Is This the Beginning of the End for LinkedIn Groups?

NOTE: the Link Roundup is beneath this post.

If you have been SWAMmed:

There is a support group over at LinkedIn called, "SWAM (Site Wide Auto Moderation) Support". There, you can discuss options and vent your frustration.

To find the group and join, use the search box (set the drop-down to "Groups") on the top-right of LinkedIn.

Added 5/6/2013

Is This the Beginning of the End for LinkedIn Groups?This post may start off like a bit of a rant (and it is), but reading to the end will help you understand the business risks of depending on LinkedIn groups from here on out.

Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of LinkedIn groups.

LinkedIn groups has been great…until now.

I’ve been an active member of about 50 groups for over three years now and have found that it’s a great social network for connecting with businesses folks.

Until now.

Here’s What Happened

About one-and-a-half months ago, I found that every time I posted a discussion to a LinkedIn group, I was informed that my post had been submitted for review. This was also happening when I commented on a discussion, even if I had started it.

So, I contacted support to find out what was going on.

LinkedIn Question

Here’s what I got back from LinkedIn support:

LinkedIn Response

Inconvenience? They had no idea.

Inconvenience? They had no idea.

LinkedIn groups is a major source of traffic and leads for my business. Not being able to participate in discussions without approval is more than inconvenient – it can have a dramatic effect on my business.

And, by the way, I was not aware that I had been blocked or removed from any of my groups. I’ve never received even one notification either from LinkedIn or a group manager.

Here’s What I Did

Following support’s suggestion, I contacted the management team of each one of my groups.

All 50.

Yes, that took a lot of time.

Here’s what I sent:

NOTE: If your group makes all discussions and comments go to review automatically then you can ignore this message.

Hey there,

My discussions and comments in your group are being submitted for review automatically (as opposed to being posted immediately).

LinkedIn support told me that my settings were changed for all groups because they were changed in one group. 🙁

If you did not manually change my settings so that my discussions and comments go straight to review, then please change my settings back for your group.

If you did manually change the settings for me, sorry if I offended in any way!

Thanks in advance!

-Matt Mansfield

The result of all that hard work?

  • I heard back from only two people, each of whom removed my name from their groups “automatic review” list (thanks guys!).

Two. Out of fifty. Ugh.

The Start of LinkedIn Group’s Decline as a Social Network

The bottom-line is that LinkedIn groups has failed to scale.

The bottom-line in all of this is that LinkedIn groups has failed to scale as a social networking platform.

Why do I say that? Because even though they like to boast about their numbers, the amount of people in LinkedIn groups has simply become unwieldy.

The person-to-person engagement that drives social networks has begun to fall apart.

How do I know that? Because the person-to-person engagement that drives social networks has begun to fall apart:

  • They have automated their social network – by implementing code that adds someone to the automatic review list in all groups if they are added to the automatic review list in one, people are removed from the social networking process and without people, there is no social aspect.
    • Here’s quote from the “LinkedIn Groups Product Forum” group on this (BTW – from that group I found out that this LinkedIn groups “feature” is called “Site-Wide Auto-Moderation” or “SWAM” and that there was no general announcement when it went live):

      We need to get people to understand just how potentially destructive this trigger is – someone making a small error could trigger World War I.

      Once the group owners start “protecting” themselves by nuking first and asking question later, the entire social good created by LinkedIn disappears.

  • Group managers are disengaged from the social network –  the management teams from 48 groups did not respond to me. I would understand it if it was only one or two groups that did not respond, but such a large-scale failure tells me one of two things:
    • The folks who run the groups are disengaged from their groups – I can understand this – life gets busy. Typically, when the management team of a group backs off, I leave the group. However, I know that this is not the case among most of the 48 groups that did not respond to me.
      • I did find one group manager who is very engaged and even mentioned this issue to his groups. He runs multiple groups and mentioned this issue in each. He’s also a passionate advocate for group members within the “LinkedIn Groups Product Forum” group. Mark is my hero.
    • The folks who run the groups are overwhelmed by the amount of work it takes to run the groups –  this is a far more likely scenario and is a sign that the platform does not have enough tools to help someone run a group once it grows large. This is a problem of scale.

What This All Means to Me

This is not just sour grapes – I believe I have good reason to be upset.

This all may sound like sour grapes however, the fact is that I believe I have good reason to be upset.

You see, I’ve always had a really good track record on the LinkedIn groups network:

  • I share relevant content as discussions within specific groups.
  • My discussions are often commented upon and shared, both within and outside of LinkedIn.
  • I have respected every request I have ever received from a group manager which, over the course of three years has been a grand total of 1.

In addition to that, and the fact that I pay every month to be a premium member, I have:

  • Been an active member of LinkedIn since January 20, 2005
  • Over 600 professional connections,
  • Over 30 recommendations from clients and co-workers,
  • 120 endorsements for my skills, and
  • Received, just this past February, a congratulatory e-mail telling me, “You have one of the top 5% most viewed LinkedIn profiles for 2012.”
I am feeling pretty betrayed by a social network in which I have invested so much time, effort and value.

The truth is that I’m feeling pretty betrayed by a social network in which I have invested so much time, effort and value over the years.

I don’t know why I was added to the automatic review list within that first group and I probably never will – it really doesn’t matter – but now my use of the groups network has been totally crippled:

I feel shame every time I have to explain what happened.
  • Many of my discussion submissions are never approved – more proof that group managers are disengaged or overwhelmed.
    • I have heard from folks in my groups asking me why I don’t post anymore. I feel shame every time I have to explain what happened – I am not, and have never been, a spammer.
  • Many of my discussion comment submissions are never approved – this is even worse in a way because it makes it seem as if I am ignoring folks who have commented on my discussions or asked me a question. Ignoring people is so unlike me so I HATE this!
Isn’t this a little too heavy-handed? Can’t they keep humans in the picture?

I know that LinkedIn implemented this approach to help fight the onslaught of SPAM that pervades their groups, but isn’t this a little too heavy-handed? Isn’t there a way to keep humans in the picture?

What This All Means to You

If you’re a LinkedIn groups user, you’d better watch out. I don’t know why this happened to me and neither will you.

If you’re a LinkedIn groups user, you’d better watch out.

This whole automatic review thing came out of left field. I don’t know why this happened to me and neither will you.

You may be added to the automatic review list in a group because you have broken the rules.

You may be added to the automatic review list in a group because the manager of the group is one of your competitors and they want to control your message.

The power to add someone to the automatic review list is arbitrary and open to abuse.

Whatever the reason, the power to add someone to the automatic review list is arbitrary and open to abuse. Being added in the past had a small and controlled impact on your use of LinkedIn’s groups. Now, it will cripple your ability to network on LinkedIn.

Think I’m exaggerating? Here are a couple of additional postings from the “LinkedIn Groups Product Forum” group:

If you were blocked and deleted from some other group, triggering a SWAM action (haven’t fully figured out yet what SWAM means.. Site Wide ??? Moderation?), it’s not necessarily because you did anything wrong and you may or may not ever know what the reason was.

I was kicked out of a medical device group because the group was so overwhelmed with spam that I respectfully, but repeatedly, asked the owner to please do something about it, and offered to help. He ignored most of my requests but ultimately kicked me out of the group and sent me a message telling me he had done that. Had he not sent me that message I’m not sure I ever would have known what happened. After a restrained but cordial exchange, he reinstated me, but the damage was done and I ended up in moderation in all 53 of my other groups. I still haven’t fully recovered, and probably never will, because some of my groups have absentee or uninterested owners who don’t seem to ever visit their groups anymore.

In your case it could have been something as simple as a group owner blocking you by mistake and then, realizing his mistake, unblocking you, but the damage is done.

The others are people who have, for one reason or another, justified or not, have come into conflict with a group manager or owner and they were removed from the group and now have to contend with trying to contact 49 other group owners / managers, many of whom are absentee owners / managers.

Here is one that caught my eye:

“I am very active on LinkedIn. I recently joined the Urban Planning Group (within the past two weeks). I posted a request for references to create a citation resource and posted a report by a friend from the World Bank on urban planning. All of a sudden, in all of my groups, my comments and shared postings are being sent for approval except for the groups in which I am a manager. I checked my group list and I was kicked out of the Urban Planning Group! I did NOT do anything rude or inappropriate. I am prohibited from even rejoining the group (Message from LinkedIn)! This behavior by the group manager is unprofessional and has adversely affected the rest of my professional interactions. Completely unacceptable; especially when I am a doctoral student and have been unemployed for the past year and a half. My presence on LinkedIn has enabled me to make important connections in search of employment. This situation needs to be corrected!

I sent out an email to ALL of the 18 Group Managers. One manager has responded back saying that he checked the submission cue and there were over 40 members flagged and in a holding pattern!! This is horrible…”

I wouldn’t call her a spammer by any stretch of the imagination.

Dave Mason

I wish I had some advice, but I thought I was doing everything right and look what happened.

I hope you don’t have to join me out in the cold.

A Message to LinkedIn

I love LinkedIn groups. I always have.

Nothing would delight me more than having you roll this change back because I truly believe that your groups are at the start of a very slippery slope downwards.

If you have been SWAMmed:

There is a support group over at LinkedIn called, “SWAM (Site Wide Auto Moderation) Support”. There, you can discuss options and vent your frustration.

To find the group and join, use the search box (set the drop-down to “Groups”) on the top-right of LinkedIn.

Added 5/6/2013

Link Roundup

Weekly Link RoundupEach time I write a post, I collect the 10 best reads from around the web and share them with you here.

These posts focus on web-based solutions, online resources and up-to-date news for small businesses.

Enjoy!

Which Social Media Sites Are Hot, and Which Not?: Great slideshow on what to expect in social media in the year ahead.

Blogs Outrank Social Networks for Consumer Influence: New Research: Some very interesting facts and insights into how consumers use the Web to make purchasing decisions and how businesses use the Web to sell.

HTML5 code snippets to take your website to the next level: Pretty techie, but the one piece of code that shows you how to play videos on your site without Flash (but with a Flash fallback for older browsers) can have a real impact on the number of folks who can watch your videos on mobile devices.

7 Strategies to Build the Perfect Website: Love these tips on working with a web design company.

Making the Most of Word of Mouth Marketing: Simple and actionable tips for increasing buzz about your business online.

5 Tips for Hiring a Great Web Developer: Looking for that person who can take your online presence to a new level? Here are some handy tips.

Remember, Facebook isn’t a platform for you to use — you are a platform for Facebook to use: Insightful look at the challenge of marketing on Facebook.

The Buffer Social App May Be A Time Saver for You: I’ve used Buffer and found it to be handy, especially for time-squeezed small business folks. Learn all about it in this post.

Urban Outfitters exec: Instagram inspires, shows brand personality: Nice real-world example of using Instagram to drive customer engagement.

5 Apps for Running Your Business from a Smartphone: Some useful apps to help you run your business. Take ’em out for a spin.

Comments

  1. While I have not experienced the same level of review on my posts to LinkedIn as you have, I have been dropping groups left and right due to the owner disengaging and allowing too much spam posting. And, I’ve dropped groups that have become one way billboard posts by the members with little to no engagement.

    It’s a shame too. At one time, LinkedIn was the top referral source of traffic to my site, especially from groups with a high participation rate where a lot of helpful folks could answer questions.

    It’s sad to see the spammers get the upper hand and make this platform fall from a go-to resource for professionals.

    • Thanks for weighing-in MaAnna!

      I agree, it is sad to see that the spammers are controlling the destiny of one of my favorite social networks.

      As to the billboard comment, I agree – if posted content does not engage, then the group is not worth your time.

      I myself do post links to useful content (I’m one of those guys who likes to share information – I get it from my mom who used to mail me piles of clipped articles :)) and often get comments back. I make sure to reply to each of those comments as that’s where human interactions happen. Now that I can’t do that, I miss the back-and-forth and the relationships that had formed over time. 🙁

      -Matt

  2. A passionate and also observant call-out, Matt. LinkedIn groups have always seemed spammy to me: too many people posting to market themselves and not enough genuine help or engagement. Not all groups are like that, certainly, but it’s a general flaw throughout.

  3. Hey Matt. I’ve been frustrated with LinkedIn since they dropped answers a few months back. If groups are on the way down as well, that doesn’t leave much for a strength or a plan as far as I can tell. I’m pretty disappointed with LI lately. I’m sick of looking through posts within the groups and only finding spam. I’ve found a few nice G+ communities, and my sense is that that’s where professionals will flock to take part in meaningful online networking. Good post.

    • Thanks Matt!

      Yeah, it is frustrating to see the huge spike in spam within LinkedIn groups however, I’ve designed software for years (even won an award or two) and I’ve never seen such an ugly and poorly communicated approach as SWAM.

      I am also a member of some G+ communities and am finding those to be great spots to build relationships. My only worry is: how long until the spammers invade there as well and will Google’s reaction be as heavy-handed as LinkedIn’s?

      -Matt

      • Hi Matt

        Great article. thanks

        >>will Google’s reaction be as heavy-handed as LinkedIn’s?

        Yep I bet it will be. the problem with these big firms is they seem to have poor middle management. They really don’t seem to care or be able to respond to issues even when – in LI’s case for example – it is a threat to their very existence.

        Sorry to hear about the problems. That must hurt.

        Best wishes

        ed

        • Thanks for your input and sympathy Ed! 🙂

          I’ve definitely noticed your point at companies such as Google and Microsoft. I guess I never put LinkedIn in the same category, but their growth must have caught up to them.

          -Matt

  4. Thanks, Matt.

    I don’t even participate in LinkedIn Groups anymore. Haven’t for months.

    Too much spam…blatant ads by group members.

    And rants that I don’t care about, and that are a waste of my time.

    That was a very cold letter from LI.

    Next…

    The Franchise King®

    • Thanks for stopping in to comment Joel!

      Yeah, I was shivering when I read that letter – it did not really feel very sympathetic and did not leave me very many options, did it?

  5. Mat,
    Thanks fr this very infomative and timely (for me) post. I have been noticing this for about 2 months. I simply thjought it was group members moderating their groups. Since most of my sbmitted content does eventually find its way onto the group, as do my comments, I had been bamboozled into thinking that its just the “LInkedIn Way” as it were.

    I was cmpletely unaweare that a problem in one group is automatically transformed into a site wide issue. This is made even worse due to the fact that you can be blocked from a group through technical difficulty. You can see where this is going……

    In one of the groups in which I am most active I went to post a comment recently, only to be informed that I had been blocked. Thankfully, I know the group owner so I dropped her a quick inquiry on the matter. She informed me that they had been having problems with members accidentally getting into the blocked folder.

    That’s exactly what had happend to me, and she prompty restored my status. Until I read your post, I was unaware that te implications if this technical difficulty on one groups are so far reaching.

    Now, I am apparently labled as a spammer across the LinkedIn system, and despite striving to contribute timely and valuable information at all times. The timely aspect is right out the window, as all my posts are now moderated. As you noted, this process is completely hit and miss.

    Thanks for shedding some light on this> I have been a LinkedIn member for 5 years, have over 330 connections, am a member in 29 groups, and was one of the top 10% last year. I love the network, but share your concerns.

    Thanks for the enlightenment,
    Steve Faber

    • Steve,

      Thanks for sharing your story!

      That technical glitch thing is really scary! How long until every group user is on the “Must be reviewed” list?

      The more I hear back from folks like you, the uglier this gets.

      -Matt

  6. Hey Matt. I wonder if you’ve stumbled upon a service opportunity, for yourself or one of your trusted sources? For instance, many of these LinkedIn Group owners, especially if they got your attention, have varying degrees of value. However, they need to outsource group management to a professional. This is what the last two contract companies I served, one currently, did and it makes a world of difference. (Promo: I’m a fan of McGirr Enterprises)

    Alternatively, if nothing else, you’ve opened the door for a great social engagement set of articles – one focusing on management. You’ll certainly want to address dealing with spammers – from the perspectives of both the manager and user.

    Find the “silver lining’…

    Keith German

  7. Linkedin Groups have grown to become melting pots of spam and not a great place to share ideas and engage with other users. I personally think that only 1% of the members are active and care about the group belong. The rest of the 99%, all freaking spambots that promote themselves. It’s just like how facebook groups turned out, a lot of people promoting themselves instead of helping each other out. I guess, us humans are wired that way, selfish? LOL!

    Facebook groups and linkedin groups will NEVER be successful without a great moderator/manager/leader. I’m part of a facebook group wherein there is actually no spam, everything has been organized properly, although only a few members are active, even though it has 1000 members.

    Linkedin groups will only succeed if there are great leaders leading the way and encouraging users to engage, share and actually care. 🙂

    • Zion,

      Thanks for your input!

      I agree, a great group takes a great leader. However, I would also argue that a great group takes great members.

      For example:

      * When I post, I monitor every one of my comments in every one of my groups (it’s easy, I get an e-mail even though I am not a manager if the discussion is mine) and, when there is a SPAM comment, I go and flag it to be removed.

      * The one time a group manager asked me not to do something again, I apologized profusely and removed my discussion to the promotions area.

      * I post one group at a time – for each piece of content I share, I select the groups to which I post as carefully as possible to assure that it will be of interest to the members.

      Responsibility is a two-way street and successful social networks count on both sides sharing that responsibility.

      -Matt

  8. I post things on different groups because we review products on our organic product review blog:
    http://TheseAreGreat.com. One of the groups that I was just interested in, but did not post anything on, took me off their list because they said I did not interact enough. Just reading it was not enough. Go figure…..

    • Christine,

      Yeah, there seems to be a strong push back by some group owners for folks who just post content.

      That’s my main purpose for using LinkedIn and the comments and discussions that have resulted have led to some of my best business relationships.

      However, I always try to post on topic and make sure that the content is informational and not salesy.

      -Matt

  9. Hi Matt,
    As someone who knows firsthand the challenge presented in balancing the freedom of networking and interaction that is the life blood of a social community against the need to protect that community from those who would abuse it (I help manage the BizSugar community), I can say that failure to properly maintain this balance is a constant danger. In the end, communities who fail to strike the right balance of control and freedom (think MySpace, Yahoo! Groups, and Digg) generally pay the ultimate price. This said, I would point out that most of these groups (with the possible exception of Yahoo! Groups) failed because of a bizarre series of missteps that generally involved overreactions in both directions. (Remember MySpace’s draconian phishing protections that somehow completely failed to prevent the site from descending into spammy oblivion?) There is no simple answer except constant adjustment, modification, and listening to your community. LinkedIn Groups will live or die on its ability to make the right decisions. If they fail, it is comforting to remember that an ultimately superior experience is probably waiting in the wings out there.

    • Heather,

      Thanks as always for your valuable input!

      Yep – you’re one who would really understand this issue personally!! As BizSugar’s moderator, this type of conversation must be an everyday occurrence. 🙂

      I agree with your assertion that a social network will live and die by the decisions it makes. Unfortunately, LinkedIn’s draconian decisions have proven incapable of stemming the flood of SPAM and has already prompted a flight to new platforms – Google+ seems to be the one folks have most often mentioned to me.

      We’ll just have to see what happens here. Whether it’s e-mail or social media, SPAM will continue to be a problem that needs to be addresses. The thing I always say about SPAM is this: people do not spend time and energy on things that don’t make them money. Like telemarketing and class-3 bulk mailers, SPAM continues to exist because it works, at least to some degree.

      One thing is sure: the future promises to be interesting.

      -Matt

  10. Mark O'Keefe says:

    Great post.

    Linkedin’s punishment does not fit the “crime.”

    You don’t even know what your “crime” may be, even if you have been a loyal Linkedin user for years as you have been.

    Please update if you see any remedies to this.

    I’m not hopeful.

    • Mark,

      Thanks for your kind words!

      Yeah, I don’t hold out much hope either, but I do feel that LinkedIn is still small enough, and nimble enough, to handle this well if they get on the ball soon.

      The punishment certainly does not fit the crime – being presumed guilty until proven otherwise is bad enough, but not even have the chance to prove innocence is the worst.

      -Matt

  11. You definitely have a point about linked in being too automated to be social, but I’ve found that the good old forum scene has always, and continues to provide the most social experience on the web. If you join a good (paid for, keep away from the free ones) forum you’ll build a better quality of interactions and friends.

    • Simon,

      I agree with you 100%! Online forums are a great place to network and share information.

      Which ones do you like to use?

      -Matt

      • I’m most active on WarriorForum.Com, as that’s one of the longest standing internet marketing forums on the web, and it has plenty of people on their with the right mindset ready to have engaging conversations.

        The biggest difference between social networks like Linkedin and forums are that generally forums really are there to serve a community, so they’re going to have a much more social cohesion than any social network that tries to make you jump through hoops to ‘do it their way’.

        Great blog btw Matt, glad to have discovered you through your BizSugar links!

        • Simon,

          I’m very familiar with the awesome warriorforum.com – they’ve been around forever and yes, they have a very tight and closely managed community.

          Two examples of where I do see “forum-like” groups forming in social media today are Facebook private group and Google+ Communities. These are much easier to manage than LinkedIn groups it seems, even when they grow larger, and I have not yet seen the spammers creep in.

          And, thank you so much for your kind words about the blog! 🙂

          -Matt

  12. Matt,
    Thanks for this posting. I feel that if I were to write a post on this topic, it would read exactly like yours. LinkedIn groups has been a HUGE web traffic generator for me and my company. We have had tremendous results and have been overly careful to never self-promote, but to educate. We’ll see how this ends up, but it doesn’t look good. Thanks again.

    • You’re welcome Matt – thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      I hope you are never impacted by this, but then again, you never know when it might happen.

      My suggestion is to diversify into Google+ communities and Facebook Private groups. That way, you won’t be hit as hard if LinkedIn locks you down.

      -Matt

  13. Matt,

    I just noticed the same thing when I tried to post a discussion to a few groups. I have been SWAM’d. Linkedin is now, for all practical purposes, useless to me.

    This is problem with monolithic non-customer driven organizations. They kill their customers.

    As a paying customer I plan to write Linkedin and express my dissatisfaction.

    ~eric

    • Eric,

      Sorry to hear about your experience!

      Please update me on the response you receive from LinkedIn…

      -Matt

      • I could not post an image but here is the text (Linkedin contact name removed)

        Your Response 03/28/2013 12:38
        xxxxxxx,

        Thank you for the reply. I am happy to have an advocate! Hopefully you can help get this resolved.

        Best,

        ~eric

        LinkedIn Response 03/28/2013 12:24
        Hi Eric,

        I’m sorry for not having a quick answer about your issue. I have forwarded your message for additional review and advice. We’ll be in contact with you as quickly as possible but your issue may require additional research which may extend your wait time.

        You can always check the status of your ticket by moving your cursor over “More” at the top of the LinkedIn homepage and then selecting “Help Center”. From there, click “Support History” in the top left to see the status of any tickets you’ve submitted.

        Thanks for your patience.

        Regards,

        Customer Experience Advocate

        Your Question 03/27/2013 10:07

        Hello,

        I am a paying linked in customer. Evidently I have been SWAM’d without notification. Something I posted in one of my 50 groups did not appeal to a moderator and I was blocked from that group. I have no idea which group, why and was never notified. However, the result is that now I am blocked from posting to ALL of my groups. This is a terrible policy and really renders Linkedin ineffectual. How can this be fixed?

        • Eric,

          Yep, that’s pretty typical, sorry to say.

          Check out the link in the comment below this one – there is a LinkedIn support group for folks who have been SWAM’d.

          -Matt

    • Mike Trumbature says:

      Eric,

      Quit paying for it and watch how fast you can get their attention. That was not part of your “agreement” when you signed up, therefore, possibly a breech of contract and false advertisement (deceptive trade practices) as it in no way “helps” your business.

  14. SWAM support group on LinkedIn – readers might be interested.
    http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=4911853

  15. I just had a similar experience. Quite unbelievable, and I cannot even determine what group, if any, I was deleted or blocked from. Here is a question: do you know whether the automatic monitoring follows you to new groups that you attempt to join. Because I am seriously considering simply deleting all of my groups and then rejoining them. But I wonder if that would make any difference? Like you, I have not posted anything anywhere remotely like spam.

    • When I’ve joined new groups (post SWAM), some keep me on the moderated list, while others do not. This could be aligned with their specific moderation settings, though. This has definitely been a chore, but I’ve dug my way out of it. I contacted nearly 45 group moderators. Overwhelmingly, most were very supportive. I got an occasional “Play nice now” comment (totally unwarranted since I’ve never been in violation of any group rules). Best of luck.

    • David,

      So sorry to hear about your experience! Matt answers your question above (not me, another Matt – I haven’t started speaking in 3rd person…yet).

      -Matt

  16. TO THE IDIOT IN CHARGE AT LINKEDIN (I ask all to forward this to the idiot)

    I personalty just canceled our sightly under 5k monthly advertising budget and moved this campaign off the Linkedin platform. Who ever “the idiot in charge” @ LinkedIn let me say this to him/her.

    You seem forgot who made Linkedin in the first place (we did) and if you put some brain dead newbie group owner in charge of our LinkedIn relationship trashing (which you have) our 20 year relationship with LI ( then lose our business) because LI management (idiot in charge) is completely irresponsible to the user community and our investment in Linkedin .

    Therefore I ask all here NOT to purchase ANY premium upgrades AND call to action ALL CMO’s to start migrating OFF this platform advertising spends until they replace the idiot in charge. and reverse the harmful polices which demonstrates regardless regard for the ones who made LI great.

    I just canceled my $4500 monthly budget for this platform – I’m looking for a new platform – one that cares about its customers and users. Did I hear Google+ – So LI spend my last money wisely – You will NOT be receiving any future revenue from my company as long as my account is restricted. I issue a call to action to all CMOs’ to do likewise.

    GOOGLE PLEASE RAMP UP YOUR MARKETING TO ADDRESS THIS EVENT SO WE CAN START BUILDING BETTER COMMUNITIES WITH GOOGLE + A GREAT OPPORTUNITY IF YOU WANT LI MARKET SHARE = AS LONG AS LI HAS THIS IDIOT IN CHARGE@LI

    Thank You
    PISSED OFF TWENTY YEAR OLD CUSTOMER

    PS Send this to the nameless “Idiot In Charge” @ LI and their board members and investors.
    Also pls forward to Google Senior Marketing !

  17. Matt just start building community on Google+ LI is gasping and your account is flagged for life –

  18. Wow, Matt, this is crazy. I have been in tax season mode and have not posted anything lately. I usually post alerts to tax and estate articles that readers may find interesting and informative. I wonder if I will get bounced out. I find this whole thing incredibly wrong-minded if not mean spirited. I guess we will have to move on to another way to connect with those that can use our help.

    • Steven,

      Glad you survived tax season! 🙂

      The situation very disappointing, that’s for sure. You might want to check out Google+ – you can even create a community there where you dispense tax advice…

  19. Matt, I’ve got to tell you; when I read this email it’s as though you were writing about me! Let me put it even more succinctly about what’s happening with LinkedIn and their group farce: It’s complete bullshit!

    I was in the Personal Finance Bloggers LinkedIn group managed by Jason Unger. Week in and week out, I was a top influencer and interacted with many people. One day I wake up and everything I do is up for review.

    I contacted this Jason guy several times but all my messages were ignored. I too got the direct messages asking me what was going on from other group members. They wanted to know why I wasn’t commenting or posting anymore when I was. It just wasn’t posting.

    I never spammed, try to sell anything, or interacted with anyone in a negative way. I may have verbally “bitch slapped” a few people trying to post personal finance non-sense but I thought that was the whole idea behind the group? Starting dialogue and conversation among people who blogged about similar topics.

    For every reason you so eloquently stated here, I have stopped posting on LinkedIn. I also came to the conclusion that no one in that group would really benefit from my blog content anyway other than to rip-off that content.

    Thank you for stepping up to the plate on this one Matt. You are appreciated 🙂

    • Lou,

      Thanks for your kind words!

      As you’ve observed, by implementing SWAM, LinkedIn has effectively ended honest conversation within its groups. How can you say what’s really on your mind if you’re afraid of being put in the “must review before posting” list for all of your groups?

      Sorry to hear about your experience!

      -Matt

  20. Dear Mr: Pissed Off

    We own and operate a number of Trucking Related Web Sites, I too can’t see to approve our 6 figure advertising budget this year for the “Idiot In Charge @ LI”.

    We find LI is “No Longer” the platform it once was because of the “Idiot In Charge”. We are watching, are you?

    Thank You
    CEO

  21. I’m sorry but this is censorship. I do not participate in certain groups as the “owner” practices a direct violations of the First Amendment….
    How do you facilitate change, or gather constructive criticism when one censors you for speaking your peace. This is an arbitrary and capricious action that is already being abused.
    Far too much room for abuse.
    The person “blocking” should have to put in writing why and said reason should be sent to the party affected by their action. There is no review process, appeal process, nor any time frame for this. In addition this should not be a “site wide” action.

  22. Matt, thank you so much for your post about this issue. I was just about to start up two Groups. Having done enormous research and preparation for these endeavours, I now discover the pitfalls from the other side also. My group members would be pretty ticked off if they found they were ‘banned’ from engagement as they had expected and would leave immediately. Now looking at Google + and reexamining FaceBook as alternatives.

  23. Excellent piece on this issue, and ALL valid points. I haven’t read through everyone’s comments here, but I found the interactivity of LinkedIn Groups dropped off precipitously about 1.5 years ago (or maybe 2 years ago). Like some who’ve commented here, every now and then I’ll post a link or links to some good resources for various groups’ members. Sometimes those resources are my own, sometimes they’re others’. When they’re mine, the traffic is way lower now than 1.5 – 2 years ago. I believe people in my industry use the groups much less now, and probably spend more time at Facebook. Sad, really sad, given what was possible at LinkedIn.

    I think this SWAM is a first or second step to LinkedIn killing itself. Not being able to view anyone’s profile now, without a premium membership, is probably the first step to killing themselves. The price of a premium membership is also too high, IMO. They’ve overpriced themselves, because I don’t use LinkedIn for job hunting. No one I know does. We use it for connecting and networking, and therefore aren’t interesting in paying hundreds of dollars a year for that capability. Not when Facebook is free, and Google+ is free.

    And lastly, the results I have gotten from advertising at LinkedIn have been God awful. I spent over $1,000 one month, and generated maybe 6 leads out of a hundred thousand impressions/clicks. (Probably more than that, I forget, would have to look.) But no sales. That’s ridiculous. Their system I have a feeling is poorly designed (their algorithms for how/when ads are fed), and my results in places other than LinkedIn are way better. Of course, one cannot “hyper-target” the way one can in other places. Guess that’s why I keep getting emails saying “Come back to LinkedIn Advertising and we’ll give you ‘x’.”

    • JC,

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences!

      The gradual decline of LinkedIn is truly sad – I’m still hoping that they get the message and take a turn in the right direction. Unfortunately, the prospects of that happening seem bleak.

      -Matt

      • Matt,

        I just checked last night, after reading your piece yesterday. To my dismay, I’ve apparently been flagged myself, as I’m on “moderate” for all 50 of my groups. I haven’t posted anything since last December or early January, either. As I think I mentioned, I only post an article I’ve written (or a story link to someone else’s material) no more than twice a YEAR. It’s that seldom. I guess someone in one of the groups flagged me. Hell, they could have just messaged me if they had an issue, I’ve been a member of all the same groups for several years.

        I will message the group owners/managers of all the groups I belong to, but per your results (or what you shared), it’s probably a lost cause. Well, this is definitely a nail or several nails in the coffin for my participation at LinkedIn. 🙁

        • Ugh – sorry to hear that JC! Good luck in your efforts to get unblocked!

          • Matt –
            Is there any kind of discussion forum (or any other place) where LinkedIn users can voice their dissatisfaction, and those in charge *might* actually listen…?

            I filed a customer service ticket with LinkedIn, but it’s been about 4 days and not a peep. I’m now about to write to “cs@linkedin.com” (their customer service email) but I don’t expect any reasonable response. If I even get one. Just wondering if you know of any way that if hundreds/thousands complain, they might start to listen…

  24. Forgive the obvious conclusion but isn’t there a big opportunity to create a rival to linkedin?

    I know there must be a few already out there, but if a group of disaffected users like this has such and antipathy to LI then heck what are we waiting for?

    OK it’s true that first movers usually maintain their advantage – thanks to inertia etc – However it’s now much easier to “Link up” with people and get something like this going – thanks to social media and better coding tools

    How about a wishlist of things you guys would want such an app to do?

    Please let me stress I am NOT going to do this myself. (I’m in recovery from doing a software app where the promised “6 months” turned into 3 years )…. But for anyone who knows programming and could stay on top of developers, this could be a big opportunity

    Or how about a community led LI type app?

    jes sayin…

    • Ed,

      There’s always an opportunity to eat someone else’s lunch! 🙂

      Over the past year, I’ve seen lots of growth in the use of both Facebook private groups and Google+ communities. Right now, those are the two solutions best positioned to take the “group crown” away from LinkedIn.

      Only one thing’s for sure – the next year will be interesting!

      -Matt

  25. I’m so seriously disappointed in LI – The stole my years of contacts, the download feature doesn’t work and our in box is usually not available. When you ask customer support the response – we know its broke and can’t tell you when its going to be fixed (download contacts feature still not operation after 3 months).

    So your a serious executive where your contacts your life – you are trusting this idiot in charge@LI to manage your data – All your going to get for your hard work is bounced out and find after years of gathering customer data – LI has stolen your contacts and the idiot in charge @ LI could care less – “screw you” seems to be the mind set of the Idiot in charge @ LI.

    So I say screw you LI your ripping off the user community that made you great and if you don’t stop your done. Is the Idiot In Charge Listening? You know who you are. The words of the great Donald Trump come to mind… Investors…. Board members wake up… this Idiot is sinking your ship and destroying a great users community too. PLEASE STOP HIM !!! Such a sad thing.

    So if your serious about running your business and considering partnering with the Idiot In Charge @ LI to manage your mission critical business data – HUGE mistake for many here. For some reason “The Idiot In Charge” @ LI thinks this is all his data and could care less about the users community.

    As much as we dislike Facebook – at least they are honest about stealing your contacts and the FB interface actually does work, which is more than I can say for LinkedIn.

    LI The Idiot In Charge at LI could care less about you. I mean after all he’s handed you off to some newbie for slaughter and stolen all your contacts what does this idiot care about anyway?

    So if you want to work with the Idiot In Charge @ LinkedIn to manage your business – your going to get what you deserve for working with an Idiot. Screwed – Go ahead import your contacts I dare you…

    • Thanks again for sharing your experiences!

      Yeah, I’m pretty skeptical about the whole contacts thing – why are they spending time on that instead of stopping the flood of people leaving because of SWAM?

      • They are scraping up contacts to sell advertising and forgot who owns the data and made them great in the first place. And for all your hard work… Your reward – Bitch Slapped by an Idiot!!!!

  26. Steph Collins says:

    So many gotchas these days, why bother? I’m so discouraged with life in general lately, this is just another brick in the wall. Thanks for best, most explanatory and well-documented post on this topic that I’ve found, Matt.

    I understand that some folks do generate business w/out spamming or self-promoting out the ying-yang through groups, so I can see why this is not a small issue for you and others.

    I have only been a participant in a few groups for a couple of months, but feeling so depressed about the job search after many years w/one company, it really helped to reach out, vent a little and also receive feedback on so many different issues and topics through group discussions! About a month ago, I started seeing some of my submissions held…well, I won’t go into it because well, my story is not different than anyone else’s. I am so hurt and so disappointed that this occurred. The fact that, as you said, “And, by the way, I was not aware that I had been blocked or removed from any of my groups. I’ve never received even one notification either from LinkedIn or a group manager,” was the worst part. Hell, slap me on the wrist mom, if I did something wrong! Or, better still, issue a banner statement on Linkedin or mass email stating why this is occurring.

    Having said that, I did receive a note from a moderator this week, probably because of all the millions of letters folks are sending out about their lockout. It was obvious he had not read or understood my comment at all. I think I made the mistake of joining a group open to laypeople, but mainly populated by professionals in this particular field. They don’t want laypeople, so just say so. It’s fine!

    The worst part of this to me, which I can feel in your post as well as others’, is being locked out or punished and having no means to do a thing about it. I miss my groups and the feedback I received. I recieved 30 “likes” on one of my comments in a group but I’m now locked out of it so can’t respond to or thank anyone. I can reply privately and have done so to a few but 30 and growing?

    I guess freedom of speech and censorship laws don’t hold here. Honestly, if someone came along with a better Linkedin and doled out the bucks to handle it professionally, this one would fold. Cheap is expensive and they have become greedy, which leads to stupid, which leads to failure.

    Just my 2 cents and this probably will not even be read since last comment was in March I believe. Oh well!

    • Hey, I read and enjoyed your comment. This all happened to me weeks ago but it still burns me and makes me hate linkedin. The injustice is simply staggering. What can I say except it is the most unfair thing I have seen done on the internet that is not some out and out fraud. Allowing one group to blacklist people from all groups? The person who thought that up should be fired. Plain and simple. Linkedin’s response is basically: “who cares?” They have proactively damaged the reputations and business dealings of thousands of people without a thought. To have to write to group manager to ask to be reinstated explaining that one is a not a spammer would be like having to explain that you are not a rapist before going out on every future date. OK, that’s hyperbole, but it gives a sense of how viscerally unfair this feels. LINKEDIN: I now hate you. Yes, advertising on linkedin. Forget about it. I only wish that I had a bigger budget to advertise so I could take it all away from them.

      I hope and pray that someone will create an effective competitor. Ideally, it should be an organization owned and controlled by the USERs. How about some real internet democracy where users have actual rights?

      • This is a new competitor in this space called Goggle+. Google plus executives listen up – The idiot in charge @ LinkedIn is asleep at the switch not paying attention to their user community. Google+ this is your opportunity & we have an advertising budget for you (recently removed from LinkedIn) . This is a call to action for all advertisers on LinkedIn to stop advertising on LinkedIn and save your money for Google+

        So Google+ if your looking if your looking for market share (LinkedIn User Community) here’s your big chance. Google executive are you hear our roar? One thing for sure the Idiot In Charge @ LinkedIn is not !

      • Steph Collins says:

        Great post David. Agree w/all of it and also hope Linkedin goes down replaced by a professional, well-run site. I wonder if there was some kind of turnover to a ruthless, money-hungry 3rd party at work here. Why not? Happening everywhere else.

        Interestingly and also kind of deranged, the moderator I spoke of who sent me a note just posted a NY times article about the rise in baby boomer suicide. If I could send him a note, I’d ask if that were aimed at me.

        Just want to make it known, I do not condone or support folks who attack others, blatantly self-promote (a mention of their business by a frequent contributor is not a sin for G-dssake!) or scam discussions. I surely do not think it’s wrong to disagree or debate. In kind, people shouldn’t have to be ever so careful that any word they type might offend one of the 400 previous commentors. Those discussions are boring and pointless.

        Why Linkedin didn’t send out a notice to all or post a banner ad (as they do every second of every day to UPDATE YOUR ACCOUNT) about this change, I will never understand. This is why I wonder about the changing of hands as it was so unprofessional, careless and thoughtlessly executed.

        • Steph,

          The lack of any official notification or discussion of SWAM before or after it was enacted is definitely the most disturbing aspect of this entire story.

          It demonstrates LinkedIn’s utter lack of concern for their customers, the truest sign of their decline yet.

          -Matt

      • David – sorry to hear that you’ve joined us out in the cold!

        Loved this line – so right on target: “They have proactively damaged the reputations and business dealings of thousands of people without a thought.”

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

        -Matt

      • “To have to write to group manager to ask to be reinstated explaining that one is a not a spammer would be like having to explain that you are not a rapist before going out on every future date. OK, that’s hyperbole…”

        Not really, I think this is a perfect analogy, actually.

    • Sorry to hear what happened Steph – you captured the helplessness of the situation perfectly.

      • Steph Collins says:

        Struggling to find work just undermines your self-worth so badly. Then to be made to feel like a powerless loser in what one thinks is a supportive, safe environment. The only thing worse is not to be able to fight for or explain your rights because all of a sudden, without warning, *one* person decides you have been banned not just from their *home* but from everyone else’s as well. There will be serious fallout from this. At least I hope so. The sick sense of entitlement of someone who would do this without thinking about how it could affect thousands of people, esp in today’s lousy economic atmosphere, is downright frightening. “I can just push a button and wahoo, this person is dead.” Kind of like a video game.

        • Hey Steph

          I’m certainly interested in your comments. You come across as a highly intelligent person with a lot to contribute.

          However I’m concerned that you seem to be very depressed – understandable if you have job worries. Steph I hope you dont mind my recommending a truly great book Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world [Paperback]
          Prof Mark Williams (Author), Dr Danny Penman.

          It is simply the best book I have read in the past 10 years and I recommend it to anyone. In fact a couple of “sceptical” friends have read it and are now doing the simple short mediation that makes a huge difference to how you feel. (Oh btw It’s not a religious or cult thing in anyway. Whatever your beliefs it will help you feel better about life and yourself).

          Good luck Steph. I hope you find a job and happiness

          ed

          PS Oh here’s the link. I’m in UK so you might need the US store

          http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/074995308X/ref=ox_ya_os_product

          • Steph Collins says:

            Hi Ed,
            I’m sure you’re a perfectly nice and caring guy but my trust level is SO low that I can’t even begin to consider a recommendation from you. When I clicked on your name, I got Dooster, some kind of professional counseling service or whatever. I suppose had you commented on that first, I could more willingly accept what might be a great suggestion. Any depression I have is situational and won’t be helped unless and until I start working again.
            Hey, not putting you down, I just can’t take being scammed, spammed and deceived. Never could deal with that.

  27. OK I still think we need a list to define an ideal alt to LI

    Here’s what I’ve taken from the above comments

    – it should be an organization owned and controlled by the USERs.

    anything else??

    Q: What does Google + need to do (if anything) to fulfil the needs of ex LI folk

  28. Hey all,

    If you’re following these comments, you will be interested to know that there is a SWAM support groups over at LinkedIn.

    The group is called, “SWAM (Site Wide Auto Moderation) Support”. There, you can discuss options and vent your frustration.

    To find the group and join, use the search box (set the drop-down to “Groups”) on the top-right of LinkedIn.

  29. Hi Matt,

    Wonderful blog post. I too have been “Swammed”! I would like to preface this post by saying that I truly enjoy the LinkedIn groups. I belong to 47 groups and monitor all of my posts and comments. I am a very active and interactive group member.

    I “was” a premium member of LinkedIn with a network of over 1600. I’m director of clinical services at a medical practice management and billing consulting company. As a victim of the U.S. financial crisis who lost jobs twice due to our failing economy, I enjoy assisting other LinkedIn members with advice about job searches, resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and job hunting “etiquette”. As compliance officer for my company, I enjoy updating group members (where applicable, of course) with HIPAA information, as well as learning and participating in the compliance discussions. I’ve made many valuable business connections through groups. Last Friday, I experienced the exact scenario as you described above.

    On December 20th of last year, a LinkedIn group member sent a harassing message to my personal email account. He accused me of trying to market my company via the type of posts that I submit to the groups, among other things. I advised the managers of the groups to which we both belong. Two out of the three group managers that I wrote to responded…… They were sort of “CYA” responses.

    Unfortunately, they choose to block and monitor folks who have a lot to offer instead of these interlopers who obviously have a lot of time on their hands to be able to flag posts, “inappropriate”. If I see a post or comment (and I see many) that has nothing to do with the discussion, I just pass it over. Why start a riot over nothing? As you stated, the managers are disengaged from the groups. If they were active, participating managers they would recognize the members that add value to the group(s) and those who feel the need to act as ” hall monitor” and “flag” comments and discussions as “inappropriate”. What is happening is a form of “profiling”.

    Quite frankly, I have no patience for this nonsense. Immediately after I discovered the delay in my post and comment submission, I emailed Linkedin customer service and cancelled my premium account. Why should I pay LinkedIn good money if I am unable to partake in all the amenities offered by LinkedIn? I think many other members may resort to this tactic as the entire situation is unnerving.

    Again, thanks for the great blog post and the helpful information.

    Joanne C.

    • Hello Joanne
      First off, SWAM support group on LinkedIn – you might be interested in
      http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=4911853

      I agree, I also plan to terminate my Premium membership.

      Heads up though, they will NOT refund your money. So either you maintain Premium Member status through the end of time frame your currently paid up for, OR you can resign at any time but they will NOT refund any of your Premium fees should you choose to resign before the termination of your currently paid for time frame.

      • Hi Gary,

        Thank you for the information. I did join SWAMmed Group on LI and I recommended it to several LI colleagues as 1. I am sure they need to know how this works since this was an unannounced “punishment” inflicted by L.I. and 2. Some probably were SWAMmed and are left scratching their heads.

        With regard to a refund….I wrote a very strong rebuttal to being SWAMmed and the next day I received a refund confirmation receipt, along with a message stating that my card was credited for “X” amount and the funds should be in my account within 5 business days.

        I just paid for a year of premium membership last month. If I am unable to partake in all the amenities offered by LI and they will not tell me why I was banned from a group….really???? Therefore, I paid for a service where I am not able to exercise my right to free speech, I am being profiled and singled out where others are allowed to “spam” all over the place, and all my comments need to be reviewed by a third party where other member’s comments are not???? They act like I was posting pornography all over the place!!! I can assure you that all my posts are of high quality and very professional. And to boot, back in December, 2012, a group member sent a harassing email to my personal email address and the managers did nothing! I apologize for the rant, but what is happening is unconstitutional. I enjoyed the groups. I was both a contributing and active member of all 47 groups. I was congratulated by LI for being in the top 5% of most viewed profiles. Do they realize that any member who is “jealous” or has ulterior motives may flag a post “inappropriate”??? Although this may sound childish and unprofessional; all types of people join LI. Unprofessional, all the way!!!

        Best regards,
        Joanne

  30. Eventually every human dynamic ends up on the internet. Technology always gets trumped by human personal and social psychology.

    Yes Linked In is sharing some growing pains. There can be fixed. Add some features which allow people to “reputation rate” groups and group managers. That will add some accountability to the system. If you don’t want to do this, just publish some simple stats – how many discussions per month, how many moderations / approvals / etc from group managers. Data is a fine way to install accountability and transparently to a social system.

    Problem is that lots of people don’t like being accountable. So they don’t implement the data feedback mechanisms that allow this to happen. I believe that all social media forums, including Linked In, will need to start to learn this, over like the historical common, they will be overwhelmed and destroyed by those who exploit the common. I have often thought that spam would be much less of an issue if the number emails sent per day (or some similar stat) was part of everyone’s email address. Yes I realize that it would also take a way to keep people from “stealing” email address.

    Linked In, Google, and other social media sites need to realize that they are social sites as well as technology sites. They need to add some people who are talented at designing social mechanisms that enhance transparency and accountability (suited to each role) if they are going be mature social community platforms for the future. I would like to see us start to ask for that, instead of just running to the next social platform, until it too is taken over by those who can exploit social commons because there are not accountability / transparency feedback mechanisms build into their technology.

  31. I just got SWAMmed too and it felt like a punishment, like I had done something wrong. Like you, I thought I posted in a professional manner.

    It was reassuring for me to find your well-written blog post. Maybe I didn’t do anything wrong. It only takes one disgruntled moderator to tarnish the professional image of a LinkedIn member site-wide.

    I find it scary that a stanger who happens to be a self-appointed moderator is given so much power.

    At any length, thank you very much for posting this blog entry! It felt like a little support, like I’m not the only person who has to suffer through this frustration.

  32. The folks at LinkedIn have absolutely no idea how pissed off they are making members. They will fail within one year.

  33. Matt,

    Well, you certainly have gotten a bit of response on this post! I get an email for them. One showed up today, so I thought I’d catch up.

    Good to see there’s a group now. The prospect of contacting all 32 of my group managers is a bit daunting, especially given your limited response in that regard.

    The fact that I can’t give timely comments on a post is beyond annoying. I still forget and post responses, only to remember the issue as they fail to appear, sometimes forever…

    I guess it’s time to finally get off my butt and tackle this situation.

  34. I completely sympathize with all who have written in and congratulate you for starting this discussion here.

    Recently, I became a victim of the SWAM policy. Everything everyone has experienced and written about here and elsewhere including canned meaningless email response from LinkedIn customer service, I experienced it for last 7 days. The entire SWAM policy is almost as bad as when Instagram decided to change their policy about owning your photos. Nothing has changed within LinkedIn since people started writing about it in Feb-March of this year (you here a month ago).

    Being in the tech and executive world for a long time, I was wondering if we should consider “social wave” of complaints in a 36-48 hours period to raise the awareness… sort of Flash_AntiSWAM.
    I am wondering if any one has considered
    (a) Finding members who work in LinkedIn and contribute in Groups — flag them.
    (b) Flagging group moderators who are in different groups and flag them in non-moderator groups.
    (c) Connections and friends who sympathize with your predicament, with their permission, flag them in a group, so they can complain.
    (d) If you are connected with any of the “Influencer”, flag them.
    Let all experience the consequences and then we will all collectively learn – experiential learning of sorts.

    (e) Also has anyone considered bringing this to the attention of bloggers who write about badly implemented policies. Declan McCullagh who broke the news about Instagram — his profile is http://www.cnet.com/profile/declan00/
    or someone from Ars Technica or Reddit etc.

    (f) On the sane day, we work towards creating a twitter trend by posting concerns using hashtag #SWAM and any of the twitter handles @LinkedIn @LinkedInDev @LinkedInToday @LinkedInEng @LinkedInHelp @LinkedInNews @LinkedInIndia @LinkedInSelling @LinkedInFrance @LinkedInSelling @jweiner @LinkedIn_jobs @LinkedIn4Good @AdsOnLinkedIn @LinkedInSmBiz @LinkedInU

    If this is done in a coordinated way for a 36-48 hours period but in an open, transparent way by all here and others you can engage, then this “amplification” might get the attention we need.

    Feel free to connect with me or comment here.
    Three Cheers! to the wisdom of open, transparent discourse.
    Rini Das

  35. We started a campaign — please join. We will get more media attention.
    Goal: STOP SWAM and Rectify our accounts.

    1. Change your profile picture to No Spam logo (available on http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=4911853&trk=myg_ugrp_ovr)

    2. Twitter: Change your profile picture to No Spam logo.
    (a) Tweet with hashtag #NOSWAM and

    (b) also add one of the following hashtags (these are twitter handles of LinkedIn but if they are not following you they can report you as spam). DO NOT use @ if they don’t follow you, use # instead
    @LinkedIn @LinkedInDev @LinkedInToday @LinkedInEng @LinkedInHelp @LinkedInNews @LinkedInIndia @LinkedInSelling @LinkedInFrance @LinkedInSelling @jweiner @LinkedIn_jobs @LinkedIn4Good @AdsOnLinkedIn @LinkedInSmBiz @LinkedInU

    (c) Some suggested messages, but y’all are veterans so you know what to do:

    1. #SWAM does not stop SPAM. It destroys community.
    2. #SWAM = Unfettered Censorship.
    3. #SWAM = No LinkedIn Group Engagement
    4. #SWAM = Stupidity X Arrogance

    (d) Then add Barbara Giamanco’s link http://scs-connect.com/have-you-been-swamd/ or this blog link.

    (e) Schedule posts every 1-2 hours if you use hootsuite or tweetdeck with different messages and hashtags.

    (f) Encourage your followers to RT.

    2. Do the same, as above on your facebook link but there you can skip the hashtags

    3. On LinkedIn groups that you belong and on your profile page: post messages that commend group moderators but say for example:

    “I love this group. I love how it is moderated. But you might get SWAM’d. It is a terrible censorship policy that does not stop SPAM but destroys your LinkedIn reputation. Let us all urge LinkedIn to stop and rectify this policy. Speak out by sharing on your home page.” Then share this link in attached link. http://scs-connect.com/have-you-been-swamd/
    or this blog link.

    On your LinkedIn profile’s picture — change it to No SWAM logo.

    Please support.

  36. Does anybody know what LinkedIn’s rationale is for this policy? It seems like a sledgehammer-for-a-gnat response.

    What is their take on this? Do they just not care about the difficulties faced by their long-time users?

    What do they see as their mission now? Has their mission shifted over the last year so that they believe the type of users that rely on group interaction and Q&A are expendable? If so, what is their target market? Do they want to cater mostly to large scale employers and those seeking jobs with them (their original mission)? Are they no longer interested in all the small-scale independent professionals who mostly want to find consulting work–often with each other?

    I just don’t get it. I can’t put myself in their shoes on this issue. Or have they just been overwhelmed by their success, so they can’t stay on top of it any more?

    Are there people employed by LinkedIn who will discuss questions like these in a meaningful way?

  37. It wasn’t so long ago that Jeff Weiner proudly said LinkedIn was all about “members first”. SWAM has shown how quickly a company can go off track. In early November Jeff Weiner explained to the New York Times:

    “So our culture has five dimensions: transformation, integrity, collaboration, humor, and results. And there are six values: members first; relationships matter; be open, honest and constructive; demand excellence; take intelligent risks; and act like an owner. And by far the most important one is members first. We as a company are only as valuable as the value we create for our members.”

    Less than two months later his minions implemented SWAM. As I write in my new blog post, SWAM is anything but members first.

    Read more in my blog at: http://www.projectweavers.com/linkedin-member-first-no-more/

    Thanks,
    Matthew

  38. I actually had the same issue, and I couldn’t believe it. The only group I had posted to was my University Alumni Group – regarding a charity that had been started FOR an ALUMNI. I am also an alumni. Her daughter is quite ill so I thought people would want to know about the charity and fundraising event – didn’t realize this was “spam”.

    So now I have unsubscribed from their e-mail list and I will never post to a group or my feed ever again. I have no idea why they couldn’t have just sent me a Private Message to say it was inappropriate!

    • Kristen,

      That’s a crazy story! Your own alumni group booted you? Cold…very cold.

      They really should have contacted you directly before throwing you out. This is the type of reaction you get when group moderators are not fully engaged.

      Thanks for sharing.

      -Matt

  39. I have been banned, blocked, deleted and have deleted so many groups I’m amazed I have over 500+ connections on Linked in. The group leaders tend to be obnoxious, over confident, twits who think their shit don’t stink. I tend to shoot from the hip and I write exactly how I feel. Most people today are TOO PC – I am NOT PC enough or at all. So I join mostly groups that are LION or NETWORKING. Other than that the rest can go fish.

  40. Yes… this exact same thing happened to me a few months ago. I got that exact same message as a response to my question to LinkedIn.

    I realized, and since trying to locate ways to call LinkedIn (which by the way, they do not have a support staff for phone calls, great huh?) to address my concerns, there is nothing available to be able to get ahold of an actual representative.

    LinkedIn has turned out to be more of a pain for me that a blessing like it once was just a couple years ago. Since I see they have prewritten letters for responses, it makes it easy for one representative to respond to mass amounts of emails to LinkedIn.

    What I ended up doing, after a couple weeks of trying to figure out a way around the block, was just opened up a brand new account and went back and re-added all my previous contacts from my old account to my new account.

    I’ll agree that many people over time have left LinkedIn because a lot of those contacts never accepted my network request to join them again in my new profile. Like you, I did the exact same thing by emailing all the group managers. Many of them were totally confused as to what I was meaning by adding me to their automatic posting section instead of moderation. Many never responded, and I noticed all my posts for the last few months were still under review. They were never approved to post. I gave up on trying to get around it all, and actually took a 3 day stint recreating my new profile the way it was in my old profile.

    I still, to this day, still have my old profile accessible.. however I never really log into it anymore. I placed in the about me section a big ***THIS IS A MOCK PROFILE RECREATED UNDER “URL” NEW PROFILE.*** I did that so that when and if my old contacts that never added me back eventually do so, they’ll see why I asked them to join my new profile. It took a lot of dedication, but I am now no longer blocked from the groups for posting. The majority of my contacts from my old profile have moved over to my new profile, but those who stopped using LinkedIn or just didn’t want to re-add me have still not done so to this day. I’m ok with that.

    At least I am no longer having to wait, if at all, for my posts to be “moderated”. It wasn’t even the fact that just my posts were being moderated. I could no longer send comments to posts, or responses to posts either without them also having to be moderated. It was a nightmare for me, especially since I am a Real Estate Investor and depend on all my contacts in my business. I just took the time to make a brand new, unmediated profile.

  41. Matt,

    Thanks for sharing the insights. I found your notes because I went looking for info about searching for older posts. I realize they represent an investment of my time and I should be more diligent about capturing and re-purposing them. (From an economic perspective, I’m reminded of the analysis of Amazon’s success, such that they have turned to readers for “free labour” in writing all the reviews that add to the value of the platform.)

    I really would like to see LI thrive as a place to share ideas, with trusted colleagues and professionals and the curious — but without the dysfunction of the minority of freeloaders and economic parasites. So, what does LinkedIn do to facilitate fabulous fora?

    Well, in fact they seem to be stymieing forums quite effectively.

    1) You’ve pointed out a number of issues regarding poor management of spam. I’d categorize this as a failure in both “tools for forum governance” and “policy”. As several of your readers have pointed out, a good forum requires good moderation — but the tools in support of this are really 10 years out of date.

    2) Graphically, the forums are really out of date. You can’t really format text to best advantage, and all the anciliary tools that would make tracking and highlighting things of interest are utterly missing. With LinkedIn’s revenue stream, captive audience of thinkers and doers, and frequent visitation and participation, you’d imagine amazing business models and information enhancement opportunities. For instance — how about “annotation” or “wiki-linking” or “libraries of memes” — or for those who worry about the future, “synchronizing all your notes to a ‘mini-personal-cloud-or-desktop-version-of-the-LI-model”? All missing in action.

    So, between poor tools, poor policies, poor graphics and no roadmap, we see missed opportunity and frustration. I still visit several forums regularly — I’d rather not be frustrated — I’d like to see the same leadership that LinkedIn showed in the beginning, as sustained today.

    Oh, and also I’m a paying customer. Do you think I don’t review this commitment from time-to-time? And why is the stock market so credulous? A voluntary community like LinkedIn could be vulnerable to mass shifts in poorly served market segments, and that would be just the beginning . . . for my part, I’d rather they shape up and spare us all the aggravation.

    Again, thanks for creating a great opportunity to learn more about an important resource.

    Sincerely,

    John Morris

  42. Welcome to the beginning of LinkedinOUT.

  43. If you want an example of an ANTI-SOCIAL MEDIA, NON-PROFESSIONAL NETWORK, look at some of the responses from LinkedIn members on my Facebook page above. The incompetence and bad advice is bad enough – a threat to personal safety and environment of anyone taking any of this crap for advice at face value. The arrogance and derogatory remarks outweigh the stupidity of these people by a long-shot.

  44. Mike Trumbature says:

    A lot of group managers think starting a group and letting everyone have a free-for-all results in a lot of inaccurate information, arguments and smartass remarks – public and private. Most managers may not be smart enough to recognize the difference with respect to technical and safety related problems.

    Looking at the huge problem with SWAM shows a huge problem with group managers inability to simply “manage” their groups. About the same time it started, LinkedIn’s email alerts quit working so managers were no longer automatically notified when someone got SWAMed with PENDING SUBMISSION alerts. Looking at the huge influx of issues on the so-called HELP forum showed people not able to deal with it. When it first started, I set up BOOKMARKS on the desktop and all mobile devices to my GROUPS. I already had set the group REORDER so all my groups were at the top. I could check them anytime, anywhere including my cell phone, APPROVE a member and reset his permissions back to APPROVED TO POST. People did not stay in pending submissions long. I also issued a manager alert about the problem in each group explaining what was happening and my attempts to resolve it ASAP on an individual basis

    I posted this tip in the HELP forum and got some smartass response and couple of his “supporters.”
    http://community.linkedin.com/questions/86670/swam-site-wide-auto-moderation.html#answer-86713
    It’s not the first time this guy followed me with a bunch of worthless, inaccurate garbage, check out the other links.

    To make matters worse LinkedIn’s constant screwing around with it’s website changes outruns lot of people’s browsers and/or plugins. Problems entering dialog box information to sign in problems are all over the HELP forum. Much of the advice is delete COOKIES and CACHE FILES. If you delete all the cookies you have to relog into everything – there goes you saved passwords. If you delete just the LinkedIn cookies as back up if cache files alone don’t work, then you only have to relog into LinkedIn. No use posting that on LinkedIn as some bozo will find something wrong with it.

    • Two good points there Mike:

      1 – As mentioned in my post above, I do believe that SWAM is not just a reaction to SPAM, but is also a result of poor group management. Whether that’s the group manager’s fault of negligence or LinkedIn’s failure to create efficient, scalable group management tools is inconsequential – the result in both cases is the same: SWAM.

      2 – LinkedIn’s habit of making site changes that are poorly communicated to users is a big problem. It causes confusion and alienates users even farther form this once great resource.

  45. LinkedIn’s links stink. Many of them are not active links when posted in the HELP forum. None of the link s on the profile are identified as active links or on the PDF download – colored and/or underlined text – so people may not recognize them as a source of additional information. There is no way to set custom links on most of the company info like a link to their home page for more information on them – only information on more internal connections.

  46. Mike Trumbature says:

    Hi Bill,

    I solved the problems with SWAM and smartasses both by starting my own related groups like fire protection and safety, and setting up connections with some of the better members in the other groups when I first joined. I then extended invitations to the new contacts in the specific groups I had set up if things started going south in someone else’s group and would later leave the group. There is no use posting anything controversial in a group like that, no matter how accurate, as it’s an invitation to get thrown out, blocked and SWAMed.

    LinkedIn’s profile is not a total flop. I downloaded it to PDF, converted it to an editable Word document and uploaded here. It is also listed on my LinkedIn profile under CONTACT INFO
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1TqGul7GeUpdhyZWaRN2S6IJL2NuvSrJPT5IOLAhWkYw

  47. LinkedIn’s reply to Matt is hilarious – they want to make sure people are posting with a certain amount of “professionalism?” Maybe they should look at all the unprovoked name-calling, innuendos, derogatory remarks and bad advice all over their website. I listed some of those on my Facebook page from those groups.

  48. Mike Trumbature says:

    For a professional, especially with a small business, one gmail account can go much further than typical social media websites.

    The Google+ – offers a way to connect with social media like LinkedIn with many more benefits.

    gmail – is great on both desktops and mobile devices and can be used to access Outlook emails accounts also.

    Google Drive – is like having your own office server and you are the administrator. You can set up “accounts” for people with gmail accounts and set various levels of permissions in individual folders like a “profile.” I also provides collaboration with file sharing amongst other individuals, auto-syncing to other devices as well. It also allows word documents and full presentations to be developed online much easier than MS Office complicated toolbar.

    Google Talk – allows phone calls with greater clarity than many phones and has an option for video chat – great for business conferencing or online tech support on desktops or mobile devices.

    YouTube – another way for business exposure with video advertisements, demos, etc.

    Google phone – one number to follow multiple numbers and a free answering service.

    Google maps – saving favorites to your account when logged in – accessible anywhere, as well as locating other members when connected. Great way to check up on service vehicles or emergency responders.

    These are a few ways to “stay in touch.”

    • Bill Spencer says:

      I noticed this is a BUSINESS SOLUTIONS website for small businesses. Mike Van Horn has a similar site. The problem is LinkedIn’s SWAM policy they obviously had no intentions of solving anytime soon. The current solution would appear to be resolve at the manager level as suggested. All the information on all the LinkedIn complaining groups and help forums seem to go nowhere as people’s post sit in limbo for eternity due to management unawareness. It would appear that devoting more time to a solution on LinkedIn instead of complaining about the problems would help in the interim. Another solution, an optional website like Google+ with all the advantages listed above in a single account with a one-time sign in. Does anyone have any links to other recommendations for small businesses like above and how to implement them to their advantage?

    • Great point Mike – thanks for the detailed example!

      • Mike Trumbature says:

        I’ve noticed a huge increase in intermittent problems accessing certain webpages ‘”THERE SEEMS TO BE A PROBLEM, TRY BACK LATER” etc. I think the whole entire goofy website is going to crash one of these days with all the constant webpage changes. I think there server is getting overloaded with complaints.

        The SWAM is only part of the problem. Constant webpage updates are outrunning some of the browsers. CACHE (Temporary Internet Files – Windows) on browsers do not always update with their changes, leaving some of the buttons not working until you delete them and start over. Sometimes a fragmented hard drive with all the junk can cause the same thing from heavy Internet surfing – especially with buggy websites like LinkedIn.

        A lot of smaller professional websites offer dialog boxes with font support and picture inserts – not LinkedIn. I’ve had to update Firefox on my Android just to access LinkedIn’s website on my tablet. The mobile website stinks so I use the desktop version on my phone and tablets.

  49. Logging into LinkedIn this morning, most of the buttons and thumbnail photos did not load on any pages. Clearing the CACHE files solved that problem. LinkedIn’s webpages is not updating the original files. Attempting to SHARE a discussion UPDATE yielded this message – “THERE WAS A PROBLEM PERFORMING THIS ACTION, PLEASE TRY AGAIN LATER.” This happened with two different browsers.

    Having these problems and getting this message in the past is not uncommon. The problem is, it’s becoming more common and more frequent. LinkedIn may kill itself off with a huge data loss before it’s paying customers get disgusted and quit.

    I have my LinkedIn profile and contacts backed up to the hard drive. “Discussions” that are technical in the tech support groups are likewise back up to Word or PDF documents with all links active.

  50. Wow Matt I came across this post while researching a little bit about a post I just wrote sort of ranting on the same issue. You certainly go into much more detail here than I did in my post but I 100% support what you’ve outlined here. It’s been a bit since you authored this post but nothing has really changed unfortunately. You can read my recent post on the status of these issues that are plaguing linkedin groups in particular: http://raleighleslie.com/content-promotion-black-plague-spreading-through-linkedin-groups/

  51. SWAMED? – LINKEDIN GROUPS EXPOSED

    One of the best ways to avoid getting SWAMed by LinkedIn is to avoid groups with a habit of kicking out and blocking you in the first place. It is a common misconception that this was the result of groups getting SPAMMED with advertisement. This white paper below shows that SPAM is not always the reason members get kicked out of a group. You can see some of the discussions with supporting documentation and the derogatory remarks and complaints leading to the eventual ejection. If members are willing to similarly list their problem groups, I think a database like those below can be developed to help others avoid jointing them – two can play that game – helping others avoid them. If you are involved in a controversial discussion like some of these – my advice – back it up offline and simply leave the group.

    • Bill – I like your idea of a counter-movement to avoid being kicked from groups. That said however, while it’s true that SWAM is not the only reason folks get put on the moderation list or kicked from groups, it continues to be the only LinkedIn approach that influences more that one group at a time by default.

      What you do in one group should not bear on the others and that’s the biggest flaw inherent in SWAM.

  52. Mike Trumbature says:

    SWAM – THE DOOR SWINGS BOTH WAYS

    Matt,

    I have some really active technical support groups, in industrial pumps, fire protection, and safety. Most of the LinkedIn technical support discussions I posted are generic text with links to white papers and presentations I wrote containing a lot of real job data and examples. There was a TABLE OF CONTENTS posted in the Manager’s Choice with categorized links in alphabetical order dealing to the original discussions.

    The biggest bulk of the technical data and the table of contents are all stored in a multi-folder structure on Google documents in word and presentation formats. With a couple of clicks of the mouse, I took the whole Google Drive offline for these groups.

    I’m tired of LinkedIn’s two bit interference and re-posting everything on Yahoo groups. I have some friends’ private emails that will post a white paper link (Google document) in each group, explaining the problem and a link to the new Yahoo group. As stated before, all my important discussions and contacts were back up off line, knowing how unstable LinkedIn can be.

    As far as I’m concerned, it’s the end of LinkedIn for me.

    Mike Trumbature

  53. Mike Trumbature says:

    LINKEDIN – BUSINESS USE AND SWAM

    LinkedIn is touted as the #1 business social media developer. I can see a huge potential for businesses to connect and expanding through free and premium memberships.

    It is also a great opportunity to waste a bunch of time posting a lot of stuff in someone elses’ groups and then getting SWAMed by a competitor, someone that does not like your information. etc. Once this happens, you have to have your permissions reset by every other group manager to get back in.

    I suggest starting your own private groups on your individual topics and post what you want in your own discussions. If someone new applies, check their profile before approving. Recruiters can be set to post to JOBS automatically – if you allow them in at all.

    Once you have your own groups established, set them at the front of the line for easier identification. Now you can go look for other groups to join. Having a good profile lets a good manger see whom he is letting in. If you find a group with bunch of troublemakers along with some good people, establish a connection with the good ones and invite them over to your group(s). Check their profiles also, especially if you are a business. Avoiding competitors is a great way to avoid trouble as I have heard that they can result in you getting kicked out of a group, especially if they are the manager. Before joining a group, check the manager’s profile and make sure they are not a hot competitor as I have heard this has leads to others getting SWAMed.

  54. Thanks Matt!!! I actually thought something was going on with my WordPress plugin at first when I noticed none of my submissions were bringing any traffic anymore from LI. After reading your post, I now see exactly what happened.

  55. Susheel says:
  56. Thanks Matt for this great post. This fact is truly disappointing. Their procedure is blocking out lots of good users who have never ever had the intention to post a spam. Currently I am blocked from initiating discussions on LinkedIn Groups, even though I have always contributed constructively to every group.
    What are, from your experience, the alternatives to LinkedIn Groups for effective networking?

    • Ying Ying,

      The best alternatives are Google+ communities and Facebook groups (especially private groups if you can swing an invite).

      -Matt

      • Matt, thanks for your reply. I have heard that Google+ is an alternative, but in my eyes, participation rate seems much lower than on LinkedIn. Facebook seems too “hobby”-like in my eyes. What are your perceptions?

        • Ying Ying,

          As with any social network, participation can vary on Google+ from community to community so making good use of that network requires you to look for the right communities to join. I have found many good ones that are both large and active.

          Facebook can certainly be more hobby-like which is why I like the private groups. They tend to be very well focused and oriented to business (if that’s the purpose of the group). You can find these groups by searching for “Closed groups” over at Facebook. Once you find one you like, request to join.

          -Matt

  57. Dave Mare says:

    I’ve never created a group on LinkedIn and I have only had a free linkedIn account for a few months now. However I have noticed increasingly limiting features that LinkedIn is imposing I’m sure their reasons are “money” motivated… their money of course not the increased business networking (money making) their users might experience of course. One fairly recent change that I find incredibly limiting is there search cap for free accounts.. apparently its also puts similar but higher limits on the various paid accounts too.

    This MONTHLY LIMIT on searched profiles is 500… TOTAL after you reach it for the rest of the month you are done. Any search you run for the rest of the month will only produce 4 and only 4 results of course these 4 results apparently are always Premium accounts. While I am not a recruiter or a head hunter I am in sales so I am/was hoping to use LinkedIn as a means to grow my network… not just simply network with people I already know.. if that was all I wanted to do I could send emails to them directly… post blogs etc. One of the methods I have read about to grow your network involves visiting as many profiles of people that match your desired network criteria. Once you visit them perhaps like a post comment etc or just wait for them to return visit you etc. But this method also encourages you to visit a few hundred matching people a day.. and revisit them a few times a week to encourage them to contact you.. with LinkedIn cap on 500 total visits a month.. the method is no longer possible. What sort of Networking Site goes out of its way to limit its members ability to meet and network… answer… a bad one with very short sighted money goals… i.e. apparently LinkedIn.

    I read another unhappy LinkedIn members rant about this issue on LinkedIn. He went on to say that LinkedIn must not realize that by these ever increasing limitations more and more free accounts will become dormant or even be closed. End result of this LinkedIn’s total active membership will drop substantially as the majority of LinkedIn accounts are free accounts. But this will also have the end result of making the Premium LinkedIn members dissatisfied as they will have a smaller and smaller pool of people to network with as well..long term these premium paid accounts will also begin to fall off end result this LinkedIn restriction will end up costing them money if it goes unchanged.

    Please Comment, Share, Post this or similar everywhere you can think of get the message out to LinkedIn management by making sure they understand why so many of their members are not pleased with their continued limitations of all kinds.
    Thanks
    Dave

  58. This has been sitting there quietly for about a year. However, the same experience came my way today. The obvious answer was to write a post about it in LinkedIn. It will be interesting to see how long the post survives. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/absolute-power-linkedin-groups-niall-strickland?trk=pulse_spock-articles

    Regards

Trackbacks

  1. BizSugar.com says:

    Is This the Beginning of the End for LinkedIn Groups?…

    Find out why LinkedIn groups is beginning to decline as a viable and effective social network for businesses. Is this the beginning of the end for LinkedIn groups?…

  2. […] changing this unintended consequence soon and I hope this is useful. If it is please let me know. Matt Mansfield wrote a fuller post with official Linkedin responses which I have found […]

  3. […] see, last week, I wrote a blog post called, “Is This the Beginning of the End for LinkedIn Groups?“. Within an hour of the post going live, it was pulling traffic like […]

  4. […] Please read this important article by Matt Mansfield. […]

  5. […] dem amerikanischen Umfeld, als auch international (wie hier aus Holland). Schon sehen einige das Ende der Gruppen und machen ihrer Enttäuschung über die Produktentwicklung […]

  6. […] “Is This the Beginning of the End for Linkedin Groups” By Matt Mansfield […]

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  8. […] with this! I’m hearing rumours the groups will change drastically in the near future too.  SWAM is already making a difference, but I understand paid-for premium groups are not that far away […]

  9. […] Going forward, I would recommend that all LinkedIn members tread lightly for fear or bringing down the sword of Damocles upon their own heads. For more reading on this important subject, readers might like to consult one of the following articles and resources that bring attention to this contentious practice: http://www.mattaboutbusiness.com/is-this-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-linkedin-groups/ […]

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