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Author: sununu Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 24983  
Subject: Selling Message Boards Bad Idea Date: 2/20/2000 11:52 AM
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Recommendations: 33
Dear 4site:

I agree with your argument that the Fool has taken a Wise turn by selling materials created on the message boards. Let me give the reasons why I too concur:

(1) The message boards are an ongoing discourse, where the experts, the non-experts, the smart, and the dull-witted all come together to make a contribution. One may ask how is it possible for the non-experts to be put on par with the doctoral students on the cutting edge of science? Clearly they are not on par, but they contribute nonetheless because investing is not about experts (the WISE) it is about analyzing the multifaceted and complex web of factors that goes into the matrix of a stock's growth prospects. Up till now, acting upon this principle has been the single most important contribution of the Fool. Seasoned investors know that great science or great products are often undermined by corrupt management, or foolhardy financial decisions, etc. and often these flaws are brought to light by the some retired "lowly" accountant in Pontiac Michigan, or a housewife who attends the shareholders meeting and reports that she didn't like the CEO's arrogant and unresponsive demeanor. These insights from the ranks of the plebian investors often turn out to be as important or even more important than the expert's scholarly evaluation of the science. In any case evaluation of a company's prospects is a confluence of insights and to suddenly abstract from the free flowing dialogue the more refined analysis and commercialize for it for the personal profit of the Fool's enterprise does not seem to be right. It's as if a director of an amateur choir were able to profit from his premier soprano without acknowledgement or reward to all the other contributing voices. I too find nothing wrong with the Fool competing with established research report enterprises but they should keep that part of their business separate from the commercial exploitation of the message boards.
(2) By identifying one or two persons from the boards as commercial writers for the Fool enterprise I believe that the quality of discourse will be eroded. There is a chill created when suddenly one person in the choir of voices is elevated to a professional distinction from within the collective enterprise. The psychology of cooperative contribution where the high and the low contribute to a positive outcome is undermined. Furthermore it creates a coterie of ordained analysts whose choices and views have a higher institutional status. Human nature is such that institutional trappings carry great weight, as the wise with their suits and titles know full well. Dangerously a subconscious weighting of analyses-apart from the actual worth of views-is introduced because of the institutional accreditation given by the owners of the Fool site. A coterie of wise within fooldom is the future price to pay.

Finally I think that it is an immoral practice. The why has already been stated: a cooperative process within which an expert voice may find its place is exploited for the private benefit of persons who merely provide the context for the process of discourse.

I think the Fool enterprise has taken a dangerous turn that will open the way for the introduction of more sinister ways of exploiting the contributions of its message boards. I will not spell out my fears because I hope that the Fools will study this practice and bring it to a quiet end. For disclosure purposes, lest someone think that I am venting against payments for research I subscribe to the following research products Bull Market, WSJ, Gilder, E-Harmon and once and a while the Fool Reports including the latest on Biotech.

Sununu
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Author: davefeatherstone Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 2678 of 24983
Subject: Re: Selling Message Boards Bad Idea Date: 2/20/2000 4:04 PM
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There are truisms in investing:

1) In a bull market, everyone thinks they're a genius.

2) In a hyped bull market, everyone thinks someone else is getting richer faster.

These two things, coupled, create 1) a bunch of people who think they can sell research, and 2) a bunch of people who want to buy that research, thinking it holds The Secret.

So there is a net flow of money:

Research writers ------------> Research buyers

The BEST place to be, obviously, is skimming in the middle, taking a chunk of the flow, working the system. TMF, to put it bluntly, realizes this and is smartly going to take advantage of it. Is that so bad? If the writers are happy and the buyers are happy and TMF is making oodles, then who cares? Sure, it might degrade the quality of the boards or TMF reputation, and sure the most avid research buyers might look back in a few years and wonder why they spent all that money on those crappy reports hoping for the secret of riches. But in the mean time the smartest make the most money and everyone's happy.

Look, when you sell stock at a high, convinced the price will keep going down, do you feel guilty? After all, if you're right, whomever bought it from you is destined to lose money, correct? And if you don't believe so, then why did you sell? The heart of investing is trying to screw someone else. Money doesn't grow on trees, you know. Your IRA comes out of some newbie investor's pocket.

Here's an investment tip:

When all is said and done and the hype dies away, the real winners are always the financial middlemen.



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Author: ElricSeven Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 2680 of 24983
Subject: Re: Selling Message Boards Bad Idea Date: 2/20/2000 4:32 PM
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Recommendations: 30
I have taken some time to address many issues that have come up concerning the new community member research reports. This is the last time I will chime in on this argument because I think that the issues have been thoroughly canvassed. Hopefully this presents a point of view that is moderately lucid.

Thanks ahead of time.
ElricSeven


There is a chill created when suddenly one person in the choir of voices is elevated to a professional distinction from within the collective enterprise. The psychology of cooperative contribution where the high and the low contribute to a positive outcome is undermined.

Isn't this what happens with recommendations? One voice is raised above others as perhaps making a good contribution that day. I hope I don't come across as a “know it all” and if that is a problem, then I am sure that you will let me know.

I agree with your argument that the Fool has taken a Wise turn by selling materials created on the message boards.

I am not sure where this idea has started, but no one is selling materials created on the message boards. My report, at least, was created from what I learned from reading textbooks, the message boards, 10-Ks, websites, newsarticles, etc. If this was the case then no one would bother buying the stuff because you could get it on the message boards.

Note, though, that if I were to arrive on this message board and see that 2676 messages had been posted, I may not want to read them all. It might be nice to drop $5 or $10 on a clearly written synopsis of the board itself. Especially from someone with the expertise.

I appreciate everyone's concern here though. I truly believe that if I were to sell stuff that was recycled crap, I would hear it quick. Your post itself is evidence that I will be policed VERY closely.

Addressing those who questioned the health of the boards once community members started to sell reasearch:

Before the report issued I had posted 103 times over a 4 month period, including the initial Celera FAQ. I had 377 recommendations during that period also.

While drafting the report my posting went wayyy down - for about three weeks I posted 13 messages. One of those, however was the HGSI FAQ.

After the report I have posted 127 messages in just over two weeks. On those messages I have received a total of 247 recommendations. This includes a massive overhaul of the CRA FAQ (which had added 3,000 posts in the meantime).

In essence, doing the report does make a difference on contribution - but similar to Amazon, the upfront investment pays off later. Now I have been posting more and, I think, better content. However, I have been helping more individuals and my recommendation ratio is down. Tit for tat.

Addressing concern for pricing and me “holding out” by not posting information so that people will pay for it:

I believe that people will buy my research for two reasons:

One is to support my efforts on the boards.

You will note that I have been putting a lot more data and research into every post now that I can springboard off of my research for the report. If you like this data and these posts, then you will “subsidize” my efforts by throwing me a bone. The money helps defray the costs of the research including things like lost work time (yes I could be billing hours instead of working on this stuff – but I like working on this stuff and will do it for much less) and the costs of materials such as paper, software, database subscriptions, etc.

The second is to save yourself time, energy and to get a nice reference document.

If you are someone who would rather have the info in a nice document that is easy to read without having to wade for posts, then you are willing to pay a few bucks.

A further explanation of my plans/motivations are detailed in the following posts:

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?id=1380646000046003&sort=postdate

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?id=1380646000042011&sort=postdate

The most important point:
Without sufficient funding to support the Motley Fool it will not survive for long. I personally don't know how profitable TMF is, but look at how profitable other internet companies are.

Would you invest in TMF stock? Truly, I am not sure how they manage to supply such a wonderful service without charging a subscription fee.

We, I am guessing, would be staring a subscription fee in the face if it were not for the sale of merchandise, reports and other stuff. TheStreetDotCom is struggling right now with this very issue. And they are spiraling downwards out of control.

I would much rather the community be subsidized by willing purchasers.

If you guys have any better ideas of how to keep this great website TMF running, I am sure the would be VERY willing to listen. I am not being sarcastic. This is YOUR chance to do more than just wail and moan. Give them some honest, realistic feedback.

thanks,
Greg


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Author: GFPE Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 2682 of 24983
Subject: Re: Selling Message Boards Bad Idea Date: 2/20/2000 5:48 PM
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Recommendations: 2
If you want to piece together all the information and opinions on the board, you can still do that for free. If you want a distillation of one or more people's ideas and thoughts in a printed format, then you'll have to buy the book. What's wrong with that? I don't think it's extortion. The TMF books are not that expensive. They take time and effort to put together. They cost money to publish and the profits they do make help make this site possible.

Grow up and live in the real world. New thread, please.

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Author: rigoletto39 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 2692 of 24983
Subject: Re: Selling Message Boards Bad Idea Date: 2/21/2000 12:42 AM
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First off, the Subject isn't quite right. They're not "selling the message boards". They're selling research put together by people who just happen to also post on the Boards.

I have no problem at all with this. Elric's post is sufficiently eloquent; I can't add anything to it.

The marketplace (us) will decide. When word gets around that the reports are great, people will buy them, and when word gets around that they're doo-doo, we won't. We're not talking about a lot of money here - as far as the Fool, Inc. is concerned. I don't think it's going to add millions to their revenue stream - at least not until it gets out into the public - at which time the other newsletter writers - who, by the way, are getting anywhere from $200 to $2000 a year (maybe more) for their newsletters - will stand up and complain about the unfair competition.

I'm much more worried about what will happen when the Fool goes public, and perhaps gets bought out. But that's another thread.

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Author: NicholasJG Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 2718 of 24983
Subject: Re: Selling Message Boards Bad Idea Date: 2/21/2000 1:30 PM
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Recommendations: 2
Hello Greg,

You're right about Fools that moan about subscription costs and want everything for free -- yet want to frequent a site that cost much to maintain, staff, etc. This foolish (small f) reasoning may just not be fully thought out by people that want all for free...

One thing interesting about TMF, being a Fool member, and watching the Fool grow is how The Fool will continue to stay away from growing Wisely etc. in the event of this truly revolutionary event -- and this completely new form of getting finacial news/finacial schooling/ finacial interaction/ etc. of helping people think for themselves. Hats off to TMF.

I have some ideas for the Fool but they are far fetched. One thing I thought the NOW index might do is actually act eventually as an index fund; differing, though, because all the Fool members would act as the managers. For instance, if you put money in the NOW index you get a vote on the stock/companies that are added/deleted. If the NOW index were real it would give Fools a really safe and divirsified fund with the extremely low NOW Index Fees being ferryed on to the Fool's bottom line.

This would give new Fools a great enrty into investing while being able to learn about many of the fine companies in the NOW Index simply by following the NOW daily re-cap and pertinent news articles etc...

Many people could forget about the "know nothing" approach of the Vanguard 500 index fund, forget about the mecahnical approach of the Foolish Four, forget about drip investing, forget about investment clubs that are hard to put togeter, and join the NOW index club to live, learn, and invest with hundreds and hundreds of other Fools.

At any rate, I don't want to go off on ideas for the Fool on the Biotech board too much. I have lots ideas as I'm sure many others do.

Good luck and Long Live The Fool,


Nick




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Author: benschafer One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 2730 of 24983
Subject: Re: Selling Message Boards Bad Idea Date: 2/21/2000 6:09 PM
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Dear sununu,

Tis time to look at pegs and think of down.

1.One may ask how is it possible for the non-experts to be put on par with the doctoral students on the cutting edge of science? Clearly they are not on par, but they contribute nonetheless because investing is not about experts (the WISE) it is about analyzing the multifaceted and complex web of factors that goes into the matrix of a stock's growth prospects.

Who put little tin gods in charge of your universe? "doctoral students on the cutting edge of science" IMHO the majority of these folks are to busy kissing ass to their graduate thesis advisors to have any real world opinions that are worth squat to an investor. The incubation peorid between Universtiy Idea and financial rewards are usually extensive. Look at the Internet, it has been around since about 1947 or 1948 as an idea, it was used for years by acadimics that were proud of the fact that nothing commercial was done or allowed to be done on the internet. Who were the Internet Portal Controllers PreDocs and PostDocs. Academic purity and superiority, well pshaw. Show me the boys & girls with life wear and experience in making their own way in the world expressing their hard earned opinions and my bullshit detector will stop alarming.

2. Finally I think that it is an immoral practice.

Nice opinion, what is the basis? Is it an intrinsic concern based on keeping the converstation pure and natural? Or is it an extrinsic concern based on the fact that it is unnatural to make money out of and off of personal effort?

Quote from "Improving Nature, the science and ethics of genetic engineering." "

"Everybody...can be said to have moral views, beliefs and concerns, to the effect that certain things are right or wrong and that certain actions ought or ought not to be performed."

Well, sununu, I looked for a personal profile for you, not filled out. Hang it out there, take a risk, let us know who you are in your own mind, so we can see what your opinion is based upon.

I have engaged in rampant capitalism and purchased the report, it has saved me many hours of research, money well spent is a force multiplier, now I can spend that time in other pursuits, like kicking things where they need to be kicked in a fundment. 'nuf

bens



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Author: gabell Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 2732 of 24983
Subject: Re: Selling Message Boards Bad Idea Date: 2/21/2000 6:39 PM
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Greg,
I have often wondered how some of the more prolific posters, who are often some of the most knowledgeable and helpful, have so much time to devote to these message boards. And where do they find the time to actually research the stocks and deal with the myraid other complications of life in this day and age. I for one certainly do not begrudge you for wanting some compensation of your time and expertise. I know that I for one don't want to work for free, and doing all this research definately comes under the heading of work. Furthermore, you are not twisting anyones arm to buy your report, and you are certainly doing a lot of contributing gratis. I don't have unlimited time to research everything that I am interested in, and I appreciate things that save me time and/or educate. I am here to make money too. I think investing is fun, and biotech is interesting, but I invest to win and hitting textbooks would teach me more about biology than a message board. TMF is about investing, investing is about making money. I am here to make money. I guess this has degererated into some type of a diatribe.....better go get another beer.

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Author: fferrara One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 2733 of 24983
Subject: Re: Selling Message Boards Bad Idea Date: 2/21/2000 8:27 PM
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Greg,

I am a 44 year old businessman that owns an international steel trading firm and I more than anyone understands what a business needs to thrive.

Despite that I have been quite conflicted over the Fool's selling the work of their posters. I am a very busy guy with a family to raise and a business to run, yet I gladly share my own research uncompensated for two reasons. First, my portfolio profits handsomely from it. Second, it's my way of paying back those that have helped me. Even if they may not directly profit from my posts I'm certain that others do and this "round robin" of information is what makes the Fool work.

I appreciate your arguments in post 2680 and I wish you the best of success. Hell, I might even buy your report! But you can be assured that I for one will be especially attuned to your posts. I sincerely hope that you continue to contribute to the boards that, as you say, helped you create your reports (free of charge, I might add).

Frank




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Author: ROLLSROYCE532 Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 2735 of 24983
Subject: Re: Selling Message Boards Bad Idea Date: 2/21/2000 10:07 PM
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I am a 44 year old businessman that owns an international steel trading firm and I more than anyone understands what a business needs to thrive.

Dear fferrara:
It looks like we have the next contestant for the Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire Show.

But you can be assured that I for one will be especially attuned to your posts. I sincerely hope that you continue to contribute to the boards that, as you say, helped you create your reports (free of charge, I might add).

It sounds like Elric Seven needs a restraining order.




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Author: SamIAm99 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 2740 of 24983
Subject: Re: Selling Message Boards Bad Idea Date: 2/21/2000 10:56 PM
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"doctoral students on the cutting edge of science" IMHO the majority of these folks are to busy kissing ass to their graduate thesis advisors to have any real world opinions that are worth squat to an investor

Just felt I needed to remove my lips from my PI's deriere for a moment to offer a meek defense of grad students;-). Those of us who have found our way to Fool.com and other investment sites certainly have no illusions about the difference between great science and great investments. Many of us just think we can use our knowledge in science to be better investors.

Sorry for the OT rant. Back to puckering...

-S

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Author: benschafer One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 2745 of 24983
Subject: Re: Selling Message Boards Bad Idea Date: 2/22/2000 12:57 AM
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Dear SamIAm99,

:) No rant here, please read on.

I appreciate your response and I understand that my remarks can be taken by "the majority of these folks" as being offensive, :) especially if they happen to be caught as it were "in the act". :)

Please do not take my remarks to good old clueless sununu as being specifically directed to or at you.

Being an arrogant, over 50, retired computer engineer turned rancher of a curmudgeon with a little success in making my way in the world, has a lot to do with the shock value in my response to, in my perception, offensive espousements by folks that need a clue.

I have hung out a bit in the halls of academia, hired and fired my share of bright PreDocs, summer interns, grad students and PostDocs(what do I do now that I have to think?)and they is just people, kinda like the rest of us, only with a bit of scrapped sheep hide with some ribbons and stickers on it on the wall. Yeah, I have a couple of those on my wall also. ;)

Please feel free to use chapstick on the lips, and remember that a hand warmer applied to the lips is especially appreciated on those really cold days as it produces a warm spot on the buns! :0

Think The Best Thoughts.
bens


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Author: YoHo00 Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 2750 of 24983
Subject: Re: Selling Message Boards Bad Idea Date: 2/22/2000 10:36 AM
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Dear Sununu,

I will only add to the eloquent agruments of Greg and Dave that if suddenly one person in the choir of voices is elevated to a professional distinction and you don't like it merely click that penalty box button (Sorry Greg), and you are suddenly back to the collective enterprise.

Personally, however, I will continue to read Greg's posts as well as the others and hope that TMF can continue to supply this venue.

Yo.

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Author: SamIAm99 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 2751 of 24983
Subject: Re: Selling Message Boards Bad Idea Date: 2/22/2000 10:48 AM
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bens,

No problem. I actually thought your post was funny. I was just making a half-hearted attempt to say we're not all like that. Many academics do believe we are in a utopian dreamworld, so you're point is taken.

No harm, no foul.

-S

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