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Step 13: Make friends and influence Fools.

In May 1997, the world's greatest chess master, Garry Kasparov, was famously defeated in an historic six-game match. What made the duel so momentous was that the winning "player" wasn't human; it was a computer built by IBM, nicknamed Deep Blue. The final game wasn't even close: Using its 11.38 gigaflops of calculating power, it took Deep Blue less than one hour and only 19 moves to crush the reigning world champion.

So what exactly does the Deep Blue story have to do with you and your portfolio? Everything.

Deep Blue is how you beat the market
In the next day's paper the headlines blared, "Machine Beats Man!"

Machine beats man? That's not how we Fools saw it. You see, the machine didn't beat Kasparov. His real opponents were the dozens of IBM programmers who teamed up with the world’s top chess experts to program the machine that beat the man.

It took the collective intelligence of the world’s masters to beat the mighty Kasparov. Key difference.

Now imagine if investors pooled their collective brain power and funneled it into a stock-picking supercomputer. If it worked like Deep Blue, the result would be, well, mind-boggling. It would spit out better information, deeper insights, broader perspectives, and bigger profits than any single mom-and-pop investor, Wall Street analyst, or even an entire hedge-fund research team could get by going it alone.

That was exactly our thinking when we launched our own supercomputer called CAPS.

What everyone thinks about your stocks
Like Deep Blue, the CAPS database captures the collective insights and opinions of tens of thousands of individual investors (as well as more than 100 professional Wall Street firms). Want to find out instantly how a stadium full of people rate the stocks you own (or any of the roughly 5,000 rated companies on the service)? Find out right now -- it's free! Here's how it works:

  • Members rate the stocks they own or follow, and predict whether they will outperform or underperform the market during a given time frame. 
  • The CAPS supercomputer then assigns a rating from one to five stars to each stock based on all of the opinions. But not every opinion carries equal weight. Accuracy counts.
  • The proprietary CAPS algorithm takes into account each member's stock-picking ability when it assigns the star ratings. The more accurate your predictions, the more they influence the stock's rating.

When you log on to CAPS, you enter a world of interactive, community-based research from doctors, techies, homemakers, accountants, mall rats, and investment junkies of all shapes and sizes. It's a completely new model for stock research, and it's much more powerful than the opinion of one lone analyst. And the CAPS community is just one way to tap into the experiences, expertise, and insights of Fools. 

The world's greatest investing water cooler
If you haven't yet spent some time hanging out on our discussion boards, you're missing a lot. Our discussion boards feature thousands of conversations on myriad topics. They've helped people pay off tens of thousands of dollars of debt, find great investments, raise money for the needy, quit smoking, survive the Internet bust of 2000, tile their kitchen floors, tar and feather the disgraced giant called Enron, get help with their stupid computers, and make it through the meltdown of 2008. Fools (emphasis on the plural) discovered a little upstart company called Iomega. And it was The Motley Fool community that launched a grassroots campaign that led to the passage of the SEC's "Regulation Full Disclosure" in 2000.

Come on in to strike up a conversation, chime in on one already in progress, or just listen in (or "lurk," as it's known among seasoned discussion board posters) -- all are welcome. Never again do you have to quote your portfolio, read your 10-Qs, check the stock charts, keep tabs on the news, and track your performance alone. This 24/7 sounding board means that no investor has to settle for solitude.

Of course, you're probably wondering …

Who are these people, anyway?
Sure, we're biased, but we think our community members are smart, opinionated, informed, generous, and helpful. Several have been on Jeopardy! (and won!). Many are doctors, lawyers, and teachers. You can learn a lot from them, and they from you. But you don't have to take our word for it. Here's how a Fool we know as Windowseat described her first impression of The Fool:

The Motley Fool was a revelation. I discovered that ordinary people, people who didn't have millions of dollars, people who studied the stock market on their own, could still invest small amounts of money. I found the message boards, and, purely by accident, discovered that the first rule of message boards was "Thou Shalt Not Write in All Caps."

THAT'S A GOOD RULE-OF-THUMB TO RE- … oops … remember. On the boards you'll also meet people like Tom Engle (we know him as TMF1000 on the boards), who discovered the Fool community back in 1995 and has been an active Fool -- with more than 20,000 posts under his belt -- since then:

The chat rooms, much like today's TMF discussion boards, introduced me to stocks I had never considered as investments before; it changed the ways I thought about building portfolios; it expanded my realm of research which eventually resulted in much wider circles of competence … All I had to do to learn it was to ask someone who knew, and those in the know were everywhere …  I seldom buy a stock without first posting a page on the appropriate board about my target stock and carefully read the feedback. No matter how long I research a company, after I posted my research someone would provide additional facts that supported my thesis and/or additional risk factors I hadn't considered.

Since the first pioneering messages Motley Fool co-founders David and Tom Gardner posted on the Internet frontier in 1993, more than 17 million posts have been written by the Windowseats, and TMF1000s, and all of the people who make up this diverse, globe-spanning community of Fools.

Hop on board(s)!
To get a sense of the community, skim the index of discussion boards, or head straight to one that focuses on a company you own. We've got discussion boards dedicated to individual companies -- Berkshire Hathaway, Apple, Disney, and General Electric, or whatever stock is in your portfolio. Check out some of the great conversations about more general topics, such as:

As you poke around, you can designate boards as your "Favorites," and we'll park links to those boards on your "My Fool" page. You can also pick Fools you want to follow by making them "Favorite Fools," or place those who annoy you in a "penalty box," so you won't even see their posts. Get to know the people behind the posts by reading their profiles and interviews. (Our discussion board tutorial and FAQ covers the most frequent questions we get.)

You know more than you think
The Motley Fool isn't a magazine you buy to thumb through at the airport or a book that distills a set of rules that may or may not apply to you. The passive one-way/read-only relationship was never what the Fool was about.

From the very beginning, we've seen our customers not as "readers" or "subscribers," but as members of our Motley Fool community. As Deep Blue illustrated, millions of brains are better than one. Now, come join us and find out what millions of Fools can do.

Action: Ask your most burning money question. Click here, hit "Post New" (in the upper left corner) and fire away, Fool! This "Welcome, Fools!" discussion board is all yours. (We set it up just for folks like you making your way through this 13-step primer.) Ask that burning money question (really, no one will judge!) or answer someone else's. Tell us about the worst stock tip you ever received. Dish about your best money-saving secret. Just pop in and introduce yourself. It's a new Fools mixer (minus the awkward silences and crusty spinach dip). Welcome, Fool!


Read/Post Comments (30) | Recommend This Article (170)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On November 13, 2009, at 10:53 PM, Latimeria wrote:

    This information is very useful for beginning investors. Good job !!

  • Report this Comment On November 20, 2009, at 1:21 PM, TMFSchool wrote:

    Thank you, Latimeria, and welcome aboard!

    Foolishly (of course!),

    Dayana

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2009, at 3:24 PM, clearbluewater wrote:

    thanks, this steps help me a great deal....thanks

  • Report this Comment On June 22, 2010, at 1:17 AM, deano38 wrote:

    wow! Lots of info but great stuff to digest

  • Report this Comment On September 22, 2010, at 3:28 AM, adamlogan313 wrote:

    Just read all 13 steps including many of the links to other articles in one sitting, the content was that good.

    Of course I gotta go back and pick up from the step that applies to me; debt free from my Associates degree & recently inherrited a lifetime's worth of savings from my father who passed away half a year ago from cancer of the liver.

    I relate very strongly with the phrase "Every dollar is an investment" and the whole selling your stocks when your 80 and high tailing it to Las Vegas is less of a joke than some might think. My dad didn't make it to "Vegas" although he had loose plans to go on a cruise with a friend.

    Will post on the Fools forum soon! Glad to have found this remarkable resource.

  • Report this Comment On December 17, 2010, at 12:43 PM, foolishlg wrote:

    this is my first posting ....glad to be part of this community. Just became a member and hope to put everything I have read into practice.....

  • Report this Comment On December 27, 2010, at 12:36 PM, Mary953 wrote:

    Wonderful! I want to put together a new index to welcome new members to CAPS. After 2 years here and over 90 posts, I have just found this super resource. It is definitely going onto the list. Thanks again.

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2010, at 11:33 PM, evo4 wrote:

    ive just read all the 13 steps and it is very informative information. i am middle age and not young or old but non the less i still have a fear of jumping in the 'investing' world. but with the help of other 'fools' out there and this great resource hopefully i will beat my fear.....and the s&p!

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2011, at 11:48 AM, TWF0369 wrote:

    The 13 steps are very informative. I can't wait to start reading the CAPS.

    Fool Out!

  • Report this Comment On January 30, 2011, at 8:12 PM, dadb2 wrote:

    Just signed up for the service and am compleatly confused, hopefull it will all clear up in the near future. am tired of the bla bla bla returns my mutuals have been giving me, time to grow up and put my big boy pants on and get with it!

  • Report this Comment On February 12, 2011, at 4:02 AM, jobspeak wrote:

    how does the market beat Deap BLue?

  • Report this Comment On February 12, 2011, at 6:13 PM, FoolNMe2 wrote:

    Spotted myself in a few of the 'speculative' comments; but a fascinating compendium of fundamental insights. I think it's worth more than "adding zeros" to the end of a paycheck amount; growth, one step at a time.

    BTW, I usually request the person making out the check to add 9's instead of zeros....every little bit helps!

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2011, at 8:49 PM, pdbaker27 wrote:

    As a 28 year old man looking back on years of failed financial planning I see a bright future ahead of me, just by reading these 13 steps. From having almost no clue how all this investment and retirement stuff works I now have a plan that will get me to where I want to be by the time I reach 65. Now I just need to pay off all that ugly debt and put my money to work.

    Thank you Motley Fool, thank you.

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2011, at 1:05 AM, toonewtoFool wrote:

    New member and I Love being a Fool already. Treasure Trove of Insightful Helpful Information. Thank You.

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2011, at 8:21 AM, BalinesePrince wrote:

    Extraordinary stuff, simple to understand and an inspiration to start my investing adventure. Completely free as well - I have just invested half an hour or so reading through the 13 steps - Without question a magnificent debut investment even if I do say so myself. Thanks to all at Motley Fool

  • Report this Comment On August 13, 2011, at 12:40 PM, naveenfool wrote:

    Great advise,got confident to move ahead in life.i need to pay-off my debts & start investing in stocks.

    Thanks FOOL. :-)

  • Report this Comment On August 14, 2011, at 5:47 PM, flyingswamy wrote:

    You guys keep it simple but deliver the profound! Thank you.

  • Report this Comment On November 07, 2011, at 5:10 PM, maazzoo69 wrote:

    WORTH MY TIME!!!! Reading this 13 steps!!! Let's beging investing and meeting awesome people in this website!

  • Report this Comment On January 02, 2012, at 6:08 PM, Foolprosperity wrote:

    Just finished the First 13 Steps - great info. I've just paid off my debt and ready to get started utilizing your sound advice and participating in CAPS.

    Thanks Much!!

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2012, at 4:59 AM, jjs061881 wrote:

    I am agreeing with the masses here, and just showing support, due to the fact that I could not bring myself to stop reading after I started at #1.

    What a wealth of information is laid before us "newbie fools" here! The gathering process has begun and I only wish this platform, to start at, was discovered years earlier by this "fool". At 30years old though, I just hope there is enough time in my future to realize the outcome of my "mixed A, B, C, & D decisions".

    Day 1 of the rest of my life! My future!

    Thanks again Fools!

  • Report this Comment On February 27, 2013, at 2:12 PM, Unison2k1 wrote:

    I am a novice investor, shelling out $$$$ in mutual fund fees. One of my colleague Fool, introduced me to investing in Stocks and asked me to read fools.com.... Here I am. The 13 steps kept me glued to my monitor and now, i am more than eager to invest money in stocks. Fools.com made me believe in Stock Markets.... Soon I will start posting my baby steps experience in investing.....

    Cheers

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2013, at 2:16 PM, BYL5000 wrote:

    I've been A Fool subscriber for a little while, but just read the 13 steps and it's got my brain moving. I feel so foolish.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 8:25 PM, ArthurRandall wrote:

    Wow I've just read all 13 Steps in one setting, what a wealth of knowledge! It gives me hope that my spouse and I might actually retire in style by applying these steps and that we might make friends and influence Fools, especially our children.

    Thank You!

  • Report this Comment On September 11, 2013, at 8:42 AM, punitbook wrote:

    Its too much but not least even it could be much better by adding one or two then I might say there is 15 fool idea that are more cool

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 6:24 PM, ggb wrote:

    I like the idea of having others evaluate my thought process behind stock selections. We all learn in the process..........

  • Report this Comment On February 22, 2014, at 9:46 PM, OldSchoolFool wrote:

    Received a windfall about 3 months ago and I have been cramming ever since to get up to speed so I can put it to work. Savings account interest rates are a joke right now and I know there are better ways to put my money to work.

  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2014, at 6:39 PM, rperubotla wrote:

    Thank you. Good articles.

  • Report this Comment On March 11, 2014, at 8:18 PM, richak28 wrote:

    I cannot say how many books I've read about stocks and investing since I started in the early '90's but this is the best that I've found to date...I'm hooked on Fools... Thanks to TMF...

  • Report this Comment On March 30, 2014, at 9:55 AM, Baitshark wrote:

    "13 Steps" rocks! Bocce partners? I haven't even posted that to FB yet. You know me too well. Hopefully I'll get to know you as well, if not better, TMF. Thank you for the Welcome mat and comfy chair.

  • Report this Comment On April 22, 2014, at 8:18 AM, howlinchick wrote:

    Great article. Something nudged me to review the thirteen steps today. Luckily I did because I bumped into a step that I totally didn't remember...#13. Now I realize that I need to get on the ball and update my winning portfolio as well as participate with CAPS ratings...other Fools depend on me. Although I am still a lurker, I hope to one day have the gumption to say something meaningful about stocks that interest me. Thanks Fool.com

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