Chris Mann
Blogger
Share this content
2
1544

Why persist with the anonymous feature?

The content of these posts are becoming increasingly incoherent

It seems as though it's been particularly quiet, over the last couple of weeks on here and, possibly due to the absence of the usual activity, there seems to be more activity from anonymous posts. In many cases, this facility seems to be prone to abuse (initial spam posts and those which require decipher). AWeb suggests - "Please note that posting as an anonymous user is reserved for sensitive content". Really?

Whilst of course, members can simply ignore these posts, if they wish, what is the real background to the "facility" in the first place? Members are also denied the opportunity to review the members profile.

Replies

Please login or register to join the discussion.

24th Aug 2017 10:30

And, of course, anonymity is broken if the anonymous poster replies to a post in the thread, making the whole exercise pointless.

I agree, just dump it.

Thanks (1)
By mrme89
24th Aug 2017 10:31

It serves no purpose.

Users are under no obligation to reveal their identity to the rest of Aweb users as they can choose their own username, and hide sensitive details (that Aweb like to routinely reveal when they do upgrades and updates).

The function is soon redundant when it is clear they haven't provided anywhere near enough information, and need to respond to those commenting.

The anonymous posts seem to attract the most stupid of questions. The content on Any Answers has been in decline for some time - incidentally since the last site upgrade.

Thanks (3)
avatar
24th Aug 2017 10:36

Members (and I include myself) validate the posts when they reply. Let's all stop.

Thanks (3)
to Tax Dragon
24th Aug 2017 11:41

You make a good point.

There's the obvious facility of disguise via an appropriate avatar for those who wish to remain anonymous in some way (as I did myself for many years).

My chief gripe, these days, is the unintelligible content of many of these posts and, how you have to work out the question, before you can begin to answer it.

I simply find that facility a backward step, for a modern(ish) tech forum.

It would be good to see any justification which the Aweb editorial team could bring to the debate.

Thanks (0)
to Chris Mann
24th Aug 2017 10:57

Agreed. It's time for change.

Thanks (1)
avatar
to Chris Mann
24th Aug 2017 11:23

Amusingly, today's anonymous offering is remarkably cogent. I can't help but think that many 'named' members' posts are anything but.

Is your gripe with unintelligibility, anonymity, or only when the two coincide?

Thanks (0)
avatar
to Chris Mann
25th Aug 2017 13:40

Today's anonymous offering is about MLR. Whilst I question whether any suspicions should be aired in a public forum, if they are to be, that surely has to be done carefully (to provide enough info without running the risk of tipping off) and anonymously. Since that's Mr Winch's specialist subject, and I am not he, I can stick to my no-reply rule.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Maslins
24th Aug 2017 10:40

I imagine part of the reason is for the benefit of those who use their real (firm) name. Sometimes you want that, but on occasion you may want to ask a question that you don't really want everyone in the world being able to see that you didn't know the answer to already.

None of us are perfect, and we all sometimes need a bit of help, or there's something that "a good accountant" should know, but perhaps due to the nature of the firm we're in it's not something we come across often.

Obviously it's down to the individuals on this forum to decide whether they bother responding or not. If you think the question is stupid and doesn't warrant you taking the time to reply, don't reply.

Thanks (3)
24th Aug 2017 10:47

I don't get the spam posts.

What is there in them that would make you want their service ?

Thanks (0)
avatar
24th Aug 2017 11:03

One of yesterday's anonymous posters who eventually revealed himself in a reply has a Linkedin profile where he describes himself as "Managing Partner" of a firm of Chartered Accountants the name of which Google can't locate.

Thanks (1)
By Ruddles
24th Aug 2017 11:20

There are those who, while 'hiding' behind a pseudonym, might be readily recognisable to colleagues/employers/clients based on the nature/content of the question asked.

In principle, I don't have a problem with questions being asked anonymously. But there's no doubt that the facility is subject to much abuse.

Thanks (0)
24th Aug 2017 11:40

There is a case for Aweb allowing members two 'accounts', one for 'anonymous' but labelled under a pseudonym instead of anonymous. It would make much more sense of the threads and encourage contributions from those who would otherwise be reticent.

One esteemed member, I have discovered, already does this covertly.

Thanks (1)
By mrme89
to andy.partridge
24th Aug 2017 11:44

You tease! Do tell!

Aweb doesn't allow two accounts. But history tells us that members can have as many as they want - I have 27.

Thanks (0)
to mrme89
24th Aug 2017 12:19

I'll see your 27 and raise you 5

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Mr_awol
to andy.partridge
24th Aug 2017 15:48

andy.partridge wrote:

One esteemed member, I have discovered, already does this covertly.

Are you telling us that David Winch and PNL are actually one and the same person?!?!?!!?

Thanks (1)
to Mr_awol
24th Aug 2017 16:12

No - PNL and basil.

:-)

Thanks (1)
to lionofludesch
24th Aug 2017 16:20

And that's only so that they can make the argument with themself technical and interesting.

Thanks (0)
By mrme89
to lionofludesch
24th Aug 2017 16:28

I don't think PNL has the patience to write the volume of waffle that Basil often writes.

Thanks (1)
to Mr_awol
24th Aug 2017 21:19

Since you mention me, "David Winch" is my real name & the photo is really me. All the posts by "David Winch" are intended to be taken seriously.
But I do have another identity on here which I use when I am posting something which is not intended to be taken as seriously as a "David Winch" post.
I am not "PNL" though or "Basil" or any of those other people with a lot of technical tax knowledge. I take my hat off to them.
And I do not debate things with myself!
David

Thanks (1)
to davidwinch
24th Aug 2017 22:28

Nothing wrong with being able to see both sides of an argument.

Thanks (0)
to davidwinch
25th Aug 2017 09:55

Hello David, thanks for 'coming out'. Have you been granted a special exemption by Sift to have two accounts? Members have been banned for less, you know.

I have already expressed a view that it might be useful for everyone to have two accounts, but that day has not yet arisen.

Thanks (1)
to andy.partridge
25th Aug 2017 10:11

I think Sift / AWEB tolerate me having two accounts in the circumstances & I don't abuse that.....
David

Thanks (0)
By mrme89
to davidwinch
25th Aug 2017 10:22

I think Andy and David are same person, and this is a bizarre Jeremy Kyle style reveal.
We just need PNL to confirm that he is David's biological father, and that Ruddles isn't really a dog, but PNL's pet cat.

Thanks (2)
to mrme89
25th Aug 2017 10:50

Well done, Holmes. It's such a relief that the truth is out. I've been carrying this burden for so long.

Thanks (0)
to davidwinch
25th Aug 2017 10:57

Fair enough, but wouldn't it be appropriate, in the circumstances, that you reveal your alter ego, David?

Thanks (0)
avatar
to andy.partridge
25th Aug 2017 11:00

I'm Spartacus.

Thanks (0)
to andy.partridge
25th Aug 2017 11:04

No. I think that would defeat the object & I would lose the freedom to be controversial!
David

Thanks (0)
avatar
to davidwinch
25th Aug 2017 11:24

He's Slim Shady (he's the real Slim Shady).

Thanks (0)
to davidwinch
25th Aug 2017 12:03

I daresay, David, but that freedom is denied to all other members. In some cases where duplicate accounts have been created it has been dealt with by Sift banning the member.

Thanks (1)
avatar
By Mr_awol
to andy.partridge
25th Aug 2017 10:12

Sorry for inadvertently outing you David - I tried to think of two forum users with totally differing posting styles and your calm, measured responses seemed suitably at odds with PNL's own sometime 'enthusiastic' inimitable* style

* particularly since the introduction of the swear filter

Thanks (0)
avatar
24th Aug 2017 13:03

What if... people were unable to post for the first two or three months of membership?

I have noticed that many freeloaders joined the day they post, so it might stop that. Of itself that warrants the change. If it also reduced the worst of the anonymous posts, bonus.

Thanks (2)
By Ruddles
to Tax Dragon
24th Aug 2017 14:29

I suspect that the nature of many tax queries is such that by the time the question can be asked, the answer will be of little use.

Thanks (0)
to Ruddles
24th Aug 2017 14:31

. . . and they might in the meantime have sought paid for advice. A result all round.

Thanks (1)
By Ruddles
to andy.partridge
24th Aug 2017 16:00

Hope springs eternal ...

Thanks (0)
avatar
to Tax Dragon
24th Aug 2017 16:54

Tax Dragon wrote:

What if... people were unable to post for the first two or three months of membership?

I wrote a few weeks back making that very suggestion (and others). Didn't get the courtesy of a reply.

There should also be a requirement to have made some kind of contribution by responding to other queries before being allowed to post questions. Very few of the people who ask questions ever help by answering others

Thanks (0)
to Accountant A
24th Aug 2017 17:11

" . . a requirement to have made some kind of contribution by responding to other queries before being allowed to post questions"

Remember those people are selfish by nature. Implement it and you will get newbie answers to circumvent the rules along the lines of

cxjw'/;KCN KIWPDomnkcisnHJBSQHYInx#

The result will be more clutter.

Thanks (0)
avatar
to andy.partridge
24th Aug 2017 17:34

andy.partridge wrote:

Remember those people are selfish by nature. Implement it and you will get newbie answers to circumvent the rules along the lines of

cxjw'/;KCN KIWPDomnkcisnHJBSQHYInx#

The result will be more clutter.

The thought did occur. If there was any moderation, that would result in a deletion of the account. There isn't, sadly.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Maslins
to Accountant A
25th Aug 2017 09:09

I can't see that being practical. Who would decide whether a comment was good enough to count towards then posting a question?!

Thanks (0)
to Accountant A
24th Aug 2017 18:14

Accountant A wrote:

There should also be a requirement to have made some kind of contribution by responding to other queries before being allowed to post questions. Very few of the people who ask questions ever help by answering others

Problem with that is that folk would put any old post on the forum, just to build up some sort of "credit" so that they can ask questions.

It happens on other fora.

Thanks (0)
25th Aug 2017 10:52

I am surprised the anonymous feature is still in use.

You lot have let the place rot whilst I have been on my long holiday.

Thanks (0)
25th Aug 2017 11:30

Thanks @Chris Mann, and apologies for the slow response.

The anonymous feature is currently under discussion. I've made no secret of the fact that I feel in its current form it causes more problems than it solves. It frustrates genuine and valued contributors such as yourself and my editorial team spend too much time policing issues around it rather than writing.

I see its value for issues such as those raised by @Maslins. One option I'd personally like to see is a 'request anonymity' button that could be used in genuine circumstances so we can review whether or not it warrants anonymity (my suspicion would be very few would actually qualify).

Unfortunately it is not as simple as switching it off and any work around adding/removing features takes development time. I will continue to lobby for this and keep you all updated.

@Accountant A, apologies I didn't respond to your earlier point, I must have missed it. We wouldn't bring in a delay from signing up to being able to post a question. When we had the major spam attack a couple of years ago we temporarily brought this in and it was a nightmare.

It was frustrating and off-putting to genuine new members looking to solve pressing issues and caused us a huge volume of additional work dealing with the fallout.

Thanks as always to everyone for their feedback and have a good weekend.

Tom

Thanks (1)
to TomHerbert
25th Aug 2017 11:43

Well Tom, how about allowing members two accounts? You appear to have already set the precedent with David Winch.

Thanks (0)
to andy.partridge
25th Aug 2017 11:59

Andy
Is your name & photo on here your real ID?
David

Thanks (0)
to davidwinch
25th Aug 2017 12:06

David, perhaps you might like to start a new thread on that one, to which I will happily contribute. In the meantime, I will pursue the issue of duplicate accounts in the context of the Anonymous feature as per the OP.

Thanks (0)
By mrme89
to davidwinch
25th Aug 2017 12:11

I see Andy’s point.

It is currently against the rules to have multiple accounts.

If you are allowed to have more than one account, why can’t others?
I struggle to see why you think that are above everyone else in this respect?

Thanks (0)
avatar
to mrme89
25th Aug 2017 12:19

That comment would be fair if it came from someone using their own name and picture. It didn't (did it?)

I have no problem with those honest enough to have a "genuine" account (I'm not) also having one under a pseudonym.

Thanks (0)
avatar
to Tax Dragon
25th Aug 2017 12:22

Or to look at that the other way round, if you want a second account, it should have to be under your real name.

Thanks (0)
By mrme89
to Tax Dragon
25th Aug 2017 12:25

It is fair because it is coming from someone with one account.

If I had wanted an account to post comments solely to further my credentials in my given specialism, I could have.
Instead, I opted to post under a pseudonym.

There's nothing in the rules against posting under your real name or under a pseudonym. There is, however, a rule against having multiple accounts.

Either Sift make a decision to change their rules on multiple accounts, or the rule is applied to everyone.

For the record, I have no grudge against David. I just don't think one person should be granted an exception.

Thanks (1)
to Tax Dragon
25th Aug 2017 12:27

I agree with you, as I hope I have indicated in the thread. I am happy for David to have two accounts. I am unhappy that such a facility is denied to you. But if there are no plans to allow you another account, Sift should remove David's.

The issues of a pseudonym and being anonymous are separate. David is, I believe, seeking to conflate the two for selfish reasons.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By ms998
to andy.partridge
25th Aug 2017 12:33

Easiest answer is for David to stop contributing to the forum under his real name. Would that solve the problem?

The other side is that you would lose the valuable contributions then

Thanks (0)

Pages

Share this content