LinkedIn Establishes New and Confusing Rules for Group Discussions

LinkedIn new Group discussion moderation rulesIn case you didn’t notice, LinkedIn sent an email this week to members with the subject line, “Check Out What’s New in Groups.” Your Group discussions will be displayed in one place similar to the updates you get in your activities time line.

Polls will be retired on May 15th, and there are updated rules on Group Discussions.

Watch What You Say

It’s the Moderation of Group Rules that has me puzzled and concerned. A very good friend who posts what I consider to be excellent content in his Groups was informed that his comments would have to be reviewed and approved across all his groups before they can be posted. Maybe they won’t be posted at all. He has no idea why his comments were singled out. LinkedIn, in laying out its Group Rules, states:

LinkedIn Group Moderation Rules

He’s not one to spam every group with unrelated content. He has no idea what the infraction was and has no way to find out. This is like standing before a judge and finding out that your sentence has been meted out before the trial begins. Group managers can flag inappropriate comment but so can members. It may be a stretch, but who’s to say a competitor wouldn’t play naughty and report you for a perfectly legitimate discussion.

LinkedIn has always frowned on self-promotions in Discussions, and rightly so. If you want to sell something, then Promotions is the place to do it. However, like many LinkedIn members I post links to my blog posts to relevant groups where I think I can add value. I personalize the snippet and description. But here is what LinkedIn says about self-promotion, which can include blogs.

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 10.17.28 PM

I’m one to play by the rules, but I think LinkedIn needs to bring more clarity to the changes. For starters, LinkedIn could draft more detailed instructions for Group Managers who could disseminate them to Group members. Group managers have quite a bit of discretion about applying rules to their Groups but they are not always applied consistently.

It happened to me a couple of years ago when I went to post a discussion in the HR.com Group and learned I had been dropped. I wrote to the Group manager who said he had no idea why that had happened and reinstated me.

Are we going to have to worry about every comment we make or Discussion we start on a LinkedIn Group? LinkedIn is my primary network. I dislike spam like everyone else. I just hope that LinkedIn hasn’t gone a little too far in getting rid of the chaff and the wheat.

What are your thoughts? Have you been bounced from any Groups or had your comments subjected to review across all Groups? What do you think about all this?

Leave a Reply

Comments

  1. Thanks for the informative post, Jeannette! I suppose they roll this out in stages as I have not gotten the email you mention yet.

    I agree with all you said about relevancy when posting discussions – it isn’t fair to treat blog links as promotions if it’s relevant content and adding value. Clarification of the rules wouldn’t be redundant indeed.

    I have not been banned from a group but I had quite a few comments and discussions deleted for no reason. When I found out, I took the time to email to all group managers to undertsand why and to be a better member, I am all for networking and helping, I hate spam.

    No one knew why the comments and discussions were deleted – some set me to skip moderation so it doesn’t happen any more.

    Not much later, I found out the IP of my new VPS was blacklisted (its previous user was a spammer big time!) – so I had quite a lot of problems in social media in general until I delisted my server IP from various lists and LI itself.

    I know spam is a big problem on LI – but they carefully design algorithms because in my case, as described above, they not only didn’t prevent spam, they stopped potentially useful content to be published, created frustration on my part AND created more work for group managers who had to investigate and take the time to talk to me as a group member.

    Thanks for keeping us informed, Jeannette! 🙂

    • Diana — bad luck about being blacklisted. Until LinkedIn offers more clarification, I guess the best we can do is to check in with the administrators of the Groups we belong to for an understanding of their interpretation of the rules. A lot of work for them and for us.

  2. Absolutely. I have had this happen to me twice and for the life of me I have no idea what I did or how to stop it from happening again. LinkedIn simply stopped posting my topics and I then had to appeal to the groups admin to accept and publish. Some admins are less vigilant than others.

    I have since dropped out of several groups. I should say that I did follow all the rules of the various groups and felt my contribution was adding something relevant. I am not selling, buying, or asking anyone to attend anything. Kind of puts a crimp in the flow when all of a sudden LinkedIn pounces.

  3. Thanks for the timely update. I saw that they were changing the polls, but did not see the other pieces. I had the same thought you did when you mentioned the challenge your friend had faced. I wondered if a competitor couldn’t just make grief for someone by complaining. Gotta love social media…never a dull moment.

    • Debra — That’s what is frustrating. You have to play detective to learn why you’ve been dropped from a group for “spamming” or LinkedIn requires all your comments to be approved. You’re right. It’s never dull!

  4. Thanks for alerting us to this, Jeannette. I hadn’t read the memo from LI if I rec’d it. I’m buried in e-mail and it may be there somewhere …

    I think LI and Google are going WAY overboard. LI is a network for making business connections. What good is that if you can’t promote your business products or services?

    I agree you don’t want to use blatant spam. But we should be able to politely promote ourselves on a platform such as LI.

    • Doreen — I totally agree. A Group I belong to had a very heated discussion about this topic a few months ago. My point of view, shared by many other members, is that our very participation in LinkedIn is a form of self-promotion. Why do we join? To make business connections to our mutual benefit. No, someone should not start a discussion with a blatant sales pitch. But that wouldn’t work in a personal meeting — say at a networking event — either. It would be a total turnoff. But simply linking to a blog post with content relevant to Group members is perfectly acceptable, in my view. Is it self-promotion? Sure, but the content also adds value to the other members. Off my soapbox now!

  5. Linkedin’s rules for discussions is a disaster. Anyone can block anyone and then the member in question is blocked from posting in all groups. The fact that there are blogs that leave a lot to be desired doesn’t mean that all are. But to some LinkedIn members all blogs are “crap”.

    Honestly think that what Linkedin is doing will lead to more discussions moving to groups on Google Plus.

    • Catarina — I don’t know why administrators think that Discussions that link to blogs are somewhat less worthy than someone who starts an inane discussion just to get his or her name out there. Interesting thought about Google+ groups.

  6. Hi Jeannette
    When I was new to LinkedIn, not that long ago, I was placed in the “Blue Box”, LinkedIn’s jail because of spam – I didn’t realize what spam was. Anyway, I contacted LinkedIn who said they could do nothing, so I contacted the BHB group manager who took care of it almost immediately. LinkedIn wasn’t the one who told me why, it was Catarina who advised me that my comment was wrong.
    Now we have to watch Google and LinkedIn – do they not like bloggers?
    Lenie

    • Hi Leni — I hope that’s not the case. I think we bloggers add a lot of valuable content to LinkedIn and Google will reward blogs that consistently distribute useful content to readers.

  7. Hi Jeannette. The rules are indeed confusing as it sound counter intuitive for a business driven medium. A good proportion of the blogs I read are selling something and I can choose whether or not to follow them so it appears that though intentions are good the devil is as always in the details.

    • Paul — LinkedIn is the professional network for business people. Sure, groups should filter out the spam, but just because we link to a blog doesn’t mean it’s spamming the group. That’s where I think the new rules are wrong or at the least fuzzy.

  8. To me this is a good example of adding complexity for its members.The language is vague and open to interpretation which doesn’t benefit anyone. Why not keep it simple and put the information into plain language. I have been bounced and have no idea why and to me it is getting all too difficult to participate. I have also read a couple of posts about the new terms and what they do with your data. It seems LinkedIn is looking at their site from their point of view which will not help their growth plans.

    • Susan — sorry that you, too, have been bounced. Makes no sense. Groups were always at the heart of the LinkedIn experience but now LinkedIn is proactively promoting the content of well-known “experts” and encouraging members to write articles outside groups. This may be their way of accumulating “eyeballs” in one place for advertisers. We’ll have to see how it plays out.

  9. Hello; with the new LinkedIn groups guidelines and the new rules from Google and the ever changing rules of Facebook it makes you wonder how much longer we will be able to use social media to promote our businesses. I usually do what you do copy a link to my posts along with a little text based on what group or groups I am submitting to. I hope we can both continue this practice, but you just don’t know. and I agree with you what is to keep a competitor from turning you in even though your comment may not have broken any rules. Please let us know what else you learn. thanks and take care, Max

    • Max — I agree that the social networks are making it more difficult than necessary to participate. True, there is a lot of spam and fraudulent accounts. But everyone is seems is getting penalized, even the good guys like us!

  10. I’ve noticed the orange banner about polls going way, but not the email. Could be I haven’t received it yet. In any case, as people wonder what is and isn’t okay to post and whether or not it will get the flagged for seemingly arbitrary reasons, communication will continue to become less and less authentic.

    • Jeri — to me it is very arbitrary. When I got dropped from the HR.com group a couple of years ago, I wrote to the administrator and he couldn’t figured out why so he immediately reinstated me. Now, I’d have to go through a big hassle because being dropped by a Group then makes all your comments in every group subject to pre-approval.

  11. The rules are ambiguous. How do you play by the rules when you aren’t clear on what exactly those rules are? Would be a shame to get dropped from a group when you are trying to follow the guidelines. I agree, Jeannette. LI definitely needs more clarity given to the changes.

    • Susan — Getting dropped from a group has serious consequences as then every comment you leave in any group has to be pre-approved. I’d hate to see LinkedIn’s new rules stifle discussion.

  12. if you can’t mention a blog post that does seem a bit much. Also, the fact of the matter is that spammers will get round whatever rules you put into place and people like yourself will end up paying the price if they’re too stringent. Moderation might want to be looked at from the perspective of balance not shutting the gates.

    • A.K., I agree. It’s unfortunate that legitimate bloggers will be penalized along with the spammers.