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No. of Recommendations: 174
The Fool appears to be two-pronging of late. they've always had this dual nature, but now the duality really going full tilt.

One the one side, they are embellishing the boards, making the community more interactive. That is good. Great. That is the thing the Fool truly masters.

The other prong: after years of backing away from predictions and the other tools of "the Wise", the brothers Gardner are, more and more, proclaiming financial expertise, and the Fool is becoming more and more Wise itself.

That, to my mind, is terrible.

The NOW 50? Scarecly five months old, now it headlines the indexes, standing right atop the Dow and the Naz. What's that supposed to tell me, other than send me the message that the Fool itself has some special financial expertise to offer?

And then the natural follow-up: Motley Fool Research? For sale? What's the purpose of that, other than to be greedy and make money? To punch a hole through the ozone layer of the already too-thin Nasdaq stratosphere? Or again, to suggest that the Fool has some of its own very special financial research to offer?

The time-honored Fool "training wheels" approach has satisfied an opportune market demand among new investors, and it's good stuff even for seasoned investors to fall back on when one is looking at some field of finances one does not ordinarily look at. But someone here also needs to keep in mind that the success of the Fool has never been in providing new information, in being even more expert than "the Wise". All of the information that the Fool provides, from the 13 steps to the big charts to the analysts recs to the Dogs of the Dow, has been readily available in various other publications and books, and for a long time—and the Fool has done a good job of packaging it in a very friendly, easy-to-use way. And beyond that--the community takes it from there. That's the whole Fool experience, that's what makes it different than any other place.

What the Fool has done best, indeed what has made it, is in facilitating access to information, mostly through facilitating the interaction of the community itself. What I think it does at its own peril is to provide its own information--this is an entirely different game, and will certainly open up room for charges of conflict of interest, especially if things go south.

At the Fool, you get all the great and true info from the access to charts and databases and especially from the community, and rarely from the Fool itself.

I first linked to EDGAR through the Fool boards. I first linked to Redherring. I first found Iomega sales figures through the Fool. All of this was very valuable, and all of this came about because someone at the Fool was more worried about how to get the Fool to interact better, and less worried about their own financial expertise.

Tom and Dave, if the purpose of the NOW 50 and research is to make money by demonstrating your financial acumen, I wish you wouldn't go there. I wish you would just work the boards, make them better and better, make them perfect, do the radio show and the comic-strip like newspaper columns, and publish the entry-level books so people can get started. And I wish you'd not waste time on research and indexing, two things that can only invite cynicism and catcalls, especially when the great Naz run is over.

When I see posts on propping up the value of biotechs getting 100+ recommendations, and people getting resolutely booed off boards for questioning tech PE's over 200, I begin to wonder what kind of financial education is truly being done here, and what kind of reports people are subscribing to. Help the community help itself: more Fool fun and Fool interactivity, less Fool smugness, less Fool financial "expertise". Give investors the entry-level stuff--that's what you do best. And for the stuff beyond that, help the community sort it out for themselves--they always do, and that's the best service you can provide of all.

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