Every day I check the Online Lead Gen group I created on LinkedIn. I look at the messages posted on the discussion board and delete questionable posts and remove blatant spammers from the group. The result (I think) is that the discussion board is relevant and valuable to members and usage seems to be increasing every week.

It appears, however, that most other LinkedIn group discussion boards are completely unmoderated. The result is a classic “tragedy of the commons” scenario, where spammers quickly take over the board and drive away anyone who might actually contribute value to the group. To give you an example of the absolute silliness of some of the postings on other sites, here are a few recent ones from the “Online Advertising Professionals” group (these are the headlines only – I’ll leave it to you to imagine the highly relevant content inside):

Isn’t there a need to join and benefit from the Linked In Group, “Value for Money Deals for ethnic Indians living in United States of America”?

National Parks Tips and Tricks

Domain name for sale www.barackobama1stblackpresident.com

Press Release: Farm Boy Records


Here is a online marketing site that allows you free advertising to over 200,000 members worldwide. My sales shot up by over 40 percent and it’s run by BT, read my story. [Note: this post has been published more than 40 times in less than two weeks . . .]

This is the kind of stuff that dooms public forums. I guess you could say it is a good problem for LinkedIn to have – clearly there are thousands of people who think that there is enough traffic on these discussion boards to justify spending time spamming them – but if it isn’t fixed soon, I fear that the entire discussion board concept on LinkedIn is in jeopardy.

Interestingly, in that same Online Advertising Professionals group, the #2 most commented-upon discussion post is this: Who started this group?…is there anyway to minimize the info-mercials on this discussion group? Where’s the value?”


  1. Jeff June 23rd, 2010

    The spam problem has only become worse since you first wrote this post. I think every laid-off marketing person suddenly decided that consulting on social media marketing was their best move. Unfortunately, that meant they had to destroy social media through spam to promote their 10,000 new social media marketing companies.

    I have blocked about a dozen friends on Facebook who cannot control themselves from promoting their business or their organizations. Unfortunately LinkedIn doesn’t give you that kind of control, even when you own a LinkedIn Group the spam is coming from. I have blocked e-mail from all of my groups with the exception of two that spammers have not yet reached, and I pulled the discussion capability on the group I own since I saw no other way of stopping overzealous, off-topic members. I don’t understand how LinkedIn can allow their site to be taken over by spammers, when correcting the problem can be as simple as allowing owners to review discussions before posting. If WordPress can do it, LinkedIn can as well.

  2. davidzhawk June 23rd, 2010

    Actually, LinkedIn is launching a new design of their groups in the next few weeks that is going to allow users to collectively block spammers from groups – it’s a much needed change!

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David Rodnitzky
David Rodnitzky is founder and CEO of 3Q Digital (formerly PPC Associates), a position he has held since the Company's inception in 2008. Prior to 3Q Digital, he held senior marketing roles at several Internet companies, including Rentals.com (2000-2001), FindLaw (2001-2004), Adteractive (2004-2006), and Mercantila (2007-2008). David currently serves on advisory boards for several companies, including Marin Software, MediaBoost, Mediacause, and a stealth travel start-up. David is a regular speaker at major digital marketing conferences and has contributed to numerous influential publications, including Venture Capital Journal, CNN Radio, Newsweek, Advertising Age, and NPR's Marketplace. David has a B.A. with honors from the University of Chicago and a J.D. with honors from the University of Iowa. In his spare time, David enjoys salmon fishing, hiking, spending time with his family, and watching the Iowa Hawkeyes, not necessarily in that order.