Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently put to the discussion of a blog entry at this site:
If you think that the Bogleheads Forum does not have great power to help or hurt people, we have a very, very different take re the matter.
When I was at Bogleheads, there were hundreds of very smart and good people who expressed a desire that honest posting be permitted. Mel Lindauer hated that idea. He was willing to destroy the board rather than permit honest posting there. But how did he pull that off? He’s one guy and there are hundreds on the other side. How did he do it?
He did it with Jack Bogle’s help.
Jack never personally advanced death threats. But he appeared in threads with Mel. He got Mel that column with Forbes. He showed up at events with Mel. I saw a photo once at the Goon Central board in which Jack and Mel are standing close enough together that you can see them both in the same photo!
People respect and admire Jack Bogle. When he sees a Mel Linduaer behaving in the manner in which Mel Lindauer behaves and does nothing about it, that scares people. Bogle has power in this world. And when he fails to speak up about a Mel Linduaer, he puts that power to a very great negative use.
The other side of the story is that that board has the power to bring the economic crisis to an end. That’s a big deal. There are many influential people who participate or lurk at Bogleheads. If we had been talking there about the true cause of the economic crisis going back to the first day, that front-page New York Times story on Buy-and-Hold that we all deep in our hearts long to see would have appeared a long, long time ago.
The internet discussion board is a powerful communications medium of the future, What. You couldn’t be more wrong than you are in the suggestion you make here.
The question is whether the power of that board community is going to be put to use serving good purposes or bad ones. I entertain both hopes and fears re that one. I know how much good that board can do and I hope to see the day it gets about the business of doing it. And I know how much harm that board is doing in its current incarnation and I fear for how those doing the harm are going to feel about themselves when they finally come to realize how many human lives have been destroyed.
There is a power that comes with being the biggest investing board on Planet Internet, What. And with power must come a sense of responsibility.
I am sure.