By Davis Freeberg
What can I say, I’m a sucker for gossip. Even if it’s not true I still love to read about crazy ideas when it comes to business and investing. I watch the stock market the same way that housewives watch soap operas. I’ve received more entertainment from the Overstock conspiracy then I have from watching every episode of Lost this year.
I like being the first to know about something even if I get bad information most of the time. I don’t necessarily act on this information, I just like being able to know about things before they hit mainstream. This is a big reason why I’ve been addicted to the Yahoo! stock message boards since Tom told me about them nearly a year ago. I also like being able to have an open and intelligent dialogue about the merits or lack of merits of a company without having to back everything up. For the most part Yahoo! has been a great place to do this. It attracts a lot of users with unique perspectives and offers a nice format to discover links about companies that I’m interested in following.
For some of the microcap stocks that I’m particularly interested in, I’ve found Yahoo readers to be of great help in tracking down information that is buried deep inside of these insanely boring reports that companies are required to publish. It’s always nice to have the collective group help with the homework.
The internet has really changed the speed and ability for information to be processed. The work that 1000 normal people can do is so much greater then what even the highest priced analyst on Wall Street can accomplish. The problem is that for every 1000 people who want to enjoy something, there is always one person that wants to screw it up.
We’ve seen this happen with spammers taking over email, Sploggers stealing content from blogs and now these scumbags are infiltrating the gutters know as the Yahoo! stock boards. Whether it’s a weak attempt to manipulate a stock price or merely a new form of guerrilla advertising, Yahoo’s boards have been overrun by comment spammers. They attach themselves to the more popular boards (i.e. TiVo and NFLX) and post so much junk that it makes the boards impossible to follow. Perhaps they do this because they think that they can manipulate the stock or it may be that they are more interested in advertising another company, but either way the Yahoo! boards have gotten out of hand.
I’ve sent Yahoo! over 50 emails reporting these spammers and as soon as they shut down an alias we see another pop up sometimes mocking Yahoo! in the process. When Yahoo! successfully closed down “stocky’s” account on the TiVo board, stocky’s cousin quickly emerge with the same tactics. My frustration with Yahoo! is not that they haven’t tried to stop it. I see them as the victim here, but the only help that they have been able to provide has been to suggest that I take advantage of their ignore feature. At first this worked, if I felt that someone didn’t have anything intelligent to say I’d flag them and know that in the future I wouldn’t have to listen to their drivel. After doing this for a couple months though I ran into a critical limitation. Unfortunately Yahoo! has a policy of only letting you have 100 people on an ignore list. Given the ease at which these spammers can create Yahoo accounts having this limitation makes absolutely no sense.
My frustration stems from emailing Yahoo! countless times about this limitation and only receiving responses back suggesting that I take advantage of their ignore feature or call the police if I feel I’m being threatened. While I don’t expect Yahoo! to try and police these boards, I do think that they can come up with a more effective solution. The ignore lists can only stop so much. What they really need to implement is a more effective verification process for Yahoo Id’s on boards that have been infected by these parasites. Why not require me to register my credit card with them if I want to post to certain boards? This would help to limit one ID to each person.
The demographic that is typically reading a stock board will have some form of credit and they could even link the registration with their Yahoo! wallet program. They don’t need to do this for every board, but once something starts to get out of control they need to act. Unfortunately, their current decision to ignore the problem is only leading to user frustration and the abandonment of what would otherwise be an amazing service. While I’ve been able to find lesser known sites to fill my gossip needs, it would be nice for Yahoo! to take care of this problem, so that I can return to their community once again.