No LinkedIn For You

It’s been a while since I barked about the clumsiness of LinkedIn but just had another one of those near deaths by lame interface design. But before that, i am still trying to fathom what LinkedIn offers beyond the ability to just link. It seems utterly recursive with no ending condition to stop the loop. I am sure I am missing the supreme benefit, and get tripped up by their spurious claims of benefit.

But the cart is getting ahead of the dog and we are barreling down a steep grade…

I was excited (and distracted from my morning off computer tasks) to find that the fabulous, my most favorite, set of flickr Interesting Snippet photos from Lynnette Webb is available as a book from LuLu (yes, mine has been ordered!) and I read that proceeds got to charity.

This all started when I was looking for the set to use as an example for a Bryan Alexander blog pst comment, so via Google I found she had a domain listed for http://www.interestingsnippets.com that leads to her “hub” with not only the flickr photos, but a tumblr thing and delicious bookmarks. But at the bottom was a LinkedIn badge, and I thought I would use it and maybe express my thanks for her work.

Now in LinkedIn I can get to her profile and then try the logic of “Add Lynette to Your Network”. Seeing the list of options (note these screenshots say “Kirk” because I finally managed to get LinkedIn and needed to snap the original screen).


And being honest, I click the “I Don’t Know Lynette (or Kirk or Stella or Frederica or …)” and compose my message of introduction.

And what do I get for making that choice?


I get slapped across the snout, sent away, and whatever I wrote is gone!

So here is the interface crime- if something is not an option, than don’t put it on the stinking form! That is just so stoooopid.

If you call this nitpicking, on one hand you are right. Her email was available on another page, which is all one needs to get past the LinkedIn Red Alert screen. And this is the whole crux of linked in- you cannot make a connection without knowing someone’s email.

I think I can sniff the logic as people in LinkedIn are surmised to not want links from strangers, after all, if anyone can create a connection via a social network, what do you really have? (Facebook!)

But interfaces like this destroy the user experience and sap ones patience with a web site or service. Dont play monkey games with your interface as it is your only face to a web site visitor, and slaps in the snout leave a deep impression.

More LinkedIn spanking likely to come in the future. Easy target.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. CogDog – you couldn’t be more right on this one. But LinkedIn policies are the real objection. I was dutifully trying to create a LinkedIn account and, like yourself, seeking to figure out the benefits, when I found that I had to put in profile information that included prior employment through my previous three jobs. Hummm. I don’t mind listing where I’ve worked – it’s no secret and anyone can easily find that out about me so what was the problem?

    The problem was you were forced to disclose this (and other items) or you couldn’t complete the form. Now I know that LinkedIn is supposed to be all about sharing your resume and that where you’ve worked is a typically featured attribute of such documents. But I objected to the fact that it wasn’t my discretion to offer that information. Indeed, I refuse to join any site that requires more than a minimum of identification information (e.g., username and email usually). I had put in two of the three employers since I figured that I’ve worked for two places in the past 13 years and further back that than, in Internet years, is horse and buggy stuff. Irrelevant. But I couldn’t complete the form.

    This led to a serious of email exchanges with LinkedIn management in which I said -“disclosing employment information should be the choice of the user.” And LinkedIn said, “No, we require it to join the community.” And I said, “But it’s MY personal information.” And LinkedIn said, “It’s required for you to participate in this community.” And…. you get the picture. In the end I said if it’s not my choice please remove any traces of my ‘account’ activity on your system as this is not a community of which I’d like to be a part. I got an email confirming that I was fully erased from LinkedIn and that was that.

    I’ve subsequently received several requests from colleagues asking to have me join their LinkedIn network. I’ve replied with the explanation that, no offense to them, I’d prefer not to since I don’t approve of the personal information disclosure policy of LinkedIn.

    Your experience with their ‘stoooopid’ UI is complemented by their ‘stooooopid’ personal data management policy. I’ll stick to other communities where personal ownership of one’s information is acknowledged and honored. –PDL–

  2. I agree with you that the interface trap/handslap is poor design.

    I disagree with Phillip’s rant. LinkedIn isn’t like Facebook or other social networking sites. Many people participate in it who wouldn’t be caught slumming in less formal environments. The LinkedIn network is more valuable to many people because there are a number of safeguards in place to cut down on social spam. (New phrase just coined?) Normally, sites that ask for a lot of personal information don’t get my attention either, but in this case, it rather seems like the whole point.

  3. There are two purposes for LinkedIn, as far as I can tell. First, it’s pretty good for keeping track of casual business acquaintances as we all move from job to job. I’ve often been a situation where there was somebody I worked with two jobs ago and now I have a reason to contact them again but they’re no longer at the place of employment where I have a phone number/email address for them. Now, I just link to them when I meet them and I have a way of keeping tabs on where they are. LinkedIn isn’t the only tool that’s good for this (Plaxo Pulse is actually better in some ways), but it works. Second, and in some ways more importantly, it’s great for finding jobs or finding people to fill job openings. As Mark Granovetter showed in his famous paper, “The Strength of Weak Ties,” we’re most likely to find good job connections from casual friends and friends of friends. I know a number of people who have advertised positions successfully through LinkedIn.

    But yeah, the interface does suck.

  4. I have mixed feelings about LinkedIn. On one hand, it does imply a certain level of credibility if someone is connected with many people in a certain sector, and I also take note if they are connected to many people in their current place of employment or if all their links are external, and I’ve also gotten the heads up about interesting job openings through the service. On the other hand, I wasn’t very keen on reporting some earlier jobs that have absolutely nothing to do with my current career and beyond the job openings and sheer nosiness about colleagues, it doesn’t do much for me.

    The interface definitely stinks, though, hands down. Like FB, I have an account because I really need to in my particular field, but I don’t cultivate it like I do other social networks, I just return requests.

  5. This is a great lesson in that web sites/services are not the horses pajamas for everyone (doh, cliche attack, what is so great about pajamas for horses??) that we have a wide range fo experiences here. I think I am closest to Fleep’s position of doing just a small amount of linkedin-ing.

    For one thing, I am not scouting for jobs and do not move around. I am in the 2nd “real” job of my career and forsee little movement in the near term. But one should never rule out the unexpected. It has re-connected a few of the weak ties from former colleagues I forgot about.

    Phil- my recourse in your situation sometimes is just t make up stuff that is so obviously wrong no one will ever think otherwise. For about 9 months, my Facebook profile has me as a 1935 graduate of Harvard’s Drama program, and I held a previous position of Microsoft CEO before Bill Gates came on board. Okay, that really does not help much, but there is no reason why one cannot thumb these sites some baloney

    At least all agree on the suckage of the interface….

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