Obituary: LinkedIn Answers

LinkedIn Answers ExpiresJanuary 31, 2013: LinkedIn’s Answers, also known as the Q&A forum, passed away.

LinkedIn made the decision to pull life support on a valued sales resource, and while I wasn’t a family member but only an acquaintance, I’m still going to miss Answers.

Answers was a Go-To Sales Destination

Answers was the single location in LinkedIn to ask specific sales questions and get answers with minimal ads or spam,  and that weren’t fractured by other comments, as occurs in Group discussions.

And unlike Groups, you didn’t have to find the right Group before you could ask your question. Just go to Answers, click the category, ask away.

For quirky, esoteric sales questions, LinkedIn Answers were wonderful.

Had a question about a specific CRM function you couldn’t get to work? Just ask, and someone else will have had that same problem and would offer an answer.

The same thing would happen with questions about tricky sales stages, or working with difficult sales managers. Ask it in Answers, and wait for the replies.

And while there were no guarantees you’d get an “expert” answer, you’d always get enough answers to filter through and see what might work for you. Which is the same with any crowd-sourcing activity – there’s always some degree self-filtering required.

Answers wasn’t Perfect

Answers was flawed, primarily because LinkedIn didn’t support it, and actually marginalized it within its own navigation, placing it under the More tab. It was hard to find.

And since Answers expired, LinkedIn hasn’t disclosed the reasons why it was pulled off life support. Here are several guesses drawn from users’ responses within Answers:

* Lack of users – one user claimed only 15 million of LinkedIn’s 200 million users were active on Answers.

* Low ad revenue & placement – ads were below the fold at the bottom of the screen & likely didn’t generate enough income.

* Quality answers deteriorated due to abuse by ranking hogs, spammers & self-promoters

What’s the Answer Going Forward?

LinkedIn says they’re working on better stuff:

“We’ll be focusing our efforts on the development of new and more engaging ways to share and discuss professional topics across LinkedIn. In the meantime, you can still pose questions and facilitate professional discussions through other popular LinkedIn channels including LinkedIn Polls, Groups, or status updates.”

Until LinkedIn makes those “engaging ways” available, some Answers’ users are trying Quora, which unfortunately requires you to go to another web site outside LinkedIn. I haven’t tried it yet but would be curious to learn what you think about it if you have.

Who knows, maybe LinkedIn will buy Quora once they determine they’ve prematurely ended a valued internal resource and tool.

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