Why LinkedIn Frustrates Me

March 31, 2009
81 Views

Let me start by saying that I really like LinkedIn. I use it as everything from a self-updating address book to a gateway to professional communities like the enterprise search professionals group. I am delighted by the information LinkedIn has assembled about companies just by aggregating user profiles. In short, I take LinkedIn quite seriously as a professional networking tool.

With that preamble out of the way, I’d like to vent a bit about LinkedIn’s approach to search. Directories are a poster-child domain for faceted search. LinkedIn specifically has high-quality semi-structured data, since users are personally incented to optimize their own findability. Moreover, the process doesn’t even seem adversarial–I haven’t seen any Joe the Scammer claiming to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company (oops, bad example). LinkedIn has done the best job I’ve seen of aggregating high-quality data about people’s professional history–in a volume that is not only unprecedented but more importantly is large enough to be broadly useful. And the site designers clearly care about search: they still proclaim above the search box, “New Improved Sea

Let me start by saying that I really like LinkedIn. I use it as everything from a self-updating address book to a gateway to professional communities like the enterprise search professionals group. I am delighted by the information LinkedIn has assembled about companies just by aggregating user profiles. In short, I take LinkedIn quite seriously as a professional networking tool.

With that preamble out of the way, I’d like to vent a bit about LinkedIn’s approach to search. Directories are a poster-child domain for faceted search. LinkedIn specifically has high-quality semi-structured data, since users are personally incented to optimize their own findability. Moreover, the process doesn’t even seem adversarial–I haven’t seen any Joe the Scammer claiming to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company (oops, bad example). LinkedIn has done the best job I’ve seen of aggregating high-quality data about people’s professional history–in a volume that is not only unprecedented but more importantly is large enough to be broadly useful. And the site designers clearly care about search: they still proclaim above the search box, “New Improved Search!” (see my earlier review here).

Why is faceted search so valuable for directories? Because finding someone is often a task that calls for exploratory search. Unless you’re looking someone up by name (and hopefully by a unique name), you’re not performing known-item search. Rather, you’re looking for a potential employee, employer, business partner, or expert. You may not even know what you want until you have a sense of what’s out there–the different companies in the space, the different relevant job titles, etc. Moreover, now that LinkedIn has a significant amount of text associated with its  users (e.g., the Q&A section and forums), it could do a much better job of linking people to the content they produce.

I understand that uniting the social network functionality of LinkedIn with search is hard enough, and that introducing faceted search makes the problem that much harder. But it’s not impossible, and the value of such an application more than justifies the effort. So far, LinkedIn has benefited from having the best data. But users have no incentive to give LinkedIn exclusive access to that data. LinkedIn knows this, and its increasing emphasis on community will surely make it harder for someone to compete just by offering better information seeking support.

Still, the core value proposition of LinkedIn is tightly bound to the site’s search functionality, and LinkedIn would do well to take a more modern approach. Doing so would increase the site’s value dramatically, and I’m certain LinkedIn would find ways to monetize that value.

Link to original post

You may be interested

How SAP Hana is Driving Big Data Startups
Big Data
298 shares3,066 views
Big Data
298 shares3,066 views

How SAP Hana is Driving Big Data Startups

Ryan Kh - July 20, 2017

The first version of SAP Hana was released in 2010, before Hadoop and other big data extraction tools were introduced.…

Data Erasing Software vs Physical Destruction: Sustainable Way of Data Deletion
Data Management
62 views
Data Management
62 views

Data Erasing Software vs Physical Destruction: Sustainable Way of Data Deletion

Manish Bhickta - July 20, 2017

Physical Data destruction techniques are efficient enough to destroy data, but they can never be considered eco-friendly. On the other…

10 Simple Rules for Creating a Good Data Management Plan
Data Management
69 shares672 views
Data Management
69 shares672 views

10 Simple Rules for Creating a Good Data Management Plan

GloriaKopp - July 20, 2017

Part of business planning is arranging how data will be used in the development of a project. This is why…