Seeking Alpha

Seeking Alpha Certified

Today's Internet offers investors access to unique insight while, unfortunately, posing potential dangers. Upon reading a blog or other website, conscientious readers find themselves asking:

  • How do I know that this author is worth my time, given the volume of articles available on the Internet?
  • If the blog is anonymous, what makes the author accountable?
  • Is the author trying to manipulate stocks that he or she owns (or is short)?
  • Is the author claiming to have written material that was really the work of others?
  • If the author claims to be a great stock picker, is this accurate?

Seeking Alpha CertifiedSeeking Alpha addresses these issues by carefully selecting its contributors and requiring them to adhere to objective compliance standards. Before an author is accepted as a Seeking Alpha contributor, our editors read his/her past articles to evaluate their quality. We directly communicate with every potential contributor, and insist that even authors who wish to remain anonymous on their blogs provide Seeking Alpha with a real name and contact information for our files. Seeking Alpha then requires contributors to agree to one of two levels of compliance: At a minimum, they must agree to disclose positions in stocks they write about (Silver Badge Seeking Alpha Contributor). But we strongly encourage Seeking Alpha contributors to agree in writing to a set of more rigorous compliance standards (Gold Badge Seeking Alpha Certification). Those standards are listed below.

Enforcement

Seeking Alpha's compliance standards are self-enforced by contributors. We do not audit authors' brokerage statements. But we have found historically that: (a) Written agreement to an objective set of compliance standards and display of a badge on the author's website significantly raises the author's awareness of and adherence to disclosure and other compliance standards. (b) Authors with sufficient ability to pass the rigorous Seeking Alpha acceptance criteria who then agree to our compliance standards do indeed uphold them. As a result, we believe that Seeking Alpha certification is a meaningful (though not water-tight) indicator of an author's honesty and rigor. In the event that a reader believes an author has violated the Seeking Alpha compliance standards he/she has agreed to, the reader should immediately email Seeking Alpha. We will investigate the complaint, and if we discover that the author is in violation, the author will be terminated as a Seeking Alpha contributor and asked to remove the certification badge from his/her website.

Seeking Alpha Badges -- An Objective Indicator of Quality

On acceptance to Seeking Alpha and written agreement to the compliance terms, a contributor is then allowed to display the appropriate Seeking Alpha badge on his/her own website. As a result, a Seeking Alpha badge on a stock market website is a mark of quality and voluntary adherence to objective compliance standards. A Seeking Alpha badge differentiates high quality stock market blogs and websites from the mass of mediocre and often manipulative free financial content on the Internet. Hundreds of contributors have been accepted by our editors to provide articles for Seeking Alpha and have already agreed to our basic compliance standards. The majority are finance professionals, and many have their own blogs. Prospective contributors can submit articles directly to us. A smaller yet rapidly growing group has agreed to our full compliance standards, as described below.

The Gold Standard: High Quality Authors With Full Compliance Certification

Seeking Alpha Certified
Criteria:

Authors must (1) pass our rigorous quality standards and have been accepted as a contributor to Seeking Alpha, and (2) agree in writing to abide by our full compliance standards, listed below.

Websites that display the Seeking Alpha Certified badge must link to their Seeking Alpha author page, so readers can verify their authenticity.
The Seven Conditions of Gold Standard Certification

1. Author Qualification

  • Authors attest that they have never been prosecuted for or sued about any securities-related issue, and that they have never been barred from the securities industry or convicted of a felony.

2. Disclosure of Positions

  • Authors agree to disclose the existence at the time of writing of a long or short position (including stocks, options or other instruments) in any stock mentioned in an article. The suggested form of disclosure is to add the following to the bottom of articles: Disclosure: Long GOOG at time of writing.
  • Authors may not write about a stock with the intention to boost or reduce the stock's price and sell (or buy) the stock into the resulting strength or weakness.
  • If the author intends at the time or writing to sell or buy a stock within three days of publication of an article that discusses that stock, the author must disclose this.

3. Disclosure of Conflicts of Interest

  • Authors agree to disclose any material relationships with companies whose stocks they write about or parties that stand to gain in any way from the viewpoint they are outlining. Examples: authors must disclose if they are employed by a company whose stock they are writing about; perform consulting for a company they write about; receive paid advertising revenue or any other form of sponsorship fee from a company they write about. Authors working in research firms or in the field of Investor Relations must provide clear and detailed disclosures of these relationships, and may not present their articles as objective analysis.
  • This applies to industry competitors and narrow asset classes as well. For example, if an author is paid to promote a gold dealer, that must be disclosed in any article about gold.

4. Non-Infringement of Copyright

  • Authors must attest that any articles submitted for publication to Seeking Alpha are their own work and do not infringe upon the rights of any other party. If other sources are quoted, the source must be cited and the quote must be within fair use.

5. Commitment to Accuracy

  • Authors must certify that all facts in articles submitted to Seeking Alpha are accurate to the best of their knowledge.

6. Inappropriate Promotion and Other Material

  • Authors' web sites, which Seeking Alpha will be asked to link to, may not contain any illegal or offensive material, such as racism and pornography.
  • Authors must substantiate any claims about their investment track records on their web sites, if such claims are made.
  • Authors may not make any guarantees or explicit predictions regarding the market performance that subscribers to their paid newsletters can expect.
  • Authors' web sites must not contain misleading or excessively promotional language.

7. Anonymity and Accountability

  • Authors must provide their real names and contact information to Seeking Alpha, even if they intend their articles to be published anonymously.

The Silver Standard: High Quality Authors With Minimum Compliance Certification

Seeking Alpha Contributor
Criteria:

Authors must (1) pass our rigorous quality standards and have been accepted as a contributor to Seeking Alpha, (2) agree in writing to disclose positions when writing about a stock, (3) but these authors haven't yet agreed to abide by our full compliance standards.

If you are a Seeking Alpha contributing author and would like to become Seeking Alpha Certified, please see http://seekingalpha.com/page/gold-certification
Please note: Only authors with at least one published article are eligible to apply.

Policy on Anonymous Contributors

While Seeking Alpha editors greatly prefer that our authors use their real names, we recognize that is not always possible. Due to regulations at their workplace or other factors, some contributors are not able to reveal their real names. In addition, many well-known, veteran stock market bloggers (some of the finest, in fact) write under a pseudonym.

To allow these writers to reach a broad investment public that's interested in reading and discussing their ideas, Seeking Alpha permits our contributors to remain anonymous to the public if they prefer. Our assumption, as always, is that our readers desire rigorous and insightful research and opinion on the stocks and sectors they follow - the author is ultimately less important than the ideas conveyed.

There are firm limits to this anonymity, however: Seeking Alpha holds our anonymous contributors to the same compliance and biographical standards as contributors who write under their own name. We insist on receiving the author's real name and contact information (which we keep confidential) and maintain a correspondence with the author, forwarding the author any questions or concerns that may emerge about their articles. Stock positions held by anonymous authors must also be disclosed.

When an author uses a pseudonym, it is clearly stated on the SA author page.

If you would like us to forward an inquiry to an anonymous author, please email contributors [at] seekingalpha.com