ALEXANDRIA, VA (Dec. 14, 1999) -- I think one of the most exciting developments this decade in finance is The Motley Fool message boards. No joke. What you have here are two million people from all over the world reading and posting and learning together about investing, personal finance, money, and life. Our conversations are diverse -- with active discussions on a few thousand stocks and all manner of money issues (buying a car, buying a house, buying insurance, what box to click on your 401k)...

For Rule Breaker investors, the boards represent an invaluable resource to learn about new potential Rule Breakers. We have a message board that should be on the Favorite Boards list of every reader of this column, our Rule Breaker Companies board Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, you can find the latest thoughts on the subject from our Fool community at large. Further, for every Rule Breaker and potential Rule Breaker, we have a dedicated message board. Just type in the ticker symbol or company name on our main page and find the conversation.

Thanks to a new interactive medium, and to the people who make it breathe, you now have an unprecedented ability to stay informed about your existing investments and learn about great new ones in a more timely and information-based manner than even the most seasoned and connected investors of a previous generation. All for free.

I have about 35 Favorite message boards. I capitalize "Favorite" because that's an appellation that has meaning; it's a proper noun, in Fooldom. These are the message boards that the average Fool tracks on a regular basis, and by clicking the red heart on a message board, we add it to our Favorites screen where we can always find them again, returning to the spot where we left off.

Occasionally, I won't be able to read the boards for a week. At that point, over 1000 new unread messages have appeared on the most popular boards. Am I going to read all 1000+ messages about Excite@Home over the past week? Not a chance. That's where the Recommendations feature comes in handy.

By clicking the "Best Of..." link at the top of the message boards page, you can find the most recommended posts in any given discussion, or for all of our message boards put together. For instance, if you wanted to find the three most recommended posts on the Excite@Home message board over the past seven days, you'd type it in that way and arrive at this page. Hey, check out that top post. Nearly 100 recommendations for a message board post that was written, as it turns out, by a guy who has worked in marketing for both AOL and Excite@Home, whose message board post is written as an open letter to a CNBC anchor following an interview with Excite@Home.

Before the Internet and The Motley Fool showed up and married each other, would I personally have had any access to this fellow's thoughts? Absolutely not. That is why I spend whatever open portions of my work days I have right there smack-dab on our message boards. The information and education are amazing.

I wanted to spend the space in this column today making it clear why you'd want to use the boards, and describe some of the many neat ways you can use them. For instance, you can use our new search engine ( to search the message boards for a single word, or a phrase, or a few words, over any given time period. Research like it never was before. Information at your fingertips, in Bill Gates's words. All served up with our own special sauce: to educate, to amuse, and to enrich.

On a day in which the Rule Breaker portfolio got smashed, well, what of it? We were up that much a week or two back, and down that much a week or two before that. It's more helpful to focus on two things: (1) your longer-term performance, and (2) a constant search for more or better investments. That's why I'm out there on the boards. And I hope to see you there, too. For a beginner course on getting started with our message boards, click here.

And hey, if you're in the second half of your life and don't yet know about our newly launched Retiree Portfolios, get on over there! Our own Dave Braze presents three real-money portfolios for the second-halfers: the Racy Retiree, the Reasonable Retiree, and the Reluctant Retiree. What's in those portfolios? How are they invested? Got to click in to learn.

On a final note, this weekend The Motley Fool Radio Show does its Millennium special. We'll look back over the millennium that was, and focus ahead on the millennium that will be. Would you like to be one of an increasing number of Motley Fool readers who contributes to the show via call-in question? Hang out with us on national radio where you'll be heard by 1.6 million other Fools! Click in to our Radio Show message board to find out how.

At long last, Jeff and I are near our next addition to the portfolio. Stay tuned, and stay Foolish.

David Gardner, December 14, 1999