/ Money, Technology, Which? Membership

Welcome to the new Which? Conversation


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.


Will an email notifying you about a new comment only take you to the conversation intro, or will it take you direct to the comment made? In the case of a reply to a previous comment this may be located earlier in the conversation and difficult to find. It would help if the commenter’s name was included.

The link in my email has a # comment reference number after the conversation title but still only takes me to the top of the conversation page. Is there a difference between the options of “email when any new comment is posted” as opposed to “when a comment replying to my comment is posted”?

I have noticed that each of my posts has a Delete button, even after the editing period has expired.

Does this mean we can delete our posts at any time? If that happened on a frequent basis, discussions could become rather confusing.

wavechange, it only seems to delete it from the list in “my activity”, not from the conversation.

Sadly, it appears the HTML marquee tag is disabled.

Patrick, I think your number one fix to the site that is irritating me the most and getting worse as this convo gets bigger needs to be:

From the recent activity page, when you click on a comment, you get taken to the comment and not the bottom of the page.

It’s working alright for me now [desktop/laptop] – it was affecting both the home page list and the recent activity list.

Edit: Oh no it isn’t – it’s just gone straight to the end again.

Thanks Patrick. I’ve just checked the Front Page and also “All” and “Comments” from Recent Activity and clicking on a link doesn’t take you to the actual post from any of them.

I only have access to a desktop at the moment so can’t comment on other devices.

I have noticed that some users have a link to a page showing their Activity etc. but others do not. It’s not just inactive contributors. For example ‘vickysecho’ has posted a comment in the recent Conversation by Prof. Chris Elliott, yet there is no link.

Thanks Patrick. I had not realised that it was possible to post a comment without having registered.

This is the only website I know of where you don’t have to register before posting.

People are used to registering if they want to post on a forum and if registration is kept simple, i.e. user name, email address and password, it should not put people off.

As you have to give a name and email address to post anyway, why would anyone not want to register?

You also don’t need to be logged in to view profiles, etc. This is a standard concept on other forums that creates a community and prevents abuse.

There is a comment in the activity list from Patrick to Carneades that has not found its way into the conversation. I think I know where it belongs but it isn’t there.

It starts “Hello Carneades, thank you very much . . . “. and was posted almost three hours before I posted this.

There could be others – the permalink problem makes it difficult to spot the drips in a heavy shower.

Thank you, John. I did briefly glimpse it, before it was whisked away, leaving only my tantalisingly open-ended question… :-))

Clearly, summat’s amiss. My comment (above) is missing the edit I did immediately after it. The pity is that the edit revealed my missing post had reappeared…

Although you’d expect the software to understand that Administrators are not usually spam senders… :-))

Thank you for enlarging the font in the Comment boxes. This is a great help.

It seems that this particular Conversation is susceptible to the permalink malfunction. In others, clicking on a comment takes one direct to that comment. Trouble is, this Conversation is getting very long and comments are, understandably, dropping in all over the place.

I just found your comment, clicked on it and came straight here !!!!

Well done, it looks like this is fixed.

So then I clicked on your following post and went straight to the bottom !!!

Then I clicked on the above link and came straight here.

Hmmmm !!!! Not sure what is going on.

err . . . random. It didn’t do it for me this time.

I have noticed that I am not using the Voting [thumbs up/down] buttons very much since they were changed. Could this be because they are smaller and more obscure? Or because they are black instead of coloured? Or because the votes are now displayed as a nett difference rather than separate numbers for positive and negative? I thought it was interesting to see the total numbers of votes cast for each attitude whereas now you get no feel for the popularity or otherwise of a comment. I also used to like the change in colour of the buttons to grey once you had voted – you knew immediately that you wouldn’t get a second chance; now you innocently click to vote and, if you have already done so before, a screen opens telling you so and you then have to close that screen. I like to support people’s comments, especially newcomers; it would be a shame if this feature suffered a decline.

I’m not so sure about the thumbs down, especially when no reason is given – maybe abandon it. Perhaps we should just use thumbs up if we support a comment. Some people may be put off if they feel they might meet disapproval marking? Best to make a comment if you have contrary views.

Comment deleted as irrelevant.. I cannot find a way to remove it.

It is interesting that I have managed to delete my edited comment: “Comment deleted as irrelevant.. I cannot find a way to remove it.” on my Activity page – but it is still here. 🙁

I agree with Malcolm and see no need for a thumbs down function. I thought it was being heavily misused in the Conversations about music in shops and restaurants.

It was fairly obvious that some users were manipulating the thumbs up/down. It might work better if the thumbs down were removed and users were unable to vote on their own posts.

I have just tested it in the positive mode – commenters can no longer vote for their own posts. A screen appears to say you cannot vote for your own comment. I shall leave it to others to test whether you can vote against your own post!

No you cannot. That means we cannot mark down our own posts when we have posted something unhelpful. 🙁

I thought you were going to say “Yes you can” so I’m glad that has been cleared up.

You have to log out to vote down your own post.

I did post this but corrected my post promptly when it proved to be incorrect. The 15 minute window to edit a post is very useful but there is still the possibility of causing confusion. 🙁

Wavechange – I caught you in the act of changing your post and then had to alter my reply to avoid compound confusion. A lot can happen in15 minutes!

John – At least I owned up.

You can still vote for your own post if you are not logged in.

Another reason to register before voting.

Some days I merely lurk.

I fully agree there should be no more voting for one’s own comment so if that is still possible for people who have not logged in, cannot it not be stopped? Or shall we just keep quiet about it?

Now we come to the tricky bit. We have to sort the hands out because the hand on the left with the thumb up is the right hand, and the hand on the right with the thumb down is the left hand, but in practice we use the same hand for both indications so the tip of the thumb should be pointing in the same horizontal direction in both images. We can gloss over the fact that the up-thumb image looks like an open pedal bin – only a ridiculous stickler for detail would worry about that.

Be careful about giving a ‘thumbs-up’ to anyone from Iran. Many years ago I learned that they regard this sign as rather rude.

I see Bold and Italic have begun to appear. Is there a secret to this?
Well, I set bold and italic using but can’t seem to stop it. 🙁

Turn off the formatting by using the same command as you used to turn it on, except that you need to add a forward slash just before the b or i.

The formatting I would like is underlining.

As a means of highlighting text, underlining is generally regarded as obsolete. Bold, bold fonts and larger font sizes are preferred.

In the same way that b and i are used in HTML to set and cancel bold and italic, u was used for underline. I believe underline has been phased out and it does not work on this site.

On web sites underlining has become (perhaps inevitably) associated with hyperlinks, so its use is generally deprecated.

What we should create is a sand box in here…

The entity once known as Carneades…

I’ve changed my name from Carneades to my real name, but thus far it hasn’t been reflected in previous posts of mine.

However, the fact that the software accepts the new user name without qualms is yet another very positive sign about this place.

The deprecation of underlining predates websites. I well remember the advice that underlining was the hallmark of the novice computer user. The same has happened with websites, though as with this website, underlining is used to confirm that certain text such as a username is a link.

I have been treating this Conversation as a sandbox.

Let’s not have underlining then. I can appreciate the reasons why it is inappropriate. I wanted to emphasise and discriminate something recently and considered bold too forceful and italics too weak.

Dare I suggest bold + italic. Without being able to change the font or font size, that about the only option I can think of.

Let’s try bold and italic together: Test

Perhaps there wasn’t a rejection of underlining. Because nobody had mentioned it [and now I know why] I had presumed that the underlining format change was not available [sorry, Patrick, to mislead you like that]. Since I have not found anywhere on the site that explains how to change formats [and the above post from Patrick mystifies me even more] I shall avoid trying to do so.

Has there been a second iteration of your advice Patrick? – the post I referred to is quite different now and makes sense; it still isn’t identical to the way it appears in the Activity list though. I think too many commands can end up contradicting each other.

Thanks, Patrick. The new website is excellent for stimulating mental agility as one really has to keep up now. It’s interesting that some of the technical functions are well behind the curve but most of the users are way out in front. You are stuck in the middle trying to look both ways at once. You must be exhausted at the end of the day.

I don’t know how Patrick managed to get Underline to work because I failed yesterday. Let’s try again.

Now we need subscripts for chemical formulae, superscripts for mathematical discussions and a degree symbol when bemoaning the fact that modern washing machines that don’t reach the expected temperature.

Maybe that’s asking too much and an expandable comment box would help far more people.

I have not worked that out and just use copy and paste: 43°C

Indeed. Or copy one from a website.

“Putting spaces in between doesn’t stop the website seeing them as code”

That’s interesting. And potentially annoying :-))

I thought a sand box was what one put out for the cat to use?

I thought that was something one put out for the cat?

There are comments appearing on the home page that don’t seem to make it into the Activity list [either ‘All’ or ‘Comments’].

Over the last few hours this includes Diza and K. McDonald.

I wondered whether there was a reason or whether it was a glitch.

Seems another reason to register and log in before you post. 😀

He is rather cute. He visited us in Crete and I managed to get a few good photos.

I wonder how many of the regulars even visit the front page now? I certainly don’t as there are only 3 recent comments and there seems little reason to visit it any more. The activity page seems to be my front page now.

It does mean the odd person asking a question without logging in first is likely to get ignored which is what you were trying to avoid.

That’s another mystery solved. I couldn’t see what your avatar was illustrating. Are you keeping in touch after the holiday?

I don’t normally visit the front page either, so I probably do not notice when a new Conversation appears.

Thanks Patrick. I did use the “Convos” tab initially then forgot it was there!

I’m impressed that it’s working as well as it is.

I understand.

This places newcomers and people drawn from a browser enquiry are at a disadvantage. Underneath Latest Comments on the Home page it says “see all comments” – but that is not strictly accurate if unregistered ones are excluded. I know we can use the right arrow at the top of the Latest Comments section but that only leads to another three comments which might include none from new users. So they effectively get lost if they disappear into the middle of a long Conversation. It is all the more desirable that everyone who wants to leave a comment registers first – and be advised that if they do not do so their post might go unnoticed.

I know some people think Which? Conversation is a problem-solving or information & advice service but that’s OK – it’s a good way of picking up what’s occurring out there in real consumer land.

Thanks Patrick. As to filling empty spaces, are we going to have the pictures back alongside the topic headlines on the Home page?

Apart from on Day One, I have not opened the Topic pigeon holes; I never did that on the old site either. I find the Recent Actvity list is all I need because I tend to follow people rather than issues. The Recently Active avatars near the bottom of the front page will be good for that. As soon as the permalink problem is fixed I think we shall all be happy bunnies able to access the site as and how we like.

I think John is suggesting having images to the left of LATEST CONVOS on the homepage.

Patrick, I keep finding myself automatically logged out.

I used to log myself in, and still find myself logged in the next day even if I cleared my browsing history.

Now clearing browsing history logs you out and there seems to be quite a low time limit before you are logged out because of inactivity.

Don’t know if this could be causing problems, but there is no defined width for the page. If I expand or decrease my page width, the text changes considerably. Decreasing the page width can give me more text per line before wrapping then less text per line again. Hope that makes sense !!!

Hi Patrick,
I do clear cookies as well as temporary internet files and quite frequently if I visit a lot of sites. It didn’t use to log you off though as it does now.

Sometimes I would like to know of new comments on a conversation to which I have not made a contribution – interest in following a topic and learning from the discussion. However I cannot receive an email notifying me of new contributions unless I post a comment myself. Is this necessary?

Patrick, I also occasionally forget to ask for an Email when I have added a comment. It would then be useful to be able to just add a request. However, in view of all the work you’ve put in, it is not high on the priority list.

Yes, I think my idea was prompted by noticing that there were general lifestyle topics and consumer issues coming up in news and current affairs and the media that didn’t happen to coincide with work going on at Which? at that particular time but which we might like to talk about. Today, with Morrisons announcing that their small format stores are not profitable, and Aldi and Lidl surging ahead, we could [for example] have an exchange of views on the emerging shape of grocery shopping. Or we could look at some of our social and public services that rarely get a mention [“street lights” is a popular talking point I’ve noticed]. Or what about a “Room 101” type topic? The first Saturday of the month would be a good place to start it and run it for five days only.

The Community Guidelines would have to prevail. There’s no point in setting any boundaries on what can be suggested [the usual exclusions – S, R, & P – would be fundamental] since the editor would have the final say on what was put up. A word limit per post and restriction on number of revisits except as replies might be worth thinking about but it could get too complicated. I think Malcolm’s suggestion on subject selection is good.

I thought Alfa’s Conversation “What annoys you most about TV programmes?” was a very good example of the kind of topic that appealed to a wide audience, brought in a very large number of posts [257], and was quite good fun. The “Music in Shops (etc)” series has also been enjoyable. Anything that brings out the “Grumpy Old Men or Women” response is good for a laugh [perhaps only once a year], and anything with a hint of nostalgia – “Compare and Contrast the Triumph Herald with the Vauxhall Viva” or “Best Value Cardigans” or even [to be bang up to date] “VHS versus Betamax” – might bring out some wit and erudition to brighten up a wet Saturday. Or you could start a regular series of topics with the standard phrase “Did you know . . . ?” or some such. Some existing topics throw up serious, exciting and thought-provoking sub-species like “Do We Need the Speaking Clock?” [a new one could be “Do We Need Yet Another Weather Forecast?”].

I sometimes think “am I the only one who…..”. (e.g. doesn’t like football, or Eastenders). Perhaps I am 🙂

You are not alone, Malcolm. The last game of football I watched was when England won the World Cup and I have yet to see Eastenders – will it be repeated?

Maybe Which? Convo should make a takeover bid for Which? Tech Daily and bring us screaming into the 21st century.

Perhaps a convo where we pair up our favourite sport with a favourite tv programme. Then Beryl or Sophie could analyse our characters?

@John Ward I wonder if you realise that your suggestion about slightly off-the-wall topics is not only good, but is exactly how the pioneering forum, launched by Which? in 1996, used to work? There are two significant differences: in the original forum we were able to originate our own topics, although editorial control always remained with the editor or administrators. The other difference lay in the simple fact that at the outset Which? provided an area, whimsically called Armadillo, devoted entirely to members’ own topics, which could be about almost anything.

This is the nearest to the original forum Which? has created and one huge, even massive, asset is Patrick. It’s his participation that makes Conversations an eminently worthwhile venture.

I guess it was called Armadillo because it required a thick skin to participate. Some Armadillos are so heavily armour-plated that even bullets will not penetrate. I think Pangolin would be a better name in these modern times because they roll up into a ball when threatened.

“Why was it called Armadillo?”

The then Which? editor simply pulled it out of a hat. It seems they wanted something suitably bizarre, and Armadillo fitted the bill.

It was something very interesting, too; what many don’t realise is that Which? pioneered the forum concept, certainly in the UK. In the early ’90s shortly after Tim Berners-Lee ‘invented’ the world wide web as we know it, Internet Relay Chat – a sort of scrappy, world wide bulletin board – emerged. On its heels came a few, rough-edged forum constructs with little or no form or direction. It was, to all intents and purposes, the Wild West in internet terms. Into this maelstrom of randomness came Which? and with incredible foresight launched not only their own ISP but adopted an early version of Web X software to create the Which forum.

Which? was already very well respected and so the idea of them offering both a forum and an ISP was viewed as a major and highly influential step by the fledgling internet industry. At a stroke the players in the internet business upped their game; they had little choice, really, and in the main they spent quite some time playing catch up.

The innovation was conceived by Dave Roberts – a CA director, and he and Alan Stevens brought it to fruition. It’s important to see it in context: this was the mid-’90s, and dealing with large companies was difficult, not to say impossible. At a stroke, the largest Consumer advocacy organisation in Europe allowed and even encouraged its senior management to engage directly with the paying members. Membership of the forum rapidly increased and – as here – a core group rose to prominence, one of whom we got elected to Council.

From the outset the forum was divided into four areas: Expert Advice, We Help You, You help You and Armadillo. And for the first six years it worked remarkably well. But things change and the Which? mood shifted against open dialogue, which was a pity since it fulfilled the founder’s (Young’s) original aspirations remarkably well. But gradually senior management withdrew, until only Customer Services were left to deal with the show, leaving the members dissatisfied and frustrated. Eventually it was closed down, and Conversations and other projects popped up in its place.

I tried each one, but there was no rapport as such, and there was a sense of overwhelming control which many dislike. But this revamp is a breath of fresh air. I don’t know why it took Which? and CMG so long to realise that to make a forum work you have to have people with real authority and knowledge manning the desks. But they have, and it is and they are. My only plea is for Which? not to squander this project. It has real potential.

The changes to Which? Conversation have been rather more ambitious than I had expected (Patrick was not exaggerating) but I think that there is potential to use members’ photos.

A simple example of how photos could be used would be a light hearted discussion of how supermarkets are doing their best to mislead us with their prices supported with photos. I don’t want to make extra work for Patrick or his colleagues but I wonder if there is any way that we could make use of photos .

I’m keen that Which? Convo gets a few mentions on BBC News and photos might help us on the way.

A reference to the Which?’s publicity on the unrepairability of domestic appliances found its way into yesterday’s Eastern Daily Press – claimed to be the UK’s largest circulation regional daily newspaper. I’ve waited fifty years for this.

I am still playing catchup but am learning from the comments. I would like to include a photo if it were confined to my profile. I would be reluctant to use it as my avatar as I would feel slightly inhibited as to what I would like to say especially in discussions that may be a little close to my home ground.

I have registered and logged in but it looks as though I have been allocated another avatar! Is the new one asking me to put a real face on

The first one has returned again!

No – the only photo you had was one I sent you for a magazine article.
I have always preferred to remain incognito for the Convo 🙂

Perhaps passionate followers of Which? Conversation should mourn the passing of Terry the Pterodactyl, whose existence in the source code was brought to our attention by Em. The search facility on the new site is improved but not quite up to the job, suggesting ‘laptops’ as an alternative to pterodactyl. Google located the earlier discussions with no difficulty but may use my browsing history to draw my attention to dinosaurs with extended warranties.

And Salamanders can repair and regenerate many of their vital body parts throughout their lives.

Where has Patrick’s response to Wavechange on Terry the Pterodactyl that is shown on the Home page gone? Don’t tell me he’s got trapped in the spam filter again!

This Conversation is getting a bit like A Night in the (Natural History) Museum.

Seems to have the appealing animated cartoon appearance of a Chipmunk with the devouring propensity of a Beaver. So it’s either Charlie or Bev [which are applicable to both sexes].

I’m going out now.

Yes, he needs a better name than his filename of 404 monster.

Dare I suggest we call him The Missing Link. 🙂