The Problem With LinkedIn Groups

ubersocialmedia
Shell Robshaw-Bryan Marketing Consultant, Surefire Media

Posted on July 12th 2013

The Problem With LinkedIn Groups

CensoredIt would appear that LinkedIn has a problem.

Some LinkedIn group moderators are refusing to approve content from an awful lot of people.  Having contributed to a variety of different LinkedIn groups over the past year or so, in the last 3 months I’ve noticed that none of the posts or comments that I made were actually seeing the light of day, so I decided to dig a little deeper.

The content published in LinkedIn groups is completely at the whim of moderators

When I reached out on Google Plus I was contacted by several other people for whom the exact same thing had happened.  They are respected professionals, curating high quality content and yet they are also routinely finding that their posts are blocked and never get past the moderators.

If it is happening to me and to them – how many people is this really affecting?

The first thing you will be thinking when I state my posts are blocked is that I am spamming.  I’m not.  I pride myself on my integrity and have no interest in continually self promoting myself or bombarding any site with posts.  I am active in supporting many other marketing and social media professionals and always post content from a broad range of sources.

Consider this scenario.  I am part of a social media marketing group, after a 2 week gap I visit the group, read some articles, comment on a couple to thank the author and give some additional input,  I share an article and like 3 or 4 others.  I then post a recent article i’d enjoyed reading from Social Media Today, about – social media.  3 weeks on and the post still hasn’t been approved (and neither have the 4 others i’ve posted in the last 3 months).

Why should I take time to read, comment and share group content when i’m not afforded the same opportunity back?

Now, that alone doesn’t sound like too much, but when I returned to the group a few hours later I saw a lot of new content had been approved and was live on the Group page.  One article caught my eye in particular as it was about how to get your own back on a cheating husband.  It had nothing at all to do with social media and read like a personal blog post more suited to a women’s gossip magazine.  The thing that angered me however wasn’t the fact that a totally off-topic post had been approved, it was the fact the article dominated the front page as it had been posted multiple times one after the other.

Now that is pretty poor moderation by anyone’s standards.

  • As far as I am aware, I adhere to all the LinkedIn groups laid out rules and guidelines
  • I post approximately once every 2-3 weeks
  • The content I post is always bang on topic
  • I share a variety of content from a wide variety of quality sources
  • I always visit the groups more frequently than I attempt to post in order to actively contribute by liking, sharing and commenting on other content i’ve read and found useful
  • The articles of my own that I share have always been positively received on my own blog and on other social networks
  • Contacting moderators has given me no joy and they’ve not contacted me back to let me know what I am doing wrong (which I suspect is nothing)
  • Many of these groups approve content that is low quality, totally off topic and extremely spammy

So why is this happening?  So called LinkedIn ‘influences’ are clearly being given top priority whilst the content from would-be influencers is actively hidden. How does one hope to become an influencer if their content is never approved and published? If someone is breaking rules that are leading to their posts not being approved, then fair enough, but when that clearly isn’t the case and your attempts to contact a group moderator is ignored – what then?

LinkedIn groups are the absolute antithesis of freedom of speech

It has also been theorised by others who are current victims of this kind of group moderation, that LinkedIn moderators clearly have their own agendas and aren’t putting content live from individuals who they see as a threat or competition.  It’s just a theory but does seem entirely plausible, I really don’t understand why quality content from authoritative sources would be routinely suppressed.  This makes me question the quality and authenticity of the content on LinkedIn.

As a direct result of this I have made the decision to simply remove myself from these groups and continue doing what I do in the far superior Google Plus communities I am a part of.  LinkedIn groups do not allow freedom of speech and they seem to be letting the views of only a select few be known.

What is your experience of LinkedIn groups?  Perhaps you’ve experienced similar or you are a LinkedIn group moderator wanting to put your side of the story across?  If so, I’d love to hear from you!

ubersocialmedia

Shell Robshaw-Bryan

Marketing Consultant, Surefire Media

is a marketing consultant and professional blogger who works for the Cheshire based digital agency Surefire Media, where she specialises in organic search, content strategy and social media engagement. Shell has extensive experience in consumer retail brand marketing, web design, SEO and content writing and ran her own web design and SEO business for a number of years.

As well as writing for her own Uber Marketing blog and for her clients blogs, Shell is also a keen snowboarder, whose other hobbies include travel, music and photography.

See Full Profile >

Comments

I don't disagree with you, but the same is being done right here on the SocialMediaToday.com website, correct?  Is it censorship or is it the responsibility of the moderator to set communication standards for the community?  I've got something to say about social media, but I can't do it here freely on this site.  I'm not confused nor upset about my inability to do so.  In fact, I'm thankful that I have a knowledgeable and credible party who filters message relevance for me.  I suspect that LinkedIn groups were intended to do much the same, allowing the moderator to set editorial standards and letting the market's engagement determine whether the group is successful or not.  Free speech vs. free market is the debate here.  I, for one, would subscribe to free market, where my choice to be in the group or not is my own, even at the peril of my ability to have every post published.  LinkedIn groups are not a right, but, rather, a privilege.  And, while social media seems to suggest unabated openness, I don't think that the LinkedIn "community" benefits from the concept that everyone's personal editorials are worth posting.  You seem to be a credible author worth posting to social media forums, but shake it off and don't take it personal.  These groups are not open and the choice to leave the group is yours.  That, to me, is the right worth defending.

Great comments Sean - thanks very much. I agree that a moderator should set the communication standards for a community and in doing so, I expect the beneft in return to be a broad mix of opinions and topics up to a certain standard of quality. 

I have no problem with communities being moderated, it is absolutely a necessary process, but for a site to be taken seriously and to be providing it's active community and visitors with good value - these rules can not be arbitrarily applied on a whim.  I believe this is most certainly the case in at least one LinkedIn community; hence my example of a totally off topic post being approved so it appeared 4 times, one after the other and dominated the front page.  

I agree with you Sean that LinkedIn Groups and indeed any similar community, is not a right but a privelige, but if that privelage is being handed out to people whose content is off topic, poorly written and downright spammy, then that group is being moderated badly and I question the value of that group.

I have of course now left the groups in question, but it is a real shame that the moderators afford no sort of fairness or recognition of an individuals extensive contributions to a group and refuse to even provide a warning or responss when contacted.



You write:  "but it is a real shame that the moderators afford no sort of fairness or recognition of an individuals extensive contributions to a group and refuse to even provide a warning or responss when contacted."

LI's written help requires the moderator to notify the individual that they have been SWAMMED.

But, since LI has never formally announced the program, most LI group owners remain clueless about block and delete.

It is also possible that you could have been accidentally blocked and deleted.

 

Great article.

This past Wednesday we started a #NOSWAM movement. Please tweet with that hashtag.

SWAM policy has done what I call:

They maximised the occurences of False Positives: i.e. those have great content and and are non-spammer not only group moderators are stopping them but any group member can flag and jam the moderation queue by which moderators don't even bother but just "select all" and delete all.

They maximised the occurences of False Negatives: As fake profiles and SPAMMERS continue to go undetected.

LI's response so far, they blacklisted the word "SWAM" from the search bar, you will never find anysearch results on "Updates" search about it.

Another article to consider reading http://scs-connect.com/have-you-been-swamd/

Also you can join the LI SWAM support group SWAM (Site Wide Auto Moderation) Support -- A Spam Free Group.

Thanks

 

 

 

 

 

I'm so glad to see this post. I agree with you especially how moderators basically control what they want published even if it's not spammy. I myself am using less of the "groups" and have experienced more support in Google+.

We really like G+ too -- please check out our page if you haven't already:

https://plus.google.com/b/115434338877683168745/+SocialMediaToday/posts

We also recently started a G+ Community and are looking for more engagement there -- so come find us!

https://plus.google.com/b/115434338877683168745/communities/118377714220...

Hi Anna, very interesting to hear that you feel the same and you too have experienced more support in Google+ Communities!

Incidentally, when I posted the comment above, SocialMediaToday.com sent me to a page that read, "Your comment has been queued for moderation by site administrators and will be published after approval."  Not only are the originals posts have to pass through a gatekeeper, so are the comments.  It would appear that this site is more restrictive to its community than LinkedIn, but I'm a fan nonetheless.

Sean -- we certainly appreciate the support!  This method of comment moderation is how we most successfully keep out the spammers, but we are currently exploring other avenues that will ease the flow of conversation and community feel while still keeping out the junk.  Anyway, thanks for weighing in. 

My simple rule. I avoid sites that don't support conversation. There is so many things to read, why bother with a site that works to be an #oldmedia property... vomiting out contsupport get eyeballs on ads?

if comments are closEd, moderated, ignored, they are doomed and don't need our support to keep them on life ssupport on linkedin, the #oldmedia influence has always been there, active groups mve elsewhere. And the current promotion of hand picked articles is turning the front page into Yahoo/national enquirer tabloid journalism

I did see this post there first, had to remember the trick to avoid their idiot reader that locks up comments and sharing and put this in a browser. Hardly the preferred way to get content n my iPad. 

Warren thanks for your comment and your policy makes a lot of sense and I shall be adopting the same stance from now on.

 

 

 

@Sean and @Myong Joh: The symptoms that the author is facing may OR may not  be due to moderator's behavior.

It is possible this is due to LI instituting this automatic functionality "sitewide automatic moderation" by which 1 or more persons flagging a post for whatever reason and based on settings of group's moderator (whose queues are jammed) AND with OR without group moderator's knowledge, the author is getting into moderation in ALL groups she belongs. This functionality and policy is called SWAM. Premium subscribers including me are dropping subscriptions in droves after being stung by it. We are not spammers or fake profiles in any way or shape.

@Myong: Is there a way to find out from the author if she is experiencing this in ALL the LI groups she belongs or just the one she discusses?

Here are few blogs discussing it and you can find more googling "SWAM" and "LinkedIn"

http://scs-connect.com/have-you-been-swamd/  (Barbara Giamanco is a LinkedIn Insider and has not been SWAM'd)

http://richardmaybury.co.uk/2013/03/linkedin-sledge-hammer-approach-to-moderating-comments-in-linkedin-groups/

http://mrlinkedin.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/the-great-linkedin-swam/

http://markvang.com/content/linkedin-groups-and-swam-your-post-has-been-submitted-review

http://www.elephantsatwork.com/linkedin-moderation-stop-hurting-group-managers-and-users/

http://arthurcatalanello.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/linkedin-policy-is-guilty-until-proven-innocent/

These are LinkedIn's own info. on it.

http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/38735

http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/4216

Rini, Shell is keeping tabs on this comment thread.  I'll double check to make sure she's still keeping track!  Thanks for the great info you're contributing.

Thank you so much Rini Das for the detailed information on SWAM. I am experiencing the same across all groups and suspected that I'd been universally blacklisted but couldn't find any information on the issue prior to writing my article.

Strange that no feedback at all is given on what I've done to cause this, if this is a temporary thing or how to avoid it happening again, whilst spammers and low quality, off topic content continues to get posted.

I really appreciate all the information you've provided!

 

SWAM is an abusive, disrespectful and libelous abuse of many LinkedIn members who are nothing other than victims and have done nothing wrong.

I have been a paying Premium member of LinkedIn for ten years.

I REFUSE to give LI anymore of my money unless they repair my SWAM victimization. I will NOT renew my Premium membership unless SWAM is eliminated and the full, complete and normal functionality for victims like myself is reinstated.

SWAM peer support group for those of us who have been victimized
http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=4911853

LinkedIn 10-K 2012 Annual Report (filed Feb 19, 2013)

http://investors.linkedin.com/secfiling.cfm?filingID=1271024-13-10

I quote from this report
“Our core value of putting our members first may conflict with the short-term interests of our business.”

“One of our core values is to make decisions based on the best interests of our members, which we believe is essential to our success in increasing our member growth rate and engagement and in serving the best, long-term interests of the company and our stockholders. Therefore, in the past, we have forgone, and may in the future forgo, certain expansion or short-term revenue opportunities that we do not believe are in the best interests of our members, even if our decision negatively impacts our operating results in the short term. In addition, as part of our philosophy of putting our members first, as long as our members are adhering to our terms of service, this philosophy may cause disagreements, or negatively impact our relationships, with our existing or prospective customers. This could result in enterprises and professional organizations blocking access to our services or refusing to purchase our Talent or Marketing Solutions or Premium Subscriptions. Our decisions may not result in the long-term benefits that we expect, in which case our member engagement, business and operating results could be harmed. ”

“If we do not continue to attract new customers, or if existing customers do not renew their subscriptions, renew on less favorable terms, or fail to purchase additional solutions, we may not achieve our revenue projections, and our operating results would be harmed.”

You have more than likely been SWAMed.  Had "Site Wide Auto Moderation" applied against you.

Good overview of the problem is in the following link: 

http://mrlinkedin.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/the-great-linkedin-swam/

The SWAM problem is currently causing a great deal of grief to a number of long term and responsible Linkedin members, including those with (or that had) paying membership. 

To-date the response from Linkedin has been a deafening silence. LinkedIn may be monitoring and addressing the problem however there has been no indication that this is the case. 

In addition to not addressing the problem, LinkedIn have even appeared to have blacklisted the word SWAM from their search bar.

This has the potential to destroy LinkedIn.  A number LinkedIn group managers are urging their very large membership to migrate over to Google +.  Watch closely as LinkedIn disappears through their own ineptitude and arrogance.

I guess the purpose of groups on LinkedIn (and maybe even the purpose of LinkedIn itself) has confused me for quite some time.  How do groups like the Britney Spears Music Lovers or Despicable Me align with the purpose of LinkedIn and what is that purpose?

LinkedIn actually has a place where groups can specify their "rules" but often this includes an initial statement of purpose. For SMT, for example, it states: "Our intention at Social Media Today is to host a group on LinkedIn that fosters conversation and exchange. We are not an advertising or promotional platform and - to the extent that we can - we will filter out such submissions." My feeling is always that clear and transparent rules are essential to good moderation. I moderated a very explosive FB group once and I made it a practice of explaining to the community anytime that I deleted comments or blocked a user. I actually found that the response was overall fairly positive. Of course in that case it was dealing mostly with trolls and heated, personal attacks on other users but I was very clear from the start that the group was dedicated to proactive discussion and listed what would be deleted/moderated out. Most good quality groups and sites have these policies in place. If you want to see examples of a lack of moderation you need go no further than the comments section of any online newspaper.

Suzie, I agree with you - clear and transparent rules which I would add, should be consistently and fairly upheld.

I've had extensive experience as a moderator myself and have had to deal with a large number of spammers and trolls.  Whenever i've made the decision to block or remove content, i've always provided a clear reason for doing so.  My usual response would be to tell someone not to break the forum rules again or risk banning and i'd always link them the rules. 

I find it absurd that LinkedIn doesn't do similar and just hands out, what is in effect a universal ban on posting.

We want to inform you about a new ‘feature’ that was implemented by LinkedIn near the beginning of 2013. They did not announce this new procedure to group owners or to LinkedIn membership at large. If you are blocked or blocked and deleted by any group manager/owner, you are placed in Site-Wide Automatic Moderation (SWAM) in the rest of your groups. That means that each of your posts will be pended until someone in the group’s management team approves it. This can take days or weeks, depending on how involved the managers are, or, it may not happen at all.

This has created problems for people. It may result in a loss of revenue or leads for those using LinkedIn to conduct business, and difficulty maintaining connections. Participation in discussions in a timely manner becomes an impossible task. There is no way to reverse the procedure, and if you contact LinkedIn Customer Service, you will be told to contact each group’s owner/managers and request that they remove you from moderation. They also do not inform you which group blocked you. Many group owners still don’t know about SWAM, and people continue to have great difficulty getting themselves removed from moderation in all/most of their groups. Being SWAM’d, as it is called, will not cause you to be placed in moderation in any groups you join after you have been SWAM’d. We think members of the site should be made aware of this issue.

In my groups we generally use the remove feature rather than the block feature for members, unless someone has really pushed the boundaries.

Individuals who have been SWAM'd and wish to join a peer support group that is working on eliminating SWAM might want to check out
SWAM (Site Wide Auto Moderation) Support - A SPAM Free Group
http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=4911853       

A massive thank you to everyone who has taken time to comment (sorry, i've been away so playing catch-up now!).

Hello Shell -- A quick question, are you on moderation in every group or just that one group?

Thanks for your blog -- very well communicated.

If it is more than one group, you might have been a victim of SWAM functionality of LinkedIn? Do you know about this policy?

To learn more http://scs-connect.com/have-you-been-swamd/

Site Wide Automatic Moderation (SWAM) is a huge issue.  I have had the unpleasant experience of a competitor marking one of my comments as spam. Following that action, I found that LinkedIn automatically put all of my future comments, posts and groups under moderation. Further - each new group I attempted to join is provided with the flag as well. The damage to my reputation is serious, though could have been worse. Fortunately, the high quality of my engagements has made the process of having the moderation lifted group-by-group has been fairly simple wherever I'm known. Where I'm not known is a completely different story.  (Typed on iPhone. Apologies for any typos.)

Randy, I agree that due to the high calibre of my contribution in my groups, the mods would have all taken me out of moderation (all 46 of my groups) BUT, how do you know which one originally SWAMed you, hence you will send them the request, too?

Also, say I go through all of that work and get back in, and then BANG, I am SWAMed again for any reason never to be made known to me?

Answer: I DELETED MY LINKEDIN PROFILE AND MOVED my helpfulness to G+.

This SWAM police should be illegal. 

G+ isnt any better, I spent ages on a profile for a client, looking for the right communities to join, then one day I came to use G+ and nothing worked- I have a linkedin account with 2k+contacts and 60 groups and I now think its a question of "when" rather than "if " I get blocked . I will open up a new account for the use in groups only -  WHAT A PAIN   

LinkedIn has officially not reacted to the SWAM discussion, nor shared data of how many effected. We are trying to collect stories aka data to understand the extent of the problem that LinkedIn members are facing similar to @Shelly. Please share your story: http://swamsupport.org/

We can do it.  Share and spread the word.

Linked in have the most useless customer service I've ever had the misfortune to use. I've been blocked from all groups I suspect by someone who took a dislike to something I said (because I'm not a spammer. I understand being blocked from one group - but the policy to ban you from every group to which you belong is a linked in policy and one I consider defamatory. I am now flagged to all as a spammer - with the absence of any evidence. I am guilty as charged, I can't defend or put forward my case. What's more this prison sentence is forever. thanks for your article - it's great to feel I am not alone! 

Shell: I too have experienced your problem. I sent LinkedIn customer support several messages.I made a PDF copy of the entire dialogue- including LinkedIn's response to my queries. Below are links to Part 1 & 2 of my complaint to LinkedIn. After the second message was sent to LinkedIn, my trouble ticket was DELETED by the "service-minded" LinkedIn representative. I was livid. And I'm still on "probation". See article at http://www.itspecialist.com/Home/ITSpecialistBlog/tabid/1019/postid/18/l... Message to LinkedIn (Part 1): https://www.dropbox.com/s/hvcyyt2rag6py98/Can%20I%20Contact%20Group%20Ma... Message to LinkedIn (Part 2): https://www.dropbox.com/s/q650d8n0dcs3c29/Can%20I%20Contact%20Group%20Ma... Everyone, please keep me apprised of everything regarding this issue. Thanks!! Tripp martintrippeason@gmail.com http://www.linkedin.com/in/martintrippeason/

I had the same problem too. If I am going to be blocked or deleted I would appreciate it if there is some way I could be told of their intention so that I don't waste my time on that group.

 

Pretty irritated.