LinkedIn Dark Patterns

over 6 years ago from , Senior Product Designer at GitHub

Let me tell you an interesting story.

This morning, after accidentally pressing the "mass invite everyone to connect" button on the mobile app (which for some reason does not require confirmation), I complain to LinkedIn about them hiding the "remove connection" option.

They reply, asking me to refresh the page (or check a tutorial way too long for what should be a simple action).

I refresh and what I get is a different layout, this time with an added "remove connection" option at the end of the drop down.

So basically LinkedIn has two version of the same page. One with what seems to be intentionally bad UX to stop you from removing unwanted connections. The fact that they even have a version with it means they know that this is shitty UX and have their own reasons for keeping it out. Really sketchy.

Disclaimer: I definitely might be getting this wrong, and the new layout might just be a new layout that they're slowly transitioning people to. That's also the only way that any of this is somehow acceptable.

Either way, I've never seen someone manually flip a switch on A/B tests to give someone a more usable layout and solve their problems. Kind of fascinating.


  • Justin BonnetJustin Bonnet, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    Linkin Park Patterns

    22 points
  • Christopher HenriksenChristopher Henriksen, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    Unfortunately I feel that LinkedIn crammed full of stuff like this. If you accidentally request to connect to someone, revoking the invitation is way more hassle than it should be. I looked around for a while in the usual places (On their profile the "Connect" button still says "Connect") but couldn't find it. Turns out I had to go to my own messages, chose "Sent" and revoke the invitation from there, way to go LinkedIn …

    9 points
  • Courtney MarkhamCourtney Markham, over 6 years ago

    Sneaky UX. And you know the majority of its users won't go the extra step to email them with a complaint.

    Can someone explain the point of the endorsements? Is it a masked way for them to get site clicks? They are a meaningless feature, when it just feels equivalent to popping the bubbles on a bubble wrap.

    5 points
    • Tori ZTori Z, over 6 years ago

      This is so spot on! It feels exactly same as popping the bubble warp.

      0 points
    • Joel Califa, over 6 years ago

      I have yet to find any experience that lives up to popping bubble wrap

      0 points
    • Ivan VásquezIvan Vásquez, over 6 years ago

      As I see it, endorsements let you know if someone actually knows the stuff they claim in their CV. Since LinkedIn is built upon reputation, it carries more weight to have some respected contact endorse you.

      At least, I think that'd be the point behind them; whether or not that works it's another point entirely.

      0 points
      • Courtney MarkhamCourtney Markham, over 6 years ago

        Right, but ANYONE can endorse you with a simple click. Even if they don't know you or your skillset, which to me seems like fake credibility. The real respect comes from the written recs imo.

        0 points
        • Ivan VásquezIvan Vásquez, over 6 years ago

          yes, but perhaps the rationale behind it is that 40 people who work in your industry endorsing you for your skills on –say– responsive design carry more weight than just 2 of them.

          Of course, it's not as good as a couple of well written recommendations, but it's something that helps recruiters find if the people they're checking out do know a bit about what they say they know.

          I'd also suspect it helps LinkedIn build a better search tool.

          0 points
  • Matt CastilloMatt Castillo, over 6 years ago

    I've had a personal grudge against LinkedIn and its sketchiness for a while now. Anyone want to make a better, leaner LinkedIn clone with me?

    4 points
    • adam stogdilladam stogdill, over 6 years ago

      sorta like http://zerply.com/ ?

      1 point
      • Matt CastilloMatt Castillo, over 6 years ago

        Something like that, but for all kinds of careers, not just creatives. Basically like a social network of workers and each profile is an interactive, updatable CV. And without updates saying who has seen whose profiles.

        1 point
        • Henry Doe, 6 years ago

          I started work on exactly what your talking about as a side project. Bought the domain, got a logo, still need to design.

          It was going to be called Circles... Might sound to similar to google circles however...

          0 points
          • Matt CastilloMatt Castillo, 6 years ago

            That sounds pretty nice. If you want to DM me on twitter or something, I'd love to hear more about it. I could also possibly help with design if you'd like to push the idea further.

            0 points
    • Elliott ReganElliott Regan, over 6 years ago

      Yea, their fucking update emails. Not sure what it looks like now, but it used to be several pages with a long list of every individual email notification that one could receive and guess what? They were all checked by default.

      Oh, and then I couldn't log in because it took like 5 screens to reset your password and I always gave up. Fuck LinkedIn.

      0 points
  • Nathan ManousosNathan Manousos, over 6 years ago

    Delete your LinkedIn account. It feels great.

    1 point
    • Christopher HenriksenChristopher Henriksen, over 6 years ago

      I just registered and spent quite a bit of time putting together my profile (Feedback more than welcome: http://no.linkedin.com/in/christopherhenriksen/), but I can't help shake the feeling that I will do and feel the exact same thing in a while! Using it feels so unintuitive and troublesome, and when you know they have the resources to make a decent product it leaves you with a feeling that you're being tricked. But so far I am, unfortunately.

      0 points
  • Dan TurkelDan Turkel, over 6 years ago

    LinkedIn, like Quora [0] and a growing list of popular websites, seems to have its growth model rooted in dark patterns. Inviting people to connect or to join LinkedIn is always a hazard when doing any action on the site, the difference between adding someone that already has an account and inviting someone to LinkedIn (whereas the former may be intended and the latter avoided) is often intentionally obscured, it's nearly impossible to unsubscribe from all their emails [1], the push for "endorsing" people is inexplicable seeing that it seems to benefit nobody. I've heard many extol the virtues of having a strong profile, and I begrudgingly maintain mine, but I'm always unsure of how much LinkedIn really has to offer the user.

    [0]: See Hacker News conversation on Quora from this week: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8379973

    [1]: See this javascript written in a futile attempt to solve that problem: https://gist.github.com/chengyin/7021086

    1 point
  • Adam T.Adam T., over 6 years ago

    Maybe they had pushed an update and they wanted you to clear your cache by reloading.

    1 point
  • Boris KourtoukovBoris Kourtoukov, over 6 years ago

    I deleted my Linked In account over a year ago now. I still get an email saying a friend (always someone I actually know and that did really do it) has asked to be my connection.

    First: Linked in states explicitly that the account is deleted and that there is no recovery (ala Facebook)

    Second: Clearly I still appear in search result and people can still request to add me.

    Best part?

    The emails say that I need to log-in in order to edit my email preferences. Which is all but impossible.

    And this is ignoring the amount of recruiter spam that hits the inbox. Which, I assume, is because they got my email and enough details while I was still registered. No way out of that one!

    0 points
  • Elliott ReganElliott Regan, over 6 years ago

    Do you remember their email alerts? You had to manually unsubscribe from all 800 types.

    0 points
    • Kenneth DsouzaKenneth Dsouza, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

      I've stayed away from making a profile with them. So I made a filter for messages from them to go to Spam & Trash but now they send these requests by masking them with a connection's email id. All I can do now is delete :/

      0 points
  • Tori ZTori Z, over 6 years ago

    There're a lot of things I really don't like about Linkedin. But the thing is, I'm still a student and I need to get a job, and that's why I keep using it. You could say Linkedin is not the only way to get hired. However, it's like gmail, there's many things I don't like it but I just have to use it because there's basically no choice.

    0 points
  • Suganth SSuganth S, over 6 years ago

    On the other news, I heard Facebook for Work is under development long back. Seriously if they come, they might have a good market. Facebook might be sneaky in putting ads and tracking all your stuff, but they don't do all this dark patterns. They will actually make work connections less formal and good.

    0 points
  • Cihad TurhanCihad Turhan, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    I deleted my LinkedIn profile about a year ago and not thinking to register again. Here is why

    We don't give our work e-mail addresses to any company. We're using it among work colleagues so it's not possible to leak to a 3rd party company. One day, I got an e-mail invitation from linkedin stating that one of my colleague invites me to join linkedin. So I thought "ok so we're all creating community for our company on linkedin". Then I registered and a day or after I asked him why he sent me an invitation. He said, he didn't send any invitation. More interestingly, he never ever registered linkedin. After I learned how sneaky they are I deleted my account.

    Now, they are facing some lawsuits but you might already know they have a group of highly trained lawyers already. There are many smart guys working for Linkedin but many does evil stuffs. Linkedin is a hell of dark patterns.

    PS: If you want to see more bloodcurdling stories, see this search

    0 points
  • Ryan Hicks, over 6 years ago

    Mine has your second version. Just be glad that it's there now. 6+ months ago it used to be hidden and buried under multiple screens. They made it so you couldn't remove anyone. It was an adventure to find out where you could remove a connection.; not a fun one though.

    0 points
  • Tanner ChristensenTanner Christensen, over 6 years ago

    Yup, this seems to be the regular functionality and not something being tested or specifically targeting you.

    Both myself and a coworker have had to use this "hack" several times to remove ugly — in terms of relationships, not aesthetics or otherwise — ex-coworkers from our connections.

    It's odd that they would want such a terrible experience, but also reflective of what matters most for them as a business (and it's not our experience).

    0 points