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Fool Community Help Desk / Improve the Fool


Subject:  Re: Unmarked the Board Date:  11/15/2002  11:02 AM
Author:  hocus Number:  44640 of 92340

I unmarked it months ago not out of any desire to stop improving Fooldom (quite the contrary, of course, as any business owner knows), but because a particularly prolonged period of preoccupation with things trivial became a timesink that seriously took away from my own efforts to improve the Fool.

I'd like to make a little plea here on behalf of community members who have relied on other Motley Fool boards to enhance their understanding of how to invest and handle their finances. The problem being referred to here does not apply only at this board, it applies at lots of others too. My personal concern is over the Retire Early board, which has been reduced to a place for the airing of political spats instead of the place to discuss realistic strategies for achieving financial independence that it once was and that many members of the community that congregates there would someday like it to again become.

Motley Fool's discussion boards are the best on the internet, in my opinion. I've looked for alternatives, and none measure up. But discussion boards are a new communications medium, and I don't think that anyone yet has figured out the formula for making this excting new medium as powerfully useful and popular as I believe it one day will become. I hope that there are ongoing discussions going on at TMF as to how to enhance the board discussions, not just though technical innovations but through effective board administration policies too. These boards offer incredible potential for helping middle-class people to share experiences with each other and thereby to learn about subjects of mutual concern, but much of that potential is being wasted.

A fundamental problem is the one you refer to above. People only have so much time, and it takes a lot of time to get to the valuable pieces of information posted on the boards everyday. I don't believe that the boards will reach their potential until there are ways to quickly access the best material. I believe that is going to mean in some cases limiting the abilities of some posters to conduct off-topic discussions or to post personal attacks or to disrupt conversations of people trying to use the boards for constructive purposes.

My reason for posting this here is that there has been a lot of talk of late of things that need to be done to make the Improve the Fool board more useful. I understand that concern, but each time I hear the message it pains me to think that there is not equal concern for accomplishing the same goal on all the other boards. The Improve the Fool board is special in its way, but the Retire Early board is just as "special" to me. I have put a lot of energy into a lot of posts there over the years, and have had to give up the board because of the policies by which debate there is now being controlled. There are many other fine posters who have had to give up posting at that board for similar reasons, and I think it's a shame.

I understand that there is no one at Motley Fool who can wave a magic wand and fix the problems of every board community. But I ask that, in any efforts you take to fix the problem which caused you to stop reading the Improve the Fool board for a time, you also reflect on the ways in which similar problems have caused many others to stop reading boards that were once valuable to them too. Access to the old Retire Early board was not worth $30 to me, it was worth hundreds; access to today's version isn't worth 30 cents. In your phrase, it's "a time sink."

That's a big loss in value to me. I don't place the entire blame for that loss on Motley Fool and I appreciate the benefit that Motley Fool provided me in creating a place for the board to be created in the first place. But it would mean a lot to me if Motley Fool would come up with posting administration rules that could restore to me the wonderful board that I once thought I "had."

My point is that free-for-all doesn't always work. The posters who make the most noise are sometimes the ones who care about a board the least. There are scores of posters on the Retire Early board who would love to see that board return to a discussion of on-topic issues, but there is also a vocal minority determined to block that from happening. If the operation of discussion boards is to become a longterm viable business proposition, I think there needs to be some means for majorities seeking to learn to achieve that goal without resorting to the sort of tactics sometimes employed by minorities pursuing other sorts of agendas.

If there is ever a time when anyone at Motley Fool would like to have longer conversations about this subject with me, I would be happy to meet with him or her to go over what thoughts I have in detail. I care deeply about these boards, and am disheartened that there is no suitable place for me to post on them anymore. I hope that that will change in the future, and I believe that it would be in Motley Fool's interest as well as my own if me and the many others who would like to share ideas for achieving financial independence had a place where we could go to do so without being attacked by those who find something objectionable in the idea. If there is ever anything I can do to help in this regard, I hope that someone at Motley Fool will let me know.
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