Having 5,000 cocktail napkins rain down on you from the rafters might not be your idea of fun.

But if each of those napkins had a community-generated, consensus stock tip scribbled on it, I'm guessing that you might expand your definition of fun, appreciating the deluge along the way. And that's where you can be right now, thanks to the initial success of Motley Fool CAPS. There are now more than 5,000 publicly traded companies with enough individual investor input to earn a rating as part of the stock-rating service.

It's an important milestone, and it couldn't have happened without Edward.

Banking on a milestone
Edward, a CAPS player who picks and pans stocks under the screen name of avscaptain, probably didn't know that he was making history when he decided to make a bullish call on Alabama National Bancorp (NASDAQ:ALAB) last week.

With the southeastern bank in the acquisitive crosshairs of RBC Centura, his call became the 10th rating on Alabama National. That's what it takes to turn a ticker symbol into a stock tip, scoring as many as five stars depending on the community's bullish or bearish bent, weighted by the performance of the players. Edward's Thursday afternoon call was all it took to turn the financial services provider into No. 5,000 in the growing CAPS family of rated equities.

Edward is doing well in CAPS, outpicking 88% of the more than 35,000 rated players. He is picking Alabama National to outperform the market as it inches toward its $80 cash buyout. The stock has just a two-star rating, though. A third of the raters think the shares will underperform the market in the future.

One good stock idea begets more
The beauty behind pooling investor opinions is in the many ways one can massage the data. For instance, checking out Alabama National's CAPS profile page, you see that those who like the stock also tend to favor Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ:BWLD).

What does a hot regional bank in a consolidating sector have to do with touchscreen iPods and chicken wings? More than you think. As you connect the dots between the napkins, you may get to know yourself a little better. If you are bullish on Alabama National, you now know where those who agree with you are generating new stock ideas.

Sure, it's a lot like the "Movies You'll Love" suggestion page at Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and similar services at other leading e-commerce websites. The more you participate, the better picks you get. The key difference here is that Netflix has opened up my world to some great foreign flicks and unheralded thrillers, but it has never made me a better stock picker.

That's where CAPS comes in, and it wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for Edward and more than 65,000 of his market-watching peers.

The crowd of wisdom
Milestones are bookmarks with round numbers. They read well. They turn heads. Hopefully they don't distract you along the way. See, it doesn't end with Alabama National, of course. Companies like CFS Bancorp (NASDAQ:CITZ), Dionex (NASDAQ:DNEX), and UMB Financial (NASDAQ:UMBF) have gone on to take the CAPS collective that much closer to its next milestone in recent days.

As long as stocks meet the minimum requirements to be rated -- blessed with market caps greater than $100 million and share prices of $1.50 or better -- the CAPS stock-rating system will only get smarter as it digests more data. And, believe me, it can be a pretty hungry data eater.

So please do feed the bears. And the bulls.

Ten thousand cocktail napkins raining from the sky? It's only a matter of time.

Want to match stock-picking wits with me and more than 65,000 other investors? Give Motley Fool CAPS a spin, and let us know what you think. Netflix is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter recommendation. Buffalo Wild Wings is a Hidden Gems selection.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is always up for a good game. He does own shares of Netflix. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy that doubles as a cocktail napkin dispenser.