Feel free to talk in The Lobby

Open discussion

Do you want to discuss an issue that’s bothering you 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…

Since Which? Conversation launched six years ago, there have been almost 4,500 conversations on all sorts of consumer issues – from money to megabytes. And in those conversations, there have been close to 180,000 comments.

Of course, the real strength of Which? Convo lies in its members who contribute so much to every discussion. And one of the better aspects has been watching how this community has slowly but surely grown into such a caring one.

Our community

But, 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 in some of the subjects we discuss due to the precisely defined nature of them.

So, at the behest of some of our community members, we’re creating a brand-new convo: The Lobby.

This will give you the space to discuss anything that takes your fancy providing, of course, that your comments remain within our community guidelines.

The Lobby will be available in exactly the same way as all the other conversations, and some of our regular community members will help with the moderation duties.

As always, any ideas spawned here in The Lobby could also be used to generate new topics for debate and discussion, so you – our community members – will be able to really help shape the direction of Which? Convo.

Rules in The Lobby

There are no rules… only kidding 😉

To ensure that this off-topic discussion remains a healthy and friendly place for you all to share your thoughts, musings and ideas, here’s a reminder of our most relevant guidelines:

  1. 1. You may go off-topic… that is the purpose of The Lobby 🙂
  2. 2. You can’t agree with everyone all of the time, but when you do disagree, please be polite and speak to others as you’d like to be spoken to.
  3. 3. Avoid ‘trolling’, or purposely provoking others into a desired emotional response. It’s just mean 😐
  4. 4. Avoid making comments that others might find offensive, threatening, abusive or defamatory.
  5. 5. Website feedback is best shared on this dedicated Conversation, so we can keep The Lobby to be about everything else.
  6. 6. If you’re a Which? member and you’re looking for somewhere to discuss issues related to our organisation, including governance, then please head over to which.co.uk/haveyoursay.

So without further ado… welcome to The Lobby. What are you waiting for!?

With special thanks to Which? Conversation community member, Ian, who kindly wrote the bulk of this conversation and provided the excellent name of The Lobby.

Comments
Member

Welcome to the day in 1893 on which Rudolf Diesel obtains a patent for his internal combustion engine, the day in 1954 when the first mass inoculation against polio with Salk vaccine was given and the day in 1455 when Johannes Gutenberg printed his first Bible.

Help yourselves to today’s special: curried eggs on sticks.

Member

Thanks to the polio vaccine, Europe at least has been free of polio for many years.

We are still working on curing the exhalations of diesel engines.

Member

Last time I got caught stealing a calendar I got 12 months.

Member

By the time a man realises that his father was right, he has a son who thinks he’s wrong

Member

Going to attempt a Mexican joke. Hope it’s a good Juan…

Member

In another Convo, Ian wrote: “Asimov, in particular, has an outstanding record in predicting the future (his Doctorate was in Biochemistry, Wave) and predicted (like A. C. Clarke) the iPad, the mobile ‘phone, social media and the rapid increases in computer processing speeds back in the 1950s (A. C. Clarke predicted telecom satellites back in the ’30s…) but what all three foresaw was change in technology and society reflected in wealth. Society, they thought, was going to become more and more divided and isolationist and, frankly I suspect that’s starting now.”

I did know about Asimov’s background thanks to a medical friend who is an avid reader of science fiction. Not having read much of his work, did Asimov make any use of his scientific background in his books?

Member

Interestingly, on the day of his Doctoral viva, one of the panel had just read a short story he’d published about a chemical which – when injected – allowed the injectee to move forward in time one hour. He later said he had no idea any of the learned group would be Sci Fi devotees. But in the main he thought about society and the future. I’d recommend Foundation, Foundation and Empire and Second Foundation (the Foundation trilogy) which are breathtaking in scope and concept.

A friend of mine at Oxford (studying Literature) told me Science Fiction would never be considered ‘great’ literature. More than a little arrogance among the Arts community, I suspect.

Member

I agree Ian having read all three in ,I think, the late 50,s/60,s , I too read just about every American SF book/paperback from the mid 50,s onward I enjoyed most of them . The US also had -“Fantastic Stories ” paperbacks which were (mainly ) SF. I read all the major SF writers including those you have mentioned on Which.

Member

Quite right Ian. I have dabbled in the genre and enjoyed the result. Anything is possible. At the same time, the Si-Fi giants have written literature of the highest quality with ideas that stretch the mind and move the soul.

Member

I did read two of these books, Ian, and a couple more of the SF classics, but that was long ago. I remember various people including my father saying that the Beatles would soon be forgotten.

Member

I cant remember which other regular has the same main browser as me -Yandex but a change has taken place , with Google putting up warnings in the next update on unsecure websites which CANT be removed Yandex has got in already . It has installed a non removable app that checks if the connection is secure sticks a grey icon at the top that indicates whether the connection is secure/insecure/partially secure . The problem ? it clashes with the app I recommend which is HTTPS Everywhere causes a type of firewall action to block access to some websites , its not blocking all the time just every so often but if you have a favourite one thats blocked thats not so good . I have turned off https everywhere and using the Yandex version now . Anybody using Google AND https everywhere might find the same problems after the security April/October updates

Member

An open cast coal mine will be opening ( if protests dont work ) in Durham as many members are “Eco friendly ” I would like their opinion on this . I I live in an area were there were many such mines but were all closed and legislation applied to stop any opening (so far ) but Sajid Javid the minister responsible needs to be persuaded otherwise – views on this ?

Member

Coal is an extremely valuable raw material for making plastics, pharmaceuticals and many other products. If that’s what it will be used for, go ahead. Burning it would be a waste.

Member

Some questions for you to help shape the Community Strategy:

What makes an amazing online community? What is essential?
What do you like about community at Which?
What do you dislike about community at Which?
What online communities do you think are the best online?
What do you think a website community offers that a social media community doesn’t?
What is your personal vision for community at Which?

I’d love to have a list of your suggestions to read over by next week! Thank you all 🙂

Member

Why am I here ? because I get better interaction on a higher intelligence level than most of the websites I have posted on. Its not full stupid comments , I am able (mostly ) to get my opinion across although I do have a “bit of a bite ” I think it adds something to Which even if it gets other regulars to question my posts at least it gets them thinking . I dont dislike anybody here otherwise I would be gone , I fully realise each person is an individual and each has his/her own views on any given post . its a total waste of time trying to change anybodies opinion by force it must be done by intelligent interaction on any subject and thats what I love- interaction . I know the social media giants have the USA and Russian presidents commenting on them but that doesn’t impress me I can only be persuaded by logic , reason and the TRUTH , I dont like the social media although it seems to have great influence I think those people who have understanding and a higher logic gravitate to Which to either put their point or ask for help . The social group here is of a high order and I should know I have posted on a US philosophical political website with some US high intellect people BUT thats all they do is philosophize and that is their weakness , they are perceived as doing no harm to the US government even though they criticize it intelligently their actual action on the public is low because they never get down to earth and want to really change things . As long as Which is not perceived as a “lacky ” for HMG/big business it will not fail as far as the British public are concerned whether those two like everything thats said here is another thing but Which should be strong, more and more stupid rhetoric comes out of our and US political leaders mouths Which shouldn’t be influenced by it. If I was booted off Which I would have a hard time finding another website with such high standards. Its like a “Home ” to me now its stopped me completely posting on a multitude of websites that governments didnt like and I think they understand that.

Member

What makes an amazing online community? What is essential?
> A core of regular contributors, perhaps larger than our present group of regulars.
> People prepared to help each other.
> A wide variety of discussion topics, serious, lighthearted and topical. Top marks there.
> Mutual respect.
> Appropriate moderation. No problems there.

What do you like about community at Which?
> The opportunity to discuss topics with people who share common interests and to learn from them.
> Increasing input from Which? staff.

What do you dislike about community at Which?
> Unease because some Convos have no further input from the author.
> Unease because important issues have been raised in Convos and in the magazine, but input from contributors appear to be ignored and no progress is apparent.
> The fact that some seek help and this is provided, but they are never seen again, even to provide essential further information. – This may be because they are unregistered and unable to find where they posted.
> Too few younger people engaged with Convo.

What online communities do you think are the best online?
Does not compute. 😉

What do you think a website community offers that a social media community doesn’t?
> Social media is unsuitable for in depth discussion.
> Less ephemeral.
> Convo could provide messaging and chat rooms (as some forums do) providing the opportunity for individual discussion, an advantage of social media.

What is your personal vision for community at Which?
> More encouragement to explore the different forms of engagement with others and with Which? This may help bring different age groups together.
> The role of Convo needs to be made clear. Is it a place to post comments that may be of value to Which? (in which case it would be useful to give some indication of how the collective comments will be used), or can users expect answers to important questions. Some users push for attention and others do not, but their views deserve equal attention. What we have at present is not good for community spirit.
> I would like to see the opportunity for working groups to be set up to look at certain topics in depth.

Thanks for the invitation to comment, Patrick.

Member

@patrick, I’ll endorse much of what wavechange has said. Reading back through the many comments that have been made about the role of Convos will have made you well aware of many of the issues regular contributors have raised. This is reinforced by comments in the more restricted “Help us shape the future of Which?” Cconvo.

My original interest in Convos was to learn about topics, and through intros and contributions it has done that in bucketloads, but also I believed that by working quite hard making constructive contributions I would be helping Which? with improving the consumers’ lot. That bit has proved a disappointment. There has been no real evidence, despite assurances, that much of what is contributed has any real impact on Which?, we very rarely get specific answers to specific questions, Convo writers seem to disappear once their intro has appeared, and I wonder whether all the effort is at all worthwhile. So it seems to be just a chat room, like sitting round a table in the pub, talking over the world’s problems, and going home to forget about them and start afresh the next day.

What would make an online community “amazing” (too strong a word – perhaps worthwhile might be better) . Well, Convos on serious topics where serious contributions are developed in conjunction with Which?, a purpose to such Convos that is visible – leading to a consensus on a way forward for example –
and where there are prompt responses from Which? to requests for answers and information. In other words a real partnership where Which? engage in the same way that contributors try very hard to engage with them.

That does not mean all Convos have to be serious and wholly objective; I enjoy the more amusing, trivial, quirky ones also that are essentially chats among a whole variety of people.

I think that’s enough for now 🙂

Member

What makes an amazing online community? What is essential?

1. Contributors – lots of them.
2. The facility to start contributor-originated topics.
3. Member spaces: where contributors can list things they want others to see and know, and where they can also determine who has access.
4. Trust. Trust between the contributors but, most importantly, trust between the administrators, moderators and contributors.
5. Ease of use: user-friendly formatting of fonts, colours and styles.
6. Off-board spaces for the most proficient and helpful contributors.

What do you like about community at Which?

1. The team. Friendly and gentle interactions.
2. The willingness of the team chief to listen.

What do you dislike about community at Which?
1. No member spaces
2. An apparent lack of trust, epitomised by the odd situation in which team members say they work very hard, yet there’s an apparent refusal to even respond to offers of help from the contributors. Why is that?
3. A sense that W?Cs isn’t fully endorsed or supported by the highest echelons in Which?.
4. Moderation which often misses the precise posts which require moderation. Except when there’s a landslide topic, prompted by an official email, W?Cs simply isn’t that busy, so off-topic trends could be spotted more quickly.
5. A complete refusal by the very top at W? to follow the guidelines: despite launching topics, there’s a stark refusal to engage with contributors. Why is that?
6. The overall structure of the place doesn’t lend itself to easy location of previous posts: WP might be ideal for a sometime blog, but I don’t think it’s suited to a permanent discourse centre.
7. A dreadfully inadequate search function. To be fair, this is a site-wide criticism.
8. The need to control. This goes back a long time, but the massive irony is that Which? was started with the idea of being a cooperative enterprise, using volunteers as much as paid staff. Sadly, nothing in here – or Which? as a whole – uses volunteers other than under strictly defined and controlled conditions. This, I believe, is not only a betrayal of the founder’s aspirations but a shameful squandering of resources. Why is that?

What online communities do you think are the best online?
1. SMF
2. Web-X

What do you think a website community offers that a social media community doesn’t?
1. The key difference in W?’s case is access. Access to W?, its staff – well, some of them, anyway, and a belief that we’re part of something bigger. Or so we’d like to think.

What is your personal vision for community at Which?
This can’t really be answered in a few point, but essentially W? could gain far, far more than it does out of this place if it was prepared to trust some of the contributors more. Exactly as with the old forum, this one has evolved into a caring and highly intelligent group of thinkers who, despite their own disagreements, remain at heart a group of socially-aware, very perceptive and caring people with very wide and disparate experiences. Not to use the members of that group is little short of criminally short-sighted, and as a group we’ve made at least two very solid and defined offers of specific help, yet heard nothing back. Why is that?

Member

Oh and here are some of my highlights of this week – our product safety campaign now has 60k signatures, and it’s had the most success we’ve ever had on Twitter with 1.3k retweets: https://twitter.com/WhichUK/status/964031526617993218

Another excellent story was this story about England Rugby Ticket scam – someone tweeted at us about being scammed out of £10k. Our Money team then investigated this, raised awareness about the scam and then it was shared by the Official England Rugby Twitter account (which has almost 1m followers):
https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/02/six-nations-rugby-fans-lose-up-to-10000-as-ticketing-firm-vanishes/
https://twitter.com/EnglandRugby/status/966652639898406913

It was also picked up by The Sun, The Times and the I.

Do you have a highlight of the week? 🙂

Member

For those like me who travel round the world on the web please be aware that you are being silently censored when you try to connect to a US newspaper you are automatically re-directed to the UK edition with totally different news . You therefore learn zero about about whats going on in America , its intentional. You can get round it .

Member

I’m aware of this and it’s usually fairly easy to find the relevant URL for editions intended for other countries. For example: https://www.wsj.com/news/us

I have not compared US and UK versions of any newspaper but would guess that the UK version goes into less detail of US matters and may prioritise stories that affect the UK and Europe.

Member

I have found Wavechange that I can get information on whats going on in the UK government and other departments that would never be published here as most stuff here of any importance is on a “need to know ” basis . The US dictates and influences this country greatly you only have to go by the outpourings and policies of the USA to find they are mirrored here this country obeys the USA in most things . One of the links I have not provided yet talks of what I have been saying for a long time big business actually run both countries and that globalisation will narrow it down to one country and its not the UK. Getting info out of the UK is now impossible , I mean real information . At present the US is a more free country in public access to serious information . This convo is rated “secure ” Wavechange . What this shows (to me ) is that big business is selective in its info gathering showing a a link applies to Which and information gatherers on relevant commercial/government convos .

Member

Sometimes it’s useful to be taken to a UK website. I’ve just been given a ticket to a chamber music concert and looking at the performers’ website I’m glad I’ve not been taken to the Czech website.

Member

I am not doubting you, Duncan. I know very little about globalisation and international trade. It’s very obvious that the UK follows the US in many ways.

Member

What are they doing?

Member

I have found out why Google is introducing its new https policy and that Yandex is complying as well .Last year the US Homeland Security binding operational directive gave a set time this year for all US government departments to comply with a higher security level, America is pushing this.

Member

While the EU is mandating GDPR by May.

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And we will be out of the EU shortly according to right wing Tory emails I get so that we will no longer be “EU citizens ” which the Law you talk of applies to Ian . You do know TM is using the Brexit issue to introduce a whole new set of legislation affecting the whole of the UK and trying to dissolve and remove Holyrood at the same time .

Member

Prenez courage mes amis – émigrons tous en France alors qu’il est encore temps!

Member

Speed ,Speed everyone wants everything to happen as soon as possible , some even want everything happen faster than that Even the government wants things to happen fast unless it is important then it will take a long time or never happen The High speed rail link is just about speed saving a few minutes on a journey People get scammed because they have to do everything as quickly as possible the scammers know this and will persuade them to do it now a minute later will be to late The thing many would like to do is arrive before the set off Road safety experts say “speed kills” not the only thing it does it can make you lose money by not taking time to stop and think With speed you will meet yourself coming back and reach the end of your life before the time has come for you to depart Speed it has become an obsession with many in all walks of life Stop an think more often things can always wait

Member

Yes Bishbut – the government is certainty on “speed ” with all the insane utterances coming out of it but have you thought of the speed of our money which enters the City and makes a hasty “speed ” to the Seychelles etc.

Member

Welcome to World Sword Swallower’s Day and the day in 1868 when the US House of Representatives voted 126 to 47 to impeach President Andrew Johnson.

Help yourselves to the plethora of goodies that await.

Member

I wonder why anyone ever thought of attempting to swallow a sword.

Member

That would be a hard statement to “swallow ” Wavechange. Having said that you would be surprised what surgeons take out of people .

Member

Top 3 situations that require witnesses: 1) Crimes 2) Accidents 3) Marriages

Member

I want to make a joke about sodium, but Na…

Member

Some people are proof that evolution CAN go in reverse.

Member

You might have said that as a joke Ian but anthropologists agree with you we are regressing due to modern living .