The importance of board etiquette

The last few months this board has exploded with new posters. Our little corner of the internet is experiencing some growth pains mostly due to people’s very well intentioned excitement about the community. Unfortunately I think that excitement is leading to a lot of superfluous posts. First I’d like to start with some numbers.

Here are the number of posts per month by year:

2018 1550 (currently)
2017 773
2016 816
2015 633

2018 is pretty remarkable, we started at 1155 posts/month, jumped to 1400 5 months in, and are now at 1550-ish a month. we have seen a 94% increase in posts in 7 months This huge growth has happened even as Saul and others have tried to keep discussions on topic. Also many of us are posting less so as not to gum up the boards

I personally feel that our time and Saul’s time is wasted by him having to spend time moderating the boards. We have talked a little bit about this offline. I will be actively helping him do this going forward.

Some Solutions

Before posting ask yourself if your post is adding anything of value to the discussion.
Examples of posts that don’t add value: Most posts about minor price movements. Me too posts “i bought some too!” , one line posts are rarely helpful,

Keep your replies on topic
Our board is about high growth high return companies and the investment philosophy behind them. There are many different investing philosophy’s out there that are great. Please discuss those on the appropriate board.

Examples of this: Options, turn around stories, political posts

Don’t be afraid to take your discussion offline
When a discussion becomes a conversation between two people that doesn’t really contain useful information for the rest of us take the conversation offline. There is a little check box that sends your reply to the person you are replying to. Hit that, have a great discussion. If something comes up that would be interesting to the rest of us then post that on the boards. Make sure you don’t post someone that the person you are talking to would consider private If in doubt ask…then post.

Please, please do a google search before posting a question
We are all busy and have other lives. Inappropriate question, “what is a p/e ratio”. Appropriate question, “ I don’t understand why the p/e ratio for x company isn’t as important as the ev/s” .

Here are some other message board etiquette links that I think are helpful.

A nice little infographic that is worth glancing at.…

A nice succinct post guide from another forum I enjoy…

The Motley Fool’s guidelines


I would also add that there is no reason to mention if you have taken a position or sold something recently. There is no need to mention what percentage you are up so far this year.

That is, unless those tidbits are part of a larger analysis either on specific stocks or part of a monthly type review of a portfolio.

The board is about analyzing stocks and determining if they are something you want to invest in.

I’ve been very quiet for several reasons. Work is a big one and the other is that posters here have covered the primary topics to which I have little to add.

If you have something to add that is of value, by all means, post it. But don’t bog down the board unless you think there is value.

Unless you are Saul and very few others, no one really cares if you bought “x” today at “y” price or sold. Nobody cares how much you are up this year and generally we don’t even know if that is your whole portfolio or just some small portion that you are reporting on.

Back to the sidelines for me until I have something of value to post.

Also, I realize this post has little value other than to hopefully governor the number of posts.



i found your post valuable. I’ll be creating a super post of suggestions like yours. Feel free to email or post them on this thread. I’ll be using the super post as a standard form to reply to posts that deviate from our posting guidelines.

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We are all busy and have other lives. Inappropriate question, “what is a p/e ratio”. Appropriate question…

minor one person opinion, but I could disagree more. The reason is because the single biggest error you can make in companies like this is to perhaps consistently underestimate P - because most of these companies are GAAP net income negative, the share count by definition doesn’t include anti-dilutive shares, resulting in a gross understatement of the probable share count assuming the count goes up. What’s also common is the sometimes stated belief that a company’s balance sheet is strong due to retained earnings when actually companies like SHOP have built a super-strong financial condition (smartly, by the way) by doing secondary offerings at progressively higher stock prices, thereby taking advantage of the euphoria surrounding their prospects.

As far as the ratio itself is concerned, it could refer to GAAP, non-GAAP, trailing, future, etc. etc. etc. It could include restricted stock or not, and it is increasingly defined is so many ways it makes me dizzy. Lastly, when people DO talk about these things, you are more likely to get a very self-reflective post like Saul’s 43965 ‘How I pick a company’ with multiple factors listed and defined and the importance of quantitative and qualitative numbers.

Bottom line - you can’t have a credible conversation about these metrics unless everyone is on the same page, and nobody is on the same page. In essence, it is poor etiquette to assume someone else’s query is bad etiquette - just don’t answer if you feel this way. Otherwise, I guarantee you’ll be on the other end of this one day.

Maybe this post doesn’t add anything of value - Saul’s same post skirts around the issue of valuation in favor of both qualitative and quantitative factors (with the ‘misunderstood’ post a nice add-on - the knowledgebase was cool enough, but this added checklist is pure gold!)

just 2c


hi green,
that part was meant to illustrate something that is easily looked up vs an in depth discussion of how p/e ratios relate to our investments is a very different question which i think you so nicely showed. Maybe I picked a bad example but I don’t think so. Learning the basics of p/e is easily looked up. Discussing the ins and outs of it, well, that is what investing is about.



I’m going to add on here for a moment:

Since this whole board sits on the public side of, is there any clear reason that even more could not be done to index and categorize the content? A nice Yahoo! homepage for this board, so to speak. (I say Yahoo! intentionally because it was organized by humans, for humans, not solely by algorithm (recs) or search function, but rather by topics…)

From the Knowledgebase:

I look for companies that are growing fast, have recurring income, insider ownership, some kind of moat, a reasonable PE, etc, and hope to find most of these qualities in stocks I’m investing in. I don’t try to learn all the financials. While I look for companies that are growing fast, I hope for ones that are not yet discovered and bid up in price. I try to avoid “story” stocks that are always going to make money next year, or in two years, or in five years.

As Saul’s latest post shows, he has adapted.

My feelings about PE ratios: Just out of curiosity some time ago I figured the average PE ratio of my eight biggest positions. These were rapidly growing companies but the average PE was 20. Note that that goes against the MF RB idea of picking overpriced stocks, or even ones with no earnings. An exciting company with a PE over 200 or something, may do just fine over the long haul, but I’ve decided “Not for me.” If I can find a rapidly growing stock with a reasonable PE, why buy expensive stocks where you have to hope they’ll grow into their price?

He has REALLY adapted…

I want management to be interested in making a profit. That’s why I sold out of Amazon some time ago, even though I loved the company. Making a profit just didn’t seem to be on Bezo’s radar screen. He never even mentioned it. (More recently they have begun to have rapidly increasing positive Cash Flow, and I have bought back in.)

Caveat explained in the last part

4. Go back through at least two years of quarterly reports and pull off at least adjusted earnings and revenue.

Ok, now we are getting somewhere - he is talking adjusted earnings, not GAAP earnings

Given a choice between a low PE company and a high PE company, growing at comparable rates, I’d go for the low PE company every time. Which is why my big positions all have reasonable PE’s. What’s reasonable?

again, he has adapted - a lot lately

Perhaps a more useful ratio is a one-year PEG looking backward. In other words, the one-year trailing PE divided by the one-year trailing earnings growth rate. It has a major disadvantage or flaw that you are looking backward, but at least you are using a real number, not a guess!

again, some adaption has gone on - but Saul has often featured traditional value stocks in his portfolios too (LGIH) but only the fat top line growers

Please remember that the 1YPEG isn’t a magic formula that replaces everything else. It’s just a screen of how the PE stacks up to the current growth rate. It doesn’t replace evaluating the company, and what it does, reading the conference call transcript, making sure the company isn’t weighted down with debt, and all the other factors I’ve talked about.

And its also important to realize that a low 1YPEG doesn’t protect you from a ridiculously high PE.

again, either he has adapted, or there is a terminology question here

I tend to sell a piece if my position has gotten too big for me to be comfortable with. However, I have let rare positions get very big if I was in love with the company.

I tend to sell a piece if I feel the price has shot up wildly. On the other hand, a stock might go up steadily, but if my position isn’t too big, the rise isn’t too fast, if their revenue and earnings are moving up nicely, and if the PE is still under 25, I may add multiple times along the way instead of selling. In other words I don’t sell just because something is going up.

I tend to sell a piece if I feel the story has changed.

not related to PEs (other than the reference), but this is gold and I wanted to reproduce it. :slight_smile:

could go on and on
sorry, only making a small point
What is a PE is a lot more complicated question than you imagine
esp. if you have read and study’s Saul’s Knowledgebase



again, either he has adapted, or there is a terminology question here

That is the greatest thing Saul has taught everyone on this board. Anyone that wants to follow him by having a checklist is going to be frustrated one day when he pivots in another direction. There really isn’t a checklist, The real lesson is to watch the market and see where it is headed. Some time in the future his portfolio will change and may even go back to where the 1Ypeg and value stocks are again in favor.

This is not a knock on anyone, its just one of the lessons I have learned on this board, you must be flexible and willing to change your investing style if you are going to keep up with Saul.



It seems that SHOP (and AMZN) were the ones that pushed Saul to pivot to focusing on revenue growth and recurring revenue. They seem to forgo earnings now for growth with the promise that they can produce earnings when it suits them (while using essentially tax free money to grow the business). Since then he has more focused on quality recurring revenue, pricing in future earnings.

The quick decline in growth of some companies that just “sell things” – AMBA, SKX, SWKS, INFN – also helped to push his focus toward more reliable recurring revenue. See his recent discussions on NVDA, which I think otherwise would be a typical “Saul” stock circa 2015.

I’m not sure how many other companies still have reasonable 1YPEGs and durable growth rates (maybe LGIH). It seems the ones that consistently grow (ALGN, ABMD) get priced incredibly high these days such that the P/E outweighs the G.



I’m not sure how many other companies still have reasonable 1YPEGs and durable growth rates (maybe LGIH). It seems the ones that consistently grow (ALGN, ABMD) get priced incredibly high these days such that the P/E outweighs the G.

Right that is some great insight. It is going to be interesting to see how long this bull market goes and what this tells us. Maybe the low 1Ypeg stocks are great going into a recession but the High Revenue, High Gross margin stocks might be best when coming out of a recession. I think being flexible is the key.


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Thanks, ethan.

I would have to agree that the board has been, at times lately, hard to navigate, especially when one is
pressed for time.

If I may, I would like to inform/remind everyone that there is another unofficial ‘sister’ board for
Saul’s, at New Paradigm Investing, where all topics are allowed and the atmosphere is much more relaxed.
If you’re not sure if a topic is “on topic”, this is the perfect place to post. Most posters at NPI
read this board on a regular basis. And here’s the link:….

Also, I trust many of us would appreciate the real topic of a thread being included in any new post’s
“Subject” heading. I, for one, don’t appreciate “Guess what stock this is” games. Maybe it’s just me.

There are so many generous people here; but they’re also busy people and deserve the small amount of
respect required to keep the board on topic and flowing with new, relevant information ONLY, as long as
that is Saul’s wish.

Good, unbiased* information is getting harder and harder to find and the value is getting higher
and higher. That’s what we want here. And there is a place at TMF for everything else; (This is
simply not that place.)


  • we’re all biased, but not necessarily self-serving

And underscore the Fool adages against posting in CAPS. It’s inexcusable on an investing board.


Could you please take this discussion off line, already violating the point of the post


Could you please take this discussion off line, already violating the point of the post

Touché :wink: