OT - How the recs got fixed

This is from the Improve the Fool board that I didn’t even know existed. Tamhas already posted a link to it, but it got lost on another thread. If anyone wants to know what happened, here it is. If you want to comment, go ahead, but let’s keep this off topic thread short.

Rec Fraud Update

Hello everyone! This is probably my favorite post to write.

First, I want to apologize to everyone for all of the angst this situation has caused. Whether you care about recs or not, having a system that can be gamed, and ruin the climate for others is just not sustainable. We originally thought this was due to a few doppels until we realized the sheer volume of the recs couldn’t account for this.

We’ve been working diligently behind the scenes (and when I say “we” I mean I’ve been pushing, but it’s the amazing work of our superhero techie named Max who truly solved the issue, and Julie, who put up with my whining about how this can’t go on) and trust me when I say that your annoyance at me, us, and the situation was mirrored by myself and the rest of Fool.com.

The problem is resolved!

So here’s what we discovered. None of us (with the exception of Max!) ever realized that just registering to fool.com allowed one to not only read the posts, but to rec them as well. What that means is that trouble makers out to cause havoc, registered tons of fake email addresses and went to town, both physically and with bots) to rec posts. The vast majority of the email addresses had a suffix that really helped to identify them, and it’s better to not share what that was. We don’t know who the perpetrators are as we only had the email addresses, but I suspect it may well be one or some of the more recently banned posters who have made it clear that they would like to cause us as much trouble as possible.

And those emails are nuked–gone–finished.

Now, you may ask, “But Tony, that’s all well and good, but didn’t you say something like this about fake emails a few months ago? What’s to keep people from registering fake emails again and doing the same thing?”

I’m so glad you asked!

That’s the big thing that Max took care of. From this point on, no one without posting privileges will be able to rec a post. They can read whatever posts they like, but until they have applied and been accepted to post, no recs from outside can be made. Is that clapping I hear? :slight_smile:

Finally, many of you will notice that many of the posts now have updated rec counts. That’s because along with the fraudsters, the recs they made are gone as well, making the counts much more legitimate. There may still be some posts with numbers of recs that are not quite right, but please be assured that going forward, that will not be the case anymore.

We do realize, of course, that no system is perfect, and we may well come across new issues that cause problems on the boards. If and when that happens, we’ll work to address them as well. In the meantime, I couldn’t be happier to bring you this news, as it’s truly a victory “for the good guys”.

Again, thank you all for your patience thoughout this process, and especially to those who still continued to give support while this was going on.

Fool On!



Hey there !

From this point on, no one without posting privileges will be able to rec a post.

OK … so how does one know if they have posting privileges? How does one “apply” for such privileges?
I didn’t do anything and this post evidently got posted. What did I do? (or not do)?

Rich (haywool) long time infrequent poster

OK … so how does one know if they have posting privileges? How does one “apply” for such privileges? I didn’t do anything and this post evidently got posted. What did I do? (or not do)?

Since I am reading your post, ignore the whole issue and get on with your investment life.


OK … so how does one know if they have posting privileges

Presumably people who have been here a long time (since before the rec fraud started) have been grandfathered in. Many sites I visit allow me to read posts and threads, but not to post until I have submitted my email address and waited for an administrator to “approve” (a formality) me to post. It’s an extra step which allows someone to monitor the traffic coming in, and therefore to notice a tsunami of new applications from one domain or foreign country or whatever.

Personally I’m happy they’ve stopped the vandalism. Even if I don’t use the Best Of board, I do use recs to find posts the community finds valuable; I don’t read every post on this board (or any board, for that matter), but I can scan the board and zoom in on posts that others have recced and decide from that post whether it’s a thread I feel like following (via the ‘whole thread’ option.)

Me happy. Thanks, Fool.


How about spending some of the mental capital improving these boards… Editing our own posts would be a good place to start. After that, add a “mark all read” button on the thread page… and allow us to “uncheck” the heart to drop a favorite?

O wait… we’re a;; supposed to applaud the updated “rec” filter. Hold me back.

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and allow us to “uncheck” the heart to drop a favorite

Hi Roy,

It’s easy. Go down to the bottom of this page until you see “Settings”. Click on it. You’ll see a list of favorite boards. Click on the one you want to remove, and hit the button called “Remove”. Nothing to it!



Editing our own posts would be a good place to start.

I have seen this addressed before, they do not allow posts to be edited by design. It is not a limitation of the boards. It is best to try to preview or make sure proofread before posting.

It’s easy.

If it were easy, we could unsubscribe the same way we subscribed. Is that so heard? TMF has the most antiquated boards.

How about this… I want to follow a thread on your board Saul, and be notified when it’s updated… Nope.

Or this… I want to ignore a thread… but when I do, it still tells me there are new unread discussions in a group. When I click to see what’s new, I find that the ignored thread has a new comment. What a waste of time. Ignored threads should be silenced.

And as a previous thread here commented… let’s talk about search capability… nearly impossible and for pay boards, you can’t fall back to Google as you can on this board.


they do not allow posts to be edited by design

You have a link for that?

Even if it were so, it should be challenged. Times change. One could allow editing rights to be time limited… say for 5 minutes, or less if someone has replied to the thread.

Preview is helpful, but not an end all.

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TMF has the most antiquated boards, etc.

Roy, They provide this wonderful discussion board for us for free! That puts a somewhat different perspective on it. How much can you complain about a service which is very valuable and that you are getting for free?



You have a link for that?

Unfortunately, I never saved the link where I originally read somebody from TMF address this issue. I just remembered that it was due to them not wanting to have posters changing what they originally posted and that there would be a perm record. I tried to do a google search and the first thing I found is this thread which indicates it is partly a technical issue in their site design as well as company decision to stop abuse. Even if they could do it, they still wouldn’t:


JustBarmin wrote:
I guess you have not read PA, or LBYM recently.

I used to work for TMF, and had a small say in things like this, and it is never going to happen. You may not like the reasoning TMF has behind it, but it has been discussed, debated, weighed, and rejected.

This is one of those cases were it is not that TMF “can’t” do something, it is that they “won’t” do something.

I agree with them on this one.



TMFTwitty wrote:
BJ, as was already stated, we considered this option, and chose not to offer it. If you make a mistake or misstatement, post a correction. You are certainly entitled to your opinions and preferences, but the decision is ours.

Our software was designed and implemented in-house, and it would be no trivial matter to redesign for editing, even if we chose to do so. Other sites you visit probably use off-the-shelf software, and their needs and policies are vastly different from ours.

The potential for abuse and cost of redesign outweighs the benefits.



They provide this wonderful discussion board for us for free

Not exactly. And besides, even the TMF “pay” boards share the same “short-comings”. But again there are other “free” investment boards out there as well. Sorry, but I don’t get the “wonderful” description, but to each their own.

It’s interesting that this thread sprung from a TMF concern with post “recs”… a “problem” that few recognized (if it ever was a “problem”). Since you can’t downvote TMF posts, how is an upvote a problem?

how is an upvote a problem?

The focus of the issue was the Best Of display. Not only are the vast majority political posts, but many had really ridiculous numbers of recs, sometimes for really trivial posts that didn’t deserve any.

After the fix, the Best Of is still dominated by political posts, but the totals aren’t so silly. The Improve board has a number of proposals for how to make this more useful. It is currently possible to filter by folder, but there is no filter which will exclude political posts without also excluding lots of other posts.

And, check out Best Of now! The default eliminates the political posts so it is actually a meaningful list of investing posts. One can select political in the filter list if that is what one wants to see.

TMF responds!


The focus of the issue was the Best Of display

That explains much. Thank you.

Since I disregard “Best of” it never occurred to me that someone might care about that. For me, it’s just cacophony. And it’s a community thing. Some communities heavily rec one another’s posts, where others, not so much. When recs come cheap, and members swoon over their anointed leaders’ posts without regard for content, that doesn’t make highly rec’d posts better than others. It’s just a game.

I suspect that much of the annoyance came from people whose political opinions were different from those which tended to show up on the list, but there is a reasonable point that this page can serve as a kind of gateway to TMF for new users and that 90% political posts was not exactly putting TMF’s best foot forward.

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