If you are an active LinkedIn user and an active participant on LinkedIn Discussion Groups, you are probably aware of the controversy that has surrounded LinkedIn’s SWAM policy. While SWAM aimed to cut down the level of spam being posted in Discussion Groups, it has been a huge thorn in the side of many well-intentioned and legitimate LinkedIn users.

SWAM refers to a policy implemented by LinkedIn which stipulates that if you are “blocked and deleted” from one of your Discussion Groups, all of the posts in the rest of your Groups are automatically put in “marked for moderation.” Since a majority of Groups are not actively moderated and are generally open to the public, often times these posts lay in the purgatory of moderation queue for eternity.

Sounds scary, right? Have no fear, there have been some positive developments on the SWAM front that we, the legitimate LinkedIn users, will all benefit from.

When first “announced” in January 2013, SWAM went very much under the radar; – nearly two years after its implementation, people are still unaware of its existence. I use quotation marks around “announced” because it could barely described as an announcement; it was actually a single post on an obscure Discussion Group (ironic?) called LinkedIn Groups Product Forum, a Group that has fewer than 6,000 members. Just to give you some perspective, LinkedIn has over 300,000,0000 users and nearly 61% of them say that Groups are in their list of top five most valued LinkedIn features. That’s a heck of a lot more people than 5,000.

So what’s the good news, you might ask? Up until recently, SWAM was an indefinite punishment. Previously, once you were SWAMd, it was for life. While there were a few things you could do to help, such as contact each moderator and plead your case, it was a huge pain to deal with me, and for many people, it was enough to just make them give up on LinkedIn altogether. Now, however, the powers that be have added a stipulation to the policy:

You’ll be subject to moderation for up to a week or two per occurrence. This can vary depending on the number of occurrences.

That one little phrase: “up to a week or two…”, changes the entire game. It means that even if you get SWAMd, you only have to wait a short period of time before you’re no longer in “time-out,” essentially making SWAM a slap on the wrist. Additionally, the fact that LinkedIn has included actual time period in their update is great news for us marketers – we can now know, with a degree of certainty, when we will be able to post normally again after being SWAMd. While this is still an annoyance for those of us who wrongfully get SWAMd, it is something I think that we can live with, and I suspect this is the first step towards phasing out the policy altogether.

Have you been effected by LinkedIn SWAM? If so, do you think this change in policy will be a positive force for the greater LinkedIn Community?

UPDATE: I have been informed that this “new” stipulation only applies when a discussion group member’s post is “flagged” as spam by any of the other group members (being referred to as “flagSWAM”). It seems that, based on experiments done by active LinkedIn users, if a moderator “blocks and deletes” you, you will still be SWAMd permanently. I have still not been able to confirm this, but in the past (prior to the “new” policy announcement mentioned in this post) I found that leaving all your current groups and joining new groups will “unSWAM” you.

As you can see, there is a great deal of confusion around SWAM!