LinkedIn Group Restrictions: Hand-slapping and Promises

August 7th, 2008 | by Jason Alba |

Earlier this week I saw a huge storm brewing about an e-mail that some LinkedIn users were getting from LinkedIn.  Basically, it said something like “you can only be in 50 Groups.  Trim it down asap, or we’ll do it for you.”

Their logic is summed up by Adam Nash, LinkedIn employee, on the GetSatisfaction complaint site:

“We’ve seen a tremendous boom in interest in LinkedIn groups this year, and we’re planning on launching some exciting new functionality to this area in the coming months. However, with the boom in excitement, we’ve also seen some abuse of the functionality.

The limit is an attempt to reign in potential abuse on the platform in the short term as we expand the functionality of groups. We’re definitely measuring and watching this area carefully, so we’ll expand this limit over time if technically possible.

Currently, there are a very small number of people outside of this limit, but we know that doesn’t help if you are one of them. We hope you and others will be patient as we work to make the groups platform on LinkedIn even more useful.”

They claim there aren’t many who this affects, and most are probably abusers anyway, so it’s not that big of a deal, right?  I’m only in 4 Groups, intentionally not joining many.  But there are some who are on hundreds, and some who have started hundreds.  What is going to happen to those who started over 50?  I don’t know – we’ll see how the chips fall.

There are multiple issues here, one is the way that LinkedIn is applying this new policy.  It’s not without bugs (for example, someone from the MVPF forum complained they couldn’t withdraw a request to join a Group).  But it does seem quite heavy-handed.  In that same Get Satisfaction thread, Scott Allen makes an argument that perhaps they are barking up the wrong tree, and limiting to 50 groups isn’t realistic (if you count all of your past employers, schools, etc.).

There is hope, substantiated by Adam’s comment, that more Group love is to come.  It has to come, if you ask me, because Groups are far from functional.  It’s funny to me that this has caused such a stir, considering there currently isn’t much value in joining Groups.

On the MVPF list someone made an interesting distinction – these are not social, communication, or collaboration groups.  These are “affinity” groups.  Think about all the people who put a sticker on the back of their car … it doesn’t allow them to communicate with other sticker owners, but it does show affinity to a cause, right?

That’s about how powerful group membership is on LinkedIn — For now.   The big question is, how social are they going to get?  Will it look more like Facebook groups?  Who knows… only time will tell.

For now, there are plenty of people who are ticked off about the heavy-handed way this is rolling out.

There is a little bit of buzz on blogs about th 50 restriction on Groups, you can see it here or here or here or here or here… and on Twitter!

  1. 9 Responses to “LinkedIn Group Restrictions: Hand-slapping and Promises”

  2. By Yves Hanoulle on Aug 7, 2008 | Reply

    Too make it worse, we only have a week or so to select groups. And that during holidays.

  3. By Nancy B on Aug 7, 2008 | Reply

    With Group Search came a realization? Did the powers that be at LinkedIn realize all along that by not enabling people to efficiently see groups they allowed an untenable number of groups to be created with only a handful of members in each?

    There are 3 ‘groups’ created for my college sorority. 1 is a chapter specific group… surprising that there is only 1… but that shouldn’t cause too much cross group membership grief… BUT the other 2 are ‘unofficial’ groups created to serve everyone… started by 2 individuals trying to fill the void by a lack of ‘official’ presence. When will the crackdown come on that kind of duplication?

    I am a member of ~20 groups and the only value I have seen is through the Q&A diversity from the business intelligence and software development communities…. Are that many groups needed to accomplish the interaction level that LI is trying to achieve?

    Somehow and somewhere there will probably be another layer of ‘rules’ set out when the pure count method doesn’t answer all ills. I do applaud LI for taking it slow… one kind of restriction at a time… hopefully it will be answered by a new functionality before the next restriction?

  4. By lewis on Aug 7, 2008 | Reply

    this is upsetting but I see where they are coming from . I am interested to see where the groups function ends up

  5. By Ari Herzog on Aug 7, 2008 | Reply

    I’ve heard through the LinkedIn Q&A boards that most of the complainers about the 50-group limit are your LIONs.

    Personally, I don’t look at one’s group memberships when contacting someone off the site. Moreover, I don’t see how one can belong to 20 groups on LinkedIn and actively contribute to each one. Join a Facebook group instead if you want to list meaningless blah blah on your profile.

  6. By Tom A on Aug 7, 2008 | Reply

    Just to clarify,

    The problem with the limit as I see it is that its being put into place after the fact with an arbitrary limit (Facebook has a limit of 200, but they have always had that). What happens in the future, if next week someone decides the ideal limit should be 20 or 2?

    Secondly, it goes against the whole consumer generated media thing where we the users are creating, voting and deciding with our behavior.

    So there are two reasons against the limit. I have my reasons for being in more groups. Basically for SEO and for a wider search capability etc. Just don’t see a valid reason for having fewer groups at this point. If a good reason was made clear I might be for it?

    [I’m a heavy user, earl user and have always been a paying user. Never an abuser]

  7. By Steve Levy on Aug 8, 2008 | Reply

    The most curious element of this discussion is the veiled belief that this was part of LI’s business strategy all along; as with most web-based services, I contend that LI’s strategy and policies have been bootstrapped only upon viewing the trends in user behavior.

    I suspect this is what Nancy B is alluding to…

    Give LI a business reason to retain open groups and they’ll probably acquiesce their strong arm position – unless they a 50 group limit as a means to monetize the groups upon which a new a la carte policy of pay for more may be put into place.

    In the end, as Ari noted, it’s only a small percentage of users who get all worked up over LI’s “rules du jour”; most others get along just fine. And expect LI to come up with new monetizing policies perhaps the a la carte one as above.

    It’s just business…

  8. By Bob Galigula on Aug 14, 2008 | Reply

    Call them to complain

    LinkedIn Corporation
    1840 Embarcadero Rd.
    Palo Alto, CA 94303
    Fax: 650-687-0505
    Feeling a bit disconnected? LinkedIn wants to help. The company is an online business network designed to help professionals find jobs, people, and services providers. LinkedIn offers four premium services: LinkedIn Jobs, LinkedIn Services, LinkedIn Groups, and LinkedIn Business Accounts. The company has grown to reach more than 5 million users nationwide since its inception in 2003. Investors include Sequoia Capital, Greylock, Marc Andreessen (co-founder of Netscape and chairman of Opsware), Joe Kraus (co-founder of Excite), Josh Kopelman (founder of, and Peter Thiel (co-founder of PayPal).
    Annual Sales (mil.) $3.0
    Total Employees 24
    Employees At This Location 24

    Chairman; President, Products Reid Hoffman
    VP and Chief of Staff Sarah Imbach
    VP Business and Corporate Development Keith S. Rabois
    VP Engineering Jean-Luc Vaillant
    VP Marketing Konstantin Guericke
    VP Product Strategy Allen Blue
    VP Client Products Jaime Templeton
    Chief Privacy Officer Duncan Work
    Director Corporate Communications Kay Luo
    Director Advertising David Hahn
    Director Technology Yan Pujante
    Director Operations Candy Mielke
    Director Product Management Lucian Beebe
    Director Sales Brendon Cassidy
    Senior Technical Recruiter Hilary Taubman-Dye
    Manager Corporate Development Steven Stegman
    Senior Systems Architect Ian McNish
    CEO Daniel T. H. (Dan) Nye Age 40

    I looked at their telephone numbers and using one of my handy dandy stab-in tricks I dialed a little beyond it. I can tell you 650 687 3615 is a live body! So will (probably be,
    3616, 3617, etc.) It seems they have 18 (of their 24?) employees listed so I’d stick close to the 3600 when dialing!

    Loretta Thomas Customer Support Liaison San Fran

    Poor thing, she’s about to get deluged. She’s there Ãs I checked!

    They also appear to have a customer support center in Omaha:
    Angela Burleigh Customer Support
    Sakessa Moss Customer Support
    Rob McClenahan Customer Support Professional

    William Conner Customer Support Professional
    Suzy Jackson Customer Support ;)
    By the way the company directory spills with just ONE entry – pressing A for any names starting with A,B or C gives you about ten names, and some of them appear to be first names starting with A, B or c as well as last names starting with same.

  9. By Jeff on Nov 12, 2008 | Reply

    I had a similar problem back when the initiated this. I had to dump nearly 50 of my groups that I had created a lot of which had members. Almost all of the ones I had established were based on technology that I work with daily and it was disappointing to have to dump so many groups that I started.

    Now many of my groups are approaching a new hurdle, the 2000 member limit they have on the groups….

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