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Small but telling LinkedIn gripe
I just ignored an invitation to connect that I got on LinkedIn. When I did so, it asked me why I was ignoring it, and offered me two options:

-- I don't know this person
-- The invitation was spam

There was no "other" option presented. And, notably, the usual reason why I ignore LinkedIn invitations was missing: I just plain don't want this person in my LinkedIn network. I mean, I do know him slightly, from an online forum. I have found him to be a somewhat self-important ass who doesn't listen to other people. My primary criterion for accepting a LinkedIn invite is, "Would I recommend this person for a job?", which requires knowing someone pretty well, and trusting their ability to perform well in their chosen field. He doesn't qualify.

Of course, I simply ignored LinkedIn's request for a reason -- I essentially said "other" by closing the window. But there's a subtle social pressure there, a message from the service (and I'm not sure whether they're doing it intentionally) that the only *legitimate* reasons for ignoring a request are because it is abusive. That's a dumb mistake, especially for LinkedIn above all the other social networks. Their only real advantage is the fact that people *don't* use it like Facebook, accepting friend requests indiscriminately; folks who understand it well use it as a Rolodex, building up more genuine trust networks.

If LinkedIn was smart, they would be focusing on that -- encouraging *better*, well-defined networks, which requires a real measure of selectivity. Instead, they seem to be tacitly falling into the usual social-network trap of assuming that Bigger Is Better. They may come to regret that missed opportunity, especially if somebody else figures it out and pounces...

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Agree. Lots of people I know have levels of filter for LinkedIn; mine is "would I cook a meal for this person or let them crash at my house." Others have more stringent (often job-knowledge related) or less, but they are all valid.

LinkedIn: "Do I have believe this person would do their job well?"
LiveJournal: "Do I like to read what this person has to say?"
Google+/Facebook: "Do I think this person would friend me immediately if they realized I wasn't on their flist?"

Just so. I just wish LinkedIn was more serious about its place in the ecosystem.

And now that I think about it, there's probably a fortune to be made by whichever social network generalizes this problem correctly. These questions are essentially trust functions over the larger social network. If you simply allowed the community to define the functions, and let individuals say which people fell into which categories, you could then build really powerful mappings. The data-mining potential is both glorious and terrifying.

(Wouldn't be hard, either -- just allow the community to define categories, and let individuals apply them to circles/lists/flists.)

As it is, these questions essentially get answered functionally. LinkedIn's question is driven by its conscious promotion of friend-of-a-friend job-seeking; LJ's by the fact that it is a hybrid blogging platform and social network. But in the hypothetical perfect social network that did everything decently well, one might have to be a bit more conscious about it.

Things for me to keep in mind for future projects...

Hear hear. My LinkedIn threshold is a little weaker than yours (and there's decay either way; see below), but it's basically "do I know this person well enough to speak credibly about his professional abilities" mixed with "what consequences, good and bad, might come from us being seen as linked". But what I really want is to refine the linkages; rather than yes/no it should be, as you say, community-defined categories.

About decay: one problem I have is that I'll work with somebody (now or recently) and so be able to speak about this person, accept an invitation... and then time passes. LinkedIn has been around for a while; I have connections to people about whom I now say "wait, who is that again?" even though I didn't back then. But there's basically no culture of breaking links, so to do so is Serious, so I don't. (I've broken exactly one link, after someone fell into one of those pyramid marketing schemes like Tupperware or Mary Kay or whatever and started spamming about that. No, our previous professional connection does not give you the right to do that...plonk.)

"the only *legitimate* reasons for ignoring a request are because it is abusive"

I find this particularly amusing, and not a small bit ironic. I do NOT use LinkedIn. Sure, I may in the future, but as of now I do not. Quite a few times over the past years someone has tried to add me to their network. Some of these are people I do know (professionally or otherwise), and some are people who picked up my name or email address somewhere. But in any case, I accept NONE of these requests.

But I can't simply refuse them. In order to do so, I need an account. LinkedIn, therefore, keeps sending me unsolicited messages, without my consent, though they do eventually give up after some number of attempts. Their multiple attempts to contact me do (according to some) constitute abuse. So they'll let you stop someone else's abuse, but their own is A-OK with them.

Linkedin is not very social, actually; it's more about marketing. There's no way to grade connections, or add them to custom groups.

I was very selective for years, but eventually wound up accepting almost everybody, except most of recruiters.

The way to ignore is delete the email and move on :-p

Probably true, but if LinkedIn is training its members to ignore and delete its emails, they're doing it wrong...

I wince about this. I recently spammed *all* of my contacts (and there are quite a few) with linkedin invites after I had to reinitialize my phone and hit a wrong button somewhere setting things up.
A number of people sent nice emails saying they didn't "do" linkedin or somesuch--and I sent apologies for the spam . . .

Yeah, I deeply despise the modern tendency for social networks to try to suck in and spam all your contacts.

(I should remember that this is a misfeature for Querki to specifically avoid. I wonder if I need to start making a list of, "We are not going to do this" decisions, to hand to some hypothetical marketing manager someday...)

Seems to me linkedin knows (or thinks it knows) how to monetize its members' networks by quantity but hasn't a clue how to do so by quality. (Which may imply more credit than they deserve, to the extent that it implies that they're smart enough to have figured out that finding a way to do so by quality would be a win for all concerned.)

Me, I either accept linkedin requests or ignore them. And try very hard to only connect with people whose professional skills I can attest to.

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