FAQ Dilemma

Hi Everyone,

As I’m sure some of you have heard (it’s been discussed a little on this board), Ticker Guides are going to have to begin obeying strict trading rules going forward. I’ve decided to continue as a TG and will adhere to those policies. One, however, causes a bit of an issue with the FAQ: I am not able to trade in any stock I mention or discuss for 2 market days before and after such mention. Now I’m generally fine with that, but the FAQ contains a lot of stocks in it that Saul mentions as examples in various posts. Frankly, I don’t even know what all companies are mentioned without going through the whole thing and compiling a big list. But I do know that I own some of them, and may choose to buy others at some point.

To avoid accidentally running afoul of the trading restrictions, or really boxing myself in at the end/beginning of each month, I basically see a few reasonable ways forward:

  1. I can remove all references to companies and tickers from Saul’s posts in the FAQ. This is my least favorite option, as I think the companies often are illustrative of Saul’s point or provide important context.

  2. Someone else can take over maintaining the FAQ going forward.

  3. I can post the FAQ less regularly, during self-imposed “trading free” periods where I won’t do any trades during some week just to play it safe. I’m thinking probably once a quarter, but it wouldn’t be on any specific schedule.

It’s important to me that the FAQ continues to be of a real benefit to the community, so I’m open to other suggestions. I guess I could also setup a poll to see what people think. But what are everyone’s thoughts?



Question: How much does the FAQ change month to month? If not very much, then why not put the FAQ up on the web somewhere and get a link in the sidebar? Then, you only have to touch it when there is a change, you can time the changes so there are no trade conflicts, and then post to the board that there is a new version, with perhaps some note of the change. That would actually make it easier for new people to find and should be significantly less work for you, I would think.

Neil, given that you are not creating original material, just cleaning up and organizing material provided by others, I’m not sure why you’d need to be bound to these guidelines. Seems silly to me. So my vote would be for option 4, keep things as they are with no blackout dates for you.

That said if you’re looking for a vote on 1-3 I’d prefer 3.

Thanks for all you do. Cheers.

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I am amazed that you have done the FAQ so far, and I continue to be impressed by it. I hope you will continue, and I think quarterly is plenty often.

Thanks again,

Personally, I think TMF is way out of line by treating ticker guides as employees. You receive no compensation (I think) and no benefits, so how is it that you are an employee? You are providing a service free of charge out of the goodness of your heart.

The way I see it, you should put TMF on notice that they have no grounds by which to bind you to their rules. If they can provide a legal basis for the action - OK, then I guess I’d concede, but I don’t think they can. IMO, it’s an arbitrary and unjust decision.

I don’t know if any other ticker guides face a similar dilemma, but it seems to me that any action TMF takes that constrains your ability to trade freely is inappropriate. Have you or any other guides challenged this decision and demanded that TMF justify their position?

Of course, whatever you decide is up to you. But if I were in your position, I wouldn’t hesitate to quit. Not because it impinges on the great service you provide by maintaining the FAQ on this board, but because TMF really has no right to put constraints on your ability to trade. If enough ticker guides threatened to quit, I imagine TMF would reconsider.


TGs are being treated as contractors and they receive some nominal monies each quarter and a sub to MF One valued at something like $6000. That’s the gist based on what I have read on the boards.


Hi Neil, This is a PS to the email I sent you 3-4 hours ago.

Neil, you are not posting any opinions about stocks when you do the FAQ/Knowledgebase. You are not the author of the remarks. You are the EDITOR of someone else’s comments, and any references to stocks are made by me and not you and are ancient and out of date anyway. It is inconceivable that MF would forbid you to do that.

By the way, there is a reason that so many TG’s like Fletch and me have quit because of this. A single time in the next month when I couldn’t buy or sell a stock that I needed to, because of some comment I had made, could cost me many times what they would ever pay me. Not counting the stress of always having to look over my shoulder and be alert for any possible infractions.




My guess it that it is probably a better safe than sorry action from a regulatory perspective.

Perhaps it is a conservative interpretation of the rules, but from a minimizing business risk perspective I can understand it as someone could construe that the impression of a conflict of interest or of front running a post with trades could happen. Not saying that it does, just that an outsider could assume it does.

It is unfortunate, as it would cause me to not want to be a ticker guide, but the way regulatory scrutiny has increased in the financial world, it is probably just one of the consequences.

Saul -

By the way, there is a reason that so many TG’s like Fletch and me have quit because of this. A single time in the next month when I couldn’t buy or sell a stock that I needed to, because of some comment I had made, could cost me many times what they would ever pay me

Maybe other TG’s, but i don’t think Fletch - he can’t continue because he works for a financial services company (that bit might explain why he was such a good TG!), not because of the TMF trading restrictions.


My problem is that I work for a financial services company and my company has a very strict policy of not allowing any outside employment with any other financial services firm. TMF now offers managed accounts and of course runs a mutual fund, so it’s clearly a financial services firm by my current employer’s definition.

Anyway, they are essentially making Ticker Guides freelancers. Some can continue, some cannot, and some choose not due to their trading style (and the impact TMF restrictions will have on it). Will be interesting to see how the program evolves.



I hope you will find a way to do both the FAQ pages which are great and continue as a TG. I decided to stick around as a TG primarily because I trade so infrequently. I don’t really like the new arrangement but as I understand we can quit at any time so I’m going to give it a whirl.


I still think that putting the FAQ as a link in the sidebar both increases its visibility and eliminates 99% of the potential conflict with trading.

Hi Neil,

Please do whatever is going to be the least stressful for you, so you can enjoy your time here at the Fool!

I am not in need of urgent updates to the FAQ. You have made a great body of work there so far.

I am not sure how much of a hassle the no posting thing is going to be. Are you an every week trader now? I have thought of applying as ticker guide since they are going to need people, but I am not a heavy trader (although I like put writing). But then again… if there is a big market move you are probably going to want to trade…

It’s totally your call, THANK YOU for everything you do for Fool members. You rock!



Also, if you are just linking, maybe that doesn’t count. Anyway, no stress over this! Take care of yourself!

Your work in keeping up with the FAQ is invaluable. Tons of great stuff on this board.

I gotta be honest, I would absolutely miss it (and miss out on a lot) if it were published less frequently.


I gotta be honest, I would absolutely miss it (and miss out on a lot) if it were published less frequently.

Hi Tim, The new one just came out. Post #7062. Thanks again to Neil for all his hard work.

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