Berkshire Ruminations

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Andy Kern does not make "picks"

As the name of this blog should indicate, my goal is not to make stock picks but rather to muse about current events in the stock market and the field of finance generally. Nonetheless, a website called SocialPicks has taken it upon themselves to label my thoughts as either a "buy" or "sell" recommendation. This is not what I do, so I take exception to what this site is suggesting. I never asked to be covered by this group, nor have they responded to my requests that they stop. Further, they tally my "picks" and track and rate my performance! Ugh.

What is more, they are completely ignoring even the general sentiment of my posts. For instance, earlier this year I wrote a post about my thoughts on the Home Depot situation, which was really just a reflection on what is good and what is bad corporate governance. Somehow, for some reason, the website decided to label this an Andy Kern "buy." Or, last month I titled a post "Sell GGG - They recalled their baby toys." This was supposed to be funny because GGG doesn't make baby toys, rather Google Finance had confused the company with a different one of a similar name. Well, SocialPicks didn't get the joke (or more likely, just didn't read the text of the post) and labled this an Andy Kern "sell." All these errors cause the "Andy Kern tracker" to have a very low rating.

I am posting this in the hopes that someone out that can provide me with contact information for the owners of this website. I have sent repeated emails and gotten no response, but I know of no other way of contacting these people. I would like a mailing address or phone number so I can have my attorney write a friendly letter explaining that they ought to stop such defamation. So far as I can tell, this is outright libel.

All that I have been able to find so far is the name of two of the operators, Weiting Liu and Jason Fang. If anyone has any other information I would appreciate the help.

5 Comments:

  • I had the same problem with Social Picks and their handling of my site and my blog, Gannon On Investing. They were labeling stories as buys or sells when I was just discussing buyout offers or other topics that were clearly not "picks" of any kind. Apparently, they use an automated system that has little or no human input – or, at least it doesn't have human input initially. I don't understand the whole thing. However, I requested that they stop tracking my "picks" for the time being. I tried to be nice about it and told them I would be happy to reconsider if the system improved where it was giving reliable results.

    I also notified another blogger that some of his "picks" were clearly showing up as the exact opposite of what he intended – for instance, a "sell" when he clearly was suggesting the stock was a good potential investment at the current price.

    Anyway, they did stop tracking my posts – except for one which inexplicably is still up there and was not, in any way, a suggestion to buy or sell – it was just a suggestion that shareholders of a certain company, Topps (TOPP), reject a buyout offer.

    I don't have their contact information. Someone from the site had sent me an email and I responded to that email with my request to be removed from the site. At this point, I encourage all bloggers to check the site and see if their information is being tracked and reported inappropriately. If a false record gets out there, some people will believe it regardless of the underlying facts. It is very hard to repair a reputation once it appears somewhere like this. People coming across the site have no idea the information tends to be so inaccurate.

    Good luck with getting your information corrected. I hope other bloggers come across this post and correct whatever false record is being reported for them as well at Social Picks.

    By Blogger Geoff, at 21 June, 2007 12:21  

  • Thanks Geoff. Your story sounds very familiar. I too was nice when I emailed them, but after being ignored for what has been several weeks now, my patience is wearing thin.

    I really think these folks are getting themselves in to a legal mess, and maybe they don't even realize it. You can't just erroneously assign someone a track record, particularly if you use their name and do not have their permission. As a professional, I value my reputation, and a site like this has the potential to do irreparable harm to it.

    Hopefully their company (they call themselves Silicon Valley entrepreneurs) will just fail and the whole thing will be forgotten. From the seriousness with which they have taken my emails it doesn't appear they are putting that much effort into it.

    Your site is great, though, Geoff. I always enjoy reading it.

    By Blogger Andy Kern, at 21 June, 2007 13:29  

  • Andy,

    You can email Weiting Liu at weiting at socialpicks dot com. I have exchanged emails with him several times after I discovered my picks being tracked.

    I gave permission since it's a good traffic driver to my blog and you can manage their automated system if you care to.

    Anyway, I'm sure if you email him he would be happy to help you out, at least that would be my hope after I had some good conversations with him personally.

    By Blogger Chad Brand, at 21 June, 2007 13:43  

  • Andy,

    Rest assured that your dedicated readership here and for similar Value blogs such as Geoff's 'Gannon on Investing' does not place much intellectual weight on such social sites.

    Keep up your great work.

    -Jason

    By Blogger Jason, at 21 June, 2007 21:55  

  • Hi Andy,

    Sorry your emails to our public support addresses last week fell through a major crack as we were migrating our mail server.

    As you know, some financial bloggers make their picks very explicitly in their articles, and some, like yourself, focus more on writing high-quality market-related posts that aren't always implying a positive/negative attitude toward any particular stock.

    We are working very hard to refine our system as we move forward. In the mean time, we always welcome bloggers & users to notify us if our data processing is inaccurate. The picks would be corrected accordingly, and the performance tracking would be adjusted as well.

    We want to work with the financial blogging community - we see this as a positive feedback loop where our system will continue to improve with your help. I'd love to listen to your feedback. Thanks!

    Please feel free to email me directly too. (Chad's comment has my email)

    Best Regards,


    Weiting

    By Blogger Weiting, at 23 June, 2007 22:15  

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