Decline of a once great board

Wow, I’ve never checked in to the Berkshire board after being away a decent amount of time to find such a tiny amount of new content.

I know my own participation on the Fool boards has dropped off a lot with the new software. It’s okay once you get the hang of it, but the sense of community has taken a huge hit. I’m afraid it’s dying off.

:sob: :sob: :sob:


Sadly you are very right. So many great posters and discussions are in the rearview mirror. I am impressed that the Fool has managed to kill one of the best investing forums there is. But the Fool seems to be on a long term slide into oblivion.


Yep. Almost no point in checking the boards. Even the Saul board is quiet. Hell, yahoo boards get more traffic these days.


The tragic is that it would be technically so easy to reverse what happened, by simply going back to the old board, but that this of course won’t happen.

Why not? Because of the psychological barriers for the “Masters of TMF”, as reversing what they did would mean admitting they made a huge mistake, and human nature dictates that one rather stays with a wrong decision than losing face by undoing it.


It may not be a wrong decision at all. Perhaps the motivation is to no longer support the free side, something they have done for 28 years. I will always be grateful to the Gardner brothers and this entire community of people who have allowed me to learn so much for so long. It’s very important to realize that nothing is permanent, and to be grateful for all that was.

First post may of 1995


The Fool boards were roaring during the internet craze. Then came the Nasdaq crash and they quieted down - a lot. Then things warmed up as the economy improved, but not to the extent of the 90’s, and then the housing crash brought everything down, including Fool posting volume.

That slowly rebuilt, and then. ….

Along the way the Fool opened paid boards, which split the “audience” in two. I believe there is a happy number at which the boards function well: too many people and you get the idiocy of the Yahoo! boards, too few and you get, well, nothing.

The change in software happens to come at a time where the markets languish, so I suspect there is more at play here than “the software” (which I also dislike, but I digress). I’m not sure how I would fix it, tho. Clearly the Fool felt it was time to move on, the spaghetti code of the 90’s being long in the tooth and a money loser (face it, they’ve gone to “no advertising”, a “tell” if there ever was one), so we just have to suck it up and deal with it.

Or not. I will not forgive Jim for bailing, I must say. No excuse for that, I can’t imagine what he will do with the extra 5 hours a day that’s so important :wink:


I will not forgive Jim for bailing, I must say. No excuse for that, I can’t imagine what he will do with the extra 5 hours a day that’s so important :wink:

It’s not only that he really(!) can’t use Discourse boards with his browser setup and for privacy reasons doesn’t want to change that (I fully understand that as I had the same problems but with gritted teeth do compromise).

Goofy, I suspect as several of us you also did converse directly with him about that. If not: The other reason was him seeing this as a sign that as JimKredux just said nothing is permanent - - - and that after decades of heavy participation he needed a change.


Speaking of Jim, I was wondering what might entice him back into the pool, so I asked.

He said he’s been unusually busy of late and might not have had time to post even on the old boards. As his life calms down, he admits to the same objections to the new format that many have expressed – no alternative to the whole-thread approach, no way to review posts by rec or author in advance, etc.

Although he hopes to post more on his site, he has no plans to launch a message board. He did list the characteristics that might attract him to such a board run by someone else:

I suppose if someone had a set of boards up that had the key (to me) features of the old one, I’d probably take part.
The ability to keep up to date in both threaded and unthreaded lists with lots of posts visible on a single page.
Tagging of read, unread, and ignored posts.
Single-post bookmarking and viewing, as well as whole-thread view.
Ability to do bold, underline, and fixed width bits of text.
The ability to send a message off board, without disclosing people’s email addresses unless they choose to reply.
A resident deity to whom to report and yank posts that cross the line. And to ensure that it is spamless.
And of course indexing by datahelper : )

I wondered if there might be interest among former denizens of the free Berkshire board to set up such a site. Would enough of us be willing to pay a modest subscription fee adequate to get a simple site up and running? I have zero software expertise, but I seem to recall various members of the board discussing that subject knowledgeably over the years, at least as far as I could tell. The tech of the old TMF boards was so 1990s, as people keep reminding us, so how hard would it be to replicate?

I have no idea. But I thought I’d throw it out there.


There is a bright side of a quiet board, spending more time on your own thoughts, not others.


There is so much demand for the original boards that I have a proposal. I could, or others could of course, programme a rudimentary board with near identical look and feel to the old boards and place the boards back there. The server demands for such a text-based board are ridiculously small.

I would name it something like “The Outlandish Investor” message boards to get to the earlier spirit of mocking at the mainstream of Wall St.

I would leave out all the gimmicks such as CAPS and just support reading, editing, and return to the old navigation and board separation. That would be stage 1, and we can then add a few navigation improvements such as search, however the main point would be to restore the format that people are accustomed to.

Reading would not require a login, so people could lurk - as before. A note on the signup would remind users to use a familiar username also, so acquaintances will know who they are.

Technology is about emotion as much as function, and the emotions here going in the wrong direction and causing the community to seriously rapidly decay.

Also the earlier nature of boards being separate (attendees seeing only the boards they want, and not forced to read everything) was partly what allowed communities to form. By having them all mixed up together, a dumbing down effect results, with replies gravitating towards the lowest common denominator.

But the community can still be saved.

— Manlobbi


I want to add this to your proposal:

A) It’s time critical. With each passing week more former board members will be lost.

B) As that’s already the case for many: If your proposal is realized everybody who has email addresses of longtime posters he does not see here anymore (Elias Fardo, dwerme, … many others coming to mind) should email them to point them to the new boards.


Manlobbi, if you are offering to take on the task, I would encourage you to do it. If you manage the feat of an old-boards-like experience, my guess is the interest would be strong.


Working on it now. A culture, that has been for many people been more than 20 years, shouldn’t be simply discarded.

– Manlobbi


Thank you Manlobbi :slight_smile:



I believe it will take a little time to re-establish a new landing point, but if we can spread the info quickly, it shouldn’t be too bad. But, for ex., I hadn’t been back to this board in what seems to be about a month. It looks like others haven’t been here much lately, either. I applaud any efforts to bring back our community. It would help, too, if we could control trolls and spammers. I didn’t block many on the old board, but the few I did block made for a much more tolerable board.

Count me in, my good man.


Many thanks Manlobbi. I have mostly stopped swinging by, and was lucky to chance upon this thread. I was never a regular commentator, but I read certain boards, including yours once it started, religiously for well over a decade. The culture and much else is missed, even if I rarely participated. I and many would be grateful.


Thanks very much for the initiative and the effort Manlobbi. The old board was part of my life since 1997.


Another ‘thank you!!!’.

When a significant percentage of posters on the new board were on my ‘ignored poster’ list it became clear that the new board had failed.

One useful feature however, was the ability post graphs.

1 Like

Don’t worry, I assure everything you loved will come back. The ignore feature will certainly be there, I could not leave that out given how vital that feature is.

You won’t have to wait long at all also; despite writing it line by line (old school-style) the programming is going extremely well.

I genuinely don’t want to disrupt the community here who are comfortable with this new system.

But many people have vanished, others about to vanish… so the point is simply giving an opportunity to preserve the community for such people that would have left anyway.

I have also noted the importance to construct this in haste, and I fully agree, so indeed I’m working extremely very hard and it will be up in matter of days.

If you feel inclined, please try to find people specifically who have disappeared completely via your old emails, if you can dig back, and pass on this news.

— Manlobbi



I want to join the chorus to express my appreciation for your efforts to restore the ecosystem and connect the BRK board community. I will gladly support the board financially as well.

Again, cheers for all your efforts!