Investor's Hub Discussion Forum (Ihub)
What are the most important qualities of a useful investment discussion forum? For me, it all boils down to two important qualities:
1) Technical (speed and reliability)
2) Content (perceptive and unbiased)
Certainly there are other considerations but they pale in comparison to these two major ones. IHub has better than average reliability and speed thanks to the uncompromising and thoughtful management by resident PC geek "Bob". In the eight months or so that I have been using the site I have found it to vary in speed and reliability but generally it's pretty darn good. Bob spends the extra time to insure his code is as efficient as possible and that appeals to my "engineer" side as well as being very practical.
Unfortunately, all the speed and reliability in the world won't do an investor one bit of good if the content is sub-standard. I'm sorry to say that iHub has below average content. I believe this is attributable to a number of things, not the least of which is heavy handed censorship and strict but non-uniform policing of the content which has caused many of the most insightful contributors to seek greener pastures. Matt, who is the founder of the site and fulfills the role of policeman, judge, jury and jailer, is not as impartial as is required to maintain credibility in such an important role. He maintains order and compliance at the site using the age old tactic of fear and seems to revel in his absolute power over all the participants at Ihub. Fear of ending up on the wrong side of Matt and/or being muzzled in the local jail are the primary motivators to encourage people to post "appropriate" content.
Unfortunately, "appropriate" is a highly subjective word, especially when the judge/policeman/jailer is inconsistent and unpredictable. This appears to have the unfortunate result of creating a very "clique like" atmosphere throughout iHub as participants vie to maintain a good relationship with Matt. That might not bother some people (particularly if you are still in High School and happen to like Matt's style). However, for serious investors who want the straight scoop or for those who simply want to pleasantly unwind with a few knowledgeable friends after a hectic day it is less than ideal situation. Most troubling is a strong sense of double standards that are imposed on participants. If you end up on the wrong side of the head cop, watch out, the rules will be different. I have participated in a number of other stock discussion boards and have never seen the type of heavy-handed and inconsistent moderating that occurs at Ihub. I know of a number of valuable contributors who felt they could no longer tolerate the erratic arm of the "law" and left for more open pastures. The overall effect can feel quite claustrophobic at times. On more than one occasion I have been shocked to find that Matt doesn't hesitate to use vulgar language on his customers when sending private messages. I find this most disturbing. On the positive side, Matt is usually quite diligent about weeding out any four letter words that are posted by others in the public stock areas. He also deletes some personal attacks but he does this very subjectively and, in my opinion, very unevenly.
In hindsight I wish I had inspected the site more carefully, tried out the service as a free subscriber for a year or two to insure it was the sort of place I would enjoy before I committed and plunked down $129 for a lifetime membership. Remember, after you've paid for a lifetime of use the company has little incentive to keep you as a happy customer. Tread with caution.