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Fool Fans Face Monthly Charges

Personal investment site The Motley Fool has become the latest former high flying free content provider to begin charging for some of its material. Beginning in mid-February, the Alexandria, Va.-based company will charge $4.95 a month for access to its popular bulletin boards, where members express their support or concern about publicly traded stocks. People who sign for a year of the service will be charged $29.95.

Consumers signing up before Feb. 14 will receive two years of membership for the price of one. The site also plans to offer a free, read-only membership.

"Backed by the resources of membership dues, we will be able to maintain the excellent service you're accustomed to and make more new enhancements as well. 2002 is going to be an exciting year for the Fool Community. We pledge to work closely with you to make the best community on the Web even better," reads a statement on the site.

The company also reported that "over 1000 complimentary memberships" to site users have been awarded. The criteria for the free memberships was based on those who had "distinguished themselves" in the past.

As advertising revenues slumped over the last year, The Motley Fool has had two rounds of layoffs and has scaled back its once aggressive growth plans.