Community Posting Guidelines

Before posting on The Motley Fool Message Boards, please read our Terms of Service and follow these guidelines.

How to Post


How NOT to Post


 

Make Your Posts Informative

Our foolishly high standard for posting includes your having done a spot of research on your own. For example, if you have a question or comment about a particular company, it's polite to type out the company name AND ticker symbol (not one or the other) to make yourself as clear to the reader as possible. At the very least, this saves everyone the trouble of having to run a magnifying glass down the business page to find your stock. We also love posts that explain a company's product or business, particularly when a reader is sharing expertise gained in the workplace. If you work with networking equipment, for example, we all want to hear your viewpoint on the hottest new thing in "connectivity." And of course, numerical research work is always a bonus, like earnings estimates, or balance-sheet info. Always keep in mind that you're more likely to draw responses and additional help when you provide some information yourself.

Nobody likes posts that offer little or no information, contain emotion at the expense of reason, hype an investment opportunity, or attack another person. Example:

"XXL, this Ones HOTTT! BUy before monday! Should Double in 6 Mths!!!! anyone who disagrees is a jurk."

The exclamation points in the above post, the absence of a company name, the complete lack of any financial information, and of course the overcelebrated hotness of the stock will only repel thoughtful readers, whether novice or advanced, whose time online has just been wasted by reading such a post.

This is not to say, either, that you have to write a three-paragraph note providing elaborate information about a company you want to ask a question about. Just that we want the reading of our message boards to be time well-spent for everyone, and that means providing as much information, thought, and help as possible.

Needless to say, each stock folder is limited to posts about that particular stock. Common sense tells you that if you want to post about about a different company, to do so in the appropriate folder or in the "Other Stocks" folder.
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Agree to Disagree (With Civility)

We fully expect The Motley Fool Web Site to be a delightful and resourceful use of your time. We have found in the past that, for whatever reason, we've attracted intelligent, reasonable people who are frequently Foolish enough to make a joke at their own expense . . . people who, like the greatest investors of all, know very well what a humbling experience investing can sometimes be.

That said, from time to time the possibility exists that somebody will lash out at you or someone else for a statement made on one of our message boards. It can be painful, annoying, or downright unsettling when someone declares that a stock you presently hold is a screaming short. We know the feeling, and fully expect some investors to yell, "It's a short!" at some of the purchases in our Portfolio. (And, ah yes, "Fool!" at some of our short picks.) The rule throughout the Fool:

When necessary, agree to disagree respectfully.

If you disagree with an opinion set forth, challenge that opinion; refrain from ever attacking the person who asserted it. The online jargon for personal attacks is "flaming," an unfortunate phenomenon that is too much a part of many areas of cyberspace. In our area, we simply won't tolerate it. The many people who read through our message boards do so primarily to locate information and opinion. Where that includes opposing opinions generating a lively discussion, it's a wonderful situation! Where that includes the uglier aspects of human nature, it's a waste of time.

Any Fool knows that online investors want information, disinterested analysis, entertaining reading, and friendly guidance. We aim to preserve it for them; you probably do, too. At least one other online service has allowed its financial area to dissolve into hype, insults, and counter-insults. (Money sometimes does bad things to people.) Of course, the nice thing about investing is that, unlike philosophy, arguments end when the passage of time demonstrates the correctness of one opinion or the other. That's another reason to agree to disagree . . . because you (or we, or the next Fool) could easily be proved wrong.
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Type Like a Newspaper Editor

As well as you can, format your posts to look like the print in a respectable newspaper. That means employing capital and lowercase letters in a traditional manner — neither all caps, nor all lowercase. Capital letters look like SHHHHOUTING on a board, making a message written entirely in capital letters an eyesore. The indiscriminate use of lowercase letters, on the other hand, reveals a writer who wouldn't even take the time to capitalize the first darn letter of every sentence. This person is either hurried or lazy. Neither trait is desirable for an investor.
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Don't Send Questions via E-Mail

For legal and ethical reasons, Advisors, Analysts, and Editors cannot, and will not, answer e-mail investment or personal finance questions. Thus, please submit all such questions to our message boards themselves. (You'll reach a much larger audience, and our collective intelligence is vast.) If you don't get a question answered on the boards, ask it again . . . someone will eventually get to it. And remember, there's always the Ask the Foolish Question folder.
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You're in Public (AKA the "Keep Pants Up" rule.)

Please be aware that anything you post in any of the Fool folders may be excerpted. While e-mail is your business, the message boards are part of the The Motley Fool Online.

Reiterating: Your posted notes may be excerpted by The Motley Fool.
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Copyright Violations

Rule:
It is a violation of our Rules — and more importantly, United States law — to copy materials from copyrighted sources and post them on our message boards or in an email. Copyrighted sources can mean anything from The Wall Street Journal to another user's writings on the boards or in an email. Such postings may be a violation of copyright law. Contributors may summarize articles and other writings and post an occasional sentence or two, but not the entire piece. Articles copied into our boards in their entirety will be removed. Summarizing is giving a brief outline of the article in your own words, or the quoting of brief passages in combination with your own relevant thoughts. Repeat violators of this Rule are subject to action, up to and including account termination. For more information on Copyright Law and the Internet, please visit:
http://www.templetons.com/brad/copymyths.html

Reason:
We won't tolerate anyone playing copycat with us, and we must insist that our readership likewise respect anyone else's work.
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No Advertising or Solicitation

Rule:
It is against our Rules to advertise or solicit business any place in Fooldom without our permission. This Rule is strictly enforced, and if violated, may result in the termination of your account. Solicitation includes, but is not limited to, requests to be e-mailed, the posting of phone numbers for your business, and the posting of one's own Web site address, if that site has a substantial commercial element to it.

Reason:
Many people who are online do not want to pay to read solicitations and thinly veiled sales pitches in the message folders. This is like paying good money to see a movie and being forced to watch commercials. Not very Foolish. Additionally, paid-for advertising is a substantial component of our business. If individuals post solicitations in the folders, we lose our advertisers and you lose your ability to avoid advertising if you're not interested in it.

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No Touting, Hyping or Other Disruptions

Rule:
The posting of notes touting stocks which are unrelated to the folder title is a violation of our Rules. The same is true for the posting of messages that are solely designed to disrupt the conversation or annoy its participants. The Motley Fool reserves the right, to be exercised in our sole discretion, to proceed with account termination without prior notice if we see it occur.

Reason:
The message folders dedicated to individual stocks lose their usefulness if they are filled with off-topic promotional messages or messages that are posted just or the sake of mischief. Our readers don't like it, and we won't tolerate it, as it destroys the usefulness of the folder subject and changes (for the worse) the tone of the conversation. A forum like ours is useful only to the extent that the people who use it do so in good faith.

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No Spamming

Rule:
It is a violation of our rules to "spam" a folder or folders, by posting the same note on multiple occasions in a single day. Repeat violators of this rule will have their account terminated.

Reason:
The stock folders are for discussion and analysis. If a member frequently repeats the same message, it becomes difficult to have an intelligent discussion of anything.

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No Posting of Stock Quotes

Rule:
Any contributor who repeatedly posts stock quotes into folders is subject to account termination, and all posts containing such material may be deleted.

Reason:
Posting of stock quotes in message folders can render those folders useless to meaningful discussion about company fundamentals. No account will be terminated without the individual receiving at least one warning.

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