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If you haven't got anything nice to say ....

Should we refrain from replying to posts we don't think appropriate?

Didn't find your answer?

There are numerous examples including the Australian one today. Someone thinks a question inappropriate, requires professional advice, is from a freeloader, or whatever, others pile in, and there's a good chance the questioner gets upset and either leaves, or suggests this forum is full of trolls and toxic accountants and the whole thing descends (or ascends whichever way you look at it) into a  maelstom of argument and [***] taking.

Would it be better if we simply ignored these posts? Seems like more time is spent going round in circles on this than discussing our thrilling accounting and tax conundrums. The blatantly stupid ones should remain fair game of course!

That said, the real solution is in the hands of the site owners.

 

Replies (105)

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By neiltonks
03rd Mar 2021 12:36

Never understood why people expend time and energy criticising posters for daring to post a question. If you don't think a question is appropriate, just ignore it. The freeloaders will soon leave if they never get an answer.

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By Truthsayer
03rd Mar 2021 12:42

'Would it be better if we simply ignored these posts?'

No. If something needs to be said, it is better to say it. Often, the best advice you can give an OP is to get it from someone else who is in a position to give it.

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Replying to Truthsayer:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
03rd Mar 2021 13:07

Maybe, but that's all that needs to be said, not giving the OP a lecture on what the purpose of this site is and how dare they come on here and expect free advice etc.

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Replying to Truthsayer:
RLI
By lionofludesch
03rd Mar 2021 15:25

Truthsayer wrote:

'Would it be better if we simply ignored these posts?'

No. If something needs to be said, it is better to say it. Often, the best advice you can give an OP is to get it from someone else who is in a position to give it.

I agree. Sometimes the most help you can be is to make folk aware that they are out of their depth.

And, taking that analogy, if you saw a fella drowning, would you ignore his call for help ?

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By Paul Crowley
03rd Mar 2021 18:37

Good analogy
Difficult to ignore the total prat that will sink his own business even if he cannot see the iceberg, and is determined in his view that binoculars are just a waste of money

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By DaveyJonesLocker
03rd Mar 2021 12:52

It's because the owners of this site let the forum become just another UKBusinessForums site.

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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
03rd Mar 2021 13:05

Dear Mr Putey,

Unaccustomed as I am to responding publicly, I felt that on this occasion I must.

Yours sincerely,

Mr E. Praline

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
03rd Mar 2021 13:13

I suppose the Gumby's will be on next, and the Piranha brothers .. but not Mrs Confusion's friend, who thankfully has been airbrushed out.

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Replying to Arthur Putey:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
03rd Mar 2021 13:58

Doug and Dinsdale? They'd soon sort this forum out with some good old fashioned Cartesian dualism!

And why not? Many souls here evidently occupy independent realms of existence distinct from that of the physical world; whereby their mental foundations often overtake their physical, causing them to shoot first and ask questions later.

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
03rd Mar 2021 14:31

Ah the Pandas get a look in too! But what we really need is input from the Philosophy Department of the University of Woolamaloo.

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Replying to Arthur Putey:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
03rd Mar 2021 14:54

Agreed.

We should ask that chap emigrating to Australia to deliver a message to Bruce.

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Replying to Arthur Putey:
RLI
By lionofludesch
03rd Mar 2021 16:33

Arthur Putey wrote:

Ah the Pandas get a look in too! But what we really need is input from the Philosophy Department of the University of Woolamaloo.

Woolloomooloo.

Just saying.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
Red Leader
By Red Leader
03rd Mar 2021 17:06

Plus ca change.

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By pauld
03rd Mar 2021 13:19

It really would be a better forum if only those involved in accountancy/tax on a day to day basis were allowed to be members. The forum is now spoilt by the freeloaders looking for free advice with questions that sometimes deserve the stick they get.

This is used to be a fantastic forum with many tax experts. Due to it going downhill over the last couple of years, a lot of those experts have left.

The solution is, as you say, in the hands of the site owners, but we are not their primary focus. The more people that use the site the more the sponsors can sell their wares.

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Replying to pauld:
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By paulwakefield1
03rd Mar 2021 13:29

" The forum is now spoilt by the freeloaders looking for free advice"

Why? Just ignore them. Some still generate interesting discussions anyway.

"Due to it going downhill over the last couple of years, a lot of those experts have left."

I am far from convinced that it is cause and effect.

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Replying to paulwakefield1:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
03rd Mar 2021 13:40

A sea change did occur a few years back when there was a plartform refresh, and a number of regulars departed. Not sure if "public access" was a factor though, as I recall many felt that the platform had taken a step backwards.

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Replying to Arthur Putey:
By SteveHa
03rd Mar 2021 13:52

Oh, come on. For most who have been around pre and post refresh, the quality of these forums (not entirely the fault of the freeloaders, but as much as Sift's fault for changing the format to something that is now almost impossible to navigate sensibly) has deteriorated massively.

This whole "Toys R Us" look was the start, but it certainly hasn't gotten any better. I still yearn for the old days.

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Replying to SteveHa:
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By paulwakefield1
03rd Mar 2021 14:05

I agree. I still prefer the old forum format but that is a battle long since lost and a bit of a side issue in my view to this topic.

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Replying to pauld:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
03rd Mar 2021 14:36

Begs the question, if there were a "professionals only" forum, and we had to pay to use it, under our real names, would it flourish? Would it require another professional association, along the lines of "association of internet accountants" (better names available, some with funny acronyms)

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By Software Seeker
03rd Mar 2021 13:36

Completely agree. It's what you get with the veil of internet anonymity. Brave bullies who I bet aren't as aggressive in 'real life'.

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Replying to Software Seeker:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
03rd Mar 2021 14:04

Licensed to grill?

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By Tax Dragon
03rd Mar 2021 14:08

The Australia thread is an interesting example.

The only real difference between your comment there and some of the previous ones was that you added "Good luck by the way, it sounds like a positive move for you."

Matrix started with "Australia sounds great", before going straight onto "as previously advised [ie by all the other respondents], you will need bespoke advice".

Whilst it doesn't take much to add a bit of sugar like that, the absence of such sugar does not make a reply toxic. And I don't really think we should have to add sugar to every remark just in case the OP in point has a sweet tooth.

And as for 'lecturing' about the purpose of the site, I do that mostly in discussion with other regular respondents, such as your good self, Arthur. But quite a few OPs (including Mr Oz) have hit the forum with "isn't the point of you lot to give me free advice?" (or words to that effect). Such deserve a lecture, IMHO.

All that said, I agree with you - ignore the threads which are inappropriate for the forum. [And, whilst I would distinguish between the delivery driver and the leaver-for-Australia, that's because I know enough to know the difference. I can quite see though that the distinction might not be obvious from the layperson's perspective, so perhaps both querists should actually have been ignored. What say you?]

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
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By paul.benny
03rd Mar 2021 14:39

Whilst I agree with the sentiments, I'm not sure that ignoring threads is that good an idea.

The gist of the advice to Mr/s Oz was that there was rather more to it than the OP had acknowledged in the opening question (and even that was pretty complex). Therefore s/he should get proper paid-for advice.

Sometimes it needs to be spelt out that a 'quick question' actually requires a long answer. It needs whole lot more information than originally provided. And there are other factors that need to be considered.

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
03rd Mar 2021 14:44

The delivery driver thread seems to centre on the apparently excessive cost of insurance. The Aus one upset the OP prior to the saccharined resoponses further down.

What say I? If we owned the site we would be entitled to lecture, and more than a few regulars behave as if they did. What the site owners think of that is unclear. "We" and they can and do point to the posting rules, but does that solve the problem. Further up I wonder if a separate closed forum is what enough people want for it to be viable.

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Replying to Arthur Putey:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
03rd Mar 2021 14:47

PS - the contrast between the two examples is that van man was not upset by some of the replies (as they mainly discuss the matter of the journey to/from (or from/to) the warehouse).

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By Duggimon
03rd Mar 2021 14:25

I give everyone advice when I can, the best advice is often "you need an accountant" though and I won't apologise for saying it when appropriate, nor will I stop doing it.

The Australia thread was fine and the advice helpful until the OP got a bit shirty then got run off. I don't see a problem with it, sometimes the best advice is "get an accountant" and when people don't like it because they don't believe in paying accountants, the accountants tend to get a bit aggravated.

The laboured metaphors about getting something for nothing are a bit cringey at times but other than that I don't see an issue.

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Stepurhan
By stepurhan
03rd Mar 2021 14:29

Having been made redundant last year, with people seeing accountancy as an irrelevant expense they can cut being a major factor, I take people who have done that looking to get advice for free personally.

I do try to go for the gentler push to getting an adviser early on, if someone is clearly out of their depth. I will not put up with entitlement though.

As an aside, I don't like people playing the sympathy card either. I've lost count of the number of people who roll out an unverifiable sob story as justification for why they should get free advice. Australian chappy is a prime example of that.

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By Paul Crowley
03rd Mar 2021 14:39

If a freeloader is very clearly DIY and out of depth it needs to be said
And by that I mean also company directors and specifically IT

An ignored posting can easily be read by OP as:
'None of the Aweb people pointed out (how daft the proposed action is) so it looks like a brilliant idea that none of them could even think of.'

More simply:
None can see any problem
I gave them this brilliant and cunning idea and the miserable gits did not even say thanks

EG Just keep selling the same property once a year to get an allowance worth of rebasing comes to mind.

I have much more issue with Anon

No priors to judge the detail and depth of OP understanding.

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
03rd Mar 2021 14:53

Fair enough, so perhaps all that is needed is for one person to say politely "you need specific advice its not something this forum can help with" and everyone else simply adds thanks. Of course there will always be someone who then tries to answer the question. This happens a fair bit and I wonder if they actually read the thread, or more likely, the thread layout is not terribly readable to its not always easy to get up to speed. Or they reasd the thread in the morning get distracted and don't hit "post" until lunchtime by which time its moved way on.

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Replying to Arthur Putey:
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By Paul Crowley
03rd Mar 2021 18:46

I agree, in principle one reply enough with thanks (which I also use as shorthand for agreement)
I also like the recent style of
+1

Agree again that someone then comes along and has a stab at trying to explain in detail, making assumptions and asking for more detail. That usually results in the detail turning the question over and it all starts again

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By tracyannw
03rd Mar 2021 15:07

I totally agree with you on this one, there are some really good and supportive accountants on this site but unfortunately there are also a lot of people who will ridicule the original poster. What we need to remember is that no question is a silly question if you don't know the answer. And in order to foster a good supportive community we need to support others in the way we would wish to be supported if we asked a question. If you feel someone is taking the proverbial simply ignore their post - as accountants I am sure we have much more to occupy our time other than reply to such posts!

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Replying to tracyannw:
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By jane
03rd Mar 2021 19:22

tracyannw wrote:

I totally agree with you on this one, there are some really good and supportive accountants on this site but unfortunately there are also a lot of people who will ridicule the original poster. What we need to remember is that no question is a silly question if you don't know the answer. And in order to foster a good supportive community we need to support others in the way we would wish to be supported if we asked a question. If you feel someone is taking the proverbial simply ignore their post - as accountants I am sure we have much more to occupy our time other than reply to such posts!

I have been a 'awebber' for a while now (2010) and have asked many questions and have, in the majority of cases, been answered really well and kindly.
I'm also an avid reader of 'any answers' and whilst the recent thread re MTD for Self assessment made me laugh out loud I have also noticed that there are one or two responders who are a bit abrupt. As Traceyannw says it is (certainly used to be) a supportive community - please let it remain so.

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Replying to jane:
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By Paul Crowley
03rd Mar 2021 20:42

I sort of agree but I am a jenny come lately
Only engaged in June 2020

I am and have always been in both letters and emails direct and desirous of zero superfluous words
Quicker to write and quicker to read

You may well therefore consider a lot of my comments to be abrupt

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By jane
03rd Mar 2021 22:14

I was only reading the question this morning 'un paid invoice' posted by Gemmerson (to which you did contribute) and I did rather think that some of the early responses were a bit brutal and a few assumptions about 'him' had been made..... - I did pm him to say that it is completely understandable that people are 'beguiled' by the software adverts which imply that 'book keeping' is very very simple - but having just taken on a new client who has kept 'done his best with 'the software'' it's been a complete dogs dinner :(
I even offered to help (Gemmerson) - however, having read the question later in the day, seeing that the OP accuses the responders of being self serving and arrogant -that is uncalled for.
I've been 'told off' on here for asking a question that was perhaps a 'bit too specific' - you have to take this stuff on the chin sometimes............(and apologise (which I did)).
I hope Aweb remains a supportive community - responders are very generous with their time & knowledge - posters of questions would do well to remember that.

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Replying to jane:
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By Paul Crowley
03rd Mar 2021 23:27

Thanks
Had not been back to that one since my comment.
OP clearly out of comfort zone and with nil understanding of how accounts work.
Poster really should be looking for someone to sort co accounts as clearly not competent to deal with what needs to be done for companies house and HMRC submissions
As such I blame the advertising of the software companies
If you saw the first versions of HMRC ads for MTD they were clearly sponsored by intuit as had the same style of person doing his accounts on a mobile whilst on an escalator. Saw it on a CPD course, all attendees saw the likeness before lecturer even commented.
Same implication of software deletes the need of bookkeeper or accountant.

Your new client

Same problem with an existing client moving over to Sage after being good on basic spreadsheets. Asked at least 4 times if wanted assistance during the change and first 6 months
Answer was no it is all working well etc
Result come year end?
More journals than bank entries, the bank feed just did not put anything in the correct place.
Complete pig's ear that took more than double prior year time to fix after she had already fixed it

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By DaveyJonesLocker
03rd Mar 2021 22:21

I'm now 49 and been the same with keeping words to a minimum since school age. I often got "EXPAND" written alongside my homework. Even then I thought why? I've written what needs writing. Anything else is waffle and padding.

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Tax Dragon
04th Mar 2021 07:25

Paul Crowley wrote:

Quicker to write and quicker to read

Quicker to write, maybe. Quicker to read? Depends if you want the reader to understand. Trust me, understanding some of your comments takes longer than it would if you'd used just a few more words.

Takes me longer anyway. Can't speak for others. (But, logically, as you've told us you have two styles of writing and in your full style you have already eliminated the superfluous, in your abbreviated style you must be omitting the necessary.)

Thinking more widely, I wonder whether a desire to leave out the superfluous may be part of why we get questions such as my basic example 1. The OP doesn't know that what's left out isn't superfluous - it's in fact fundamental. You don't know what you don't know.

That goes for all of us, of course. And advising on what you don't know is a recipe for a PI claim. (I wonder in some cases whether it's even insured.)

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
04th Mar 2021 08:35

Can "advice" given on a public forum under a pseudonym under site T&Cs render one liable?

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Replying to Arthur Putey:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
04th Mar 2021 10:54

Arthur Putey wrote:

Can "advice" given on a public forum under a pseudonym under site T&Cs render one liable?

I believe it can. After all, in the eyes of the law you're holding yourself out as an expert, albeit under a nom-de-plume.

The fundamental problem is that ultimately it is Aweb (or SIFT) who are potentially liable for this site's contents. All the more so because the site is moderated. (Unmoderated sites have a legal advantage in that it is easier for them to avoid any liability for eg defamatory, racial, sexist, or other infringing / offensive content. Conversely, operators of moderated sites assume responsibility for their site's material.)

Does that liability extend to the error or omission that is negligent advice? Quite possibly: after all Aweb have a duty of care to members of the public; as do we posters. But if I were in SIFT's shoes, I might be tempted to avoid that buck by passing on the details of Arthur Putey and Co to any plaintiff.

Maybe the answer is a prominent footer on each post, linking to the site's T&Cs (for SIFT's protection) and allowing forum members to insert their own disclaimer (for individuals' protection). I believe UKBF operate the latter facility.

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By Paul Crowley
05th Mar 2021 18:29

I distinctly remember a Front cover of accountancy magazine back in the days when it was operated by ICAEW and had pink pages that were compulsory reading and deemed to be known and understood by all members.

BEWARE G & T ADVICE
Photo was Man down the pub but with a little glass not a pint

The article was simple
All advice given by a person known to be an expert can give rise to a claim even if no financial arrangement exists
Problem of course is in 'can'. Article did not adequately identify when can and when cannot

So for the avoidance of doubt
I know nothing

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Replying to Arthur Putey:
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By Tax Dragon
04th Mar 2021 11:03

No of course not*. Ironically (especially given Duggi's comment below), if that's what you thought I meant then I may have left out some of the 'necessary'. I wasn't talking about advising in the forum. I was talking about advising clients.

I'll use me as an example. In here, I'll say (/I've said) all sorts of nonsense about SDLT. (I've also been right a few times, because I can read tax law and because I know some tax principles. I even earned half a nod of approval from Justin on the subject. That's as rare as English test wins in India.) HOWEVER, I don't advise clients about it. I know enough to know that I don't know enough to deal with significant transactions and SDLT planning around them. I buy in SDLT specialism when I need it, or refer clients to specialists.

Based on queries we see in here (accountant, not the layperson, ones) there are folk advising when they don't have the first clue about the subject on which they are advising. Either they don't know that they don't know enough to do it, or, worse (and this is where I wonder about the PII), they do know (that they don't know) but they don't care. They'll pop a basic question on here and run with the first answer (or maybe the majority answer - which [also] isn't always right, by the way).

*Edit - maybe not "of course" in view of Mr Clue's response above. (Law is another subject I do not advise on, though I may have expressed some views in here. Some of those views are wrong. Of course.)

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
By Duggimon
04th Mar 2021 09:26

Your posts are often an exercise in superfluity. Which is a trait I always enjoy!

We're all on here to read the questions and answers, there's no reason to make them as short as possible. Brevity is overrated, nobody's on here dropping Atlas Shrugged.

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Replying to Duggimon:
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By Wanderer
04th Mar 2021 11:11

Duggimon wrote:

Your posts are often an exercise in superfluity.

Surely you are joking! TD gives some of the best and most relevant answers I've seen on here, often with detailed (& necessary) analysis of tax law.
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Replying to Wanderer:
By Duggimon
04th Mar 2021 13:55

Wanderer wrote:

Duggimon wrote:

Your posts are often an exercise in superfluity.

Surely you are joking! TD gives some of the best and most relevant answers I've seen on here, often with detailed (& necessary) analysis of tax law.

I know, I agree! My intention was a light ribbing and a nod of appreciation all at once, I love a good waffler and TD is a great waffler, albeit the waffle is laced with plenty of good info.

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Replying to Duggimon:
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By Tax Dragon
04th Mar 2021 14:48

You and Wanderer are too kind. But I'm glad both the waffle and the lacing are appreciated.

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
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By jane
04th Mar 2021 19:14

I agree - I'm always quite comforted when I see that TD has contributed as there is always something (for someone like me (AATQB)) to learn :)

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
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By jane
04th Mar 2021 19:14

I agree - I'm always quite comforted when I see that TD has contributed as there is always something (for someone like me (AATQB)) to learn :)

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Jason Croke
By Jason Croke
03rd Mar 2021 15:08

The Aus post was an extreme example of freeloading, in theory, the situation might apply to many people looking to leave the UK for sunnier climates and there is something useful to share and discuss on what the pros and cons are, but the OP appeared to want bespoke advice tailored to their situation for free.

Like any social media, it is difficult to police. If you make it membership only, you'll get only genuine queries from other Accountants and so there will be hardly any queries and besides, Accountants can go visit their respective trade bodies/association websites.

If you open up the membership then you have to accept the mix of visitors, ignore the freeloaders and chancers, or if needs be a short comment to the effect they need specialist advice.

It might be useful that when people posting a question, there is a pop up that reminds them to ensure the question being asked meets the site rules and that includes not here to get specific advice, that way when we get the long list of advice required from Aus type folks, the response can be to refer to the pop up message before they posted and leave it at that, no need then for negative commentary.

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Replying to Jason Croke:
Stepurhan
By stepurhan
03rd Mar 2021 15:46

Jason Croke wrote:

It might be useful that when people posting a question, there is a pop up that reminds them to ensure the question being asked meets the site rules and that includes not here to get specific advice, that way when we get the long list of advice required from Aus type folks, the response can be to refer to the pop up message before they posted and leave it at that, no need then for negative commentary.


I admire your optimism. Given the amount of people that already unjustifiably use the Anonymous function (which has to be specifically selected and which comes with its own set of warnings) I don't think having to click yes on a pop-up will change much.
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Replying to Jason Croke:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
03rd Mar 2021 16:02

Jason Croke wrote:

... Accountants can go visit their respective trade bodies/association websites.

which are largely inhabited by students.

Maybe the ideal solution would be a closed (perhaps public read only) section for practising members of the profession (and accountants working in the real world), and a public "ask a professional" section for the timewasters ... I mean memnbers of the public.

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