IKN

Tis rigor and not law

That Sinking Feeling

Let’s find out if they can take a joke, shall we?

These last few days I’ve been contacted several times by a dude at SeekingAlpha, cos what they want to do is, with my permission of course, to slurp my feed and automatically put my posts up on their site. It’s supposed to be an honour. Uff.

  • I ignored the first mail, but they couldn’t take a hint
  • I sent a terse one-liner as a reply to the second mail, which earned me a reply I ignored again (don’t worry mother, I didn’t use any bad words).
  • I got another mail yesterday morning (they don’t give up easily) asking me to think it over. This is why I’m posting here.
People that have read this humble corner of cyberspace for a while should know by now what I think about SinkingAlpha; it’s kinda ok for big picture stuff, the ConfCall transcript service is very good but the metals, mining, gold section (or sections?) totally suck and are best used as a contrary indicators (e.g. too many bullish posts from the dumbasses and you sell like yesterday, or abject depression amongst the tinfoilhats = pick a few shares up). The tech corner might be good, as might the banking articles but I wouldn’t have the first clue. Not my scene.
So anyway, they want me to be “a partner” with them. Well great, whoopdedoo. The only difference is that if I agreed to their offer, instead of submitting manually they’d just read my feed, decide if they like this-or-that article and bang!, up it goes on their site. So for the record my issues about contributing to SinkingAlpha are varied:

1) You’re providing your original content for free. They don’t pay, not a bean. What they offer you (apart from some books I’d never read and free tickets to conferences I’d never attend anyway) is that vague concept of “exposure”. Because they get 84 quadsquillion eyeballs per day and this humble corner gets a few thousand I get to be famous and stuff. But I fail to see why somebody who reads my story over there would click through to this blog to read it again…….but hey, that’s me, y’know. Meanwhile they add value to their own pockets via advertising (although they swear they’re making an overall loss) and asset appreciation (one day they’ll sell the site and go live in the tropics and sip margaritas all day or summink). I get the fun of watching how badly I do against Peter Schiff on their popularity leaderboard….all very exciting and competitive, I’m sure.

2) They make up their own title to put on your article. When I used to contribute there (stopped ages ago) that would really get on my nerves. It’s like “my script is good enough for them but my title sucks? WTF?”. They also demand editorial control. PAY ME DUDES! Then I’m an employee and you have the right to boss me around…until then I’m this “partner” who’d get a real rump end of the partnership.

3) The neighbours are crappy. The quality of articles on offer at the place most of my stuff would land (i.e. the mining posts, as I doubt they’d care about Lugo’s latest lovechild or Evo’s police forces putting holes in Irishmen) is mediocre. For every one good one (eg Gary throws ’em a bone sometimes, as does Cam Hui who I enjoy reading) there are three dozen articles that seem to be written by undergrads who’ve read up on the concept of fiat currency then landed on the GATA site and think they’ve discovered the Holy Grail or something. Either that or some dude who promotes company X or company Y for a living (i.e. gets paid by them) will hammer the same stocks at you month after month after month.

4) etc

So when the SinkingAlpha dude couldn’t take the hint and wrote me again yesterday asking if I’d thought further about their offer, I sent him a longer reply. Here it is reprinted in full below (with the spelling and grammar brushed up a bit and one or two words added to make the context clear). Any further questions on SinkingAlpha?

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Dear XXXX

I’d like you to know where I’m coming from here, so this might ramble a little.

The basic point i’m trying to make is that i feel, rightly or wrongly, that a partnership (or whatever you’d like to call it, it’s just a label) with seekingalpha will certainly favour you guys more than I. But this is only part of the problem that i see, because if i think like this then many others will think the same way, too.

I’m really not a high’n’mighty arrogant type (despite the façade :-). Not trying to tell you what to do. Not trying to impose my will or my viewpoint on you guys. However, what i do see in the gold , metals and mining articles of seekingalpha (the part i’d imagine ending up more often than not if a contributor) are boring, thin and intellectually unstimulating articles that don’t do much more than either a) preach to the goldbug choir or b) use polemic against the goldbug viewpoint to start an argument.

It’s bullshit. Maybe one in 30 articles there are worth my time…and i just can’t be bothered to wade through the crud to find the goodstuff when i can visit/RSS the blog of Cam Hui, Gary Tanashian etc directly and get their smarter brains condensed on one page of a dozen articles.

So why is there so much mediocrity on SeekingAlpha (in my view of course…at this point i’d expect you to defend your publication and then we can play batball with the theme all morning—ho hum)? I think it’s because better quality bloggers don’t want to dilute themselves for very little or no return while adding free content to your site. Or in other words, there’s a problem with your business model….in my opinion.

I don’t want to be lumped in with the crowd that appears in SeekingAlpha metals/mining right now. It’s not just a question of money. I’d much prefer to build value (both financial and energetic) separately via my own blog and get 100 readers a day than get 100,000 or whatever-it-is eyeballs on the article that then read moronic comments underneath. SeekingAlpha metals&mining used to be much better than it is, but is being dragged down by the lowest common denominators of the Marc Courtneys of this world who’ll write any old crap as a pure ego trip (sold FCX at U$18 late last year and told your audience that he was lucky cos it sunk to $17 the next day…..classic stuff, dude..he nailed the bottom). I don’t want to read self-promoters like Mike Niehuser telling me about Minefinders and Novagold and Minefinders and Novagold and Minefinders and freaking Novagold ad infinitum.

To sum up, i think you need to attract decent contributors (and yes, i count myself in that pile, but i know my place and that’s really way down on the long list of quality possibles) and more importantly keep them. This is a set of people that respond to capitalist button-pushing, not altruistic and vague offers of “exposure”. I think you guys need to re-think the model else face a serious problem down the line. Try offering something far more solid than tickets to NYC conferences for people that live hundreds or thousands of miles away from WallSt. It’s not my problem…repeat not my problem… that you’re running at a loss. Your model is build, build, build then sell to a big boy and that’s fine by me. Good luck to you, seriously. But WTF does that have to do with me and others if you hoard the pie for yourselves?

My, you guys take me back to the web 1.0 and what Patagon dot com did to its non shareholding staff the day it sold out to Banco Santander! There was nothing offered and nothing given to the somewhat naive experts that spent hours building the finest financial bullboard forum in the Spanish language…the forum that accounted for 90% of the site’s traffic. Then when the naives woke up and saw the site owners get a multimillion dollar payday they went and said “where’s mine?…i built this for you” but it was too late. Not even a crumb offered. Why don’t you do some DD and find out what happened to patagon dot com afterwards? I guarantee that any potential buyer of Seekingalpha will know that story and a dozen others like it backwards by now.

Bottom line: I and many others will not accept your current terms. Quality financial bloggers that accept them will, in my opinion, quickly become disenchanted. Meanwhile very little of the content supplied by current contributors is worth reading (talking about the mining/metals sectors and talking in my opinion…i don’t feel like arguing the point because you won’t change my mind on that…let’s just take it that you disagree and be done). I suggest you re-think you model before it’s too late.

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