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What happened to this board?  It used to be a useful forum predominately for the discussion of BRK, FFH, and presentation and debate value stock ideas.  More and more over the last few years the board seems to be predominately a forum for discussing topics such as the following (actual threads posted in over the last month).  Some of these may be tangentially related to stock at some level (? mostly macro), but many are re-posts of whatever the yahoo finance headline of the day is (there is no need to re-post here for discussion...), most are unrelated to investments in any way and none deal with actual investment ideas. 

 

Summary: this board has become very littered and weeding through all posts to find those of value has become harder and harder.  In my opinion, the place used to be better when it was a forum predominately for the discussion and debate of specific trade ideas.

 

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General Discussion

 

Feel free to talk about anything and everything on this board

 

Perhaps that is poor design.

 

Or perhaps, as I've suggested, tools could be added (and I and other members have offered to pay a subscription fee to fund this) to enhance the ability for members to follow other posters or filter what is seen on the main window when logged in.

 

My argument still stands, the value of this board has been diminished as the main board has become littered with non investment related discussion.

 

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I don't mean to sound like a crank or unappreciative of parsads work, but I really think people have been taking too many liberties with posting anything and everything lately.

 

This is supposed to be a board with a specific purpose. If I wanted to go to a board with posts "about anything and everything", I'd go to reddit or 4chan. This board completely losses all value as posts about "anything and everything" crowd out actual discussion on specified investment ideas with no ability to filter through the randomness.

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The problem that I've noticed is there are many posts but they are by a few. So the stocks that we talk about are the relatively few belonging to those people.

 

Secondly, I feel (personal opinion ok) that too many people focus on known stocks and those that can make fireworks; for example, those that can double in 2-3 yrs.  That is perfectly ok, but that style seems to dominate a lot of discussions. I mean, how many times do I have to hear about BH or SHLD, to me a few points and after that both sides should agree that both have legit points and it is understandable that others may feel they belong in the too hard pile. But it doesn't work that way, basically most people just repeat their points ....

 

I personally don't mind people posting random topics, cos I have the time to filter them. But I just feel the investing focus is just so narrow on a few stocks. For example, I own SEB and I thought that is a ideal stock for this board. It is mid-cap, been around a long time, grown steadily, lots of acquisitions, but I cried out for people to comment with me, and then gave up. I finally concluded SEB just isn't sexy enough.

 

Another example, PM is another ideal value stock, fine say there are about 200 posts, if I start one for Karelia (smallcap tobacco) I bet there will be 6 posts and most people wouldn't care cos they never heard of it.

 

 

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My argument still stands, the value of this board has been diminished as the main board has become littered with non investment related discussion.

 

 

Though I've found your postings to be quite good, I disagree with the assertion above. I find this board to be extraordinarily valuable, still.

 

 

-Crip

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Another example, PM is another ideal value stock, fine say there are about 200 posts, if I start one for Karelia (smallcap tobacco) I bet there will be 6 posts and most people wouldn't care cos they never heard of it.

 

i'd be very interested to read about karelia.  but i probably wouldn't post in its thread, because i don't think i'd have anything useful to say.

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1. These niche forums tend to depend on a founding member who puts their time and energy into it, once they stop or reduce their involvement there's a downward spiral. Happens every time.

 

2. Twitter. People have realized they can ""monetize"" their skills better through twitter.

 

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When valuations are higher, this is actually the logical course of action, especially for individual investors, rather than lowering standards further and further and spinning trash as gold. When people don't have investment ideas, they don't have investment ideas.

 

Innerscorecard, what markets are you referring to where valuation is higher? There are 60,000 stocks that a North American investor can invest. There are always pockets of cheap stocks: eg., HongKong, Russia, Greece, many stocks in these areas are not trash as I think of the word.

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I agree with Innerscorecard. I think the key factor for a lack of ideas is we have had a 5 year bull market (in U.S. Stocks anyways). While there are pockets of cheapness most sectors are fully valued to expensive. Really comes down to your perspective on interest rates. If US rates are headed materially higher then stocks are expensive and bonds are in a bubble about to pop.

 

When the next correction in stocks comes (10-30%) I guarantee there will be many more more value investment ideas posted on the board. There is just not much that is out of favour.

 

Earlier this year I thought the large cap US banks were pretty cheap; you could have purchased JPM in the $55-$58 range. With JPM now trading at $66 it is still on the cheap side but not as much as 3 months ago. There simply are not a lot of sectors or companies that are in a bear market right now.

 

Circle of competence is also an important factor. Personally, I have had the best results buying best in class, large cap US stocks when they are out of favour. I have dabbled in Russian stocks, oil and gas stocks etc but I have learned that there are lots of other people who have a much better handle on currency markets and oil prices than me. I am happy to simply wait until the next bloodbath so I can find companies I understand trading crazy cheap. Not many of these around today.

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My argument still stands, the value of this board has been diminished as the main board has become littered with non investment related discussion.

 

How many seconds a day do you spend looking through the "littered" posts?  Right now there are about 10 threads with posts in the last 24 hours, and I ignore about 80% of them just by the title.  Takes me about 10 seconds a day to scan this board.  How in the world is the general section a big time suck for you? if anything i wish there were MORE posts in the general section

 

 

 

 

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When valuations are higher, this is actually the logical course of action, especially for individual investors, rather than lowering standards further and further and spinning trash as gold. When people don't have investment ideas, they don't have investment ideas.

 

Innerscorecard, what markets are you referring to where valuation is higher? There are 60,000 stocks that a North American investor can invest. There are always pockets of cheap stocks: eg., HongKong, Russia, Greece, many stocks in these areas are not trash as I think of the word.

 

I definitely agree that there are cheap stocks out there, or sure. But the crucial variable isn't whether there are cheap stocks on an absolute basis, or even enough cheap stocks for individual investors to be completely fully invested. It's whether valuation levels are higher or lower than they were when this board was more active. All those international opportunities existed then, too, but there were also more US and large-cap opportunities then as well. So the aggregate amount of actionable ideas is lower now than then, even if it is still enough for people to be fully invested. Some people will be entrepreneurial and risk-seeking enough to find the ideas that exist currently. That's why we still do have posts on this board. And others won't, which is why there are less posts than before. For example, copying 13Fs will be less frutiful than before, because this only draws from the universe investable for 13F filers.

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I agree with Innerscorecard. I think the key factor for a lack of ideas is we have had a 5 year bull market (in U.S. Stocks anyways). While there are pockets of cheapness most sectors are fully valued to expensive. Really comes down to your perspective on interest rates. If US rates are headed materially higher then stocks are expensive and bonds are in a bubble about to pop.

 

When the next correction in stocks comes (10-30%) I guarantee there will be many more more value investment ideas posted on the board. There is just not much that is out of favour.

 

Earlier this year I thought the large cap US banks were pretty cheap; you could have purchased JPM in the $55-$58 range. With JPM now trading at $66 it is still on the cheap side but not as much as 3 months ago. There simply are not a lot of sectors or companies that are in a bear market right now.

 

Circle of competence is also an important factor. Personally, I have had the best results buying best in class, large cap US stocks when they are out of favour. I have dabbled in Russian stocks, oil and gas stocks etc but I have learned that there are lots of other people who have a much better handle on currency markets and oil prices than me. I am happy to simply wait until the next bloodbath so I can find companies I understand trading crazy cheap. Not many of these around today.

 

Right, the thing to do when you don't see a lot would be to keep on digging and keep on monitoring, but if you don't find things, you don't find things. I don't see that as a problem. If anything, it's a tribute to people's discipline.

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What happened to this board?  It used to be a useful forum predominately for the discussion of BRK, FFH, and presentation and debate value stock ideas.

I would suggest looking for brk threads in the brk sub forum, ffh threads in the ffh sub forum and value stock ideas in the investment ideas sub forum..... This section is called general chat for a reason.

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What happened to this board?  It used to be a useful forum predominately for the discussion of BRK, FFH, and presentation and debate value stock ideas.

I would suggest looking for brk threads in the brk sub forum, ffh threads in the ffh sub forum and value stock ideas in the investment ideas sub forum..... This section is called general chat for a reason.

 

I like to use the Recent Posts section on the main page to see at-a-glance what new posts have been put up. It takes more time to open each subforum and check the latest posting date on each thread within.  I agree that General Discussion is largely noise.  I would prefer that posts from General Discussion did not show up in Recent Posts at all for the same reason that watsa_is_a_randian_hero mentioned, it clutters up and obscures the posts I'm interested in.

 

It would be nice option to have.

 

 

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The diffusion of topics doesn't bother me so much. The diffusion of quality, on the other hand...

 

That's it for me also. The quality of the board has diminished noticeably the last year or so. It's been a huge influx of new members combined with some of the older posters disappearing or at least going silent.

 

I don't mind off topic threads but the same question being asked over and over again is really annoying.

Apparently some don't know the forum has a search function to see if their question of comment has been asked before.

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Complaining about general talk on the general board, eh?  ???

 

You know what's great about discussion threads? They have a subject line. If the subject line doesn't interest you, don't click on it.

 

If you only want to talk about investing, don't go to the general board, as it's designed to be about investing and other things. By sticking to the Fairfax, Berkshire, and Investment boards, you should be able to easily avoid threads that are not about investing, including this thread.

 

And you know what? By not only just talking about balance sheets and NOLs, this board has become a community. The general board is very important to this forum, and maybe some people would have designed it differently, but I'm glad Sanjeev didn't try squash any non-investing talk. People here are smart, and I've learned a lot about other things from them, and I feel like I can size up many posters better because of the breadth of their posting.

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The diffusion of topics doesn't bother me so much. The diffusion of quality, on the other hand...

 

That's it for me also. The quality of the board has diminished noticeably the last year or so. It's been a huge influx of new members combined with some of the older posters disappearing or at least going silent.

 

I don't mind off topic threads but the same question being asked over and over again is really annoying.

Apparently some don't know the forum has a search function to see if their question of comment has been asked before.

 

Every online community that I've ever seen, about music, tech, everything, from the early days of the BBSes in the 90s, have seen complaints about this exact thing. Quality is apparently going downhill everywhere all the time. I doubt it'll ever change.

 

I think it's simply because everything changes, and people who were there early notice the difference and always feel like things were better when they were all new and novel for them and they were in a steeper part of their personal learning curve, feeling more productive.

 

Also, in this specific case, of course an investing board will have more juicy ideas when the market has just had the biggest crash in a 100 years than when things are more normal. Expecting things to go back to those crash days all the time is unrealistic.

 

I do miss Sanjeev's and Eric's more frequent posting, and I'm not immune from this, but the only way that people can actually do something about it is by posting stuff that they think is good. I encourage you all to do so if you don't like what you see from others.

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The diffusion of topics doesn't bother me so much. The diffusion of quality, on the other hand...

 

That's it for me also. The quality of the board has diminished noticeably the last year or so. It's been a huge influx of new members combined with some of the older posters disappearing or at least going silent.

 

I don't mind off topic threads but the same question being asked over and over again is really annoying.

Apparently some don't know the forum has a search function to see if their question of comment has been asked before.

 

Every online community that I've ever seen, about music, tech, everything, from the early days of the BBSes in the 90s, have seen complaints about this exact thing. Quality is apparently going downhill everywhere all the time. I doubt it'll ever change.

 

I think it's simply because everything changes, and people who were there early notice the difference and always feel like things were better when they were all new for them.

 

Also, in this specific case, of course an investing board will have more juicy ideas when the market has just had the biggest crash in a 100 years than when things are more normal. Expecting things to go back to those crash days all the time is unrealistic.

 

I do miss Sanjeev's and Eric's more frequent posting, and I'm not immune from this, but the only way that people can actually do something about it is by posting stuff that they think is good. I encourage you all to do so if you don't like what you see from others.

 

I actually thought about this earlier this morning, as you've said something similar on Twitter before when some formerly more active CoBFers were complaining about the quality of the board.

 

I agree that part of this is likely the lack of ideas that naturally occurs in an extended bull market and more posting from the quality posters would be a net benefit.

 

The only issue is that while increasing signal will help with the signal to noise ratio, it does nothing to slow the expansion of noise. (And here, I'm referencing noise within threads on investment ideas rather than noise as the diffusion of topics.)

 

I do occasionally wonder how much of this is the natural aversion to change though. The "America's best days have been behind it for the last fifty years" type nonsense. *shrug*

 

I suppose the correct attitude to take is the Munger-esque approach that while it used to be easier to find quality posts, we all just have to adjust to the reality of how things are now. And perhaps our assumptions are wrong -- why should it be so easy to find good ideas? Maybe working a little harder to find the gems isn't such a bad thing. There are greater tragedies in the world.

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What happened to this board?  It used to be a useful forum predominately for the discussion of BRK, FFH, and presentation and debate value stock ideas.

I would suggest looking for brk threads in the brk sub forum, ffh threads in the ffh sub forum and value stock ideas in the investment ideas sub forum..... This section is called general chat for a reason.

 

I like to use the Recent Posts section on the main page to see at-a-glance what new posts have been put up. It takes more time to open each subforum and check the latest posting date on each thread within.  I agree that General Discussion is largely noise.  I would prefer that posts from General Discussion did not show up in Recent Posts at all for the same reason that watsa_is_a_randian_hero mentioned, it clutters up and obscures the posts I'm interested in.

 

It would be nice option to have.

 

thats all I'm saying...without that option (or any other option for filtering the main page) this board becomes less valuable as it becomes more littered.

 

It would be nice *option* to have.  At least then those not interested in banter can ignore it.  Even better would be a post rating/ranking system of some sort.  And still better would be the ability to "follow" posters or filter stock ideas in other ways. 

 

Someone mentioned the 2 points of founder's withdrawal and Twitter as other reasons for the decline here.  I think both of those are valid.  However, I would suggest that the twitters-bloggers rise, like seekingalpha's rise, isn't solely due to posters seeking to monetize (as other forums like VIC and Microcapclub are still active), it is also due to the higher level of functionality of those media forums through filtering/following mechanisms.  Twitter-bloggers and seekingalpha have filtering functionality and controlled commentary while VIC and microcapclub have controlled membership. 

 

 

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So we're all reading constantly, 10Ks, 10Qs, conference call transcripts, news items on the companies we follow, blog posts, books on investing, books on tangential things (biographies, history, etc), right? That's what it takes to be a good investor as far as I know.

 

So if scanning a list of topics that changes by maybe 10-20 lines per day for those that seem interesting, or clicking on 2-3 sub-forums rather than looking at the recent post list, is suddenly too much work, I fear that this is the least of our problems as investors.

 

As I said, if you control for the fact that we just went through along period when everything was cheap, I'm pretty sure that the number of good ideas isn't doing too badly, and that if we go back there, the number will go back up again.

 

And besides, the more good ideas are buried, the less competition there will be for them, right?  ;)

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