I've noticed a few questions about Interactive Brokers, plus a couple mentions of MetaTrader and NinjaTrader. These are all retail-level topics; I can't imagine a professional quant would be concerned about these.

Having said that, perhaps retail traders are interested in what institutional traders do and are curious as to how to apply a professional's knowledge to their own problems. So I'm kind of torn here.

  • $\begingroup$ Define professional? As to me it would be those who earn a significant income from quantitative finance. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Balkissoon Aug 8 '15 at 15:57

This is a great question. I can imagine some small number of independent traders using those systems. Whether these users should be using this site or the personal finance site is unclear. It might be that there will be a small grey area between these two sites and we will end up with some duplicate content; not the end of the world.


Raised here:

Edit 2:

Michael Pryor gave a great response to my question on money.SE. His basic point was that this site is intended for experts, so he would expect to hit the front page and not recognize much of the jargon. This seems like a nice distinction to me. As such, I would argue that retail trading, in so far as the discussion is related to beginners or amateurs (i.e. people for whom this is a hobby or part time activity), should be off-topic. There's no need to say questions related to specific platforms won't be allowed, so long as we have an expert-focused heuristic to guide our decisions.

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    $\begingroup$ I like Michael's comment that Quant SE is for people who actually work in the industry, whereas Money SE is for people who do not work in the industry. I think this is the best distinction I've heard for any of our "is X in scope" questions. I recommend this as our litmus test going forward. $\endgroup$ – chrisaycock Feb 14 '11 at 1:41

Questions about Interactive Brokers' API or various algorithms, or how to implement a trading strategy using MetaTrader should be considered on topic, assuming they at least pass the "googled it and read the FAQ" test.

There's many independent traders that make a living from systematic quantitative trading. Are they not professionals and are their questions not relevant? This of course doesn't mean questions such as "how do i implement a moving average cross-over strategy in Tradestation" should be tolerated. But that's what voting to close is for.

Whether someone is a quant or not isn't determined by what broker they use or who they work for, its whether they use quantitative analysis for the trading and pricing of securities. If technical questions about interfacing with an institutionally priced service such as CapitalIQ are on topic (going out on a limb here and guessing they would be) then technical questions about retail priced services should be as well.

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    $\begingroup$ It's an issue of scale. Managing a portfolio in the millions is different from one in the thousands. Analyzing gigabytes worth of data is different from megabytes worth. It's why Server Fault and Super User are two different sites; systems administrators want the first whereas administrative assistants would use the second even though both make a living working with computers. $\endgroup$ – chrisaycock Feb 14 '11 at 18:11
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    $\begingroup$ @chrisaycock It being a matter of scale opens up the "where's the cutoff" can of worms. My concern is that the site becomes a place for quants with "real jobs" and their onlookers versus it being about quantitatively pricing & trading securities. It would be ridiculous to ban technical discussions of institutional level services because not everyone has access to them. And it's just as ridiculous to ban the same discussion of retail level services only because its not useful to managers with AUM greater than some arbitrary cutoff. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Chance Feb 14 '11 at 18:37

As a computer programmer and free time retail trader working on algorithmic trading I'm definitely interested in trying to use quant methods to gain an edge.

I don't believe that retail trading questions beyond "how to lower trading commissions" are appropriate for the personal finance site. Also, searching for "MetaTrader" there finds no mention of it.

I think a good parallel is the split between http://www.mathoverflow.net and http://math.stackexchange.com. Which one of those does this site want to be?


Spolsky asked whether the Theoretical Computer Science SE was too narrow because it leaves out a lot of applied CS. The consensus there is that TCS is fine the way it is and that a merger with MathOverlow would only dilute the content of interest to TCS researchers. A couple of the points raised in the comments and answers on that question are:

  • There are special interest groups and conferences that already segregate the broad topic of CS into subfields (systems, AI, theory, etc) and nobody complains.
  • Mathematicians all speak the same language (ZF set theory) but computer scientists do not; an AI researcher would never mingle with a TCS researcher.

With that in mind, it's hard to fathom that quants and retail traders would ever go to the same conferences or even speak the same language. That's probably the biggest impediment to allowing retail trading questions; it's a totally different field.


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