Linking Out of LinkedIn–Looking For a Better Risk and Safety Forum?

Linking Out of LinkedIn – Looking For a Better Risk and Safety Forum?

imageI wrote the article below in January last year and unfortunately the relevance,  quality of discussion and opportunity for learning on Linkedin, for me, has now reached an unacceptable low. The most popular posts on there, these days seem to be about the demise and “Facebookification” of LinkedIn!. I closed my account yesterday and wont be going back (I’ve been told my profile is still up but I am the only one who can’t see it now – how does that work?). The last straw was witnessing  some deluded, nasty and unnecessary attacks on some good people – this included cutting and pasting their comments and personal details into blog article with an out-of-context commentary and continued attack. For a “professional” forum to function properly this is, to put it mildly, totally unacceptable. It seems these people were attacked simply as a result of basic fundamental attribution error.

The positive, if there is one, is that they unwittingly provide great publicity for the work of Dr Long and others.

The concept of LinkedIn is a good one and I went looking an alternative. Unfortunately, unless you are into PPE or OSHA updates there just isn’t a place, that I could find, for like minded risk and safety professionals to discuss openly and respectfully on anything beyond traditional safety.

Please tell us in the comments about your experiences, thoughts and perhaps any alternatives you have found.

Linking Out of LinkedIn – Jan 2015

This afternoon I finally did something that I have been contemplating for a while, it took a little while but left me with a very satisfying feeling of having removed a considerable thorn from my side – I quit all of the LinkedIn Groups that I had been a member of! I may go back or join some new ones but for now a complete purge was the best option – and I feel great about it!

I first joined LinkedIn in the very early days, about 10 years ago, soon after starting my business, seeing it as a pretty useful professional networking tool and perhaps a way to get a little exposure for my fledgling business. The first few years were great fun. I connected (or linked up?) with past colleagues, people I had studied with and old friends whom I hadn’t spoken to in years – I had a small network of people I was close to or could work closely with, people who I knew or wanted to know. At the same time Facebook was growing as a social networking thing but I never really took to that. My kids gave me a hard time about LinkedIn and even labelled it “Facebook for Old People”.

The late George Robotham was also initially a fan of LinkedIn and wrote about his experience HERE. George saw it as a great alternative to the institutional forums and said: “I read and participate in a number of the LinkedIn OHS discussion forums. The personalities of the contributors show through in their posts. Some comments are poorly researched, come from a narrow knowledge base and display a resistance to change. Some display fuzzy logic in their arguments. Some are very insightful and very helpful”.

Then it seems that LinkedIn was then taken over by recruiters and dodgy marketers – perhaps the realisation by the operators that LinkedIn had to turn a bigger profit?. I spent most of my time deleting emails from recruiters saying I was perfect for this exciting new position or marketers telling me I needed to buy the latest snake oil. I admit to also getting carried away and agreeing to link to just about anybody who requested it – then finding they just wanted a job in Australia or wanted to sell me something.

At some stage I found out about the group thing and saw that as a great way to hook up with like-minded professionals. I discovered what seemed like some interesting risk and safety groups – a few with like 50,000 members! I figured that would be an awesome way to share with and learn from positive professionals but soon realised that only 0.001% of members are very active and that was mostly to flog the latest batch of snake oil, jump on the latest systems bandwagon, share the latest spud head news about fines and legislation or to blow their crusader trumpets about Zero or BBS. Many of my colleagues acknowledged and lamented these same realisations, some even started their own groups promising freshness, no more traditional rubbish, new ideas, positive discussions, a refocus, no spam………most of these groups soon suffered the same fate and were hijacked by the same people we were trying to escape from. Many of these regular contributors I am guessing would not normally have the captive audience they have online or the personality to express themselves in person?. Visit some of the Group Discussions now and it’s mostly the same boring stuff on all of them or………crickets!

Many other professionals share this disdain for LinkedIn, Dr Rob Long recently wrote in Social Media and Safety:Unfortunately, social media is not a very ‘social’ space and according to Keen (http://icer.msu.edu/person/andrew-keen) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAf__0k0l-c) (http://www.research-live.com/news/technology/social-media-risks-triggering-privacy-crisis-warns-andrew-keen/4003657.article), it has become a very dumb down space. I know many academics (including myself) who don’t write on Linkedin Groups any more because of trolls. I have my own evidence from this site that trolls become liars and are deluded, all for sake of ‘fun and entertainment’. So, one effect of social media on safety is a continued dumbing down of discussion. Rather than enabling discussion and debate, such is now disabled. The evolution of Linkedin Groups is but one example of this phenomena.”

LinkedOutI have seen some disgusting personal attacks on high profile professionals and academics like Dr Long which achieved nothing but show the ignorance of the attacker, scared away those who wanted to participate or learn and contributed further to the “dumbing down” of the industry.

Paul Frenette recently wrote on LinkedIn Pulse: “Over the past few months, I have noticed a constant and ongoing degradation of LinkedIn…originally designed as a professional/business site for connectivity, contacts and overall business purposes I now believe that it has succumb to the lowest common denominator of banal communication online and is no longer properly managed or administered.

Posts about religious doctrine, personal attacks, problems with relationships and so much more that do not belong here (and not just based on my feelings, but substantiated by the comments made) … maybe Facebook? I don’t know…but I do care, I want LinkedIn to return to what its purpose was and should be. I get spammed daily by people wanting to connect with me but they can’t offer a reason why, or don’t even have a substantive profile, etc.”

Having said all of that, although I am out of the LinkedIn Group thing, I still have some faith in professional online networking, forums and knowledge sharing.  I am trialling the new LinkedIn Pulse feature and have posted some 55 articles (See them all HERE). So far I am very encouraged by the number of people who have read these posts and by the positive comments.

As always I would love to hear about your experiences and whether there are any positive, intelligent groups in the LinkedIn network that may be worth participating in?

Do you have any thoughts? Please share them below