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

Time is what keeps things from happening all at once.

I hate it when I’m about to hug someone really sexy and my face hits the mirror.

I start every conversation with my employees by saying, “I shouldn’t be telling you this” just so I know they will listen.

Welcome to Nothing Day – perhaps appropriately, the day in 1913 on which the House of Commons accepted Home Rule for Ireland and the day in 1920 when the first assembly of the ill-fated League of Nations was held in Paris. The League of Nations, readers will recall, was created to stave off any future conflicts. It failed – spectacularly – and after the next world war the United Nations was created. The belief that bringing all countries together in an equal partnership persisted and gave rise to the founding of the EU – a socio-economic construct that existed to maintain peace across the whole of Europe.

Take my advice — I’m not using it.

Or: Do as I say, not as I do.

Did you hear about these new reversible jackets? I’m excited to see how they turn out.

You sound reasonable. It must be time to up my medication…

I’ve just been listening to a radio broadcast concerning surveillance. One interesting piece told us that though electronic messages are being examined, it is often the message itself that is of interest rather than the content. Thus, information gatherers want to know when it was sent, where from and where to and from what machine. Such information tracks movement, contacts and locations visited. Amazon, among others, keeps a record of all purchases in order to profile your consumer inclinations. These are things that come with using social media and shopping sites and one balances that with the convenience of use.

Lately I have seen an increase in sites on line where access is preceded by a large square, central on screen asking for agreement to use cookies to track usage. This freezes the page and is only removable by agreeing to the terms of the site. A variation of this appears on the BBC web site. A video refused to play until I agreed that my viewing was tracked by cookies, I agreed to reveal where I was viewing from and I agreed to letting the site target me with specific adverts and material which might also come from any one else they chose to tell about me. Other sites ask for details of my location when they are accessed. This usually means that I cancel the page and don’t get to see the information I want to see. This makes the internet less useful as a knowledge base. The need to open an account or log in also limits the sites I can visit.

Which, itself, has cookie disclaimers at the head of its web sites and feels the need to track its viewers. Perhaps it can (or maybe has) express a view on the way the internet is going and its increasing need to probe. Information is a valuable currency but will it eventually kill the product by being over inquisitive and stopping people from accessing the web?

DerekP says:
16 January 2019

Hi Vynor, I think what you’re describing is “traffic analysis”

wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Welchman

Yes Vynor and your ISP tracks you as well using tracking servers .
I mentioned to John a few days ago that I saw nice watches in a shop .yesterday I went online to BT Mail just to check up ( I have an email client ).
On accessing the website I saw one advert for a —watch.

My ISP insists I disarm ALL my blockers before access is granted ,this leaves me feeling “mentally naked ” . If you dont you cant access BT and when you reach email-MY BT its greyed over while it checks to see if all your blockers are disarmed before removing the graying.
I do get problems elsewhere where some tech websites think I am a bot and I am asked to “prove myself ” .

By the way being in the “1%” of the population (or some low number ) has its disadvantages , BT will not accept the fact I dont own a smartphone so it will not let me contact them in the event of their email service going down unless I can input a 07 number belonging to me .
I have filled in Yandex mail email but they want my smartphone number as well which leaves us both at an impasse.
By the way a giant USA investment company has bought into Yandex look out for Americanisation , its already info gathering and I cant stop it as its a closed system , they even admit when you -remove history it doesn’t remove all and I can watch it being sent to Russia via their cloud server.

Funnily enough Vynor at this very moment this is going on-quote-

European Court Adviser Says Right to be Forgotten Need Not Be Applied Worldwide
The opinion of a key adviser to the Europe’s top court finds that that the “right to be forgotten” need not be applied worldwide. Google v. Commission nationale de l’informatique et des liberté follows a ruling in Google v. Spain that Europeans have a right, in some circumstances, to remove links to their personal data posted online by Google. The advocate general said that while Europeans are entitled to have private information delisted in the EU, search engines do not have to remove links from view in foreign domains even though they make the personal data available in those domains for commercial benefit. EPIC has supported the CNIL’s approach instead, contending “the right to privacy is global.” The European Court of Justice will now decide whether to adopt the opinion from the Advocate General. EPIC published “The Right to be Forgotten on the Internet: Google v. Spain” an account of the case by former Spanish Privacy Commissioner and EPIC Champion of Freedom Professor Artemi Rallo.

I have noticed a vast increase in the number and prominence of cookie consent messages on websites since the GDPR took effect. Is there a connexion?

I deal with very few websites and don’t object to the use of cookies because I trust those companies and organisations to honour their privacy policy statements. Some require active consent – you have to tick a box in order to continue – others require passive consent: if you carry on browsing the site you will be deemed to have consented to the use of cookies.

I don’t think there has been any misuse of my data by the websites I visit, although I do notice that if, for example, I have been looking to buy some bookshelves, a little reminder pane will appear on another company’s website. Media organisations seem to be the worst for presenting such items so presumably they get a kick-back if I click through their site to the retailer I first visited.

I agree with Vynor. I think the intrusive and exploitative culture of the internet will eventually backfire commercially. I now very rarely look at newspaper articles referenced by Which? Conversation contributors because they are heavily into click-bait. Customer reviews are another channel for gaining information on people’s product choices, as well as their likes and dislikes – another form of commercial currency – hence I never do reviews.

Your right John there is a connection they have been told/advised to do it to cover themselves .
I notice that some US newspaper websites now block me but I use Tor to get around it. Funnily enough I have no problem with any US government website or related but there again they probably know me as I am on them a lot and i constantly communicate with US .org organizations .
The above quote did not come from a newspaper but a well known (in the USA) internet rights organisation which works with the US government so its not left wing.

I don’t have enough spare time to look at much else on the web so I am barely affected by all the problems you describe, Duncan.

‘Information is a valuable currency but will it eventually kill the product by being over inquisitive’ — advertising seems to be the most prominent (and lucrative) application of this information. Adverts now appear all over my browser (on Gmail, news websites etc.) right after I’ve looked at a certain product on a shopping website. It’s not at all subtle and is advertising overkill – it means I clear the cookies on my browser regularly; so you’re right Vynor, I do regularly ‘kill the product’. Think there’s still a lot of fine tuning for advertisers to do in using information online effectively.

How do Which? process their cookies from capture to making use of them?

I dont have trouble with adverts -blank white spaces either side of many websites , I can even block those annoying moving adverts .
Did all this long ago but as I said it “interferes” with some websites who take offense and with BT I have to stop all my blockers on their website if I want access .
Which has two adverts on this webpage that are blocked .
I have “green listed ” Which .co in my script blocker .
Which has the usual “generic ” (Google ) cookies etc just about all websites have them and some others , I have seen much worse on any newspaper website .
Information gathering can be at a whole range of levels depending on what the owners of the website want –number of visits is one -who is visiting ( needed for recognition ) and a whole string of other info , there is much worse than Which around.

Many thanks Oscar. That is an amazingly complex article full of diverse needs, mechanical devises and information travelling all over the place within and without the web site. Cookies seem to be necessary just to make the site work and are used as software tools, but much else is data analysis even unto mouse clicks, time spent on site and the sequence of pages visited. Your reasoning for all this is somewhat opaque because you seem to need a very complex interaction with us and others like Google in order to make the site work as you want it to. One wonders if all this interaction actually helps or just confuses by its complexity? Nothing is that simple any more is it?

DerekP says:
17 January 2019

From what I’ve seen, Which? Conversation works tolerably well with all cookies disabled. One the other hand, there don’t seem any obvious ill effects from accessing Which? Conversation with cookies enabled and no browser add-on controls in place.

In general though, from time to time, a lot of my friends and family do seem to fall prey to websites that modify their web browsing options, including making changes to default search engines. I suspect many of these changes only occur after users have been somehow tempted into accepting them.

Welcome to Big Schools Garden Watch fortnight, the day in 1773 when Cook became the first to cross the Antarctic Circle (66° 33′ S) and the day in 1873 when a small group of Modoc warriors defeated the 3000-strong US Army in the First Battle of the Stronghold, a part of the Modoc War.

I hate peer pressure and you should too.

Doing things that you are not supposed to do at work makes your vision, hearing and alertness much better.

A book just fell on my head. I’ve only got myshelf to blame.

Good afternoon, all.

We’ve just released an update to the site which should improve its performance a little bit, as well as tidying up some minor technical issues in various places.

As eagle-eyed regulars, I’d appreciate it if you reported any errors you might spot in this thread, just in case anything was missed in testing.

Thanks!

Yes Adam its noticeably quicker ,hope it stays that way.

Earlier today, Duncan posted this link: https://www.ftc.gov/ftc-is-closed I cannot find the post, but it’s concerning that an organisation such as the FTC should be unable to perform some essential roles in consumer protection for an undisclosed period. I cannot remember anything so dramatic in the UK but Trading Standards no longer has the funds to pursue many of the cases reported by consumers.

DerekP says:
18 January 2019

I understand thanks to the vagaries of democratic voting outcomes the USA is currently rife with political disagreements, as a result of which many of its Government’s aims and objectives are deadlocked and currently dead-in-the water. Thankfully, such problems would never occur in the UK.

Yes, but even without these problems our government has run down Trading Standards.

DerekP says:
18 January 2019

wavechange, from other conversations, we’ve seen that UK trading standards organisations are mostly impotent. I think this is just yet another manifestation of the “I’m all right, Jack” principle operating in our “me-me-me” society.

As far as I know, Trading Standards is still doing valuable work in seizing bulk imports of dangerous and counterfeit goods, but if you or I have a problem with a product or a company we might be on our own. Despite presenting evidence of a rogue retailer my local TS office said it would only take action if they were notified of other cases. I’m strongly opposed to a self-centred approach and well aware of the problem, but not sure how this is relevant here.

DerekP says:
18 January 2019

I think my point was that the majority want low taxes, so, for that, the funding of Trading Standards to a the bare minimum. If the majority were happy to pay higher taxes, then we might be able to afford a trading standards body with the resources to go after rogue traders.

One of the planks in the coalition government’s policy to reduce Trading Standards to a shell was the new consumer rights legislation that theoretically empowers consumers to take action themselves against unfair trading practices faster and more effectively. As we all know, every silver lining has a cloud in front of it.

“One of the planks in the coalition government”

Read that and started laughing. Spoilt for choice doesn’t come close. Beautifully phrased, sir.

Trading Standards has been declining over the years, not helped by the move from shops etc. to online trade and sellers based in other countries. Consumer protection is not exactly an election issue, but maybe it should be.

Welcome to Winnie the Pooh Day, the day in 1788 when the British First Fleet, carrying 736 convicts from England to Australia, arrived at Botany Bay and the day in 1871 on which the Second German Empire was proclaimed by Kaiser Wilhelm I and Otto von Bismarck.

Don’t steal. That’s the government’s job.

Remember, everyone seems normal until you get to know them…

Someone broke into my house last night and stole my Limbo stick. How low can you get?

Snowing heavily here, at the moment, and sticking.

Bright and sunny and now 1°C here, but it took a while to scrape the frost off the car windows. Sleet was forecast for the weekend but now it’s just expected to be cold.