article is scathing and abrasive. Do not read this unless you enjoy that
style of writing.
This article has been a long time coming. Its a
combination of me venting my frustrations over a venue that could be used for
such good and its not, and my desire to educate people and help them
avoid pitfalls on their journey. As the warning above indicates, I will pull no
punches. I guess I unconsciously waited until after I closed KT down to publish
my thoughts. Expect me to be brutally honest. What follows will be a mish-mash
of thoughts and experiences I have had over the many years interacting and
following various forums. It will in no way be exhaustive, just the opposite,
it will barely scratch the surface.
I will start out the article on a positive
note. I ran a free private forum for KT book buyers and mentorship students for
a good part of the life of the KT project. I personally did over 33,000 posts.
In all those years and all that posting, by me and the members, take a guess at
how many negative posts and conflicts we had in that forum. A lot of people, a
lot of posts, a lot of years, there had to have been quite a few, right? Nope,
not a single one. Zero, zip, nada. Proof positive it can be done. Many people
all working together for a common goal.
I have also been to many forums for things
not related to trading, from roofing to plumbing to open source software, and
so on. Although I have seen a few people get a little frustrated as posters or
in trying to answer a post, overall Id say 99% drama free, with whatever
drama you might see very minimal, and the level of effort to be helpful just
great. I have figured out how to solve various issues, more times than I can
count, by the care and generosity of people in those forums. It can be
Enough of the positive, lets move on the trading
forums. My experience, over more than two decades, is about the extreme
opposite of the above. I have never seen such nasty, vile people as I have
encountered on various trading forums. That being said, I have been on forums
as the owner of Kane Trading, not just another trader. There are
certain people, I have found, that take it unto themselves, sort of like a life
mission, to destroy all vendors they encounter.
I have made endless
posts under such circumstances, providing what I think was very valuable
information that was hard won by experience, trying to help struggling new
traders. I have referenced all my free material on my website, stating
explicitly that they in no way need to sign up for anything, buy anything, just
go and use the resources, like the hundreds of free commentary and articles,
and if it helps, great. Thats what the free material is there
wouldnt you think the overall reception would be gratitude? Nope, it was
full on attack mode, destroy the vendor at all costs. All vendors
are bad, period, end of story. Everything about trading on the Internet, in
forums, should be free. I will use a political analogy here, at the risk of
drawing lots of hate mail. NOTE: I am not taking any side here at all
with this political analogy; Im just making a point via analogy.
When it comes to
Trump, there is a saying those on the left frequently follow: Orange man
bad. So if one says how about how he did this or that, the reply is
Orange man bad. But, but, he accomplished this really good
Orange man bad. How about
Orange man bad. One cant even start to
say what he did and its Orange man bad. Note, once again, I
am not saying I am for or against him, I am simply stating that I have seen
these conversations take place and I noticed that it didnt matter what
the person said, they werent even allowed to make a point and
Orange man bad was the answer.
Now, when it comes to forums and these
self-appointed vendor destroyers, their point is Vendor man bad, no
matter what. How about all those thousands of posts I have made with very good,
solid info, asking nothing in return? All that value contributed for free?
Vendor man bad, got to get rid of him. How about when I
Vendor man bad. But how about all the
bad. One guy actually said, and I quote, Ill be godda**ed if
I buy Jims books and make him rich.
Okay, now seriously, lets
talk about that. It took me like three years full time to write the books. It
nearly killed me, given I was also doing the market full time, plus all the
duties of KT as it was developing during the three years, plus all other
responsibilities I have. This is a very niche market. On the website, as most
of you know, I told it like it is. I discussed hard work and years of it. I
discussed no guarantees about success. I discussed realistic expectations. I
often commented that maybe I better tone it down or else I wont have any
sales. I just wanted to be honest, and offer a service/product I thought was of
value, for those that really felt this approach was for them, and I might be
able to contribute to them taking another step towards their goals.
Lets look at the
mentorship page, for example. I revised
that over the years, with the latest iteration being the harshest, the most
realistic. They have an old saying for racing dirt bikes: You dont
know how fast you can go until you fall down. Well, I found out how harsh
you can be with that mentorship page. You know how many students I got after
that latest revision, the one you see now when you click on the link above?
Zero. Not a single one. I have gone out of my way to make sure only people that
are serious buy my products. I mention in one of my FAQs about this.
Click on the link here and read
gist of that is I dont, and never have, mentored someone because they
just emailed me and set it up. You follow the process, read all the free
commentary and articles, if you just cant get enough and love the
approach, buy the books. Read them two or three times, highlighting things and
writing all your questions in the margins. I recommended the phone support
option with the books. Talk to me, ask questions. If you still find this is the
approach that sings to you, then lets talk about mentoring. I was never
looking for clients; I was trying to talk people out of it if I didnt
think the fit was really good.
Now, seriously, is that what a vendor does?
How many books do you think I sold? Whatever you think it was I can guarantee
you it was a lot less than one-tenth that amount. When I sold a set of books I
went through every page of every book by hand to make sure they were all there
and in proper order. Why did I do that? Because when I was buying books all the
time I bought one of those like $300 books, only to find pages missing, pages
out of order, and so on. Contact with the seller/author resulted in zero. When
I started selling books I didnt want any clients to experience
have any idea how long it takes to do over 2,000 pages for a book set? Pack
them up, go to the post office and wait forty-five minutes in line (after a
forty-five minute drive one way)? How about doing all the free articles,
maintaining the website, and answering untold numbers of emails. In the early
days the amount of email I used to get was just off the hook, and I answered
them all. Not to mention there are printing costs, which are not small, and I
stayed with my printer from my previous state, so there was very costly
I once remarked to a very well known author of trading books that I
hung out with that at best I am making minimum wage doing the books, and
thats best case scenario. He told me to never, ever mention that out
loud. I asked why, since if that was the truth, why hide it? He said it would
make me look bad (and maybe him by association?). I guess I see his point, in
that image is everything to most people in such a business, but for me, it held
Now, my question to the reader is, would that forum
person, the resident guard dog to make sure the world of trading forums
is free of all vendors and only filled with information that is free, have made
me rich by buying my books? Too funny. My interest has always been
my own trading. The KT project started under very interesting circumstances,
but thats a story for another time, and to tell it I have to mention
specific details involving another book writer, and to do that Id have to
get permission, and that may not be something hed want fully discussed.
Suffice it to say the fact that the business became successful and ran for so
many years was never what I had planned on. It was always about the
Anyway, lets get back to these forum monsters. Heres
one I used to hear all the time. Those who can, do, those who cant,
teach. Okay, that looks right on first glance. Except that if you have at least
half of a functioning brain stem and use it for more than two seconds on this
statement you will start to question its validity. Being a mathematician at
heart I know very unequivocally that it only takes one counter-example to
disprove something. Not indicate it might not be true, but prove it
unequivocally. No number of examples supporting something can prove it, only
suggest it may be likely true, but one counter-example is 100%
Heres an example. All leaves are green. I bring you twelve
million leaves (all collected in mid-summer) and they are all green. I guess
thats proof all leaves are green, right? Nope. Now fall hits
and I bring you one single yellow leaf. Guess what? All leaves are not green.
Proof positive the statement is false. End of story. 100% unequivocally not a
true statement. Now lets look at the teaching statement.
I could use
specific names here, but Ill do this generically. Ill leave it to
the reader to look up specific examples if they feel the need. They abound. How
many boxers, football players, basketball players, tennis players, and now that
the sport is maturing, MMA fighters, are now retired and
teach/coach? You think that number is zero? Or are you (Mr. Forum Monster)
seriously saying that this doesnt apply because they can no longer do it,
or they would be doing it?
Okay, first off do you really think thats a valid
argument? Someone who is maybe a three or four time world champion and is one
year into retirement cant do it anymore? Alright, then I challenge you to
step into the octagon with one of those guys a year after they retire and tell
them personally that they only teach because they cant do it. Then come
and tell me how that worked out for you. Or tell me the name of the nearest
hospital to said octagon beforehand so I can meet you there and you can tell me
from the ICU. All it takes is one counter-example to prove the statement
how about that some people just like to teach? You seriously think every single
teacher out there is a wannabe who couldnt make it? How about when I
taught math? I did that because I wouldnt be able to make it as a
mathematician? I taught because I couldnt do mathematics? Okay, I need a
minute; Im on the floor laughing. Anyone who knows me wouldnt even
bother to address a statement like that. I personally know of several
professional mathematicians who do some tutoring on the side. I guess they
teach because they couldnt get work as a real professional mathematician.
See how ridiculous and asinine that statement actually is? Okay,
lets continue to beat this dead horse some more. Lets look at
something that even experienced traders seem to be bothered by. How about
great, and I mean great, coaches that cant do. Some football
coaches are world famous, truly beloved by many, and they never stepped on the
field in their life in uniform. Same with some boxing coaches. Look it
point of view I will accept training from anyone who can help me improve.
Im thinking of some tennis coaches that are highly sought out and have
never played tennis. Imagine if a top pro went to meet one of these famous
coaches and then passed on them because they cant do it.
Another example is female gymnastics. I doubt many of those super world-famous
older overweight Russian coaches can actually do. Still, they are
the best of the best at teaching.
The point is, the statement is false and has been proven
false, and its immaterial anyway, since there are endless examples of
fantastic coaching being done by those who have never done it themselves. What
I am saying is why is anyone wasting their time and energy rambling on
endlessly about such things? Well, in my experience in the goal of trying to
destroy all vendors (remember: Vendor man bad), anything and
everything, including the kitchen sink, will be thrown at the
vendor. Kind of like many political arguments I see nowadays, proof
or even evidence is not needed, just relentless accusations. Its hard to
defend against accusations. In the meantime, it will make people question, and
that can be enough to start the destruction process.
This now dovetails into another of
my gripes against these people that really should get a real life, and that is
the idea of proving something about ones trading. This is so
fraught with pitfalls that it is a bottomless rabbit hole you can easily fall
into. I will tell this story because its just so ridiculous that I think
it should be told. Its a very common forum game. I can see, on the
surface, why some of the vendor destroyers may go down this route, but upon
further inspection it just makes no sense.
The topic is providing
statements. See, no matter what a non-vendor posts he or she
is never asked to prove the merit of it by posting their brokerage statements.
But once a vendor is targeted, they must now provide statements or
else They are just another scammer and nothing they say is to be
believed. But heres the context of this. Someone posts a question about
say an issue they are having with entering a trade. Several people comment with
some suggestions, and so does a vendor. The vendors post
looks the same as the others, except his name is recognizable as a known
vendor. In other words, maybe he wrote a book.
He gets mobbed, led by the chief
bully who has appointed himself as the guard dog for the forum. Soon it
devolves into the old schoolyard scene where two people are ringed by a crowd
yelling Fight! Fight! Fight! Here the mob screams Prove it!
Prove It! Post statements! The point is that your advice is of no value
for someone to experiment with unless you prove your own financial success as a
trader. No one else is required to do this except the
Now, if someone goes to a forum to hawk their products and they
make outrageous claims, well, I can understand why they might ask to see some
statements. But that was never the case in the examples I am discussing. So,
once I was so frustrated by the lack of any logic to this I decided to go down
that route. But I opened a discussion first asking for some assurances ahead of
time before the statements were posted. See, there is a lot of downside to
posting statements of any kind, and so in order to make the reward/risk
worthwhile I needed some assurances. What followed was the biggest farce I have
witnessed in my lifetime. Ill chronicle an abbreviated version, as best
as I can remember it.
My first question is will you accept a statement with my
brokers name, my address, and account number blotted out? No way, no how
am I going to post the name of my broker in a post every hacker in the world
can read, given I am posting as Jim from Kane Trading. Not hard to figure out
who I am. My point is there is no point to post it unless I had a firm
commitment that I wouldnt get a reply that says without that info
its not valid.
I got a reply all right, not answering the question but just
attacks like See, he wont do it, hes waffling all over the
place. I then posted that I am not willing to reveal the exact entry
time, exit time, and prices since I dont want anyone reverse engineering
my trades (I once spent an entire month reverse engineering a posted list of
trades, and I was able to figure out what he was doing). Same type of replies,
but nothing to assure me so I might be able to post what was asked for.
Realizing they were purposefully not answering my questions I
I next pointed out that do they realize that anyone can easily take
their statements into something like Photoshop and change anything they
want. Any statement posted is not worth the digital ink it was posted with, so
will they accept a statement as valid if posted? More replies and attacks about
how fake I am and how all I do is talk but no statements are being posted.
Interesting, huh? I can see it now, if a statement was posted you know with
100% certainty these are the very objections that would be raised. Yet they
wouldnt even discuss it.
So, I went to the next step. I asked if audited
statements would be what would really be desired. No serious replies, just the
same nonsense about me being all talk but no statements are posted, exactly as
they expected from a liar like me. So, I actually called an auditing company. I
also asked the same question of my broker, a name everyone reading this would
I asked if I paid for an audit and then posted that audit online,
would they accept calls from random forum readers asking to verify the details.
I asked this because if I posted an audited statement and a letter from the
audit company, you know the first reply would be its fake.
The better the results, the more aggressively they would dispute it. And faking
is not hard to do. I recall a major fund that turned out to be a scam. They
were audited regularly and they posted the audits for all the clients to see. A
famous auditing place, too. The only problem was the statements and the audit
results were all fake. The auditing company had never heard of them.
Continuing on, I
thought the audit company (a fairly well-known name) was about to hang up on
me, as there was just silence. Finally I said Are you still there,
and he basically said something like Are you serious? He
didnt laugh at me, he was more like angry that I was wasting his time. He
said they dont do anything like that, and wouldnt be involved in
anything like that. I pushed a bit more, so I would have my facts for my posts,
and he said if they would even do it, theyd have to bill me just like an
attorney, in quarter hour increments, at some ridiculous rate like $400/hr, for
every call that comes in (so like $100 per call). Id have to sign all
these waivers, Id have to have an account with them and something the
equivalent of a retainer, and so on. But even at that, they said they
wouldnt do it.
When I called my broker he said Are you fu**ing kidding
me? They dont mince words, and they hate when you waste their time.
He said Why in Gods name would you want us to tell people calling
in any details about your account? Our security protocols would never allow
anything like that. I apologized before he hung up on me. I was seriously
worried he was about to close my account because I must be too stupid for them
to take the risk letting me trade. Lesson learned.
I posted the gist of this, and the
replies were the same: See, like I said, hes a big phony and I knew
hed never post them. So far not one single reply addressing any of
the questions I had. Every reply I got was just a personal attack on me, and
nothing facilitating getting done what they wanted. I also discussed another
issue that might come up for many people they are trying to goad into posting
statements. Many successful traders are not trading their own private account,
but in some entity structure, usually involving others. Lets look briefly
brought his up, saying that I asked if posting results would be okay, and
heres what I was told. Compliance said Hell, no, no way, no how.
You do that, youre out. I wont even waste my time explaining all
the reasons why you cant do that. The manager of the operation said
This is proprietary work and there is no justifiable reason to show what
is being done to our competitors. You do a bonehead move like that and
youre out. So, I asked, how does someone working in an entity, like
the vast majority of successful traders are, go about overcoming this and being
able to post statements?
Did I get any intelligent replies? How about a few
I see you point, Jim, that would be hard to do type posts, and then
some constructive suggestions? Nope, just a lot of silence or attack posts
saying the same old all excuses, no statements drivel. By now
youve long since quit reading this or you are just shaking your head
saying why did he even bother with these total losers. I bothered because I
wanted to make a difference, and teach new traders (and maybe some old ones)
that using the criteria of whether or not someone posts statements to judge the
potential value of a technique offered in a forum will limit you by excluding
something that might be of value.
I think everything should be tested and explored, no
matter if it comes from a fool or a sage, to paraphrase from Dream On by
Aerosmith. Never accept a technique because someone posted statements to prove
how great they trade, nor reject a technique because someone wouldnt post
statements. Ignore the reputation or experience of the person offering the
technique, instead do your own due diligence and make your own informed
decision. Consider everything, and test everything fully. Thats what
sim trading is for.
So, do I see any
real value in trading forums? In truth, no. The concept has
potential, and forums in general have been great for me on many topics. But the
horror of trading forums is another matter entirely. And as always,
its usually just a few bullies that destroy it for everyone. To paint
every single person who is a vendor with the same brush is the same
as painting everyone of a certain color or creed the same. We all know how
wrong that is. Its no different to do this with all vendors
that participate at forums.
And how did all this forum nonsense end?
Well, the aforementioned self-appointed forum watchdog crossed the line into
libel, and I brought that up. The result? I got kicked off the forum. The
henchman got to stay. But it was one of the biggest blessings in disguise I
ever received. That completed my education in trading forums. I
have not been back to one since then, not that one, not any other one. I read
none of them, and I make no contributions to any of them. I think thats a
big loss for many of the readers, but the forum owners could care less, and not
one single person contacted me and mentioned anything about me being gone, or
the value of the endless long, detailed posts I provided for free for no other
reason than to try to help some people out. At least by leaving it didnt
lead to any more book sales that would make me rich. You know what a travesty
that would have been.
Lets move on to another thing that I dont like about
forums. People go and scan in authors books, page by page, and turn them
into a .pdf. Then they post them on forums for all to download for free. Not
only is that a major felony that can lead to jail time and huge fines (DMCA
violations), its totally dishonest. Yet in forums people are cheered,
they are heroes, when they post someones poached work. Sometimes a poster
will ask if anyone has a specific work, and it will get posted. The requester
is usually ecstatic and profusely thanks the provider for the download. This is
outright stealing, and it is cheered on in pretty much every forum I can think
of. These are just not the kind of people I want to spend time with. Like I
said, the philosophy of the forums is everything should be free.
Even if it has to be stolen to be free.
Of the traders I have worked with
or known who were money managers or just very serious traders none went to
forums. They all told me very early on not to waste my time. But they had no
goals to try to teach anyone, or interact with anyone. They also had lives
outside of trading where they could have a lot of interaction. I wanted to
share some of my work in a venue where people could ask questions and I could
try to assist them. In the grander scheme of things I am glad I did all that
because I learned a lot, and all of that, good and bad, is a part of who I am,
who I have become. But knowing what I know now about how vendors
are treated, Im not sure, at that time, if I would have done any posting.
I want all this to be a cautionary tale for new traders (or even
experienced traders) who are reading my site, getting a different perspective
on trading and trading related issues. Be very wary of forums. Sure, you are
not a vendor and wont have the same issues that I had, but
look at some of these people. You are walking into a snake pit barefoot and I
just dont see the trade-off as being worth it. You have to make that
decision for yourself. I guess thats why some upper nineties percent of
people are lurkers, only reading and not posting. Its just
too bad; it doesnt have to be like this. My private forum was living
proof of that. Thanks for reading, and good luck in your endeavors.
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