Since the readership of this blog has risen to beyond a small circle of friends -- we are now well over 37 million page views, and regularly exceed a two and one half monthly page views -- I thought it appropriate to list a full set of disclosures.
These include what you should expect me, your humble blogger, and what I expect from you, the reader. Consider these the guidelines governing appropriate behavior for all involved at The Big Picture.
The following covers the full site, my own investments, and any financial arrangements relevant to this blog:
We are obsessive about our privacy, and we assume you are also. I never share or resell our readers names or email addresses, PERIOD. Anyone who does needs to die slowly and painfully.
No more than 4 times a year, we may send you an update about your subscription. Given our general distaste for all matters administrative, I would not hold my breath waiting for these announcements. However, if you can hold your breath for long periods of time, you may wish to explore a career as a pearl diver.
I can also envision an emergency email, advising you to seek shelter, buy bottled water, get to higher ground, or obtain radiation detection equipment. Again, our laziness makes this a low probability event. Not the flooding or nuclear accident -- just the warning email.
I try my best to give you a unique combination of original content, as well as referencing the best of what I find elsewhere -- MSM, Wall Street, Video, other blogs. Typically, I post a long, original piece in the early morning. Several additional pieces during the day pull information from elsewhere -- charts, news, other resources. The goal is to provide a steady stream of relevant information -- leavened with my perspectives -- all day.
3. Market Positions:
If I am discussing a specific company and/or its stock, and I have a
personal -- or a firm/client position in that stock -- I will disclose that position at
the end of the post, near the "sources" section. I err on the side of "more disclosure is better."
I may or may not make such a disclosure if I am only discussing a given sector. (i.e., in a discussion of Oil/Energy, I may or may not disclose positions my Conoco Phillips / BP).
I try not to discuss small cap positions often, as they are too easily pushed around. I especially don't like to discuss small cap shorts. Since I prefer not to disclose short positions, but do want to maintain a full disclosure policy, I simply avoid posting on them. Readers should not assume that I have any position, long or short, merely because a stock is mentioned.
Once a post "sets," there are no
further edits or changes. I give myself an ~hour after posting to clean
up grammar, spelling, etc. If a news event comes out that is the
subject of the post, any further changes are frowned upon. In the event
I come across something that simply MUST be changed
due to an errant suppository accident, I will strike it out and leave it visible as the nearby text shows.
UPDATE: January 27, 2007 8:31am
I will occasionally add Updates, and they are clearly dated and time stamped, as above.
The gist of a post stays up forever.
5A. Posting Comments:
A lot of thought goes into what gets posted here; If you want to comment, I suggest you do the same.
I take the comments and feedback seriously, and attempt to read every comment that goes up ('though that is becoming increasingly difficult). I read all email, but make no promises about responding.
Email addresses on comments are not published, but I see them. Comments with legit email addresses get priority. Cowardly "anons" are mostly ignored. If I am unable to respond to you privately due to a bogus email address ("John@Yahoo.com") don't be surprised if you get a snarky edit in your posted comment.
All "Off Topic" posts and thread hijacks get deleted.
When posting your first ever Big Picture comment, I suggest you make it informative, interesting, on topic, and of of moderate length -- a paragraph or two. Lazy one sentence or one word comments typically get deleted. (Posting First! gets you banned for life). Rambling 1000 word comments also get edited or deleted (GYOFB!) or disemvoweled.
The first comment often sets the tone for the rest of the discussion; Please post intelligently.
I post comments in my own name. Anytime I edit anyone else's posts, I clearly mark it as such
BR: like this.
On occasion I will post someone else's email (or telephone call) as a comment in their name or initials -- because they can't. My circle of colleagues and friends includes many people who due to their employers compliance policies risk their jobs by posting comments. I will, in my own judgment, do so on their behalf when appropriate.
Please do not cut and paste entire copyrighted works of others into comments. Title, a URL, a few paras are plenty (if you are the author of a Bloomberg, NYT, WSJ, Barron's, etc. column, then feel free)
I on only rare occasions will delete reader comments after the fact on their own request (Its been done less 5 times). If you post something that years from now is embarrassing, well, that's just too bad. Think twice before ranting like a jackass.
5B: Comments by Trolls and Asshats:
This may be a free country, but The Big Picture is my personal fiefdom. I rule over all as benevolent dictator/philospher king.
Fear my wrath, mortals! I will ban anyone whom I choose from posting comments -- usually, for a damned good reason, but on rare occasions, for the exact same reason God created the platypus: because I feel like it.
I encourage a broad range of perspectives, philosophies, sexual
orientations. Dissent is good. I want to see a debate of views, a
battle in the market place of ideas. (Thomas Jefferson wasn't so dumb
after all). You can post on nearly anything, so long as it is at least tangentially related to the topic at hand.
On occasion, I will "unpublish" a comment if I feel it is too impolite, harsh, ad hominem, inappropriate. Off-topic posts have been rising, and I have taken to unpublishing them en masse. Please do no publish 10 comments out of 30. (It takes ~10 seconds to un-publish em all). If you find yourself publishing way too many comments, consider this: This humble blog is my forum for expressing my ideas. Get your own damned blog.
The fastest way to lose posting privileges is to misrepresent your host's complex and nuanced views in some inane bumper sticker comment. Other fast tracks to getting banned:
- Knowingly posting false or malicious material;
- multiple postings under different names;
- generally engaging in troll-like behavior;
- misquoting your host/overlord;
- being impolite in the extreme;
- using fake/mislabelled URLs;
- ad hominem attacks;
- being an asshole.
Right now, someone is reading this and saying to themselves "What does he mean, being an asshole?" If you wondered that to yourself, well the odds strongly favor that you yourself have sphincter-like qualities. Thus, you should consider it likely that you will be banned as a rectoid from posting comments sometime in the near future.
5C: Assignments: There are few things that I find more annoying than disingenuous rhetoric. "Why are you ignoring X? You must post on this NOW." This alerts me to the fact you have a small willie.
I do not accept homework assignments. They will be deleted, and your troll potential score increased. Instead, you lazy bastard, do some homework yourself. Then, post a clever observation and URL. Perhaps you will stimulate a conversation. Of course, you could always write your own blog, ('cepting your constant masturbation makes for exceedingly slow typing).
Worse still are the emails asking for my opinion on this, or would you comment on that. In 94% of the cases, I have already covered the subject extensively (if only the emailer bothered to look). My apologies to the remaining 6%, but that's how it goes: That's the tyranny of the ignorant majority.
5D. URLs in Comments: I encourage people to link back to other sources and sites in comments. Feel free to put your own blog/site in the URL space when entering comments. However, link whoring is frowned upon in the body of comments. If you are merely posting comments in order to enhance your Google score, I may leave the comment -- but delete your URL above.
Want some of my Google Juice? Play by my rules.
5E. Trackbacks: I encourage Trackbacks from non-commercial sites discussing the issues we chew over here. However, since trackbacks and comments can also be a way to raise your Google score, commercial trackbacks will be invoiced as advertising. See #13 for more details.
I am fastidious in sourcing all materials. Whether MSM or a blog, I link in the body of the post and source at the end of every post. If I excerpt a sentence or two, I usually "quote and italicize" to show its someone else's writing.
I will indent and often present a different color for quoted text of longer lengths, beyond a sentence or two.
often use graphics, photos and charts, and I try to disclose not only
the media source but the actual photographer where possible.
Despite my best attempts, I will occasionally miss a source. Feel free to email me at thebigpicture-at-optonline-dot-net.
Important Note: If you email me an item that is not of your authorship, be sure to include the original source -- otherwise, it appears that you are the author and are usurping credit.
7. Blog Roll: Every link in the blogroll is a site I visit regularly. Given that it now has 100+ links (capacity!), I get to some much more often than others. But if its there, I read it. All I am trying to do is honestly represent what I filter thru.
Sorry, but because of the above, I do not "exchange" links or or swap blogrolls, and assume that those who do are dishonest clowns. Don't even ask.
8. Media Appearances:
All media appearances (tv, print, radio) are unpaid. I show up, say what I believe, and go home. There are no fees, no scripts, no banking favors. I always disclose positions/conflicts to the producer/editors in advance. If time permits, I spit out my personal/client positions on air; Same goes for print.
I try to post a heads up on TV appearances in advance when I can, but since they tend to be last minute affairs, no promises.
9. Board of Directors:
Burst.com: I have served on the Board of Burst.com (BRST) since February 2002. Burst is a public company which developed a patent portfolio over the past 19 years related to moving/streaming audio and video around a network, i.e., such as a LAN or the Internet.
When discussing any company that may present a conflict (i.e., license or litigation) with Burst, I will make that disclosure when relevant.
Example: When Burst was in suit with Microsoft in 2003-05, and I was discussing MS Office, it was irrelevant, and therefore no disclosure was needed or made. However, any discussion of Corona, or Microsoft's Streaming Media, or WMP, and the conflict disclosure and BoD membership was made. (Microsoft settled the case for $60 Million in 2005). In the midst of licensing discussions in 2006, AAPL initiated litigation by filing for a declaratory judgement in 2007. That case was settled in 2007.
Recent Apple related posts, (i.e., the initial impressions of iPhone, as well as the iPod line) have all been positive, so further comment seemed unwarranted. Somehow, additional disclosure didn't strike me as necessary when you call a litigation adversary's product "Drool Worthy." Since the iPhone has a built in iPod, it would technically fall under the same theory of infringment that iPod/iTunes does. Consider this my blanket litigation/conflict disclosure on that product.
Most recently, Real Networks (RNWK) filed for a declaratory judgment, and the case was eventually settled. This is my disclosure regarding Real Networks.
MicroIslet (MIIS): Last year, I joined the Board of Directors of MicroIslet (MIIS), a biotechnology company commercializing patented technologies in the field of xeno-transplantation therapy for patients with Diabetes (which runs in my family).
In brief, the company takes islet cells, micro-encapsulates in a seaweed based alginate, and implants these inside the abdominal cavity (no -anti-rejection drugs necessary). The implant then produces insulin. The FDA was very encouraging, and I believe we will see some form of Human testing over the next 12 to24 months. I find this bio-tech fascinating -- very Gattaca. (When are the injectable nano bots going to be able to cleanse my arteries of cholesterol?)
If you have any interest in novel and innovative ways to manage Diabetes, I suggest you do some research into the firm and its biotechnology. (I obviously cannot make recommendations as to its stock)
10A. Investment philosophy:
If you are an individual managing your own portfolio, as a general rule, I favor dollar cost indexing on a monthly basis. For most people of moderate means, this is the lowest risk, highest return approach. No stock selection, no market timing, nothing exotic. (See this post for more details)
The hardest part about dollar cost averaging is that when you should be doing it the most, every instinct in your body will be telling you not to. When it comes to the capital markets, your instincts are invariably wrong. For more on this, go read You Just Ain't Built For It.
For those (both professionals and civilians) who want to try to beat the market, well, there are many ways to attempt that. We explore that on occasion.
10B. Investment advice:
We do not offer investment advice on this site. That's here not only because the lawyers insisted, but because its true.
Consider: I have no idea what your financial goals may be. I
am unfamiliar with what your risk tolerances are. I don't know your
age, savings, financial circumstances, dependents, net worth, what tax
bracket you are in. Hell, I do not even what country you live in. There are some people who would find those factors quite relevant.
This site is a great place to come if you want to learn about some of the market/economic issues of the day, and see them discussed with a somewhat contrarian bend. I have a tendency to push back against the mainstream thought processes. I like to explore ideas I find interesting and relevant.
Its a blog, for crying out loud. Professionally, I write research and manage money for a living. You get what you pay for -- and this is free.
My all-time favorite comment (for two reasons) is this: "I bought/sold/stayed out of the market because of something I read here."
The first reason I love that comment is that it reveals you as an 1)idiot; or b) a troll (delete! ban! buh-bye!). Space doesn't permit detailing the proof, but IP addresses don't lie. I am very confident of that statement the vast majority of the time.
The second reason is that if your investment philosophy is dependent upon what you read in the media or even worse, on a blog, well then you definitely need to go back and rethink your investing philosophy. Pronto. Or, you may simply be an idiot (a high probability bet).
Regardless, you need a wake up call. Let me give you a head start on that process: Go read "Lose the News." And try to be less of an money-losing putz in the future.
Any purchases made at Amazon from this site generates an associate
fee (minimum = 4%, recent average 7.5%). I use
these to purchase more books, CDs, and DVDs which eventually get
reviewed here. Thus, the virtuous cycle continues. My accountant advised switching from Amazon.com gift certificate to cash for tax reasons.
Note that when possible, I also link to an artist's official site, their MySpace page, a YouTube video, or an IMDB entry.
12. Freebies, product placement, payola:
As to "freebies," there is already too long a queue of books patiently awaiting my attention. If you insist, I will accept a book from an author or a publisher or PR marketing firm, with the following caveats -- if you send your book to me:
- I may or may not read it;
- If I read it, I may or may not like it;
- If I like it, I may or may not review it;
- Regardless, I won't sell any of these books on eBay, Amazon, etc. -- but I might give it away to a worthy reader.
If you can live with those terms -- and your book is relevant to what we discuss here -- then you may send it to me.
We do not sell key words, blog links, placement of any not readily recognizable commercial advertising.
We happily accept advertising: We charge $10,000 per commercial Trackback or Comment linking back to your site or product or service. Eg., 3 trackbacks = $30,000.
By placing any commercial advertisement on this site, you agree to these terms and conditions: That you will pay the aforementioned fee promptly, that you agree to be governed by the laws of New York State and where appropriate, New York City, that you agree to jurisdiction in the great State of New York. You further agree that you are jointly and severably responsible for what any 3rd party does on your behalf, including but not limited to PR or Advertising or Marketing firms.
We will bill you promptly. Failure to pay will force the balance to be put into collections, where you will also be responsible for costs and legal expenses. You agree to jurisdiction in any small claims court of my choosing, or in the alternative, any court in New York State of my choosing.
Non-Trackback or Comment advertising is available at a negotiated rate.
14. Confidentiality: Any information we obtain from legitimate commentors is strictly confidential. This includes email addresses, IP address and actual names. They will not be revealed unless we receive a valid subpoena from a legitimate law enforcement agency or court of law.
Spammers, Trolls and Asshats receive no such guarantee . . .
Last Updated: October 3, 2008