The plethora of "skint at Christmas" threads and a suggestion(29 Posts)
MNHQ have commented on this thread.
I'm torn between not wanting to disbelieve a person but also, being rational because this is the internet. We are being targeted by scammers at this time of year. I'm sure there are genuine people too. Although I am at the number of first time "I can't feed my kids" posters and "I've been here years but name changed" posters who rush in to defend them whilst calling the rest of us cynical, bullying twonks. I know HQ say that they don't appear to be scammers but how can they know?! It's easy to change IP address and new posters could join to target us. I realise that TSSDNCOP and I wouldn't expect you to but I'm afraid, I'm cynical about some of these posters.
There are many of us who aren't totally skint but are struggling at this time of year. I wonder if we could please have a pinned thread on the main boards (AIBU and chat). Then, people can be pointed in that direction, instead of the bun fights that follow in these threads. Every time someone says that they'd rather send money, it gives a green light to those who scam.
Perhaps it wouldn't word but it might be an idea. I'm interested to hear any thoughts on this. Thanks.
What would the pinned thread be about? (Sorry to be dense)
Ideas for cheap presents, food and fun activities for kids.
Where to find good bargains.
Charities who offer support/advice/debt management or even presents.
How to get a foodbank referral.
Ideas on how to keep warm and keep heating costs down.
the points made are valid - I think though the easy option to balance compassion with not wishing to be conned is simply to offer advice not goods / money / time...
this is a discussion board, it is not a refuge / CAB / a debt-restructuring company / etc. so it is valid to ask for advice, and to give advice, that is its purpose - but it shouldn't go beyond that. Any trigger for giving more should be more structured (e.g. woolly hugs which is brilliant), or should originate from elsewhere (e.g. knowing someone outside the forum)...
if the poster is genuine then they will be delighted to get good solid advice and to be pointed in the direction of clever cheap ideas etc. - if they are scammers they won't be pleased, but tough, nothing else is deserved... No-one genuine sees their only option for sorting out poverty as a forum of anonymous people - it is perfect for getting advice, but not more.
I think perhaps it is worth also pinning a post somewhere with guidance on this (advice not cash / time / goods) and also ways of spotting what is genuine... e.g. someone posting using emotive words where the story doesn't add up (cancelling christmas because there is only £140 to spend on presents?! / nearly bankrupt but still have £140 to spend on presents?!) should very quickly be seen as what they are...
I'm genuinely baffled why an old poster would NC to start one of these threads, surely there'd be more understanding and empathy if posters recognised them, unless they aren't actually old at all.
I agree Navy. It would obviously rouse suspicion.
The thing is, there is always a poster that comes onto the thread offering to send something, asking where the OP is in the country, etc. I don't think you can protect people from themselves when they're determined to involve themselves despite not knowing who these people are.
I think a general advice thread about where to source help with lots of viable and helpful tips is a great idea though.
Excuse the interruption - we can understand your skepticism and will always be happy to have a dig to check out any dubious posters.
Good idea. I've noticed a few already. Tbh, if I were MNHQ, I'd be tempted to lock or delete them.
Or, once reported, MNHQ could stick a big warning at the top of the thread about people not being as they appear, etc. It might dissuade some scammers.
As for asking why do people name change, it's some posters seem to have frequent money problems.
I remember someone quite well known making such a post and someone responded "Again, really?" and was absolutely slaughtered for it.
Good point about locking the post then putting a warning up. Will stop people troll hunting and the thread going crazy.
I'm surprised MN don't lock threads more often.
It allows people to see what happened without sticking their own oar in and stops people asking where the thread is, or complaining about the deletion message.
What irked me about the 140 quid thread was that I think it took until about page 15 or even later to mention having an appointment with Stepchange.
I know for a fact that had she gone for debt advice sooner she would have far more money (debt repayment/frozen interest)
Did that thread get zapped Don? I only saw it briefly.
Its still there. I do think the poster is genuine. I am no stranger to the report button.
But sometimes you feel as though you are banging your head against a brick wall.
The thing is I have been beyond skint (I had some invoices that hadn't been paid ) and I would have liked to vent on here. Nothing could have been done but unfortunately if you do you run the risk of being called a troll or begging when sometimes you just want to get it off your chest.
The thing is there already is a Christmas thread topic jammed and I mean jammed to the rafters with great bargains, ideas etc. And it's not exactly hard to find!
An OP stating a brief: 'I've a tight budget for Christmas and have a DS aged x and a DD aged x who are into Lego/Pokemon/etc any cheap ideas for presents please?' Rather than a sob story, that if it wasn't included to deliberately tug at heart strings then why include it?
There's a definite way of posting about your money worries that won't flag you up as a troll isn't there? Posting in Money or Credit Crunch? Instead of AIBU. No !!!!! in the title (!) no sob story etc etc. I hope you would still feel ok about posting in future if you felt the need to?
Surely the OP could include a line saying 'I do not want offers of cash or gifts. Just looking for ideas' and that may help?
I've suggested this exact same thing.
Mind you, I also suggested they sort out the bloody username fiasco, with a random two word username, but nothing's happened there either.
Yes, I have thought there are a lot of these threads around this year too. I don't know if I was naive before and now I'm more skeptical, but so many people I know are truly skint and most of them seem to manage somehow...
Very good idea op. Genuinely helpful and somewhere to direct posters too.
I suppose that if you're desperate (or a scammer) you are going to go for the boards like AIBU or chat because they're so busy. Then again, if I was in dire financial straits, the last thing I'd want is to post for a pasting on AIBU.
I agree on locking but not deleting, unless the threads are horrendous and abusive or racist or disablist or anything along those lines. The one that was deleted had some good tips on there.
I think MNHQ do a good job of moderating, so I'm not criticising them. I just think there must be a way of supporting vulnerable people without making the site a target for scammers. Thanks for responding, Fliss.
I think the MNHQ warning on those threads needs to be shorter and clearer. We have no way to test the OP's story so don't give more than advice might be better.
I think there should be a blanket policy that posters don't send gifts or money to OPs. Obviously it would be impossible to stop them doing it off board but a blanket ban would surely help reduce the scammers.
It would mean that posters could be a little more sure they were dealing with a genuine OP and weren't wasting their time giving advice and support to a scammer.
I also think it would mean that OPs who are in genuine need of some support and advice would feel more confident that they could post a thread without getting accused of being a scammer.
Finally, it would hopefully save the more gullible posters from sending money to scammers. There are 'safer' and more effective ways to give to needy people than sending stuff to anonymous randoms from the internet.
It would also be good to post a link to charities who can accept donations - food banks, or people like the Salvation Army who run national campaigns to give presents to children in need. Local appeals too, or children's hospitals.
If MN members are feeling charitable then they can buy or donate an extra gift and pass it on that way. I have been around the internet for more years than I care to remember and this is nothing new. It never ceases to amaze me though how many people are ready to believe absolutely everything they're told.
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