linkedin endorsements launched this week. I believe that endorsements are a useful way to validate claimed skills on linkedin. but I think the current implementation is broken. here’s why.
linkedin endorsements are a good idea done wrong
recent site visitors have seen this popup above the profile they’re viewing. linkedin has used this tactic a lot in the past to encourage users to add to their own profile. now they are asking you to enhance someone else’s. the new feature builds on the skills feature introduced in 2011. linkedin blogged about the endorsement feature this monday 9/24/12:
With just one click, you can now endorse your connections for a skill they’ve listed on their profile or recommend one they haven’t added yet. Think your connection is great at programming AND project management? Let them know!
Here’s how you can endorse your connections:
- On the top of a connection’s profile, you’ll see recommended endorsements for them. You can suggest additional skills as well.
- You can also endorse them from the new Skills & Expertise section that now showcases these endorsements.
the feature acts as sort of a linkedin “recommendation lite” – I would even call it “recommendation free,” given its one click and done simplicity.
one endorsement, two endorsement, ten endorsements more!
clicking on the endorse button in the initial popup launches a parade of endorsement opportunities for other connections on linkedin:
four at a time they pass by, like ghosts from the past and present. I think of them as assisted rorschach exercises – see a face and a skill and give a quick thumbs up. the skills, of course, are drawn from that user’s own profile, so there is a bias in some cases toward positive thinking. susan says she’s good at basket weaving. I haven’t really seen that side of her, but mutual friends say she’s awesome. should I go along? it’s just a click…
getting what you pay for
and therein the rub. it is just a click. there’s no validation. when you want to connect with someone, linkedin asks for some context. try to connect with a stranger too often on linkedin and the service at least asks for an email address as evidence of some connection. endorsements lack even that – there’s no “how do you know dennis is a widget making guru?” I foresee the feature becoming another lion-type environment.
“LION”s, or linked open networkers, is a group that emerged on the service in 2007 or so – members invited anyone to connect, whether or not they knew them personally or professionally. lion status generally means at least 500 connections, although many members number connections in the tens of thousands (linkedin implemented a 30,000 connection cap in 2009). the bar is even lower for endorsements – there is nothing stopping a linkedin user from endorsing every skill for every contact. thus the credibility of the feature, which can use a lot of profile real estate (see below), comes into question.
first, as I said above, I think real endorsements are a good addition to the linkedin recipe. but the system needs a quality control mechanism. I anticipate that endorsements will become ranked based on the authority of the endorser. this is similar to the way in which search engines like google evaluate the quality of a link to a website. the evaluation process for ranking endorsements is complicated by the function-specific nature of the skill being endorsed – does the fact that one endorser is ceo of a large company carry more authority than an acknowledged expert who is a freelance consultant ? however, this approach will restore a semblance of believability in a world where someone might claim a thousand endorsements from questionable sources.
here’s what the skills section looks like in your profile:
as you can see, it won’t take long for that pretty section to get really crowded.
the second suggestion is for profile creators. I anticipate we will see a slimming down of users’ skills section as people consolidate to the most common terms for skills and the skills for which they know they can accrue a healthy number of endorsements. farewell long tail skill tree – that laundry list of skills is going to get a sniff test from your linkedin connections. (hint: if you feel the need to include name variants on your skill lists, try stashing them up in your profile with the spelling variants of your name. what, you don’t have a section like that in your profile? you will now!