LinkedIn Answers Concerns About Answers

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answers.gifLast week LinkedIn launched their new Answers service, and it’s already drawing a great deal of participation, but unfortunately it’s also drawn an inordinate amount of posts that are at best inappropriate and at worst spam. Also, many users, particularly those with large numbers of connections, have complained about their inboxes and front pages being overloaded with content from the new Answers feature.

LinkedIn has already begun to take some action and has promised more. They didn’t announce it officially, but based on some postings on some of the Yahoo Groups, it seems some people may have had their accounts temporarily suspended. They’ve also added some options when you ask a question to indicate the purpose of the question:

questionoptions.gif

I’m not sure what the current functionality of this is — I haven’t seen any questions labeled as any of the above — however, it seems that there’s a little more to the Answers functionality than meets the eye. It seems that this is planned to be the new platform for several other LinkedIn features. In response a posted question about the spam problem, LinkedIn VP of Product Strategy Allen Blue had this to say:

So over the next weeks, we will be adding several features which help *all* users get their work done:
– For sharing of expertise, we’ll be making LinkedIn Answers more powerful and flexible to use (for instance: allowing clarification of questions and answers.)
– For hiring, promoting and job-seeking, we’ll be combining Answers with our Job Broadcasts, Job Searches and Services directory.

And we’ll be providing a way for all users to flag questions for LinkedIn Customer Service to review.

More specifically regarding the spam problem, in an e-mail to me (reposted with permission), Allen added:

We’ve started controlling it fairly aggressively…We have already made one update to the behavior, will be introducing another this evening, and will be adding powerful “flagging” capabilities next week which will allow [users] to mark abusive questions and get them off the site. We think between pruning ourselves, and empowering users to mark questions, we’ll be able to control the spammy questions and let the many *good* questions come through.

So on the bright side, it looks like they’re listening and taking action quickly, and they may pull this very cool feature into a good solid usable state. I will say, thought, that I think they would have done well to do this as a beta and gotten some user feedback beforehand, because most of these problems were foreseeable.

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4 Comments

  1. This is all good news, Scott.

    One thing I noticed (which was probably there all along) is that when someone asks a question and sends it to their contacts (which is what many of the “super-connectors” are complaining about as it appears in your inbox) there is also a little link which you can click on to remove them as a connection.

    I actually this is a very smart move from LinkedIn.

    If someone keeps spamming with thinly-veiled, self-promotional “questions”… guess what, they’ll not have many connections left.

    And remember, once a connection is broken you cannot reconnect.

    Also looking forward to the new features.

    Cheers,

    David

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