tartley.com » The Long Overdue LinkedIn Backlash

March 18th, 2008

This is a great read. The author penned a scathing Linkedin “recommendation” of another user, pointing out in the process that Linkedin is built only to allow positive reviews, which makes the system less than valuable.

tartley.com » The Long Overdue LinkedIn Backlash

What to do then, when one thinks that a person should not be trusted with a pencil, never mind a job? Be honest or let the matter drop? It would be nice if our “trust networks” let us trust the collected wisdom, but it is a hard nut to crack. Ebay has worked hard at it, but it still requires egregious conduct to merit a negative review.

The problem, in my opinion, is endemic to virtual communities. Written text (email or site-based) is tone-deaf. Nuance is lost completely and context is nearly so. Compare this with a private conversation in which negative points can be explained and put into accurate context, and couple it with the adage that negative feedback outweighs positive by a factor of 10:1 or so, and the problem becomes apparent- no one wants to be dissed, and few are willing to risk the fallout from posting a negative opinion of someone else. VentureBeat has extensively chronicled thefunded.com‘s efforts to create a fair and honest feedback system. It’s not easy.

This is not to say that the nut can’t be split, but capturing the real meaning
and reasons behind someone’s negative comments and framing them accurately may require extreme fact- and situation-analysis. Thefunded has it easier than most in this regard, since the VC-entrepreneur relationship is well-defined.

When all is said and done, though, Linkedin is among the worst at producing meaningful feedback. They should take comments like these as the must-fix issues they are. Get after it, Linkedin. You are too useful to be sidelined by a lack of trust in your recommendations.

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