Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What the Crap, LinkedIn?!?

Apparently the root cause of my Linkedin generic "There was error" issues is an unadvertised 30,000 connection limit, based on some new (albeit vague) feedback from their 'Privacy Team' which also quotes the User Agreement.

Hi Christopher J.,

Thanks for your reply. You have reached the maximum limit for connections.

LinkedIn takes the act of connecting very seriously, and our User Agreement states that one should only connect with individuals they personally know. Due to this policy, it is in everyone’s best interest to have a maximum connection limit in place. This limit cannot be increased or modified for any of our members. We suggest that in order for you to connect with others that you review your current list of connections and remove those that may no longer have value.

We will need for you to complete this action in order for us to grant additional invitations to your account. As an ongoing practice it would be beneficial for you to constantly manage your connection list and to only maintain those that bring you the highest relationship value.

Thanks for seeing value in LinkedIn’s Invitation feature and for your assistance in making LinkedIn a professional and trustworthy site.

Sincerely,

LinkedIn Privacy Team

No worries there, easily fixable through some open-networker connection cleaning. So much time would have been saved if there was just something out there with this limit clearly listed, but whatever.

So I asked where the limit is documented to figure out where I should have seen it, and what in the 'User Agreement' they are referencing as I found no real section that specifically applied. . .

Michael --

Thank you for the info

Though I am annoyed that it took two separate support tickets to do so, I appreciate that somebody finally was able to tell me what is going on.

I did have a few followup questions

1) I'm not finding any documentation concerning a 30,000 connection limit. Can you help point me towards that information?

2) Also, while I did find the user agreement, I do not see anything in it that prohibits connections from those I do not "personally know" . Only that I can not seek to connect to somebody I do not know *or* do not trust. I trust my connections, and most of them connected to me directly and not the other way around. But regardless, I'm not seeing the reference you're making to the user agreement

Thank you again for your feedback. Please understand that I am not trying to petulant or argumentative with my followup questions -- just trying to better understand your perspective

Christopher J. Marcinko

. . .they immediately responded with. . .

Dear Christopher J.,

We are happy to help you understand how the LinkedIn site and services operate and to provide guidance on specific situations that you are experiencing. However, we cannot interpret the User Agreement or Privacy Policy for you or tell you how it would be applied in any hypothetical situation or any case not specifically addressed in those documents.

Regards,

Michael
LinkedIn Privacy Team

In one breath they're telling me that they can not interpret the user agreement for me, or how it would be applied in a hypothetical situation or in any case not specifically addressed in those documents.

And they say this, just after using their last breath to interpret the user agreement to their own benefit in this real world situation, which is also not specifically addressed in the document.

Then as a value added plus, I can see in the 'Support History' section of their help site that they are closing the ticket every time they respond, regardless if my questions are being answered.

A followup email asking for clarification was sent. . .

Michael --

Um, ok. I'll be honest, I'm not understanding your response. You're telling me that you can not interpret the user agreement for me, or how it would be applied in a hypothetical situation or in any case not specifically addressed in those documents

But in your previous comments, you specifically interpreted the user agreement in a real non-hypothetical situation that is not specifically addressed. In one breath you're telling me that you can not do something, but in the last breath you did freely did just that.

With respect -- that doesnt make any sense to me. I understand that you're pushing a company line and you're probably simply just sending out management approved responses to what is usually a heated conversation. And please note that I have no anger against either the line, these 'approved responses' or your actions.

Your statements appear to conflict though.

It would be a lie for me to say I understand why the tone of the mgmt approved responses are what they are, and why they are unquestionably vague compared to other detailed responses I usually receive concerning technical support inquiries. Though I might be able to make
an educated guess.

But for what its worth -- while I am mature enough to write it off as what it is -- I can see where any number of those others who have come across this problem may not be. And pushing a vague response would only magnify the perceived frustration, and perhaps does not meet a base level of customer service assumed to be granted to all users.

And yes, I know there's no SLA defined in the user agreement either. I'm just trying to give some *constructive* customer feedback on the situation. Use it, forward it, ignore it. Your call.

Moving on --

Regardless of my thoughts on the that question -- my other question is still pending. Can you point me towards official Linkedin Documentation concerning the 30,000 limit. As I correct the situation on my end, I want to make sure I fully understand the limits set forth by the linkedin Privacy team as so we can both focus on more important things in our day to day.

Thanx again for your help

Christopher J. Marcinko

Which got this. . .

Hi Christopher J.,

Thank you for sharing your comments on how we can make LinkedIn better. Feedback from members like you provides us with many insights that identify the needs of our customers. I sent your message to our research and development team for review and consideration in future developments.

Although every idea cannot be individually responded to or implemented, please know that we do monitor suggestions quite closely for recurring themes. I would like to invite you to follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/linkedin or check out the LinkedIn Blog http://blog.linkedin.com for the latest notifications on site improvements. Both options are great ways to stay informed about new releases and exciting work going on behind the scenes here at LinkedIn.


Regards,

Michael
LinkedIn Privacy Team

Which still didn't answer my question, so yet another request for direction. . .

Michael,

I appreciate you're giving me a managed approved form response to my individually thoughtout and written feedback -- and that you're required to do so.

But to be honest, it's starting to make me feel placated

That said -- my question is still unanswered.

-- I'm not finding any documentation concerning a 30,000 connection limit. Can you help point me towards that information?


Christopher J. Marcinko

Which got another rehash of the "We can not interpret the User Agreement for you" form email. . .

Hi Christopher,

Thank you for your response,

As stated in the previous messages, We cannot interpret the User Agreement or Privacy Policy for you or tell you how it would be applied in any hypothetical situation or any case not specifically addressed in those documents.

Regards,

Michael
LinkedIn Privacy Team

To which I responded as one last shot to get a straight answer. . .

Michael,

Im sorry, i think there is some confusion

I'm not challenging your user agreement comments. I have provided my feedback on the matter, and have (again, with respect) basically just assumed that your leadership is requiring your team to respond with the generic form letter you have already sent.

My final pending question is simple. I just am looking for where the max 30,000 limit is documented. It's my thought that any other hard/static limits would also be documented.

After all, we both have better things to do with our day than deal with this specific issue. I just want to stay in compliance long term.

Christopher J. Marcinko

Which, to Michael's credit -- he did step away from his team's form letters and tried to answer directly (if only by quoting the User Agreement Policy). . .

Hi Christopher,

Please see section 4 OUR RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS:

Part D:

Connections and Interactions with other Users.

You are solely responsible for your interactions with other Users. LinkedIn may limit the number of connections you may have to other Users and may, in certain circumstances, prohibit you from contacting other Users through use of the Services or otherwise limit your use of the Services. LinkedIn reserves the right, but has no obligation, to monitor disputes between you and other members and to restrict, suspend, or close your account if LinkedIn determines, in our sole discretion, that doing so is necessary to enforce this Agreement.

Regards,

Michael
LinkedIn Privacy Team

This seems to be final answer (if not the standards list for which I was requesting), and I believe Michael has been able to give me all the info he has been allowed to on the matter. I closed the loop, and thanked him for his time. . .

Michael,

Thank you

Forgive my confusion.

Because you referenced a mandatory limit being applied in my situation, I was expecting your team to simply reference mandatory standards document listing applicable limits. One I could quickly reference at a glance. One that I could easily adhere to.

I was not expecting just a vague "We have the right to do this at our discretion" policy document without any criteria defining the limits standards you are specifically referencing

I'm gathering from my own searches and your feedback that such a true standards document of limits does not actually exist and that your team is simply enforcing an undocumented policy that users are expected to know, without given any reason to actually know.

And to be honest, I really expected more from such a mature service as LinkedIn.

I appreciate the your personal efforts to resolve my confusion. I have no ill will towards you as a person or the Linkedin Corporation. And I recognize you are simply trying to work within the parameters set forth by your leadership.

I hope in the future, such things can be better documented and advertised as so we can both spend our time on far more important matters.

Take care

Christopher J. Marcinko

And sadly, Michael stepped back into his form letters, cutting/pasting/resending the standard 'thank you for your feedback' response. . .

Hi Christopher J.,

Thank you for your response,

As stated in the previous messages, you feedback from members like you provides us with many insights that identify the needs of our customers. I sent your message to our research and development team for review and consideration in future developments.

Although every idea cannot be individually responded to or implemented, please know that we do monitor suggestions quite closely for recurring themes. I would like to invite you to follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/linkedin or check out the LinkedIn Blog http://blog.linkedin.com for the latest notifications on site improvements. Both options are great ways to stay informed about new releases and exciting work going on behind the scenes here at LinkedIn.

Regards,

Michael
LinkedIn Privacy Team

He may or may not be a real person. Who knows.

And clearly this 30,000 connection limit is an undocumented standard. One they don't want to officially advertise, for whatever the reasoning that might be behind it. Seems like they really really REALLY want their users to understand the rules they're expected to work under, but they don't want to proactively list them for anybody on the outside of LinkedIn to reference. Very weird.

And I'm not sure why they're being so secretive about this after the fact either. Though I gather they're usually responding to angry people (something I'm not) about this apparently undocumented standard. And have developed a management approved response pushing the company line when the complaints come in. (Regardless if it would only make an angry person, well, far angrier)

But good golly. A standard level of customer service requires some professional decorum. That's true in any service, free or otherwise.

That said, I have found no SLA for customer service in their 'User Agreement' either. And as I "cannot interpret the User Agreement for any hypothetical situations", I guess only LinkedIn really knows if one is actually in place. Or if it would even apply to situations that do not directly benefit their team.

Sigh. At least posting this may/will help the next guy running into the same problem.

Back to other (actually important) things in life.