Share this content

A new broom for AccountingWEB

A familiar face drops by to seek feedback on new directions for the site.

Didn't find your answer?

...but an old brush knows the corners, as the saying goes.

Hi, everyone. I hope you all enjoyed our Budget coverage as much as we did putting it all together.

I'm popping in here to let you know about a slight shuffling of the chairs on the AccountingWEB editorial desk.

Since Tom Herbert departed for new pastures, Richard Hattersley has done a brilliant job as Acting Editor while we hunted for a long-term Editor in Chief. As you will all know, good staff with accounting knowledge are hard to find these days and we've had as many struggles as you have.

To bolster the editorial squad and give the team a hand, I've been asked to lend a hand as interim Editor in Chief while we continue to recruit for Tom's successor.
This post is effectively my (short-term) mission statement, which revolves around:

  • Beefing up our technology and technical coverage - especially the latter, where our new contributor Julia Penny will be lending a hand
  • Writing a bit more for accountants working in business, with a focus on management reporting, predictive analytics and other emerging disciplines among those accountants
  • Broadening our membership in other ways, for example by including content for bookkeepers and trainee accountants, who are part of our world too.

That means making AccountingWEB a friendlier place for the non-qualified and non-practitioners. AccountingWEB is not and never was a site solely for experienced practitioners and we're not going to be very patient with comments that just tell students to go away and do their own homework, or telling small business people to get an accountant. In our view, those people are very welcome to come and ask for advice and our members can choose whether or not to offer it. None of you would insult a prospective client or employee in real life, so please don't do it here.

Now that I've had my say, I want to hear from you about things you think we should get done (sorry, that kind of phrase can get habit-forming if you say it often enough):

  • What are the subjects you'd like to hear more about and what are the main troublespots you're encountering in your job?
  • Are there areas of tax (like property and VAT) where we could beef up our practical coverage and advice?
  • Did we get the balance of our Budget 2020 coverage right, or are there things you think we could improve ahead of the rematch in November?
  • Are there things we could do that would improve your experience of the site itself? I'm planning to lobby our development team to look at creating a separte Any Answers strand where people could post more commerical things, like job ads, reseller invitations and fees for sale. Would that kind of thing appeal to you, or are there other priorities you think we should focus on?

This community is all about feedback, so feel free to share yours by commenting below or sending me a direct message if you want a bit of discretion. Thanks in advance. I'm looking forward to getting a little more closely involved with you all again.

Replies (61)

Comments for this post are now closed.

Replying to Justin Bryant:
John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
12th Mar 2020 17:19

Thanks, Justin. The trouble is with the internet that nobody has a monopoly on good ideas. We had a stab along very similar lines, which you can find here:
https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/tags/tax-tables

Not quite as well organised as Deloitte, I accept, but the content is in there. (Note to self: must get onto Rebecca Cave for the 2019-20 edition).

Thanks (0)
Replying to John Stokdyk:
avatar
By Justin Bryant
12th Mar 2020 18:11

Well, in that case why don't you make your website the "go-to" website for such information? I am not aware of any similar website with all the useful tax and other links in one place. As Aweb's resident "linkman", I would be happy to provide you with lots of good links for that.

Before Google etc. you may recall there were very popular sites that simply listed links to useful websites. See another example here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/historic-chargeable-amounts-for-annual-tax-o...

Thanks (0)
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
12th Mar 2020 17:18

John,

If you are going to completely change the audience of this site after 20 odd years from "practitioners" to include "anyone who can click" then you really need to split the forum between:

Joe Public
Bookkeepers
Students
Practitioners

Muddling up question from this broad range will be deeply unhelpful.
You might also like to include signature advertising to people answering questions to the public. I used to do exactly that when I started up, it was good practice and got me a lot of clients in the early years when I was short of them. Its a completely different way of posting than how the current forum works which is in essence chatting to your peers, and I am afraid berating people who are working well out of their depth they don't even know which way the bottom is. I also stand by "hire an competent accountant" as the best advice to many questions posted on here.

Thanks (17)
Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
12th Mar 2020 17:39

Some interesting points. To respond in order, if you look at the site traffic and subscription lists to our email newswires, we already get a lot of business accountants and owners, bookkeepers and students coming by - and have done for the past two decades that I've worked on the site.

They just aren't as prominent or vocal in Any Answers debates, possibly due to the vibe or because they're interested in finding specific info rather than having a chat/debate.

Your suggestion about getting different groups into different sub-threads is an excellent one. We try to do that with our newswires, so the challenge is to see if we can devise a way to do it on site. (NB I can't make any promises about overhauling our platform, but I can certainly raise wishlist items with our developers to see if they're feasible).

The signature point is well made, too, but has fallen foul of our "no blatant self promotion" rule. However, we do include a biographical section in the user profile where we actively encourage people to big themselves up. So it's there, but in a very subtle way.

We do allow a little leeway (for example to software suppliers) to refer to their products or services if it's directly relevant to the question. Someone looking for forecasting software would be happy to hear from a forecasting software house, for example. The same goes for someone looking for advice on entrepreneurs' relief. Yes, they may well need a competent accountant, but if you make the point in a constructive, friendly way, perhaps they might follow up with a DM?

Thanks (2)
Replying to John Stokdyk:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
12th Mar 2020 18:13

John

I don't see any big tech issue with separate 'any answer' areas. Most forums do this.

The issue is, to have a robust debate amongst peers is clearly not the same conversation you have with clients. The value of the forum to me at least is to make you think and be open to be challenged. You need to ring fence that well away from basic stuff from trainees and the public which has a completely different audience and respondent. If you got a section of the site back to a concentrated list of practitioner level questions (as it largely was 10 years ago) you may find some of the more technically minded posters come back who are current put off by the nonsense in a good 60%+ of posts at the moment. That knowledge used to be a big draw to the site.

Thanks (5)
Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
avatar
By SWAccountant
13th Mar 2020 13:24

I agree. So many Google searches result in old AWeb topics that, in there day, were no doubt incredibly helpful.

Unfortunately they are now out of date and new topics at a similar technical level are few and far between

Thanks (0)
Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
avatar
By bernard michael
13th Mar 2020 09:45

ireallyshouldknowthisbut wrote:

John,

If you are going to completely change the audience of this site after 20 odd years from "practitioners" to include "anyone who can click" then you really need to split the forum between:

Joe Public
Bookkeepers
Students
Practitioners

Muddling up question from this broad range will be deeply unhelpful.
You might also like to include signature advertising to people answering questions to the public. I used to do exactly that when I started up, it was good practice and got me a lot of clients in the early years when I was short of them. Its a completely different way of posting than how the current forum works which is in essence chatting to your peers, and I am afraid berating people who are working well out of their depth they don't even know which way the bottom is. I also stand by "hire an competent accountant" as the best advice to many questions posted on here.

You've missed off The Man Down The Pub

Thanks (2)
RLI
By lionofludesch
12th Mar 2020 17:38

Encouraging the DIY accountant is a dangerous game.

Mainly for the DIY accountant.

Thanks (11)
avatar
By legerman
12th Mar 2020 18:03

The biggest change I'd like to see to Any Answers is knowing which threads you've read from the ones with new posts. You manage to do that successfully with your sister site UKBF and it works on bookkeepers.org.uk and no doubt many other accountancy related forums. It's my one pet peeve as I've no idea if there's any new content unless I click on the thread and see the word new against a post.

I think the decision to encourage Joe Public to post is a bad one, as I always believed this was a forum for accountancy professionals to ask questions and converse. However, AWEB has turned a blind eye anyway since the site revamp, but telling someone they need an accountant is often the best advice. That said, if you take up IRSKTB's advice of splitting the forum into the categories mentioned, it at least meets us half way.

Thanks (6)
My photo
By Matrix
12th Mar 2020 18:40

Thanks for letting us know your position. Any Answers was indispensable when I set up my practice, so thank you. It is now dispensable, I do not view the small business posters/deleters as prospects so I just ignore them.

If you could set up a separate section for them so practitioners can continue as before that would be great.

Thanks (13)
paddle steamer
By DJKL
12th Mar 2020 18:44

I have severe reservations regarding your chosen direction of travel but it is your site so you get to decide said direction and then it is the choice of users as to whether they travel with you or step off.

Regarding Any Answers it is only as good as the posters replying, if the better informed ones depart (and a lot already have) you either somehow encourage others with similar understanding and knowledge to replace them or the technical quality of responses will certainly decline.

Whilst I have always been willing to answer some very low level questions, the operative word is some, I certainly will not devote my time to mainly posting responses of the Debit something Credit something kind, I am not a school teacher and have no wish to be one, if you take the site that far down the food chain I really do think you may kill it.

However , as per my first sentence, your site your call, and of course either our time and effort responding to the questions or possibly just not bothering.

Thanks (16)
avatar
By adam.arca
12th Mar 2020 19:12

I have to agree that p*ssing off the core market you have, whether you want it to be your core market or not, is a dangerous strategy.

Whilst dividing Any Answers into sub forums for practitioners, students, Joe Public with sensible questions, blatant freeloaders *might* work, I have my doubts. Queries will naturally migrate to the forum with the most traffic and we'll be back in the position we currently are.

Thanks (8)
avatar
By mumpin
12th Mar 2020 19:46

I think that something definitely needs to be done. The site has plumbed the depths in the last six months. The same half dozen posters try to shut down every thread. The fact that they have the time to devote to this pointless sledging tells you how many fee paying clients they have.

Whatever changes are made, I'm pretty confident that we will get something better than the present product.

Agree with legerman's point about identifying new posts. The present layout with sub-threads is poor.

Also we need more bloggers. Did First Tab not get the hump because you wouldn't tell him how many readers he had?

Perhaps also separate boards for new/prospective practitioners and those thinking of selling up?

Good Luck with it John.

Thanks (9)
Replying to mumpin:
FirstTab
By FirstTab
13th Mar 2020 10:11

Hello mumpin

"Also we need more bloggers. Did First Tab not get the hump because you wouldn't tell him how many readers he had?'

It is just not the same anymore. Sift has gone in a direction that does not sit well with me.

Keep well.

Thanks (4)
By mrme89
12th Mar 2020 21:20

This is the exact same position Sift had1 year ago, 5 years ago. Need I go on?

The only difference is that John has now been given the say so to admit it.

The change in website attracted more than the ‘professionals’ and now they can afford to p1ss of the professionals because the traffic has increased at our expense.

Thanks (7)
JCACE
By jcace
12th Mar 2020 21:29

Well done John for sticking your head above the parapet and declaring that you wantto make AWeb "a friendlier place for the non-qualified and non-practitioners". I'm sure that respondents in practice don't speak to potential clients in the way that some do on here so it behoves us all as professionals to adopt the same practice in this arena.
Yes, there is always a danger that the DIY accountant might end up in even more trouble, but people can easily be told politely that their best recourse is to seek professional advice, rather than being told in more colourful terms where to go. Some of the language and responses on here over the last few months has done nothing to enhance the standing of the profession as a whole.
On some forums, the experience and contributions of a member will often give them a certain "badge of honour" - perhaps AWeb could introduce something similar, but linked to a member's willingness at the same time to disclose on their profile what area of accy they work in, geographical location etc. Not as far as identifying an individual's personal address, but maybe, just maybe, if long-standing members were themselves less anonymous, they might be less inclined to be quite so rude to questioners and might see it in their interest to build a friendly, helpful history of answers, rather than a litany of "you're not an accountant so go away" responses. These do little to enhance the site for anyone. How many current members (myself included) would want to include a link to their profile on their own website to show potential clients the kind of good advice they give?
Over the many years that I have used this site I have learned a lot from other members and not just from the technically clever questions. Many of the questions even from non-accountants can raise interesting debates and bring out good points. Any developments that encourage this and that continually elevate the profession in a positive light must surely be encouraged.

Thanks (8)
Replying to jcace:
By mrme89
12th Mar 2020 21:32

Why on earth would members disclose their geographical location when the site’s owners can’t permanently ban a member that has threatened to shoot other members?

Thanks (2)
Replying to mrme89:
JCACE
By jcace
12th Mar 2020 21:37

Geographical location could be as broad as county or area of the UK. It might help potential clients find an accountant. It might also make you, me and anyone else less anonymous and perhaps make us all feel a little more accountable for our words.

Thanks (1)
Replying to jcace:
By mrme89
12th Mar 2020 21:39

Nope.

Thanks (0)
Replying to jcace:
avatar
By paulwakefield1
12th Mar 2020 21:43

jcace wrote:

Many of the questions even from non-accountants can raise interesting debates and bring out good points.

That is actually what has changed over the years - not the posters but the responses. The questions have always been there. It is just that now they get closed down by some of the responses before they get going.

In the past there could be interesting debates often using the question as a springboard into a wider discussion. And even experienced posters might change their position on an apparently simple question.

Thanks (4)
Replying to jcace:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
12th Mar 2020 21:56

There is a real issue if the site tries to becomes everything to everyone, that approach will imho erode the quality of responses so that it becomes neither fish nor fowl.

Nobody has ever suggested posters need to be qualified (whatever in accountancy that is) or practitioners (plenty are in industry) but taking this down to say Frank Wood level questions is imho going too far, contributors ought to be able to assume a basic core level of knowledge.

I have no interest in a link to a personal website, I have no website, I no longer practice.

My view is if you dilute the questions and sanction members for being pithy re the quality of questions the site will likely lose some of these contributors and that will probably really reduce the quality of debate, it may at times be somewhat robust, maybe rude at times, but you do get some really well informed discussions-neuter with rules and I suspect this could readily be lost.

Caveat emptor

Thanks (6)
boxfile
By spilly
12th Mar 2020 21:45

There are already dedicated sites for bookkeepers that can deal more effectively and sympathetically with their queries. I spend enough time training up my own staff and really don’t want to see yet more basic questions or articles on this site.
Reading posts here can add to my technical knowledge but if I have to waste time scrolling though dross to find them, I think I will end up more of an occasional visitor.
And if members of the general public can get answers here, why are we even bothering to be in business? Freeloading off our knowledge and experience is just wrong.

Thanks (6)
RLI
By lionofludesch
13th Mar 2020 10:16

John - here's a few problems .......

* Folk who flounce off if they don't like the answers they're given, deleting their posts and leaving a nuclear wasteland of a thread behind.

* Rumpelstiltskin folk who write a one sentence query and expect a detailed reply.

* Folk with a sense of entitlement. There was a lass a few weeks ago who complained that "isn't this forum here for everyone to help each other ?" Yet she'd posted half a dozen queries in her time (a few years) and never once responded to any thread which she hadn't started.

* Folk who just don't understand the answers. Or even the query they posted. If they don't need pointing in the direction of an accountant, who does ?

* Folk who have already decided what the answer to their query is and throw insults around when we don't agree.

This list is not exhaustive.

Thanks (11)
Replying to lionofludesch:
FirstTab
By FirstTab
13th Mar 2020 10:09

Folk who will keep their nose clean and will not say anything against Sift/AW for their own benefit.

Thanks (1)
avatar
By Mr_awol
13th Mar 2020 10:16

John Stokdyk wrote:

This community is all about feedback,

Is it hell.

The feedback has consistently, as far as i have read, complained that the site owners do not do enough to reduce the numbers of freeloaders, DIY accountants and (to a lesser extent) students. They have displayed no interest in splitting the boards and because they view site traffic stats as far more important than maintaining a quality resource they have allowed the quality of the site - particularly anyanswers - to decline.

Some posters have taken a stand against it. You now come on and criticise them for doing so and effectively threaten them that their attempts to maintain a community of peers 'will not be tolerated'.

Other posters above have commented on how this may encourage the DIY accountant, impact of that, etc. I'm not too concerned about that TBH. If someone comes on here and gives half the story, gets slightly incorrect advice and makes a mistake as a result well they took their chances.

What i do care about is that once you encourage people who don't know what they are on about to come on here, and they are welcomed with open arms as you wish, then they will start chipping in and replying to threads - probably well meaning i'm sure but we then have untrained posters throwing in what they think is/should be the answer.

I accept that some posters on here are less technically gifted than others and that even the better ones can make mistakes etc, so it is unwise to take answers from strangers on the internet as gospel. I also appreciate that regular posters will recognise the names of others who generally tend to know their stuff - but generally if we have a forum of qualified/professional/practising accountants then there are much fewer responses containing blatantly incorrect answers to technical questions.

Thanks (6)
Replying to Mr_awol:
RLI
By lionofludesch
13th Mar 2020 10:31

Mr_awol wrote:

The feedback has consistently, as far as i have read, complained that the site owners do not do enough to reduce the numbers of freeloaders, DIY accountants and (to a lesser extent) students.

I'm not sure that splitting the board would work. Folk won't stick to the demarcation lines if they don't get a reply.

I don't mind giving advice to the polite first timer. But it'll almost always include advice to get an accountant.

Accounting and tax are far more complex than they were fifty years ago. In those days, every business had an accountant. It's bizarre that folk now consider that it's an optional extra.

Thanks (2)
Replying to lionofludesch:
avatar
By Mr_awol
13th Mar 2020 11:29

I think a lot depends on the attitude/writing style of the OP - and the mood of the first person to see/respond to the question.

I agree splitting the board may not help - but to an extent, if a freeloader got told to [***] off and ask their accountant, and had asked their question in a sub-board clearly marked for accountants only, then at least they wouldn't be able to moan about it.

Then again, as mentioned in one of my posts to John, the whole site does claim to be for accounting professionals and the sign up process does clearly state that the forum allows you to ask questions of FELLOW accountants. Unfortunately John has stated that the site was 'never' intended as such, so I can only assume that the wording was added to the site years ago in error...…….

Thanks (4)
Replying to lionofludesch:
avatar
By Mr_awol
13th Mar 2020 11:29

I think a lot depends on the attitude/writing style of the OP - and the mood of the first person to see/respond to the question.

I agree splitting the board may not help - but to an extent, if a freeloader got told to [***] off and ask their accountant, and had asked their question in a sub-board clearly marked for accountants only, then at least they wouldn't be able to moan about it.

Then again, as mentioned in one of my posts to John, the whole site does claim to be for accounting professionals and the sign up process does clearly state that the forum allows you to ask questions of FELLOW accountants. Unfortunately John has stated that the site was 'never' intended as such, so I can only assume that the wording was added to the site years ago in error...…….

Thanks (1)
Replying to Mr_awol:
avatar
By Accountant A
13th Mar 2020 11:20

Mr_awol wrote:

The feedback has consistently, as far as i have read, complained that the site owners do not do enough to reduce the numbers of freeloaders, DIY accountants and (to a lesser extent) students. They have displayed no interest in splitting the boards and because they view site traffic stats as far more important than maintaining a quality resource they have allowed the quality of the site - particularly anyanswers - to decline.

Some posters have taken a stand against it. You now come on and criticise them for doing so and effectively threaten them that their attempts to maintain a community of peers 'will not be tolerated'.

Nail on the head!

Thanks (2)
avatar
By Mr_awol
13th Mar 2020 10:31

John Stokdyk wrote:

tell students to go away and do their own homework, or telling small business people to get an accountant. In our view, those people are very welcome to come and ask for advice and our members can choose whether or not to offer it. None of you would insult a prospective client or employee in real life, so please don't do it here.

I assume that if/when your ill thought out plan to dumb down the site works John, you will be removing the following phrases from the page:

* "AccountingWEB.co.uk is the largest independent online community for accounting professionals"

* "6.Ask your fellow accountants a question via our Any Answers forum"

Whilst you are at it, you can probably get rid of another one that's been defunct for a long time (despite your claim that this 'community' is 'all about feedback'):

* "Any abuse of the ability to publish anonymously will not be tolerated and offending users will be banned from AccountingWEB."

As for 'you wouldnt insult prospective clients in real life so dont do it here' - this was somethign raised by a freeloader recently. From my perspective, he wasnt (and the other freeloaders arent) prospective clients. They are people who signed up to an accoutnign forum that (despite your assertion that it was never the case) claims to be for accounting professionals to ask questions of fellow accountants.

Thanks (13)
Caroline
By accountantccole
13th Mar 2020 10:25

Good to know where the site is at.
I'd be very disappointed if the technical content got watered down too much, making the target audience too wide is likely to do this and I'd worry we'd lose useful contributors who actually know their stuff and can give links to relevant legislation.
Tone has gone down in the responses recently but mostly in response to "Joe Public" questions, where the OP is suggesting inappropriate business structure or flouncing of tax rules or there just isn't enough info to give guidance.
This is where the "Get an accountant" comments are really the best advice.
Better filtering of people at the point they want to join or make a post might be good?
I like the idea of a badge system. Not sure that it's necessary to give more detail on who the respondents are. Anyone on here regularly knows whose comments to trust, maybe start with a few of those, hand picked or based on likes etc?
Separate areas for start ups and jobs/practice sales etc would be welcomed.

Thanks (1)
Replying to accountantccole:
RLI
By lionofludesch
13th Mar 2020 10:37

accountantccole wrote:

I like the idea of a badge system. Not sure that it's necessary to give more detail on who the respondents are. Anyone on here regularly knows whose comments to trust, maybe start with a few of those, hand picked or based on likes etc?
Separate areas for start ups and jobs/practice sales etc would be welcomed.

At one time, "post" numbers and "thanks" numbers were published. It was a rough and ready guide to the quality of the advice.

Thanks (1)
avatar
By Bob Loblaw
13th Mar 2020 10:26

I agree that we should all #bekind, John. Brava for having the guts to say it.

Now some people might say that making AWeb a more pleasant experience for non-practitioners, students and small business owners is nothing more than a way of relaxing the standards in a cynical attempt to drive up traffic to the site and increase ad revenue. Some might say that it'll only encourage more and more individuals to circumvent seeking out thorough professional advice as they won't see the value in it if they can pretend to be a well meaning small business owner and get it for free here. Some people may offer the thought that you're alienating some of the most knowledgeable posters and they'll abandon AWeb altogether. What of them, John? Where shall the masses go to repeat "get an accountant" if not here? The more cruel amongst us may then proffer that if this happens all you'll be left with is 13 directors asking if they need to file a tax return, one student asking for someone to do their overlap homework for them, me not really offering anything of any substance and 3000 posts from Justin containing a single link which we're not sure he actually read. Some people may say they would actually insult their clients face-to-face and I would believe them entirely.

Me? I would prefer it if you could make the site a bit more Buzzfeedy. Think along the lines of a "Which fictional accountant are you?" quiz. A list of the top ten talking points of the budget accompanied by Riverdale gifs. Perhaps the AWeb authors could talk about the annual allowance as they play with puppies or eat Japanese candy.

Thanks (4)
Lisa Thomas
By Lisa Thomas
13th Mar 2020 10:29

Experience wise, I struggle to see which was the last post I read and the option to follow postings is a little cumbersome.

On other sites you can easily see which posts you have commented on and which ones you have read without having to do anything extra.

Happy to chat in more detail if you want to contact me.

Thanks (2)
Quack
By Constantly Confused
13th Mar 2020 10:34

Could we, as other sites do, have seperate boards for professionals and non-professionals? With the professional's side being invite only?

I am more than happy seeing the public queries, especially as they tend to be the ones I am most comfortable answering (not that I tend to, usually because someone else has chipped in and/or the OP has been verbally abused by the time I arrive).

There is another site I used to frequent (and am starting to again) where I am much more comfortable posting responses, mainly due to the more relaxed and accepting atmosphere (if I voice an incorrect opinion there I know there is minimal risk of getting abuse, just correction). I tend to only visit AW these days to read an article here and there, learn from other people's questions and answers and to try and keep Swiss Tony's spirit alive when I'm feeling the board needs some whimsy.

Thanks (1)
avatar
By Accountant A
13th Mar 2020 11:05

Fabulous idea!

If I understand, what you're saying is Accountingweb would become a 'central resource for small business knowledge' 'Whether you’re testing out a business idea, struggling with tax''you’ll find accountants, marketers, dog walkers, builders, software developers and retailers''you’ll find small business discussions on everything from setting up in ecommerce to dealing with overseas suppliers'.

Just had a thought, why not go the whole hog and rename the site oh, let's think, how about ukbusinessforums.co.uk? Apparently that URL will become available when Accountingweb ceases to 'the largest independent online community for accounting and finance professionals in the UK'.

Thanks (8)
Replying to Accountant A:
.
By Cheshire
13th Mar 2020 13:33

''why not go the whole hog and rename the site oh, let's think, how about ukbusinessforums.co.uk?''

Nail on head.

Or just merge with piston heads!!!

Thanks (3)
avatar
By sonoftwosheds
13th Mar 2020 11:51

reinstate opportunities, please

Thanks (1)
Scooby
By gainsborough
13th Mar 2020 13:03

Interesting to read your comments, John.

Although the forum is never kind to freeloaders, I have always found that responders are really supportive to students needing general advice - particularly on exam choices and career decisions.

As a sole practitioner, the forum has been invaluable in getting to bounce ideas off fellow professionals and discussing different points of view. Like others have mentioned above, I too would be very sad to see this watered down.

Thanks (4)
Profile
By indomitable
13th Mar 2020 13:23

Something I suspected for a long time. Now confirmed

Accountingweb is not really a forum for 'accounting professionals'

Thanks (5)
.
By Cheshire
13th Mar 2020 13:49

I wonder why the pretence of asking existing users what they would like to see? The last couple of times feedback has been requested it has almost totally been ignored.

Interesting how it is only the Accountants/bookkeepers on this site who have actually responded to this post and indeed many others, ie the freeloaders you are trying to encourage, never join in with anything.

The constant deletion of threads, the abuse from said freeloaders to someone daring to ask a clarifying question or recommending quite correctly that they get specialised advised etc is allowed to continue without impunity.

I recall the days of absolutely scathing responses from PNL but I tell you what - you learnt a bloody lot reading her responses, including how to grow a thicker skin. There are but a few such folk left on here, who give their time freely, yet you have the audacity to criticise them. Perhaps someone from sift towers should join in answering some of the complete dross for a couple of weeks and see how you feel!

In some ways I do understand why you are encouraging such freeloaders, its all just to keep the numbers up! All you have to do is look at the massively reduced number of questions being asked by practitioners versus the rest of the dross; the massively reduced numbers of practitioners actually engaging or even viewing the questions versus a few years ago. But surely this can be reversed by better moderation, getting rid of the market you are now proposed to officially attrach and actually encouraging practitioners back. Such moderation is entirely possible and has been sccessfully implemented elsewhere.

But nooooo, lets pander to the masses and offer a shoddy service, as usual, rather than upping your game and retaining and serving quality.

Thanks (9)
Replying to Cheshire:
Scooby
By gainsborough
13th Mar 2020 15:01

"I recall the days of absolutely scathing responses from PNL but I tell you what - you learnt a bloody lot reading her responses, including how to grow a thicker skin".

So true Cheshire - I too miss the days of PNL's comments - witty, scathing but always technically great.

Thanks (7)
Replying to Cheshire:
avatar
By legerman
13th Mar 2020 15:58

Cheshire wrote:

I recall the days of absolutely scathing responses from PNL but I tell you what - you learnt a bloody lot reading her responses, including how to grow a thicker skin. There are but a few such folk left on here, who give their time freely, yet you have the audacity to criticise them. Perhaps someone from sift towers should join in answering some of the complete dross for a couple of weeks and see how you feel!

>

Oh I loved Portia.

Totally agree with your entire post.

Thanks (5)
Replying to Cheshire:
Caroline
By accountantccole
13th Mar 2020 16:24

PNL did know her/his stuff - always assumed it was a girl until someone pointed out it was the name of a car!!!

Thanks (1)
Replying to Cheshire:
avatar
By Mr_awol
13th Mar 2020 16:26

Cheshire wrote:

I wonder why the pretence of asking existing users what they would like to see? The last couple of times feedback has been requested it has almost totally been ignored.

Exactly. And to follow it up with pre-emptive criticism of those who are actually trying to keep standards up, too.

Cheshire wrote:

I recall the days of absolutely scathing responses from PNL but I tell you what - you learnt a bloody lot reading her responses, including how to grow a thicker skin.

Very much agree. I recall being shot down in flames by PNL on a couple of occasions and it was like being back in the main office getting a roasting off the grumpy senior partner many of us trained under.

I also remember my little heart bursting with pride the one time I was brave enough to directly contradict PNL - expecting a whole paragraph of effing and jeffing about how stupid I was for my opinion, when I was inevitably proven wrong again. I was pleased as punch when he/she/it agreed that I was, in fact, correct. One of my proudest moments (ok that's an exaggeration but it was a good day nonetheless)

Thanks (4)
avatar
By justsotax
13th Mar 2020 14:24

agree with much of the above....the rot set in when the website was changed some years ago....give it time you said....we did....the result was a loss of many high quality contributors.

As suggested perhaps you or your team should answer some of the queries coming through....

I remember when I used to spend hours a week on here, because of the wide and varied articles of interest and more so technical queries which assisted in expanding my knowledge.....this has dwindled significantly and as the years pass the use of historic posts (when the content was useful) is less applicable due to legislation changes....

Thanks (3)
By Moonbeam
13th Mar 2020 14:37

I'm not going to type up more than a few words on this except to say I agree with the majority of m'learned friends below.
As has been suggested, you'll probably carry on with what you want to do anyway.

Thanks (2)
avatar
By Hugh Simpson
13th Mar 2020 14:48

Is there any work to be done on a like icon.

Thanks (1)
John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
13th Mar 2020 14:51

Phew, there's a lot here to digest. You'll have to give me a little time.

Rather than picking up every point as I did when the conversation got underway, I'll try and deal with general themes that have emerged so far.

We are indeed a site for accounting professionals and will remain so, but during the years an assumption has grown up that that means fully qualified accountants in practice who come to the site to debate specific tax treatments and points of law.

We're not planning to dumb anything down or chasing after a particular group to get more advertising cash. It's more a question of seeing a much wider variety of people coming to the site and wanting them to feel that there might be useful and interesting things here for them to see. And that other members recognise their right to look at the site and to ask questions or make comments without responding too nastily. Just because we are an internet forum, we don't have to let it descend into snarkiness.

The hit-and-run "freeloaders" are a nuisance, and the tech team are already looking into ways of preventing that. But I don't think we can pinpoint them alone as a source of declining debate on site.

Tax issues are definitely the fuel that keeps Any Answers buzzing, but rather than trying to alienate the core of users who contribute to those debates, I think there's plenty of room on AccountingWEB room for wider discussions - for example about the problems that business accountants have to overcome.

Some of those might have to do with tax or payroll, but there are other areas like management reporting, dealing with troublesome directors or line managers and non-finance issues like tech, property or HR (that one's got a little more urgent in recent weeks with all the self-isolating going on).

Bookkeepers are professionals too and work so closely with accountants (more people are doing both) that it makes sense to aspire to seeing and hearing more about those interactions on the site. And it would be a more varied and stimulating environment if accounting trainees were made to feel welcome too.

There are loads of useful observations in here about managing and presenting threads and improving the user experience. Even when me and my colleagues are unable to act on or implement the feedback immediately, it's still useful to us to build the case internally for alterations and improvements.

I've obviously stirred up some simmering emotional undercurrents, but as a welcome back, it's been really, really helpful. I've got a clearer picture of what the landscape looks like and the snags that I'm likely to encounter.

And so far, while some comments have been a little bracing, they've been reasonably polite. Thanks for responding in that spirit. Physical changes to site design and layout may be some way off, but we're scoping out potential areas to explore.

In the meantime, my colleagues and I will do what we can to improve the overall relevance of site content and debate. Wish us luck!

Thanks (1)

Pages

Share this content