The absurdity of LinkedIn

2014-04-30 by Darren Nix
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This morning I had a call with someone I hadn’t met so I Googled their name and, inevitably, clicked through to their LinkedIn profile.

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I was bemused to note that, although the search result in Google showed their full name in the title, their profile page obscured their name until I “Upgrade for full name”.

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Obscuring the name seemed especially silly given that the URL of the page includes the full name.

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I wondered if LinkedIn would show me more than a radically truncated profile if I wasn’t logged in.

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So I popped up an incognito window and loaded the same URL. Voila, the full profile. It seems LinkedIn has decided that its optimal strategy is to punish registered users.

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About Darren Nix

Post-apocalyptic book junkie. Founder at 42Floors. Previously founded Leaky and Silver Financial.

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  • Zach

    Just as an FYI, what the “public” profile (which is what you see when you view incognito), depends on the user’s profile settings that you are viewing. They can limit it even to connections only.

    • jeswin

      That profile setting doesn’t benefit the user at all. Users can’t distinguish between Random User vs Random Anon User. The feature exists to get users to log in so that they could be tracked; or nudged to create an account.

  • Michael Yared

    On one hand, LinkedIn needs to draw in visitors using SERPs. On the other, they want to entice members to upgrade their accounts. I’m positive that most folks don’t realize you can do this, so LinkedIn is likely fine with people knowing.

    Another helpful tip: You can privately message people outside your network, for free, if you share a common group.

    • Oz Har Adir

      I can’t seem to get the private msg to work (add them as contacts, yes, but msg – no). Are you sure it works on every group type?

      • Katrina Collier

        Here Oz, this is a little blog on how to do it: (Please forgive the blog link but it does answer your question directly!)

        • Oz Har Adir

          Thanks Katrina. Well explained. In short, the idea is to search for a member name within the group that you two share, then the option appears.

          • Katrina Collier

            Glad it helped. I use the “advanced group search” all the time, super handy :-)

  • jodoindo

    Also, you can search for a name in the LinkedIn search field and when you click on the search result, it will show the full profile. I do this all the time.

  • Mike Bestvina

    Hey Darren! Get’s even worse – use the mobile app and you pretty much get the full profile. Search Gil Travish on there. You can get recommendations, skills&expertise, personal website, full work history, etc.

    • Khuram Malik

      And in general, their mobile app is just dreadful. Add a new connection and then you have to go back looking for who you just added. It’s so clunky. It’s like we’re still in 1999 sometimes.

  • josephjrobison

    Linked In is the worst. Everything is slow and the inbox messages are so clunky, much hasn’t changed from the consumer point of view since they launched.

    • Mike Cuesta

      The messaging/inbox is absolutely extremely clunky. I can see a whole startup centered around creating a better user experience here, utilizing ‘Sign In with LinkedIn’

      • Darryl

        Yes, it’s horrible. The same people likely designed the latest incarnation of Gmail, which is equally as bad, if not worse.

    • Katrina Collier

      …except for all the useful features they’ve taken away, like Signal for searching updates, Events, Company Products & Services tabs including all the Recommendations, and of course, freedom to keep your news feed set to Recent (it’s changed daily to Top meaning your own updates now get very few views).

      Oh sorry, no, they did give us something new, SWAM, that gets you blocked on all your groups with ease.

      • Patrick Coombe

        good point now at the top of all my posts I see “top LinkedIn PULSE” posts which is just LinkedIn’s crap content network.

        • Katrina Collier

          Patrick, to the right of that, under All Updates, change it to Recent. You’ll need to do that daily (yawn) but at least then your news feed (below Pulse) will be in order of posting. :-)

    • Augustin Riedinger

      Thanks someone finally points that out! Linkedin really sucks technically, compared to how widely used it is: no absolute profile urls, slow loading, inconsistent displays, bad navigation and UX in general!
      Few months ago, I googled “linked in website slow” and similar searches and I was astonished not to find more results about it.
      They are so big I can’t believe they are not able to make a decent product …
      The absurdity refered in this article is just another example out there, but not even the worse …

  • S Sayer

    I’m rater hoping you’ll turn this into a multi-part blog series. LinkedIn’s mechanics are frustrating to no end.

    • S Sayer


  • Aleksi

    Even better is to click through to the profile of one of the people in the person’s “People Also Viewed” sidebar. More often than not the person you originally looked up will be in the second person’s “People Also Viewed”, which means you can click right back and access the full profile of the original person.

  • Google Dewd

    i found that in google, if you choose to show the cached version it will show all the informatino as well

  • Nek

    I had that moment when I felt linkedin was the most spammy services I was ever registered in then I deleted my account.

    • 5up Mushroom

      Same here. LinkedIn is not much more than a giant crowd-sourced spam machine.

  • Vikash Bajaj

    Yes, this has been this way since long :)

  • Paul Nichols

    Good find! I endorse you for Deductive Reasoning. Also for French Cuisine, Salsa Dance, and Bridge Building, because why not?

    • Willie Jackson

      And Blogging!

    • Jbrown

      Yep. You for sure sound like are from the LinkedIn product management team who will in doubt claim this is the best feature since sliced bread

    • LinkedIn-hater

      You don’t even get me started on that. If you are trying to browse the same profile on iPad, they force you to install app, to steal your contacts. They procured pulse to steal contacts from all android users. Pulse is installed by default on ALL samsung phones. You can’t even uninstall it. So I stopped using samsung all together.

      There are many such silly things that LinkedIn has done with no common sense applied.

    • jimmyduder

      I prefer to endorse everyone i know for “cheese” cause that’s the best thing.

  • colinrand

    because, BIG DATA!

  • Free2rhyme214

    Darren what’s the big deal? LinkedIn has been like this for years.

  • Gary Trakhman

    I’ve been doing this trick for years :-). I use LinkedIn because others do, but I find the experience mostly annoying and insidiously spammy. I’ll probably never upgrade, no use locking me out.

    • nhan

      I’ve also been doing this for years :-)
      a related trick is not to log out just to log in again, instead, use incognito moded :-)

  • Sameer

    HAHA that is a hilarious find….! They want to have their cake (get traffic via search engines) and eat it too (limit your access until you pay)

    A common problem facing many of those paywall sites. How to get the data to the search engine, without allowing visitors to read it

  • Free2rhyme214

    I knew about this when I joined Linkedin back in 2011. I’m not sure why they do this but it’s just a dumb process they have set up although I don’t see the big deal about this.

    The public profile you’re looking at is only available if the user allows it.

  • Phil Simon

    I have a ton of issues with LinkedIn. This is just one of them.

  • Digital Balefire

    Great find! — Here is another one you may enjoy, as I got some “advice” today from a LinkedIn “Influencer” you may find interesting (LOL) :

    Paid Influence in Social Marketing – “Expert Authority”?

  • Joe Carter

    Oh… I love this. :) Nicely done!

  • Anshuman Bhartiya

    Another quirk similar to this one.

    If you are trying to find somebody (Let’s say A) and can’t get to their full profile, try to click on anybody’s profile (Let’s call B) under “People also viewed”. When B’s profile opens up, there is a high probability you will see A’s profile under “People also viewed” with A’s full name. So, you don’t even have to google the name. Just 2 clicks away.

  • Mike

    A month ago I realised that some privacy settings are actually ignored. Even if you set the most restrictive privacy settings, joining a new group will appear in the feeds of your whole network. This is especially bad if you are looking for a new job. I contacted LinkedIn and they already knew about it.

    • CrosbyTee

      They won’t do anything about it. They never do.

    • Katrina Collier

      Does that include unticking the box, under Turn On/Off Activity settings, that says Let people know.. etc? Wow, that is bad. To immediately delete the update when you join (on a desktop) Home page, All Updates, Your Updates – delete. Bit late I know!

  • Informerly

    Beautifully communicated. That service has so much freaking potential.

  • PHP Developer

    They should pay us to use it, not the other way around.

    • David Hulsman

      Quite like Facebook: The user is a PRODUCT, not a client.

  • Chris Reynolds

    I built to search the additional data you get outside LinkedIn. Works best in Incognito mode.

    • jjca

      Nice job!

  • varahi

    Similar trick for Wall street journal articles. If you need access to them, just Google the title and you can read the full article.

  • Florent VIEL

    I just discovered that tis morning when I googled the name of one of my future collegue… Shame on you LinkedIn

  • Jack

    Looks like LinkedIn is the new ExpertSexChange.

  • Ali B

    That’s nothing. You know how you need to specify how you know people to connect with them (colleague, friend, etc) and you have to provide their email address? well, if you search for their name, and they come up in a list, there’s a Connect button, you can click it and connect without entering any data. Very consistent…

  • yth

    thx for sharing, wish i wrote about it months ago, sneaky guys trying to get new account subcriptions

  • craigdan

    Great…now that the secret is out, watch LinkenIn put their walls up again. This is why we can’t have nice things…jk.

  • Tyler Kellogg

    You can pay to remove that restriction. You’re almost guaranteed this was shipped because it showed a stat sig improvement in revenue. While this may seem absurd, most people are not savvy enough to realize there are simple solutions to workaround this restriction and pay up.

    You may counter this is so absurd that you wont use LinkedIn anymore. But is that really true? I doubt it.

  • RussHux

    Old news: LinkedIn has been functioning the same way for the last 2 or 3 years. Of course, it’s to increase revenue as they seek upgrades.
    New: You can now connect with anyone (no longer need active email of recipient – smells like fb) but you will NOT be able to send an intro note – must be an upgrade. Easier to add users and that is what Wall Street wants.

  • Oz Nathan

    Even more absurd, if you search their name again, without going incognito, you’ll reach the full profile.

  • jubalince

    There’s an entire cottage industry of recruiting “experts” that teach other recruiters this sort of “hack”. Perhaps you’ve found a new calling as a LinkedIn recruiting thought leader?

  • edsancha

    Check out the cached version in google to faster results.

  • Trinity7

    Hooray for incognito mode!

  • Neil Mansilla

    This has been a known issue for quite some time. You’ll find that there are some very active libraries/gems out there for developer that want to pull down data that the LinkedIn API does not provide. Of course, this violates the API ToS (see Section III(A)(F) of their terms), just in case you were thinking it would be a swell idea to “co-mingle” API and scraped data.

  • davidcalhoun

    My LinkedIn feed has basically become blog spam and random math challenges. “99% of people can’t solve this simple math problem”.

  • Paul W Mather

    I noticed this a little while ago. I’m glad you’ve outlined the issue well and in public. I’ve been surprised by the sheer volume of UI/UX issues there are with Linkedin, far more than any of the other major social networks.

  • Ryan Graves

    Gil Travish is going to die at the number of folks who have viewed his profile… if he pays for that feature ;)

  • Sud

    Well when I was looking for jobs last year, I used this tactic. I thought they solved it already. LOL

  • BradBarbin

    Another LinkedIn hack if you are registered — click someone from People Also Viewed. Then from their profile, click back to original person through the same method — and voila again

  • LinkedIn-hater

    You don’t even get me started on that. If you are trying to browse the same profile on iPad, they force you to install app, to steal my contacts. They procured pulse to steal contacts from. Pulse is installed by default on ALL samsung phones. I can’t even uninstall it. So I stopped using samsung all together.

  • JK

    True mate, I too have seen this behavior. I guess they are allowing more content for anonymous user for search engine indexing purpose.

  • Greg Connell

    Don’t tell too many people! They might change it.

  • Clyde Smith

    I think the truncated name might be new. They’ve been showing logged in users a truncated profile on 3rd level and below even for public profiles for quite a while.

  • CrosbyTee

    Linkedin really screwed over its user with SWAM. It was an unmitigated disaster for hundreds of thousands of member, but the company decided to ignore the problem.

  • BWIRic

    It’s funny, I noticed the name in the address bar yesterday too!

  • Cristian Ciofu

    At we’re hoping to have some happy users around us ;)

    That’s why we’ll never restrict this kind of informations… I mean, why hide the name of a person to unregistered (or in this case registered) users? Come on, it’s his name not his home address. You need to know if it’s the person you’re searching for or not.

  • PeterJ42

    Excellent post. But LinkedIn is dead anyway. The clever people are no longer in the discussions – just the followers from emerging countries.

  • Brian Richards

    It’s just that their IT staff is somewhat incompetent. Last year they allowed the ssl certificate that makes the outlook social connector work expire. Took them a while to figure it out. This year in April, one year later, it expired again. It seems their IT skills are just not so good.

  • Ric

    Linkedin is going down that annoy user road like every social net always does. Its gotten beyond annoying. I am NOT going to upgrade linkedin so leave it alone!

  • Guy Avigdor

    You just wait until you get a full screen pop up that says “Looks like you’re viewing lots of profiles. Upgrade to Premium….” with a 5 seconds counter. Talk about aggressive conversion strategy.

  • Guy Avigdor

    Yup. No photoshop here.

  • Alejandro Prieto

    POW! Right in the kisser.

  • dsalvagni

    Yeah, LinkedIn does it. You can see more in public profile mode than when you’re logged.

  • Rewi

    I came across this thingy, which I hope they will beat LinkedIn!

  • Steve Poppe

    Not only punish them, but send them more email than mom. It’s a teeny bit crazy!

  • John Reasor

    It is amazing companies like this, continue to get us to log on at all, but we all have accounts,hopefully not paid for accounts.

  • rkurian

    Shhhh – I’ve been using this trick for a long time now. Take this down quickly before they fix it :)

  • John Saddington

    LinkedIn is the stupidest fucking system ever.

    • John Saddington

      I wrote about “God Mode” via LinkedIn just the other day:

      • Katrina Collier

        That gave me a good giggle! I wouldn’t have thought LI would suit your recruitment anyway, so I’m not surprised it’s not helping. Worthy note for job seekers though, shall be passing it on :)

        • John Saddington


  • Jeffrey James

    either guarding legit value or becoming hyper-incremental to satisfy wall street – only worth 700x earnings, what could go wrong?

  • linked-in-sucks

    The IQ of a company is indirectly proportional to the amount of cash it has in the bank ..

    • do-not-endorse-me

      …and IQ is INVERSELY proportional to just being stupid. (cmon, this was just asking for a reply) :)

  • Victor Soroka

    Yep, incognito window can help you a lot with free LinkedIn account. Lippl can be useful as well if you want to find someone LinkedIn public profile easy.

  • Mansi Khurana

    This is insane. Good catch. It takes Linkedin couple of days to send me an email notification when someone messages me. Badly need a better service now.

  • John R. Meese

    That’s unbelievable. Also, the idea that you should only connect with people you “really know” is sooooo 2008. Yet that’s what they insist upon unless you pay for a “public” account.

  • Newticle

    Ahahahaha! …So incompetent. This is the company people can’t wait to lavish their most private information on, in return for exactly nothing. Nuts. Just nuts.

  • George

    And their new messaging and notification system is so horrible. Especially on my mobile… Whoever designed their UI/UX needs to be fired. If they designed it to be less bloated when loading things on the page, they failed because I end up having to hit refresh several times to see that little message icon finally show no messages…