What's Your Take on LinkedIn SWAM?

Pankhuri Anand
Pankhuri Anand Assistant Project Manager, SMG Convonix

Posted on February 20th 2014

What's Your Take on LinkedIn SWAM?

Unable to post comments in groups immediately? All your discussions and comments go under review in Each & Every group? Have you been affected by LinkedIn SWAM too? Welcome to the group :) (I know you’d rather not!)

 

The entire story began about a year back when LinkedIn introduced (very discreetly) a 'security feature' into their groups. This feature, called Site Wide Auto Moderation, or SWAM by the LinkedIn police says, “Any time a group member’s recent contribution to a group is marked as spam or flagged for not being relevant, that member’s posts to all their other groups are automatically subject to approval by group management.”

A lot has been written by “LinkedIn loyal” users about this policy. People were enraged on being SWAM’d. However, LinkedIn did very little to pacify their users. The end objective – to stop spams in groups; was being met after all!

 

So now that we know, after over a year of introducing SWAM, LinkedIn is not going to take any action, let’s move on to finding a solution to it. After LinkedIn signal ceased to exist, LinkedIn groups are our last ray of hope for lead generation on this platform.

I work on LinkedIn groups day in and day out in my current role, so needless to say it was a real blow when I realized that I had been SWAM’d. I read up almost all the articles that were there, talking about SWAM. Even though I felt a little better after knowing that I wasn’t the only one, it was time to take some action. Here’s what you must do:

  • Contact LinkedIn customer service, let them know that you’ve been SWAM’d. They won’t be of much help because the mechanism that changes a member’s posting permission is automated and cannot be reversed by LinkedIn Customer Support. They cannot provide a list of which groups blocked a member either due to privacy restrictions. So much for having a customer support cell :)
  • The best way to go about this is message ALL the group owners/managers. That’s what I did. I messaged all the 53 group owners and informed them that all my posts and comments are being moderated instead of being posted immediately. I also told them how valuable being a part of their group is for me and that I would love to participate further without spamming their group (I knew that I actually wasn’t spamming, but when the ball is not in your court, it’s better to give in :) )
  • I was very surprised when I received a 90% reply rate the very next day! Most of them said that they had not done anything to put my posts under moderation. You have to then inform them about how to “unSWAM” you in their group, post which you will fall under the normal group policies. Under the “Manage” tab of their group they will see the “Participants” option, under that when they click on “Blocked” your name will be visible. They will have to click on “Approve”, post which you will be removed from the effect of SWAM in that particular group. It is a painful process but it is the ONLY way!

 

LinkedIn is a very credible platform and it aims to stay so by taking (sometimes) challenging decisions. The positive outcome of SWAM – I do see a drastic drop in spam in all the LinkedIn groups :)

Do let me know your LinkedIn SWAM experience in the comments section below. I would love to know how everyone dealt with it.

Pankhuri Anand

Pankhuri Anand

Assistant Project Manager, SMG Convonix

Social Media specialist at SMG Convonix. Having worked with client's across different industries for both B2B and B2C segments, I help businesses grow in the social world.

 

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Comments

Great article Pankhuri. I was hit with SWAM almost a year ago. No warning and still to this day, no idea what I did wrong.

Due to the effort of manual intervention needed to unSWAM an individual however, I feel it's asking a lot of moderators! I used to really enjoy LinkedIn discussions and regularly contributed via comments and sharing. Now I can't do any of that. The upshot? I spend maybe 15 minutes a week on LinkedIn now and don't use groups at all, compared to using Groups frequently and spending maybe 2 hours a week there.


I'm all for measures that fight SPAM, but SWAM is absurd. A permanent ban for doing something, goodness knows what, with very little hope of getting it un-done!

It's been speculated that posts can be maliciously marked as SPAM. Think about it, all it takes is one moderator who disagrees with a comment you've made, sees you as a professional threat or who might have taken a dislike to you, to hit the button and wham, you're banned across the whole of LinkedIn.

Allowing this to happen with no review process is daft and as a result I simply use Google+ Communities instead. In the 2 years I've been using Google+ Communities (to which I contribute and am active in a lot), i've had a couple of posts deleted or moved as i've inadvertently posted in the wrong area. This resulted in the moderator sending me a quick note to inform me. I was aware of the situation, understood what i'd done wrong and didn't do it again. They know from my posting history that the quality of my comments and posts is usually high and that this wasn't me attempting to spam the group.

SWAM is heavy handed and senseless and when I blogged about this last summer, I was contacted by many other people for whom this had happened, who were generally baffled as to what they'd done to cause it.

Totally agree!

To be honest I feel Linkedin discussions are getting more challenging every passing passing day. Just few days one of the quality groups posted that you can no longer just initiate discussions. Only if the group admin feels it is relevant enough and will add value to the group, will they approve posting for it.

The discussions now in certain groups are at complete mercy of the group admin. Where do I go now for the latest happenings in the field? For the insighful articles written by credile people? I under stand that LinkedIn has opened it's publishing platform to all but it will be another couple of months before it rolls out for all of us. And it is quite impossible for me to follow each and every person and read their blogs/articles.

I agree that SWAM is a bit unfair on some users but it has definitely resulted in reducing the amount of unwanted content on LinkedIn.

P.S. I might be a bit biased because I am one of the lucky ones who has not being SWAM'd 

 

I think LinkedIn needed to cut down on the legit spammers, who post irrelevant information in groups and leave without ever engaging, but this punishes people who use LinkedIn Groups to actually connect with people. As a group moderator myself, I found that some people would post mostly good content, but some bad content (maybe accidently), so I would change their permissions to "requires moderation" - but I had no idea I was causing them to be moderated in ALL groups. Why should one person have that much power over another on LinkedIn? Perhaps this was the reason I was SWAM'd, perhaps it was because a competitor didn't like me being in their group... I have no idea. I think LinkedIn needs a better way to separate out the real spammers, because all they're doing is mowing down the people that actually use their platform (it's not many of their 200 million users that actually log in regularly).

As I discovered today, much to my chagrin, LinkedIn now tyells you when you've entered the dreaded auto moderation status. Where your group status formerly appeared (mine was typically" top contributor" or one step down, but that's no defense against SWAM), there is now a blu box stating:

"Your group posting status

Your posts across groups are being moderated temporarily because one of your recent contributions was marked as spam or flagged for not being relevant."

That really hurts, but at least you now know instantly.

I think it's interesting that it says "temporarily," because it wasn't temporary for me! I had to email all of my group moderators to ask them to manually update my permissions (and many of them didn't even know what SWAM was!).

I came across that new feature too, where Linkedin will inform you that you are temporarily unable to post in  a particular group. Actually the definition of SWAM is still kind of vague. From what I gathered earlier you get SWAM'd if you a group managers "blocks & deletes" you in their group. However, few days back I came across this another article on Linkedin Help Center which said that if you are flagged in a group then you come under the influence of SWAM as well.


I guess you get the temporary pop-up when you're flagged in a particular group.

I very much agree on the hurt point as well on the fact that atleast LinkedIn now bothers to inform you about the moderation. Earlier it would go on for days before you'd realize that you're unable to post in groups!

Sounds a lot like my story: I realized I could no longer post in groups, I emailed all group moderators, and most of them replied to update my permissions. I go into more detail about it here: http://www.meltwater.com/social-media-blog/help-ive-been-swamd-on-linkedin/ Of the group moderators that did not respond, I would review the discussions to see if it appeared to be moderated at all - I think many group moderators don't actively manage their groups anymore - which is why LinkedIn had to implement this sort of "solution". It does actually drive down the spam, but at the expense of also punishing many of LinkedIn's most active (and legit) users - not a good way to increase site engagement.

I think it's time that we start a No SWAM group on LinkedIn and show them how community moderation is done. Thoughts? 

Unfortunately I have fallen prey to this as well. No idea how and why. I have sent my set of messages to the group admins. Hoping for the best. I just wantd to know if we will face the same problem when we join new groups. That would really be unfair. W e will have to send messages even before we have posted anything, they might not even accept you in the group!! Really concerned. Please do let me know if t