The Dangerous World of the Chat Boards

What used to be an interesting forum for intelligent discussion has deteriorated into a place of lies and insults, and Cramer's yearning for the old days.
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Chat? I don't go there. Look, I am massively in favor of chat. In fact, I got the idea for TheStreet.com from the convivial discussions I used to go to in Motley Fool, which, when it started, I loved.

Chat was where people coalesced to beat Wall Street. It was where you could cut through the hype and find out whether a company's technology really was any good. It was where you could swap ideas with an engineer from

Ameritech

(AIT) - Get Report

or find out whether a chip company really had a revolutionary product.

Now, chat is where I get my head ripped off.

Last Friday, I

mentioned that people were buying puts furiously on

Knight/Trimark

(NITE)

. Their brokers told me that it was because of a possible negative article in

Barron's

. To me, this type of "journalism" has now become a staple for the Web. I don't like it, but it is what people seem to want.

Next thing I know, I am being deluged by people telling me that the Knight/Trimark boards are going nuts with people cursing me.

First of all, what do people know in the Knight/Trimark board that could be of value to begin with? Short of just cheerleading for Knight or bashing Knight, what do they know? Second, I cannot even begin to care about what people say about me on the Knight board or any other board, for that matter. I have been called everything from a liar to a crook to a saint to a communist. Heck, I'm just a guy and a dad. I am not a sinister plot against someone, and I am not attempting to make money off of an offhanded Knight/Trimark comment. I have no position in the name.

I don't care whether the stock goes up or down. I have nothing on the line other than trying to be an honest reporter about what I see and hear.

Finally, I feel so strongly that chat has taken a wrong turn that I have been one of the key people behind the scenes at

TheStreet.com

trying to come up with a way to have

meaningful

non-attack, no-cheerleading chat, the way that I remembered in the 1996 Motley Fool, which I loved. So far it has eluded us.

But it is going to happen.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund had no positions in any stocks mentioned. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at

jjcletters@thestreet.com.