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September 20, 1999

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Re: Fools Getting Attention

Author: TMFCheeze

adamison writes:

I saw a mention of the fool in this months Money magazine. It was talking about message boards. And finally I saw the fool got some financial backing this week in an article on CNET.. Fool ON

The Fools do seem to be getting a lot of attention lately. Of course, we've been followed by the national press almost from the beginning, but I think the tone of the coverage has changed recently. Used to be, we were characterized as some kind of financial media side show freak, or worse, crazed packs of drooling stock enthusiasts. Now the coveraged has placed us in some new posture -- we are still seen as outsiders, but are treated more seriously. There was coverage in the Wall Street Journal this week, too, and you know what? It was almost... respectful. It's a bit unusual, to say the least. The traditional media used to call us kooks, after all.

But what brought me here was the email Notes From a Fool, two parts one whole. It talked about how some of us only view their content(thats me), while others just use the message boards. I do view the message boards once in a while, but 90% of the post are fribble. They are yoyo's saying stock XYZ will hit $100000 a share this week up from $.50. Since everything takes time I try to channel my energy where I can get the maximum benifit for the time input, and the message boards just dont cut it. No it is not only the Fool message boards but all message boards. There is 1 good post in a mountian of 99 bad posts.

"There's one thing that Content has that the Community doesn't: an editor."

There's one thing that Content has that the Community doesn't: an editor. Yes, that means that a lot of noise comes through that you would not have to deal with otherwise, but that lack of adult supervision is an enormous advantage in many ways. It lets through a wide spectrum of opinion -- voices that might be stifled come through loud and clear. Points of view that would not have been expressed are shown plainly and in the open. This results in a level of accountability that you won't find in the old media, simply because the old media don't have the tools to accommodate it. It also brings a flood of ideas that might otherwise have been overlooked: the group mind rises to create things that single brains acting in isolation would never have considered. Stock hyping happens, but far less frequently on the Fool boards than those of other services, mainly because we avoid penny stocks that are most easily manipulated.

The Internet, quite unfairly, has a reputation one giant Bad Neighborhood, filled with abandoned cars, buildings plastered with grafitti, lurid neon lights and loud music, a place where respectable people don't go except to be drawn to their ruination. Message boards are seen as an especially dark street in that neighborhood, crawling with cutthroats and bad guys with big shoulders, brass knuckles, and no necks. It's a place where flim-flammers go to hype penny stocks, corrupt virtue, and relieve widows and orphans of their trust funds.

The truth, however, is very different. Especially, if you don't mind my boasting, here at the Fool, where the level of conversation is elevated far above any other message boards in cyberspace. The medium does take some getting used to, however, and it takes a bit of time to know what to look for, and who to pay the most attention to.

"I am knocked out by the number of intelligent people who choose to spend their time here. The time they spend here is a tremendous compliment to us..."

99-to-1? Maybe, at least on some boards. But most boards on the Fool fare much better. There are also some message boards (and I may venture to include Cheeze-O-Rama among them) where that ratio is completely reverse; that is, you have to go through 99 good posts in order to find the one bad one. And if the signal to noise ratio is now, an individual can take action to improve the quality of the discussion by adding his own voice. You are only helpless if you treat the boards as a book or a magazine that you cannot reply to.

I am knocked out by the number of intelligent people who choose to spend their time here. The time they spend here is a tremendous compliment to us -- so many talented people do us the honor of coming to these boards to share themselves with us. It is humbling, realy.

I'd better shut up before somebody accuses me of laying on too thick. Let me put it this way. If I watch telelvision for three hours, I leave feeling like I've wasted my time. If I spend three hours on the message boards, I leave feeling like I've accomplished something. Does that make sense?