Encouraging meaningful discussions - what are your thoughts?

Hi All,

The governance of the CHOICE Community forum has always been in large part led from within the forum itself, and we intend this to continue in 2019. One thing that seems certain is that CHOICE and by extension this forum will continue to be a destination for clear information, from finding the best products to exposing everything Shonky.

We very much want this to be a place for good information, and we’d like to facilitate this broad purpose as best as we possibly can. There are a number of ways we’ve tried to keep things focused on the facts, such as having a strict ‘no personal attacks’ rule. You can attack the facts, but not the people involved. We’ve also started dedicated MythDefied categories and encouraged people to share articles, photos and experiences of everything from positive news to the confusing and sometimes downright dodgy things that happen.

As long as you’re not personally attacking someone, deliberately aiming to offend or otherwise attempting to be a nuisance (spam etc), we allow almost any topic that is related to CHOICE concerns, in particular - almost all Australian products and services, consumer rights, broad health topics, scams and more.

With so much talk of ‘fake news’, media manipulation and the general effect that social media is having on how we receive and assess information, the Community has proven to be a great online destination for meaningful discussions and interactions so far. While there may be more misinformation out there than this forum can sometimes handle, we’d like to encourage all Australians to post more often, to post links to the sources of information and to continue encouraging polite discussions of the matters at hand.

You don’t always have to know the answer or the undisputed facts of a matter to post, but taking the time to share and discuss our collective information is a great start.

If you have any ideas on how we can best achieve the above goals, what we can do differently and what we should do more often - now is your chance to share them. Please add your thoughts in the comments below.


In my view there is a place for drawing attention to some frauds, fallacies and foolishness. I some situations it is worth the time but obviously we cannot deal with every random rubbish story - there are just so many.


Yes, we are a broad enough community to engage nearly any topic. :+1:

There are more than enough subject groupings to categorise most items.

Perhaps we need one for doubtful or over presented news items, where those of us who have an interest can consider the items for what they are. :thinking:

Thinly disguised attempts by media organisations to manipulate our interests. Face Plant does enough of that to not need more of it? :wink:

Totally agree if any of us kick off a topic or add a link or news item we should add explanation of the relevance of the item and what for others the concerns or benefits are.

It would seem to be the best way to help us understand the topic and add value to a discussion.


Maybe a separate forum topic like 'Is this true?" could possibly be used to put those click bait/fake news etc posts which occur on the forum. Possibly similar to mythbusting, but its own topic.

Many of these reports/news etc are sensationalist articles to support advertising revenue…possibly the recent hot cross buns one is a case example.

Any posts along these lines could be moved to this topic and either debunked or confirmed by forum members.

Food for thought.


I really like this idea, thanks @phb we’ll see what we can do.


My view of the Choice.community has always been that it provides an extra level of rigour in educated discussion as well as high quality moderation.

Bing News, Google News, and so many others do a pretty good job of putting news as well as rubbish in front of our eyes in these times with click bait apparently being job 1 at many media companies.

The difference here is that our informed opinions and mature judgements can be added, unlike the free for alls in many media comments sections where almost anything goes.

It would be helpful overall if posts did not just toss on links to news articles without any commentary for relevancy or context, although commentary may not always be needed or be value added, such as when it links a food product or Takata airbag recall where the topic and content is going to be self evident. In general a few words to question an item or link its relevance to the thread or a topical event goes a long way to generating interest.

Without value added or highlighting an important, serious, and possibly urgent public concern (eg recalls, etc), what is the value, noting the same articles are often cross posted at myriad sites across the internet; are more needed? If Choice.community has enough similar content it may become just one of many, rather than a ‘go to’ forum of purpose.

Perhaps Discourse can be modified to disallow comment-less external links in the same manner it mandates 20 characters to at least encourage thinking about ‘why am I posting this and why should others be interested?’.


Thanks for the thoughts. It’s possible the software may allow this functionality, I’ll check it out :+1:


I concur - there are occasions where a simple link might be enough, but some context is usually good and it’s nice to know the poster actually read the full article as well :wink: As for news sites - if i want to read trash and see boobs I’ll go to the Sun etc (which I don’t, typically) - I come to this site for its consumer focus, both key words :slight_smile:


Can we make it 50 or 100 (meaningful, please) characters? I don’t think 20 is enough to show that the poster has even glanced at whatever lurks behind the link!


Knowing how the internet works lots of people can scroll through a thread, see the false information and not see the true information. I’d like to see this addressed somehow.

Something like pinning best answers to the top of threads about myths or that contain misinformation. Or highlighting replies that contain factual corrections. Or even just highlighting when an alternative viewpoint to an otherwise one sided story is added.

The main issue other than the software limitations is that it would require a lot of manual moderation.


Indeed. I find it much better not to click on these random links to less than reliable sources… and lately, to ignore the thread altogether, based on the initial subject.
Life is too short!

  1. I fear the AI to accomplish that as intended could be beyond Choice’s budget.

  2. A Japanese lady once remarked to a colleague who thought he was speaking Japanese quite well, ‘Walter, I understand every word you are saying, but together they make no sense at all’.

  3. (oops, wrong characters)

Sorry, couldn’t resist.


Brendan, per my previous :

As @phb suggests more specifically, finding the most appropriate topic category and subject title may help all concerned to make an informed decision as to whether the item is of interest or value. Being able to seek truth or exaggeration in news articles that address consumer interests may appeal to some. The cynics amongst us should feel free to bypass that step.

The requirement to provide a meaningful minimum amount of added original content to a post would be great.


That is a good start. If the item is important enough to bring up, then at least say why you think it is important. I am not suggesting that the initiator needs to be an expert on the subject, in some cases the purpose will be to ask for views from the more knowledgeable but there needs to be a reason given to ask the question if it is new.

I don’t see any mechanistic method of making this happen. Maybe the guidelines need to be expanded a little to refine focus. Perhaps they should give some guidance on what to do. So far they mainly say what not to do.


Perhaps the BS Buster category can add this as it is about debunking or affirming and what the “Is it True” seems to be is in that same vein, maybe a sub category under the BSB label?


I think if there is just a link shown with no prologue or epilogue given by the poster it seems a bit sterile . I’ve always tried to do a little commentary why I have used that link to encourage thought and discussion amongst the other forum users .

I think the " Is it True ? " category put forward by Peter is really good idea .


While it has become trite from over use in the last 2 years, especially by American comedians and commentators, ‘Is it true’ could be titled ‘News or Fake News’. But excepting for the title it does seem almost congruent with MythDefied though.


“Taking out the trash!”

Sometimes, what we see is a head line and a lead in story that are simply disconnected from the content.

In those instances is it more a concern due to misdirection, sensationalising, and click bait? The underlying story may have some alternate value, or as the ABC Media Watch often points out, is months or years old recycled content (slow news day)?

Do we intend to include items with those features, or capture and quarantine those items, or simply seek revenge on the perpetrators?

Last one for Brendan to consider? Eg a special annual shonky award for the most misleading consumer related news article. And some rules that any post of suspect items needs to come with a suitable reasoned written expose as a prequalificafion.

P.s. I already have my headline prepared, if only the press can help out by picking the story line up:
“Cancer causing hazards found on the dark side of the moon, Chinese Space exploration - we reveal the secrets to staying safe from cancer causing radiation!” I lack imagination!


Maybe a ‘is it worth reading’ category where we have a daily or weekly roster of victims who have to follow the link on behalf of us all and post a quick reply of at most 3 characters indicating their answer …:rofl:


Hello Brendan. I am not able to visit here very often these days, so I am not as up-to-date as I once was. But I have not felt frustrated by anything in this forum. On the other hand, I tip my hat to you for your very professional moderation here, and for the private guidance which you offered to me in my early days of posting here. Thank you greatly. Similarly, I am just blown away by the DEPTH as well as the WIDTH of knowledge on so many topics by so many of the regular contributors here. For so many of you, I applaud the way that you must voluntarily give us so much of your own time in writing your reasoned and well-informed responses in this forum. Huge thanks to each of you too. And finally for some negativity – NOT regarding this forum, but from a change.org petition on imported honey, where the poster tells a VERY disturbing story of having been threatened by a Choice employed staff member when he tried to discuss his issues with her. The online responses showed great dissatisfaction that attitude.
I re-iterate that this last comment is NOT intended as any sort of negative comment about this Forum or how it operates. I wish a Happy New Year to all of you; and again I thank the wonderful contributors to discussions in here. Kind regards. Raymond.