The Message and the Meaning - TheStreet

The Message and the Meaning

Cramer offers his thoughts on the state of <I>TheStreet.com's</I> message boards.
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What do we fear on our boards? What are we most worried about? Let's take

Altera

(ALTR) - Get Report

. For the last couple of days, ever since the head guy quit, I have been hurting in Altera.

At one point, I checked the boards to see if there was anything wrong, since I knew estimates for the company were just raised and the business is very strong. I thought maybe somebody knew something about something that would cause this stock to continue to go down.

Join the discussion on

Cramer's Latest, go to the

Red Hots Forum

, or visit our

B2B Forum

Voila, I went to the message boards on

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

. What did they say? "ALTR announces earnings warning!" and "Bad news is coming for ALTR!" with a text that said the company "will announce

an earnings warning after

the market close today. Watch out."

The market is now closed. There was no warning. It is very hard to warn after you just guided the Street higher. (LOL, which is board-speak for "laughing out loud.") All this messenger did was write something patently false that scared people into doing the wrong thing.

That's every board user's nightmare. That's why vigilance matters. I want to compare that with the discussion on our boards involving

business-to-business issues. Our boards are informational. These discussions remind me of those that took place in the early days of the

Motley Fool

, before that site's boards became a big drag.

I need these boards to learn. So do you. We all need them to learn. But we have to be sure that the "Altera to preannounce" stuff doesn't occur on our boards.

That does not mean we shouldn't try

. Again, I am getting feedback from readers that says these are the first good message boards they have ever seen. It is imperative that the boards stay that way.

Alas, we are a business. We want our site to be sticky. But we don't want it to be junky. We open our boards up big, we gain page views,

Media Metrix

falls in love with us and we destroy what is great about

TSC

. I guess that's why

TSC's

editorial department is careful about which boards it rolls out.

But we can show editorial that we are able to cooperate with each other and make money. I say, so far, so good, but keep pressing the envelope.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long Altera and Yahoo!. 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.