Why Can’t I Just Say No Any More?

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invitation_received.gifRecently, LinkedIn made some changes in the way invitations work, adding some automated consequences for sending invitations to people you don’t know (and who don’t want invitations from people they don’t know). In so doing, they changed the options as to how you can reply to an invitation you receive. You can now:

  • Accept
  • Say you don’t know the person
  • Decide later
  • Reply to the inviter (this very important feature was just recently added a couple of months ago)
  • Flag it as spam


What happened to the “Decline” button? Why can’t I just say “no”?

See, I know that clicking on the “I don’t know Joe” button will count against them – with five of those their account will be automatically suspended. We’ll leave aside the whole open networking argument for the moment. What if…

  • I do know the person, but just not “well enough” for a LinkedIn connection by my standards. I don’t want to ding them for having either a slightly different connection standard or for thinking the relationship is stronger than I think it is. In this case, I think the “decide later” option actually makes pretty good sense. Maybe the relationship will grow, and “decide later” leaves that possibility open for you to accept some time in the future. You can archive the invitation so as to keep it out of your immediate view.
  • I know the person, but I would never consider connecting with them because they’re incompetent, unethical or I simply don’t like them. In this case, I don’t want to decide later – I know I will never want to connect to this person. On the other hand, regardless of what I think of them, I don’t want to ding them by saying I don’t know them. I do know them – I just don’t want to connect. I think LinkedIn still needs to have a “decline” option for this scenario. Until they do, I recommend archiving the invitation – don’t punish them by saying you don’t know them.
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  1. I recently tried to connect to two people… ormer admin from my last job and an old classmate /slash/ ROTC member. Unfortunately, both didn’t want to be bothered. My account wasn’t cancelled but I found I could no longer request connection with classmates and co-workers.

    Not a major disconnect — but a sticky wicket at any rate…

  2. Yeah, that’s the problem with the current model. I really do appreciate what LinkedIn is trying to do with this, but I think that the limits are going to need to be tweaked and perhaps set to be in a rolling window rather than all-time. Much as some people will flag as spam a newsletter that they opted in to rather than unsubscribing, many people will hit “I don’t know ___” when they don’t immediately recognize the name, when in fact it may be someone they do know.

    I don’t think the concept is flawed, just the execution.

  3. You’re spot on with the comment about hitting the “don’t know”. What if I rejected outright an invitation from someone in a group I’m in and I didn’t immediately recognise the name? I do like the “reply to sender” option – not before time: until now I’ve only been able to do this if they supplied their email.

  4. And why some people are inherently evil?
    I wrote a Linkedin letter to someone who was apparently a namesake of the person I know. I explained it in my letter – saying that the person I know is so and so, here is his middle name, where we met, where we worked, etc.
    I said – I am sorry to trouble you if you are not xxx.
    So, he just hit “I do not know”! Do I deserve to have my account suspended just because he is stupid?

    Anyway, just my $.02


  5. I’m not a LinkedIn user, and never intend to be. Let me tell you, it’s a lot worse when some bozo you don’t care to be ‘connected’ to acquires your e-mail address, and sends you an ‘invitation to connect with them’ using this spamfest. If you ignore such an ‘invitation’, you’ll repeated get sent ‘reminders’ to join (which, of course, there is no way to decline either….spotting a pattern here, at all?).

    If I *was* a LinkedIn user, and someone sent me an unwanted invitation, and LinkedIn were playing the same ‘no way to decline’ tricks as they do for people that have no interest whatsoever in participating, I’d just mark that invitation as “I don’t know X” and not lose any sleep over it. Don’t think of it as penalising X for sending you an invitation you didn’t want, think of it as penalising LinkedIn for deliberately providing an interface that doesn’t allow people to take the very reasonable step of declining an unwanted invitation. As soon as their ‘suspended by sending invitations to people they don’t know’ user base starts ramping up as a result of LinkedIn’s willful omission of the ability to decline, you can bet they’ll address their deliberate oversight. Until the interface they provide starts to inconvenience LinkedIn, you can be sure they’ll just keep facilitating spam, and using your sense of guilt about not wanting to penalise someone you don’t want to connect with to prevent you from using the only means they’ve provided to say “actually, no thanks”.

  6. I was recently pinged with a LinkedIn request by a former employee who two weeks ago viciously undermined me and the company at a sensitive, critical juncture – he basically betrayed us – and, after noticing I no longer answer his emails, he decided to be sneaky and use LinkedIn as a childish test to see if we were “still friendz”. I hit IDK.

    I feel I never knew this employee, and now that he’s been fired, he’s now sending mutual colleagues who are pinging me round the clock to see if I treat them the way I did him. I would never recommend him and feel we are all far better off without him. He’s in fact been replaced by an actor from San Francisco, but he doesn’t seem to get it, and he continues to send his buddies to me via LinkedIn to see if one of them will crack my shell. I on the other hand feel angry and stalked.

    What it comes down to is, if I hit IDK, I feel I do not know you.

    Maybe it’s up to you to guess why.

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

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