As a product guy and developer I would never handle some aspects of recruiting users the way LinkedIn does it which, quite honestly, is a bit sleazy.

I like LinkedIn, its probably my favorite social network (unless we’re talking about the golf variety).  LinkedIn really is great; no intrusive advertisements, spammy messages are well handled, and the newsfeed functionality that came out somewhat recently is fantastically engaging.  All-in-all, its a purpose built network that absolutely nails it and they deserve all the success they’ve had.

Two days ago when I was poking around on LinkedIn and saw I could connect my Gmail account to see who I’ve talked to that I haven’t yet connected with.  Sounds like a plan.  I clicked the button and then got the screen below.  With this screen I have no gripes.  The view shows people that I have emailed that have LinkedIn accounts and they are all selected by default.  This makes sense as I would probably rather start with the full list and prune from there.

linkedin1

I was surprised at the number of people.  I would say I pruned out well over half of them which were from support emails and people I really didn’t know.  The remaining people in the list were the reason I clicked the button.  Great feature!

After you click ‘Add Connections’ comes the part I just don’t get!  It then prompts you with all of the email addresses that it could not associate with existing accounts to invite them to use LinkedIn and has all of them selected by default.  See below.

linkedin2

 

Yeah, 373 emails.  Most of us have seen startup networks, especially five or so years ago, do things like this to grow their user-base.  Hell, a very small part of me would like to do this for my apps but it just feels invasive and icky to even propose that someone invite everyone they have ever emailed.  For a professional networking tool, this sort of practice is reprehensible.   I’m the first to admit that I screwed up clicking through this without reading but this interface clearly needs to employ an opt-in approach.

linkedin3I left some of the addresses uncensored to show how they don’t even put some intelligence into trying to trim the list.  I have no idea how many times LinkedIn has tried to recruit iTunesConnect ( the system you use to manage apps in the AppStore ) but you would think that they would eventually give up on that email address.

Moments later the emails started to roll in.  Many were acknowledgments of bug or support submissions.  Next came the “Joe Schmoe has accepted your invitation to connect” emails, most of which were people I had already connected with but received the message on an email address that was not associated with their LinkedIn account.  Face palm.

I’m embarrassed that I sent out these emails to everyone ranging from friends to very important business connections.  If you received an email from me, I’m sorry.  Rather than send another email I decided to leave well enough alone.   I won’t make this mistake again.

In the meantime LinkedIn… You guys clearly understand UI/UX.  Your site is great.  Your mobile experience is beyond great.  Changing this should be a no brainer.  If you guys need a hand from someone that apparently doesn’t read your captions, drop me a line!

EDIT:

iOS Screenshot 20140123-235548I didn’t expect this much traffic!  Any parents with kids 3 – 8, check out my free children’s book app (free and paid books inside).  Our most recent book is authored by a 2013 Doodle4Google top 5 finalist (out of 120k+).  Anyone who wants to write about it would go straight to the top of my all time favorite people list!

App: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/lil-readers-interactive-childrens/id741987182?ls=1&mt=8

Press Release: http://lilreaders.com/lil-readers-adds-justus-illustrated-by-nj-8th-grader/