Rescuing LinkedIn from the Terrible Twitter Trash

Friday, February 17, 2012 at 18:00

I like LinkedIn. I know it’s a bit of a red-headed stepchild of social networks, but that’s probably just because they have a legitimate business model that actually makes money. That kind of thing just isn't sexy (unless you're a shareholder). It's also a genuinely useful tool for building and maintaining work-related relationships, for recruiting and for finding interesting work. I like the fact that I can separate all those work and career related relationships, updates and news within a single tool, and that it's not cluttered with personal trivia. It’s the only social network that has actually produced meaningful work connections for me that have resulted in real contracts and work opportunities.

As with most other social networks, my preferred means of following updates from LinkedIn is via Google Reader, by adding the update stream as an RSS subscription in Reader. I’m usually always logged in to Gmail/GApps, so it’s convenient to catch up on aggregated updates in just a few seconds without having to log in to multiple sites.

One aspect about the LinkedIn status feed that I do find annoying is all the “ is now connected to ” updates. For a new LinkedIn user, they can be a helpful way to build up your network, but once you have a couple hundred connections or so, they aren’t all that useful. All the people that are potential candidates for a LinkedIn connection (my criteria: I’ve met you and I have some idea of what you do and how that relates to what I do) are already in your network and the “now connected” updates are just noise in the feed.

The other and much larger annoyance with the status feed is a consequence of LinkedIn providing a tool to allow people to automatically import reams of meaningless crap important life-event updates from their Twitter streams. By my reckoning, this has resulted in a general ratio of interesting work-related updates to stupid coffee/lunch/bedtime updates of approximately one per ninety billion. Not an impressive signal to noise ratio. That change made the LinkedIn RSS feed even more frustrating, to the point that I was about to drop it from Reader altogether.

It would have been really smart if LinkedIn provided some controls for the content in your RSS feed that allowed you to choose what kind of announcements and updates you want to get and maybe they will, but for now the only option is to "drink from the firehose". I have two suggestions to address this. 

1) First, to you people who have linked up your twitter feed to LinkedIn updates: Just bloody STOP it already! Think of the children, save the whales, think globally, act locally, stick it to the man, stand up for the 99%, and just STOP that shit; you’re annoying the hell out of people. Instead, consider simply adding your twitter name to your LinkedIn profile and then your connections who are interested in the minutia of your non-work life can follow you there.

2) Second, for those of us who have LinkedIn connections that won’t comply with 1) above, I have a solution. I have created a Yahoo Pipe that will let you create a custom RSS feed from your LinkedIn RSS status feed that will filter out all “… is now connected …” messages as well as anything imported into your LinkedIn stream from twitter. You can find this tool here:

To use it, you’ll need to get the link to your own LinkedIn RSS feed. Since your network of connections are unique to you, so is the url for your RSS feed. To get that link, go to this page and copy the url from the "Copy the RSS link" text field.

Now go to the page for the LinkedIn junk filter pipe and Enter that address into the input field and select “Run Pipe”. 

After the pipe runs, you’ll see a filtered list of the latest items in your feed and have the option to consume your new customized feed in a variety of ways. This is another RSS feed that is unique to you. Use the Google button to add it directly to Reader or you can choose "Get as "RSS" to add your filtered-feed url to another RSS reader.

Now you can sit back and enjoy a nice stream of crap-free updates from your professional network. Wah-freaking-hoo. 

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