CHOICE membership

Encouraging meaningful discussions - what are your thoughts?

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.

3 Likes

Yes please, lets have meaningful discussion where all the relevant facts can be put on the table for consideration. Today we seem to be plagued by many who will not discuss their shallow preconceived views based on some mantra or ethos they support. Unfortunately, our current bunch of pollies are unable to ‘see the truth’ that open, frank and honest holistic discussion can bring and sway away from these solid well conceived views to follow the populist shallow mantra and the country will be damaged as a result.

4 Likes

I love the forum as it does address a lot of issues that we all seem to have at some point in our lives. Having said that I wonder if we could categorize and preface each feed as either: Query, Answer, Comment or Personal Experience. Maybe it would let us skim through the topics and minimise some of the things that not really important. Looking forward to 2019 and thanks to the staff at Choice.

7 Likes

My 5c:

  1. Perhaps a system like good old Slashdot (if it can be done with Discourse plugins) to allow users to award points to good comments or penalties for bad comments, and a default filter level which excludes comments below a level of good?

  2. Re Is it True, issue is different personal opinions. One person’s conspiracy theory is another person’s believed truth. Eg Capilano honey, smart power meters.

7 Likes

very refreshing to hear and see statements as such. choice has always been a great source of info. The discussion initiative was and is a fantastic way to hear more in depth what the community has to say and their misadventures, issues, advice, experience in the world of consumerism.
thanks for a great forum with so many friendly and knowledgeable people.

7 Likes

Sincere thanks to everyone who has shared their thoughts here. I’m happy to announce that we have a new category called ‘Is it true?’ that we will trial. Currently it is listed as a sub-category under MythDefied, where a lot of our myth busting and fact finding already occurs.

The difference with ‘Is it true?’ is that this category is focused on fake news, clickbait or otherwise misleading messages that can be found across all types of media these days. The full group description is here. We’ll be be offering the new Fact finder badge for those who provide answers in this category.

^^ I like this idea too. My only thought was that it might lead to the forum being used for news aggregation, and I think there is already a few sites/services doing this fairly well. However, I’m open to more discussion on the idea (and any other ideas people have, there’s no time limit on this thread).

Regarding the character limits, the Discourse software used to operate this forum does allow us to set character limits, but the limits will not distinguish between posts with URLS and without. Most posts are conversational, and setting a limit that would force commentary when posting a URL would create a high bar for those who wish to leave a short reply in posts that do no not contain URLs. We will have a look into the plug ins @benhelps posted above. It does create a dev hurdle for us, not that the plug ins are that hard to install but that sometimes they create other errors with our themes. Anyway, it’s certainly not insurmountable.

In the meantime, we can always encourage discussion by asking questions and adding our own points of view.

@ray15, thank you for the kind words. I can assure you that CHOICE staff wouldn’t threaten people anywhere online, but we do sometimes have problems with other groups either impersonating us or making false statements about our organisation. I think this may be covered in this topic thread here, but I’m always happy to touch base on the topic and discuss further.

Another idea that has been floated is a category to discuss ‘consumer design’. In this category we could go over the pros and cons of the design of products, from excess or poorly thought-out packaging to the useability of apps and websites. Would be interested to hear thoughts on this, and please keep the ideas coming.

7 Likes

Fake News, Misinformation, Clickbait, can be addressed when the consumer has the ‘tools’ to identify, evaluate and present their findings. Media/Information literacy is a skill, a teachable subject that can be ‘taught’ formally and incidentally starting with primary school aged children.
Sharing the tools we as individuals have, employing appropriate vocabulary, swapping and exploring ideas and options is a collective way that we as consumers, can build on. As a teacher librarian, Information and Media Literacy has not kept up with the exploding growth of Digital Literacy. ‘Google it’, once the first and only step, should now be just the tiniest part of researching for authenticity, proof, etc. ‘Is this true’ is a starting idea, frankly I use Snopes when checking out the possibility of Fake News, but of course this is not necessarily definitive. The more the forum engages in meaningful discussions does expand the knowledge base but ultimately it is the consumers responsibility to read, evaluate and then make any decisions or conclusions.

8 Likes

Having done all this, is the consumer certain to make the best decision?

Not all consumers have access to the same information. Is it a 90 year olds problem that they are not online literate or part of Faceplant, sorry Facebook?

Consumer laws serve many purposes, and despite many shortcomings are there because the consumer cannot always reliably make the best decision. And because that while a consumer may act responsibly not all businesses act responsibly.

A poor decision by a customer should not excuse a retailer from supplying an underperforming product because the customer failed to read, evaluate and decide to a high standard?

I’m not so sure there is just one path to the holy grail of consumer enlightenment and wisdom.

3 Likes

No but without good information they cannot. Good information is a necessary but not sufficient condition to good decision making. We try to assist in providing it, if it isn’t ultimately effective that is no reason to not try.

5 Likes

That is a truism no matter what the context or topic. From buying shonky merchandise to electing rorting grubs. It is impossible to protect people from themselves when they either will not or are not equipped to take some responsibility for their choices. Those in the margins who are unable may need some assistance, but at the societal level what are you asking for by implication? Guarantees about life itself?

It is 2019 and the origin of trade was an indeterminate number years prior. Dodgy trading inevitably started that far back, or at least when fiat currency became common. There have been, are, and will remain those without scruples who are happy to take advantage of others, laws or not.

Thus recourse is a basic legal remedy, but that requires consumer education on legal topics such as the ACL, on products, and on the best available supposedly honest and accurate reviews of businesses as well as on products.

Forums such as Choice.community and eg consumer oriented legislation are adding to the consumers ‘arsenal’ but reality is.

4 Likes

I was actually referring to the consumer that makes use of the information that is available through this forum, not the public in general. So if tools, and language are available to evaluate and assess, the consumer can decide whether of not they are making an informed decision.
It goes without saying that the responsibilities and expectations we have of manufacturers should be of high standard, but this is unrealistic. Again, we as consumers need to know the right language to ‘own our learning’. I see it as a 2 pronged approach in making us better consumers which is turn will support better manufacturing.

6 Likes

:clap::clap::clap: Totally agree with you here @khitchen. While there are many of us reaping great benefit to the torrents of information and interconnectivity to which we now have access, it’s my feeling that many others are struggling to understand and critically assess the information they are receiving, struggling to perceive and uphold etiquette online, failing to keep pace with the tools and so on. This is to the detriment of individual health and wellbeing, and it’s clearly having an impact on a societal level.

Hopefully we can play a small role as part of the remedy to those problems.

8 Likes

This is possibly the most challenging thing to do, in the online world. For most topics of interest, there can be dozens of different views or opinions which can blanket out factual information from reliable or established sources. Many of these topics have surfaced here on this forum from time to time.

Unfortunately in today’s age there is an underlying trend against mainstream, government or factual science due to the powerful antiestablishment groups. This means any views/opinions no matter how bizarre are likely to get mileage especially if they contradict the existing establishment. Even ‘celebrities’ views can be seen as more reliable than those with decades of firsthand research and experience.

Fortunately this forum many members don’t seem to have antiestablishment or conspiracy tendencies and are willing to flesh out the information available and provide responses which more than not, are factual, balanced and correct.

Choice should be congratulated on this as it does gives one the opportunity to become better informed about things in an environment which generally has more rigor and robust debate, than many other similar forums.

6 Likes

To follow on with this topic, I feel like there have been several cases of threads going off topic recently. Debate is healthy but a few cases have strayed to insults, spam replies and/or closed threads being recreated under a different heading.

The community is now of a size where it may be worth considering forum rules and guidelines (I’m sure they already exist but aren’t readily available). Designated moderators beyond just the Choice staff may also be needed as the forums grow.

I’m not intending to point fingers at anyone here, more just looking to prevent the issues present in other public forums such as Twitter

4 Likes

Both of these exist. The guidelines are called the FAQ. The civilian moderators are to be found among the high volume posters with several badges but I don’t have a list.

5 Likes

Terms of Service can be found at https://choice.community/tos
They are also influenced by the points in the FAQs https://choice.community/faq

There are Community participants that are given what is termed Elder status which allows them to moderate topics. In answer to @syncretic’s post about not having a list there is a list of staff and moderators at https://choice.community/about. There are many flags made over the course of a week, some are human generated, some are system generated. Some topics don’t even make it to be seen publically, they are vetted before they are seen by general forum users.

Because CHOICE wants to allow reasonable debate (that may even offend some users) often items that are flagged for moderation are carefully considered before removal or editing action is taken. This is to ensure we are not too heavy handed nor that we ignore real concern. Posts may be edited to remove “offensive” content immediately, however posts or topics may be hidden from public view so that CHOICE staff can deal with particularly sensitive or difficult issues. If a topic is unlisted (taken out of the public view) because of content or direction it is taking, a person who posted to that topic may still see what has been posted by topic participants but please be assured it is being dealt with.

Users are encouraged to Flag content that they think is outside of reasonable bounds, please do so if you see something that may breach the rules. Moderators don’t always catch the content before another user comes across it.

If someone needs to use the flagging option on a post it can be found at the bottom of the post by clicking the 3 dots and then selecting the flag looking icon. If you feel that you want to add more comment about why you are flagging the post choose the “Something Else” option as that gives you a comment panel to discuss your reasons, most times as moderators this is the option we choose so that other moderators and CHOICE staff can add discussion to the decision making. It allows often a more balanced, nuanced approach to what happens with the flagged post. When it is a very obvious issue we do use the other flag reason choices.

8 Likes

I’ve noted @grahroll and @syncretic feedback.

My experiences on this site of using the flags, contacting Choice staff and on occasion other community members have all had positive outcomes.

Not everything we offer up and share is accurate or bullet proof. Some are purely seeking alternate points of view. It seems easy to wander, and most often one amongst us knows what to do to redirect the thread, or split it off.

It’s a fine line between calling something out for what it is, and politely asking for a reset. I’ve seen far worse, which is also your sentiment on other sites. And without mentioning individuals there is often a wayward one amongst us, overly excited, frustrating or just plain mischievous. I try (not always am I virtuous) to step away when unsure and leave it to to others decide what next.

7 Likes

My main thought is the process could be streamlined by:

  • Investigating a way to make the rules more prominent
  • Making the rules clear on what will be deleted or constitute time outs/bans

Having things very clear simplifies moderation and encourages users to avoid skirting the line

3 Likes

A very fuzzy line.

I’d consider two of the three most recent posts are not about the effects of climate change on Australian Consumers, or consumers directly but arguing mostly that climate change is real. The report on Norway is observational and anecdotal in many ways. There may be hard data, but it has been simply left to one side. The proposition that climate activists in Australia may be under personal threat is a long bow to draw from OS stories that appear to martyr climate activists. Not really about the effects of climate change on Australian consumers.

The third might be seen to be encouraging support for a particular political action is partisan. Perhaps too much so unless Choice as an organisation supports this particular initiative as a consumer based action. Zali Steggalls private members Bill is news, most of us are already aware of. Posting a link in support is questionable. It is a challenge to a great many Choice members views of impartiality.

P.S.
I don’t necessarily disagree with the action being taken by Zali. It just seems contradictory if Choice is seen to be supporting that action over any other at this point in time. I’d rather see a considered critique of the policies of each parties policies vs consumer outcomes. But that would be a different discussion?

ClimateActNow appears to be sponsored by the Member for Warringah, although not clear from the lead into the link. It’s an ad calling for direct support from the Member. Not news!

And no offence intended to @Drop_Bear, it’s all very interesting content.

3 Likes

That’s why I linked to the bill. Critique away, @mark_m!