The biggest problem with LinkedIn’s new endorsements

By Pammktgnut on

This article from Pam Moore does a great job of outlining some of the biggest issues with LinkedIn’s new endorsement feature. As Pam says:

Until recently LinkedIn was one of the last standing social networks where real business people could connect without feeling pressured to play the social search game.

She goes on to say that this is no longer the case, and that people are gaming LinkedIn endorsements in a way that erodes LinkedIn’s overall effectiveness and reliability.

I agree with Pam’s comments, but if I had to point to the one thing that bothers me most about LinkedIn endorsements, it’s this: by pushing endorsements, LinkedIn is tacitly endorsing the skills users have claimed for themselves. In other words, the mere act of LinkedIn promoting endorsements seems to have the carryover effect of making the suggested endorsements more credible.

It’s clear that LinkedIn is using endorsements to make its site more sticky. The problem is that most of the endorsements are pushed are for self-identified skills. I could claim knowledge of anything, that is, and LinkedIn might suggest I’m worthy of an endorsement. Doesn’t the power of suggestion, combined with the ease of clicking “yes” on an endorsement, make it likely that there will be a lot of false positives out there?

This may likely police itself as more people use LinkedIn endorsements. However, I think LinkedIn should stop pushing them to avoid this halo effect. It’s one thing for someone to claim knowledge of a topic, but quite another for LinkedIn to suggest we should consider making an endorsement of that person. In treating all skills as equal, the risk is that endorsements will have no value whatsoever. After all, if all users’ skills have the same weight, doesn’t that mean none of them have any weight?

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4 Responses to The biggest problem with LinkedIn’s new endorsements

  1. Andy Welfle says:

    So true. If I self-identify as a “Writer”, but I’m TERRIBLE at writing, of course I’ll claim the endorsement. And my friends, who I’m inevitably connected with on LinkedIn, will endorse me for “Writing”, because they know I think I’m a writer. That will provoke others to see that “Hey, eleven people endorsed Andy Welfle for Writing”, they know that it just takes a click to endorse me too, and hey, one good turn…?

    I don’t know if this will necessarily police itself. But I do think it will hyper-inflate Endorsements, and make them even more meaningless than they are now! It’s kind of like putting “+K”s right in LinkedIn.

  2. When I stop laughing at the meme I give you my full endorsement on your thoughts. While I have not been as active on LinkedIn as I should, I find the game repugnant and taxing of my time. I have the tendency to take the platform as a loss but also worry as I am in the job market and fear not playing the game.

    • ajjuliano says:

      Thanks for the comments, Andy and Anneliz.

      Anneliz, the fear you mention is ABSOLUTELY a motivating factor at play here. Even those of us not terribly interested in playing the influence game get sucked in because we feel it will be a huge error of omission if we’re absent. Once we open up Pandora’s box, there’s no turning back, and instead of spending time on the activities that really matter, we have to babysit our LinkedIn endorsements/Klout scores/etc. It’s a potentially huge time suck and in the end it’s a slight net loss to not be involved more so than a net gain if you are. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: social media “influence” often tends to favor those who have the time to mind such things instead of doing work of any real-world influence. Speaking of opening Pandora’s box…

  3. Steve Glick says:

    While I appreciate the endorsement of the people that I’m LinkedIn with, when they endorse me for skills that they wouldn’t know about, it devalues the whole endorsement process. Their intentions are good but many of them would honestly have no clue if I’m skilled in that area or not. In some cases they wouldn’t even know what that skill is.

    When I endorse someone else, I only do it for skills that I can truly vouch for. I figure that if asked for a reference on someone I endorsed for skill X, I should both know what that skill is and know that the person has it.

    Even if I do practice this level of integrity (if that’s the right term) I don’t believe that others do the same. And it’s hard to ask people NOT to endorse you without giving them the wrong message. There needs to be some kind of filter on this thing so it doesn’t just become another Facebook “Like” feature.

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