LinkedIn Missteps: Killing LinkedIn Answers

linkedin kills off answersI don’t usually get all up in arms when a social media site I like changes its features.

Stuff happens. Things change. Improvise, adapt, overcome.

But when I heard the news about LinkedIn killing its Answers section through my friend, Todd Van Hoosear, and then this article on AGBeat, I was upset. This, I feel, is a big misstep.

Maybe not everyone who uses LinkedIn uses the section. The people who do use it, however, find great value, and there are many.

When I answered a question there after I was laid off from my newspaper job a few years ago, that led to one of my first consulting gigs, which in turn led me to the path I walk now. So, sure, part of it is likely sentimental. I can be like that sometimes.

It’s more than sentiment, though. Answers was the best spot on the site to really show your stuff. Your profile can be stuffed with whatever. Groups may or may  not be open to everyone, and so many are filled with so much spam that they’re nearly unnavigable.

Answers, though, was simple. Someone asked a question. People answered. Answers could be rated by the asker, and if someone repeatedly was graded as a “best answer,” it gave their replies in that section more weight. It allowed you to show what you really knew and find out what people really wanted to learn about.

On many of our platforms, we live in an echo chamber, surrounded by others who have similar skillsets. On LinkedIn, our personal network may be like that, as well as our groups, but in Answers, you could find anyone who knew something about anything. Sure, we have Quora now, and some of the questions and answers there are fascinating. But when you want to do business, LinkedIn is where you go. And where you ask your business-related questions.

Sadly, as of Jan. 31, that will be no more.

This post originally appeared on Amy Vernon’s blog

Amy Vernon is general manager of social marketing for NYC tech startup Internet Media Labs. She’s an inaugural inductee of the New Jersey Social Media Hall of Fame and top female submitter of all time on the social news site Digg.com. Her background includes nearly 20 years as a professional daily newspaper journalist at The Miami Herald and other papers, and she has written for Esquire.com, Network World, and The Next Web. You can find her blog here and stalk her on Twitter @AmyVernon.

Photo by Alexander Henning Drachmann via Flickr Creative Commons.

  • http://eatatdaves.co/ D.T. Pennington

    I didn’t even know “answers” was a thing! I got wrapped up in the Groups – which seem like little more than self-promotional garbage. I’ve been a part of Quora for years, and that was a quality resource until they opened it up to everyone.

  • http://amyvernon.net/ AmyVernon

    Hi @dtpennington:disqus – Answers have been around longer than Quora and though they occasionally fell prey to the self-promotional garbage elsewhere on LinkedIn (I agree about groups, though I’m in a couple of well-moderated groups that are quite useful), they were more useful than not, both for finding resources and for showing your stuff.

    I really think that a small amount of moderation could have made them even more useful, as evidenced by the small number of user groups on LinkedIn that *are* moderated and are, therefore, useful.

  • ShellyKramer

    Hi David. I didn’t pay a ton of attention to Answers, either, but have a lot of friends who did and who really enjoyed it. I think there’s spam and crap content everywhere — which is a shame. I’m even seeing idiots ruining Instagram with spammy posts which makes me sad. Alas. On to the next bright, shiny thing! Thanks for coming by!

  • ShellyKramer

    I absolutely agree re the moderation, Amy. To me, that’s the one thing that’s missing from the LinkedIn experience – there’s relatively no effort on the part of LinkedIn to provide any support to get rid of spammers. It’s always been a downside for me.

  • http://rhogroupee.com/ Rosemary ONeill

    This move really makes me wonder if LinkedIn might have something else up its sleeve, like buying Quora, or a different form of Q&A altogether. My gut tells me to stay tuned…

  • http://amyvernon.net/ AmyVernon

    I’ve thought a lot about that the last few days, @rosemaryoneill:disqus. I wouldn’t be surprised. :)

  • Boris Mahovac R.G.D.

    It’s amazing: Linkedin already killed the “Events” app, now they want
    to do the same to “Answers” — and these two features were 25% of what
    I’ve been teaching my clients on how to use Linkedin to build their
    professional practice. I always liked Linkedin for its simplicity, but
    they are going too far with killing features, just because members don’t
    use them.

  • locris

    Problem with Answers is that it is the haunt of trolls who choose to bully contributors by arbitarily flaging questions…. Like so many aspects of LinkedIn it was badly thought out, badly designed an badly implmented. Now, when linkedin has some intellect, money and skills, instead of fixing the problems, they’re simply removing functionality to become more and more like a pay-to-join directory – another who’s who….

    Cheers John
    #EAv (e)LOCRIS @LOCRIS

  • http://freetraffictip.com Tinu

    100% agree Amy.

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