Saul, you inquired why the “Post of the Day” has disappeared and learned it was only on hiatus. You do an excellent job analyzing a company to determine its future growth path. I think a similar analysis is appropriate for the Motley Fool public message boards (boards).
In a nutshell, TMF boards are like Cadillac’s in the Tesla Age. There was a time and place when the boards were the place to be. Lots of great posts about INVESTING, lots of give and take and a useful public service. It pains me to say this, but I think the boards are on downward glide path. If it was a company or stock, it would definitely warrant a “Sell.”
By far, the largest percentage of posts each day are political in nature. The top two boards are “Political Asylum” and “Retire Early CampFIRE.” There is nothing wrong with these boards if your interest is politics. Some people seem to enjoy spending their time posting to these boards. However, you can argue they do not offer a meaningful contribution to “investing” which is core to the founding principles of the Fool.
Let me be clear. I DO NOT WORK FOR THE FOOL. I HAVE NEVER WORKED FOR THE FOOL. My opinion is that they are fine folks trying to help a broad swath of investors. It is a “for profit” operation. They have to make a few dollars to pay the salaries and keep the lights on. I imagine internal meetings where they discuss the boards. And they would have to conclude, that the boards are an asset that is losing value. It is NOT worth their time and money to keep supporting the boards when most of the activity is politics, NOT investing. Saul, as much as I love this board, its value is NOT enough to carry the whole overheard of the boards. The Fools probably love the board also, but say “is is worth X dollars per month to keep Saul’s board, when most of the activity is on PA/RECF?” And they have to answer, the boards are NOT worth any further investment.
Just like Cadillac is not the number one upscale car of choice, the boards are also not the number one boards of choice. So what is? Two things have replaced the boards IMO.
- Seeking Alpha
Seeking Alpha has attracted many former Fool posters. They seem to have switched their time/efforts to SA from the boards. Part of this is likely due to the size of the audience. Saul has about 750 followers on the boards. I will speculate he would have at least 7,500 followers on SA. Many former Fool posters saw their followers go up by 10X to 100X.
If you have an education mandate like Saul, where you are posting as a public service, the choice is clear. For the same amount of effort, you can spread the gospel to 10X or 100X the parishioners.
Saul is NOT selling anything. He is not selling a paid newsletter. He is not selling his portfolio management services. I think that is the case of most of the board posters. Many SA posters are trying to sell you something, be it a newsletter or portfolio management. I don’t know the exact ratio, but maybe half of the SA posters are attempting to make money on their posts in some form. SA also has some type of compensation system where you can make money from how many people read you posts, aka “clicks.”
One other major point: SA let’s you include graphics and spreadsheets. The Fools boards do not. So SA posts are easier to convey information with.
The other competition for the boards is Twitter. Apparently, there is a large number of “investors” that exchange investment advice, 140 characters at a time. If you do, I guess you understand the value of it. This type of investing does not depend on the type of thorough analysis that underlies Saul’s methodology. Personally I do not subscribe to the Twitter approach, but I do know many “investors” that do.
I am guessing that Fool management has decided to let the public boards slowly fade away on their own. Just keep the costs as low as possible, including not assigning anyone to find and make the Post of the Day. They forecast that most serious investors will leave over time for various reasons. I can’t really blame Fool management on this choice. It would not be surprising at some point, if Fool management decided to shut down the boards. Yes, we don’t want to hear that message, but sometimes we have to issue a “sell” on something we used to have a “strong buy on.
I did NOT want to write this post, but had to in the spirit of Saul’s board. On Saul’s board, if you think you know something that is new pertaining to a company, you are compelled to speak up. I have telepathically been in several of the Fool meetings regarding the boards and had to speak up. Also in full disclosure, this is conservation that some of us have had offline. This is just the first time it has been posted to my knowledge. So these thoughts might be from a single lunatic, but there are other lunatics out there . . .