Motley is the idea that our publications should not constrain themselves to parroting a single "company line." We glory in the practice of letting our writers and analysts put forth views that do not agree with the "official" recommendation position of our premium advisory services because that leads investors to consider multiple sides to the investing argument. And when they do that, they usually make better, more informed decisions.

Still confused?

A common question we get within our newsletters runs along these lines: "I thought you said <fill in company here> was a buy. How come you said that it was a sell over there?"

"Over there" may be referring to an article on our free site, or it might be an articulated contrary viewpoint on another one of our premium services.

Each of our premium advisory services originates, publishes, provides, and supports its own independent view of any given investment. The most recent view can be found on the company summary page, accessed through the service's Recommendations tab. Those contain the official position.

If there is a change to the official position, the service will announce it in an update or an issue or (rarely) a special email.

However, one service's official position does not prevent others from disagreeing and putting forth other arguments regarding the stock. The Motley Fool, as a company, long ago encouraged all Fools -- whether customers or employees -- to think independently and to post their views on places such as our discussion boards, our CAPS blogging pages, and our public website, As a consequence of this, even among our own properties -- premium advisory services like Rule Breakers or Stock Advisor -- we allow each to operate independently of the others and potentially arrive at opposing views. Thus, if you are subscribed to one of our services and see a Motley Fool article or viewpoint that runs counter to what your subscription service tells you, and if you're wondering what your service thinks, re-read the bolded lines above.

We encourage this free and independent thinking because it is our firm belief that it serves every investor's best interest to encounter and consider opposing viewpoints. Only by considering both sides of an argument (bull and bear, for instance), can one come to the most informed decision for one side or the other. We do recognize that with this benefit comes a drawback -- namely, that some members (particularly newer ones) may be initially confused or flummoxed that there's no official corporate line or party line for any given stock. We regret that anyone might ever feel this way, and an article like this one is written specifically to clear up any confusion on the part of the public.

An example

Writer/analyst Anand Chokkavelu kicked off the 2011 new year with an article outlining some reasons why he might sell Netflix in 2011. By direct contrast, at the beginning of 2011 Netflix was an active and Core recommendation of Motley Fool Stock Advisor.

Quick quiz, dear reader (feel free to "cheat" and review the information above prior to forming your answer):

Is Anand's viewpoint the official Stock Advisor viewpoint of David or Tom Gardner?

Answer: NO.

We knew you'd get that right! ;)

Please note that this does not mean that what Anand wrote is invalid or should not be considered. Whether or not any given investor wishes to consider it is up to them, of course, but we are pleased and indeed proud to provide the opportunity for anyone to think harder or to rethink their position on Netflix -- and to talk about it on our discussion boards.

Yes, this can be initially confusing for newcomers who are used to other organizations (Wall Street firms, etc.) who assert and toe a "party line" on any given stock. For that again we apologize, but we hope you understand why we've decided to do things this way.

That's Motley.