Should I invest on the basis of other posters' ideas?

Thursday, Jul 02 2009 by

Every now and again on sites such as S'pedia, the subject of following the ideas of other posters surfaces. Often, the discussion turns to so-called 'respected posters' and whether they might have more of a duty of care than others.

Whilst I have clear views which I'll expand on below, I'll leave this thread-opener neutral.



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SW10Chap 2nd Jul '09 1 of 2

There has been some discussion on this subject on this Aminex thread.

Ingledew makes the case that:

certain well-respected posters should exercise a greater duty of care... not from a legal but a moral point-of-view

I disagree with this, save to say that everyone should observe the rules that S'pedia have set out here in their guidelines. This includes legal requirements...

It is a criminal offence to deliberately create a false or misleading impression as to the market in, or the price of, any investments thereby inducing another person to acquire or dispose of those investments.

... as well as behavioral elements such as:

making statements that are inflammatory

However, the most important element is this:

Stockopedia is a place for people to share their investment thinking

In other words, no-one is making any recommendations or urging others to follow a particular course of action. Further, it's evident that no-one can ever claim to know what is going to happen and it's common sense for anyone that they should do their own research and satisfy themselves that a particular course of action is:

  • something they believe in;
  • fits with their appetite for risk;
  • fits their own circumstances, including - obviously - their finances.

This is sometimes referred to as Do Your Own Research or DYOR, which should be a by-word for any Private Investor.

On the subject of 'well-respected' posters, I think this is also a fallacy. Putting your trust in someone's words on a stock is rather like believing someone who tells you who will win next year's Premiership. If someone you know, indeed who you respect and whose judgement you value says that Liverpool are a dead cert to win the Premiership can you honestly believe them? And if you gambled on that outcome, who would be responsible if it turned out not to be the case?

There can only be one answer in my view. It's you.

Now, imagine if you were intrigued by the idea. Wouldn't it be better to ask a few questions? What makes your friend so certain? Have they got any insights you haven't? Do you believe them? Why not test with your friend your theory that Chelsea are a much better bet? Engage in debate (robust and on-topic!) and get hold of more information that will help you to make a decision. Your decision.

There are many cases of 'respected' posters agreeing on one thing and not another. That's good, those differences are often where the light comes in. Be part of it.



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tournesol 2nd Jul '09 2 of 2

Machiavelli put things very well......

A prince, .. ought always to take counsel, but only when he wishes and not when others wish; he ought rather to discourage every one from offering advice unless he asks it; but, however, he ought to be a constant inquirer, and afterwards a patient listener concerning the things of which he inquired; also, on learning that any one, on any consideration, has not told him the truth, he should let his anger be felt.

...if there are some who think that a prince who conveys an impression of his wisdom is not so through his own ability, but through the good advisers that he has around him, beyond doubt they are deceived, because this is an axiom which never fails: that a prince who is not wise himself will never take good advice...

...If a prince who is not inexperienced should take counsel from more than one he will never get united counsels, nor will he know how to unite them. Each of the counsellors will think of his own interests, and the prince will not know how to control them or to see through them. And they are not to found otherwise, because men will always prove untrue to you unless they are kept honest by constraint. Therefore it must be inferred that...


...good counsels, whencesoever they come, are born of the wisdom of the prince, and not the wisdom of the prince from good counsels.


Internet bulletin boards are dripping with ideas put forward by other people. Some are inspired, some are delusional. Some are mistaken, some are the result of wishful thinking.

I have harvested many ideas over the years. It is always always always down to me to consider them, do my own research and decide whether to act or not. If I miss opportunities or make bad decisions or make good decisions which turn out wrong - all of that is my own fault. I can't ever blame anyone else.

If I seize opportunites, make good decisions and prosper, then I give myself credit but I also acknowledge the helping hand. And If possible I try to reciprocate.

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