Balance & Options

Kirk just published a letter to readers that is well worth reading. It covers some topics that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, like improving my returns and how to best balance the time & effort I spend on my site vs. trading and other things I want/need to get done.

He also reveals some insights gained from his member survey, which should provide valuable information to anybody who runs a blog. The key takeaway for me — this jibes with what I’ve learned from my own experience & surveys — is to keep things concise and relevant to the site’s main topic. After seeing the results of the first survey I did I was surprised at the popularity of my links section. That survey made it clear that people were using me as a means to help them manage the tons of stock market info being published on a daily basis. So if my role is to help people maximize their time then I certainly don’t want to create even more information overload. In fact, I’ve been drastically cutting back on my own information intake which is why the number of links I post each day is way down from a year ago. I hope to keep it around this level and maybe even a little less as I continue to weed out the news feeds I track.

Another interesting thing from Kirk’s survey is that book reviews are one of his readers’ least favorite things. I’ve been struggling with reviews for at least the last year. I have a stack of 6 unread books that were sent to me to review. Two of which I tried my best not to accept because I knew it would be a while before I got a chance to read them, much less review them. (There are two others that I read long ago, liked very much, and still need to write reviews on — Enhancing Trader Performance and Financial Armageddon) After reading Kirk’s survey results I’m feeling better about my new stance of being extremely selective on books. And maybe I’ll even get those two reviews done before 2009. 🙂

Kirk also wrote that “Trading and investing in a fishbowl where others can review, constantly question, and critique every move I make has proven not helpful.” That’s not at all surprising to me and it’s part of why I try not to talk about my positions too much. Kirk mentions some of the other reasons as well — like the appearance of (or being accused of) manipulation, etc. This is stuff to seriously consider if you’re running a blog.

Like Kirk, I’m going to be making some changes to the site as well as the site’s content. You’ll start to see the changes in the next few days and hopefully they’ll be better for all involved.


  1. Posted by Bert on January 5, 2008 at 12:51 am

    Kirk’s letter is a very interesting read. I’ve read him for three years or so and frankly I was stunned by how angry, frustrated, and resentful he sounded when talking about some of his members and their demands. I hope he learns to set limits better and continue his blog.

  2. Posted by bjk on January 5, 2008 at 2:17 am

    Reading that Kirk post, it’s puzzling why he spends so many hours on the site if it doesn’t make that much money.

  3. Posted by Mike O'Connor on January 6, 2008 at 6:47 am


    I want to respectfully suggest that perhaps you and Charles Kirk are going in the wrong direction. There has been precious little information given out by you on how well you’re doing with your own trading. I get the impression that going forward you intend to inform us even less— even as you are still putting out daily opinions about the market for the rest of us, about how some chart patterns or indicator behaviors supposedly favor certain outcomes.

    Well, that’s nice work if you can get it (and in the blogosphere evidently one can and still have at least some readers).

    I have been thinking for some time that there are even certain trading-blog guys who secretly don’t trade anymore, because a certain very popular trading-blogger daytrading technique that they all use doesn’t really work and they didn’t make any money.

    I notice that I’ve been dropping those guys who don’t report on actual trades from my daily blog reading unless I’m desperate for infotainment, in favor of a few who do at least talk about their outcomes in some detail. I especially appreciate those who disclose all of their trades.

    Now you once did report on how long it took you to get to— what was it?— 100 R. Frankly I’m looking for that and more. I want that plus some indication of risk— of drawdowns or of the volatility of your traded equity. Updated, say, quarterly at least.

    After all, you evidently don’t backtest, because your methods are a form of chartism that don’t lend themselves to backtesting, not without a lot of work. So no one knows whether or not your lines of support and resistance, the OBV confirmations or non-confirmations, etc., have any utility at all in practice. (I am aware that many books on technical analysis cover the methods that you use. That all means nothing to me.)

    -Mike O’Connor

  4. Posted by Michael on January 6, 2008 at 12:27 pm


    I appreciate your opinion but I guess you’ll have to drop me. I’ve been doing pretty much the same thing since I started the blog back in 2003 and I don’t see it changing much. From day 1 I rarely talked about my actual trades nor my performance. Even that 100R post caused me more grief than it was worth. Despite the amount of detail I gave on that post people were still bitching and moaning that I didn’t put dollar amounts in that post. Maybe if I just uploaded my SSN and bank account numbers & passwords people would be happy.

    I do plan on posting more actual day trades this year but much more than that isn’t gonna happen.

    You said “nice work if you can get it”. That’s funny — as if ads were making me rich. Unlike many a blogger, I didn’t start this site with plans of making money. In fact, I had no clue one could make money from a site when I started blogging. Google’s Adsense came along a few months later & by then it made sense to me to try to use advertising to at least pay myself something for all the time I was spending on the site. I should figure out an hourly rate to see how close to minimum wage it is.

  5. Posted by Bert on January 6, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    Disclosing trading results or not is an interesting issue in the blogosphere. Kirk’s problem is that he earned his reputation based upon his trading and after two years of unimpressive performance he decides to no longer list his trades. If you read Kirk because he’s an amazing trader, you no longer know if that’s true. On the other hand, many blogs never shared this data and many people choose to read these blogs anyway. I prefer blogs that disclose their trading, but I read plenty of blogs that don’t disclose. Are their blogger who pose as traders? Yes. There are also authors who write books about trading and don’t trade–that’s life.s

  6. Posted by anothercountry on January 7, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    For me the dollar amounts are not relevant.

    I have been able to validate some of the ideas Mike has expressed in three ways.

    a)These are well reasoned arguments within a blog of other well reasoned arguments.
    b) They are corroborated by other credible commentators
    c) I’ve paper traded ideas relevant to me for some months.

    You can’t expect these guys to do it all for you after all.

  7. Posted by Mike O'Connor on January 7, 2008 at 9:25 pm


    I’ll still read your blog. I like the links at times and certainly the summaries of what happened.

    And your personality, of course.

    -Mike O’Connor

  8. Posted by Andrew on January 8, 2008 at 5:38 am

    Where does the sense of entitlement come from?

    You owe disclosure because I read your site often.. Frankly I think you are losing credibility and I will have to stop my free RSS subscription if you don’t agree.


    Look at Kirk’s readership responses and fade them. They want more of the stuff that isn’t helpful in making money trading and less of the stuff that is. I would post something about it but I’ve never had an annoying enough comment on my blog to spur me into action 🙂

  9. Posted by Bert on January 8, 2008 at 11:13 am

    Kirk’s survey was a member survey. Kirk was basically complaining about his own customers. He wasn’t complaining about his general readership. People who pay have a right to their expectations and certainly have a right to complain when the service they paid for is changed. Of course, Kirk avoids all of that by saying that his members are merely providing a donation. Two years from now we’ll all be saying Charles who?