% untill all problems were resolved. It is not a great distance to Holland and you might think that consumer bodies seek out the good solutions to consumer problems.

Unfortunately we seem to have a consumer body that thinks commercially and has a team looking at Amazon special events to talk about products it possibly will earn fees from. Seems to me that it should allocate staff to be bold and active on the long existing problems that need dealing with and present a succint and clear case on the problem and a proposed solution to which all members could easily support.

Earn respect, and loyalty, for tackling problems that are blatant – and effect many citizens for significantly.

” As a business looking to continue its success, we need to look at the opportunities outside of our loyal members and the potential to generate revenue from an audience not always interested in a subscription. The views of our valued members are of absolute importance so the key will be achieving this whilst continuing to meet the needs of our members.”

Loyalty, business, generate revenue …… rather a chilling monetary view of what the charity has become.

Member

Patrick: I’m still inwardly wincing at the spelling in the header.

Member

And on a completely unrelated topic (although I don’t know…)

“An analysis of students in the US has found that those who have a certain type of brain parasite are more likely to be majoring in business studies.

Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite carried by cats. It can infect people through contact with cat faeces, poorly cooked meat, or contaminated water, and as many as one-third of the world’s population may be infected. The parasite doesn’t make us feel sick, but it forms cysts in the brain where it can remain for the rest of a person’s life. Some studies have linked infection with the parasite to slower reaction times, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, suicidal behaviour, and explosive anger.

Now an assessment of almost 1300 US students has found that those who had been exposed to the parasite were 1.7 times more likely to be majoring in business. In particular, they were more likely to be focusing on management and entrepreneurship than other business-related areas.

The study also found that professionals attending business events were almost twice as likely to have started their own business if they were T. gondii positive, and that countries with a higher prevalence of T. gondii infection show more entrepreneurial activity.

The team behind the study say their data suggests that the parasite may be involved in reducing a person’s fear of failure and high-risk, high-reward ventures. Rodents infected with T. gondii are known to become less fearful of encountering cats.” Courtesy New Scientist.

Member

Life is “funny ” , I dont have wi-fi operational either in the router or in my PC programming but I noticed Bluetooth was installed by default . Not happy with that knowing how vulnerable it is to attack I checked out Arch Linux high tech programming websites and yes there was more than one post on the subject , one guy describing it as a -quote – “installed virus ” . Of course the question was can it be completely removed – uh no ! as parts of it are used in other default apps but it could be “flattened ” with some terminal programming which I did . Today I got an email saying -guess what ? – new Bluetooth flaw lets attackers monitor traffic , it opens the door to “Man-in-the-Middle attacks ( Israeli Institute of Technology ) allowing remote control of processes relating to the internet. Bluetooth is now extensively installed in all IoT equipment allowing hackers to have a “Field Day ” in your remote cameras / baby watchers/ toys/etc etc. They still haven’t made it 100 % safe to use. Yes Roger I made sure the Bluetooth demon was not operational.