Linkedin Moderation: Stop Hurting Group Managers and Users

This article is for LinkedIn users are being moderated in groups for no reason or group managers that are experiencing increased post moderation of their membership.

It happened to me recently in my LinkedIn Group, Elephants at Work. A group member’s discussion ended up in the moderation queue. I figured I was new to being a group owner/manager but then I caught wind of the latest (non-official) LinkedIn Policy you probably don’t know about – moderation across all LinkedIn Groups even if you are a creditable user and not a spamming loser.

Rather than me telling you my story, a reader shared her story with me where the implications of LinkedIn’s actions are causing much more dis-satisfaction, stress and time – and she’s a paying LinkedIn recruiter!

Reader: LinkedIn has become an incredible, powerful, and dominating resource on the web and users scream its praises. What happens when LinkedIn starts to implement policies that hinge on a slippery slope and they neglect tell their user community about the changes?

 I can tell you exactly what happens: a user like me gets caught in the middle and quite frankly, it sucks. It’s been about 6 weeks and I’m still working on getting it resolved. My motto throughout this: “I really am a creditable user, not a spamming loser”.

 Recently I noticed that my posts were being moderated across every LinkedIn group I’m a member of. As of yesterday that’s about 50 groups and a number of subgroups. Interesting enough I thought it was some sort of glitch, a bug in the matrix.

 It nagged me and I started to think about it; many group owners I know personally. After contacting a couple of them, they were equally shocked that I somehow/someway was being moderated, even though they never put the strangle hold on my group membership.

As for all the other groups; there was no way these folks would moderate me all at the same time. I didn’t know what the odds were, but I highly doubted they all conspired against me. So I opened a trouble ticket. Interesting response from LinkedIn’s Group Support, that’s for sure.

 Hi,

Your discussion and comments may be pending in a specific group because you were blocked and removed from another group by its manager or owner. If you’re experiencing this issue across multiple groups, your postings to other groups are still submitted; however, they are now pending until a member of the group’s management team approves it for posting.

This is done to ensure that members who post in groups are posting with a certain level of professionalism. This doesn’t mean your posting quality is poor, but the measure itself is put in place to ensure that the group’s management is able to control content across all members in their group who’ve been blocked from other groups.

As an additional note, please be aware that we can’t provide a list of groups you were blocked from. Any group owner or manager can un-restrict your posting permissions in their group. You can contact the group’s management team and request that they allow your discussions and comments to post in their group. Here’s how:

They go on to tell me how to do it, but after re-reading the statement above, I came to this conclusion: One group owner limited and moderated my profile against every group I am a member of. Every group has different rules, but they allowed one manager’s rules to override all others.

Keep in mind folks, no where in the group that banished me, did they have a rule or policy saying a person couldn’t share an article. Other members openly shared the same types of articles and were applauded for it. The article I actually shared was very spot on with what the Data group was about – A Forbes article about Data Center needs pushing market growth. Maybe, just maybe because I have the term “recruiter” after my name, I was booted. That, my friends, is a whole different topic all together.

After searching LinkedIn I can find no mention of this policy, anywhere. I have repeatedly asked for a link directing me to this policy and I’m still waiting 6 weeks later. It doesn’t officially exist, yet. How do I even accomplish explaining to group owners why I was moderated, when I have no policy to direct them to?

 So far, I have received either very confused responses back, no response back, or very receptive responses back that result in a phone call explaining why & how this happened in a group that they own and how to change my permissions.

 Even worse yet, there’s still a glitch that I have reported to LinkedIn and yet still haven’t heard anything back on yet (which reminds me to check in with Betsy). After your permissions are changed within a group, your posts may still end up in the submission queue, just not in the moderation queue any longer. Yes, you heard that right. LinkedIn’s response in the above isn’t holding water. I have the print screens to prove it.

The slippery slope of all of this: Think about the destruction and repercussions to your profile that one single group manager can cause.

  • One group owner being able to control your user experience on LinkedIn.
  • The effects on activity within groups putting members on guard that if they share something they may be booted & moderated across all other groups.
  • “Well LinkedIn is free, deal with it” is not always the case. We pay for upgraded accounts & actually pay for job slots to advertise. Insanely enough, even those paid for jobs will end up into the moderation and submission queues. I certainly will NOT pay for another job slot knowing I can’t share it within groups.
  • Think about sabotage by competitors.
  • Think about how this reflects and/or tarnishes your image on LinkedIn.
  • Think about the amount of time it will take to have your permissions changed. So far, it has been 6 weeks & 10 groups later. 5 groups total that I have left thus far because of lack of response. I have about 40+ more to go.
  • Think about groups you may want to join in the future. I can’t tell you if you’ll be moderated in new groups that you join because I still am waiting on an official policy.
  • And I’m sure there’s more.

So, if you find yourself fighting this battle, here is my suggestion.

  • Share this article into groups CAREFULLY or with the group owner. Write a brief note to the Owner of the group asking them if they are aware of this policy and ask them to get in contact with you because you are experiencing moderation within their group. (If you belong to many groups, I highly advising tracking when you reached out. This will help when determining if you should stay within that group).
  • Open a trouble ticket with LinkedIn Customer Support letting them know your profile is moderated across all groups. During your dialogue with the Group Owners, whom will tell you they know nothing about this, start to forward their responses back to LinkedIn Customer Support with your trouble ticket number in the subject line. At one point I counted 20 e-mails I sent along in one day. “Betsy” at LinkedIn Support probably wasn’t happy, but I got my point across.
  • Get your group owner on the phone and have them change your permissions with you on the line, (if they are receptive, believe you are creditable and make sure you understand their rules). Once changed, do a test. If it ends up in submission queue, ask the owner to send you a print screen of your test sitting in the queue as well as a separate print screen showing your permission has been set to “approved to post”. Send this information to LinkedIn Support with the trouble ticket number in the subject line.
  • If a Group Owner or Manager is not responsive, leave the group. Plain & simple.
  • Advocate to LinkedIn Customer Support for an official policy or better yet, to eliminate this (non-official, that nobody knows about, that is wrong on so many levels, and that labels innocent people as spammers) policy.
  • Urge the Group Owners to get in contact with LinkedIn Customer Support and lobby against this un-official policy, which has been implemented.
  • And remember, “you really are a creditable user, not a spamming loser”.
    • Jessica, I hope this helps your group get off the ground and that LI takes notice. I’ll have to see if I can work rethink some group memberships since I am at the max level…but you have my support!

    • Saket,

      Some of the changes I get, but don’t necessarily like especially if LI has to prioritize where they make their investments in new services. However, this change is not a service that benefits some of their paying users nor does it support building positive user reputations.

  1. Great article, Lynn, on a little-known LinkedIn policy change. I think you’re missing a “close italic” tag in your formatting, FYI.

    Like you, I’ve got to track back who flagged me and why. No small task as I’m quite active in more than 40 groups.

    You raise some great points about potential repercussions. I’m a little surprised that LinkedIn made such a poorly thought out and sweeping policy change (even if unofficially). This is the kind of “change first, think through it later” approach Facebook has frequently employed in the past that LinkedIn has always seemed to avoid.

    • Ashely,

      The majority of this article was from a reader who got caught in the cross-fires. My experience was minimal, but left me scratching my head…why is this person showing up in my moderation que in the group I manage. After talking to the reader directly, she agreed to share her story because I don’t want to see others going through the rollercoaster she’s been on. Good luck on turning your situation around.

      I appreciate the catch on formatting.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. LinkedIn’s policy to automatically punish someone across all their groups simply because a moderator has deleted a person from 1 group is rife with problems. For one thing it gives moderators a disproportionate and undeserved power to harm LinkedIn members.

    In my case, I made a courteous comment which partly agreed with something the moderator had said and partly agreed with another person with whom he disagreed. Believe it or not, the moderator instantly began making threats. In fact, he EXPLICITLY mentioned the damage he could do me as a result of deleting me from his group. No options were given except to grovel at his feet; and, in fact, he instantly carried out his threat for completely illegitimate reasons.

    When I reported this to LinkedIn, they fell back on their laissez faire policy. That would be ok if they hadn’t armed abusive moderators with disproportionate power to damage the LinkedIn experience and professional reputation of everybody else. But, as things stand, for LinkedIn to both (1) enable moderator abuse and (2) refuse to police the situation is grossly negligent.

    LinkedIn ought to correct both policies. They should begin by (1) monitoring for moderator abuse and taking corrective action and (2) remove a feature that automatically penalizes (and defames) LinkedIn members without justification. Such measures should be subject to LinkedIn review — not automatic or placed in the hands of moderators who may abuse them or trigger them inadvertently.

  3. I completely sympathize with all who have written in and congratulate you for starting this discussion here.

    Recently, I became a victim of the SWAM policy. Everything everyone has experienced and written about here and elsewhere including canned meaningless email response from LinkedIn customer service, I experienced it for last 7 days. The entire SWAM policy is almost as bad as when Instagram decided to change their policy about owning your photos. Nothing has changed within LinkedIn since people started writing about it in Feb-March of this year (you here a month ago).

    Being in the tech and executive world for a long time, I was wondering if we should consider “social wave” of complaints in a 36-48 hours period to raise the awareness… sort of Flash_AntiSWAM.
    I am wondering if any one has considered (with permission of the members concerned)
    (a) Finding members who work in LinkedIn and contribute in Groups — flag them.
    (b) Flagging group moderators who are in different groups and flag them in non-moderator groups.
    (c) Connections and friends who sympathize with your predicament, with their permission, flag them in a group, so they can complain.
    (d) If you are connected with any of the “Influencer”, flag them.
    Let all experience the consequences and then we will all collectively learn – experiential learning of sorts.

    (e) Also has anyone considered bringing this to the attention of bloggers who write about badly implemented policies. Declan McCullagh who broke the news about Instagram — his profile is http://www.cnet.com/profile/declan00/
    or someone from Ars Technica or Reddit etc.

    (f) On the same day, we work towards creating a twitter trend by posting concerns using hashtag #SWAM and any of the twitter handles @LinkedIn @LinkedInDev @LinkedInToday @LinkedInEng @LinkedInHelp @LinkedInNews @LinkedInIndia @LinkedInSelling @LinkedInFrance @LinkedInSelling @jweiner @LinkedIn_jobs @LinkedIn4Good @AdsOnLinkedIn @LinkedInSmBiz @LinkedInU

    If this is done in a coordinated way for a 36-48 hours period but in an open, transparent way by all here and others you can engage, then this “amplification” might get the attention we need.

    Feel free to connect with me or comment here.
    Three Cheers! to the wisdom of open, transparent discourse.
    Rini Das

  4. I agree with everyone that this SWAM crap by Linked needs to be completely repealed and trashed!!! VERY Bad policy!!!!!!

  5. We started a campaign — please join. We will get more media attention.
    Goal: STOP SWAM and Rectify our accounts.

    1. Change your profile picture to No Spam logo (available on http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=4911853&trk=myg_ugrp_ovr)

    2. Twitter: Change your profile picture to No Spam logo.
    (a) Tweet with hashtag #NOSWAM and

    (b) also add one of the following hashtags (these are twitter handles of LinkedIn but if they are not following you they can report you as spam). DO NOT use @ if they don’t follow you, use # instead
    @LinkedIn @LinkedInDev @LinkedInToday @LinkedInEng @LinkedInHelp @LinkedInNews @LinkedInIndia @LinkedInSelling @LinkedInFrance @LinkedInSelling @jweiner @LinkedIn_jobs @LinkedIn4Good @AdsOnLinkedIn @LinkedInSmBiz @LinkedInU

    (c) Some suggested messages, but y’all are veterans so you know what to do:

    1. #SWAM does not stop SPAM. It destroys community.
    2. #SWAM = Unfettered Censorship.
    3. #SWAM = No LinkedIn Group Engagement
    4. #SWAM = Stupidity X Arrogance

    (d) Then add Barbara Giamanco’s link http://scs-connect.com/have-you-been-swamd/ or this blog link.

    (e) Schedule posts every 1-2 hours if you use hootsuite or tweetdeck with different messages and hashtags.

    (f) Encourage your followers to RT.

    2. Do the same, as above on your facebook link but there you can skip the hashtags

    3. On LinkedIn groups that you belong and on your profile page: post messages that commend group moderators but say for example:

    “I love this group. I love how it is moderated. But you might get SWAM’d. It is a terrible censorship policy that does not stop SPAM but destroys your LinkedIn reputation. Let us all urge LinkedIn to stop and rectify this policy. Speak out by sharing on your home page.” Then share this link in attached link. http://scs-connect.com/have-you-been-swamd/
    or this blog link.

    On your LinkedIn profile’s picture — change it to No SWAM logo.

    Please support.

  6. It wasn’t so long ago that Jeff Weiner proudly said LinkedIn was all about “members first”. SWAM has shown how quickly a company can go off track. In early November Jeff Weiner explained to the New York Times:

    “So our culture has five dimensions: transformation, integrity, collaboration, humor, and results. And there are six values: members first; relationships matter; be open, honest and constructive; demand excellence; take intelligent risks; and act like an owner. And by far the most important one is members first. We as a company are only as valuable as the value we create for our members.”

    Less than two months later his minions implemented SWAM. As I write in my new blog post, SWAM is anything but members first.

    Read more in my blog at: http://www.projectweavers.com/linkedin-member-first-no-more/

    Thanks,
    Matthew

  7. Great discussion Lynn. Loved your article and read the corresponding comments.

    Here’s my 2c extra.

    To apply a single restriction from 1 group across the home page and all other groups of LinkedIn is a primitive and unsophisticated form of content control. Regardless of actual merit, this prevents someone from commenting on their own shares on the home page and makes no sense. How will those comments get approved?

    Working for a tech company myself and dealing with customers in a front-line capacity all the time, the answer given by LinkedIn is a stock marketing answer. While it is partly valid, it has holes.

    Who would think that automatically pending all postings without telling the affected user is undemocratic and not transparent? Most Americans would, I’m sure. Sounds a bit like a black-list and something to expect from a totalitarian regime maybe?

    To require a person to contact every group manager to ascertain where the problem lies is like having to contact all cities and towns I was in to find out where I got a parking ticket.

    I agree that LinkedIn should protect the integrity of group managers. If users have expectations placed on their use of the service, it seems unreasonable that group managers are not required to be available for contact to resolve issues. I’ve seen many complaints in this area from others.

    I get that groups have rules and I truly do my best to stay inside them, however the arbitrary nature of any one group owner/moderator can serve as judge, jury and executioner. In which century are we living?

    Keep up the good work.

  8. Funny thing, I use to have that problem about once a month and then it would clear itself after seven to ten day. So I stopped being a premium member and have not had that problem since. I have not missed it much and still use LinkedIn everyday. But their policy made me stop giving them money and now no more issues. So maybe they just target their paying customers thinking they are using LinkedIn to much. Silly thought, but who know.