Yesterday’s blog entry reported on an e-mail that I received from a Morningstar site administrator on April 17, 2006. The e-mail read: “Please direct us to the specific posting where you were threatened with violence by another Morningstar poster. ” Set forth below is my response, which was sent the following day. I will provide the text of my follow-up e-mail in tomorrow’s blog.
I’ve never been threatened by any Morningstar poster.
I have been threatened with violence by a poster from another board. This poster has made numerous threats against posters who in his view “cross” him by questioning his views on investing.
There are a group of posters at another board who support this individual. Several of them have signed up at Morningstar since I began posting there and have put forward disruptive posts as their attempt at harassment.
There have been several posts in which Mel and a number of others at Morningstar have posted links to the web site and the discussion board of the poster who threatened me. His name is John Greaney and he is the owner of the RetireEarlyHomePage.com web site. There is a discussion-board site connected with that web site at which he has several boards devoted solely to the topic of ridiculing me and any of the hundreds of posters who at earlier times supported me on a number of Retire Early boards at which I have posted. The obvious purpose is to intimidate posters who post at these boards not to offer support for me or to disagree with his views.
The posters at Greaney’s board have interpreted Mel’s linking to Greaney’s site and discussion board as support for Greaney’s tactics. I have seen the tactics used by Greaney supporters destroy a number of boards. These are not your ordinary discussion-board tactics.
The post that I put to the Morningstar board was in response to a post in which a poster complained about posters following me around from thread to thread and harassing me. My post was an attempt to explain the background. The Greaney supporters openly discuss tactics for disrupting Morningstar threads (and threads at other boards at which issues relating in some way to what the historical data says re long-term stock returns). They have taken comfort in the posts by Mel and a few others to the Greaney web site and the Greaney discussion board.
The root issue is that Greaney got an important number wrong in a study of safe withdrawal rates that he posted to his web site. There is no reasonable dispute about the fact that he got the number wrong. This has been confirmed by numerous experts, including William Bernstein and Scott Burns. It has also been confirmed by extensive examinations of the historical data on which the study is based. Greaney does not want to acknowledge getting the number wrong, and he understands that permitting honest posting on the safe withdrawal rate topic makes him look bad for failing to acknowledge the error. Honest posting at Morningstar embarrasses him because there are a good number of posters who participate at the various Retire Early boards who also participate at the Morningstar board.
It may take me an hour or two to find the post at Motley Fool at which the threats of physical violence were made against me. I will provide links in a follow-up e-mail. There were numerous threats made (the threats and the fallout from them caused just about all effective on-topic posters to leave the board). The posts in which the threats were made were deleted from the board, but there were several cases in which the threats were quoted in later posts. The last time I checked, the posts quoting the threats were still at the board. I will get back with links in a little bit.