"Investors helping investors beat the market." That's how The Motley Fool's CAPS community describes itself and to date there are over 125,000 CAPS members doing just that. Day in and day out, CAPS members share their thoughts on thousands of stocks while the behind-the-scenes CAPS' rating algorithms rank CAPS members and stocks, making it easy to find the best performing stock pickers and the community's favorite stocks.

But with almost three million stock recommendations on nearly 5,400 stocks, not to mention those 125,000 member portfolios and a countless number of member blogs, the big question is where to start. Though there's no right answer, I thought I'd kick off your travels with some highlights from the community over the past week.

Let's blog it out
CAPS' blogs are a great way for members to share broad market thoughts or get more in depth on a particular stock idea or investment theme. Every week members are adding reams of great new insight in this part of the community.

JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and the big banks got bailed out, then General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Chrysler, and now GMAC is in on it. Are you sick of all of these government handouts? CAPS All-Star DemonDoug certainly is; he went ahead and started what he calls the "'Anti-Bailout Support Group' post." Care to chime in? Click through to DemonDoug's blog. And as long as we're visiting DemonDoug, why not also check out his predictions for 2009 -- though if you're hoping for good news on GM or GE (NYSE:GE), he's not the guy to ask.

Remember real estate? It crashed at the front end of this financial meltdown -- though I can't blame you for letting banking and auto bailouts push it out of your mind. EverydayInvestor has brought the real estate doldrums back to us with a story of his property losses and the lessons he's gleaned from them.

And finally, we get a little bit of tongue-in-cheek humor from TMFBomb, who has suggested a bunch of headlines to help us remember just how, ahem, fun 2008 has been.

The best of the best weigh in
The top 10 players on CAPS don't keep their spots by being complacent. Most have been pretty active over the past week, sticking their thumbs in both directions.

No. 4-ranked nicvo was particularly active during the past week, handing out red thumbs to an army of bulletin-board and pink-sheet stocks. He did, however, find some time to break away from his search for obscure junk and give thumbs-ups to both JPMorgan and Dow Chemical (NYSE:DOW). Though nicvo was mum on his reasoning behind both picks, I'd probably guess that he thinks Dow got creamed a bit too much by the market when Kuwait pulled out of their proposed joint venture.

goldminingXpert had no shortage of red thumbs, along with some harsh words for homebuilder Meritage Homes (NYSE:MTH). Apparently judging that his thumbs-down wouldn't carry the extent of his message, he added: "You caused the housing bubble. You killed the economy. You die. Now!"

If you're looking for outperform calls, sixth-ranked tenmiles may be the member to visit. This CAPS All-Star made nine new calls over the past week, six of which were thumbs-ups. These positive calls included Central European Distribution and Barrett Business Services. On the latter, tenmiles pitched:

Barrett looks cheap in here for patient types. Debt free grower with roughly 40% of current market cap in cash. Stock buyback in place, along with decent (3%) dividend. Primary business(85%) is professional employer organization (PEO) contracts - analysts have noted this is a better business than traditional staffing - higher margins and better client retention. Long term survivor trading like pure, depressed staffing play

Want more? You can quickly track down the full portfolios of CAPS top members by clicking through here.

Stock pickers' delight
And for the stock pickers out there, articles throughout the week on Fool.com have been highlighting some interesting stock ideas based on CAPS community data. Morgan Housel's "5-Star Stocks Begging to be Bought" dug up seven stocks -- including Dow Chemical and Ingersoll-Rand -- that fit such Foolish criteria as 3%-plus dividend yields, low price-to-book values, and (of course!) a five star CAPS rating.

Need to pull out some magic in January? Fellow Fool Rich Duprey admits that investing solely based on the month of the year isn't the most Foolish of strategies, but he's managed to come up with a list of five stocks that have consistently put up some good looking January returns. Pair this with the CAPS community ratings, and "5 Stocks Resolve to Outperform" might give you a reason to take a closer look at EZCORP or inVentiv Health (NASDAQ:VTIV).

And finally, those looking to add some growth flavor to their portfolio may want to check out Tim Beyers' "5 Stocks Ready for Liftoff." Here, Tim focused on high-growth companies that have also been highly rated by CAPS members. Tim even dug in a bit on his favorite of the group, Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG).

You can go your own way
But of course this all just scratches the surface of CAPS, and there's no right or wrong way to use the wealth of information that members have contributed. If nothing above caught your fancy, you can always just click on through to CAPS and blaze your own trail.

More CAPS Foolishness:

On Jan. 12, 2009, Fool co-founder David Gardner, Jeff Fischer, and their Motley Fool Pro team will accept new subscribers to their real-money portfolio service. Motley Fool Pro is investing $1 million of the Fool’s own money in long and short positions in a range of securities, including common stocks, put and call options, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). They also incorporate proprietary CAPS "community intelligence" data into their research. To learn more about Motley Fool Pro and to receive a private invitation to join, simply enter your email address in the box below.

Barrett Business Services is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems Pay Dirt recommendation. inVentiv Health is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection. JPMorgan Chase is an Income Investor recommendation. Meritage Homes is a Stock Advisor selection. Dow Chemical is a former Income Investor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer owns shares of Dow Chemical, but does not own shares of any of the other companies mentioned. The Fool’s disclosure policy took great pleasure in ushering out 2008. Good riddance!