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I'm replying to elliotyoung's comments in post 279069 (, as wells as other comments on this topic, in this thread because (1) I don't wish to distract from anyone's efforts in the above thread to woo the person in question back onto the message board, and (2) in spite of the many votes to "end this now", "this" has now spread to four threads, which I'm sure is making it difficult to follow.

As you probably know, message boards were in their infancy the etiquette was horrible. Most message boards were on AOL since they were the major consumer platform. On boards, people often would insult, name call, and be jerks to others. One great exception was our board. We were civil from the start but every once in awhile, we weren't. This is one of the times. We all make mistakes. But please don't quit because a person made a mistake.

For the record, I don't believe I've made any mistakes in facts or judgments, which are based on twenty years of observation and spot-checking the person's posts at levels of scrutiny that I doubt very many other people would be willing or able to match. I stand by every word I've posted, including the precise language that some have described as "intemperate".

If you believe I've been uncivil, then I include you (as well as FlyingCircus and rrjjgg) in the invitation that I offered to Charlie and Hank:

The next time the poster in question posts false claims based on deceitful methodology, I will simply alert you two by email and give one of you the chance to set the record straight in a way that you deem more befitting of this message board, hopefully with better results. Only if neither of you steps up will I do so myself. How does that sound?

So far, no one has expressed any willingness to lead by example on this matter. The only attempt at constructive feedback that I've gotten is this:

Just state the problem in the METHOD that invalidates the claimed results. If the methods maker disagrees with your analysis, an educational thread will surely be launched. If he agrees, expect a thank you or an apology.

The only problem with this suggestion is that it has already been tried for at least fifteen years--all the education in the world has not produced the slightest change in the deceptive behavior. All the polite options that I can think of have been exhausted.

So I think the group would be wise to come up with an acceptable protocol for calling out dishonesty on the message board for what it is, especially one that does not run afoul of The Motley Fool's code of conduct. To quote/paraphrase Zeelotes, where there is no accountability, dishonesty is inevitable. To assume that among over a quarter of a million posts there have never been any false or exaggerated claims, falsified data, deceit, etc, and that all mistakes have been innocent, would be naive. Also, it's absurd to think that "Fuskie" is going to moderate over an arcane controversy like this.

Another point for the record: I think the person in question has been mostly honest, namely, wherever it has been easy for the group to hold him accountable. For example, I don't think I've ever seen anything intentionally deceptive about his posts on market timing (which anyone can usually replicate in Excel); his stock screens developed at and; or his ETF-based screens that can be verified with the GTR1 backtester or, and for which the same survivorship bias and crystal ball issues do not exist (at least not for the big ETFs representing major indexes and asset classes).

However, where it has not been easy for people to scrutinize his work, he has demonstrated a willful disregard for the most basic principles of backtesting (avoidance of survivorship bias and crystal ball effects, or merely acknowledging these when they are unavoidable with the tools he is using) and a resistance to being questioned on these matters, even responding to polite, constructive criticism by calling for a referendum on whether he should continue sharing on the message board at all, or as Elan put it, by threatening to take his marbles home.

For example, for many years (2001-2012) he was one of the very few people with access to the Zacks backtester. In spite of others regularly pointing out to him that the Zacks backtester suffered from serious survivorship bias and crystal ball effects when it came to certain screening fields he was using (e.g., S&P 500 membership), he just kept on churning out false results, even refusing to include any of the suggested disclaimers. It was only when I gained access to historical Zacks data myself and added it to the GTR1 backtester, thereby enabling others to "torpedo" his screens, that he finally stopped. But he did so only to move on to PortfolioVisualizer (which allows "backtesting" on a survivors-only stock database), where he has been repeating exactly the same errors, with exactly the same disregard for the corrections and suggestions from others.

All that's required is... a de-escalation of the language used to call out mistakes, not attack words usually used to ascribe bad motives...

I would like to point that there is some amusing irony (and in the above case, hypocrisy) in these sermons that are coming my way. It only just now occurred to me, but both the worst, and least accurate accusations of bad motives that have ever been made on this message board were against me back in this thread (which was probably the biggest thread hijack ever as well): As you can see, FlyingCircus was among those who essentially accused me of defrauding several dozen donors and volunteers and absconding with the data they had collected. Elan (who probably has a better memory than FlyingCircus), was among them as well, which I'm guessing might be what he was alluding to when he posted this yesterday:

As I’ve watched this controversy unfold, I’ve thought about how fortunate we are that Robbie isn’t so thin skinned. Just imagine for a moment, if you will, what would happen if Robbie were as thin skinned as tpoto.


In any case, I haven't held grudges against anyone (including FlyingCircus) for the accusations that were made against me in 2005, partly because I had, in fact, disappeared for a while.

Robbie Geary
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