From Forbes Magazine, Sept 13, 1999
These are a mixed blessing. You post messages on them; others respond — agreeing, disagreeing or elaborating.
Yadda, yadda, yadda. These bulletin boards are noisy and full of useless chatter, with an occasional jewel buried there. The bulk of the entries are ill-informed opinions, rumors and even outright touting. On Apr. 7, 1999, a link to a fictitious Bloomberg financial news story was posted on Yahoo’s message board. It maintained that PairGain Technologies was about to be taken over. The stock jumped 31% but crashed the next day when the report turned out to be a fake. Among those burned was TheStreet.com’s James Cramer.
So why spend time on the boards? Because rumors do move stocks — and sometimes are even true. Occasionally the boards help make markets more efficient by disseminating obscure information. Even better, customers or company insiders tend to post messages on boards.
America Online subscription service aol has 18 million members, so there is no shortage of lively discussions. aol says it maintains a message board for every U.S. company. Beware: there is lots of noise and hype.
Best: You can customize your searches by date, alphabet and writer’s identity and receive an e-mail alert when a message is posted.
Worst: Discussions are open only to aol members ( $21.95 a month), who more often than not are novices.
Raging Bull www.ragingbull.com The 185,000-member Raging Bull features the “herd on the boards” column. The editors pick the most interesting posts of the day; if you’re impressed by someone, you can click on a link to read other messages by the same person.
Raging Bull lets you know which boards are the most active at the time and thoughtfully places links to relevant message boards within its news stories.
Best: A filter lets you tune out posters you know are blowhards or hypesters.
Worst: Smart-ass jargon.
Silicon Investor www.techstocks.com If technology stocks are your passion, these boards are a must. Rely on them for up-to-the-minute coverage of tech mergers and earnings announcements. The board allows instant messaging for private conversations.
Best: A daily “message watch” cuts through the clutter and focuses on the most talked-about stocks and subjects.
Worst: Posting messages costs $60 semiannually. A popular hangout for tech stock touts.
Yahoo Finance http: //quote.yahoo.com Yahoo is a king among financial portals and one big draw is its 8,000 different message board topics. A number of chief executives of major companies have admitted to monitoring its boards to keep up with the buzz on their own companies. Yahoo boards are often the first to react to news of mergers and earnings announcements. Unfortunately, stock floggers also flock to Yahoo’s boards.
Best: The breadth of its postings, especially for non-Web companies.
Worst: There isn’t a way to designate your favorite boards or banish stock touts.