On Seeking Alpha’s New Photo ID Requirement

19 May

Today, like many (if not all) Seeking Alpha contributors, I received an email informing me that now – for reasons left to our imagination – site policy requires all contributors submit a photo ID.  If you haven’t put two and two together that means no more anonymous/pseudonymous contributions/contributors, which means I, and the rest of the Stone Street Advisors team, will no longer be contributing (not that we/I have in the better part of a year, if not longer)…

The problem with Seeking Alpha, in my opinion, is they’re too big, with wayyy too many “contributors,” which makes vetting them, separating the wheat from the chafe nearly impossible.  The idea was the good ones would rise to the top, but in practice, we’ve seen how that works.  Popularity does not equal quality.  Popularity for the right reasons (honesty, clarity, accuracy, and transparency, among others) among the right people (themselves honest and transparent) generally approximates quality.  Without (more, and more central) human effort, I just don’t see their existing system working, whether people can “hide” behind pseudonyms to talk their book (or talk complete bullshit, as was sometimes the case) or not.

I get that they’re trying to build a business, but they should really re-think how they do it.  If THE ATLANTIC can figure out how to let people write under pseudonyms – as they’ve graciously allowed me to – then I think everyone else can, too, it just requires a little more effort than leaving things to the masses to sort-out.  Stocktwits seems to have it pretty well figured out it (as far as I know/as far as I can tell), as do some other outlets.  Generally, its pretty easy to tell if someone is talking their book/full of shit/pumping & dumping/etc over time, you just have to read what they’re writing and interact with them.  More often than not, all you have to do is check some facts and it becomes profoundly apparent who’s for real and who deserves to be ignored (if not reported to The Powers That Be)   This is the same sort of process which has enabled me to build what I think is a pretty smart, honest, clear, accurate, and transparent group of financial professionals here at Stone Street Advisors.

I wish the team at Seeking Alpha the best of luck, but I also wish they would reconsider their ways so that it was actually worth contributors’ while to post there.  As-is, for it to be worth it for me write with my drivers’ license next to the text, I’d have to get somewhere on the order of 50,000 views/post, which I think would be high even if I wrote for NYT Dealbook!  I’d far rather post here, on my terms, subject only to my own self-imposed restrictions and hurdles, even if it means less publicity, a smaller audience, and less (exactly zero) money.  Will that continue to be the case forever?  Probably not, but for now, that’s where I stand.


4 Responses to “On Seeking Alpha’s New Photo ID Requirement”

  1. David Merkel May 20, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    SA is definitely too big, and the signal/noise ratio is approaching zero, maybe it could go negative. Much as I appreciate having been a popular early-ish writer there, I am reconsidering allowing content to go there, because I don’t have time to interact with readers there. I wish they came to my site, or used RSS to read me. Then I would get their comments, but because I don’t go to SA, I don’t.

    But what really bugs me are those that link to my content at SA, and not at my blog. Sorry to rant; I’ve been very free with my content, and I am reconsidering my position.

    • The Analyst May 20, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

      Definitely no reason to apologize and I think you’re at least 2 paragraphs short of a rant!

      I’m curious how Seeking Alpha management thinks they’re going to fare (if/when they do go public) when many of its most popular/respected names not only cease to publish there, but publish criticisms on their own sites (like yours, for example).

      I’ve thought about how SA can address all of these concerns of ours, but I really haven’t been able to come up with anything. I think they’re slowly moving in the right direction by implementing a process to vet new/unproven contributors, but I’m not sure it isn’t too late for that.


  1. Friday links: when to do less | Abnormal Returns - May 20, 2011

    […] Seeking Alpha has a new photo ID requirement.  (Stone Street Advisors) […]

  2. Seeking Alpha Corrects, Clarifies “Photo ID” Email « Stone Street Advisors - May 20, 2011

    […] continue.  There was no explanation or anything.  I wrote about it, and some other thoughts about Seeking Alpha in general last night.  Later, they issued an apology and explanation, which I have to say was pretty prompt and […]

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