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Here's a statement of the obvious: The opinions expressed here are those of the participants, not those of the Mutual Fund Observer. We cannot vouch for the accuracy or appropriateness of any of it, though we do encourage civility and good humor.

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Anonymous posting has been disabled

Dear friends,

Apparently the software used by spambots is improving. About a dozen managed to make anonymous posts on Sunday night. While Chip cleared them out, she reports that they began arriving at the rate of one every two or three minutes. Unless we can figure out a better security arrangement, we'll have to disable the anonymous posting with a captcha code option.

For what comfort it offers, registering is quick and painless. At base, either Chip or I need to be convinced that there's a human (and we're even pretty flexible about that) rather than a spambot requesting access. Depending on the time that the registration request comes in, the turnaround is between one hour (my check-in interval most days) and twelve hours.



  • The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • some people have signed their anonymous messages.
    e.g. search for Skeeter.

  • Strongly suggest you get rid of Off-Topic messages. This is a mutual fund discussion board. We have a few posters who somehow think this is a chat-room. Of 2,087 messages posted on MFO approximately 35% have been Off-Topic which is way too many.
  • edited March 2012
    Howdy Ted,

    What is Off-Topic? What is an area that is not directly related to funds; but may be Off-Topic, yet may be of great value in protecting one's assets?

    Do you consider events related to the Euro problems or actions of the Fed. or Treasury to not have an impact upon our investments?

    What about discussions regarding the possible changes coming to tax policies upon capital gains and dividends? Would this not affect your portfolio; or at least your portfolio positioning? Do you think if this noted area of taxation does change for the worse; that this may impact equity market selling at the end of 2012?

    Has there been any subject matter in Off-Topic from which you have benefited from the information?

    The "ignore" the Off-Topic" is always a choice, eh?

    I would like to know the answers.

  • Reply to @Ted: If you eliminate Off-Topic category, you will have off-topic in the Fund discussions. Right now, you have a way to only read Fund Discussions and ignore the rest. Just click "Fund Discussions" under category and when you are done reading all new hit "Mark All Viewed".
  • I'm with Ted on this one. If this site is indeed "in the tradition of Fundalarm," we should only post threads that are directly related to mutual fund investing. And by the way, this was a strictly enforced tradition at Fundalarm, so Roy must have thought that it was very important. I'm sure Roy had some good reasons to delete off-topic posts, one of which was surely that the internet does not need one more off-topic investing chat room. And do we really want to possibly go down the pathway of the M* Politics & Investing Forum (link below) ?

    David Snowball can run his site as he pleases, but I think that we should return to the Fundarm roots and only have one forum category. I may be the minority here, but I must express my view on this issue.

  • If you're not interested in the Off-Topic sub-forum then simply don't click on it. We well remember FundAlarm: this site is not FundAlarm. Interesting how some folks seem to think that their take on things should become the official enforced policy, never mind that others may feel otherwise. Kind of like some religions that come easily to mind.
  • Hello … Sheeter here …

    I have posted some time under the handle Skeeter and used this handle over at fund alarm. I chose it because it was the name of a dearly loved departed family pet.

    Moving on … Someone booted one of my post to the front of the message board that was deep down in the stack with some words that were not so kind. They in effect said … They were tired of losing customers and if I wanted to remain vertical and not be put horizontal I needed to watch myself.

    For information purposes … I am not a financial advisor, financial planner etc. My profession is that of an administrator. I earned a BA in Economics.

    If indeed the person that made the comment is a financial planner … and, he is losing clients because of post that appear on this board … Well, perhaps it is more because of the advice he has rendered and not from the post that appear on the board.

    From my perspective, this site is all about helping other fellow investors down the path of investing. I write for my past experience and thoughts I have on various subjects. My comments are not ment to be financial advice for others to follow ... It is about what I am doing that others might find interest in. And, I enjoy being a small part of the board.

    Due to the nature of the beast ... I felt a comment from me was both justified and warranted.

    Good Investing,
  • I rarely dip into "off topic", but I think it would be a mistake to delete it, from a practical standpoint. If it is deleted, then the off-topic stuff will show up in the fund forum, and it will be much more of a headache for the admin to track it down and delete it.
  • edited March 2012
    As far as the subject of off-topic posts goes, I recall that Roy spent a lot of time policing the board because things got kind of wild and woolly on occasion, and there would be a flurry of argument once in a while over what was on-topic and what wasn't.

    Remembering all that, thinking that some "off-topic" posts here are of interest to MF investors (economic trends & indicators, individual stocks people are looking at, etc.), and knowing that I don't have to look at any of the off-topic stuff if I don't want to, I'd be in favor of leaving this board as is.

  • edited March 2012
    As as poster who posts more in the off-topic, I say keep it, it adds more to the community and as has been pointed out can be easily ignored by clicking on the Fund Discussions category.

    To get more in line with "respectable percentages of off-topic posts" to Fund Discussions posts would be to purge off-Topic discussion's that have not been commented upon within the last six months. Although probably not very significant it could possibly speed database lookups. Also, users who haven't logged in for over a year when the time comes could also be purged.
  • edited March 2012
    Hi Accipiter- speaking of "reasonable percentages", the fact of the matter, as acknowledged above, is that some 35% of the messages posted have been "off-topic". Along comes a few folks who say, in effect, "I don't like that, so I think that you 35% of the population should no longer have any say here."

    Seems to me that 35% is a pretty respectable minority, and it's interesting that some mindsets evidently feel that minorities have no business posting here. Attitudes like that sometimes make me wonder what country I'm in.

    Take care- OJ
  • Ted has consistently, but quietly, expressed the opinion that boards such as this are strengthened when they remain focused on the topic at hand. His concern is, as long has been, maintaining rich, thoughtful and well-informed discussions about mutual funds. He's put more time into that objective that just about anyone I know.

    At the same time, both my own sense of things and the research literature I follow suggest that healthy communities - whether online or in an academic department - aren't "all business, all the time." Whether on matters that are peripheral (oh, say, internal politics in the Euro-zone) or irrelevant (the prospect that Facebook is spying on us all) to fund investing, sometimes it's good and important to kvetch with folks you've come to trust and respect. It's not merely harmless, but essential to the process of building and sustaining a community.

    In general, if folks come to talk about fund investing and stay to swap book recommendations, that seems entirely reasonable. Heck, if I had a way to arrange it, I'd have coffee waiting for you when you arrived.

    As ever,

  • Reply to @CecilJK: Somehow I'd always identified Skeeter with a character from the Dukes of Hazzard. Nuts.

    I think I'll go hunt for nasty-grams.
  • edited March 2012
    The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • Hey there Mo- we are exactly in sync on this one!
    Thanks- OJ
  • I suppose the issue to me is really what are people offered. The "Off-Topic" section doesn't often stray from the general idea of investing, and as people have noted in this thread, a lot of what's going on in the world has a significant effect on investments. Additionally, I think this board has a group of frequent posters who are intelligent and are able to offer great insights on more than simply mutual funds - and I think David's use of forum questions in the interview portion of this month's commentary is an example of the quality of the discussion here.

    Getting back to the idea of what the forum offers, if 35% of the board is "off-topic", then obviously there's been effort and thought offered in that section and enough interest in what people are saying that it continues to be a large part of the content. I'm not sure what taking away 35% of the content accomplishes and that's 35% less content for new visitors to browse through. There's value there to new members. Furthermore, it's easily navigated - you don't want to look at off-topic, you don't have to, so not sure why it's even an issue.

    As for comments on things like Facebook and google privacy issues, I actually find that a lot of people here have useful insights.

    This board is also - aside from a few comments like the one I got on an article I posted the other day and some of the political debates that never really go anywhere but cause tension - a lot calmer. I think as the months go by, the board has settled in and I think the discussion continues to improve both in terms of mutual funds and otherwise.

  • I agree that we should keep the Off-Topic posts, with a gentle warning (followed by action if needed) to waaay off-topic posts, left to the discretion of the moderator. Those who don't want to read can choose not do so. OT posts are a dual-edge sword. We are humans and certain OT discussion strengthen our community. On the other hand, OT discussions can drift into divisive issues like politics, religion, etc, which can weaken the community. Personally, I tend to ignore all OT topics, mostly for lack of time.
  • edited March 2012
    Reply to @kevindow: Would have put this under Ted's post, but from what I can see, he stopped short of invoking Fund Alarm, though might well agree with the sentiment. I must respectfully disagree. Many, many of the 35% labeled "off topic" at MFO would have passed mustard with RW and been allowed to stand. Guarantee it. Perhaps he'll weigh in. At FA often discussed were: ETFs, market trends, bonds, gold, oil, money managers outside the MF realm, Fed policy, annuities, investment tax implications, retirement planning, and to some extent financial education & media. Heck, you can't make intelligent decisions about funds without the background all that other stuff provides. Not to say David hasn't allowed more latitude. He has and that's his call. But let's not presume all these "OT" posts would have been wiped clean from the FA board - just ain't so.
  • Tell me. It was a lot harder (and therefore a bit more fun) but I managed to get the great majority of my posts snuck in. I think that Roy waved a big stick but really didn't use it all that often.
  • I note with wry amusement that I clicked on Fund discussions to find, you know, fund discussions. And then I found this thread, mostly focused on the desire to purge the site of off-topic discussions. This meta-discussion of off-topic discussions, I classify as off-topic.

    Roy ruthlessly and idiosyncratically moderated the old FundAlarm board, sometimes deleting entire long threads that he felt had gone too far off the rails. It added a certain frisson to any borderline posting -- would it survive? This was part of the charm of the FundAlarm board (as was the aging off of not so very old messages). You never stepped into the same river twice on that board. Still, I suspect it was very labor-intensive, and I viewed it as an expression of Roy's personality. David's personality is different, and the somewhat less ruthless approach seems in keeping.

    For myself, I prefer having an off-topic area which is (usually) easy enough to ignore, and to which it is easy to move (rather than delete) threads in the mutual fund discussion area that really don't belong.
  • Re Roy, FA and idiosyncratic: Amen! Your observation about this entire thread being OT rather than a fund discussion is quite right and really funny. But then the boss put it there himself, which is actually pretty funny too. Nice to hear from you again, btw.
  • edited March 2012
    Reply to @Old_Joe:

    "To sleep, perchance to Dream of MFO; Ay, there's the rub." The title is "Anonymous posting has been disabled".
    The thread got hijacked to the worthiness of an off-topic discussion era and off-topic discussions in general.
    Since, as noted, some people ignore off-topic and technical discussion topics, it is important that word gets out that "anonymous postings are now disabled" and since that is important to the few resistant anonymous posters they need to know what happened and David has kindly provided the "why" in the most widely read category because of its import. Seems to me the wisest choice by David as usual.

    GregFromBoston said
    "David's personality is different, and the somewhat less ruthless approach seems in keeping."
    Me thinks David is full of "ruth", not an ounce of unnecessary "ruthlessness".

    And I'm glad Skeeter is now posting it is now easier to search for his valuable posts form now on in via @CecilJK, at least after he starts a new discussion.
  • edited March 2012
    Hello there- yeah, I realize how it came to be, but it's still amusing. I love the concept of using the OT section to rail against the OT section. If you really believe that each and every OT commentary is such a disruptive act, how do you justify hijacking a thread and then adding to the "problem"? My hunch is that some folks just don't like to see anything that argues against their own personal beliefs, but I may be wrong on that.
  • edited March 2012
    You'll notice me & Maurice have been very well behaved lately. I give him all the credit. (-:
  • edited March 2012
    Yep - part of the fun was getting under Roy's skin. I'd venture to guess there's actually less of the really "bizzaro" stuff put up now than there was than - you and me excepted of course! (-:
  • edited March 2012
    The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • Hi Maurice- to try and answer your question, no, I don't have any exact idea how many anonymous posters there have been, but I do skim through most posts, and it's my definite impression that there really have not all been all that many. You make an excellent point with regard to the acceptance of a wide variety of financial ideas. That's one of the reasons that I find this group to be so attractive- exposure to such a wide variety of perspectives.

    With respect to the privacy issue, I agree with you on that also.

    Regards- OJ
  • Reply to @Maurice:

    To reinforce your point to perhaps hypothetical anonymous-or-bust hold-outs: It is easy enough to accomplish almost the same degree of protection by creating a new gmail account with an email address like [email protected]. If you set up email forwarding from that account to one of your "real accounts", you can even still get convenient notifications from the site. Then the privacy issue is really limited to the linkage of your indirect email address to your direct one in the gmail account system, and you get more functionality, too.

    This indirect approach won't satisfy the rigorously anonymous user who only posts via three layers of proxy servers in different countries to keep your true IP address out of the web logs of MFO, but it really ought to satisfy the "casually anonymous" user who is just trying to protect against accidental disclosure onto the Internet of an everyday email address by a well-intentioned site with a small support team.

    The anonymous-or-bust user still could just take the approach of not using notifications, and leaving the [email protected] account out on an island, unlinked to anything else that could be related to him/her.

  • Reply to @Maurice: Chip looked at this before we pulled the plug. Her best guess was that there were two or three ongoing anonymous contributors; that is, people who signed as Anonymous_David on several occasions.

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