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My New Comments Policy

|About: Tesla, Inc. (TSLA)
Summary

I have numerous critics who are thoughtful, informed, and knowledgeable.

And I have other critics who, while they may not have much of use to say, at least manage to be civil.

But life is too short to contend with trolls and cultists.

So, taking advantage of my Pro+ membership at Seeking Alpha, I am tuning out the noise.

The crazies can bang their tin cups against the cell bars all they want, but I will no longer hear them.

It takes a lot of time to write a Seeking Alpha article.

First, best to take care that I've read up on the topic at hand as much as possible. Then, there are always private messages and emails to sort through (I wish I could respond to all of them, but sometimes that isn't possible.)

At last, there is the actual writing. That has to happen on nights or weekends.

The writing takes a bit of effort. The piece should be lively and fun to read. Scrawling something tedious or boring seems a great sin.

An hour or so after each piece goes up, I like to do a quick check of the comments to see whether anyone has pointed to any factual errors. That happens rarely, but when it does I like to fix it quickly, with an acknowledgement of the mistake and an expression of thanks to whomever discovered it.

Later, I try to go through all the comments and respond to those that I particularly enjoy or find intriguing. I have a sort of relationship with many of my readers, which I value highly.

There are some commenters, though, whose comments simply do not merit response. Here's a typical pattern:

  • They will make an obviously wrong claim. 
  • I will point it out, or someone else will.
  • They will be back again, insisting they are right.
  • Assuming we may not have been clear enough, I or others will offer another explanation.
  • But, it is never sufficient.

The debate frequently always ends with, "Well, Elon says this and that's what I believe..." Never mind the SEC filings. Never mind the facts.

Perhaps it's because it's Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), one of the great battleground stocks of our day.

For whatever reason, the stock attracts a cult following. Those who will brook no criticism of their Precious. Who believe deeply, intensely, and absolutely in the rightness and goodness of Tesla. For whom it is not an investment, but a religion. For whom concepts such as valuation are alien. To whom financial statements are irrelevant.

Who are willing to forgive, or paper over, or simply deny the very existence of the long trail of failed guidance and broken promises from the firm and its CEO.

And, indeed, the religious feeling goes both ways. The CEO views himself as an inspired prophet leading a religious crusade. He is Moses ascending Mt. Sinai to send the Roadster (stripped of its massive battery, no doubt, because while the Falcon was heavy, it wasn't that heavy) to the heavens.

(News flash: Musk always knew the orbit would be an elongated elliptical solar orbit. The story about the rocket to Mars was invented for his credulous cult members and the unsuspecting general public.)

But, gentle readers, like you, I am here for investing, not religion.

I have only so much time on this earth. Just a bit of precious breath. A modest aliquot of effort to expend. A limited stock of neurons to summon. I have too often allowed myself to be tempted into completely useless debate.

So, I am now taking advantage of my Seeking Alpha Pro+ membership to mute those whom I have learned are hopeless trolls. I won't even know they have commented unless someone else responds to them.

As they say in Texas, Never get in a pissing match with a polecat.

I've gotten into too many of those. Never again.

I have made a first round selection of commenters to mute (which I shrunk a bit after a thoughtful caution from Buyandhold 2012). Those on the list have worked hard to earn their place. It requires a special measure of willful blindness, proud ignorance, and untrammeled arrogance to make the list.

There no doubt will be more additions to follow (and, perhaps, some subtractions, too).

Now, I realize epistemic closure is a terrible thing. One must try to keep an open mind, to consider facts never considered before, to look at the world in a different way.

There is little danger, though, that any of those muted will ever offer such gifts.

Disclosure: I am/we are short TSLA.

Additional disclosure: I am short TSLA via long-dated options