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.
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.
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.
Here’s what I got back from LinkedIn support:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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