LinkedIn Starts Cleaning Up Answers Spam

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flagquestion.gifLinkedIn fairly quickly implemented a couple of important changes to help reduce the growing flood of spam (or at least “spammy”) posts in their new Answers feature. The first, and probably most important (it was by far the most popular answer when I posed the question, “What do you think is the best way to stop people from spamming LinkedIn Answers?“) is the ability to flag a question. It took me a couple of seconds to find it, even when I knew it was there somewhere, so take a look at the picture at right to know where to look.

Once you choose to flag the question, you’re presented with several choices as to how to flag it:

flagoptions.gif

No word from LinkedIn as to what mix of automated vs. manual handling there is of this, but it’s a good first step. I hope that there will be a good process behind-the-scenes on this, because flagging systems like this can easily be subjected to misuse, too, turning people into vigilantes as has happened to some extent on sites like craigslist and Digg. One hopes that in the professional context of LinkedIn that might not be a problem, but then, who would have guessed that people would have posted questions like these?

The other major thing LinkedIn has done to help stem the tide of spam is to make clear that Answers is not supposed to be used to:

  • Post jobs or recruit candidates
  • Promote your own services
  • Announce that you are searching for a job

There are other features in LinkedIn for this (and posting jobs is a paid feature — a revenue source for LinkedIn). They’ve now made this very clear on the posting form:

beforeyouask.gif

And so far, it seems to be working. I was seeing upwards of 30-40% of the posts that were in one of these categories or connection request spam. A quick scan this morning only turned up one within the first 10 pages of questions, so a marked improvement.

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3 Comments

  1. I’d be suspicious of interacting with someone who consistently posted spam, and so the reputational damage factor (I suspect) might have acted to reduce it in the long term.

    Still, this is certainly a very necessary move.

    What about spam (or just silly) answers? Here’s an example from today:

    Hello Rohit,

    Quick note to appologize for not being able to assist with your request.

    Regards,

    Natalia

    I may be missing something, but I suspect that this isn’t going to look too great on Natalia’s profile. Do we need a means of flagging responses like this, though?

  2. Unfortunately at the moment there’s no easy way to flag or rate answers, only questions. They’ll probably end up adding this, I would guess, but this is another one of those things that simply should have been there from the beginning.

    What may have happened in this case is that the person asking the question used the option to send it directly to their network, and that Natalia may be unfamiliar with Answers, not realizing how this might appear, or even that it would appear publicly to such a large number of people. Publicly, it may look silly, but in private, it would be perfectly appropriate and courteous to respond in this way.

  3. Terrible choice of response. Social networks of any kind need far better policing than this. Digg are just in the process of finding out how bad user feedback is as a signal of quality.

    The scalable, sustainable choice would have been to initiate a user / moderator system, as I suggested at the time. *sigh* They’ll learn. I hope the lesson doesn’t kill the feature off

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