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May 3, 2000
Rule Breaker - Strategies
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A World of No Experts
Thank you all for your mostly negative, often constructively critical comments. Based on some of the comments I'm reading here, I'm surprised you'd even bother eating any of our donuts... let alone coming back to our donut stand every day to talk about how bad the donuts really, really are. "Much worse than the day before once again, today!"
It's quite fascinating to watch, really. :)
We have more smart people in Fool HQ today than we did a year ago, and more a year ago than the year before. We are also trying to achieve more than ever before, and by most marks internally and externally, we are on the right path toward doing so. Does that mean we're satisfied by our efforts at serving the increasing numbers of people who come to The Motley Fool (in many different formats)? Absolutely not. One of The Motley Fool's core values is a relentless search for better solutions; the search is relentless -- it never ends.
Please understand at the root that we are doing our best. At the same time, we're quite conscious that our "best" involves the effort of a handful of writers (at any given moment), versus thousands and thousands of readers, thinkers, and critics. We celebrate that. Hey, in a given recap we can pick up any topic, from pricing convertible bonds to genomic sequencing to cable modem latencies, and -- even as we try our best -- we're always going to have a number of people in our community who can do it better. Virtually every article I ever read written by a journalist on a subject I really know affords me an opportunity to criticize, because I always see at least one generalization, inaccuracy, or missing piece. And I think it behooves me to point this out to the writer and the reader, if possible. Clearly, many of you feel this, as well.
So please realize that we celebrate that, at The Motley Fool. If we were truly insecure about our ultimate lack of expertise, we wouldn't have discussion boards. We'd be a magazine, and take a few of your comments and reprint them a month later as "Letters to the Editor." For people who want to dig at every one of our columns, point out our own inaccuracies or generalizations, this space exists, and many of you come here to read just that. Great. And we even get to read other people point out your own generalizations and inaccuracies, as well.
As our company gets bigger, we will continue (always) to come short of perfection. Your idea of us may be that "we're so big now" that we are terribly irresponsible for not being experts in every sentence on every topic that we write. Even when Brian Lund yesterday admits that he's self-taught and no expert on bonds, he gets ripped by some for even presuming to write about them. Well, that's our style at The Fool. We're not experts, and don't pretend to be, and spend a lot of our time explaining that... straight down from our very name. The critical thing here is that we are moving into a world where there are no experts. No single person will ever know more than his community of readers. We recognized it a long time ago in Fooldom, and the community you come back to and participate in as you read this message is a living and thriving example of the fruit borne today from that belief held years ago.
We've even created Soapbox (www.soapbox.com) -- our newest venture -- to celebrate this world with no experts, especially not us, by enabling any of you who is very knowledgeable, curious, or passionate on a subject to write up your views and earn the approbation and profits and occasional criticism from your peers. I think it's great if repoonsatad wants to write up a lucid document on the subject of bond pricing for Soapbox. I'll be a buyer; I'm sure many of you will, as well. That's Foolishness, and whether you love it, like it, or believe it represents the end of the world, ask yourself why you come back each day. There's something ultimately pretty good and quite powerful about it, and I'm grateful to so many of you for contributing, whatever your point of view.
Finally, just because I believe we're moving into a world of no single experts does not mean I don't have high editorial expectations in terms of our efforts. I make a point of correcting inaccuracies in something I've written whenever they're pointed out to me, and I work hard at trying to get things right just as each of you do in your own work. In this I am joined by all of our writers (many of whom come to us from our community, some of the great stars of our boards whom you know as well or better than I do). If The Motley Fool editorial were consistently poor and inaccurate, we would have no customers at our donut stand and no respect from our peers. Fortunately, this is not the case, and we have our discussion boards and community to thank for this and to help further educate us and improve our efforts as we aim relentlessly for better solutions... a process that is not an end but always a beginning.
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