Elite Trader is one of the oldest and most popular trading forums on the internet. I'm not sure what year it was founded, but it has been around since as long as I can remember (the 1990s). It is run by (I believe) a guy named "Baron Robertson" from Orlando.
Most people visit the site to use the forums, but there are also other sections of the site (broker reviews, software reviews, book reviews, and options analysis). The reviews section, which some users believe is the best section of the site, isn't actually very useful. Most of the reviews are either just sparse one-liners, or biased, one-dimensional reviews.
Investimonials has much higher-quality reviews.
The forums at Elite Trader have a different mix of traders (systems traders, discretionary traders, day-traders, swing traders, traders who work in the industry). There are a few well-known people from the trading community who post in the ET forums - the only names that come to mind right now are
Timothy Sykes (who hasn't posted since 2007),
Don Bright (of Bright Trading), and
Michael Covel (of Turtles fame).
Elite Trader is a major dissapointment. Basically, 99% of the posts are crap and 1% are great. The low signal-to-noise ratio makes it not worth the time to go through all the junk to find the good stuff.
Most of the Elite Trader critics complain that there are too many ads and self-promotional posts. Personally, I don't think this is true at all. I actually think that EliteTrader does a very good job of monitoring that kind of stuff. For me, the problem is the supposedly legitimate posters. The negative attitudes of the majority of posters contaminate any sense of civility in most of the threads. Some of the posters are pathologically snarky and jump all over other people. Other posters have huge egos. If someone mentions Ed Seykota, there will be 50 posters who talk about him as if they know him personally. Other posters act like know-it-alls. For example, if someone posts a question about order routing, you will inevitably get 2 guys bickering back and forth who each claim to have definitive knowledge about exactly how the microstructure of the market works - and that the other guy is a complete idiot. Although I haven't posted there much at all, there have been occasional times where I needed some info from other traders, so I posted an extremely simple question, only to receive completely inane and useless answers. I get the feeling that the better traders (and posters) make a deliberate effort to restrict themselves to only lurking because, like me, they also have a low tolerance for the typical Elite Trader bullshit. Not to mention, they are more concerned with their own trading.
Although most critics complain that Elite Trader isn't moderated enough, the real problem, in my opinion, is simply the overall "personality" of the forums. Most forum owners are very aware that you need to take a leadership role in setting the tone for conversation within the community. But Elite Trader is essentially a completely open forum (with regard to attitude, if not content). Think of it as a Craigslist Rants & Raves - but for traders.
The level of dialogue on the Elite Trader forums is definitely more advanced than in other investing circles. But just because a conversation is more "advanced" doesn't mean it is more intelligent. For example, most of the doctors that I have met in my life have exhibited a comprehensive knowledge about medicine that was undeniably superior to others'. But, at the same time, most of these doctors also gave off a vibe of not being any more
generally intelligent than my mailman. This is the how it is with Elite Trader discussions.
As far as the positive things about Elite Trader, it does make entertaining reading during downtime. And, because there are so many people posting, the forum incidentally acts as a news forum where traders can find information about recent events in the trading world. For example, if you need first-hand information from other traders about a topic such as the flash crash, then you'll find it on ET. Because of this "news-like" utility of the site, it reminds me of the "2+2" forums in the online poker world.
Although I have never looked at the trader journals section of the forum very much, I think this section of the site would be very useful to a newbie trader who wants to look over the shoulder of a real money trader. There is a broad enough selection of journals so that a newbie trader will not have a hard time finding a journal that has the kind of strategy that they are looking for (e.g. contrarian swing trading, writing credit spreads, etc).
The best thing about the site, by far, is the high volume of posts and the varied categories of forums. If you want to start a conversation with 20 other traders about the wheat/corn spread, then you'll be able to do it on ET but you probably wouldn't be able to do it anywhere else on the internet.