The Bogleheads, devotees of Vanguard founder and index-fund pioneer Jack Bogle, run a highly active online forum of about 9,000 registered posters. If you have time to sift through posts (anyone can read and search the site without registering), the site offers a wealth of free investing advice—and it's not just for Vanguard investors. Under the forum's broad discussion topics, the Bogleheads chat about long-term indexing strategies, investing theory, ideas for building portfolios, and specific funds. You can also ask the group for help with your own portfolio (you'll have to register for this). Here, you'll find guidelines and information on forum etiquette.
Here's an example of a typical thread:
Under "Help With Personal Investments," a 28-year-old investor asked the forum what stock-bond breakdown is appropriate for people in their late 20s: 100/0, 90/10, or 80/20.
The Bogleheads' advice—which was generally conservative—included: "Let's say you log in to your brokerage account and see $100,000 in there. Then you log in a few months later and there's only $65,000 in there. How would you feel about that? Could you stay the course and leave the money invested?"
As well as: "Be careful, at 28 (you were 20 in 2000), you haven't been tested to handle a 45 percent drop in your nest egg."
And: "I would go with 100 percent equities. But before making that move, I would spend $14 on Mark Hebner's book Index Funds: The 12-Step Program for Active Investors or read it online."
Of course, you shouldn't blindly trust information gleaned from an online message board, but the Bogleheads forum attracts plenty of investment professionals and seems to be free of the rants, sales pitches, and absurd posts that plague popular stock boards. It reminds me of another online community I recently wrote about, ValueForum, which keeps out the riffraff by charging an annual membership fee and catering to value-oriented investors.