If you can't behave, stay off the message boards.
, the stock message board site, is trying to clean up its boards, but could end up losing the strong personalities who've made the site so popular.
Joe Park (a.k.a. TokyoMex), an aggressive trader under
investigation by the
Securities and Exchange Commission
, already had his Silicon Investor membership terminated several months ago. Now Anthony Elgindy, a high-profile short-seller who goes by the alias Anthony@Pacific, has been thrown off the site after he was involved in a spat with fellow message board personality, Jenna, in July.
The trouble started in July when Elgindy -- who trails Jenna as Silicon Investor's most-bookmarked member (a measure of popularity on the site) -- challenged Jenna to a trading duel. Soon, the epithets flew: "
Jenna's stats are older than dirt," Elgindy wrote in one posting. "She is a dinosaur."
Dismissing Elgindy and his followers, Jenna replied: "You either have small minds or imaginations the size of sunflower seeds." And to make sure they got the message, on another occasion she thundered: "
You're but a burned-out fire cracker in the annals of time."
Although both can dish it out, Jenna and Elgindy couldn't be more different.
Jenna (whose real name is Barbara J. Simon) joined Silicon Investor three years ago and is a self-taught trader. Her popularity on SI has spawned her own stock-selection site, which she designed herself and launched in July. She claims to have 1,600 subscribers who pay $50 a month for her insights. A former English teacher and graphic artist, 39-year-old Jenna says she grew up with avid traders as parents. "It took me awhile before I realized
wasn't just an uncle that never came to dinner," she says.
Elgindy, who joined Silicon Investor last summer, trails Jenna in popularity but is known for his colorful and sometimes vitriolic posts. Through his company,
Pacific Equity Investigations
, Elgindy tries to uncover stock scams. A former
market maker and retail broker who's gotten a fair amount of press for his flamboyant style, he started his own site in May.
Fighting on message boards is nothing new, but SI has struggled to make peace between its two most popular names. SI has 120,000 registered users who post up to 15,000 times a day -- many of whom are drawn to Net gurus like Jenna and Elgindy. Eventually, SI suspended Elgindy in early August for 3 days, and warned he and Jenna not to post comments about each other or to contact one other.
After the suspension, the battle shifted, this time between Elgindy and Silicon Investor. As soon as he was back on, Elgindy says, he called someone a "goatboy" for criticizing him. And he promoted his own site, expected to be launched in September.
"I put up a thread about my new site, and when I put up a direct competitive thread I was suspended" for two weeks, he says. He says his original note was deleted, but that he wrote, "Everyone will be happy to know there is a new place coming down the street. No censorship ... No longer will the public be at the mercy of a few young guys who know nothing about the market."
After his second suspension, Elgindy's wife Mary joined SI and began posting messages on behalf of her husband. "Anthony was wrongly and unfairly suspended," Mary wrote. Her membership was terminated as well.
Elgindy petitioned to be allowed to post again, and two days later, a note came from Silicon Investor's head honcho, Jeff Dryer, one of the Dryer brothers who've made Silicon Investor into a top investor message board site. "I don't want there to be a war between you and SI," wrote Dryer in a personal email message to Elgindy. "If I close my eyes and look back later, maybe everything will be OK, I hope." Dryer could not be reached for comment.
Elgindy started posting again, thanking Jeff profusely. "Babay! I'm Back!" he wrote. He pitched his new site again, only to be shut down a day later, this time with no promise that he would be able to post again. Elgindy's supporters immediately started to lobby for his return, sending emails directly to Jeff Dryer demanding the Elgindys be released from "SI jail."
No dice. "You were suspended for vulgarity and more solicitation for your site," wrote SI Webmaster Jill Munden to Elgindy. "Your account has been terminated."
That leaves Elgindy with his new site. Jenna and Elgindy, meanwhile, have come to a truce. "We've patched it up now," says Jenna, who hints at doing more work outside of the SI umbrella. "I'm doing something particularly exceptional," she says.
SI had better hope that its members keep visiting the site's boards instead of flocking to the new ventures of its most contentious celebrities.