/ Money, Technology

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.

Comments
Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I noticed on the Home Page, in the Recently Active Members section [at the sign of the 24 Avatars], that some of them have not been active for quite some time [1 month 4 weeks in one case I clicked on, and some appearances are even more ancient]. Are these not automatically updated? If not, what is this feature for?

Profile photo of alfa
Member

John, they are the most recent visitors to the site who have been logged in.

The 1 month 4 weeks, is the last time that person posted anything.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Oh, so they lurk! Thanks for that Alfa. Perhaps there should be two columns – one for recently active members and one for dormant passive members! I still don’t know what the feature is for, though.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I rarely post on a forum devoted to one of my hobby interests. I lurk to pick up news and read information posted by informed and helpful contributors.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Hi John, I just thought it was nice to show who’s on the site doing things, but they haven’t necessary added a comment, they could have just logged in.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I see this as a useful feature.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Thanks, Patrick. I was only wondering. I got too excited over the words “recently active”.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

One or two members of team might need encouragement to pay a visit. We could invite them for a coffee in The Lobby. 🙂

Profile photo of Paul
Member

testing subscription settings

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Do you mean we might start getting email notifications Paul ?

Profile photo of Paul
Member

Hopefully, but I don’t think it’s fixed just yet.

Profile photo of alfa
Member

@patrick

As Paul is testing subscription settings, does this mean posters are going to have to log in to post?

John’s post above pointing out lurkers, does remind me that many people don’t clear their cookies which does mean they are automatically logged in the next time they visit the site.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Hi Alfa, no not yet. This is email subscriptions. To move to a registration-only world would require a change to the site’s UX and the commenting system. I’m not ruling out, but it’s a bit more involved!

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

@patrick I would find it useful if, when I look at the abbreviated “latest comments” under “recent activity”, I could expand the comment to full length without having to go to the relevant Convo. (If you can, I’ve missed it). Would that be difficult?

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Hear! Hear! I think the first thirty words would be enough. By that point I can tell if I want to read the whole comment and I don’t mind waiting for it to load.

I have noticed that the glitch which sometimes meant you couldn’t land on the right comment has now been cured [or is just my machine that is behaving itself now?].

The only bugbear on my list now remaining is the problem with going back to the page in Latest Comments that you started from [unless it is the first page].

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

It has taken a long time but the problems with links not pulling up the right comment seem to have been resolved, at least for the time being.

I don’t recall having a problem with going back to the right place in the Latest Comments list. Which? browser are you using, John?

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

It happens with both Chrome and Bing on Internet Explorer, Wavechange.

If I start on page three of Latest Comments, go to a comment and then use the back arrow it takes me back to a position on page one that is at the same level that I left on page three. To avoid that I go to Recent Activity on the top ribbon and select Latest Comments which takes me to the top of page one. I can then hit the forward button twice to take me to the top of page three from where I can scroll down to where I last left it. Perhaps I am either doing something wrong or not doing something right.

I thought it was a common problem. Patrick acknowledged it as a thing to be fixed and said it was on his ‘to do’ list for when the opportunity presented. A ‘return to list point’ button is what I want but expect it is not that straightforward to install.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

That’s weird and I had not appreciated this issue. My computers, iPad and phone always go back to the relevant place in the list of Latest Comments when I use the browser back button.

On the other hand, I have struggled with the frequently reported problem that clicking on an item in Latest Comments often does not go to the relevant post, though there is no problem at the moment.

I suggest replacing Internet Explorer (now discontinued) with Firefox and use the Google search engine rather than Bing.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

There is a digital delay on Which website as there is a lot going on there , even when logging in with WordPresss,s help I have to wait 2 seconds for it to activate before pressing the button otherwise I have to click twice for it to work .Also on a convo thats busy I have to wait several seconds for it to scroll down to the post I clicked on . I have said before -aren’t we talking memory here ? I get the impression Which server is being overloaded , correct me if I am wrong ? . This only happens on Which nowhere else , I have been on small websites with web clients servers causing problems , either due to memory or congestion + the inability to pay for top class service but never in my wildest dreams would I think a company like Which could not afford top class service including the email notification which is still ongoing. Which has plenty of shall we say “additions ” to its website one of the most “crowded ” websites I have come across , I am not complaining only stating a fact but I thought that technical issues were not something that would continually effect the website due to its prestige, too much going on is my conclusion ?

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Thanks, Wavechange. My desktop PC is on its last legs and no longer supported so it is only a matter of time before it will be replaced – probably with an all-in-one PC – but I am vacillating over what to buy and what to equip it with. The laptop is not entirely under my control but it does most things well, except it does not have Word or other such software installed. I only use it occasionally for light browsing and Which? Conversation.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I certainly agree with you, Duncan, that there is far too much going on behind the scenes in Which? Conversation with an excessively elaborate functionality in my opinion. This, plus the volume of traffic at times, probably does overload the servers. Eventually an ever-expanding series of inter-acting features slows the system down. Some of the features are very useful, however, and I would not like to see them go but I feel that some rationalisation would not go amiss and would tidy up the site as well. I sincerely wish that the Which? Conversation website had as much prestige as you credit it with. At times today I have wondered why any serious person or organisation would take any notice of it at all. I shall leave it at that – I think you will know what I am getting at.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

John is it a MAC you use and like ? I am not so keen in all in one PC,s as they are like laptops in their limited ability to be upgraded easily , they do look nice though but you pay a great deal for a big screen model.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Why do you always make me laugh John -last two sentences , cheer me up no end !

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

No it’s not a MAC, Duncan. I haven’t really explored the market properly yet. I have become so used to getting along with my reliable HP desktop with Vista that I face the future with some trepidation. Most of my real work is in Word and I am thinking of keeping that going on the existing machine for so long as it lasts and getting something neater and faster for browsing and e-mails. I don’t stream stuff or download music or watch TV or play games or store pictures so my needs are simple. I do need to attach documents to e-mails sometimes so there would have to be some interaction between the two PC’s. As far as I am concerned, the fewer icons there are on the desktop screen the better.

My attitude to new technology can be summed up by the fact that my PAYG Blackberry died a few weeks ago and I have done nothing to replace it because I hardly ever used it. I never took any photos with it or accessed the internet or did anything clever with it – it was just an emergency telephone and only one other person had its number! I expect I shall get an up-to-date smartphone one day but I can’t get excited about it.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

I agree with Duncan that All in Ones are possibly a poor investment – even with Macs. We have iPads, iPods, several Mac Pro Laptops, several Mac Pro desktops, including the phenomenally powerful 2012 Mac Pro, but only a single iMac. iMacs suffer from the HDs being packed rather tightly into the casing, which doesn’t do them a lot of good, and the same can be true of Laptops, interestingly.

The most reliable Macs IME are the big Pro Desktops, where the HDs are either racked at the top of the voluminous casing or, as with the latest one, don’t use HDs on the machine at all and are connected simply by a Thunderbolt lead to several drives I keep in a cool cupboard.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

If you are looking for fast and slim John there is LInux I can boot up in 10 seconds or less and I have a lot of stuff on it . Its down to processes that operate on start up Windows has a lot but in Linux I can control all the processes that start up , some would say well there is a part of the programme in Windows for doing the same , what they don’t tell you is Windows is full of hidden processes and an awful lot cant be stopped or blocked . If you do stop them parts of Windows refuse to work , while Win 10 is quite fast out of the box but because of all that goes on in Windows , updates etc it slows down over time and in some cases even MS say you need to re-install. On the other hand if you are used to Word then you might not want to change . Why not compromise use dual boot – Win 10 +Linux , on boot up you just click on the system you want and -voila ! best of both worlds -fast Linux as apart from Firefox there are many LInux type browsers that are stripped of all the add-ons and are very fast , with all the stuff I have on Firefox it takes a couple of seconds to appear , not so the smaller browsers near instantaneous and you have full control over downloads + updates , where updates need two-stage verification and you know exactly what you are downloading and you are not being spied on by Redmond . I would never go back to Windows and MS is now working with LInux , they have changed their tune about it as they see its the future not bloated and controlling Win 10 , you own LInux , you never own Windows.

Profile photo of DerekP
Member

I guess some households favour All In Ones because they offer a halfway house somewhere between the pros and cons of laptops versus desktops (and because they help to minimise clutter, not least the number of wires involved).

Personally, I see them as offering the worst of both worlds. You don’t get the portability of a laptop, and you may not quite get the superior ergonomics of a desktop.

Profile photo of alfa
Member

John mentioned:
the volume of traffic and
I sincerely wish that the Which? Conversation website had as much prestige as you credit it with. At times today I have wondered why any serious person or organisation would take any notice of it at all

Just got my weekly Which? Scoop with its latest slagging-off invitation. What is it supposed to achieve apart from boosting figures?

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Thanks Folks for all your feedback. I must admit I am still tempted to buy another full-size desktop PC and your comments reinforce that choice. We have the space, it wouldn’t have to be put away to lay the table, and some of the better products look very well-designed. I have already downsized the desk and tucked the printer underneath so the office looks less dominated by computer gadgetry now. One old PC went overboard last year. Another one meets its fate shortly. If I get a new desktop and junk my old one that will leave two desktops and a laptop: more than enough provision for two people who no longer work for a living.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Whatever you choose, John, I think you will be glad to get rid of Windows Vista. I remember the spinning circle and the slow performance, even on a new computer. A bit like wading through treacle.

Profile photo of DerekP
Member

I’ve encountered many Vista systems that were that slow, but, with a decent amount of memory, e.g. 2GB or more, and a reasonable cpu, Vista is nearly as fast as Windows 7.

When launched, Vista suffered from excessive marketing, in which M$ promised that it would do everything wonderfully, probably including making the tea, and from selfish hardware vendors who insisted on selling cheap entry level PCs, where Vista was supplied as the OS but only 0.5GB of ram was supplied. Even XP really needs at least 1GB of ram, if it is going to work reasonably swiftly.

My mother’s cousin must have been the most patient grandmother in the world, while she struggled to use one of those Vista desktops with only 0.5GB ram, even though she was only interested in simple email and internet uses. After discovering her plight, I upgraded her PC to 2GB, and it was then transformed into a decently usable PC.

Hence a lot of Vista era machines can be usefully “upgraded” to XP.

M$’s extended support for Vista is scheduled to end on 11 April this year. After that date, if the XP model is anything to go by, 3rd party internet security software will continue to be available.

Vista era machines can also be rejuvenated by installing a nice lean and fast version of Linux. That will, of course, be much more secure, run faster and demand less memory than Vista., so that even machines with only 1GB of ram are OK for basic home use. With Vista-era hardware, Linux boot times generally seem to be around 30 – 40s, which may be noticeably faster than Vista.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I noticed a substantial improvement in speed when I had Vista replaced by Windows 7 on a fairly new laptop at work. I regularly help visiting speakers get their presentations going and when there have been performance issues it’s generally been laptops running Vista. I can see the value of having plenty of RAM on a computer, so maybe that’s been the problem.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

And maybe Which should be reading the posts about lack of RAM ?

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

The timing of my previous computer replacement was outside my control as my previous PC just gave up the ghost when Vista was the new kid on the block. I think it was much maligned and I have never complained about the speed of Vista although modern operating systems are much faster [as Vista was at first compared with earlier generation OS]. I always had plenty of capacity so I was able to drive it as fast as I needed and in some ways I shall regret its demise – my set-up has always been very reliable, it has not required any attention, and I have not encountered the problems that some users have experienced – but then I have never subjected it to extreme pressure. I have had ten good years out of my HP desktop and it would be good for another ten I reckon but I am not inclined to refurbish it, I shall put it out to pasture until I have transferred over all the stuff I really need to keep.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

John if you are looking for a specialist PC builder look no further than a fully British company , been in the business for many years , 2 year standard guarantee collect+return , unlimited repairs – local rate telephone support + additional 3 year support of labour costs paid for. vast range to choose from , highly thought of , this is no small cheap rate company – Chillblast.com , you know me John I don’t recommend many big names and I am highly critical of most businesses but this one is genuine.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Thanks, Duncan, but I am not looking for a custom set-up. Something off the shelf will do me, probably HP or Dell.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

John-while Chillblast are doing “off the shelf ” I understand if someone likes a particular company . In that case if you are looking for a fast/up to date model of HP/Dell a “good ” (in my book ) PC would cost £1500 (approx ) . The “secret ” if there is any is to buy one with the latest Intel chip in it, it is false economy to buy a cheap model with a CPU chip of a generation or two previously ,so we are talking an – i5/i7 7th generation chip Kaby Lake – i7- 7700 series , yes they are dear but if you want , long term , the biggest “bang for a buck ” then a PC with one of those chips in it will make the service life very long . The same with the motherboard buy one with the latest socket for plugging an SSD directly into the motherboard rather than an internal wired connection known as a M2 this increases speed greatly – 16G of DDR4 fast RAM and then you can work out if you need any other upmarket parts other than a 500G Samsung SSD, if you don’t use an Intel M2-minature SSD . get that lot and you cant go far wrong . There is a new AMD chip out but until its been in service for a while and really tested I would stick with Intel. Make sure the power supply is a well known make and overrated for long life and is quoted as efficient in % terms . Dont buy too small a case (compact ) they reduce life expectancy due to heat removal.

Profile photo of DerekP
Member

Duncan, that’s sounds like a needlessly expensive recipe, for anyone who only needs a “cooking” home PC.

At home, I have a couple of nearly identical Dell Inspiron desktops. Both have quad core Intel cpus and 4GB ram. The one I bought new in 2008 cost £300 and the one I bought 2nd hand last year cost £40.

I have an newish HP i5 desktop at work. It is adequate (but possibly a bit overkill) for Windows 7 and MS Office, and the power and speed of its cpu and integrated graphics offer little solace against the annoyance of slow web connections and servers.

Of the above 3 machines, only the HP has ever badly let me down, when its nearly-new hard drive failed.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I appreciate your assistance and recommendations, Duncan, but too much technical detail is what I am hoping to avoid. I normally don’t stint myself in buying things like this but simplicity is my watchword now. I don’t see why I should be using a computer very much in ten years’ time. I reckon I can get a good package for under £1,000 so that is my budget. I think I paid more than that in 2007 for my present system so prices have clearly tumbled.

I agree with Derek. I don’t need ‘state of the art’. Speed is a chimera when you’re up against clunky websites and under-powered servers.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I agree with John. A computer is just a tool for many of us. Back in the 80s and 90s I was interested in computers and then interested in what I could achieve with them but now they are tools. Some need high specification machines and others are enthusiasts, irrespective of age. Each to their own.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Which? Conversation is not a fast website. I have just compared an old laptop with 4GB RAM with a newer one with 16GB and see no obvious difference.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Correct Wavechange they have too much going on above the surface and underneath it .That would be okay if its servers were cutting edge and extremely powerful , I just don’t get the motivation, other than data collection which I know is great , I don’t understand the digital logistics of under relisation of what it entails in engineering terms.

Profile photo of DerekP
Member

wavechange, I’m also not surprised by that.

Here on my Vista-era desktop, with a total of 4.0 GB ram, and with sessions of Firefox, Chrome, and Chromium open, for a total of 9 tabs actually open, Linux reports that I am using 3.9 GB with 0.14 GB free and also that little or no paging, to the swap disk, is taking place.

If I wanted to read more like 100 webpages simultaneously, then perhaps I’d need more than 4GB ram. I suspect that having 16GB on a single user PC is a luxury not a necessity.

At work the “compute server” that I use for number crunching has 16GB ram but that turns out to be far more than it ever needs, given the nature of the engineering codes that run on it. In contrast, the terminal server used to access it has a similar amount of ram and regularly runs out of both memory and swap space. It can easily grind to a halt, if more than about 100 users are logged in to it.

Profile photo of VynorHill
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Dear Patrick. We now have a poetry space but supposing we wanted to put something longer in prose on the site? Well, the obvious problem is that such an entry might take up a full conversation page or even two. A solution might be to have a scrolling frame that moved up and down. That would not be particularly reader friendly. Another solution would be to have a page turning section and an A5 frame to write in. Thus any lengthy contribution could be read like a book. Further refinement would enable the writer to automatically copy and paste without worrying about breaking text into pages. The conversation page would do this as part of the formatting process. Is this worth thinking about?

Profile photo of John Ward
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I have a tendency to be a bit prolix at times but would be happy with a five-hundred word maximum for a comment. I think any lengthier contribution can be sub-divided. The practical complications for reading extensive tracts indicated by Vynor show that it would detract from the conversational style of the website and make finding particular points more difficult. I am not sure that there is a general appetite for very long pieces and perhaps 400 or 300 words would be better limits.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

In the ancient forum we used to run a writing competition. Ultimately, because one member submitted thirteen or so pieces under different names, we stopped but even in its heyday reading more than 500 words tended to lose the readers’ interest.

Like John, I find it very easy to dash off a few thousand words on almost anything, but all the research suggests that 400 words is the maximum you should expect folk to have to navigate in this sort of situation.

I’m speaking at a funeral today, and I’ve had – ruthlessly – to keep my word count down. Even so, it’s standing at 1400 words and that still comes to seven minutes. In here, people seem to prefer short and pithy.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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I generally look at a very long comment, scan through very quickly and move on unless it is from a respected regular. If someone cannot make a point fairly succinctly then maybe they have not thought it through.
Of course serious points will rely upon information and facts, and these can be lengthy . Where they are accessible on the internet a link can be provided. Where no internet link is possible perhaps Which? could provide a place to deposit supporting evidence – including text, pictures, graphics etc – and provide the appropriate link in the comment. This would be useful for those interested in detail – whether commenting or reading. It might also provide Which? with relevant information for future use.

Profile photo of VynorHill
Member

Very sensible Malcolm. To an extent, the poetry section is outside the usual conversation orbit in that it majors on an art form and not a particular thread. It is succinct enough to cope with the format here, though I am not sure it should be “bent” to too many specific topics. It is after all an expressive medium that follows the poet’s desires and emotions. This cannot be applied to literary entries and, on reflection, I agree that these don’t really have a place here, even if the technology was adapted to accommodate them. ” Which” is, after all, a current affairs magazine and our entries here are focussed on topic led discussion. Ian’s Lobby is a half way house, but even that, with its gourmet treats, usually ends up debating our worldly situation as opposed to our spiritual desires. I therefore withdraw my thoughts on a literary conversation and begin to cook us a dinner which has to be more than a virtual dish of fare, virtually prepared and eaten.

Profile photo of John Ward
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To give an idea of length, Vynor’s post above is 172 words. It is possible to pack a lot into 300-400 words and it won’t overwhelm the Conversation [so long as we don’t all do it consecutively!]. My most recent long comment, in the care home discussion, was 452 words [https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/social-care-reporting-cma/#comment-1480212] – probably too much to read on a screen and I should have portioned it.

Profile photo of John Ward
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I have noticed that the ‘Post Feature’ and ‘Site Feature’ buttons do not appear on some pages of the Brexit Article 50 Letter Conversation. I was expecting that to be the new presentation but they have come back again on later pages. How odd.

Profile photo of VynorHill
Member

Dear Patrick. It took me a few minutes to get to The Lobby the other day and it is not always easy to find the conversation one wants from the home page menu. Perhaps I am missing an obvious short cut that you have there and I haven’t found yet, but the Topic menu doesn’t cover every topic with an obvious tag. This page, for instance, is listed under “Technology”. Anything literary doesn’t appear to have a tag at all. An index page would list all conversations in alphabetical order, an expanded Topic drop down might be sufficient. Do you have any tips/thought to help here?

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
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Hi Vynor, we should add the Lobby to a few different pages, such as on the About page, the community guidelines, help getting started, FAQs and other pages.

We have ‘tags’ on every post, but we should have a tags A-Z page too. That needs a bit of development.

Profile photo of VynorHill
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Lightening quick and responsive as usual. Many thanks.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I use the search index on the home page to find this Conversation and I think that facility could be made more prominent – it’s useful for lots of quick look-ups.

I wish I could save a draft comment while checking something elsewhere on the site; I tend to open the site in another window or tab.

Profile photo of VynorHill
Member

I sometimes copy what I’ve already written and then come back later to paste it in when I’m ready.

Profile photo of Lauren Deitz
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Hi John, I’ll note that down as something for us to look into. In the meantime, I’m not sure if you use Chrome at all, but I use an extension on Chrome called ‘Canned Replies’. This tool allows you to draft your comment and save it, then you can easily copy and paste it to convo – https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/canned-replies/ddoijapfgfbaaehaegnddlbnmcbngkpi?hl=en

Profile photo of Ian
Member

For longer posts I do them all in Text edit.

Profile photo of John Ward
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Thanks Lauren. I do use Chrome on my desktop PC so I’ll have a look at that.

Profile photo of Lauren Deitz
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Hello Vynor, I’ve added a link to the The Lobby on the ‘About Us’ page and the ‘Community guidelines’ page. Hope that helps make it a bit easier to find The Lobby

Profile photo of John Ward
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This is a continuation of a thread about the lack of feedback to contributors that started in the Conversation written by the Chief Executive of Ofcom entitled “Ofcom: calling for a cultural change in the telecoms industry” [12 April 2017]. I had reported that after three weeks no one from Ofcom had come back to the scores of contributors who had raised questions or complaints about their broadband or mobile services. It seems more appropriate to continue that dialogue here.

Malcolm R added “I would like to see the Convo editors require that an author replies, or gets someone to reply, to all legitimate questions that are asked – whether the authors are guest or staff. It is very frustrating to be ignored, and to have a conversation hindered. Perhaps @patrick would like to give a view?”. And Duncan Lucas mentioned that he posts answers to many questions but gets very little feedback or replies.

There is a handful of regular contributors, probably no more than twenty, who basically keep Which? Conversation going. Many of the points put forward in that Ofcom Conversation were not ones that we, as contributors, are in a position to deal with so, as Malcolm has said, it is necessary for Which? to ensure that the author [or someone on their behalf] takes this on board and responds to questions and complaints.

The small number of regular contributors who try to help other people with their queries or problems, or illuminate the subject under discussion, are under no obligation to do so and, although it is nice to have some engagement and feedback, that is not realistic in more than a minority of cases; on most occasions I have no idea whether the enquirer has ever come back to the site to see if their concerns have been addressed but that is the way of the world we live in and we can choose whether or not to continue offering answers and advice. On the other hand, when Which? raises a topic, and actually asks people to tell them their experiences or outline their problems, it is rather cavalier to just ignore them and hope someone else will do it.

If the amount of work generated by Which? Conversation is unmanageable then consideration needs to be given to reducing the number of new Conversations that are launched, and certainly to stopping the provocation of avalanches of comments on controversial topics which become a succession of three-line rants that frequently require some form of intervention if only to correct factual errors and falsehoods. We must welcome all contributions and the opportunity they present to inform and enlighten, but what start life as interesting Conversations often descend into lists of unresolved grievances and ill-informed grudges that Which? cannot, or will not, address.

Profile photo of Ian
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This is the single most contentious issue in Which?, John, and one which you won’t be surprised to hear has been around as long as Which? has had an internet presence. It does seem to me that there are roughly two schools of thought in the organisation: one believes firmly in the Lecture approach, where information is disseminated to the masses from on high, and no intercourse is encouraged.

The second school of thought is the Socratic method (my own personal favourite) where following the stating of a position the audience is encouraged to think and respond creatively.

It’s easy to see from the various topics which authors fall into which camps: the excellent Police-led topic, where the Commander in question responded frequently and patiently, or any topic led by the Which? CEO – where any attempt at interaction is ignored.

To me, anyway, Which? cannot have it both ways: they cannot encourage a small band of highly educated and thoughtful ‘regulars’ to use the place and almost moderate the topics while simultaneously their own CEO believes in a policy of non-communication with the very folk who pay his (substantial) wages.

Duncan – if you thought you spoke your mind I’m probably for the chop, now. But I think it does need saying. I do feel that in Patrick, Lauren, Mel and others we have a team here who are willing and able to interact with the users, but that takes a lot of time and energy and I know only too well that the team here work very long hours and are deeply committed to the organisation. But I believe we also have to accept that they are not setting policy for the organisation. A quick look at ‘The Lobby’ extract I posted a week or so ago reveals that the CEO and Directors of Which? were very active in the nascent forum. back in 1996. I believe their behaviour in those early days epitomised what Young was trying to achieve. I think he’d also be proud of Patrick’s gang.

Profile photo of Lauren Deitz
Member

Hello everyone, I am sorry to read this and to be honest it’s a challenge that we do face, and one that we’re not doing a good enough job tackling at the moment. On the one hand we really want to give you the opportunity to engage with these experts and vice versa, and yet on the other we want to make sure they engage with you too. Of course, we can can’t force people to do so, but we can make this part of the agreement when we first discuss the idea for a convo – which we do current do, but there’s no guarantee that this will happen. We know that the guest authors check in on their convos and we’ve had some great dialogue with authors in the past – most recently Sarah Jane Lyden-Burke, who has done a great job at replying to comments. We are reviewing ways that we can make it easier for people to reply – we know that some authors are little nervous about commenting and so that’s where we need to help themore with their replies. We all really want to see this improved and I really do share your frustration here. I’ll see what I can do about those questions for Ofcom. Thank you

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

@ldeitz, thanks. However as Peter Vicary-Smith never replies maybe you could start closer to home? 🙂 I would expect Which? authors to be able to follow through on their Convos, and to enlist the resources of Which? staff to provide answers to legitimate questions. There really are not that many questions asked so I do not understand why it is such a problem.

Information and facts in Convos are essential (to me anyway) for them to be of real use, otherwise they can just become a way of passing the time with a chat; surely they should be more than that.

Profile photo of Lauren Deitz
Member

I’ll do my very best @malcolm-r . I’ve had a chat this morning to some authors about questions asked, quite a few of them already have it on there ‘to-do’ lists, those that didn’t do now 🙂.I’ll give them a little nudge to do so – although, just to flag that there may be some replies that will not be as full as you may like for certain reasons (if you catch my drift 😉)

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

@ldeitz, thanks Lauren. 😀

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

@patrick @ldeitz , hello! I have asked directly of Which? on Convos some direct questions. For example recently about Which? making a statement on Amazon and 2 pin plugs. Whilst replies have been made to other contributors, mine have been ignored. If you feel unable to answer such questions in a public forum I am quite happy to use the Which? Community or to email Which? direct. Just let me know please when i ask what might be an awkward question. 🙂

Profile photo of Lauren Deitz
Member

Hi Malcolm, yes I did reply to your comment. I’ve shared the evidence with our research team and hope to get back to you soon. I hope that you can understand that we can’t make a statement until we know the full facts. Often I also need to find the right people to answer your questions, especially when it’s related to technical research and policy/legal issues.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

@ldeitz, thanks Lauren. It could he useful just to let us know when a comment is being looked at so we don’t think it has been overlooked 🙂 Thanks for your quick reply.

Profile photo of Lauren Deitz
Member

Thanks, Malcolm. Noted, I’ll make sure I let you know when we’re taking a look into it.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

@ldeitz 🙂 🙂

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

There are some issues raised by Members in Convo comments that might be more appropriately raised directly with Which? One vehicle is the Which? Member Community but this is very little used. I have asked Which? via that forum if they will publicise it to Members – by email where possible and in the magazines – on the hope we can get it used much more. I also feel it is not very user friendly and suggest the Convo format could be used.

If anyone has any views on this perhaps they would post them in the Member Community. You need to log in to Which?, go to “View Account”, click “Which? Member Community” and then click this again in blue in the text. My post is under “Your feedback” “Ask the Which? Member Community” Told you it wasn’t very user friendly!

Profile photo of Ian
Member

The Which? member community is, regrettably, anything but. It’s been (I suspect) deliberately ‘hidden’ but the main issue is the lack of interaction with management. I did attempt to use it when it first tip-toed into existence but it was so difficult to access, repeatedly ‘lost’ the login details, never produced a message centre equivalent and, in short, seemed to be a vehicle which no one was driving.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Convo coming up next , okay maybe not next maybe “second next ” as a Hobbit might say – would you bank at Amazon Bank ? A “insider starter ” in the Huffington Post in January hinted that Millenniums dont like banks re- 2008 and many dont care if banks disappear ( I have the full article ) , like many things American the author of the article was either getting paid “extra money ” or was physic , I go for the previous notion , anyway Amazon have “secretly ” gone into banking and have done so for the past year – see how articles come about in advertising ?- and are lending money to small businesses , maybe thats why TM doesnt .Yes I have both articles.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

Thought it might be a good idea to start a snaglist, as it seems clear there are a few bugs about.

Issues:

1. “All recent activity” never seems to show messages from unregistered participants.
2. The chronology of posts seems somewhat capricious. When posted reasonably quickly but more than 60 seconds apart, they often seem to choose in what order they’ll appear.