If you have viewed a LinkedIn profile in the last couple days, chances are you have seen a new box at the top of the page prompting you to endorse the individuals skills.

Here is a screenshot of the endorse box on one of my connection’s profile page:

With one click, I can endorse Lauren’s skills in these five areas simply because we are connected. But wait, there’s more! Scroll down the page and there is a prominent call, again, to endorse Lauren!

Is this really a good idea?

Comparing LinkedIn to Klout

The process to give someone +K on Klout is very similar to LinkedIn. +K-ers are public and topics are ranked by the number of +Ks received.

Like the new LinkedIn Endorsements, Klout’s +K is a one-click endorsement of someone’s influence on a topic. Unlike a written recommendation, you cannot differentiate between meaningful endorsements and throwaways.

There is no difference between a brand new coworker or sales contact and a client that has worked closely with me and has first-hand knowledge of my B2B marketing experience and skill set endorsing me. How do you judge the value of an endorsement without this context?

The short answer is, you don’t.

A Gamified LinkedIn?

Because you cannot judge the quality of individual endorsements, you are left to judge the quantity of endorsements an individual has received.

LinkedIn has been free of most direct gamification for years. Once a profile has more than 500 connections, the number of connections are not even displayed. With endorsements, LinkedIn just embraced gaming their network.

As people collect endorsements, the value of LinkedIn as a business network and as an advertising property will decrease. Here are a few of the changes we should expect:

  1. The value of endorsements will decrease. People will collect endorsements and in order to increase the number of endorsements (which are publicly displayed), the will also collect connections.
  2. The value of connections will decrease. When connections no longer represent a strong connection, the value of connections and introductions on LinkedIn will also decrease.
  3. LinkedIn traffic will increase. Giving endorsements and the endorsement notifications LinkedIn sends will increase total traffic and available advertising inventory. However, as LinkedIn use moves towards more social or gamified activity and away from business networking, the value of their advertising will decrease.
  4. Spam will increase. Spam is already increasing on LinkedIn, endorsement requests, connection requests and endorsement notifications on the LinkedIn homepage will add to the spam and clutter LinkedIn has been collecting recently.

At the end of this road is a very different LinkedIn, one that has lost much of the potential professional value it offers today.

Your Turn

I hope I am wrong and I would love it if you give me hope and point out the positive in this change. Please share how endorsements will increase the value of LinkedIn without introducing additional spam and clutter into the environment. The comments are yours.