Open Letter to Tom and David

Subject: Heartbroken: The Motley Fool becoming too foolish for me

David and Tom,

From the early days when I read the Motley fool on AOL, I greatly admired the distinction of Foolish from foolish in the philosophy presented by The Motley Fool(TMF). It has served as a guiding principle in my 32+ years of successful personal investing. Over the years as I have been a subscribers to various services (mainly Rule Breakers & Stock Advisor) the website has gradually transformed to become more and more foolish. It is disheartening. Day after day I see headline articles about Shiba Inu? Is this the folly you want to direct your ‘Foolish’ audience towards? Yes, I think cryptocurrency has a place in today’s investing conversation. But has TMF sunk to using it as top story Click-Bait? If you visit the home page most days, it appears it has.

I have been really disgusted to see daily stories with headlines such as “Why stock X jumped 8% today?” “Why stock Y crashed 5% today?” becoming so commonplace on your pages.

Have you lost your minds? These were the things the original TMF used to teach and preach against. I dearly miss the integrity of the original TMF spirit that once thrived on your website and would call out these fools for their short-term, gold-rush thinking. I feel like my trusted childhood best friend is now unrecognizable to the person I knew. He’s selling swampland in Florida to our old friends with zero remorse. I’m heartbroken. I’m ashamed to watch your website devolve into some TMZ-lite version of the financial news on the web.

Your old friend,
Chris

45 Likes

“I dearly miss the integrity of the original TMF spirit that once thrived on your website”
IRunMan sums it all up.

Somewhere along the way the boards, the daily articles, the Stock Advisor ‘service’ and the whole Motley Fool approach seem to have drifted away from the original purpose ‘to make the world smarter, happier and richer’ and shifted to what come across as a primary focus on enriching the Motley Fool business. For example, the ‘free’ articles and daily posts aren’t really very informational any more and have devolved into nothing more than marketing tools used by TMF to try to entice folks into buying premium services.

After many years of subscribing to Stock Advisor I finally threw in the towel and didn’t renew this year. I just didn’t feel like there was enough value from the service anymore after several changes in format over the years it’s seems like it has ended up as a self-contradictory collection of recommendations. Without the Stock Advisor subscription I went back to the open discussion boards only to see how badly they have been affected by the proliferation of limited-access premium service boards. These have drawn participation away from discussion on the open boards effectively having dumbed down the non-pay discussions.

I’ll get off my soapbox now and stop the complaining as I no longer have any real investment in or connection to TMF other than to remember 'the good old days’where TMF seemed to focus on their original purpose without making that a distant second to building the TMF business.

Another old friend,
Todd

17 Likes

What he said

I only use the message boards since the late '90s.

But, I use (read) the boards at least daily, and get a lot of benefit (financial, intellectual, philosophical, practical, bad jokes) out of them

From that viewpoint: no compelling need for them to be free. I’ve paid more for less.

OTOH, you don’t want to frighten away the newbies and occasional lurkers.

Bottom line: I’d pay $20/year as-is. Maybe as much as $50 if the search function worked

But no newsletters, thanks

–sutton
Fool lurker since forever

5 Likes

I have been really disgusted to see daily stories with headlines such as “Why stock X jumped 8% today?” “Why stock Y crashed 5% today?” becoming so commonplace on your pages.

Well I’m the contrarian here’s but I don’t really see the problem. Or at least I don’t see it to the scale of being “really disgusted.”

The Fool has always offered a variety of articles and viewpoints. Heck, Tom and David started out with philosophies that were nearly diametrically opposed: Rule Breakers and Rule Makers. If you don’t like articles that say “Stock Y went up 5% today and here’s why” then don’t read them.

But more to the point there are times when such analysis is useful, especially for those who don’t have time (or wont) to read all the headlines about all the companies which may or may not have made announcements, had favorable or unfavorable stories released that day, or who may have been the victims or happy recipients of macroeconomic events which affect them.

The Fool has never been about “buy and hold forever”, but the emergence of Saul’s board (among others) has demonstrated that there’s also a large contingent of momentum players, I would speculate that some who even play particular segments of momentum: early wave, mass adoption cycle, etc. There are also buy-and-holders, newbies, and segment players.

Heck, here’s a thread today on the Berkshire Hathaway board asking “why did we hit an all time high today?” The Berkshire board is hardly a bunch of newbies, nor quick traders, nor numerically illiterates, yet they still are interested in (this) particular daily movement.
https://discussion.fool.com/another-all-time-high-35015598.aspx?..

I would agree with you if this was all the Fool offered, but it’s not. And I would say I am somewhat sympathetic to the bottomless hole that is a news pit: every day you have to fill it up again - from scratch. I cut them a little slack if I don’t find a particular article or even series of them to my liking. Maybe that’s just me.

5 Likes

its how they pay the bills simple as that. It’s the marketing team trying to get new customers who have that short term mindset into their funnel in the hopes they become a paying customer and then teach them their short term ways will lose the Foolish way of investing.

If you don’t want them to attain more customers at the rate they are doing then at the same time you would have to be ok with them not being able to deploy as many resources to their paid content and research which in the end makes you more money.

For me, I’m not ok with making less money. They can write all the click bait articles they want, I just ignore them. You probably should also if you want to make more money.

1 Like

“you would have to be ok with them not being able to deploy as many resources to their paid content and research which in the end makes you more money.”

I was a long time subscriber to Stock Advisor. To me it appeared as though there was a long shift of focusing resources to their more expensive paid content - like all of the Supernova and Fool One kind of ventures. At some point I just didn’t feel like the same level of effort was going into the SA recommendations any more and I realized that the real value I was getting was coming from the message board content posted by other subscribers. At that point it seemed a little silly to pay a couple hundred bucks a year to be in an online investing club.

Sorry TMF, but you lost me at paying you for other subscribers’ hard work.

I know the subscriptions work for lots of people and TMF makes a their chunk of change and keep growing, but it just wasn’t working for me any more. I don’t need a string of Lemonade, Coupang and Mercado Libre recommendations and re-recommendations.

I’ll stop my griping and go back to lurking now.

3 Likes

tharbold
To me it appeared as though there was a long shift of focusing resources to their more expensive paid content - like all of the Supernova and Fool One kind of ventures. At some point I just didn’t feel like the same level of effort was going into the SA recommendations any more and I realized that the real value I was getting was coming from the message board content posted by other subscribers

And starting to move ‘important’ boards to behind the paywall.

Been here since '98, but unlikely I’ll follow. The enterprise has prospered via the content posted by LOTS of enlightened folks “on the boards”. Taught me how to separate the wheat from the chaff, and I’ve benefited in too many ways to count.

Breaking the magic of the site might be easily analogous to beheading the golden goose, IMAO.

1 Like

To me, an RB subscription is worth the extra boards I have access to, regardless of the other stuff.

Hi, Chris.

On the freemium side of Fool.com, articles are given attention-getting headlines because their purpose, in addition to inform and educate, is to find fools and being them into the Foolish family. The freemium articles, written by Fool freelancers, answer the most common questions asked by Fools and fools. I don’t think you’ll find those kinds of headlines in Premium Community articles or the service coverage articles themselves, though, as those Fools tend to be more experienced investors.

As for moving into Crypto, that was something Tom Gardner was interested in, and dipped his toe into the space with the Discovery: 10X service. Recently, the Digital Explorer is investing exclusively in this space. It is a speculative space, to be sure, and the service acknowledges it is not for everyone. But there was demand for it, and TMF rose to meet that demand.

I think TMF still sticks to its core Foolosphy of long-term (3-5 years or longer) buy-and-hold investing. The products and services it offers to Premium Fools is always evolving, and it was just a year ago that in lieu of its traditional April Fool’s prank, TMF introduced the April Fool’s Portfolio, a workable constructed portfolio given away for free.

And in just 3 days, an amazing announcement is coming that will put an exclamation point on TMF’s mission to help the world invest better.

Fuskie
Who thinks there is more than a lot of space between where TMF and TMZ…


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Todd, it is hard meeting the needs of old school Fools and newer generations of Fools discovering TMF just before or during the pandemic. They consume content differently than we did a decade ago, and have different expectations for their investing research dollar.

I think TMF is trying hard to find the right balance between communicating TMF’s Foolosophy of long-term (3-5 years or longer) buy-and-hold investing and communicating to member Fools with a message and in a language they understand. I think with more seasoned Fools, the need for the gentle touch isn’t quite as big, but for many, the market turbulence we’ve experienced in recent years is something new, and for these Fools, a certain degree of hand-holding and Fool-splaining is needed.

Fuskie
Who is sorry you left Stock Advisor but thinks while it has evolved, the core values and recommendations of the service remain intact…


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1 Like

Sutton, if I infuse my posts with more bad jokes, will you hit reply more often?

Fuskie
Who feels the best way to improve the boards is to post generously in the way you would like to communicate…


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Hi, Phaze3131.

Actually, the freelancers who write the freemium community articles that are published on the public side of Fool.com are not controlled by marketing, even though there are lead ads published at the bottom of articles. TMF continues to have a dedication to spreading the Foolish word throughout the free world.

Yes, it would be great if they chose to become subscribing Fools, but it would be better if they just become smarter, more knowledgeable investors.

Fuskie
Who notes most of the successful marketing efforts come through the social media, web ads, YouTube commercials and other advertising efforts that lure fools into the premium service video presentations for new or re-opening services…


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It’s funny you mention Supernova, tharbold, because without the work that went into Rule Breakers and David’s side of Stock Advisor, Supernova would not have a universe of recommendations from which to choose.

I strongly believe, and many TMF Fools would agree I think, that the TMF Community offers tremendous value, and more importantly, even for some of us who have been here for 22+ years or longer, tremendous opportunities to learn ourselves.

But I think it would be incorrect to suggest that the Fool analysts primarily look for investment ideas in the Fool Community. They have a strong company research process, that has been refined by Tom and David, instilled by Andy Cross, Bill Mann, David Kretzman, Jim Meuller and more. I look forward to learning from each successive generation of TMF analyst as Fools rapidly grow within this company.

That said, I think it is also possible for a Fool to outgrow TMF, and with a tear in my eye, I think it’s great that an individual becomes confident enough in their own investing strategies to put Foolish things behind them and branch out on their own. The bean counters would hate to hear it, but it’s really what all of us TMF and CMF Fools hope for all of you. It means we have fulfilled our mission to help you invest better.

Fuskie
Who wishes you wouldn’t go back to lurking because it is through your contributions and the sharing of your experiences that Foolish values get passed on…


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Hi, BrerBear.

I’m not sure what boards you think have been moved from the Freemium Community to the Premium Community. While there are Premium Community boards that may be similar to Freemium Community boards, none of the Freemium Community boards were relocated.

That said, a few years ago to try to get some degree of control over the proliferation of low-traffic boards, a rule was instituted to archive discussion boards that have not had activity in the past 24 months. This process is run quarterly. But boards have not been relocated.

Fuskie
Who would like to know which specific boards to which you refer and he would try to locate them for you…


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Hi, Tamhas.

I agree, For the nominal fee of a Stock Advisor, Rule Breaker or Everlasting Stocks subscription, in addition to the vibrant Premium Community discussion boards, premium articles and premium company snapshots, I think Motley Fool Live has created a great community of Fools who enjoy watching what I describe as sports talk for investing.

Fuskie
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Fuskie
Who would like to know which specific boards to which you refer and he would try to locate them for you…

From back in January, I’ve forgotten how many and which boards I was told are behind the paywall, so I’ll just list the eight issues I currently hold. (Yes, I know, several still reside outside the paywall; I include them from my entire list for completeness.)

Of those who are present on the outside, do any also have presence behind the paywall? Answer unknown to me.

AAPL
AMZN
ASML
GNRC
GOOGL
NVDA
TSM
TTD