The Big Picture: Disclosures & Terms of Use

Since the readership of this blog has risen to beyond a small circle of friends — we are coming up on 20 million page views, and regularly exceed a million monthly page views — I thought it appropriate to list a full set of disclosures.

These include what you should expect from me as your humble blogger, and what I expect from you. Consider these the guidelines governing appropriate behavior for readers and commenters.

The following cover the site, my own investments, and the financial arrangements of this blog:

1. Privacy Policy

We are obsessive about our privacy, and we assume you are also. We 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 laziness, I would not hold my breath waiting for these announcements. However, if you can hold your breath for 3 months at a time, perhaps you may wish to explore a career as a pearl diver.

We can also envision on an emergency basis sending you an email, advising you to seek shelter, buy bottled water, get to higher ground, or obtain radiation detection equipment. Again, our laziness makes these low probability events. Not the flooding or nuclear accident — just the email warning you about it.

2. Market Positions

If I am discussing a specific company and/or its stock, and I have a
personal (or 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 and BP).

I try not to discuss small cap positions often, as they are too
easily pushed around (i.e., manipulated). 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 mostly avoid posting on them.>

Readers should not assume that I have any position, long or short, merely because a stock is mentioned.


3. Edits:

My policy about editing posts: 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.


4A. Posting Comments:

I attempt to read every comment that goes up (‘though that is
becoming increasingly difficult). I read all email, but make no promises
about responding.

All email addresses on comments are not published, but I do see them. Comments with legit email addresses get priority. (Cowardly "anons" barely get glanced at). If I am unable to respond to you privately due to a bogus email address ("") don’t be surprised if you get a snarky answer in your own comment.   

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. Rambling 1000 word comments also get edited or deleted (GYOFB!).  Comments on much older posts are also suspect.

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.

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.

4B: 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/utility infielder. 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, or off-topic. Off-topic posts have been rising, and I have taken to unpublishing them en masse. Publish too many comments on a given post (3 or 4 relevant comments out of 30 are fine, 10 out of 30 is excessive). It takes me ~10 seconds to un-publish 10 comments.

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.   

A few things that will get you permanently banned from commenting at The Big Picture. The fastest way to lose posting privileges is to misrepresent your host’s complex and nuanced views in some inane bumper sticker comment. Those who do this, be advised: I’ve read your prose and considered your thought process: Suffice it to say that Robert Frost’s legacy is safe. Your comments will not be missed.

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;
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.

4C: Assignments: There are few things that I find more annoying than disingenuous rhetoric. "Why are you ignoring X? You must post on this NOW."

Fuck you. I do not, under any circumstances, accept homework assignments. They
will be deleted, and your troll potential score will skyrocket. Instead, you lazy bastard, do the homework yourself. Then, post a clever observation and URL. Perhaps you will stimulate a conversation. Of course, you could always get your own blog, if you weren’t such a lazy git.

Worse still are the emails asking for my opinion on this, or would you comment on that. In 90% of the cases, I have already covered the subject extensively (if only the emailer bothered to look). My apologies to the remaining 10%, but that’s how it goes: The majority ruined it for you.

4D. URLs in Comments: I encourage people to link back to other sources and sites in comments.  And, you should feel free to -put your own blog/site in the URL space when entering comments. However, URLs in the body of comments that are merely self-promotional (i.e., do not add to the content) may be deleted. And, if I suspect 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? Then play by my rules.

4E. 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 #11 for more details.

5. Sources:

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


6. 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 (I find it dishonest). Don’t even ask. Besides, I set up a bot to respond to link exchange requests, directing you here.

7. 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 and 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, I make no promises.

8. Board of Directors: I have served on the Board of (BRST) since February 2002.
Burst is a public company which developed a patent portfolio over the
past 17 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 in 2005). 

Burst settled litigation with Apple (in the midst of
licensing discussions in 2006, AAPL initiated litigation by filing for
a declaratory judgement) 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."

However, 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. You can assume the same scenario —  litigation and settlement negotiations — to play out. This is my disclosure regarding Real.

MicroIslet (MIIS):  I recently 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. 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)

9A.  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 personal income,
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; 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.

Regardless, you need a wake up call. Let me give you a head start on that process: Go read "Lose the News." And try tro be less of an idiot next time.

9B.  Investment philosophy:

If you are 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.


Any purchases made at Amazon from this site generates an associate
fee (minimum = 4%, recent average 7%) in the form of an gift certificate. I use
these to purchase more books, CDs, and DVDs which eventually get
reviewed here. Thus, the virtuous cycle continues. If that continues to scale up, I my accountant has advised switching it for 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.

11. Freebies, product placement, payola:

I do not accept any "blog product placements" nor am I willing to accept blog 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.

12. Advertising:

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.


13. 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:  March 26, 2008

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