Reviewing Seeking Alpha

A good idea, clouded by junk writing and pseudo-financial advice

Before writing for Medium, I tried writing for Seeking Alpha, which has a similar concept to Medium, only it’s specific to financial advice. I like the idea of having generic platforms like Medium and specific ones like S.A.

What is Seeking Alpha?

Well, according to their own site, SA is described as follows.

We are an industry leader in mining the wisdom of the crowds for insights on every topic of interest to investors. Our editors curate content from a network of stock analysts, traders, economists, academics, financial advisors and industry experts — all who engage in our community. 13.5 million+ visitors come to us not only to consume content, but to contribute and to participate in the conversation.

The wisdom of the crowd is a powerful thing, and I do love that there’s a platform out there so that people with good ideas can express them, without necessarily having to work on Wall Street. What ruined Seeking Alpha for me, even though I was starting to see revenue being generated from my articles, was the absurdity of some of their more popular writers, and their editor’s desire to protect those writers. I will not go into specifics, but there was one author in particular that would write about market analyses from a purely technical perspective. For those who are not investors, what that means is that the person completely ignored the underlying activity of the company that the stock represented.

Now, there are some who do this kind of analysis for short term trades, but there’s little science behind certain types of technical analysis, including the one that he used: Elliott Wave Theory. This theory is very esoteric, relying on repeated patterns within repeated patterns (fractals for the math people out there), and other odd notions.

Don’t get me wrong; there’s always a back and forth with various methods of predicting market conditions, and I’m not knocking Eliott wave theory entirely, but those who write financial advice columns should avoid using and borderline religious arguments for their advice. This author failed to do so, and instead relied on some notion of a shared consciousness.

There are absolutely solid articles on the platform. Even my articles are still there, although I am not: I was banned for being too critical of the aforementioned authors. But there’s a lot of garbage on that site. Just look at the sitejabber reviews.

Reader Beware

So if you’re thinking about getting investment advice through Seeking Alpha, beware. You might very well be getting a sermon from a financial prophet instead. Of course, any time you’re reading investment advice, caveat emptor applies, but even more so on a platform like SA. And if you’re thinking about writing for them, honestly, my suggestion is don’t. Maybe try Medium instead, even if it isn’t as focused a platform.

Something else I like about Medium is that people can provide feedback, not just through general comments, but also by highlighting specific parts of the post. It’s quite neat and I wasn’t expecting that.

Seeking Alpha vs Medium

Finally, here are two really major differences between Seeking Alpha’s approaches. First, Seeking Alpha relies on ad revenue. Medium relies on subscriptions. I don’t mind ads, and I use them on occasion in my blogs, but they can be obnoxious, and relying on third party ads for revenue, when you’re a significant sized company, is a bit distasteful.

More importantly however is that Medium’s Partner Program is non-exclusive. You can lock a post on Medium, but include it on your blog or anywhere else you want. You can also unlock your post at any time, or lock older posts, if you want to try generating some revenue off of them. On Seeking Alpha, you give exclusive rights to use the content, in perpetuity.

The only exception is if the article appears in a paid publication, such as a book. And you cannot retract the agreement. So once you write an article for their contributor program, you lose a lot of control over it. Think it might be a better fit for your own blog? Too bad. Now, I’m new to Medium. I have no idea if I’ll make anything off of my articles, and honestly, while money is very helpful, it’s fun just to write. But if I’m going to write anywhere, it’s going to be somewhere that doesn’t abuse its writers.