Posted on 30 August 2007

LinkedIN: Im Gonna Have to Block You

Asking people to join your network may be hazardous to your (network’s) health.

Recently, LinkedIn, the granddaddy of all business social networkins sites, added some good features, trying to help people get and keep connected.  I am strongly in favor of LinkedIn, and I am glad they made some changes to keep up with the pack… but fear of spam and network abuse has them wielding their swords a little early, in my opinion.

Monday, I presented the incredible benefits of using LinkedIn to my team, including a few new recruiters, only to find out that I wasn’t allowed to invite anyone to my network because I had been “restricted”.

Through my emails back and forth with LinkedIn, I learned that I apparently had 5 people that I invited to connect with me that said “I Don’t Know Robert Merrill”.  That is enough to be blackballed, and I was restricted from my account until I fessed up, put my tail between my legs, and agreed to be a good citizen in their network.

At least they didn’t ban me like facebook would have. But that’s NOT THE POINT.  I still demand that I didn’t do anything wrong, but the LinkedIN invitation accept/deny tool is faulty and ENCOURAGES false-positives:

LinkedIn Flag Buttons

This (above) is a screenshot from LinkedIN’s invitation accept/deny screen. Note that there is no button that say, “No, I don’t want to connect” or simply “Delete”.

False Positives?
Think about this:  If a contact who knows me, but (for whatever reason) doesn’t want to CONNECT with me on LinkedIN (maybe our relationship is too passive, or they don’t want to be associated with “a recruiter, eww”), then they have NO option to just say “no”.

Here are your options for an invitation you DON’T want to accept:

  • Clicking “Archive”, but the idea of an archive means “This will still be around for you later and may bug you or take up needless space”
  • Clicking “Flag as spam” is clearly something they would do if they thought I was wantonly inviting everyone with an @ sign.
  • Clicking “I Don’t Know Robert Merrill” is the only logical option for:
    • NOT connecting with me AND
    • Getting RID of the invitation out of my inbox so I don’t have to manage it any more.

Sure.  My account is proof.

I ACTIVELY manage my network and I ONLY invite people I have at least communicated with by email, if not in person (most often).  There is NO WAY I sent an errant invitation to someone I don’t know… yet I still received five “I don’t knows”, thereby forcing the bar to be lowered on my citizenship in the LinkedIn community for a time.

LINKED IN — PLEASE ADD A “NO” or “DELETE” button to this screen!

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