Social Networking Update

So, in the span of a few weeks, I’ve gone from having nearly no social networking experience to having accounts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, Del.icio.us, and Flickr. Aside from always thinking I’m supposed to spell Twitter with no ‘e’, the hardest parts have been deciding where to post things, and how to aggregate all this stuff, as well as my blog. I suppose, if I sign up for a couple more services, then I can follow this article and post all of my Twitters and Jaikus and Pownces at the same time. I could even include my Tumbleblogs from Tumblr, except that I don’t have a Tumblr account. Not yet anyway. I’ll probably have one by tomorrow. Of course, they would all wind up in my Facebook profile, but then I’d have three or for duplicate entries for everything I did. Talk about information overload.
Right now, I can display my Twitter and Jaiku posts in my Facebook profile, but the only Pownce application I can find for Facebook is currently broken.
I’ve been thinking about turning my personal blog (or at least, the articles I mark as “Personal”) into entries on my Facebook profile. That would let me share all of the gory, personal details that nobody wants to read with only my closest friends! (Seriously, who wants to read all these self-important personal updates? Do you really care what kind of toothpaste I’m using?)

Facebook is World of Warcraft (in disguise)

It just hit me, while I was scouring my old address book and AIM buddy list, that social networking is really a MMORPG in disguise.

For the last three nights, I’ve spent more time digging through my old contacts, address books, buddy lists, and memory than I have killing orcs, retrieving Rethban Ore, and mining Fel Iron! My wife says I’ve spent as much time grinding through my contacts as she has spent grinding for rep in Felwood.

Take today, for example. Here I am, after a full day of work, and a couple of hours of WoW, and what am I doing? More work! (Say that with a woodcutter accent.) My LinkedIn network is 80% complete. I just invited another colleague. That will put me at 85%. But wait, that’s not all! Once that’s done, I need to finish my profile. Yes, I need to quest to get my profile complete too. I need to post my resume, my interests, and my past work experience, etc. All of these things add up to a complete profile, which, I guess, is kinda like hitting 60. I’m assuming there will be more afterward, like, the LinkedIn Expansion Pack or something. Maybe the “Job Hunting Crusade?”

I have even contemplated using LinkedIn or Facebook’s built in “invite your contacts” (read “spam”) feature, to invite people who are not part of said network, to join. So far, my hatred for spam has outweighed my temptation to do this, and I have not sent an invitation to anyone who is not already a member. But I thought about it…

And don’t even get me started on my lame Facebook account, with four measly friends in it, one of whom I cannot even say “how I know” because Facebook does not have an “Other” option like LinkedIn. The more I compare these two social networking sites, the more I think of World of Warcraft versus GuildWars. “This one has henchmen!” “Oh yeah, this one lets me invite people from my Yahoo! Messenger account!” The parallels are shockingly similar…

Here are some interesting parallels. Draw your own conclusions.

Facebook World of Warcraft
Groups Factions and Guilds
Friends Friends
Messages, a primitive email system Mail, a primitive email system
Actions (poke, bite, lick, etc.) Emotes (poke, bite, lick, etc.)
Applications Add-ons
Messages suggesting you should join a network Automatic subscription to “guild recruitment” channels
“Invite a friend links” on your home page Free 10-day trial on your Launcher
Tutorials on how to use your account for business Leveling guides

LinkedIn Recommendations: As Useless as eBay Feedback?

I recently was invited to set up a profile on LinkedIn. I wasn’t going to bother with it, but with all the hype around social networking, I decided to give it a shot. So I signed on and slowly started the process of building my network.

Because I am a staunch hater of spam in all forms, I refused to simply upload my entire address book to LinkedIn and let them either peruse it or use it to send unsolicited emails to everyone in my contacts. Instead, I decided to just see what happens.

My original invite came from a colleague of mine. I added him to my network, then used LinkedIn’s utility to see “Other people (I) might know.” Out of the other people I did know, one is another colleague (my graphic designer), a consultant (with whom I’ve never worked, and only know from occasionally bumping into her at networking events), a security professional whose podcast I listen to, and a former employee of mine. Within a week, I received an invitation to join the network of one of my sales reps.

I have not yet written any recommendations for anyone, and my profile is, as of today, 15% complete (although it was at 40% last week – not sure how I backslid). I intend on writing recommendations for my two colleagues, my sales rep, and the security podcaster. I will not write a recommendation for the other consultant because I don’t know enough about her.

Now, for the meat of this post.

I am also not writing a recommendation for the former employee. Why? Because I don’t have enough good things to say about the individual. While I was there, I did look over said individual’s profiles, and found it quite entertaining, and somewhat disturbing, that said individual had a positively glowing recommendation from yet another former employee of mine. While this may not sound surprising at first, the fact that the referral was gushing over said individual, after the referrer had repeatedly complained to me about said individual on multiple occasions. It got me thinking that this referral system on LinkedIn is nothing more sophisticated, or reliable, than eBay’s feedback system.

I have had very low regard for eBay’s feedback system for several years. Ever since I left a neutral feedback on a vendor who sent an item (10 network interface cards) described as “like new” which arrived absolutely encased in dirt and dust. They had obviously been removed from old, dirty computers, and did not meet my criteria of “like new.” Although they did work, I did need to spend some time cleaning the cards before I could put them into production. I noted this in my feedback, and the seller retaliated by leaving me neutral feedback. Now, how is this at all fair? I did everything right, paid my bill promptly, and waited for my product. Was I supposed to lie and say everything was perfect, and give positive feedback? I think not.

Similarly, the recommendation system with LinkedIn is likely to have just a bunch of positive referrals. After all, who is going to a) invite anyone to leave a referral unless it will be positive, or b) leave anything but a positive referral if there is the chance for retaliation by the subject being recommended?