Post of the Day
May 5, 2000

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Rule Breaker - Strategies

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Subject:  Re: A World of No Experts.
Author:  DavidGardner

[This discussion originated with a previous post by David Gardner.]

repoonsatad wrote:

Like what? Would you care to point out the inaccuracies so I can respond?

You may recall misstating the standard deviation in your post (0.95, rather than 0.93), as one example. Am I trying to make a big deal of saying your posting was inaccurate? Of course not; that's not my point. My point remains that none of us can live up to a standard of unforgiving perfectionism, especially in a networked world. Rather than expect that of a Motley Fool writer or a fellow message-board poster, we should instead concentrate our energies on working together to learn together. That's our focus in Fooldom, rather than waiting for someone's latest mistake (whoever that person is) in order to savage them and/or elevate ourselves. Life's too short. What is valuable and useful is the ongoing give-and-take here in our discussions, so that we might learn from each other. What subverts that, well -- I'll get to that below.

you avoided writing (NYSE: AMZN) so it doesn't appear anywhere as news for AMZN, only for CRA...

I personally never write any ticker symbols into my reports. That's done by editors, and I'm not aware of the exact process but I doubt it's particularly rigorous. I infer (I do not know) that our editors make a point of including ticker symbols when there is a significant inclusion of a company mention or analysis in a given article. My recap tonight wasn't about Amazon, but rather about The Motley Fool and who we are and what we're doing (and what we're never able to do). If you feel strongly that it should have the AMZN ticker symbol put in, I don't begrudge it. Just drop a note to and request it. Again, I'm unfamiliar with how that process works, but we're always open to suggestion for improvement. Suffice it to say that tens of thousands of people read the recap as it was, and many no doubt read your post which I took time to point to and thank you for.

You then asked for some critical feedback (very Foolish):

Perhaps you would care to point out what portions of my efforts do not contribute to the MF mission on learning together.

First of all, I don't relish the opportunity to criticize for its own sake. So my few comments below are offered delicately and respectfully. And, especially, constructively.

Let me say, then, that our spirit here of Learning Together is inherently constructive. An atmosphere where learning is encouraged would concentrate on the relentless search for better solutions, rather than carping on mistakes or using personal attack. (It's about the ideas, not the people.) We all appreciate it when our contributions are read respectfully, if not (and really, never) with TOTAL agreement. And we're more likely to go on to contribute new ideas or private opinions when, in fact, we feel encouraged by such an environment.

In a previous post, I pointed to the phrase you used, "the original story [Brian's] was 100% pure hype." This was your conclusion following a note he wrote here thanking you for your criticisms and asking for help. Not only did many people find his report useful, but most of it was quite factual and educational. To then paint it as "100% pure hype" is to demean the person who wrote it, the spirit of his effort, and the time he took to come back in here and engage your criticisms. (It is also on a deeper level, I believe, ultimately to demean yourself.)

I would therefore encourage you to be charitable to anyone you meet in Fooldom, whether they've just put up their first post or have been writing prickly columns for 15 years (we won't have any such person until we're around for another decade or so). I expect most of us are quite charitable in person; we must bring this same spirit to our conversations here with people we may never see whose opinions we may disagree with. That's also about Learning Together.

One closing thought: I don't particularly like writing notes to people who are anonymous. It is far easier to be uncharitable when one writes anonymously and therefore without accountability, in contrast to filling out one's profile and putting one's name at the bottom of one's posts. Kalongo, over on the Celera board, put up a brilliant posting of thoughts which I have always shared, as well, worth reading if you didn't see this post:

I would encourage you to join the community by letting us know who you are and putting your name at the bottom of what you write. It's a discipline and an assertion that very much leads to a spirit of collegiality and community... that leads to Learning Together.

Foolish best wishes,


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