The Trial is one of Franz Kafka’s best-known works, “… it tells the story of a man arrested and prosecuted by a remote, inaccessible authority, with the nature of his crime revealed to neither him nor the reader.’

Recently (in mid-2015) I received this notification from LinkedIn

“Your posts in this group are being moderated temporarily because members of your Groups communities have marked your recent contributions as spam or not relevant.”

As a result, I was unable to participate actively in any of my professional Groups.

First we enter “The Trial” period

The LinkedIn announcement itself reeks of petty schoolyard gossip, claiming multiple complaints by unnamed people in unidentified locations for non-specific infractions.  Punishment is immediate and unilateral.  I instantly contacted LinkedIn customer support in an attempt to reconcile the situation. 

The response from LinkedIn’s Customer Experience Advocate (un-ironically identified as “Faith“) was:

  • We won’t tell you what you’re being punished for, but here’s a laundry list of possible “violation/s”.
  • We won’t tell you when you committed the “violation/s”
  • We won’t tell where (in what Group/s) you committed the “violation/s”
  • We’ll decide if and when you will be allowed to participate in your Groups again
  • In the meantime, just keep paying LinkedIn for something we like to call “Premium” Service
  • If you really must try to reconcile this issue, you can contact all of your Group Moderators blindly and ask them to do something for you.  But we won’t.

In practical terms:  I am a member of 40+ Groups (more than 30 of them are in my professional arena of UX). As we all know, the volunteer moderators are already overworked – so the particular “stab-in-the-dark solution” suggested by LinkedIn was laborious, inefficient, and highly unlikely.

Let’s just say that I found Faith’s nominal job title of “LinkedIn Customer Experience Advocate” to be  … uhhhh …. ‘misleading’.

 

… and then Purgatory

For the next several days I was unable to participate in my Groups.  My effort in attempting to work with LinkedIn’s Customer Experience Advocates was frustrating and a waste of time.  My previously vigorous and positive participation in LinkedIn was compromised:  My posting output, profile of activity, and viewership plummeted by 50+%.

Yesterday, LinkedIn apparently lifted the censorship of my posting contributions.  I say “apparently” because it appears that my posting contributions are not being censored now.  Then again, LinkedIn has – as per usual – provided no confirmation whatsoever of their unilateral actions.

Am I still on “double secret probation”?

Franz Kafka would be amused.

  • I don’t know what the “violation/s” are – and LinkedIn won’t tell me
  • I don’t know where the “violation/s” are – and LinkedIn won’t tell me
  • I don’t know when the “violation/s” were – and LinkedIn won’t tell me
  • wasn’t warned by LinkedIn about the “violation/s” when they occurred
  • I am not allowed any viable venue to address the “violation/s” directly
  • LinkedIn refuses to acknowledge the status of the violation/s

 

Solutions: Let’s try to Transcend the BS

I am an active advocate for crowdsourcing behavior – especially on social media venues.  I practice it, as well. I’ve identified numerous egregious violations of recruiterSpam in my Groups.  But I also feel that responsibility applies to all parties. Specifically, LinkedIn.

LinkedIn needs some Crowdsourcing Process

Here are a few basics that LinkedIn needs to address in order to have a self-sustaining professional networking and collaboration environment that can deal with “behavioral” issues effectively.:

 

  • LinkedIn should identify WHAT I’m being blamed for, specifically (including WHERE and WHEN) So that I don’t, you know – do whatever “it” is – again).  And we’ll all know what we’re talking about.
  • At the very least, LinkedIn should CONTACT ME when someone complains about my behavior… BEFORE they act unilaterally to restrict the services for which I’m paying them.
  • LinkedIn must provide RECOURSE.  Once the “violation” is identified in time, place, and agency – then you can deal with it.

 

This is accomplished with a relatively simple, basic automated process (i.e. ‘5 lines of code’). Linked In already has much of the technical mechanism in place.  It’s mainly a matter of commitment.  We could get into the tall weeds of implementation issues … but I prefer to be paid for providing that service.

I’m a UX-er, so wordsmithing is important.  I like to believe that I respect the brand.  LinkedIn, if you’re going to label your employee as a Customer Experience Advocate, then please make ‘customer experience advocacy‘ part of their job description.

 

© The Communication Studio LLC

Published in LinkedIn on June 19, 2015

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