The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
By David Futrelle

(MONEY Magazine) – In the wake of September's terrorist assaults, it was hardly surprising that so many turned to the online message boards to air their anger and grief. What is strange is how many ended up on the finance message boards. Some apparently signed on because these strange societies of mostly anonymous squabblers offered, however imperfectly, a kind of community. Others just seemed unable to let go--not of their grief but of their stocks.

"CSCO IS A CASH MACHINE," a Yahoo Finance board regular felt the urge to inform the world two days after the disaster. "I AM BUYING MORE ON MONDAY MORNING, A LOT MORE." On Yahoo's Apple board, one cold-blooded investor lamented that discussion had strayed from stocks to human lives. "This is a stock message board," short_appl complained. "There's [sic] plenty of message boards for you to cry and bubble about that which you cannot change."

A few virtual thugs seemed positively gleeful that some Wall Street analysts--perpetually being blamed both for pumping stocks up and for bringing them down--might have been killed in the terrorist attacks; one claimed to be "lol" (laughing out loud, that is) at the very prospect.

Thankfully, such posts were relatively rare. More typical were messages by those who found it hard to concentrate on anything but the tragic images playing on television. "I am at a loss for words and feel it is inappropriate to discuss stocks and companies in this horrible nightmare we have entered," wrote one shaken stock jock. "But the world must go on and the markets will resume trading at some point."

It did, and they have. Likewise, the stock message boards have reverted, more or less, to their regularly scheduled squabbling. The main difference? Those seeking to vilify their opponents have a new insult to add to their repertoire: terrorist.