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Could we cultivate a kinder tone here please?

Our profession is on show to the world here, and we don't always show our best

Didn't find your answer?

I'm troubled by the tone of some responses on here from time to time.

It's a great forum for listening and speaking about intricate issues, or getting a quick update or temperature-check on fast-moving situations.

Inevitably it also attracts questions from students, from interested amateurs, and from practitioners who perhaps don't work to the highest standards (but that's the price of democracy and easy access). Sometimes these questions betray misunderstanding on the part of the questioner. Sometimes (oh horror!) they repeat material covered in earlier threads.

I feel that if you are someone who is troubled or offended by such questions, you should ignore them. Sarcastic or high-handed responses don't show the profession in a good light, especially not when they are directed at students or new entrants to the profession. I really do wonder at the attitude and outlook of those who seem to want to use this forum to 'clip the wings' of those who...what?  Don't deserve to be here?

So endeth today's sermon, and thank you for listening.

 

 

 

 

Replies (43)

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By garystirling
10th Jun 2020 17:32

Couldn't agree more!

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By CW2012
10th Jun 2020 17:41

Here, here

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Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
10th Jun 2020 17:47

Luke 23:34

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Replying to DJKL:
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By puzzel
10th Jun 2020 18:22

very true, but not many would have a bible at hand.

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Replying to puzzel:
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By Mr_awol
11th Jun 2020 12:49

puzzel wrote:

very true, but not many would have a bible at hand.

Whilst you are of course correct, I would estimate that a 'large proportion' of those reading this forum do at least have access to the internet ;)

Edit: unless you deliberately ignore the concept that people could google the passage - on the basis that clearly half of the posters who ask questions on A-Web have never heard of Google, in which case 'as you were'

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Replying to puzzel:
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By Calculatorboy
11th Jun 2020 20:52

Because its fiction

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Replying to Calculatorboy:
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By Paul Crowley
13th Jun 2020 18:04

Any other religous books that you would choose to describe as fiction?

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By GlobalTax
10th Jun 2020 17:47

I totally agree there should be more respect amongst accountants and just be nice to each other.

Though I think many get upset at free riders who think they can save them some accountancy fees.

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By the_drookit_dug
10th Jun 2020 18:17

Agreed - it's been a bit better recently though. I generally feel we should help DIY small business people to get basic accounting right, provided they accept when it's time to seek paid professional help. Politely suggesting that an accountant should be engaged, as part of a constructive response, is okay in my book too.

*However* - there is a common issue with folk coming onto this forum professing to offer accounting services but asking the most basic of bread and butter questions. Sure, we all need a reassuring sanity check from time to time, but I think we reserve the right to point out when we feel someone may be perhaps overstretching themselves.

[Edit: I'm also not aware of students coming on here and getting torn apart - responses to students and learners are generally supportive and constructive.]

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Red Leader
By Red Leader
10th Jun 2020 18:22

Hear him, hear him!

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By Lucy N
10th Jun 2020 18:23

I agree. However, there are circumstances where so-called accountants ask the most basic of questions and it causes concern that they should be classing themselves as accountants, bringing the whole profession into dispute.

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By AWeb72
10th Jun 2020 20:05

"It's a great forum for listening and speaking about intricate issues, or getting a quick update or temperature-check on fast-moving situations"

If only it was just that you wouldn't have the sarcastic and rude answers

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By tom123
10th Jun 2020 20:35

Well, I have been on here for about 20 years. Back at the start, we actually used real names and surnames - can you imagine that now?

I have the luxury of not being in practice, so I don't get upset by the questions from the freeriding punters.

However, (again see above) sometimes I get ripped to pieces for something that would be obvious to those in practice who do something every week - but for me is a once a year event - and even then I am only reviewing some information.

On the whole Aweb still works for me. We are all grown ups here.

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Replying to tom123:
Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
13th Jun 2020 21:49

I use my actual name as like to think I would treat people with mutual respect whereas a lot of the people who hammer people do so behind hidden identities.

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Replying to Glennzy:
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By Paul Crowley
17th Jun 2020 12:50

Agreed. Trolls generally like to hide

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By Wanderer
11th Jun 2020 08:07

Point taken.

We do however too often find that there are:-

People acting illegally e.g. no ML supervision.
People attempting to act well beyond their capabilities.
People acting outside the terms of their professional regulations.
People giving half the story trying to get the answer they want.
People asking on behalf of 'a friend'.
New posters who change / delete their questions / answers, sometimes after a lot of input and technical analysis from others.
People who make no effort whatsoever to do any research before they post their questions.
People who want others to do all their work for them.
People who seek a view without giving their own thoughts.
People who outright lie and are often caught / called out.
People who just don't listen if the advice given is not what they want to hear.

Do we have to treat all these with kid gloves or occasionally give a hard knock lesson?

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Replying to Wanderer:
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By jonharris999
11th Jun 2020 08:27

Fair point, thank you. You're not at all wrong that these behaviours are often unreasonable and irritating.

I guess I'm just saying that:

i) It looks better to ignore these things than to keep trotting out the same old lines in an attempt to show up the OP or catch them out. The responders often end up looking worse - like pedants, or toothless police. IMHO.

ii) I'm especially bothered by how close some of these positions are to the genuine student or new entrant who just posted in the hope of getting some help. People sometimes get called out here for (for example) writing unclear or ungrammatical English, when they are plainly not speakers of English as their first language. That's just rude.

iii) It's probably better for the responder's mental health to ignore these things rather than take them on. Who's got time? (but I accept it's horses for courses).

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Replying to jonharris999:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
11th Jun 2020 09:09

@John,

I am genuinely troubled by many of the questions on here.

In particular, very concerned for the clients of the posters who are clearly acting well outside of their abilities.

To offer services to the public means you should have the highest regard for your client and not just stumble about banging in rubbish for them.

What seems to be worse is the posters of such low ability, they don't even realise how poor they are at it, and its just possible that exposing this to them will save their clients and perhaps force them to reevaluate what on earth they are doing offering services to the public that they are not competent to deliver.

Ask any competent person in any field how they get good at what they do - and its the same, they read widely, ask a lot of question, and always, always ALWAYS question their own knowledge. The second you think you are good at something it normally the point at which you start to get bad as you stop the constant learning process which is as the heart of being good at anything.

Taking the rise out of fellow professionals is actually a fairly calculated technique to test your own abilities and theirs. Yes is can be a bit rough, but its tried and tested route in many professional firms. Ridicule and embarrassment may not be very PC, but it damn well makes you a better accountant, or you probably quite rightly quit as you aint good enough.

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Replying to jonharris999:
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By Truthsayer
11th Jun 2020 09:55

'People sometimes get called out here for (for example) writing unclear or ungrammatical English, when they are plainly not speakers of English as their first language. That's just rude.'

No it's not. If people cannot write English in a comprehensible manner, they should not be offering accountancy services. The world makes no allowances for the fact that someone is writing in a second language. Also, most of those who write sloppy English are clearly native speakers or advanced second language speakers whose errors are down to plain laziness or stupidity. I'm not going to back off on this point.

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Replying to Truthsayer:
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By Tax Dragon
11th Jun 2020 10:07

I think Jon is suggesting that you could make your point more 'nicely'. While I agree with you that some OPs are woefully badly expressed (to the point of incomprehensibility), I have found some of your replies curt to the point of rudeness.

"I do not understand your question because of the way it is written", or some similar statement of simple fact, might be better?

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Replying to Truthsayer:
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By jwgrogan
11th Jun 2020 11:44

Absolutely. People should not be giving advice professionally if they cannot frame a question that concisely conveys all and only the relevant facts and is sensitive to the nuances of the technical language used. They should not be dealing with issues of complex tax legislation or intricate business transactions if they cannot get the fundamentals right in their own communications. Anything otherwise is unprofessional.

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Replying to Truthsayer:
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By jonharris999
11th Jun 2020 12:55

Yes it is. It's also often racist, sometimes sexist, and needlessly harmful to people's mental health. Don't back off all you like, but be prepared to hear that your position is rather old-fashioned, and IMHO you will serve more of the world better if you adjust it.

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Replying to jonharris999:
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By Paul Crowley
17th Jun 2020 13:00

Agreed

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Replying to Wanderer:
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By bernard michael
11th Jun 2020 09:04

Wanderer wrote:

Point taken.

We do however too often find that there are:-

People acting illegally e.g. no ML supervision.
People attempting to act well beyond their capabilities.
People acting outside the terms of their professional regulations.
People giving half the story trying to get the answer they want.
People asking on behalf of 'a friend'.
New posters who change / delete their questions / answers, sometimes after a lot of input and technical analysis from others.
People who make no effort whatsoever to do any research before they post their questions.
People who want others to do all their work for them.
People who seek a view without giving their own thoughts.
People who outright lie and are often caught / called out.
People who just don't listen if the advice given is not what they want to hear.

Do we have to treat all these with kid gloves or occasionally give a hard knock lesson?


You've forgotten MDTP
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Replying to bernard michael:
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By Tax Dragon
11th Jun 2020 09:31

bernard michael wrote:

You've forgotten MDTP

He's normally here only by proxy.

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RLI
By lionofludesch
11th Jun 2020 10:05

A bit of good natured joshing never did anyone any harm.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By Tax Dragon
11th Jun 2020 10:18

It's done me some harm. I good-naturedly joshed Andy P. Now I miss him.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
Red Leader
By Red Leader
11th Jun 2020 12:04

Quite. Nothing wrong with following it up with a light punch on the chest.

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By lesley.barnes
11th Jun 2020 10:17

From a personal perspective I've always found people supportive when I've asked a question. Working alone often means that you need to run something by other professionals and you can't just ask a colleague.
I also realise when I'm out of my depth with something and will happily pay for advice from someone experienced in that field. I need to look after my clients interests (and learn along the way) I can't afford to fudge my way through. I'm up front with clients if something is so complex and specialised that it is outside my comfort zone and tell them that I need to take advice.
Recently there have been postings allegedly from accountants acting for clients that have been cringe worthly because they are so basic. The poster hasn't got a clue what they are doing and hasn't bothered to look at any guidence. People have been honest and said what they thought - ie you are out of your depth and you shouldn't be practicing until you have some experience or even your breaking the law. It might not be what someone wants to hear but better to warn of any pitfalls. These replies mostly fall on deaf ears, unthanked, unloved and ignored.
We get the posters who ask for advice about what they should do in a situation, opinions are given, the poster doesn't like the answer, becomes abusive and then flounces off.
We also have people posting who seriously need to employ an accountant, they brag about the money they've made, claim they don't need an accountant as they can do a DIY job. They have dug themselves into several holes and want free often complex advice on how to get out.
I have got to the stage now when I'm answering a question (especially posted as anon) of wondering is this really a genuine or are we as a community being wound up?
I've decided that I am not going to post an answer to questions that are posted as anon useless they content needs to be confidential. I think that by posting as anon the poster already knows that the question shows that they don't have the required skills and is embarrassed or we are being wound up.

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By Cheshire
11th Jun 2020 12:20

Probably.

Just thought, it be great if there was drop down box of options to reply to the 'dodgy' posts as listed by other respondents.

On Lesley's point ''I have got to the stage now when I'm answering a question (especially posted as anon) of wondering is this really a genuine or are we as a community being wound up?''

These forums, certain clients, this job can so easily make one cynical.

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By pauld
11th Jun 2020 14:23

On show to the world? I didn't know this site was so popular. Its a pile of s**t now compared to the old days when all questions and answers were from knowledgeable members, of which only a few remain. Nowadays most of the questions are for free advice so that they don't have to pay accountants.

The site would be a far better place without the freeloaders.

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Replying to pauld:
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By Tax Dragon
11th Jun 2020 15:03

Don't forget that Aweb taught the world how to display negative numbers in Excel.

These days, you're lucky (if that's the word) to get 1,000 views to a thread. 400, if it's technical. 100 if it's IHT-related.

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
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By tom123
11th Jun 2020 15:16

I got 1850 to my avatar thread..(I had to go and check :)

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Replying to tom123:
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By Tax Dragon
11th Jun 2020 15:30

Lucky you :-)

I wasn't one [or more... normally if I see something once I see it several times] of the 1850, unusually. But I think you've demonstrated the point. Was your thread technical? Doesn't sound it. The ('worldwide' part of the) forum has become one for idle chat and advising freeloaders to engage accountants.

Often, threads are viewed more once the heading is changed to "." than it was when it was a question. We all seem to love a bit of abuse. (And the most thanked comment on this thread abbreviates to FO - which, I'll be honest, was the first thought I had when I read the OP. As Trump once said... Sad.)

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
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By Matrix
11th Jun 2020 18:17

This is now the 4th most liked post ever (or since the like button was invented anyway). The first page of “likes” is all since lockdown.

So either people are really bored or this website is fairly useful and the recent contributions well liked after all. But the consensus is to be kinder, I know people don’t post as this board can be unfriendly.

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Replying to Matrix:
Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
13th Jun 2020 18:29

Given the lack of football, and static league tables (my daughter normally seems to spend most of her life learning them in detail week to week), the movement on the Liked Board is obviously now the centre of our lives ; accordingly I can report that following a hard fought encounter this thread has now slipped to fifth-will it rally or is it unlikely to get into the Champions League?

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Replying to Matrix:
By Tim Vane
18th Jun 2020 03:23

Matrix wrote:

This is now the 4th most liked post ever (or since the like button was invented anyway).

Not even close!

It is only the fourth "Most Liked" post in the last 3 months or so (which is what that list shows). There are older posts with dozens more likes. Many of them quite vitriolic.

And that's why all the liked posts are since lockdown - because most liked posts from before lockdown are excluded from the list as too old. That's also why many of the "most viewed" posts have more "likes" than a lot of the "most liked" posts, despite not appearing on the most liked list. (Scroll down the "most liked" posts on the list and you'll get to some "most liked" posts that have zero likes).

There are lies, damned lies, statistics and web site lists...

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Replying to tom123:
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By spilly
17th Jun 2020 23:30

It was a really helpful post to me as I hadn’t really considered having an avatar before, but now I think they are useful and help create more of an identity in the AW community. Plus I got guidance on how to create one myself.
Sure, it wasn’t a technical post, but I have noticed quite a few new avatars apart from mine so conclude it was beneficial to quite a few of us.

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By Paul Crowley
17th Jun 2020 13:09

Taking into account thanks votes, it appears the answer is NO

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Tax Dragon
17th Jun 2020 16:20

I wasn't going to but I found myself counting... I quickly gave up, thankfully, but my early impression was that the ayes had it. By a margin.

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
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By Paul Crowley
17th Jun 2020 18:43

But were some ayes ironic?

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Tax Dragon
17th Jun 2020 21:22

No idea, but some of what I assume you counted as nays were clearly comedic. Does a kinder tone have to be humourless?

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Tax Dragon
18th Jun 2020 07:31

Case in point - [the moderated post removed from thread was] clearly comedic. I know that because, as I confessed earlier, it was my immediate reaction when I read the OP - and had I posted it, I would have meant it comedically. So (second confession) I laughed when someone else posted it.

However I chose not to post the joke myself, because I knew it would cause some people some offence. Navel gazing for a moment, I guess this reveals that I'm a comedian first (it was my immediate reaction) and a serious tax commentator second; however the serious part of me must be stronger than the comic part, because I chose not to post the joke.

Nor did I thank it. The fact that 12 people have, suggests to me that they got the joke and enjoyed it.

Now, comedy is a funny thing. Some people will laugh at something, some people will take offence at the same thing. It could be that a kinder tone does have to lose some of the joking about. Offence is not funny. Hence my previous question to you about a kind-but-humourless tone was serious.

I'm torn, because I enjoy a joke. Even a joke with a bit of bad language. But I recognise that some might take offence (and when I do so, I withhold the joke). What I am sure 99% of people here would agree on, is that there is no place for rudery and personal abuse. Only one respondent above has defended that - and even s/he has since modified the tone of his/her responses.

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