There was an interesting series of writeups last week looking at articles posted at Seeking Alpha, TheStreet.com and Fortune where authors may have been paid to write favorable articles about micro/small cap biotechs and where Seeking Alpha was concerned, articles were published anonymously. While Seeking Alpha has a robust policy about anonymous authors, someone who is hellbent to deceive won’t be deterred by website policy, robust or otherwise and so it is believed that articles were not honestly written and were published without truthful disclosures.
There were at least two writeups on this story. Barron’s took Seeking Alpha to the woodshed for allowing anonymous contributors in what read like an editorial but of course Barron’s could be viewed as protecting the shield on this one. Fortune had a lengthy news article covering many (maybe all) facets of the story.
It is unclear to me why so many of Seeking Alpha’s contributors are anonymous in terms why that many writers want anonymity and why SA allows it. I am certainly not owed any explanation but I also don’t have to understand it either.
I do not have first-hand knowledge of Seeking Alpha’s process for allowing writers to contribute on their site but as one of the above links notes there is a lot of content from do-it-yourselfers and college students and some of these folks have great insight or are on a path to developing great insight and so it is a positive that SA provides a platform to publish and an opportunity to make money if their comments are interesting enough to create a following; it is very democratizing.
There are also plenty of people contributing who clearly don’t know what they are doing. As far as posts that might be dishonest one way or another, if a headline is spammy or obviously about a micro-cap I don’t read it.
When I hired on at theStreet, I was favorably referred by one of the staff writers, had a job interview, submitted a writing sample and presumably my blog was reviewed by someone there. I also brought some good chops in terms of my blog winning an award and some TV appearances. I am unfamiliar with how their process for bringing new folks has evolved but I do know there have been many changes in the last nine years.
I got the impression from the Fortune article linked above, that theStreet allows more contributors than they used to.