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.


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 closure: A discussion about the closure of

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

Welcome to the Lobby!

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


I see “User 66219” is being airbrushed out of these conversations… 😉

I looked up this user and read: “This account has been removed from Which? Conversation at the request of the user”

Nice to see GDPR in action…

I have noticed that contributors to Which? Conversation are being described as users now.

One very prominent contributor of many years has been erased entirely with comments deleted and the words “Sorry, no members were found” in the “find community members” section. Posts are described as having been “removed at the user’s request”.

There could, of course, be a perfectly reasonable explanation. I hope contributors are not just automatically deleted when they are no more use.

Derek is referring to our right to have our data removed under GDPR. It had not occurred to me that this right extended to contributions to online discussions. Which? staff have occasionally done this on request, long before the regulations were in place.

I guessed that John might be referring to Duncan Lucas, and a check on a Convo about broadband confirmed that his posts are renamed ‘User-66219’.

Correct deduction, Wavechange. I noticed yesterday that one of his posts from seven years ago had been removed but his name was still there. Duncan’s name has since been replaced with the user number but his avatar remains. The reply from another contributor – who was a prolific contributor four to five years ago – was still there so it could be difficult to remove posts and still leave Conversations making sense.

I guess Duncan might have had an opinion about US trade deals, John. I did work out where he lived, which was not too far from where I lived when I was young. I hope he is well and still able to care for his sick wife.

The other contributor could be DeeKay.

John Ward said 19.7.20 at 16:53
I have noticed that contributors to Which? Conversation are being described as users now.

I’m very glad you’ve posted that, John. The terminology used by Which? to describe its members and users is of critical importance, and has, sadly, a long and unedifying history.

In the latest issue of Which? Insider, one sentence leaps out:

“Which? is very much a team–one that you are a part of–and together we can make a difference for consumers.”

This is not the first time that we’ve been told that we’re part of the same team. But are we?

Admittedly, that refers to OMs, not simply contributors on here, but I’ve been an OM for a very long time. And there have been times when I’ve felt more part of a team than others; the early days of the original forum, the duration of Patrick Steen’s tenure, although Patrick’s numerous promises came to nought, but the common thread connecting those two periods was the mantra “team”.

We were told we were all part of a big team but in reality I’m not sure we ever were. Teams work best when individual members of the team all make strong contributions and have a say in the team’s operations. First class teams’ members are also given areas of responsibility.

But overall what characterises a strong team is when members of that team are made to feel valued, through any or all of the strategies outlined above.

Now, I have a great deal of time and respect for those working at the coal face, as it were, because at its root this is a management problem. If we’re a team, who is the team leader? Who sets policies for the team overall?

W?Cs is a tiny corner of Which? and we’re allowed to paddle there, if we don’t behave badly. What we’re not allowed to is to discuss policy, debate matters with department heads or engage with those who run Which? Ltd.

So however much we’re told we’re part of a team, I live in hope that eventually there’ll be some actual evidence of that.

Not being bound within the discipline of a team where everyone has to pull in the same direction does have some advantages, Ian!

I just don’t like the term “users”. I think we are participants or contributors.

I too hope Duncan is well. His knowledge on many practical issues and his compassion for those left behind by society were impressive and are missed. I hope it was indeed his choice to erase his record from Which? Conversation.

I don’t think there is anything sinister about the term ‘user’ and the term may have been chosen because Duncan is no longer a contributor.

I mentioned before that Patrick Steen is a trustee at the Sheila McKechnie Foundation and more recently he took up a post with Unilever, as Head of Global Content. Lauren Deitz became Content Manager at Halma not long after leaving us.

Wavechange – I don’t think there is anything sinister about the term “user” – it just seems inadequate to represent the contribution that people make to this site. You and lots of others don’t just use it, you contribute to it, help Which? with its campaigns, provide feedback on topics, products and services, make it feel like a community, and provide guidance to keep it orderly and respectful.

It’s possible that this message was generated by someone who maintains the site and is not in the Convo team. What does annoy me is when staff leave Which? their ‘profile’ is not changed to reflect this. Patrick Steen is an exception because his profile was changed, albeit not when he left Which?

It’s nice to be appreciated, John. I did comment about all your efforts on travel refunds. It’s not something I know about and avoided comment. It must take a lot of patience to keep on saying more or less the same thing so many times.

I have a family member who has worked part-time for Citizens Advice since she retired. Maybe I should have done the same.

Edit: I wrote this before seeing Jon’s comment. Thanks for explaining, Jon.

Thank you for responding, Jon.

At least this has consoled me that the community member concerned has not befallen an act of fate.

Spending a little time looking around the ‘find other community members’ section I realise how complex it is keeping track of people who change their log-in names and avatars and go in and out of activity states under different identities. There is also the added difficulty of connecting with people who have not registered.

I have still never looked at any members’ profiles so that pleasure awaits.

Neither have I…

Hi fellow community members, thanks for the mention @wavechange. Yes I’m at Unilever now and lucky to be a Trustee of the Sheila McKechnie Foundation – continuing my connection to Which?. I’ve updated my profile page to reflect this. I hope you are all doing well and supporting the Which? Convo team where you can 🙂

Hi Patrick, nice to hear from you. I’m sure most of us regulars try to make positive and well behaved contributions to w?C, but it is not always as easy as one might think.

There is a fine line between what is considered ‘a team’ or ‘a group’.

The basis of a team focuses on team goals, interdependent members with specific roles assigned to individuals and interpersonal understanding compulsory.

The basis of a group focuses on individual goals, independent members with no specific roles assigned to individuals and interpersonal understanding not necessary.

I have my own opinion about which of the above would be more appropriately assigned to W/C and which may be characterised as “users” but I will leave each and everyone to decide for themselves.

Those interested in team building and team skills should look up the work of Meredith Belbin who classified the essential roles and their interrelationships. There are nine key roles to fill in a successful team. The lack of certain types weakens the team substantially but too many of any one type can also cause a harmful imbalance. The perfect team has one of each. It’s a fascinating subject.

Teams have goals but even with these, the variety of personal skills within a team is what makes it successful. Of course these must include the relevant knowledge based attributes or the same end product desires. I would suspect that the village community council and the design team in a factory would still benefit from the same personal interactive mixes.

Hi Patrick and thanks for looking in. Maybe you could do a guest Convo sometime.

Welcome to Space Exploration Day, the day in 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon; Aldrin and Armstrong walk on the moon seven hours later; Michael Collins remains in orbit in the lunar module and the day in 1976 when Viking 1 landed on Mars at Chryse Planitia.

What is the best thing about living in Switzerland? Well, the flag is a big plus.

I think we should get rid of democracy. All in favour raise your hand.

My wife can be so negative. I remembered the car seat, the stroller, AND the nappy bag. Yet all she can talk about is how I forgot the baby

I hope you managed to refrain from throwing the baby out with the bath water.

I wondered what that gurgling noise was down the drain. There was also a rattle in the pipework.

This bath water is from the tin variety, it doesn’t have a plug hole!

Welcome to Lamington Day, the day in 1969 when Neil Armstrong becomes the first person to step on the Moon (that we know of…) and the day in 1970 the Aswan High Dam opened in Egypt, enabling human control of the flooding of the Nile.

Does this mean that I can have unlimited quantities of Lamington cake today? Goody, goody.

We also don’t know if it was our Moon that Neil Armstrong stepped on. It might have been a quarry in Arkansas. But wasn’t the cameraman’s shadow also in the picture?

A courtroom artist was arrested today for an unknown reason… details are sketchy.

More information will be needed to paint a true picture.

Sounds like a brush with the law.

Might have been rubbed out in the US of A.

Investigations have drawn a blank.

Some people are kind, polite, and sweet-spirited until you try to sit in their pews.

I have never understood why women love cats. Cats are independent, they don’t listen, they don’t come in when you call, they like to stay out all night, and when they’re home they like to be left alone and sleep. In other words, every quality that women hate in a man, they love in a cat.

Welcome to Hammock Day, the day in 1963 when Sarawak achieved independence from Britain and the day in 2011 when Norway became the victim of twin terror attacks; the first a bomb blast targeting government buildings in central Oslo, and the second a massacre at a youth camp on the island of Utøya

My email password has been hacked. That’s the third time I’ve had to rename the cat.

Perhaps you need a stronger cat name. ‘Jaguar’ might do.

Turning vegan is a big missed steak.

I named my dog six miles so I can tell people that I walk 6 miles every single day.

The lengths that some people will go to to avoid exercise.

A friend’s son started work as a bank clerk a few weeks ago but it was decided to close the branch and he was told he would lose his job. The next customer who came in asked the clerk to check his balance so he pushed him over.

I notice that today I seem to have been on this site for ten years. Enough said.

How d’you stay awake, John? 🙂

Through continuous yawning.

HT says:
22 July 2020

Does anyone know if there’s currently a Which? conversation about cladding and fire safety issues preventing leaseholders of flats to remortgage or sell their property? Or if you know anything about this topic, specifically what leaseholders in this position can do – please advise. Many thanks.

HT – A Conversation on this was started yesterday – see:

Welcome to National Vanilla Ice Cream Day, the day in 1995 when Hale-Bopp was discovered (becomes visible to the naked eye nearly a year later) and the day in 2014 when the 20th Commonwealth Games opened in Glasgow.

A conclusion is the part where you got tired of thinking.

I can always keep secrets. It’s the people I tell them to that can’t.

Telling some people that information is secret is probably the best way of making sure that everyone gets to know.

My girlfriend said, “You act like a detective too much. I want to split up.”
“Good idea,” I replied. “We can cover more ground that way.”