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The closure of LinkedIn Answers closure could drive people away from the site.

The decision taken by professional social media website LinkedIn.com to close down their question and answer page is one that could damage the entire site.

It was announced last week that, from January 31st, the page will no longer be accessible to LinkedIn’s 200 million registered users. The site has decided to close down this area and will apparently be emphasising the use of groups in a similar fashion instead. The reason could be that, as Mashable has suggested, there has been a lack of people using it recently. However, shutting it down completely seems an unnecessary move.

LinkedIn AnswersBy accessing Answers, users could get advice in order to help them improve. For example, as PR experts, we were able to offer our knowledge and experience to help other users get what they needed to. It will be the same if you work in recruitment, web design, advertising or online gambling. There is always some way you could help someone out with a useful answer. I think the removal of this could lead to the rest of the site suffering due to a lack of engagement. Those seeking advice in their professional lives will be driven to other sites (I am thinking of Quora) and will therefore be less likely to use their LinkedIn accounts. Business2Community has looked at some of the alternatives, such as the shiny new Google+ Communities and Yahoo Answers. You can see what they have outlined here.

Also, as our friends at E-consultancy have suggested, the move towards groups and pages could lead to more spam appearing on the site. Whilst spam appears in the Answers section and it could be hard to find what you need sometimes, it also appears in the Groups section and can clog up the notices in each group, so it cannot be said that this move will completely eliminate it from the site. Its article states:

There is of course a solution: become a premium member. Get extra inmails and access to those you couldn’t connect with before. it’s a smart move by LinkedIn to drive paid registration, but may ultimately restrict growth as many users are unlikely to make the switch.

LinkedIn Groups, which aims to create interaction between users and therefore can be a place to answer questions, is limited in its effectiveness. Although you can set up your own group to find out what you want, it is more time-consuming than LQA has been, and is only accessible to those connected to it. It raises a question: Will people bother to use it as much?

Whilst it is easy to understand that spam can accumulate on a page like LinkedIn answers, it’s closure takes away an invaluable tool for professionals seeking advice from their peers.

People who used this tool a lot may be put off going on the site in the future and other invaluable pages on the site may be underused because of this. But enough from me what do you think? Has LinkedIn made a mistake or is it taking the right steps forward? Did you ever use Linked-in answers or was it just a load of cobblers that never got used properly by anyone?

How to visually connect your Linked-in contacts!

Chris Norton's NetworkI have just read a post by PR blogger Sherrilynne Starkie in which she highlights a new tool which has been launched called InMaps.

Basically the new service allows you to visualise your connections on Linked-in, it accesses the api and creates a pretty graphic grouping your connections by different colours. Then you the user have to go through these colours and decide what they show and how useful they are. I think the graphic is really clever and pretty but I am not sure how much added value I would actually get from sifting through the colours and tagging up each one in the legend. I have enclosed the YouTube video which explains what its all about.