One of the unfortunate design flaws in LinkedIn is found on the page where you accept or reject an invitation. There are three options:
- Accept the person as a new connection,
- Declare that you don’t know the inviter, or
- Archive the invitation.
Now I’m not going to claim that I’m a better designer (I’m sure you can find a list of design flaws in JibberJobber), but I also don’t have tens of millions behind me in funding and revenue. So, there’s my small print… this is not a slam on LinkedIn, but it’s something that you need to know about.
As someone who invites others, you should know that if they click on the I Don’t Know (IDK) button you start the path to be penalized. All it takes is five people who click on the IDK button and you will have part of your account “locked.”
This is why I strongly encourage you to invite someone OUTSIDE of LinkedIn, confirm that they will connect with you, and then invite them through LinkedIn. It is a little more work but after they confirm they will connect, it’s less likely they will click IDK.
As someone who is invited by others, you should know that clicking on the IDK doesn’t really mean you don’t know them… it means “slap their hands!”
Usually you’ll get invitation requests from people that you do know. But sometimes you’ll get invitation requests from people you don’t know, but they know you! Scott Allen once said (in an e-mail to MLPF, I think) that he gets invitations from people he doesn’t know, but they heard him speak or read his book. They feel some kind of connection, and want to have a relationship with Scott… is that bad?
Just because Scott doesn’t know them, should he IDK them? Should he slap their hands, just because he is in a more public spotlight, and they liked his message? I’ve found the same thing, over the last year, with speaking, blogging, writing, etc., I’ll get invitations from people who I don’t know… I’ve only IDK’d two people in my entire history on LinkedIn and that is because I knew they were network spammers.
There’s one more confusing element that adds to this poor design, and that is the archive button. Archiving is a common thing to do in LinkedIn…. instead of deleting, it allows you to access the information later. The problem is, I don’t want to archive an invitation. I want to accept it or decline it, not put it into a bucket that “I might go through later.” This just adds to any mental clutter that I’m already managing.
Unfortunately, it makes IDK look more like delete, because it makes the invitation go away, which is the goal (if I don’t want to accept the invitation).
So, the three options really look like this:
- Accept the person as a new connection, –> ACCEPT
- Declare that you don’t know the inviter, or –> DECLINE/DELETE
- Archive the invitation. –> I’LL GET TO IT LATER
Declining/deleting doesn’t seem harmful (even if we are prompted that it might penalize the other person)… heck, we delete e-mails all the time!
Anyway, hopefully LinkedIn will fix this in 2008 (I’ve been hearing “hopefully they’ll fix it soon” during most of 2007), and hopefully you understand the issue more, and keep your account from getting penalized!