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Latest Blog Entry: The Worst Linkedin Group Rules Ever

Here are the Linkedin group rules.  You can only wear black socks and if you smell like you are selling anything, you will be yelled at and rejected with fanfare.  (And we will talk about you for 30 minutes after we kick you out.)

If you have the cure for cancer, a tool like dropbox that will help save time or know of a program such as Lynn Taylor Protocals (Core Value Index), you will be reprimanded, removed and unappreciated. (Regardless of your intent and pureness of purpose.)

Linkedin Group owners and managers are getting extreme. The rules meant to protect group members from spammers or those people who don't understand are limiting opportunities.

By making rules so rigid, those participating are writing in fear and wondering: "Am I breaking a rule?" vs. "Am I having an impact?"

If you are a bit of a control freak and hoping to keep your thumb on every activity, you are attracting people who walk in rank and file, who are followers... not Linchpins.

What is most fun about the "rules" issue:  Anyone can create more than one Linkedin account.  By doing so you too can create a scenario where you talk to yourself and make it appear to be a real discusssion.  This can also happen on Facebook, Twitter, etc.  For those who are serious about being seen and pumping up their appearance, there is no stopping them.

Below you will find a REAL list of rules.

I did not make these up.  You will notice this is for sales and marketing executives.  Sales and marketing people protecting themselves from each other.  (You can read about why here)


Best LinkedIn Group for Sales & Marketing Executives 

100% Discussions - No blogs, articles or promotions. 

Please read our posting guidelines below before joining the group: 


Group Philosophy: We are not a group where people share interesting articles or blogs - we are a Peer2Peer discussions forum that uses a Q&A format. 

Top Two Posting Rules: 

(1)  All new Discussion Posts must be in the form of a question to drive discussion/idea exchange with other members 

(2)  Hyperlink-Free - All new Discussion Posts cannot include links to anything 

Other Rules: 


- Ask thoughtful questions that drive idea exchange 
- Share your thought leadership and experience in other people's discussions (not in your own) 
- Promote us to others 
- Flag posts as a promotion if they break the rules (helps us moderate/keeps group valuable) 


- Don't post links to anything 
- Don't ask questions related to what you sell 
- Don't answer your own questions 
- Don't blog or microblog 
- Don't promote anything (Contact Information, Websites, Polls, Events, Products, Articles, etc.) 
- There is no limit to adding value to OTHER member discussions. But when you are starting a new discussion, we ask that you limit it to one new discussion post every 2 weeks. 
- No posting JOBS anywhere except the job boards 


We posted a FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS / FAQs discussion under "Manager's Choice" to help you understand more about these rules and philosophies.


And there you have it.  The complete set of rules from this group:

linkedin group


The rules are needed?

Since each person who joins and uses Linkedin has to start from the beginning and learn what is "best practice", there are bound to be mistakes made and reputations ruined.  "I was just doing what it said to do in an ebook I bought from an Internet marketer."  This can hurt reputations quickly as someone follows such an ebook to become annoying and unhelpful. (You may be already annoying and need a few rules to keep you in check.)

Just as when going to dinner at your in-law's, you will want to pay attention to what is appropriate vs. what is obnoxious.  You do hope that if you say something inappropriate, someone will raise an eyebrow and give a nudge as a polite sign to STOP.  Kicks under the table work well for this.

There is an easy solution, take a workshop from someone like Matt Youngquist here.

Considering this group has 175,242 members since March 2008, maybe the strict rules are not as terrible as they first appear.  (Don't forget, the rules evolved as the group grew.)

Since there is an option to dig deeper into the data, here is more to consider:

linkedin group statistics

Many conversations about "sales" and there were 212 comments last week.

Since everyone has to abide by the rule of "start only one discussion every two weeks", the only option to participate is to comment on conversations of others.

Basically the structure is:

      1. "I have a question" and start a discussion. (Don't have too many)

      2. "I have an answer".  (You can offer plenty of answers but no links, no selling, no references to your products/services.)

  • Note that last week shows .12% comment response (# of comments vs total members)
  • Also note: The number of comments does not indicate # of members commenting.

The very restrictive rules are posted prominately in the header and yet 1,713 people joined the group last week.  This is a sign that people are looking for quality connection, not promotions.


linkedin group statistics2


As the numbers show, it was more than the previous week but don't you think a 1% growth in one week is significant?

A last page shows the statistic about how many discussions were started:

linkedin group statistics3

The rules have put a damper on discussions as they were intended to do.  Those who are members apparently don't have any questions to ask the hundreds of thousands of members. Who wants to make it public that they don't know something and/or take a chance and break a rule?

What you may have noticed:

There are no limits or rules about promotions (as long as they are posted in promotions).

There are no limits or rules about job postings (as long as they are posted under jobs).

What you don't know:

How many people are exchanging ideas, thoughts, links, suggestions, introductions privately?

There are no obvious statistic showing which pages have been read, reviewed, liked or shared.  

People are connecting one-to-one privately and there are no rules (or power) from group leaders or managers to change this.  Hopefully common sense, courtesy, consideration and respect prevails for quality conversations to happen.

Why this matters:

  • Things are rarely as they appear to be on the surface.  What you notice immediately is a large group and very restrictive rules.  These are not indications of whether you will have success or failure within the Linkedin group.  The owner and manager do not want this free Linkedin group to be a full time job.  
  • You are joining or starting a Linkedin group.  This where people are hanging out. Linkedin has automatic emails sent out to group members.  To not participate at some level with either a question or an answer is cheating the world of your expertise.
  • People still love to learn but are not ready to be persuaded (sold). There is a trend within Linkedin groups which reflects a reality in our world.  The reality is that people are very tired/worn/wary of promotions/selling/marketing but try to remain polite.
  • The click through rates on links inside Linkedin are very, very low. Dropping links and "promoting" website pages has very low impact. Test it.  Use a tool such as to measure the number of times your links are clicked.  You will see plenty of zeros.
  • Anyone in a group can flag your contribution with a click.  They have a bad day, got off the phone with a pushy sales person or could be passive/aggresive/paranoid person who needs medication.

Should you join the group above?  Yes.  Linkedin is now more commonplace and anyone can participate but everyone will have a different reason to join.  

You also risk getting kicked out since there will be people in the group who are "Nattering nabobs of negativism" looking for someone to play "gotcha" with.  

Will I join the group?  Not sure. There does appear to be a need since many questions in the group are easily answered. To participate and be always looking over my shoulder is not my style.  It is also important to connect with people who reach beyond the status quo.  Those who join or part of a rigid group and walk in rank and file have me puzzled.  

Albert Einstein said it well:

"He who joyfully marches in rank and file has already earned my contempt.  He has been given a large brain  by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice." - Albert Einstein  (1879?1955)

Even today Seth Godin talked about what it takes:

"The real question is, 'what are you willing to push through the dip for?' What are you willing to stand up for, bleed for, commit to and generally be unreasonable about? Because that's what's going to actually get done." - Seth Godin

I like the idea of joining a group where real conversations happen with authentic questions and answers provided by experts.  This is very attractive.  There are limitations to sharing what I believe in. 

The response is easy:  "If you believe so much, then start your own group, with your own rules." 

There are groups that actually ask for references and links:

linkedin group3

What's your take?  Leave a comment.

Do you think this is valuable to others?  Please share.

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