Given the breakneck pace at which LinkedIn tends to change things, I don’t always get around to writing a blog post about every minor adjustment they make to their interface, processes, or capabilities. Recently, though, they’ve made a few fairly significant tweaks to the site that I definitely think warrant mentioning.
As always, some of these changes cause me to scratch my head in amazement, since they often seem extremely cavalier and mysterious in nature — and not always conceived with the interests of the end-user in mind. But then again, I also can’t say I’ve ever faced the challenge of trying to monetize a website with 300 million people subscribed to it. And regardless of whatever the exact rationale might be behind these changes, they’re happening, so all we can is understand and adapt to them.
First, the good news. As you’ll read at the article here, LinkedIn is returning to its roots and allowing users to now see the full details and profile information for ALL of their connections — 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Degree alike — versus restricting some data (like the ability to review the full names of 3rd Degree contacts) only to paid members. This is a very welcome change, since while there are some backdoor workarounds to this issue, many newer users of the site tend to get confused and frustrated when they discover they can only see the data on some of their connections, but not others.
The potentially bad news? While I haven’t seen this publicly announced as of yet (although I could have missed it) an acquaintance of mine called my attention to a new article on the “help” page of LinkedIn that indicates LinkedIn will now be clamping down on how many profiles a given person can look at each month. If you read the article here, you’ll note that LinkedIn is now instituting something called a “commercial use limit” that will track how many searches a given user runs in a calendar month — and will then block them after a certain number of searches is conducted, unless they pony up for a paid subscription. What’s more, while the site mentions a toolbar will be added to give you a sense of where you stand, relative to the limit, they won’t actually tell you what the limit is, exactly, in terms of how many searches a “non-commercial” user can run.
Again, this kind of ambiguity just doesn’t seem right given a site of this prominence. We’re all grown ups. Just tell us what the limit is and we’ll learn to live with it — or modify our searching patterns accordingly. Perhaps most of us “normal” users will never hit the limit and reach the point where our access gets cut off. Or instead, we’ll start off the month with a dozen or two searches (pretty typical for a job hunter) and then suddenly be blocked and forced to sign up for a premium account. It would be nice to know where they’ve set the threshold, however, so we can plan accordingly.
At any rate, time will tell how these new features fully affect the day-to-day experience of most LinkedIn users, but I wanted to get the word out about them, nonetheless, so they wouldn’t come as a surprise!
P.S. Incidentally, the acquaintance of mine who alerted me to the developments above works for a startup called saveforlater.com that is working on some sophisticated tools for manipulating LinkedIn data and exporting useful information from these types of sites. Feel free to get in touch with my contact Brian Forster here if you’re a recruiter, job seeker, or other “power user” who might want to find out more about the company’s offerings!