Motley Fool Takes Action

Research on Safe Withdrawal Rates


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Joined:Thu Jun 10, 2004 7:33 am
Motley Fool Takes Action

Post by hocus2004 » Wed Jun 30, 2004 3:33 am

Motley Fool took action today to defend its discussion boards from those who fail to respect community desires re how they should be run.

No, they didn't revoke intercst's posting priviledges. But I view the action take today as a significant step in that direction.

Here's a link to the thread in which the new board administration policy is announced. ... sort=whole

TMFTwitty: "The majority of the members who use this board [the Berkshire Hathaway board] have requested that off-topic political posts be placed elsewhere. This is one of the stellar boards in Fooldom, and we agree that it's becoming not much more than another Political Asylum. Therefore, we will begin agressively removing political posts, and we ask you cooperate by not posting them. Since there is so much to remove and you have received notice here, we aren't going to send a message to everyone who has a prior post removed. Going forward, we will do so."

Those who have flooded the Berkshire board with political nonsense gibberish have demonstrated a lack of respect for the community's purpose in establishing and building that posting community by doing so. Motley Fool community members each pay $30 to the company in part so that they can be protected from predators. It is TMFTWitty's job to take this sort of action.

There are predators present in the Retire Early Home Page board community as well. That board was established by intercst. It was built by hundreds of posters with an interest in facilitating discussions of strategies for achieving early retirement. Intercst was one of those who built the board, but only one. No one community member has a right to burn a board to the ground because of any personal embarassment he feels over getting a number wrong in a study. The board belongs to those who built in. It is not the exclusive property of the poster who happened to take 10 minutes to send an e-mail to Motley Fool requesting its formation.

There have been many posts in the history of the REHP board in which community members have expressed a desire for honest and informed on-topic debate. Intercst has ignored these many requests, for obvious reasons. Motley Fool has given him enough rope to hang himself, but in its action today Motley Fool is making it clear that it is Motley Fool that owns Motley Fool boards and that when necessary Motley Fool will take action in defense of its business interests.

The REHP board will be opened in future days to honest and informed posting on SWRs and other topics relating to early retirement. Great damage has been done to a large number of Motley Fool boards because of feckless site administration policies of the past. The action taken today encourages us that Motley Fool has become aware that it is paying a financial price for these poor decisions and that its corporate mind is opening to a weighing of the mertits of actions that in earlier times were not given serious consideration.

I will be adding posts to this thread in days to come documenting my claims above re the strong desire that has been expressed by REHP board community members for honest and informed on-topic debate.

It's getting exciting, folks.

Joined:Thu Jun 10, 2004 7:33 am

Post by hocus2004 » Wed Jun 30, 2004 4:23 am

Here's a thread at the "Improve the Fool" board where the question is asked as to whether the new policy will be applied to the Living Below Your Means board. ... sort=whole

TMFTwitty: "Oh stop. We love you all equally. I thought you got over that sibling rivalry nonsense."

Ox6a74: "would be nice to know which boards are stellar enough to warrant 24/7 troll police"

I think it is more than fair to say that the Retire Early Home Page board was at one time widely perceived as a "stellar" Motley Fool discussion board community. There are a number of posters who described it during its Golden Age as the most exciting board on Planet Internet.

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Post by JWR1945 » Wed Jun 30, 2004 4:52 am

I will be following this topic with interest.

Have fun.

John R.

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Post by Bookm » Wed Jun 30, 2004 4:58 am

Thanks for the update at TMF. Obviously, I no longer visit. It's quite amazing to me the direction that board has taken since I added it to my favorite boards back in late '97. Unfortunately, it's transformation into something else prompted me to remove it from my fav's 3-4 years or so later.

One part of the quote caught my attention:

The action taken today encourages us that Motley Fool has become aware that it is paying a financial price for these poor decisions and that its corporate mind is opening to a weighing of the mertits of actions that in earlier times were not given serious consideration

Translated: You hurt our pocketbooks, now we're gonna do somthin'.

Wall Street investment products suck because it's all about them and their revenue today. It's not about us and our income tomorrow. - Scott Burns

Joined:Thu Jun 10, 2004 7:33 am

Post by hocus2004 » Thu Jul 01, 2004 2:06 am

A post added to the Berkshire Hathaway thread after I put up the thread-starter here makes direct reference to the need for similar action to help the long-suffering Retire Early Home Page board community.

nil44: "This is a great step. But I would like to see some consistency. Could we please see the same kind of policing on the Retire Early Board? It is sickening to see postings on that board such as
That board has also become nothing other than another Political Asylum. Once in rare blue moon I actually happen to find a posting dealing with early retirement. But it is too rare."

I wonder why.

Joined:Thu Jun 10, 2004 7:33 am

Post by hocus2004 » Fri Jul 02, 2004 3:31 am

Snippets from the thread at the Berkshire Hathaway board on which the new Motley Fool policy was announced:

goodnessgracious: TMF is trying to do the right thing, but I don't think we needed a purge ("Since there is so much to remove..."). I believe TMF should stay out of this as long as off-topic posts are adequately labeled as such (OT) and as long as the tone remains basically civil.

TMFTwitty: The light hand didn't work. Over three quarters of the participants asked for an end to the political discussions. They were ignored, and the problem was escalating. I'd prefer that self-policing take the place of administrative intervention, and that's why I waited so long to make that announcement, but it wasn't working.

MadCapitalist: I agree with you generally regarding OT posts, except where politics and religion are concerned. These subjects are highly contentious and are particularly hard to ignore...It is like someone bringing Krispy Kreme donuts to work for everyone (which is very common here in North Carolina). They are very hard to resist. It is easier to resist the donuts if no one brings them in the first place.

Hartmanbirge: If you want to do this without seeming to be totally arbitrary then you'd damn well better be crystal clear on just where the lines are.... so without further ado....PU-LEASE define "OT" for me....the definition will say it all and in many ways define this new board and where we go from here.

DeliLama: A more appropriate analogy would be someone running a bunch of cartoons on the Travel Channel. There's nothing wrong with cartoons, it's just that they belong on Cartoon Network.

AlphaWolf: Now that this thread has degenerated into off topic posts about off topic political posts, will you be deleting it?

MadCapitalist: You will notice that nothing was said about OT posts in general, just political posts, which have a tendency to seriously degrade into ugliness....It is quite remarkable to me that some people are so adamant about not making this small concession.

Hartmanbirge: My major concern is where the line is drawn and who does the drawing.... Someone or some group at The Fool is now going to play "Content Cop" and pick and choose what is allowed....and what is not. Yea I've got a problem with that - a big problem. Why take my time and energy to compose a post (and it takes a lot of both) when there is the possibility that someone deems it political and yanks it? What if the yanking-police tilt to the right politically? Or to the left? Won't they have a bias? What if certain board participants get "picked on" by our new yank-police? Yank-policeman X doesen't like Deli's content and "finds" something political so bummer...out it goes. All sorts of very bad images are racing through my mind right now. I firmly believe that the board content will police itself over time....naturally. The laws of nature being what they are if there is no interest or audience in certain topics then they will die their natural death... whithering away into nothingness. But try to come in with a heavy hand - and it can't help but be an arbitrary hand - and it will likely get screwed up - effects will take time to play out but there will most certainly be effects.

PhoolishPhillip: I think you are walking over a slippery slope here. How are you going to determine what is a political post? If someone brings up a discussion of whether a Catholic can ethically invest in Berkshire given Buffett's support of population control measures, is this a political post? Is it not relevant to a discussion of Berkshire Hathaway?

shatterd: I'd like to know if the Gardner's approve of this.

shatterd: 3/4ths of the board would probably want Ghu to stop asking for a dividend...but that doesn't mean that Ghu's password should be deleted from the Fool database.

MadCapitalist: As I have said over and over again, I merely prefer that people don't start political threads on this board. A very strong majority agrees with me. Why are you so bothered by me stating my opinion?

neuroberks: The only reason I am accessing TMF BRK board, after paying a subscription fee, is to get information or insights on issues related to BRK and also to get involved in discussions related to BRK. For this reason, I am all for the policy of TMF in enforcing the rule of this board in limiting the posts to BRK related issues....When you signed up for TMF board, you should follow TMF rule....It is hard to talk about business in a lounge when many drunkards are arguing about potical issues next to you.

MadCapitalist: Â￾the problem is that an overwhelming majority want it to stop, but a few people want to continue to do it anyway.

500PSI: Mad caps poll is whether people would prefer self censorship over TMF censhorship, of course we all prefer it, but it doesnt work.

MadCapitalist: It's kind of like passing gas in a room full of people. Sure, relieving the pressure is pleasurable for you, but most people would prefer that you do it elsewhere. Most people voluntarily make the concession of going elsewhere or restraining themselves out of consideration for others. This is not always the case though. Some people aren't as considerate of others and just let it rip.

dxwils3: I am new to this board. I thought it'd be a great place to learn something about BRK. So far, I've learned there are few liberals, many conservatives, and a bunch of people who write idiotic things like "the thing I can't stand about liberals is that they stereotype conservatives." There's also some stuff about BRK, but there don't seem to be many replies in those threads.
If you want a place to have these discussions with your TMF BRK friends, go to yahoo and create a group called TMFBRKOfftopic.

MarkMarcellus: I agree with you in principle, but this was an exceptional situation. When the BRK thread shows me over 20 new posts, and when I click on it and find two screens worth of "ignored thread yap", either I don't belong here or things have gotten out of hand. If any of you are truly dissatisfied, start a "BRK with politics" thread [I believe he meant to say 'start a "BRK with politics" 'Â￾ board]. I promise to stay away, and I'm sure TMF will let those who choose to participate screed away to their heart's content.

Joined:Thu Jun 10, 2004 7:33 am

Post by hocus2004 » Wed Jul 07, 2004 1:01 am

Here is a link to a post that I put to the Motley Fool board on August 10, 2002:

Here is the full text of the post:


Thanks for your post.

I've had a few e-mail conversations with TMFBogey as this debate has proceeded because I want to avoid violating any Motley Fool rules as to the extent to which a non-board founder may question conclusions of a board founder. I've noted in earlier posts that, while TMFBogey prefers open debate as an ideal, he also grants some deference to what he refers to as "board culture."￾

So I have tried to monitor whether my effort to get a discussion started on some investing ideas that have not been discussed on this board in the past disrupts the board culture in any way. I believe that there are arguments that can be made that it does. Certainly most of the threads relating to this effort have been far less pleasant to read than the average RE board thread. Posts like yours, however, suggest something different, that there are people who come to this board who appreciate threads on Retire Early investment ideas that have not been discussed here previously. I keep a file of such comments that I refer to from time to time when I am having a debate with myself whether to continue the effort to encourage such discussions or to drop the idea.

Set forth below is a sample of some of the comments from posts I have entered in my file. Set A is a set of comments suggesting that the person posting likes the idea of a broader range of investment discussions. Set B is a set of comments suggesting that people participating in the debate have gained some insight or another from the effort. If people are enjoying the debate or learning from it, that suggests to me that it is not entirely disruptive to board culture to try to advance it.

I believe that we all would be learning a lot more if there were some way to make the debate less argumentative in nature. But even under current conditions it does not seem to me that the effort has been 100 percent a waste of time.

Please understand that I do not believe that any of the posters below agree with my views on investing. Most do not, or agree with some aspects of my views and not others. The point of the collection of posts is not to show that others agree with me, but to suggest that there are people other than me who would like to see a variety of investing options discussed on the board.

Set A: Posters Who Enjoy Broad Debate:

Vickifool Post #66931.

Vickifool thinks this was a worthwhile and useful thread. This board is a good place to discuss these things until you understand them. Much better than arguing religion or political jingoism, IMHO. Look at all the bandwidth that's been wasted on those topics lately.

I have had to stop and think, Now is Hocus right? You are certainly convincing (good writer that you are) so I really had to look carefully at what you had to say and why it was, or was not, correct.

UCalgaryGeer Post #66959.

Thanks to everybody for a fascinating discussion; imagine my shock when the top ranked posts on REHP suddenly started to be about retiring early! :)

FoolMeOnce Post 68454.

The REHP "safe withdrawal" study speaks not at all to the issues involved in the accumulation stage and doesn't help a single soul to accelerate the process of achieving early retirement. All it does is prescribe a method which some individuals could use to help insure that they don't outlive their assets, once they are accumulated. This is not unimportant, but receives entirely too much focus here.

nnn12345 Post #66842.

HOCUS--IMHO, you have started one of the most interesting and stimulating discussions this board has seen in a long time. It would be a loss for this board to not have such discusions.

Although the majority of posters may completely agree and be entirely comfortable with the premise of the 4% safe withdrawal rate, I for one simply find it to be a useful concept and tool which perhaps could be refined and improved if only challanged and questioned a bit. I hope that you will keep on posting your thoughts, comments, and provocative insight.

Dagrims Post #73316.

I'm enjoying this discussion, hocus, even if others may be tiring of it. I enjoy reading your posts and discussing these issues helps flesh out my thoughts and ideas much better. If you'd like to, feel free to email me privately to continue.

BobBluff Post #66725.

I very much appreciate this thread, especially the points brought up by hocus....we should not become fixed on the "one way to do it". Different folks have used different methods to achieve FIRE....

nmckay Post #66709.

I do think you're on to something about valuation that should be
addressed. Keep at it. This has been one of the best threads we've had in a while.

JWR1945. Post #73284

I am continually frustrated by the attacks and diversions caused by those who restrict retirement and investment discussions to a very limited range....The mechanical structure of investing that makes the Retire Early study so very valuable also limits its applicability. That should be an advantage. It should cause people to think and to extend the research rather than to apply it in a mindless, mechanical manner.

Post 69209

We can provide real help to real people by extending the applicability of the Retire Early Safe Withdrawal Rate studies. Seldom can they be extended to answer questions directly. But they can provide valuable insights for making sound decisions. People do need answers to questions that extend well beyond a very narrowly defined set conditions that are not clearly delineated.

FriendlyGirl Post #70633.

The universe of the safe withdrawal study is limited, this is true. The data is insufficient to include many asset classes that are open to and might prove useful to investors. But even for these people the safe withdrawal study can be some help, if limited.

Perhaps intercst's website could use a more extensive discussion of asset allocation and how you might go about determining it. I don't think everyone is served by having an optimized asset allocation.
Basically, I agree with you that we could expand the conversation.

mhtyler Post #70573.

I have let Hocus know that if he forms up a new group that is more supportive of alternative retirment discussion that I'll be there, because as good as this group is, it doesn't appear that it will ever get beyond the mathematics of the efficient frontier...helpful though they are.

JAFO31 Post #68952

FWIW, it [the debate you are proposing] would not bother me. I might even kibitz from the sidelines on occasion with questions, but I doubt that I would be a heavy or regular contributor.

path40a Post #73291.

I quickly realized that there was an on-going debate and some history between someone named intercst and someone named hocus. Both seemed to present thoughtful information, albeit from differing viewpoints (always good, IMNSHO). I then noticed that the tone of the discussion shifted to one which was quite combative, with perhaps an endgame intending to silence the less popular opinion. My fears were confirmed when Ms. Coy joined the board and was quickly attacked for expressing her ideas.

While I see nothing wrong in taking sides in a debate, I find the goal of silencing dissenting voices appalling. Surely there is more than one way to FI and RE!
inparadise Post #68951.
I am very open for new topics, and think that though the various threads triggered by your issues have been excessively long and cantankerous, some excellent points have been raised.

Post #68869.

There are situations and personalities where the SWR just won't always work, because the people won't be able to stomach the volatility of the approach. Hocus, (and correct me if I'm wrong, Hocus,) thinks among other things that this is an issue that should be brought up and explored, a warning to those considering the system if you will. I think he has a very valid point.

FoolMeOnce Post #68775.

I don't dispute any of your [referring to intercst] math exercises and never have. But you wear them like a protective cloak insulating you from the reality that the performance of 100% equity portfolios is little more than an interesting
intellectual exercise and teaching tool. You appear not to understand that in terms of application to real people, in a real world, such examples are useless, because they simply can't be put into practice by enough people to make them meaningful.

Daryll40 Post 68692.

I have read with interest the HOCUS-inspired look at equity-heavy portfolios. I kinda fall somewhere in the middle. I have NEVER EVER been comfortable with a high proportion of equities and even when I started here, back in 1999 when the Dow was going to 36000 "tomorrow, I always felt uncomfortable with the exact Intercst approach....In the end, the answer to MOST things is "in the middle" as it is here.

nas90skog Post 68597.

So far the "Masterminds" have successfully driven away most of the real estate investors and who knows how many other "evil non-conformists". The techies frustration with humanists that intercst referred to is no doubt as equally frustrating to the humanists. Having served on the engineering side of things, I can certainly acknowledge and relate to the arrogance and self proclaimed superiority of the "techie" view of the world. It was not until I became more aware of the "human" side of the equation however, that life revealed a broader value and potential. For me personally, I "get" what Hocus is
trying to say.

[in response to an intercst asserion that he is "heartened"￾ whenever FoolMeOnce or nas90skog find his posts repugnent] My recollections are that FMO has made a diligent effort to steer clear of petty bickering when he has presented his personal experiences in real estate investing. Why would you be put off by that type of person?...Sincerely appreciative of the work done by intercst, et al regarding FIRE management, but for me, its only part of the puzzle. And at times, the pompous arrogance that can permeate the board just becomes a bit overwhelming.

holzgrafe Post 68887.

Perhaps it will help if people on all sides (note not "both" sides ;o)) spend a little more time attempting to define the issues they wish to discuss in a given thread...I do think that good boards have a focus, often set by the founder or the gurus, and that, while discussion and new insights are valuable, significant departure from that focus belongs on its own board.

Certainly the focus here is RE, not SWR as such, but it seems to me that discussions on this board should focus on how best to achieve investing efficiency. What I mean by efficiency in the accumlation stage is the most rapid accumulation of the necessary wealth and in the distribution phase the
maximum disbursable income consistent with longevity.

In both cases, the approaches espoused should be based upon generally-agreed-upon constraints, and I think it is very important that those constraints should be explicitly stated. If the participants in a discussion cannot agree upon the constraints, the chances of the discussion going anywhere useful are pretty much nil.

We have the same sort of hassles on the MI board over a different subject, and it's really depressing how little communication is achieved on either side. It's like one philosophy is being expressed in English and the other in Chinese. I think that breakthroughs in communications are starting to appear on both boards, but it's a slow and frustrating process.


Post 1942 on Real Estate Board.(making reference to efforts to discuss non-MasterMind straategies at RE board.)

Perhaps a public discussion forum is not the appropriate place for those who can tolerate no dissension--or take what dissension there is personally... The core group at the REHP seems to be quite set in their ways, a result, possibly, of having retired and now having no compelling reason at such a young age to remain flexible in their thinking.

For example, there's hardly a shred of support on the REHP for real estate as a road to early retirement. Maybe that's because the original board-opening requester is anti-real estate to the extreme, in my opinion. You'd think by now the board would have evolved to include this very important component of wealth. I do not see that happening because of the sometimes virulent reaction to anything but the party line.

Moghoper. Post 68894.

I think it was a tremendous debate. I think there are many people who agree with you - and while some do not, that should be ok in a debate. And while some have even gone to the point of being borderline abusive during the xpression of their opinions, I don't think this prevented you from posting your opinions.

Agree or not, this is as spirited as the board has been in some time.

Set B: Posters Who Have Learned From Debate Thus Far:

rkmacdonald. Post 68981.

In this case, I think it could be argued that this person's Personal SWR is actually 2% and not the Unemotional SWR of 3.7%. In fact, I wonder just how many people living right on the edge of the Unemotional SWR world really would have the personality and steel, to stay the course following a 1929 (or maybe a 2000) style market collapse. Is it possible that no real person actually has a Personal SWR that is as high as the Unemotional SWR!!

I wonder if there is some way to introduce a modifier to the
Unemotional SWR, that would predict the true Personal SWR for each individual based on their personality and risk tolerance?

Patnbj Post 68793.

There certainly are differences for those who attempt to ER with a small portfolio. Let's compare two ERs who are both single with no kids. #1 has a portfolio of $2 million and #2 has $500k.
#1 has a lot more options than #2....

DaveLee Post 69080

Even the coarsest of stock valuation measures, if accurate, could benefit stock market withdrawals by increasing the average price of shares sold over 5 to 6 year periods. (Some people call this market timing. I
do not.)....

I would end up with an equity allocation somewhere closer to 40 to 60% with fixed income instruments of mostly intermediate duration.

stoferj Post #73266.

What I've come to appreciate over the past couple years is the value of asset allocation. A lot of people think that if you've got a 30 year investment horizon you should be 100% in equities.

Well that may very well work for some folks but I can't stand the volatility. I'm going to investigate building a portfolio that includes some real estate, bonds and hard assets as well as equities. I need a smoother overall return. This up 30% one year down 40% the next is too hard on the stomach.

FoolMeOnce Post #68738

Depending on how early you want to retire and actual market performance, the middle of the road approach may actually get you to your starting nut quicker. It will certainly propel you in that direction more predictably.

An increase in savings rate may also obviate the need to work for a longer period. With a high reliance of equities during the accumulation stage, even an increased rate of savings may not help much if the market turns against a portfolio heavily weighted in equities.


This debate between the efficient-frontier advocates and the skeptics is fascinating....Harry Markowitz, the discoverer of modern mean-variance portfoio theory (i.e., the theoretical underpinnings upon which the Safe Withdraweal Study rests) who won the Nobel Prize in Economics for this work, apparently does *not* allocate his assets in accordance with the efficient frontier; he actually uses something like a naive 50-50 stocks/fixed-income split, because his goal is to "minimize future regret".

FoolMeOnce Post #69060.

Based on periods as long as 29 years, from my own simple models it is obvious that by judiciously diversifying into other asset classes it is possible to exceed the returns of the S&P 500 with less risk (as measured by standard deviation). By increasing returns while simultaneously holding the volatility down, I am confident that the maximum withdrawal rates can be increased significantly. A twenty nine year period includes the bear of 73/74, the crash of 87 and the recent unpleasantness, but is still not 130 years.

The question is should we constrain ourselves to asset classes for which more than a century of data is available or not? There is no good answer to this question beyone "more is better", but 29 years is good enough for me.

[in ressponse to an early retiree who revealed to the board that he has recently lessened his stock allocation in response to price drops]

Far from reacting emotionally as another responder has said, it seems to me that you're simply reacting to the market. I'd expect your strategy to minimize your losses, but also temper your ability to see upside. I'm doing exactly the same thing, but I've reversed from 70/30 equity/fixed to 30/70.

My ultimate goal...and possibly yours too is to see that reverse
back again, but if you're newly retired (2yrs) as I am you may seek to minimize your risk rather than prove out all the fancy RE philosophy of this board on your way to the poor farm.

JWR 1945 Post 68582

It would be nice to know the effects of a more rational allocation of the fixed income component. Currently, the fixed income component is mechanically reinvested and rebalanced every year. However, because the income of a fixed income investment is highly predictable (when held to maturity even when inflation is taken into account), fixed income investors can take advantage of locking in favorable yields for longer periods and investing in shorter term instruments when yields are low. In addition, an investor may choose among fixed investment classes whenever he rebalances his portfolio.

Post 69074

I also see great merit in extending the usefulness of the Safe Withdrawal Rate study. Right now there is (roughly speaking) only one question that it answers. That answer is always right if that one question is asked. More often the study gives the wrong answer because the wrong question is asked. Sometimes that answer is very close to the correct answer. If so, it is very useful. Sometimes that answer is not only wrong, but it is dead wrong. At the same time, it gives one a false level of confidence.

I prefer to think in terms of opportunities. If hocus had relied on a single answer from the Safe Withdrawal Study, he would never have saved money. Lots of people are like that...if the only option for handling risk is to change from 25 times your desired withdrawal rate to some bigger number; retirement becomes an unobtainable goal. But hocus has demonstrated that other options are available. I think that the applications of the Safe Withdrawal Study can be extended to make many more dreams come true. It answers only one question. But it can provide helpful information for a lot of questions.

Post 68916

The book ["Stock Cycles"￾Â￾] suggests that a there really is true Safe Withdrawal Rate...derived from the same data but using a different approach...that varies with market valuation.
We have a sensitivity study that shows that minor differences in
withdrawal amounts caused by small errors or differences in the details of the Safe Withdrawal
Rate calculations result in large variations in the outputs...the number of years at an acceptable level of risk.....We have another sensitivity study that shows that it often takes about a decade before you know how safe your withdrawals are.

Post 67551.

What hocus really needs are the tools to spot any problems by himself and to spot them early enough to fix things. He needs something better than that familiar me.

Post 67209

Great advances in science are made by studying the anomalies...the things that are not fully understood.

Post 66854

The fact that there were only three bad periods to start a retirement in the twentieth century indicates that you probably can vary allocations successfully as long as your actions are based on decade long variations and not one or two year changes. So far, it seems as if some changes in the percentage of stocks and in the type of cushion (commercial paper, TIPS, 5 year treasuries, long term treasuries) do make sense....

If you share hocus's concern about valuations, think of your investments in terms of two portfolios. The first is the basic growth account at the best allocations indicated by the studies and the other is your reserve account that lets you sleep at night. Maybe that can help clarify your thoughts. If the basic account goes nowhere for a decade...and it will be able to handle it. Personal considerations are always the most important in any financial decision.

** Regular
Joined:Thu Jun 10, 2004 7:35 am
Location:Northern CA

Post by th » Wed Jul 07, 2004 10:59 am

Bookm wrote:Thanks for the update at TMF. Obviously, I no longer visit. It's quite amazing to me the direction that board has taken since I added it to my favorite boards back in late '97. Unfortunately, it's transformation into something else prompted me to remove it from my fav's 3-4 years or so later.

One part of the quote caught my attention:

The action taken today encourages us that Motley Fool has become aware that it is paying a financial price for these poor decisions and that its corporate mind is opening to a weighing of the mertits of actions that in earlier times were not given serious consideration

Translated: You hurt our pocketbooks, now we're gonna do somthin'.


Note that those comments are NOT part of the quote, they are part of Hocus's editorializing.
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. - Nietzsche

Joined:Thu Jun 10, 2004 7:33 am

Post by hocus2004 » Wed Jul 14, 2004 12:11 am

Motley Fool has indicated that its decision to limit off-topic posting at the Berkshire board is the result of a new policy with implications that extend beyond just that one board. This post was put up yesterday at the AMD board.

TMFTwitty: "We've received a lot of complaints about this issue [off-topic political posts]. Most people don't mind an occasional post of interest about topics other than AMD and investing, but too many of them and the utility of the board is compromised for the majority of users. Please use the political boards for casual political discussion."

Joined:Thu Jun 10, 2004 7:33 am

Post by hocus2004 » Tue Oct 19, 2004 2:58 am

TMFTwitty indicates in the thread linked below that the new Motley Fool policy of reining in off-topic posting at the Berkshire-Hathaway board does NOT apply at the Retire Early Home Page board.

A poster named "Ceberon" put up a post at the REHP board complaining about the lack of on-topic posts. He was slashed for doing so, as are most posters who request that honest and informed on-topic posting be permitted there. Ceberon started a thread at the Improve the Fool board complaining about the trend at the Motley Fool boards in which off-topic posting is coming to dominate at more and more board communities. ... sort=whole

Ceberon: "If this was a free service, there would be no point in complaining, since obviously the Fool can run their boards however they want.

"On the other hand, with the election getting closer, so many boards are becoming infiltrated with so much political spam. I pay for the service to discuss and listen to people talk about whatever issue is supposedly covered by the board. If it's the Retire Early board, I want to learn about retiring early. If it's the live below your means board, I want to learn about it.

"If there are a few posts mixed in off topic, then fine, we can ignore them. However, this is not a chatting community about whatever people feel like. It's a financial resource. I've heard the explanation that "People on the board like the off topic posts". That's nice, but people should not be able to "claim" boards on a paid service. If they want to chat with their friends, they should get their e-mail addresses, or perhaps make a new board called "Nokia Off Topic" or something like that.

"It's frustrating to know that until the election takes place, these off topic posts will get worse and worse, and the value of my subscription is lowered as well. I think the Fool really needs to crack down on the Off Topic posts, or at the least require off topic posts to have OT (or off topic) in front of them to signify that the post is off topic. When there are hundreds of posts every day and over half are useless, it is a large waste of my time. "

TMFTwitty: "Thanks for posting your thoughts on the subject. While many people use the boards strictly for utilitarian purposes, there is a definite social element involved. In many ways, it's the glue that holds people together here. Where a clear majority of a board's members prefer to remain strictly on topic, we have assisted in that preference.

Rather than one large community, the Fool community is made up of thousands of micro-communities, with varying preferences and 'local' standards. What works in one place may be inappropriate for another. It's fair to say that on some boards, there wouldn't be much (if any) activity were it not for discussion of a broad range of subjects.

"What you suggest is often done, especially where a significant number of people object to social interaction on a utilitarian board. On the Retire Early Home Page, it's evident that most of the participants like it the way it is. The board was member-created, and they are using it to suit their own purposes. Demanding that they stay on topic would create a lot of acrimony, and be akin to herding cats."

Ceberon: "It's good to know that the Retire Early board was a member created board. That makes things a bit different. Of course if someone makes their own board they can do what they want, I just didn't want the political stuff to spread to all the boards. As long as these other boards stay focused, everything's fine with me. "

Thurst: "Why shouldn't TMF change the name of a that evolves to an off-topic social/political board?"

rinjr715: "What TMF seems to do a lot of the time is to let a problem go unsolved if fixing it would cause more trouble in their opinion than leaving it unfixed. Like Twitty says, if most of a board's posters like a board the way it is, strictly enforcing rules such as OT only whizzes more people off than the OT posts do. They are also extremely lax about other rules on boards where they are commonly broken, with PA being the most glaring example. The uncivil and tasteless posts over there are a disease, but it ain't worth your time FAing them because they'd pull 100+ posts a day off that board if they pulled all uncivil and tasteless posts there, so they just let that board go hog wild. I only FA stuff I'm sure they'll pull, and only a small fraction of that. I don't waste my or their time with a post I know they won't pull, even if it is a violation. That board is a real mess. "

***** Legend
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Post by JWR1945 » Tue Oct 19, 2004 6:56 am

It seems as if the Motley Fool is interested in keeping Warren Buffett around but not necessarily others.

Have fun.

John R.

Joined:Thu Jun 10, 2004 7:33 am

Post by hocus2004 » Thu Jan 27, 2005 6:52 am

Here is a link to a thread that appears today at the Motley Fool's Living Below Your Means board: ... e#21973511

Quote #1: "I emailed the guy with some advice about chilling out wrt the daughter situation. He didn't take to kindly to that and said so. in 108 emails."

Quote #2: "Are you saying that he's somehow sent you 2000 e-mails in the last day or so?"

Quote #3: "He's bombing with forged headers and my serverside blocking doesn't work too well."

Quote #4: "He's shown a looooong history of it on these boards.Don't let the guy know where you live."

Quote #5: "Quote from his email just before the roughly 7000 identical emails showed up:
It is a shame that your defective cousin didn't take you with him.
Beyond that I am going to mail bomb you because I said don't email me. "

Quote #6: "I'm becoming more and more worried for his family, now. I can imagine any number of "Look at what you made me do!" LifeTime movies-of-the-week scenarios playing out while he deals with the separation anxiety of leaving the Fool and all of his friends after all of these years. "

Quote #7: "Last thing i need is him at my door with a chainsaw."

Quote #8: "I think he prefers intimidating men by jamming a gun in their mouth."

Quote #9: "Y'all may want consider that just maybe, perhaps in some small way, almost, that under TMF's rules about being "civil", one or two of you guys may just maybe, perhaps, almost be considered "uncivil" towards Jim?"

None of these comments relate to any member of the Retire Early/FIRE/Passion Saving community. Their relevance to our SWR discussions is that they show the mess that the current TMF site administrators have made of things by their failure to administer the site rules in a reasonable manner.

Post #9 makes a very important point. We have no way of knowing how many, if any, of the earlier comments are fair ones, What I hope that we all can agree on is this--People who come to a public discussion board for the purpose of sharing ideas on how to manage their money should not have to be exposed in any way, shape, or form to this sort of ugliness. It does not belong.

The published Motley Fool rules were written for a purpose. I have reason to believe [but I am not certain] that they were written in large part by Tom Garnder, the co-founder of the Motley Fool site. It appears to me that Garnder was trying to protect the sie and the site's customers from the sorts of ugliness that have become endemic as a result of the current site administrator's unwillingness to enforce the published rules in a reasonable manner.

Many community members seem to think that this issue is going to go away by some sort of magical process. I don't see how this can ever happen. People put themselves at risk when they post to discussion boards, and it is not reasonable to expect them to do that unless the community that benefits from their posts provides them with some minimal protections from abusive posters. We simply must do this. If you care about the future of discussion boards, you need to think long and hard about this issue. If you think long and hard about it, I am confident that you are going to come to the conclusion that reasonable posting rules must be enforrced at all boards that hope to achieve any significant levels of long-term success.

It is not just Motley Fool that has this problem. All boards either have the problem or have taken steps to address the problem by both adopting and enforcing reasonable site admiistration rules. We need reasonable enforcement of reasonable rules at NFB. We need it at We need it at the Early Retirement Forum. We need it at the board assoociated with We need reasonable enforcement of reasonable rules at all of these places and as of today we have it at none of them.

The current Motley Fool site administration policies cannot stand. Tom Gardner and David Gardner have built a business that stands for one thing and part of that business is a discussion board system that stands for something very different indeed. The Motley Fool vision is a wonderful vision--to educate, amuse, and enrich. There is no education, amusement or enrichment being advanced in the thread linked above (or in the earlier threads that led to the posting of this one). This sort of ugliness has to be brought to an end. I believe that the long-term success of the Motley Fool business depends on it. I believe that the long-term success of our other boards depends on it too. We are not going to be able to duck this one forever.

Joined:Thu Jun 10, 2004 7:33 am

Post by hocus2004 » Thu Jan 27, 2005 10:44 am

I try to avoid getting involved in any boards except those where personal advice and opinions are not a major component of the posts on the board.

These words were put to a Motley Fool board about an hour ago, on one of the many threads dealing with the matter at issue in my post from this morning. The guy (or gal) who posted these words could have been me in May 1999, the day before I put my first post to the REHP board. I had seen enough ugliness on discussion boards to know that I wanted nothing to do with it. So I did two things to protect myself from the nonsense: (1) I took a vow to post only to boards that deal in an explicit way with money issues, ones where there would obviously be no place for this personal smear ugliness; and (2) I decided to focus my posting at a site that possessed rock-solid protections against abusive posters.

The poster who wrote the words above is not safe so long as it takes only one poster to transform a money board into a nonsense board. Ultimately, it is the community that posts at a board that decides whether it will offer reasoned discussion of money questions or whether it will sink into the mud that too many other boards already inhabit. We have all the rules we need at all of our boards to turn them into places where civil debate is not only permitted but encouraged. And we also have the option of sitting on our hands while a minority with a different agenda comes to assert itself and over time gain increasing dominance.

A Living Below Your Means board should focus on living below one's means. A Berkshire-Hathaway board should focus on Berkshire-Hathaway. A Retire Early board should focus on retiring early. Those who aim to take it another way do not have the best interests of the community that formed at a particular board with the hope of exploring the designated subject matter of that particular place at heart.

Joined:Thu Jun 10, 2004 7:33 am

Post by hocus2004 » Thu Mar 17, 2005 6:28 am

Some words put forward this morning by TMFTwitty: ... sort=whole

TMFTwitty: "Insulation is good for houses and clothing in less temperate climes. It's not so good for large online communities where it's expected that there will be a constant influx of new members.

"The initial reception says a lot about who we are as a community. When we get so insular that new faces are met with suspicion right out of the gate, it's time to reexamine who we are, and what we profess.

"Part of the charm here sometimes is a jaded cynicism. It's a good defense against telemarketers and performance artists. Not so good when used indiscriminately, without giving the subject the benefit of the doubt. Imagine you are the new member reading what you are writing. Would you have stayed?

"Carrie Nation gave temperance a bad name. When we are conversing with new members, a bit of it can go a long way in making someone feel welcome, rather than shunned."

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