"speaking of digging up the past, have you noticed the number of references to intercst in hocuses posts at the "research" board? "
Post Archives serve a purpose.
One of the criticisms you often hear of the new discussion-board communications medium is that the information presented is unreliable. The argument is that you cannot trust what you read on a board because anyone can write anything without first establishing that they are qualified to offer comments on the subject matter being addressed, as they would be if they were trying to teach a class or write a book or give a speech.
That's all true enough. But it is a criticism that ignores the other side of the story. Barriers to entry are equally low for those who want to challenge comments put forward on a board. Intercst did not have to show that he possessed any special expertise in SWR research before blasting his "findings" re the historical data at the various communities. But then I didn't need to show that I possessed any special expertise in SWR research before putting forward my questions about his methodology either.
So I do not accept this often voiced criticism of the new medium as a discrediting of it. The low-barrier-to-entry need not be viewed as a negative aspect of the discussion board experience. Yes, you get people who do not know what they are talking about posting their viewpoints. That happens all the time. So what? If YOU know anything about the subject matter, you can assess for yourself whether the arguments being advanced possess creditbility or not.
This important system of checks and balanced has broken down in our discussions of the realities of SWRs.
We saw 90-plus community members endorse the idea of exploring the realities in the early days of the discussions. Then intercst put up a post declaring that the "board culture" of the Motley Fool board demands "ridicule" of anyone questioning his views. That post was an insult to the entire community. It never should have been allowed to stand. That post is the single most problemmatic post we have seen in the entire matter, even worse than the death threat post, in my view.
With that post, community members who had been looking forward to an exploration of the realities of SWRs began leaving the board. The fact that that post was allowed to stand told them what they needed to know about the future of the Motley Fool board. It was no longer a resource for people interested in sharing information on how to achieve financial independence early in life. It had become a "cult of personality," as one community member referred to it in later days. Learning was out. "Thank you, intercst!" posts were in.
The most discouraging thing about that post was what it told us about the damage that had been done to the board community's self-respect as result of its long-ongoing enabling of intercst's fantasy that he is not capable of ever getting anything wrong. It was the signals I had picked up earlier re the board's gradual loss of self-respect that had caused me finally to come forward with what I knew re SWRs in the first place, remember.
The way this worked is that I held back on sharing what I knew for my first three years at the board. I knew that intercst was not going to like the idea of having to admit that he made a mistake, and I was concerned that the reaction likely to ensue would cause great damage to the community. It was my witnessing of the playing out of the smear campaign against Wanderer that caused me to decide that the time had arrived to come forward.
I don't recall the precise difference of opinion between intercst and wanderer that prompted the smear campaign. I believe that it was a real estate issue of some sort, and that means that it was an issue in which the intercst SWR dogmas played a big role. Intercst has gone so far off the deep end with his SWR claims that he cannot permit in-depth and informed discussions of any alternative to investing most of one's money in stocks. Wanderer argued in favor of real estate, lots of community members expressed an interest in knowing more of Wanderer's thinking on the subject, so Wanderer had to go.
It's played out that way over and over again at that board. I noted yesterday that there is not one highly effective on-topic poster who posts there today. There's a sense in which that is not true. BenSolar posts there at times, and he is a highly effective on-topic poster. It's the same with FoolMeOnce. So why did I make this claim?
Because neither BenSolar nor FoolMeOnce can ever hope to gain any traction for the ideas they put forward there. There are lots of community members who appreciate their contributions. But intercst will never permit discussions rooted in ideas not in accord with his dogmas to go anywhere too significant.
What I was told a thousand times is "You can post whatever you want at the REHP board." It's true in a literal sense. You can indeed post whatever you want. But there is a reason why they call it a discussion board and not a posting board. Posting is only half of the experience for me. I want feedback from the community re my ideas. I want to take the ideas somewhere, to explore their ins and outs, to enhance the insights, to grow them, to test them, to explore them.
That sort of thing is out. Wanderer was driven off the board for trying to do that (the hoary old internet trick of having a group of regulars come forward and proclaim that he was obviously suffering from mental illness was employed in the smear against him just as it was employed in the smear against me) and I was driven off the board for doing that.
Other posters notice that sort of thing, of course. There are lots of smart and creative people in the Motley Fool community (or at least there once were). Give those people the freedom to post in an informed and honest way, and they will turn that board into the most exciting board on the face of Planet Internet.
But they are not going to do it now, not knowing the sort of price that those offering honest and informed on-topic comments at that board are made to pay. The price of getting these people to participate in an effective way is telling intercst to knock off the funny business. There is no other way.
We cannot permit one individual's personality quirks to destroy the entire Retire Early movement. That would be an insane thing to do. A lot of community members have strong positive feelings towards intercst. That's fine. If there are a good number who want him to stay, I believe that we can work out an arrangement in which he would be permitted to stay.
It's important, however, that we get about the business of working out this arrangement in the not too distant future. Each month that passes without us doing so makes it harder to put together something that permits intercst to stay. If you really want him to stay, please start doing the things that need to be done and saying the things that need to be said that will make that possible.
Personally, I do not care whether intercst stays or not. He has caused enough destruction at this point that I just don't care anymore. But I am a community guy through and through. There is a large segment of the community that very much wants him to stay, and I don't make it a practice of ignoring strongly felt community wishes.
I'm here to tell you that you are playing this thing wrong. We are at a place today in which I believe that it is still possible to work out a solution that would make just about everyone pretty darn happy. The window of opportunity is closing. I don't mean that it will be entirely closed by the end of this week or by the end of this month. But there is going to come a day when the window of opportunity to do this in the way that a lot of us would like to see it done is going to be closed on us for good.
Think it over.