Open Letter to LinkedIn

Dear Mr./Mrs LinkedIn,

You have the most potential and most fuckups of any site on the web. I love you and I hate you.

The Good
You are THE defacto social network for professionals. There are plenty of times that your user interface does the right thing. Discovery of new people is usually pretty accurate. The interface to build your resume is excellent and has replaced paper resumes in many cases.

As a recruiting tool, you have become the best source out there. Craigslist has not innovated and you have become the place to get a job as well as recruit. I use LinkedIn as a powerful publishing platform for my blog. The brand is fairly strong and you are making money.

I’ll even give props to the new messaging UI. It makes messages more like texting. Lowers the barrier to messaging. I think it’s a good thing….maybe.

In short, LinkedIn has alot of good things that I can’t (don’t want to) live without.

The Bad
You are too closed-minded about being a platform. There are so many companies that can do interesting and useful things using your social graph. You can become the center of the universe by enabling plugins and opening up APIs to a wider audience. Don’t worry so much about privacy. You can trim back when you see abuses that bother people. You should have a “Dreamforce-esque” conference where thousands of companies depend on YOU to work.

Additionally, you need to ask the user for more coherent information. Help the world have up to date org-charts. It can certainly be opt-in. Allow people on their profile to say who they managed or who they worked for. Start the process of having the professional org tree of the world make sense.

Lastly, you really have to give at least a little bit of information on what kind of connection it is. There are people I really know in real life. These are not the same people who I just met, one time, at a conference. I need to separate these people. One is general audience and the other are colleagues. I think I would give different levels of communication preference to these groups. At minimum, I would not want the second group in my stream. It’s too noisy and I don’t know them.

The Ugly
You just updated the iPad app. Now, only portrait is available, not landscape. My usage has gone from about 5-10 min per day (every day) to zero. I don’t and won’t use my iPad in portrait mode. The keyboard is too small and it just doesn’t fit for me that way. Who made this decision? It’s insane. Almost all iPad apps work better in landscape than portrait. I HATE the new app and hate using it. Are you really seeing analytics that say usage is going up? I just don’t believe it.

Additionally, you have made it really hard, nearly impossible to remove someone from your connections. Even just seeing the number of connections you have is a game of “Where’s Waldo?” Make it easier on us. We actually want a decent UI to look at our connections.

You can be so much more. I see such promise and potential in you. You can be the most powerful network in the world. We spend more time at work than with our families. Facebook is not important to the work-world. Be the platform that we know you can be. Stop fucking up.




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