Why you should be worried about LinkedIn’s new group moderation rules

by Kirsten Hodgson

Why you should be worried about LinkedIn's new group moderation rules

How much power is it reasonable for LinkedIn group owners to have?

Of course, they should be able to take control of their own group(s).

But should they have the right to affect a LinkedIn member’s activity across all other groups? 

This is effectively what LinkedIn has allowed with it’s recent group moderation rules, which I read about last week in a post by Lincoln Smith at Lead Creation in Australia. 

What are these moderation rules?

Dubbed SWAM by one blogger (site wide auto moderation), this effectively means that if you are blocked/deleted in one group, you will be put on ‘Requires Moderation’ in all of your other existing groups. This means that your contributions will be held in each group’s Submissions Queue for review before they can be displayed. Group managers can override this by flipping you back to Free to Post within their group but many are unaware of this or of the change which LinkedIn reported on in late 2012.

Aimed at combating spam (which is something LinkedIn does need to address), I agree with Lincoln that this is a step too far and is open to abuse. It seems a number in the LinkedIn community are concerned (and rightly so) as this somewhat draconian approach will punish anyone who is blocked from a group.

Do you know how easy it is to get blocked from a LinkedIn group?

It’s so very easy to get blocked from a group. A post on the LinkedIn community discusses concerns about this policy and members share their stories of being blocked from groups for minor or often unknown infringements (hat tip to Emily Miller for sharing the link to the community post).

I was thrown out of a group a few years’ ago with no warning whatsoever for re-posting a message with a link I forgot to attach the first time around. I didn’t, at the time, realise you had 14 minutes to edit posts once they went up. It was a genuine and easy mistake to make. My question is: does a mistake such as this really justify someone being put on moderation across multiple groups?

Why these rules are so frightening

Surely these rules are open to abuse by group owners (I acknowledge the majority would not behave in this way but anyone can start a LinkedIn group) and, even when a manager wants to (and has the right to) block someone from their group it’s not always for spam – so should that manager have the right to penalise someone beyond their own group? Before you answer that, consider these scenarios:

The manager who blocks a competitor.

The manager who doesn’t agree with someone else’s viewpoint or has an issue with a person that has nothing to do with group rules.

The manager who just blocks people without any warning or notification about why they’ve been blocked.

I could go on – but you get the picture.

If you’re using LinkedIn as a networking tool then being blocked in one group will have a serious impact on your activity across the board. 

I agree there’s a need to prevent spam but don’t think this is the right way to go about it. LinkedIn needs to be in control of such matters NOT group managers. 

What can you do if you’re blocked from a LinkedIn group?

If you’ve been blocked from a group and you either aren’t sure why or you feel it was unjustified, you may want to ask a friend or contact to appeal to the group owner on your behalf.

I have just done that on behalf of a contact who was not sure why she had been blocked from a group. I contacted the group manager and explained the situation. He apologised and lo-and-behold my contact was reinstated.

Another thing you may be able to do is to leave some of your groups and then rejoin them as I don’t think ‘Requires Moderation’  applies to groups you subsequently join (but I could be wrong).

One idea to address the issues around being blocked from a group was suggested by Emily Miller in a LinkedIn group discussion about these rules. She mooted the idea of a “higher court that members can refer these types of group mis-management issues to.” I think that would be a great thing for LinkedIn to initiate.

An appeal to LinkedIn

So far, LinkedIn have not responded to the discussion within the LinkedIn community – which I find bizarre.

I know a few people have contacted them via both LinkedIn and Twitter to ask them to reconsider these rules but am not aware of any responses to date.

Perhaps LinkedIn could consider this:

  1. Allow group owners to retain the right to block within their own groups with the option to report spammers to LinkedIn.
  2. LinkedIn could then look into issues and make their own determination about whether these are spammers or people making a genuine mistake (admittedly this will require manpower – there may even be a way to crowdsource it – maybe this is a question for the wider LinkedIn community).
  3. LinkedIn could look at setting up a ‘higher court’ to deal with group mis-management issues.

Come on LinkedIn, what do you say? Are you going to keep these worrying rules in place or listen to your members’ concerns? 

What do you think of these rules? Do they worry you or not? 

Specialising in professional services and law firm marketing. I help firms to retain and grow existing clients and attract more of their ideal clients. My core services include social media for lead generation, voice of the client programmes and tender strategy and development. Outside of work I love to run. I’m a bit like Forest Gump in that I’m not that quick but can keep going for ages. I also enjoy coming up with new inventions. Unfortunately, most of them have already been invented! | * Professional services marketing consultant | * Legal marketing consultant | * Law firm marketing consultant