We Are Back

Submitted by Rich Toscano on May 28, 2006 - 10:17am

Update - May 30 - It looks like the resource usage issues are still occurring. The site may go down from time to time in the near future until I can work with my ISP to figure this out... please bear with me. The original message follows.

Upgrades to the Site

We had to shut down last week because the site was putting tremendous load on my ISP's server. Because there was no concomitant spike in traffic, I believe the excess load was either due to a denial-of-service attack or some sort of memory leak or other bug with the content management software I use. The ISP applied all security patches on their end and it kept happening, so the only thing left to do was to upgrade to the latest and greatest version of the content management software and see if that fixes the problem, be it security- or performance-related.

I took the opportunity to make some organizational and functional changes to the site:

  • Users can now choose to use a rich-text editor when they create comments and forum topics. Existing users who wish to use the rich-text editor by default need to change the appropriate setting in their user profiles.
  • Users can also upload and embed inline images into their content, regardless of whether they use the rich-text editor or not. (Go nuts, Chris J...)
  • I changed the manner in which comments are displayed. While threading is nice, it made it hard to find new comments. It additionally caused layout problems if the nesting went too deep, forcing people to read long, thin columns of text. (This latter would have caused even more layout problems had people decided to post images into deeply-nested comments.) So from now on, comments will be displayed in flat, chronological order. If you want to refer to a specific comment already made, you can "quote" the relevant part of other comment's text by italicizing it, putting it in a different color, etc. - which is easy now because of the rich-text editor.
  • As you can see, I moved my two big summary articles (Evidence of a Bubble/Risk of a Decline) to be "stuck" at the top of the housing commentary list. I apologize if this is a minor inconvenience for regulars, but I think it's important that new visitors read that background material first, and it just wasn't prominent enough before.
  • I've recast the the article categories to be simpler and more appropriate to the content being generated.
  • Unfortunately, the new version of the "email subscriptions" functionality does not work with my ISP's database version. I will request an upgrade, but in the meantime, you won't receive any email subscriptions of site content. The next best thing is to use the RSS feeds at the lower right of the page. Update: It is not a database compatibility issue as I initially thought. I've wrestled with the subscriptions functionality all afternoon and still can't get it to work, so I'm afraid we'll have to do without unless and until the subscription module developers issue an update. Update to the update: upon further wrassling I have gotten subscriptions working - hooray! Unfortunately all old subs were lost; you will have to recreate subscriptions with the "my subscriptions" link on the left.

If you find any bugs or problems, please make a note in the comments below.

A Change of Direction

Some changes had been brewing since well before the big server debacle, and this seems as good a time as any to discuss them.

In the near future I will be joining an independent investment management and financial planning firm. I am very excited about this opportunity and I will share more details soon. The bad news is that, because of the enormous amount of regulatory oversight of the securities industry, there are going to have to be some changes here at Piggington World Headquarters.

The crux of the issue is that nothing I've written can be available to the public without someone at my soon-to-be broker/dealer (a company that, among other things, handles all compliance aspects for my new firm) having read and approved it beforehand. This includes everything I've written in the past, regardless of subject matter. Update: Since at least one person made the wrong assumption on what this reviewing is all about, let me clarify: the reviewing is to ensure that I am not violating NASD regulations by recommending specific securities and other things that will never happen on this site. The subject matter of the site is entirely irrelevant to regulators; therefore, no content will ever be changed. The point is that the broker/dealer has to review everything so that they can tell NASD that they have reviewed everything I've written. In other words, there will be no qualitative changes, but there will, as discussed below, be quantitative changes.

In order to prevent the gentleman who does the reviewing (who is a perfectly nice guy and has a whole full-time job that does not involve reviewing piggington.com content) from plunging headlong into madness, I will be making the following changes:

  • Postings will be less frequent (though probably more in-depth, since there is now a certain barrier to entry).
  • I will no longer be able to participate in forum discussions.
  • I do not wish to cause potential regulator confusion by having material that I've written on the same page as material written by someone else; therefore, I will be soon be shutting off the article comment capability. (The forum can be used to discuss specific articles if desired).
  • Since all prior content has to be approved, and pertaining to the points above, I will:
    • Remove my comments from prior forum topics.
    • Hide all prior article comments.
    • Separate the article wheat from the chaff — i.e., remove old articles that are now dated or for some other reason are not worth forcing upon the already overwhelmed reviewer.

The End of Premium Content

I will also be abandoning the premium content model. I originally started charging a fee to offset the rather weighty cost of the DataQuick data that allowed me to do in-depth monthly analysis. I also hoped to get a little recompense for the enormous amount of time I spent putting all the information together.

Well, my partner in the new firm has MLS access and is able to attain monthly statistics for me to chart out, obviating the need for DataQuick's product (with which I had become frustrated anyway). And as for that second thing, I probably would have gotten a better hourly wage flipping condo signs.

I will do one more "cycle" of premium reports so all recent monthly subscribers get their money's worth (I shut off the ability to sign up as of a couple weeks ago). Yearly subscribers from back in the old days will receive a prorated refund by mail.

While we're on the subject, I should note that due to the emergency server upgrades, the monthly reports will be out a little later than usual.

Premium content will stay locked down for a while in fairness to those who ponied up; however, it will eventually be opened up for public access.

What Won't Change

The one thing that won't be changing is the purpose of this site, which is the provision of honest and fact-based analysis with the intent to help people make good financial decisions. I hope it continues to serve in this capacity and I thank everyone for bearing with the ongoing changes.

(category: )

Submitted by sunsetbeachguy2 on May 28, 2006 - 3:04pm.

Good to see you back.

 

Congrats on the changes but I will miss some of the more freewheeling posts.

 

I really enjoyed the feature on the old website that collected the CR, Mish, TMTGM, Ben's Blog and other posts.

 

It made Piggington my one stop shop.

Submitted by rankandfile on May 29, 2006 - 12:39am.

I fell asleep in America and woke up in Communist China.

This was a good site while it lasted...on to another.

 

"Postings will be less frequent (though probably more in-depth, since there is now a certain barrier to entry).

  • I will no longer be able to participate in forum discussions.
  • I do not wish to cause potential regulator confusion by having material that I've written on the same page as material written by someone else; therefore, I will be soon be shutting off the article comment capability. (The forum can be used to discuss specific articles if desired).
  • Since all prior content has to be approved, and pertaining to the points above, I will:
    • Remove my comments from prior forum topics.
    • Hide all prior article comments.
    • Separate the article wheat from the chaff — i.e., remove old articles that are now dated or for some other reason are not worth forcing upon the already overwhelmed reviewer."

 

Submitted by edna_mode on May 29, 2006 - 9:23am.

but dahling!

the function of a blog is to be a _dialogue_, not something analogous to the hideous communication structure as a Powerpint presentation, where the disciples gather to receive pearls of wisdom from the master and communication flows only one way. As brilliant as your articles are, I fear for the future quality of this site if we know that the master is muzzled from responding to the incisive questions of the readership.

Would you be able to respond within the context of new postings? Or would that be precluded?

Submitted by sunsetbeachguy2 on May 29, 2006 - 9:29am.

Man this is a rough room for the guy that owns it.

Rich is providing a FREE service.

The bubble isn't a cult of personality, if the quality of postings declines look in the mirror and make better and more insightful postings.

Congrats Rich again thanks for the excellent website.

Submitted by renterclint on May 29, 2006 - 11:09am.

I've been coming to this site for about a month now. I'm really glad I found it. Great insight. Great topics. Rich, thanks for all the time & work you put into this. And thanks for doing for no charge. If this page now has few new limitations because the author has encountered a good opportunity, so be it. Keep up the good work.

Submitted by rankandfile on May 29, 2006 - 11:20am.

"Postings will be less frequent (though probably more in-depth, since there is now a certain barrier to entry)."
TRANSLATION: The site is on a steady path towards fading into oblivion.

* I will no longer be able to participate in forum discussions.
TRANSLATION: Censorship
* I do not wish to cause potential regulator confusion by having material that I've written on the same page as material written by someone else;
COMMENT: Don't want to "confuse" the regulators, now do we? Heaven forbid if they have to actually read the name of the person who posted.

therefore, I will be soon be shutting off the article comment capability. (The forum can be used to discuss specific articles if desired).
TRANSLATION: See note about censorship above. They think I could possibly log in as an anonymous user and start posting, so they are having me delete the utility altogether.

* Since all prior content has to be approved, and pertaining to the points above, I will:
o Remove my comments from prior forum topics.
o Hide all prior article comments.
o Separate the article wheat from the chaff — i.e., remove old articles that are now dated or for some other reason are not worth forcing upon the already overwhelmed reviewer."
TRANSLATION: Another level of censorship. I love this part because it is a "whereby" or "herein" away from being true legal speak. There will probably be a disclaimer on the home page before you know it.

Pardon the melodrama, but I am right. The main draw for this website, aside from largely uncensored comments by Powayseller and the like, was the expert input from people like the host. All of which has been stripped away. I am hating the game, not the player here. The bright spot is that this opens up a window of opportunity for another similar site to crop up. Survival of the fittest. Do you know any html Powayseller?

Submitted by RightSide on May 29, 2006 - 1:07pm.

Congrats on the new gig, I'd be interested to hear what you will be doing there...

...I'm sorry to see the paid-service discontinued, but I'm glad you'll still be commenting on what's going on. I don't remember if I subscribed to an annual subscription or not, but if I did, please don't bother sending me a refund and put it in your tip jar instead. :)

All the best.

Submitted by powayseller on May 29, 2006 - 2:27pm.

I look forward to learning more about your new gig, Rich. I understand that you cannot make comments; it's NASD regulation.

That said, all of us can still go crazy on the investment advice. Perhaps Rich's partnering with an investment guy means that there will be some investment advice forthcoming, but through the proper channels.

I admire all your hard work, Rich. I am happy with my little spot on this board, writing interesting articles for discussion.

A diehard fan,
powayseller

Submitted by powayseller on May 29, 2006 - 2:43pm.

Rich, I also miss the RSS feeds to calculated risk and others. That made your site the one-stop shop for me, too.

If you consider adding this again, here are some other good ones which have daily updates: Big Picture, iTulip.

Submitted by rankandfile on May 29, 2006 - 7:17pm.

"Nobody is going to censor anything; the broker/dealer has to review to make sure it's in compliance with NASD rules, i.e. to make sure that I am not telling people to buy a specific stock or something like that. Since I never do that, they will NEVER make any changes, but they will be able to tell NASD that they reviewed it for compliance. It won't effect the content at all qualitatively; it's just that the review step makes it unfeasible for me to do anything but longer articles."

I guess I am confused. You will no longer be able to comment on the material on this site because you don't want to over burden the reviewer because the reviewer would have to assess your comments to ensure that you aren't telling folks to buy a specific stock or something like that; which you mentioned you would never do on this site anyways. Why, then, discontinue making comments if you would never mention anything in violation of NASD rules anyways? And what's the difference in reviewing one 1000-word article (qualitative) as opposed to ten 100-word articles (quantitative)? Both present the same workload for the reviewer.

I have complimented your site on more than one occasion, I often recommend it to people I talk to, and I am grateful for the information that I have found on it over the past few months. I am also happy for you that you got a new opportunity elsewhere. I just feel that things are being sugar-coated a bit and the real meat of this site will be gone. It's like the NAR poo-pooing what's going to happen to the housing market.

This site has helped me to become a better cynic and that's my point of view with the future of this site. I apologize if my remarks were perceived as "violent". That's just my style sometimes. I imagine there is a realtor or two out there who feels the same about some of the comments you made about them or the housing market over the years.

Some questions I still have:
Why are you still able to comment via email but not through the website...won't the reviewer have to analyze your emails as well? How is removing your past and future comments not censorship? Maybe I am missing something here.

Submitted by lostkitty on May 30, 2006 - 4:32am.

rank-and-file,
You are out of line soldier. Knock it off.

Good luck Rich.
(Add me to the list that misses the links to the other bubble-blogs and economics blogs. i dont have much time for this bubble-reading, and it made it all so quick for me.

lostkitty

Submitted by rankandfile on May 30, 2006 - 11:07am.

I apologize if I've offended you, Rich, but I just can't buy in to the fact that this website is going to be as good now that you can no longer add your insights/comments.

I agree that I am out of line. And no, I don't have any information to back up my pointed comments. I don't know of any stats out there which show that X number of websites tend to lose X percent appeal when their creators no longer can add input to them. But I'll keep looking. There is a lot of info that I do not know. All I have to go on is what was posted and my common sense/cynicism. Forgive me for my abrasiveness, but please, lighten up a bit. I think some are being a bit too sensitive. If people want 100% political correctness and butt-kissing all the time they can go join a committee.

Submitted by edna_mode on May 30, 2006 - 1:33pm.

Well my dear, remember that it is not only skinny girls with big hair and poofy lips who think only of themselves.

I'm sure a Super such as yourself will make his own luck -- I'll just have to make something completely trollproof and machine washable to match your powers.

and don't forget us, dahling, I enjoy our little visits.

Submitted by kiki on June 1, 2006 - 7:58pm.

I have been reading this site for months, when i decided to buy but was shocked of pricing. This site helped confirmed my decision to wait.

Rich thank you very much for all your effort and dedication. You could have decided to close the site but instead you are putting the best of your efforts to continue it making it available for other to continue sharing info and knowledge.

I think everyone should appreciate this. I certainly do!

Thank you again and good luck!

Submitted by sakina96 on June 4, 2006 - 10:14am.

Rich,

I, like many others, appreciate all of your hard work. I cannot tell from your original post whether you intend to publish the monthly housing market report. I know that you will be eliminating the premium access but you seemed to imply that you will have access to MLS data and will, in some way, look at it. What are your plans?

Thanks again.

Submitted by CA renter on June 5, 2006 - 2:17am.

Rich,

I've been reading your site for well over a year now, but don't post often. Just wanted to post to congratulate you on your new job! You've provided such a valuable service here, and I cannot thank you enough. Your knowledge, perspective and intellect will be a great asset to your new employer. I wish you the very best in your new endeavours!

Submitted by powayseller on June 5, 2006 - 7:03am.

Rich is a hard worker, and I think he's lucky too :)

(Or should this go on the Millionaire thread...)

Anyway, he's smart, nice, works hard, and he's going to succeed at whatever he does. People like him always do. It's been a priviledge for me to so distantly affiliated with him.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.