Professional networking site LinkedIn’s decision to retire its discussion board has been criticised by users, with one describing it as the “worst business decision of the millennium”.
The company, in an email to members, had said it would scrap ‘Answers’ – LinkedIn Q&A forums – from the site on January 31 to concentrate on new products. LinkedIn’s digital project manager Kenneth Lang later confirmed the decision, promising major upgrades to the professional news, commentary and conversation features on LinkedIn.
“To ensure we focus on building the best products, we’ll be retiring LinkedIn Answers on January 31 and it’ll be removed from our site. Instead, we’re focusing our efforts on developing new and more engaging ways to share and discuss professional topics across LinkedIn,” he said.
The news of the retirement of the LinkedIn Q&A forums has stirred a reaction from within the LinkedIn community, with some members claiming “it is catastrophic”.
“The ‘retirement’ of the LinkedIn Q&A Forums has to be LinkedIn management’s worst business decision so far for the millennium,” Charles Caro, Rebounders United’s executive director, said.
According to some experts, ‘Answers’ has proved a source of authentic information used by professionals across the board, and, aside from the decision betraying user confidence in the company, it also betrayed their loyalty.
“Literally thousands of people have contributed to the LinkedIn Q&A Forums over the years on a purely voluntary basis, and now LinkedIn ‘retires’ the LinkedIn Q&A Forums without so much as a “Thank You” for all the countless hours donated to LinkedIn,” Caro said.
‘Answers’, which is similar to the Q&A site Quora, is a forum that allows LinkedIn members to post and get advice on business questions from professionals. Those answering the questions can further establish themselves as experts in their professional fields if the community members approve their answers consistently.
According to LinkedIn, however, a number of features in the ‘Answers’ forum are “redundant”, prompting the decision to focus on more vibrant products. Some analysts, however, claimed that from the outset LinkedIn gave the forum little priority, causing the redundancy of some of its features.
Caro is lobbying for the reversal of the decision.
“I know of at least one person who has created a screenshot of their listing on the LinkedIn ‘All Time Top Experts’ list. Perhaps everybody on the ‘All Time Top Experts’ list should grab a screenshot of their listing and send it to LinkedIn using the “Contact Us” link found at the LinkedIn Help Center, which is one of the very few places where a member can actually attach a file,” he said.
LinkedIn, which seems to shift focus to ‘Groups’, recently launched its Influence programme, in which it selects business luminaries for other community members to follow.
Launched on May 5, 2003, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with more than 187 million members.
The site has over 1.5 million groups designed for meeting others with specific interests, polls for getting instant feedback on a question and status updates that serve as conversation-starters among peers.