/ Money, Technology, Which? Membership

Welcome to the new Which? Conversation

Fireworks

Welcome to the new Which? Conversation website. Read on to hear about some of the site’s new features.

Following feedback from our community, we’ve been hard at work redeveloping Which? Convo. I’m very pleased to unveil it today, and I’d love to hear any feedback you have. Here’s a brief round up of some of the new features, but I’m happy to answer any questions you have in the comments.

Finding conversations you’re interested in

There are now nine Which? Convo topics – find them at the top of the site or on our homepage. So if you want to chat about slow broadband speeds, head on over to Technology. Peeved about supermarket special offers? Shopping’s where you need to be.

Within each topic you’ll find communities of people interested in the same stuff, so watch out for car enthusiasts in Motoring or financial experts in Money.

Your own profile

Everyone now has their own profile, not just authors!

Sign in with your existing Which? Convo credentials, then have a look at your profile to find a list of all the comments you’ve made. If there have been any replies to your comments, you’ll be notified of them here too. You can even @mention people in your comments – try @patrick and I’ll be alerted!

You can add some information about yourself, including any hobbies and interests. This will help others with similar interests find you in our new Community Members search page. And if you find someone you like, you can add them as a friend – this means you can more easily see what they’ve been talking about by filtering by ‘My friends’ on our Recent Activity page.

Recent activity

What’s the Recent Activity page? Well we heard you loud and clear that you were fed up with only being able to see just nine of the latest comments on our homepage. So rather than just increasing the number of comments you could see by a small amount, we thought we’d let you access all the comments that have ever been made in the past five years. That’s what the Recent Activity page is for – you can filter by comments, Convos, what your friends are saying, and more. If you want to come back to one of those comments so you can reply later, add it as a ‘favourite’ then you can filter by just your favourites too.

Got an idea for a convo?

You can now share your ideas for new conversations in our Ideas lounge. And if you’re not feeling inspired, why not vote for the ideas others have shared?

We’ll regularly check out your ideas and will be interested to see how popular they are with the community. We’ll let you know whether we’ve picked one of your ideas and may be in touch to ask if you’d like to write it!

Much, much more

You now have the chance to edit your comments for 15 minutes after you posted them, meaning you can now say goodbye to those peskey pesky typos. If you feel so inclined, you can sign in with your Twitter, Facebook or Google+ account – that makes registration all the quicker and will use your name and photo from your chosen account.

There are all sorts of other new things that I’ll leave you to discover, but in short welcome to the new Which? Convo! I know it’ll take some time to get used to, but I hope you like it. Of course, as with any new site launch there will be things we need to fix, so if you spot anything, please just add a comment here and I’ll look into it. Finally, a big thanks to all those who were involved in testing the website – we couldn’t have done it without you.

If you need any help finding your way around the new Which? Conversation, we have a Help Getting Started guide as well as a Frequently Asked Questions guide.

If you would like to discuss the closure of Which.net, you can do so in this dedicated discussion area.

Comments

There has been empty talk for several years of encouraging Member involvement. This should be appreciated in all aspects of Which? – governance, policy, campaigning and regular output. Not to tell Which? what to do, but to recognise that Members may have constructive and valid views, as well as valuable expertise, that could help Which? if there were an open door. So far the move seems to have been against this, like shutting down the Member Community forum.

Any chance Which? might ever recognise its Members might be a valuable resource and actually encourage them by working together?

I doubt it. And that’s sad, considering how Which? originally started.

We have offered to test-run surveys, offered advice to improve product reviews, Ian has offered to proof-read, I have now offered to create avatars.

Let’s hope the governance overhaul recognises the valuable resource and experience it has in its members the majority who last a lot longer than any employee of Which? and accepts our offers of help.

We’ve already offered to look at things prior to them going out, Patrick. I doubt anything’s changed in that regard. Happy to help – as we always have been.

Not sure why someone seems to object to your post Patrick.

Testing surveys is a start and I am happy to do a test run.

Happy to help.

Count me in.

Any changes that will improve Convo and be more welcoming to new arrivals would be a step in the right direction and by removing ‘thumbs down’ this would eradicate the ‘competitive aspect’ and the frustration amongst contributors when no explanation is forthcoming.

For example, my last comment on 6th June was rewarded 1 ‘thumbs up’ which was subsequently negated by someone who either didn’t agree, didn’t like,
couldn’t accept, or to quote from Ians 08.44 Today comment “Clear off and don’t talk rubbish“. I
agree with Jon the ‘Report Button’ should remain, especially when negative feedback is, on occasion, inclined to push the boundaries by contravening the T&Cs.

I would like to make the point however that for both confidential and legal reasons, Which? researchers must be limited to what they are able to disclose and present in the public arena until they are satisfied they are in a safe position to put a subject out for discussion and
contributors need to be aware of that.

My 6th June comment attempted to find a way to attract more regulars to the fold by establishing the difference between those that remain and those that don’t. Unfortunately it was seen as a opportunity to offload latent and past grievances without any explanation as to the reason why those who stay continue do so.

Ian “Egoism is called the action of individuals for their own good. In other words, individuals act for their own self interest. Altruism is the complete opposite of egoism. Altruism is defined as a concern for the welfare of others and is considered as a virtue in many cultures and as such is encouraged.“.

To declare that ego is now largely discredited amongst ‘professionals’ is, by all intents and purposes,
rather unprofessional in itself, given that altruism, and therefore its opposite egoism, is now scientifically measurable by scientists, as explained in the example I gave in my previous comment.

I’m only quoting our eldest, Beryl; his PhD and associated research work speak, I think, for themselves. It’s tricky because the Ego was originally a Freudian construct which remained in favour until the ’70s, when an entire new school of thought about what constituted personality emerged.

Suffice to say that there are as many theories about personality types and motivation as there are Psychoanalysts. When we still don’t understand what intelligence is, talking about aspects of the psyche about which there is little to no general agreement is possibly not useful.

I don’t agree with your interpretation of your eldest`s comments Ian as it implies that the ego is nothing more than a theoretical fantasy conjured up by an eminent and recognised psychologist whose work on the personality has contributed an enormous amount to the understanding of the human Id and psyche, so for that reason I have to `award` you a thumbs down on this occasion.

Freud certainly has a place in history. Most people know of him and his work is quoted in scientific literature. However, if one forgets Freud for the moment and thinks about the terms Egotism and Altruism as personality descriptors, they are a good short cut. They describe the type of personality attached to each. This has little to do with the science of psychology in assuming that these are traits that one can measure or attribute to some inner working of the brain, but they do define a set of behaviours that can be observed and labelled as Egotistic or Altruistic or perhaps Midruistic, like most of us.

The science of psychology has everything to do with the brain Vynor and advances in technology using MRI technological imagery has enabled scientists to record brain activity when exposed to certain stimulation.

This subject is probably best debated in The Lobby but again I would again emphasise the need to establish the reasons why regulars stay the course and others don’t.

Are the regulars more altruistic with an underlying need to genuinely help others or are their continuing contributions meeting another purpose pertaining to
themselves? There is a marked difference between volunteering for a charitable cause and being paid an income to sustain it.

Beryl: I will respond to you in The Lobby.

I think the answers are fairly simple.

The regulars here have more time on their hands. AFAIK, most of us have been magazine subscribers for many years, so in a way we probably feel Which? is ours, which is why we are so passionate to see it succeed. It is that common bond that keeps us posting here and also a form of companionship to those maybe on their own.

We also come from an era that was less selfish and helping each other was a normal part of everyday life.

Many posters will have full time jobs and families so their time here is limited to maybe shooting off a couple of responses to the Weekly Scoop if anything takes their interest. They could likely become regulars in the future if they logged in and created a history of their time here. They would see their posts mounting up and one day realise they are also regulars.

A personal avatar also gives a sense of belonging to something instead of the system-generated ones that are rather boring and make the poster fade into the rest of the system-generated avatars. I have offered to create them…….. but silence reigns as it always does when the subject of logging in to post comes up.

Many forums are dominated by one or 2 people who just have to get in first, and that can put people off as you always get a one-sided view. Often that can start an on-line disagreement and the original posters fades from the scene. That tends to happen where total numbers of posts are published and happily that doesn’t happen here.

Do the thumbs put people off? You only have to look at the floods of rants to see that it doesn’t.

Excellent analysis, Alfa; and very perceptive. I’d never considered the less selfish angle in quite that way. Interesting.

I’m a bit concerned about the last sentence, but do see signs there is some truth in it.

A Consumers’ Association should, it seems to me, be committed to working with, and for, consumers to improve their lot. There are 65 million consumers in the UK – OK, some not yet capable of making choices. I’m not sure they have that commitment; I feel particularly that consumers are not heeded and that Which? staff may have a slightly different agenda – driving through their own particular mantra rather than being, perhaps, more open minded and pragmatic.

I suspect my attitude shows in some of my comments ( :-() but it is well meaning. I’m quite happy to be wrong or disagreed with but I do believe Which? could do a lot more for consumers if it worked with them.

Thank you @patrick .

So when are we going to have a trial run on logging in to post?

I have offered to create avatars and here are a few I prepared earlier:
.
.
These are from my own photos

@patrick, Patrick – “working together doesn’t always mean that we’ll agree with each other.“. Quite. What matters is an open exchange of views and proposals out of which might emerge a good solution. Being prepared to consider and develop ideas without a preconceived outcome.

Hey all,

We’re aware of the issue with and endeavouring to fix the ‘Report’ button, as it appears the code that’s causing the reporting form to fire has been corrupted somehow.

If you’d like to report a comment in the mean time, please use the contact form and send over a link, and we’ll action it accordingly.

https://conversation.which.co.uk/contact-us/

Apologies for this, we’ll hopefully have this up again as soon as possible.

Reporting on the Report Comment button, some good news – we’ve fixed the issue that was preventing the form from loading.

You can now resume reporting comments using the report button, if you feel it violates the Community Guidelines, Terms and Conditions, or if it’s something you think we should have a look at for another reason.

There has been much debate as to reasons why Which Conversation fails to attract more regulars.

The answer perhaps lies partly in the header which still features a poem I wrote when I first felt a compulsion to become more involved, but I have to confess I didn’t quite anticipate some of the initial negative responses I received when
doing so and soon learned that one needs to provide sufficient evidence to back up most of your claims, and even then, those were subject to much criticism and on occasion ridicule.

So why did I continue to subscribe? It was probably due mainly to past personal experience and a compelling desire to understand some of the reasons why people act and conduct themselves in the way they do.

For example, there is continuing research into why some people are more altruistic than others and in extreme cases will readily risk their lives to help others without any regard or thought for their own safety, and in doing so, are rewarded with very positive feedback for their altruism.

There is some evidence that suggests it’s all down to the amygdala, the part of
the brain that shows a much higher response on scans when some people are confronted with a situation that involves a need to help others, as opposed to a psychopath whose amygdala will show little or no response in a similar situation.

There is of course also a problem with the ego, which probably has deep seated roots in the past and the kind of environmental influences that can determine a need to always be right irrespective of clear and indisputable evidence – but that
is another subject and not wholly appropriate here.

So how does this relate to why more people don’t decide to contribute to Which Conversation and others do? I suspect many people are seeking help with a particular problem when they subscribe and feel unable to enter into a debate due to circumstances akin to themselves.

Perhaps the answer lies in the reasons why people do, and I have attempted to express my own reasons for returning, but nevertheless, I would like to think that my amygdala is firmly in control of my altruism at the expense of any egoistic tendencies.

We could probably help encourage infrequent contributors to get more involved if we thank them for their contributions. That does not need thumbs, just some action. I used to post on a forum that got rid of the negative marks, which made the site a friendlier place.

I would love to see more input from Which? staff outside the Convo team. As has been said by a few of us, we lack legal expertise. Malcolm and I have managed to have repairs done on products that had not lasted as long as could reasonably be expected, yet Which? offers no advice on this provision of the Consumer Rights Act. It would be great to be able to discuss this issue with someone on the Which? Legal team.

(I cannot make any useful input on psychology.)

I think people may contribute more if they felt their comments were seen to be taken on board. Just thanking people seems a bit patronising and many seem never to return once a rant flood has run its course.

Making people welcome is something within our own ability. Simply agreeing with a post and maybe adding a little more information is not patronising.

wavechange says: 6 June 2019
(I cannot make any useful input on psychology.)

It’s inappropriate in here, anyway, but our eldest points out that the concept of the Ego is now largely discredited among professionals, along with the idea that the Ego is formed through conflict between the Id and the outside world. He adds that we still have very little idea and certainly no solid evidence about personality development and function.

Returning to this specific thread, however, there are some excellent points being made. Malcolm’s suggestion that people might be more prepared to contribute if they felt there was some possibility that they weren’t just shouting into a void is very pertinent. Some time ago it was suggested that, in all contentious topics, from time to time a summary of the points could be posted, if only to show they were being heard and noted. Again, that’s a place we could help.

Wave’s comment that getting rid of the thumbs echoes what many of us think and have also suggested. For some indiscernible reason the staff seem wedded to the thumbs idea; why, has never been explained, but there’s a lot of evidence that forums who ditch ‘karma’ seem to do better. If the concept of thumbs is so compelling, why not just remove the Thumb down button?

The main problem is that it’s not used by many as ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’; it’s used more as ‘I like it!’ or ‘Clear off and don’t talk rubbish… The latter can have an effect on the less aware or less confident and can be viewed as tantamount to personal abuse.

Welcoming the newcomer is a positive suggestion, but surprisingly difficult (perhaps impossible) to implement in a flood topic. And thanking contributors is what the staff themselves do on a regular basis. But that can rapidly come to be perceived as formulaic.

Vynor’s (as always) intensely thoughtful and perceptive posting (below) to the W?Cs staff eloquently summarises the current state of play and finishes by pondering about the apparent division into Us and Them in an institution originally intended to be a cooperative endeavour.

As is so often the case, Vynor identifies the central issue: it’s great to be part of a team so why are we not? We’re willing to help – as has been said on countless occasions – so when will our offers to help be accepted? More to the point why is there an inbuilt resistance to even contemplating using us?

A lot to think about.

I agree that it would be great to get rid of the negative thumbs.

Am I alone in not minding the thumbs?

I suppose I think if someone gives me a thumbs up after taking time to research something, it feels like it was worth the effort. I also know not everyone will agree with me so if they feel like giving me a thumbs down, fair enough and sometimes I post something expecting it to create a bit of controversy that will likely gather a few thumbs down.

Having a thumbs down can make you think twice about what you are posting and is a way of appreciating or agreeing to a post (or not as the case may be) when you haven’t got a verbal reply.

I don’t like that you can’t see the total of the ups and downs as 4 up and 4 down = ZERO.

Patrick said ………….so that we can encourage more people to access as it will be seen as a place to get answers to their consumer problems?

I hope that is not another excuse to avoid the subject of logging in to post.

My feeling is well known; but the mere fact that Patrick’s post got a thumb down seems to me indicative of the fact that the system is fairly meaningless and possibly capable of deterring the less confident from posting.

pa says:
7 June 2019

I don’t agree that the down thumb should be removed

It’s nice to see how many ppl agree and disagree with something

Maybe you could make it like BBC Have Your Say and show both up and down votes instead of counting them in one number?

If someone agrees with a comment then a thumbs up says simply that. A thumbs down, however, says nothing to explain why the commenter disagrees. Just explain why (not) in a brief comment rather than not bothering to add to the discussion. A thumbs up from me to ditching the thumbs down.

pa says:
9 June 2019

Well a thumb up doesn’t say much either. There could be one or more reasons why someone agrees with a comment, but we won’t know unless they say.

Yeah that 🙂

On one forum I help to manage we have Likes but no Unlikes, since they’re too easy to abuse. However, because everyone has to be registered to vote, they also display the name of the voter(s). It works rather well and, because there are no Unlikes, the atmosphere tends to remain positive.

Having a thumbs down can make people take some responsibility for what they post.

It doesn’t bother me if I get thumbed down, sometimes I expect it. Occasionally I do invite people to explain why if I think it is unwarranted, but I certainly don’t get upset about it.

There are enough people here who negate thumbs down where they are not deserved, so I don’t see that as a problem.

There have been a few occasions when I have posted something maybe a bit controversial when I would really like to know the overall ups and downs as the aggregate total is meaningless.

There are two problems with thumbs:

1. The system is totally insecure and can be manipulated very easily.
2. I don’t see how thumbs down are in any way constructive to the concept of a community or a debate. If anything they militate against coherence, since a simple down vote says nothing of value.

Getting rid of them completely (as many good forums now do) may well encourage verbal contributions.

Kevin says:
9 June 2019

One of the reasons I avoided early Facebook was the fact that there was (is?) no ‘dislike’, so they didn’t upset their advertisers. Of course they’ve added to their repertoire of shameless exploitation significantly since then.
Also, agree, aggregate total is meaningless.

Most of the topics, that appear for comment, concern themselves with things that have happened or could happen to us; purchases that have been problematic or government actions that gave cause for debate. We are also asked to think about utilities and subscriptions. The topic appears, written by a guest or member of staff and we are asked: “has this happened to you? Do you think this is a good idea? Or, have you changed something as a result of changes to a contract, service or subscription? What is never asked is: “We are investigating topic X and so far our research has led us to believe Y. Do you have experience of this and can you tell us what you think of our research and conclusions before we publish them. Posted above are offers to proof read items and surveys. An e.mail to erudite members is all it takes and then it is up to you to decide what to do next. Also missing is the follow up from topics discussed in Which Conversation. Rarely, if ever, have you been motivated to rewrite an article in the light of our replies. You might reflect these in footnotes to the magazine, or a resume on this page, but that’s about all that happens to them.
On the positive side, you are now more willing to add your own input, though this is usually a reply to another comment rather than an original comment of your own. Your interaction is always welcomed, especially when you add links to outside material that makes useful additional reading.
Although we are the consumers and you are the staff, there could be less us and them and more “we’re in this together.” Not that you are dictatorial, but more that you are ‘reactive’ to us rather than being part of
the whole group pushing forward together on an equal footing.

pa says:
7 June 2019

Which’s whole approach to topics and conversation has been to write a lite piece and then abandon it forever.

There’s no real interest from them to follow a topic until the end. They just want to keep making new topics to keep us coming back to read.

Most of the topics aren’t even useful. They’re just fluff with no depth.

Good post Vynor.
Vynor said: We are investigating topic X and so far our research has led us to believe Y. Do you have experience of this and can you tell us what you think of our research and conclusions before we publish them.

Very often articles appear in the magazine and then we get a convo to discuss it which is too late as a line has already been drawn under it.

Not an article exactly, but in the latest magazine there is a Scamwatch article on page 48 entitled ‘Hounded by listing firm’. Presumably the magazine article was written before the convo as the reply doesn’t make sense when you look into the company. A better response would have been from Which? Legal on where you stand being hounded by a company that has been dissolved.

pa says:
7 June 2019

There needs to be more guest topics from forum regulars and casuals, with same day feedback from Which Staff, MPs and a minister whose portfolio covers the subject.

We haven’t got any real feedback this year from anyone at Trading Standards, for example, on how the service is going to improve, and no one asking what changes or improvements we would like to see to it.

Hi pa, good to see input from a non-regular.

You are right about insufficient feedback. Too many authors don’t participate in their articles which is a great shame and achieves very little and as you say, ‘fluff with no depth’.

A topic on Trading Standards from someone with the authority to act our comments is long overdue and an excellent suggestion. @patrick ???

So you’re all aware, we’ve temporarily hidden the “Your Ideas” page from the top menu navigation, as it currently is not functioning as it should.

Ideas that have been submitted are getting through to the back end, however these aren’t being publicly displayed for people to read and vote on.

We’ll put this back in once it’s fixed. If you want to submit an idea in the mean time, please feel free to leave it in a comment in this Convo.

Updating on this, we’ve fixed the issue with the Ideas page and restored this into the menu. Please do feel free to continue submitting ideas for conversations therein: https://conversation.which.co.uk/your-ideas

Thanks Jon.

I’ve long felt that ‘Your ideas’ was unloved. At one time mere mortals like myself were able to comment on ideas. We can still see a ‘Reply’ button, but it does nothing.

Here is an ‘idea’ where it might be interesting to explore the options:

“brissle says: 8 May 2019
Back-up PVR recordings
We have a PVR with a significant number of hours recording that we would be sad to lose if the machine decides to die. Is there any simple way of creating a back-up?”

Another of my posts has been removed for moderation this time from the Amazon brushing scam. Why and who by? It was not the system otherwise it would have been immediate.

By the time they are reinstated, the moment has gone, and posts very likely never get read. Is it possible to re-date them so they appear in latest comments?

If you must remove or amend posts, it is only common decency to tell us what you have done and why.

Hi alfa, from what I can see it was indeed the system – I’m not sure why it took a little longer than usual for it to pick it up on this occasion.

It may have been because it contained two URLs to the French and German Amazon sites – the system may have flagged that as out of the ordinary. But anyway, I reinstated it this morning for you.

Thanks George.