Quite the contrary. The 15% rule is EXTREMELY USEFUL. It just isn't useful for ONE DAY out of 3.5 months!
"The only way to solve the problem is to use littlefishes idea of using the ask on ALL trades."
You can't use the ASK on ALL trades. Not only is that number not downloadable and nearly INFINITELY more work. But, it is a MUCH MORE MEANINGLESS number than the actual trade number! No comparison. The ASK could be anything. Furthermore, since all transactions happen as of the close, the only available way of getting the ASK is AFTER the close. I'm sure you know that many stocks BID and ASK change immediately after the close. The spread widens and has no relevance whatsoever to the real market.
As I said before, and am willing to consider, the possible solution to this would be to require that all initial picks (or possibly just picks that didn't meet X dollar volume at the start of the contest) be required to keep for Y amount of time before they can be traded.
We have a two week rule at the beginning of the contest for DD's. Although, I'm sure many would object, I wouldn't have any problem with making it two weeks for any transaction at all. That would help eliminate "artificial" run-ups at the beginning since that stock could easily drop back down in two weeks.
But, it might be better to have the two week rule ONLY for stocks that don't meet X dollar volume. Those are the stocks that would most likely be the culprits. Why should someone who picks six decent volume, small spread stocks suffer too?
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