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?