Sunday, October 05, 2008

Has LinkedIn Jumped the Shark?

There are a few annoying tendencies that I have been noticing about LinkedIn for the past several months:

1) Gratuitous recommendations. You open up your Inbox and find that some unremarkable colleague that you worked with five years ago is asking you for a recommendation, and promising to give you a stellar recommendation in return. Usually this ex-colleague is looking to change jobs, and wants to load up on praise. You then have to spend the next 15 minutes remembering what this person actually did on your team, and try to grasp at straws in order to say something positive about him. The verbiage associated with LinkedIn recommendations is always the same. As a potential employer, a LinkedIn recommendation is pure noise.

2) Unsolicited ads and spam on LinkedIn Groups. It seems that new groups pop up every day, taking a simple domain and dicing and slicing it 20 ways. There is a group for Wall Street, a group for Wall Streeters who are left-handed, a group for Wall Streeters who take the subway more than 5 stops, etc. It seems that the moderators of these groups will let anyone who has a pulse into the group.

I joined a group about Wall Street the other day, and the first discussion on the group was from a real estate agent from Prudential Realtors, looking to sell condos and co-ops in New York. Recruiters and outsourcers troll these groups, posting ads for opportunities and peddling their wares, thus avoiding having to pay any fees to LinkedIn for job postings. People like these cheapen the groups.

3) There are a large number of recruiters who send you LinkedIn invitations. Why in the world would I let a recruiter see my contacts? Some of these contacts are fairly high up in the food chain. I don't want a recruiter contacting them. I almost never accept invites from recruiters. There is an implication that, if you have a LinkedIn contact, you know that person and like them enough to let them participate in your network.

LinkedIn is a truly useful tool. However, I think that it has "jumped the shark". LinkedIn needs to give the user additional options to control the increasing amount of spam that is invading the network.

©2008 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved.
All opinions here are personal, and have no relation to my employer.


Anonymous said...

I share your sentiment. I already unsubscribed from 2 groups and disconnected from 3 "buddies". The funniest one was a Smalltalk/OOAD consulting company that immediately started spamming me with their "ideas".

Well, I cannot fix the world, but I might try to apply some structure to my contacts: I decided to only accept personal contacts (no companies) that impose no restrictions on their networks.

OTOH, I don't see any problem with an invitation from a stranger/recruiter. (1) remove button is there and it works ;) (2) LI filters out contact info of 2nd degree contacts: that's what introductions are for; (3) I don't worry about people knowing who my contacts are (anyone can do a search by a company name/position anyway).


John Powers said...

Amen, Marc --
I quite like a lot of things about LinkedIn, but additional user controls are necessary to curb abuse.

Anonymous said...

The recommendations are always stacked to the positive otherwise the profile owner wouldn't display them. However, I love getting a candidate into an interview and asking them "So, Hilary said you were a creative thinker and very efficient at getting your job done when you worked with her at CompanyXYZ. Can you tell me some specifics about what makes her think that way?" You should see them squirm!

What user controls would make each of these experiences better for you?