When an endorsement becomes a nuisance
Have you been endorsed? Chances are you have, if you have a LinkedIn account. And chances are even greater that, if you have been endorsed, you haven’t a clue what is going on, why you are getting emails saying you have been endorsed.
At best you are likely ambivalent about this new “feature” because it wasn’t clearly explained at launch and it is hard to find adequate information about it on LinkedIn.
I’m not ambivalent. I hate it. Enforced participation that brings along a constant stream of unwanted emails, with no ability to opt out, is a perfect example of what not to do if you run a social media service.
How exasperating that a well-established service such as LinkedIn, which has many great features, doesn’t get the notion that a balanced approach to privacy, and a reasonable level of control for the user, must be paramount or the service will start to alienate rather than provide value.
Here’s a lesson for LinkedIn on what not to do.
You do not activate a service that confuses more than it inspires. You do not let users of your service discover this new “feature” only because they are being bombarded with endorsement emails that look suspiciously like spam. You do not leave them flooding discussion forums, including their discussion groups on LinkedIn, with baffled queries about why they are getting these emails, or what endorsements are and how they work.
And – most importantly – you don’t introduce something like this and give the user virtually no control over whether they want to participate. Users cannot fully opt out of it, or control the critical element of email alerts.
I found out about endorsements only because, like millions out there, I started to receive emails saying I had been endorsed. And at first, like so many others, I thought this was either some new spam scam, or my account had been hacked.
What an own goal: launch a new service and have your users all think they are being spammed and scammed.
But it gets worse. In another example of a woeful strategy, users have a very hard time figuring out what the service is, how they should use it and, especially, why they should use it.
I still don’t fully understand it, because LinkedIn tells me endorsements are for skills I list in my profile’s skills section. But I don’t list any skills there. People who visit your profile can add in skills, and maybe that’s what people have been endorsing.
I tried to delete the list that comes up on my profile in a box at the top as part of this new feature, in a vain hope that it would go away, but no: within hours, I had more endorsement emails. I greatly appreciate the fact that people took time to endorse me, but this is not a feature I want to use.
However, you have no choice but to participate. LinkedIn counters that as long as you don’t approve the endorsements they don’t show up on your profile. And if you approve an endorsement and then change your mind there is a little arrow to the right of the endorsement that allows you to hide it (but not delete it). This is an appalling approach. Users should have the option to turn off the feature, full stop.
Endorsements seem to be the equivalent of the “like” button on Facebook – something you can quickly click that demonstrates little serious thought, in comparison to LinkedIn’s “recommendations” feature which lets people write a personal appraisal of someone.
Of course, that may be the point. The “like” button is considered one of Facebook’s most powerful features, and will be a major income driver for Facebook over time as marketeers and brands find more ways of exploiting those personal likes.
Perhaps there is a scheme for future revenue generation off LinkedIn endorsements. Or maybe endorsements are just a ploy to get people to interact more frequently with profiles. Already debates are emerging about the proper etiquette to deal with endorsements that point to greater interactions. If someone endorses you, do you thank them? Do you return the favour and endorse skills on their profile? Does acquiring endorsements become a kind of competition, as acquiring contacts already is on LinkedIn?
Don’t get me wrong, I can see why some would love endorsements and find them useful. But users should have the ability to decide whether to use the feature. I am sure I am not the only one wondering if it’s time to delete my LinkedIn account if I can’t manage and control this new, annoying element of my profile.