Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations!

People without love will sometimes build a fence around
The garden up above that makes this whole world go around.
And all those people that don’t fit,
They get the only fun they get
From people putting people down.

— John Prine, “People Putting People Down”

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #1

Rob’s da man! Never in the history of the Diehards forum has one poster, always making civil and well thought-out posts, managed to irritate so many without anyone being able to articulate a good reason as to why. — Mephistopheles, Vanguard Diehards board, June 4, 2006.

Cernsorship of Investing Discussions

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #2

It looks like a bunch of new people logged in for the express purpose of antagonizing one guy…. C’mon Morningstar. Remove those users. — focus, Vanguard Diehards, April 13, 2006.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #3

That is the way the heavy fist works. You make a few examples and everyone falls into line. No need for more shocks. It’s like the invisible fence for dogs. — JackM, Vanguard Diehards board, April 1, 2007.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #4

The majority opinion rarely needs protections from a constitution, laws or rules. It is the minority opinion that needs to be protected. –JohnYaker, Vanguard Diehards, March 29, 2007.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #5

It’s always easier to be with the thinking of the larger group. When ideas are wrong but aligned together with the mass, there is a warmth and consolation to be found in the midst of everyone being wrong together. — 71220, Income and Dividend Investing board, December 21, 2006.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #6

Morningstar has lost a significant number of folks who frequent this website in a very short period of time. That’s not just a matter of prestige. It translates into dollars and cents. There is a lot of advertising here (as we all know), and Morningstar like other commercial sites receives a revenue stream for the eyeballs that visit these forums. — Maurice, Income and Dividend Investing board, March 11, 2007.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #7

I find it MUCH more disruptive that we have a whole posse of internet sheriffs that feel every time he posts that he should be attacked, criticized and so forth…These are the disruptive people, and if anyone was to be banned, they (without naming names) are the first I would suggest…Jesus, people, if you think he is a troll *IGNORE* him…Why is that so difficult to understand? Or are you all saying you don’t like what he has to say, so nobody else has a right to hear it either? Who exactly died and left you all in charge of other people’s opinions? — Farmer Ed, Early Retirement Forum, March 18, 2005.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #8

Rob Bennter First Posted About Errors in the Old School Safe Withdrawal Rate Studies on May 13, 2002

That’s incredible hocus! They put a board up just to mock you? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that one before. That’s what I call mature web site management.

You should be flattered. You really should. You’ve got that guy so messed up it’s not funny. Or is it? — ES, SWR Research Group, February 7, 2005.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #9

For whatever reason, you are leaving a turbulent wake in your path…. I used the term “turbulent wake” deliberately — it’s not what you are saying that seems disruptive, but rather all the dialog that inevitably takes place afterwards. — Bill Sholar (author of the FIRECalc calculator and former owner of the Early Retirement Forum), E-Mail to Rob, March 18, 2005.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #10

It seems to me that some on this board feel threatened by the arrival of hocus and his ideas. They feel a threat to their perceived elite status here. Two common reactions are to debate or attack. Those who choose to attack or do both are straining their credibility. — Gary1Putt, Motley Fool board, December 24, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #11

It’s unfortunate that a few posters can cause so much disruption to an otherwise excellent forum. I’m sure that 90+% of posters here would like to see an end to the disruptive posts about hocus. — JohnDCraig, Vanguard Diehards board, May 13, 2006.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #12

Folks, we have a good bit of disruption in the ranks. Some of the disruption is in the form of a Baptist running occasionally into Methodist services, and claiming that some of their beliefs are heresy. This seems to generate (a) almost zero real dialog about the merits and demerits of the beliefs, and (b) a strange combination of ad hominem attacks and defensiveness. — Bill Sholar (Dory 36), Early Retirement Forum, March 18, 2005.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #13

I will point out that roughly 90% of the “mess”, aka disruption, came from members other than hocus. I’ve actively participated here for a week. Most of the posts are “I can’t take this anymore/I’m leaving/I’m retiring”. Despite the obvious fact that this feeds the very fear expressed, at this point I’m already tired of it. Leave already. — TH, Town Center, June 16, 2004.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #14

The Campaign of Terror Against the Retire Early and Indexing Discusson Board Communities

Hocus, Glad to see you back! I greatly enjoy discussing safe withdrawal rates but it probably would not have happened anytime soon if you hadn’t shown your interest in the topic. I really hope you’ll come back here from time to time. I plan on looking at more aspects of safe withdrawal rates and would like for you to participate. — raddr, FIRE board, December 2, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #15

Life is short. too short for Motley Fool or Mr. Greaney’s incompetence/ethics shortage/whatever ailment interferes with his ability to communicate facts in a straightforward manner. I don’t really care about how or why he’s that way. I care that his illness appears incurable and that that board is not useful to me. Period. — Wanderer, FIRE board, December 20, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #16

Thank you hocus for an excellent post. I have read, enjoyed and benefited from your comments for some time. You are a true asset to this community.With Immense Respect, FMO — FoolMeOnce, Motley Fool board, September 30, 2001.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #17

Glad to see you here hocus. I posted at Motley Fool but I am not optimistic. Several of the responses to your thoughtful post were of the “I’m not reading a hocus post” variety. Reminds me of kids covering their ears and shouting to avoid hearing something. — Ataloss, FIRE Board, December 2, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #18

I want to join in saying ” Well Done, hocus! ” People like myself and BenSolar who are in the accumulation phase I’m sure are especially interested in the issue of what to do about buying in during a high P/E market. It goes to the heart of some of the difficult issues we face outside the subject of safe withdrawal rates. — PeteyPerson, FIRE board, July 14, 2003.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #19

Some of the most helpful and insightful market discussions on the web take place on these pages. Keep up the very fine work. — MacDuff, SWR Research Group, September 7, 2004.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #20

Right on, Hocus! We need lots more of this kind of thinking. I’ve long been concerned about the non-number-crunchable aspects of trying to figure out a Safe Withdrawal Rate/Personal Withdrawal Rate. — PeterV, SWR Research Group, January 20, 2005.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #21

I, for one, am against any and all “substantive” discussions with or about brickhead (aka hocus). I want Jihad! I say let loose the dogs of personal attack. The nastier the better as far as I’m concerned. — Galeno, Motley Fool board, August 30, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #22

Well, I guess that settles it. The Emperor of the Retire Early Home Page had issued his holy decree. — John Greaney (intercst), Motley Fool board, August 30, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #23

My comment on galeno’s post was pulled for ‘incivility’. First, I want to apologize to galeno if he took offense at my ‘rude or discourteous’ post. Saying, “You doctors should stick to your drugs and leave bullets to soldiers like me” was rude and demonstrated a lack of courtesy to galeno on my part….. This advice assumes that you want to deliver the round with a handgun. If you prefer a shotgun (which is probably superior for home defense, but not for close quarters combat), then there are many options there, too. A rifle is not well suited for close quarters work…. — Prometheuss, Motley Fool board, November 25, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #24

Bull Market Biases

This will be my last post here. Thanks to all who have engaged in constructive posts on this board over the years. This board has degenerated into something that I can no longer be proud to be involved with. FoolMeOnce, Motley Fool, August 30, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #25

I remember FMO saying something to that effect [that a poster who continued to contribute at a board at which deliberate deception and abusive posting were regularly practiced would sacrifice his self-respect by doing so] when he left here. I recall my first thoughts being what a shame it was that an otherwise smart guy apparently took a discussion board, as well as himself, a bit too seriously if he indeed drew such a conclusion.

This is a frickin’ internet message board, not a debate amongst scholars in a Harvard coffee shop for cryin’ out loud. Get over it. — GolfWayMore, Motley Fool board, November 23, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #26

Personally, I can tell you I came very close to leaving the board as well, essentially for the same reasons. It just wasn’t fun anymore. We had gone from a support group to a group that delighted in attacking each other. Though I believe it has much improved from those days, if it were not for the “ignore thread” option, I wouldn’t be here now.

As much as I at times take issue with Intercst’s style, he is by no means the only one. I myself could have been much more tolerant when CatherineCoy entered the fray. Yet interestingly enough, these posts in which we attack others tend to be some of the most highly recommended, indicating that the root of the problem lies with the way the board culture has evolved. It is everyone’s fault who has recommended one of these biting posts. ….So is there an answer? I had a long hard look at that question when I first decided to leave the board. Boards are really living communities and as such evolve. This is the way this board has evolved, and I honestly miss the old board. IMO, lobbying for a return to nostalgic days is an effort in futility. — InParadise, Motley Fool board, November 23, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #27

I think this board is a mess. The acceptance and encouragement of personal attacks as ‘witty repartee’ is reprehensible. I for one am going to start fool-alerting every personal attack I see from here on out. I encourage others to do the same. I am not going to give the benefit of the doubt to ‘witty repartee’ any more. This is the only way that Motley Fool will see for themselves what is going on. I trust their judgment to do what is appropriate.

The other issue of the use of distraction, misdirection, and deception as debating tactics to defend the dogma is a tougher issue. I think that can best be addressed by forcefully, succinctly and clearly rebutting the deception and misdirection, then moving on. Distraction should be ignored. Extreme examples can be fool-alerted and the fool-alert should include documentation of why the post is disruptive.

Intercst will not exercise his leadership to reign in this behavior, and he indulges in it himself, so Motley Fool will have to step in. — BenSolar, Motley Fool board, November 24, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #28

I emphatically disagree that discussion boards are “just discussion boards.” We are flesh and blood PEOPLE here with goals, aspirations and FEELINGS. If all YOU are is an anonymous poster at the end of a keyboard, why even bother coming here? I assume you seek to enhance your life by exchanging viewpoints with real live PEOPLE who, if you were to meet them face-to-face, you would probably enjoy and admire.

My participation (lurking mainly, because I’m not so afflicted) with a melanoma discussion/support board has really changed my view of discussion boards. The love that emanates from that board is inspiring and tangible. I don’t think I will ever again think of the people typing behind the messages as “just a discussion board.” — Catherine Coy, Motley Fool board, October 9, 2003.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #29

The Conventional Retirement Studies Get the Numbers Wrong

Who determines what is looney? Based on what I paid to participate on the board, I would like to have that decision mine to make and not have posters driven off. Were we all having these discussions at a cocktail party, I doubt that we would treat each other in the manner that some people do. If FMO or hocus were involved in a discussion that you became involved in and you persisted in imposing your views, it is likely that the discussion would come to an end in short order. If it were to move to another part of the room and reconvene, would you feel the need, upon seeing them, to get involved again?

Do I think it will change? I am not confident. I have an acquaintance who participates in a message board for people suffering from a terminal cancer. The participants engage in many faceted discussions about treatments, trials, side effects, etc. Recently a patient remarked about the depression she was feeling. Posters offered advice and support in a variety of ways. One even offered her prayers. To make a long story short, this was offensive to some of the more logical and reasoned posters who wanted to stick to statistics and protocols. It turned into a battle that eventually led to the board having a cooling-off period. For pete’s sake…these people are all dying and they still end up in a battle because some of the engineers didn’t want feelings or spirituality brought to the board. Some things still defy my understanding.

I don’t think the potential of a message board is achieved when ridicule is part of its charter. Critical analysis yes, but when it becomes clear that there is an unsolvable difference of opinion, responsible posters will simply agree to disagree and step away while they allow the discussion to continue. Some of you may argue that will foster or allow illogical thinking. So what? If you are so sure you are right, truth will ultimately prevail and the posters will come around to your point of view on their own. I understand that this may be a foreign concept to some of the more argumentative types, but in my experience, truth usually prevails whether I argue for it or not.

Anyway, that’s my take. I came here 3 years ago because it was an interesting, educational and informative atmosphere that also had a spirit of community. It would be nice if some of the leaders of the board could get us back in that direction. When one’s philosophy of life is “My way or the highway”, he or she usually ends up dying alone. — Nas90skog, Motley Fool board, August 11, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #30

What I saw much more of was people claiming math errors when there were none, people putting words in his mouth and repeating them enough that the casual observer believed them. Take for instance the constant repetition of the ‘fact’ that hocus recommends a 100% fixed income portfolio as a retirement vehicle. He has never ever done that, that I know of. He has instead repeatedly said that a healthy dose of stocks on the order of about 50% of the portfolio is likely good for most people, though each person has to analyze his or her own situation and risk tolerance to decide the actual portfolio…. They did not try to understand his meaning in good faith, and instead frustrated him by repeatedly putting words in his mouth that he didn’t say…. I can kind of see where he is coming from given the way he’s been treated, and the way that other good posters have abandoned the board because of the atmosphere here. But I think his tactics are likely to prove ineffective and will definitely alienate a lot of people here. If anything good comes of it, it may be that the board becomes intolerant of personal attacks and ridicule. I hope so.

I definitely think conspiracy is too strong a term for it. However I do perceive some problems. I think the acceptance and encouragement of personal attacks and ridicule by board leadership is a serious problem. I have seen a lot of mild deception in the course of this debate, and I think that is a problem. I do think that hocus’s thousands of responses have contributed to the problem. I do know that those responses have worn people out and alienated them from him.

I think that if somehow we could go back to the beginning of all this and hocus could have partnered with someone who could have edited and restricted his output, then the whole tempest in a teacup could have been avoided. But I think much worse fault lies on those who teased, tormented, harassed, misquoted, and misrepresented hocus.

I think the current state of affairs is almost beyond belief, but I guess things will sort themselves out one way or another. — BenSolar, Motley Fool board, November 25, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #31

Investors in Emotional Pain

Frankly, I find threads with abusive titles and abusive content aimed at ridiculing Hocus and his supporters to be very unfortunate. It’s really a blight on this fine board and several of the very fine people who normally grace it with their genuine wit and wisdom. I wish they would reconsider this kind of abuse. — SeattlePioneer, Motley Fool board, May 6, 2003.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #32

You may not agree with hocus in part or at all, but he was right that we have lost a number of very astute posters. Losing one or two or three may just be a part of the process, but the number that have disappeared because of the trash-talking that goes on here is undeniable. A few of the vocal minority screw things up for the mostly responsible majority. – Nas90skog, Motley Fool board, May 25., 2003.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #33

I would usually ignore these types of threads, but I had to speak my mind. I did not participate in the poll. My question, why label the poll with the term “Hocomania”? That very inclusion made the poll all about Mr. Bennett and not so much his ideas. If you wanted to discuss ideas you maybe should have called the poll something to the effect of “P/E10: Valuations and their Effects on Safe Withdrawal Rates”. When I first saw the term “hocomania” I knew without reading the thread what it would be and I was right…. This poll appears to be more of a personal attack on Mr. Bennett rather than his ideas. — Ditsteve, Vanguard Diehards, August 31, 2006.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #34

You and Mel Lindauer [co-author of the book The Bogleheads Guide to Investing] have been harassing and personally attacking Hocus ever since he arrived here. You have both become pathetic little Trolls, offering absolutely nothing to this venom-spewing site for close to half a year now. The Diehards are legendary for cowardly attacking people with Real Names who do not even post here. James Cramer {Taylor Larimore’s favorite target}, Suzy Orman, Dan Wiener, etc. But you and Mel Lindauer have taken the Diehard hatred for humanity much too far. You will both continue to try to tear the soul of Hocus into shreds until you finally succeed, in one way or another. But why? Just what it is that gives you both such extreme pleasure in trying to totally destroy the everyday life of a real human being? I don’t buy the story that the cowardly types are any different in real life than they are on the Internet, so don’t even try to go down that road. If Morningstar wasn’t joined at hip to Vanguard, then comatose Morningstsar Casey would have banned you two sick puppies a long time ago. — Miss Cleo, Vanguard Diehards board, February 6, 2007.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #35

I now have a little better insight into why Socrates was poisoned (as well as others who were vilified and killed throughout history because they challenged orthodoxy). If this forum were a real community, it would be anarchy or mob rule, complete with witch burnings and inquisitions. — daodejing, Vanguard Diehards board, April 4, 2007.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #36

I don’t recall ever seeing on this forum in the past tolerance for personal attacks of the sort that have repeatedly been launched against hocus/Rob, and the trend is disturbing. I also wonder whether multiple aliases are at work in some of the attacks against Rob. — TinaB, Vanguard Diehards board, June 11, 2006.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #37

Instead of analyzing the referenced posts from the perspective of finance and investing, I look at the posts from a social psychology, group dynamics, point of view. Key to this point of view is that membership in the group is what is most important. Looked at from this perspective, the conversation is not about investing. The conversation is really about establishing and maintaining group membership.

Social groups have certain characteristics in common. Most important is the ability to distinguish members from non-members. In the case of Diehards, membership criteria is belief, unreservedly, in certain investing theories and behavior, among them: efficient markets, portfolio diversity, the value of indexing, the inability of an investor to beat the market, the virtue of low costs, and a belief in staying the course. Concomitant with these required beliefs is a shared belief against market timing (in all its forms).

Let me re-emphasize, membership in the group is the perspective needed to understand group behavior. One aspect of groups is that groups have hierarchy: demi-gods, high priests, enforcers, and followers. Sometimes the categories overlap, e.g., a high priest may act as an enforcer. Demi-gods possess the quality of being above criticism. Indeed, for an individual to criticize a demi-god, is to risk membership standing in the group. High priests are keepers of the faith. They explain to followers the catechism of group membership. They are repetitious and watchful of new members, lest they stray and develop heretical opinions. Enforcers keep members in line. On a forum, no physical force is possible, but sharp criticism, belittling posters when they stray from dogma, and out and out insults, are their forte. All groups need followers or the group will wither, but not so obviously, every group needs outsiders. If you think about it, without outsiders, the group loses a common enemy and may even lose its identity. Sometimes group identity is defined by what the group is against more than what it is for.

If you study the thread (#49557) it is not difficult to identify the demi-gods, the high priests, the enforcers, the followers, and the outsiders. I’ll not name names, but they are fairly obvious. Rob, you are an outsider. Well, I named one. Rob, don’t be offended, group membership virtues are dubious.

Buy-and-Holders Often Become Defensive When Challenged

It was interesting to observe the response to JohnDCraig’s original post from a group dynamics point of view. By criticizing Diehard manners, John was judging some members and setting himself “outside” the group. This caused some dissidence within the group. After you posted, the group focused on you, an outsider, and John was off the hook. John vacillated at first, between keeping an open mind, and maintaining his standing among Diehards. Eventually, Diehard standing became paramount, as evidenced by his comments and by his initiating a new thread, “Hocus, detrimental to Diehards, a suggestion”. This ingratiating post is transparently an appeal to retain (regain?) Diehard status. However, from perusing John’s posts, I predict a difficult time for him. In one, he openly questioned John Bogle’s portfolio actions, which sets him apart from the group. Remember, group members are not allowed to criticize demi-gods. IMO, John is too independently minded (and smart), and will always have trouble with Diehards. But, that’s his problem.

Rob, I suspect you will always be an outsider. Your quoting from the same demi-gods, speaking highly of indexing, and otherwise adopting many Diehard beliefs, will not grant you Diehard membership, unless of course, you see the error of your ways and denounce market timing in all its forms. This I doubt will happen, because the kernel of your idea (valuation matters) seems correct….

Rob, for a long time, I wondered if you were really a psychologist studying group dynamics. — Sirschnitz, Income and Dividends board, May 26, 2006.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #38

These words are very blunt, but necessary. I am confident that I could prove all of these assertions if I were required to do so. I would prefer not to, however, since it would be tedious and time consuming.

Intercst engages in a big lie strategy. Repeated often enough and loud enough, people will eventually believe a big lie. There is no way to defend oneself against it. You have to refute it convincingly every time it comes up. Many people will believe a big lie simply because someone is so insistent upon bringing it up. They assume that there must be a basis in fact even when there isn’t. That is why intercst will prevail…at least, for another few months.

A person caught as the target of a big lie is frozen. Defending himself quickly consumes all of his time. He finds himself reacting to everything as if he were in a big lie environment. He simply does not have time to respond properly. He simply does not have enough time to discern honest comments from dishonest ones. As such, he assumes, because he has to assume, that people understand the full context and history behind a remark. They don’t and that causes problems.

Please keep the big lie off of these boards. When you import the Motley Fool into these boards, you import the big lie with it. It is OK to raise questions as a result of your visiting those boards. Just don’t bring those words into our environment. The big lie is hidden in them. You may not recognize it. I assure you that it is in them.

I find fault with hocus in this one thing and this one thing only: he has an intense love, an intense passion, for what the Motley Fool discussion boards could be. Sadly, they are something less. — John Walter Russell (JWR1945), Town Center board at NoFeeBoards.com, July 27, 2003.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #39

I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that the “founder” of a board–who, after all, is only someone who has requested that a board be opened on a particular subject–would have any say whatsoever about the content posted to said board. — CatherineCoy, Motley Fool board, July 17, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #40

I’ll go back to work before I’ll dedicate my life to harassing another poster from one end of the internet to the other. — Cute Fuzzy Bunny, Early Retirement Forum Status Board, July 5. 2007.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #41

And then I realized, just now- that Intercst had a secret to retiring early he didn’t reveal. He freaking invested during the heights of the bull market, and we are in the middle of a bear — yttire, Motley Fool board, March 28, 2005.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #42

I’m retired, so I really don’t have to take any of this seriously. — John Greaney (intercst), Motley Fool board, August 12, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #43

Calm in an Investing Storm

I credit hocus for casting well-deserved doubt on intercest’s work. Invaluable and worth being repeated ad libitum. Ironically, I have similar doubts regarding hocus’ proposed strategy but he’s the underdog. Intercst had (has?) an army of ill-informed supporters that drove hocus off the Fool to great loss for the site. End of intelligent debate. — Datasnooper, Town Center board at NoFeeBoards.com, November 25. 2003.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #44

When a movement splits, there are now two different groups, one doesn’t “go away.” The Catholic Church still exists, even though Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation. Intercst is still the “Pope” of the Retire Early “Catholic” (Universal) Church, and as long as he is alive he will continue to be. Intercst is “Peter”, the rock, upon which the retire early movement was built and the forces of Hocus will not overpower it. You can think of yourself as “Martin Luther” the leader of the reformation, which is a pretty good gig too if you can get it. — Ariechert, Motley Fool board, March 1, 2005.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #45

This type of BS has been the largest contributor to the circus-like atmosphere that has surrounded hocus for the last year. Intercst, of course, isn’t the only one to make statements like this. In fact they come so fast and furious from so many different people that a casual reader would swear they are true.

From hocus’ ‘My Plan’ post:

Investments:

1) TIPS at 3.5 percent in tax-protected accounts

2) ibonds at 3.4 percent in non-protected accounts (not taxed until cashed in)

3) Certificates of Deposit still held from pre-retirement days (and, thus, held at higher rates than those available today.). The CDs are being phased out as they come due into other investment classes. I expect to move a portion of the CD money into stocks. If stock prices came down, I would move it all into stocks.

Stock Allocation Goal: My goal is to get to a 50 percent stock allocation. I initially made the zero percent allocation to stocks for two reasons:

(1) I accumulated all of my retirement stash in a short amount of time. It was nine years from having zero in the bank to retirement date. So any stock purchases made in anticipation of retirement would not have been “for the long term.” My worst nightmare was that, one year short of my retirement date, stocks would go into a downturn. I was not counting the months until retirement, I was counting the weeks. There was no way I wanted to take the risk of losses that could put off the retirement date for years.

(2) Stocks were at extreme levels of overvaluation at the time I began accumulating large sums for investment. I preferred to put money ultimately to be allocated for stocks into safe investment classes until stocks could be purchased at prices closer to average valuations. That way, I can purchase many more shares for the same portion of my retirement stash. Once I find reasonable purchase points, I intend to hold the stocks for the long term (no “timing” in and out of the market).

Not listed there, but mentioned elsewhere in the post is the fact that he owns his home. So real estate can be added to the list.

So he has TIPS and I-bonds and real estate. All are inflation protected assets that do not fit under the ‘Fixed Income’ category. He also has a plan to buy stocks when valuations are closer to average. Here’s a news flash: they are still overvalued.

In my post ‘The Hocus Plan: 2% SWR?, I examined the effects of a stock switching strategy similar to the one described by hocus. My conclusion: history backs hocus up, his valuation based switching strategy from 0% stocks to 50% stocks worked in the past, and in fact beat the static ‘optimal allocation’.

Hocus is the only person I know (if only via message board) who has completely opted out of participation in the stock market bubble. And you know what? He has benefited immensely from doing so. So why can’t the 10-15 people who like to spout the cr@p like the quote above just grow up and lay off the elementary school tactics.

Geez! — BenSolar, Motley Fool board, May 1, 2003.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #46

You guys put the fun in dysfunctional. — tmeri, Motley Fool board, December 29, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #47

Rob Bennett Writes Three Weekly Columns on Investing Topics

I am the one who fool-alerted one of Galeno’s posts. I believe that was Saturday. In addition, I asked the Powers that Censor to examine other posts (not quoted or numbered) as this board’s tone had become uncivil, abusive, and even hateful, especially towards hocus. My reasoning, including background as to why I did this, follows.

I have a very difficult job. I work in a prison for a government agency as a mental health clinician. Every day I go there, I talk to many, many different kinds of sick and abusive people. I could tell you stories that would curl your hair: like the man, my patient, who tore out the eyeballs of his cell mate in a mad, psychotic frenzy thinking he was on re-con with the navy and inspired by Stephen King, who thought he then had to eat the eyeballs. They saved one eye of the victim, who is now only partially sighted. I had to listen to the victim post-trauma in his woes, telling his story over and over and over again, in thorough and gory detail. Or like the man who tried to climb over the wire fenced perimeter in a paranoid delusion trying to escape (from no one), who cut his hands all open in the razor wire. Or the guy dragged into the hospital wearing underwear that is a dull shade of yellow brown, because he was found in his cell smearing feces and has refused to shower for two months. And believes he is totally well, and doesn’t need medication. Or the man today who has to be moved because he is so simple minded and lacking in social skill that everyone preys on him, stealing his coffee and extorting cigarettes, and threatening to punch him out in his educational class he is required to go to. Or the other man today who has been so violent and aggressive he used to carry an ouzi in his sock to “take care of business” during his dope deals. He now has nightmares because of a murder he witnessed – the guy’s head was macheteed off. My daily fare.

I think it was last Thursday when I had just seen one of these folks. I had been down at the jail interviewing a psychotic man who had assaulted someone on the street. He finally agreed with me that yes, he should take his medication, and could I please recommend to the judge that he get some treatment? I came home, tired, slightly drained, eager to have some totally different topic at hand. Money always seems to cheer me up, and so I dialed into the Retire Early discussion board. I anticipated some succulent FIRE topic, adding real estate to my portfolio, another way to allocate funds….

There, I am simply assaulted with numerous virulent messages back and forth, back and forth. It was difficult to wade through a myriad of messages to try and discover what on earth all the fuss was about. As I kept on and on, I grew more and more discouraged. It really saddened me to read abusive posts, name calling, denigration, and plain old nasty remarks. After a really tough day, I didn’t really need more stress in my life. I can get arguments and conflict at work. Or through grisly real life stories. I thought about leaving the discussion board, although I have mostly been a lurker here.

I was sad, though. And disheartened. Although fairly sociable and gregarious in my real, off-line life, most people I know: a) have no interest in FIRE; b) are freaked out about finances so don’t want to discuss them; and/or c) think YOU are a freak for wanting to be financially independent and thus have choices about working or not. As noted on this board, probably 99% of people in general do not realize that some day they WON’T be able to work and will have to be financially independent, even if that is only social security. Very, very few people seem to be actively planning for it. The Fool and this board have been of immeasurable help and resource to me on these topics. Prior to all the conflict.

They have been especially important just of late, as I was recovering from a long illness over the summer, did not have the energy to follow discussions/thoughts about FIRE, and so only recently have been reading the board with regularity. I had just finally gotten it through my head that $10K per annum = roughly $200K savings. And sold on the idea of 4% for SWR. And recalculated pension stuff/savings for myself and spouse for our longterm plan. It really sank in, once and for all the quantities of financing we would need to work with. I was really grateful. Happy, even, to finally get a grip on this stuff. Thank you, everyone who contributes constructive ideas.

And then the debacle. Mud slinging, name calling, ridicule, nincompoop comments. I mean really. It was like the inmates I deal with daily. Petulance. Childish. Silly. But destructive.

Investing Is a Highly Emotional Life Endeavor

At first I decided to let it go, especially after reading the Living Below Your Means board and seeing some similar behaviors. I thought, “gee, seems like some sort of moon pull or karmic thing everyone is going through.” By Saturday, I’d had enough.

What is with the abusive, hostile exchanges, folks? I mean, I know that it is easier by far, in the dark, nameless and obscure to criticize, ridicule and deride other people. But think about it. Things were written here that you wouldn’t say to people if you had to say it to their faces, now would you? At least if you said it to their faces, they could respond to you.

That’s why I call it hateful. I see people, inmates and staff, full of cruelty day by day, preying on people. When you hide in the darkness of your online anonymity, you partake on a dark road. It’s predatory. Whom does it benefit? Do you feel more powerful in your derision of hocus? Does it really benefit the retire early community to give psychiatric analyses of another person who was wound up and making likewise inflammatory remarks?

I think participating in the way people have has just been like a verbal sniper, darting in and out of the shadows as you make your cuts and digs. Shame on all of you, adding to the cruelty, manipulation, and horror of the world. I see so much of it every day in life; this board was a place of sanctity for me, and I am saddened at that loss.

Please keep in mind things you write as if you were speaking to someone you respect. Doesn’t anyone have a mother who would say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all?” Or if you must give your searing analysis of disagreement, remember to do so with some modicum of civility.

AS YOU AGREED TO DO WHEN YOU SIGNED UP FOR THESE BOARDS

I trust we all will be returning to our senses soon. — feawen, Motley Fool board, November 26, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #48

Enough! Enough! I can’t stand it anymore! Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh! — Arrete, Motley Fool board, July 17, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #49

I put these discussion boards in the hands of the LORD a long time ago. I am sure that everything will work out and the result will be much better than either of us can imagine. That has been my experience. I just don’t know what HE has in mind. It will be interesting to find out. — John Walter Russell, SWR Research Group, March 23, 2005.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #50

I’m mostly a lurker around here, but just wanted to say that of all the useful posts I’ve seen on this board, I’ve found the ones from hocus to be the most valuable. I don’t understand the reasoning behind attacking someone for their ideas. Attack the ideas if you must, but why attack the individual?

There are many financial advice books on the market with differing opinions. I read the ones which look interesting and draw my own conclusions as to who had the better ideas. If I don’t like their ideas I don’t disparage them to everyone I know. I don’t make fun of their names. I bet very few of you do either. I read Your Money or Your Life (like almost everyone here) and I disagreed with the investing advice – does that mean I should write to the only surviving author and verbally attack her? I just don’t get it.

I’ll be watching for your book, hocus. — Tashina, Motley Fool board, August 29, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #51

Buy-and-Hold Is Mostly Buy-and-Hold Marketing Mumbo Jumbo

I’m very disheartened at the events of the last 24 hours. I had hoped cooler heads would prevail but that has not happened. I’ve been lenient in enforcing the site rules because the violations have been by our most valued members. Well, that time is past. I will be going through the last couple of day’s threads on every board. Any post containing violations of the site rules will be deleted. It’s possible entire threads may be deleted. Once the mess has been cleaned up there will be zero tolerance for violations of the site rules. Anyone continually repeating these violations in the future will be banned from the site….

I’m taking personal offense to all of this. I created this site so we could have all the things the site stands for. Violating the site rules is a slap in my face and degrades everything we have tried to build here. I’ve tried to cut some slack in this area but in hindsight that was a mistake. — ES, Town Center, October 29, 2003.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #52

John (JWR1945) has done nothing but been supportive of our site. He’s done nothing to deserve the treatment he’s received on those other forums. He has contributed to help with expenses and make the many hours I put in on this site worthwhile. And I will be forever grateful. He does research he believes in and whether you agree with him or not there is no overlooking that effort. I’m proud to have John as a member here. I’m proud to host his research section here at the No Fee Boards. Hocus isn’t the problem. John isn’t the problem. If there is a problem, it’s Raddr’s.

When we lost a few posters because I reinstated hocus I learned quite a lot. I learned that it feels good to do the right thing. I learned who my friends truly were. And I learned a lot about running this web site. All good stuff IMO. Ataloss when you put up a post like that one, a rational, well thought-out post, it reminds me of the old days. But then I go out and see only negative comments all over the internet by you about our site. What am I supposed to think? You tell me. — ES, Town Center, February 28, 2005.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #53

Folks I think it’s time to end this. When we started NFB our dream was to have a place where we could learn and grow together. A positive environment for us all. It’s plain to see that many don’t want that. And others won’t permit it. I have no desire to continue on with NFB in it’s current state. What we have now was not our vision when we started this some 3 years ago.

I’ve done all I could to make this work. I’ve asked in countless ways, in countless threads, to countless posters to end the off-topic bickering and personal attacks. These requests have been ignored, dismissed or just didn’t work. I don’t care to maintain this site any longer under these conditions. The No Fee Boards I created is long gone. Despite my best efforts I can’t bring it back. If the site I created for everyone as an environment abundant in learning and knowledge cannot be, then it is time to put an end to what it has become.

If banning someone is the only way to keep peace on a message board, then I want no part in running one. I banned someone on the advice of others when I knew in my heart it was wrong. I corrected that error in judgment and this is what we have. It is not acceptable.

This Saturday, March 26, 2005, will be the last day for this web site…. Thanks for the memories — ES, FIRE Board, March 23, 2005.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #54

Greetings ataloss. This is our last day here so I want to try something. Let’s assume for a moment that everything you say about hocus, SWRs, and all that stuff is 100% fact. Let us also include in this scenario the fact that you have spent an inordinate amount of time the last few years crusading against all of this. And let’s add in that before that you were one of the best posters I’ve ever seen.

The Post Heard 'Round the World

Think about that, then think about this. Why not just let it go? Why not just put all this behind you and forget about hocus and this tool thing and all this other stuff. Why not go back to the way we were? Let’s post about index funds and early retirement and expense ratios and old magazines in attics and broken crystal balls . We can’t do that here anymore but the internet is a big place. I remember the days when I was sad when I didn’t see you online wherever we were hanging out together. In those days there was a 100% chance of laughter when we got together. Is there any chance of getting the old ataloss back? We have a few mutual friends that do not think that is possible. I’m asking one more time to see if it is.

I can put all this behind me. Can you? — ES, Town Center board at NoFeeBoards.com, March 26, 2005

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #55

Hocus, YOU are one of the reasons I still read this board. Just thought you should know that. :) — JustPatrick, Motley Fool board, June 20, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #56

Hocus, thank you for so clearly articulating some things that have been in the back of my mind. — Patnbj, Motley Fool board, June 21, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #57

I don’t want to see you leave the board for another extended hiatus. You’re clearly on-topic, you present alternative ways to think about retirement and planning for it, your posts are generally a great read (lengthy without being wordy), and you spur serious discussion and disagreement about these topics. As a lurker most of the time, that’s where I see the value of this board; not as a place where we all can get together and extol the virtues of each other and one particular plan, confident and unwavering in our unshaken belief that there is ‘The Way’ and no other. Where’s the fun in that? — Dagrims, Motley Fool board, May 21, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #58

I think there’s something really important he’s trying to tell us, although I don’t think he has it fully articulated in his own mind yet. Somehow I think hocus knows a lot more about these subjects than is coming across in these threads. I think there is a lot of tripping over semantics and terminology on both sides of the fence that is causing each side to mishear the other. I get the feeling that, if any of us could sit down with hocus in person for a few days, away from this board, and have a discussion on early retirement/safe withdrawal rates, etc., we would pick up a lot more of his knowledge than we’re getting here. — Andrew61, Motley Fool board, June 21, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #59

There is one area in which Hocus and I disagree. I favor censorship on discussion boards. Hocus is willing to tolerate almost anything. I prefer heavy censorship.

In spite of what you have read, Hocus has removed only one or two posts from this board. He has relocated a few posts, but very few.

I would prefer to remove Ataloss posts with their continual baiting, misrepresentations and distortions of facts. I would prefer to remove Beachbum’s recent posts, which are no more than word games and stink bombs. I would prefer to remove Norbert Schlenker’s posts in which he pushes a poorly thought-out agenda while refusing to listen to what others have to say.

In spite of what you may have read, it is Hocus who allows a variety of thought, not the complainers such as Ataloss, Beachbumz and Norbert Schlenker. Regardless of what these people may assert, it is Hocus who talks straight. It is Hocus who accurately describes what has happened in the past. — John Walter Russell, SWR Research Group, March 25, 2005.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #60

Without censorship, Gresham’s Law takes over, and careful reasoned, polite discourse is driven out by bombast, over-simplification, and hostility. Anonymity on these boards allows small-minded cowards to take shots at their betters; and where else can that happen? — MacDuff, SWR Research Group, March 25, 2005.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #61

Mr Hocus, I love your posts. — Baschmuck, Vanguard Diehards board, October 8, 2005.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #62

As way of disclosure, let me say that I tend to skip through most of Hocus’s posts because they are long-winded. However, Allan’s use of the word “irritant” makes me think of how pearls are formed when an irritant gets into an oyster shell. Not to say Hocus (Rob) is a pearl, but maybe he does get some people to come up with pearls for their replies. — EyeDee, Vanguard Diehards board, June 4, 2006.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #63

The Internet Is a Powerful New Communications Medium
As a long-time reader from the Motley Fool days, I like hocus’s posts and find the hostility to him annoying. As early retirees (or early retiree hopefuls) we are already on non-traditional paths. We shouldn’t feel threatened by anyone, particularly someone who can represent his/her point of view so well. I, for one, want to keep reading what hocus puts out, old or new. Please let me! — Guest, Early Retirement Forum, October 8, 2004.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #64

Reading so many hocus-riddled threads is like being cyberstalked by a cult leader on a perpetual mission to recruit his following. Sickeningly sweet and polite, he’s a con-artist who’s letting others do the dirty work for him. Do you get that, JohnDCraig? This is your role in the long term hoco-plot to take over this board.

Hard to believe? Yes – if you don’t know what skillful passive-aggressive power brokers are capable of. At this point it doesn’t even look like Hocus is running an underhanded smear campaign against Mel, Taylor and other so-called “big shots”, right? It looks like the debunkers are to blame for the ruckus and subsequent polarization of the board into two camps. Like I said, skillful. Well, he’s had a lot of practice at all those other boards where he’s been banned. — Kalimunana, Vanguard Diehards board, June 10, 2006.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #65

Many years ago my wife and I joined a church that appealed to us. This church was part of a Christian denomination that distinguished itself in its success in evangelizing through reason rather than via appeal to the emotions. The denomination counted a dozen or more published scholars within its small membership, all of whom had authored widely read treatises on the Christian faith and how to successfully live it. With this intellectual approach, our church, located near the campus of a distinguished secular university, drew many faculty members and advanced degree candidates, not a population easily evangelized.

Newcomers to the church were encouraged to become familiar with the aforementioned books and, of course, the Bible. Naturally, small discussion groups sprang up in which the wisdom of the authors was shared and affirmed.

Occasionally a new or established member would raise a question about a specific teaching espoused in one of the books; not to attack it, but simply to play a form of devil’s advocate with the goal of reaching a deeper understanding and acceptance of the teaching. Those who never dared question the teachings were often aghast at the nerve of such members. One Sunday the senior pastor stunned half the congregation by openly encouraging such questioning as a constructive path toward building and deepening one’s faith. Within two weeks the pastor was accused of heresy and called before a denominational tribunal. Although he was acquitted, the experience divided the church between subgroups of “pure” believers and “enlightened” believers, each of whom did not get along well with the other despite their adherence to the same faith.

Thank God the Vanguard Diehards has no tribunals. — LouisianaLad, Vanguard Diehards board, June 9, 2006.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #66

These Diehards have no interest in discussing anything substantial. Their goal is is shut down any discussion about anything that does not follow the party line. Their tactic is to get you bogged down debating meaningless and irrelevant minutia so that the original topic is forgotten. Where they have no argument they resort to the name calling and the personal attacks. This has been played out over and over and over again. Just try discussing Dan Wiener. In one instance a Diehard contacted a poster’s employer and tried to get him fired. Once again the Diehards disgrace themselves. — focus, Vanguard Diehards board, October 19, 2006.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #67

Investor Psychology

I was introduced to the Diehard mentality about 10 years ago when I questioned one of Bogle’s truisms. I was immediately jumped upon and beat up by a mob of Diehards. It went downhill from there. The Diehard mentality has done more to discourage investing dialogue and an open exchange of ideas than any other philosophy I know of. — WERman, Vanguard Diehards board, January 22, 2007.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #68

I got involved because I felt hocus was taking totally unfair shots from you and Mel and many others, not necessarily that I agree with all or any of what he says.

A few years ago when Motley Fool boards were free, I followed those discussions. I actually was on the side of Greaney regarding the 4% safe withdrawal rate based on historical. I actually think I now lean towards Rob’s view, that you have to consider the starting point….While intercst was busy making fun of Rob, he kept putting out information that may prove extremely painful for those who took his safe withdrawal rate as gospel.

Meanwhile, Rob continues to take hits from many sides. Personally I don’t get it. He has made some valid points and generated some good discussions, despite the threads being filled with many trolling posts attempting to discredit Rob personally instead of discussing the issues. I was told Rob wouldn’t answer questions. He answered mine. I was told they wouldn’t tell how they came up with figures. They provided answers there too, mainly from John Walter Russell. I haven’t seen that any of the critics complaints have merit. Instead, I see a good topic that makes one think about valuations. — Earnabuck, Vanguard Diehards board., May 16, 2006.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #69

On the Diehard forum, humility seems to be a one-way street. Anyone accusing Bogle of being wrong is expected to be humble, but anyone criticizing someone who suggests that some active managers might actually be adding value, or suggesting that some forms of long-term market timing might actually work, is treated as virtuously exposing a heretic who is stupidly ignoring the great weight of “scientific” evidence (nevermind that the evidence is inconclusive and ambiguous). We also see posts stringing together quotations from “experts”, and are supposed to believe that somehow proves a controversial point beyond dispute. Nevermind that there are also experts that take contrary positions, and that point out ambiguities and complexities in the evidence. Sorry, Taylor [the reference is to Taylor Larimore, co-author of The Bogleheads Guide to Investing.], but I don’t see much evidence of humility, or open-mindedness, on the part of many Diehards, including some of the leaders of this forum. — Microlepis, Vanguard Diehards board, January 22, 2007.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #70

This entire Diehard forum is totally insane. It’s overflowing with Trolls running around calling everyone else Trolls. — Miss Cleo, Vanguard Diehards board, February 5, 2007.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #71

Those of us who know Jack [Bogle] cherish his friendship. We’re always concerned about Jack’s safety and his enjoyment at our affairs, so we diligently accept the responsibility to make sure that everyone in attendance is someone we feel comfortable allowing to attend in those regards. — Mel Lindauer (co-author of the book The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing, Vanguard Diehards, February 18, 2007.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #72

Perhaps you all (including the invited speakers) are comfortable with such a version of a “restricted covenant” (is there a consent form that needs to be signed?), but what it tells me is there is a blackball procedure which I find morally disquieting. The very idea that Jack Bogle’s “safety” (or anyone else’s) would be an issue puzzles me, and the notion that the invited speakers need to be “protected” from disagreement really is astonishing. I (mistakenly) thought we were all grown-ups who know the rules of civilized discourse. Please don’t level your attack at Rob, whom I do not know. This is me speaking and I feel downright ashamed of the language of Mel’s #65. — Uphaus, Vanguard Diehards board, February 19, 2007.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #73

What bothers me is the double standard which squelches opposing views. A couple years ago, I was posting returns of various portfolios, and comparing them to Dan Wiener’s portfolio. I was interested in seeing whether DW could beat “the market. “An influential poster called Morningstar and complained. I then received a telephone call from Morningstar at my office asking that I not post DW’s returns. It was emphasized that I was not violating any rules, but that it was requested that I should stop posting because it was upsetting a few other posters.

I don’t know who complained, but I imagine it was someone with a lot of “juice” if they could convince Morningstar to call me. — RPetrocelli, Vanguard Diehards board, June 3, 2006.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #74

If you want to understand the dynamics of what happened here, you need a model for understanding. I suggest you use a “cult” as a model. The use of a cult model for the Diehards explains the situation more completely than any other model that I can imagine. Using statistical speak, the R-Squared for this model is probably 90 (on a 0 to 100 scale).

Investor Behavior

IMO, it is no coincidence that Rob was banned two days after he started a thread titled, “Bogle’s Big Mistake”. This post was akin to shouting, “Christ was not perfect”, in Church. When I saw this post, I knew that the sh_t would hit the proverbial fan. BTW, for the uninformed, a cult need not be religious in nature. The cult concept extends to intellectuals of many persuasions. All you need a charismatic leader and followers, and of course, a central unifying theme. A cult will develop a hierarchy of authority including enforcers of orthodoxy. In the case of Diehards, the actors and the parts they play are clear.

A cult may be tolerant of others (outsiders) because it sees in them potential converts. But, two things can change this tolerance of outsiders to rage. The first is criticism of the central figurehead. The second is a threat to the hierarchy. In Rob’s case, both of these conditions were met. — Sirschnitz, Vanguard Diehards, February 22, 2007.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #75

What is it with Newbies? Do some of you actually believe they are incapable of thinking for themselves? And, who died and left some of you in charge of caring for them? How paternalistic some of you can get makes me laugh! — CoyWesley, Vanguard Diehards board, December 21, 2007.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #76

It was totally wrong to ban Rob and I said so when asked before. I began reading this Morningstar forum about 6-8 months ago and quickly learned that valuation matters…and yes from Rob…but I read others to validate my “new” thoughts on the matter…. Several times I posted when someone was just plain harassing him but to no avail…That same person I think was involved in getting him banned. Some need to power over others to feel important…They were probably missing the power they possessed when working and are probably rude to working-class folks in the world still today. — Soaring, March 4, Income and Dividend Investing board, March 4, 2007.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #77

I had cordial exchanges with Rob and found him a thoughtful person. I did not agree with several of his stock market theories, but so what is new? Rob was always a gentleman in his posts. If you followed his posts on the Diehard forum, you know that several new posters came out of the woodwork to belittle him and instead of trying to dialog, behaved instead like mythological Erinyes (Furies). If Rob ignored them, they accused him of evading their questions. When Rob responded to their questions, they accused him of being long winded. When they attacked, Rob responded too gently, IMO. So, they accuse him of being “passive aggressive”. There was no way for Rob to come out even. — Sircshnitz, Income and Dividend-Investing board, March 3, 2007.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #78

There are many things I like about the Diehards forum, but one of the things that bothers me is that a fair number of Diehards act as if they’ve joined a religion. There is a lot of scriptural recitation and quoting from introductory finance books like “Bogle on Mutual Funds”, “Coffeehouse Investor”, and “Four Pillars of Investing”. Now, I happen to like Bernstein and Bogle, but when people start calling themselves Bogleheads and chanting “Stay the Course” as if it’s a mantra………..well, it kind of creeps me out. I keep waiting for the Vanguard Hare Krishna Bus to show up and for people to hop on board so they can go live with St. Bogle in an ashram outside of Butte, Montana. The tell-tale sign that this is happening is that when someone raises a controversial point, some will debate the point at hand, while others will basically say “Don’t listen…keep the faith…stay the course!!”. — dpdennis, Vanguard Diehards, April 18, 2004.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #79

Big Scary Numbers

I’ve learned a lot from the people on this board, but have been very shocked by some of the hypocrisy that I’ve witnessed. For example, I didn’t think Hocus deserved to be banned. While he might have posted a little too much, he was always very polite, even with everyone raining down hate on him…. If the only posters they want on that board are those that will be yes men, repeat the tired old mantras and bow down and kiss the feet of Bogle and the moderators, do you really want to waste your time with such closed-mindedness? — mase_redux — Vanguard Diehards board, April 2, 2007.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #80

Vanguard monitors this forum on a regular basis at a very high level, so the “higher-ups” do, indeed, know exactly what’s going on here. — Mel Lindauer, Vanguard Diehards board, April 23, 2004.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #81

The whole thing boils down to whether Rob is able to buy back in at a valuation level that turns out to have been low enough to warrant his absence from the market over the past decade. My guess is that, surprisingly, he actually will. Wouldn’t that be a crack-up if what Rob is doing actually worked? I think people would be really mad. — Chip Plumb (author of the Plumb Performance Report), Vanguard Diehards board, January 1, 2007.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #82

I have seen many rip Rob, but truthfully I don’t understand what the counter argument is. Is there a counter-argument? — Daryll44, Vanguard Diehards board, May 24, 2006.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #83

Go back 100 years in finance and many other disciplines, and examine the academic studies of that era. You will see that they are often riddled with assumptions, theories, and analysis that are now considered to be wrong or even ridiculous. And 100 years from now people will likely view the studies upon which we rely in the same light. Moreover, even today, for every academic study that argues for one proposition, there will typically be another study that argues the opposite. The primary way people on this forum can maintain that academic studies support their views, to the exclusion of others, is by simply ignoring contrary studies and/or the ambiguities and limitations of current studies. — Microlepis, Vanguard Diehards, March 20, 2007.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #84

I’ll venture a regular guy opinion. I will say that Rob’s explanation does make sense. However, no one can predict the future. Just when someone uses history to try to backtest, create a model, and then predict the future, the factors change or new factors emerge, thus making the model useless for predicting the future.– Chipmunk, Vanguard Diehards board, May 10, 2006.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #85

What Rob said sounds reasonable enough, so I wouldn’t be able to judge his advice without additional input. I must rely on the fact that I don’t hear the authors I trust saying the same thing. The authors I trust seem to agree that returns may be lower in the years to come, but none of them suggest that we should drastically reduce our stock allocations in light of this information….I don’t have time to join the search for ‘the Grail of Investing.’ Besides, I have other priorities in life. So, I have to rely on the judgment of people who make the most sense. — Janey, Vanguard Diehards board, August 9, 2006.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #86

If all he thought was that the market is a bit overvalued and we are probably in for a period of below average returns there would be no controversy. His views go way beyond that. He claims that the entire industry is wrong and he, as founder of the New School [of safe-withdrawal-rate analysis], has the “correct” answers. — Jim02, Vanguard Diehards board, January 9, 2007.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #87

Why I support hocus:

Rob Bennett Is the Lead Advocate of the Valuation-Informed Indexing Investing Strategy

1. Several people claim not to understand why I support hocus as strongly as I do. They deride his claims to be the person most knowledgeable about Safe Withdrawal Rates. They see that as arrogance, not fact. They dismiss his contributions in keeping the research alive, as if his efforts were insignificant.

2. Most people accept the notion that hocus has been following the topic for a long time. Most people will concede that he really does have 40 notebooks filled with articles and other reference material that he has collected over the years. Many people will accept the idea that hocus has been making use of Safe Withdrawal Rates in his personal financial planning.

3. Many people seem to reject the idea that hocus has a lot of ideas and thread-starters that he has not yet presented. I think that he does have them. I do not think that they are all finished products. I do think that they all contain something useful and worth developing.

4. From my personal experience, there have been numerous times when I have thought that I had addressed something adequately, but I did not. At times I have been surprised to see hocus hang in there on what seemed to be a minor detail. Yet, as the discussions have gone back and forth, there has emerged something of importance, an insight of considerable value.

5. Thus it was with The Coin Toss post. Hocus had asked me for my comments as he developed his thoughts. After repeated refinements, he came up with a true gem. And later, when he finally succumbed to my repeated requests to post once again, he pulled it out of his files and posted it at the Motley Fool, where it received much acclaim.

6. What truly impresses me is the consistency that hocus points us to something of value. Yes, I do believe that hocus is the most knowledgeable person when it comes to Safe Withdrawal Rates. I have seen too much evidence to believe otherwise. And, of course, I would not have engaged in any research on the matter if it had not been for hocus’s contribution in keeping the discussion alive. Nor would I have become aware of the efforts of the others on these boards. — John Walter Russell, FIRE board at NoFeeBoards.com, October 26, 2003.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #88

Some of you are following with me the safe-withdrawal-rate thread on Diehards where Hocus and Dr. Bernstein [author of The Four Pillars of Investing] have posted. It appears that Bernstein agrees with Hocus that even a 2% withdrawal rate might not be safe for early retirees. Could it be that some here have mistaken Hocus’ style, which they find annoying, for the truth, which Bernstein seems to agree he might ultimately have? — Daryll40 — Motley Fool, September 21, 2005.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #89

NO! — Gurdison, Motley Fool board, September 21, 2005.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #90

Jim Rogers stated that new ideas tend to be first ignored, then people grow actively hostile, and only later does acceptance come. I read the first chapter of Bernstein’s new book last night, which related the sad experience of early scientific pioneers who were forced to recant upon threat of torture. Only later did people accept what they had discovered. It would not surprise me if most people were still in the ignoring or hostile stages when Reversion to the Mean eventually takes place. Reversion to the Mean is probably still a few years away, IMO.– Mike, SWR Research Group, May 7, 2004.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #91

One of the things I admire about your responses in this discussion is that (unlike myself, alas) you seem not to be provoked into anger by negative comments directed toward your ideas or toward you personally. — RBeeman, Vanguard Diehards board, September 27, 2005.

Community Comment #92 on the Campaign of Terror

You’ve got to say one thing for hocus. He has NEVER lowered himself to ad hominen attacks–subliminal or otherwise–on any other person on this board. Not once. Ever. At least give him credit for that. — Catherine Coy, Motley Fool board, November 22, 2002.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #93

Maybe this can be summed up by one question: Why would anyone subject themselves to this much abuse? They’d either have to be a troll or the most saintly person on earth trying to save all of our souls. — TH, Early Retirement Forum, March 18, 2005.

People Are Funny

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #94

I must say hocus always seems to take the high road in the banter. — Gary1Putt, Motley Fool board, January 30, 2003.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #95

I have never seen hocus show incivility. No matter what. Truly amazing. Either he is really the output of an artificial intelligence program, or the man’s on the way to becoming a saint! — Telly, Early Retirement Forum, September 22, 2004.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #96

Rob and Cleo are the most trustworthy. These posters always get to the heart of a matter and offer sound, intuitive, original, creative and helpful advice. The good Lord should clone them for the benefit of mankind. Engineers, on the other hand, and here I include “engineer types” (we all know who they are) are typically quantitative and not qualitative. Whatever brain transmitters gave them their high level of mathematical, measuring and similar skills apparently resulted in a lowering of emotional, feeling and human relations skills. — Graywulf, Vanguard Diehards board, December 15, 2007.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #97

Not even your best post on the Vanguard Diehards Forum could come close to matching the cogency and intelligence of Rob’s least sagacious contributions here. While I don’t necessarily agree with Hocus’s views, I believe that it is scandalous that he should so often be the object of the sort of vituperation you’ve heaped on him. — Andrew54, Vanguard Diehards board, August 31, 2006.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #98

Hocus! Man, you have a talent for explanation, and I think you are literally gifted. I really appreciate the time and effort in the detailed explanation of P/E10. I like your conservative stance, and I understand what you are saying clear as a bell. — Steverino, Vanguard Diehards board, May 12, 2006.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #99

Very cogent analysis! Thanks for sharing. You’ve very articulately stated the misgiving/hunch I’ve always had that the “one size fits all” safe withdrawal rate isn’t completely accurate. — mdwitte, Motley Fool board, April 12, 2004.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #100

I like hocus’ posts. He has supplied many nuggets of wisdom and I hope that he continues. — GordonG, Vanguard Diehards board, September 2, 2006.

Investing Discussion Boards Ban Honest Posting on Valuations! — Community Comment #101

One thing I’ve noticed about investing, it’s what you miss that costs you money. While some of the posts on this board are rather long and technical, I wouldn’t want them anywhere else, because they are all about FIRE [financially independent/retired early].

Post on, Hocus! — SlowProcess, Motley Fool board, November 21, 2002.

You know that something’s happening here
But you don’t know what it is.
Do you, Mr. Jones?

— Dylan, “Ballad of a Thin Man”

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