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Linkedin SWAM sledge hammer approach to moderating comments in Linkedin Groups

Have you noticed that your Linkedin Group Discussions and Comments have suddenly and unexpectedly been automatically placed in an ‘Awaiting Moderation’ queue? You are a victim of SWAM.

Are you a busy Linkedin Group Owner or Manager getting messages from members about being blocked? You are a victim of SWAM. So read on because

sometimes the friendly dolphins get caught in the tuna nets

Recently, and without any announcement or explanation that I could find, Linkedin initiated a process which they call SWAM “Site-Wide Auto-Moderation” such that when a Group Owner or Manager executed a ‘Block & Delete’ of a member from a group, that member is automatically put on moderation in ALL groups they belong to.

Clearly, this is intended as an anti-spam measure. But the law of unintended consequences applies and many members are suffering collateral damage through friendly fire.

If you are a Group member who is getting a ‘Submitted For Review’ message when you post to a Linkedin Group

There is no automatic appeal process. You can’t get it fixed by Linkedin Customer Service. You won’t get a message from the relevant Linkedin Group saying that your post breached the rules. You can’t find out which Group Owner or Manager blocked and deleted your posting. You are on your own.

You have to send a message to every Group Owner/Manager asking them to check and change your status to ‘Approved to Post’ (see below for how to help them do this for you).

It is, obviously, best to draft a message in your text editor and then copy into individual personal messages to each Owner/Manager. To send the message to the Owner/Manager you need to do this:

  • Go to the Group
  • Hit the ‘More’ menu (to the right of the Discussions – members etc. menu)
  • Select ‘Group Profile’ and hover your cursor over the Group owner’s name in the ‘About this Group’ box on the top right of the screen until the pop-up profile bubble appears, then hit the ‘Send message’ link. This is a good way to send messages to fellow group members even though you are not directly connected with them!

If you are a Linkedin Group Owner / Manager who is getting ‘Why am I being victimised by having my posts submitted for review and moderated?’ messages from members who have been blocked elsewhere.

If you have not flagged an individual’s messages as part of your own moderation activities, and you value your members’ contributions to your group, you will have to manually change their posting status. Here’s how: This is not as clear as it should be but so stick with me here…..

  •  Hit the Manage menu in your Group
  • Hit ‘Participants’ link in the ‘Manage Group’ menu on the left of the screen
  • Unfortunately it is not as simple as going to the ‘Blocked’ tab, so ignore that and go, instead to the Members’ Tab.
  • If you are responding to a member’s request simply punch their name into the search box. If you are looking to do a group-wide audit (good luck!) you will have to check each member record in the list for the  ‘Requires moderation’ against their name.
  • Once you have found the member, you will see a ‘Requires moderation’ note to the right. Hit the ‘Change permissions’ link and change to ‘Approved to post’.

I suggest very strongly, that you do not use the ‘Block and Delete’ feature unless there are very strong grounds for doing so.

I cannot see Linkedin investing much time and effort into changing this unintended consequence soon and I hope this is useful. If it is please let me know. Matt Mansfield wrote a fuller post with official Linkedin responses which I have found useful.

Till next time…..

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{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Richard Maybury November 17, 2013, 6:42 pm

    Thanks Mike, and thanks also for your support and suggestions for all those friendly dolphins who have been caught in the tuna nets of LinkedIn’s SWAM policy

  • Mike Trumbature November 17, 2013, 4:42 pm

    Looking at the huge problem with SWAM shows a huge problem with group managers inability to simply “manage” their groups. About the same time it started, LinkedIn’s email alerts quit working so managers were not always automatically notified when someone got SWAMed with PENDING SUBMISSION alerts. Looking at the huge influx of issues on the so-called HELP forum showed people not able to deal with it. When it first started, I set up BOOKMARKS on the desktop and all mobile devices to my GROUPS. I already had set the group REORDER so all my groups were at the top. I could check them anytime, anywhere including my cell phone, APPROVE a member and reset his permissions back to APPROVED TO POST. People did not stay in pending submissions long. I also issued a manager alert about the problem in each group explaining what was happening and my attempts to resolve it ASAP on an individual basis

    I posted this tip in the HELP forum

    As you can see by one person’s response and his “supporters,” trying to HELP most people on LinkedIn is waste of time.

  • Richard Maybury July 19, 2013, 7:39 pm

    Hi Angel, you should also check out the ~Swam support group over at http://swamsupport.org/content/what-swam

  • Angel July 19, 2013, 7:13 pm

    Thanks for creating this and for posting it in a LinkedIn discussion. I had no idea I had been “blocked” until I noticed my post was pending. This is very frustrating, but finding your solution helped ease my pain!

  • Richard Maybury July 10, 2013, 7:26 am

    Rini, you must be careful about point 1 – changing the LinkedIn profile picture. It might be a technical breach of the terms and conditions of use not to have a personal photograph See here http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/430

  • Rini July 10, 2013, 4:55 am

    We started a campaign — please join. We will get more media attention.
    Goal: STOP SWAM and Rectify our accounts.

    1. Change your profile picture to No Spam logo (available on http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=4911853&trk=myg_ugrp_ovr)

    2. Twitter: Change your profile picture to No Spam logo.
    (a) Tweet with hashtag #NOSWAM and

    (b) also add one of the following hashtags (these are twitter handles of LinkedIn but if they are not following you they can report you as spam). DO NOT use @ if they don’t follow you, use # instead
    @LinkedIn @LinkedInDev @LinkedInToday @LinkedInEng @LinkedInHelp @LinkedInNews @LinkedInIndia @LinkedInSelling @LinkedInFrance @LinkedInSelling @jweiner @LinkedIn_jobs @LinkedIn4Good @AdsOnLinkedIn @LinkedInSmBiz @LinkedInU

    (c) Some suggested messages, but y’all are veterans so you know what to do:

    1. #SWAM does not stop SPAM. It destroys community.
    2. #SWAM = Unfettered Censorship.
    3. #SWAM = No LinkedIn Group Engagement
    4. #SWAM = Stupidity X Arrogance

    (d) Then add Barbara Giamanco’s link http://scs-connect.com/have-you-been-swamd/ or this blog link.

    (e) Schedule posts every 1-2 hours if you use hootsuite or tweetdeck with different messages and hashtags.

    (f) Encourage your followers to RT.

    2. Do the same, as above on your facebook link but there you can skip the hashtags

    3. On LinkedIn groups that you belong and on your profile page: post messages that commend group moderators but say for example:

    “I love this group. I love how it is moderated. But you might get SWAM’d. It is a terrible censorship policy that does not stop SPAM but destroys your LinkedIn reputation. Let us all urge LinkedIn to stop and rectify this policy. Speak out by sharing on your home page.” Then share this link in attached link. http://scs-connect.com/have-you-been-swamd/
    or this blog link.

    On your LinkedIn profile’s picture — change it to No SWAM logo.

    Please support.

  • Richard Maybury July 9, 2013, 9:43 am

    Hi Rini, thanks for your contribution and suggestions. It is hard for me to fathom why a person of your position in a company of your standing could be a victim of the LinkedIn #SWAM policy.
    It underscores the poor strategic thinking about the #SWAM policy, the poor implementation, the pathetic non-announcement of the far-reaching implications of #SWAM to Group owners and managers and their arrogant refusal to reverse a clearly flawed implementation.
    My kind regards and thanks for adding your voice,

  • Rini July 8, 2013, 10:04 pm

    I completely sympathize with all who have written in and congratulate you for starting this discussion here. However, I do think we can get LinkedIn’s attention

    Recently, I became a victim of the SWAM policy. Everything everyone has experienced and written about here and elsewhere including canned meaningless email response from LinkedIn customer service, I experienced it for last 7 days. The entire SWAM policy is almost as bad as when Instagram decided to change their policy about owning your photos. Nothing has changed within LinkedIn since people started writing about it in Feb-March of this year (you here a month ago).

    Being in the tech and executive world for a long time, I was wondering if we should consider “social wave” of complaints in a 36-48 hours period to raise the awareness… sort of Flash_AntiSWAM.
    I am wondering if any one has considered (with permission of the effected parties)
    (a) Finding members who work in LinkedIn and contribute in Groups — flag them.
    (b) Flagging group moderators who are in different groups and flag them in non-moderator groups.
    (c) Connections and friends who sympathize with your predicament, with their permission, flag them in a group, so they can complain.
    (d) If you are connected with any of the “Influencer”, flag them.
    Let all experience the consequences and then we will all collectively learn – experiential learning of sorts.

    (e) Also has anyone considered bringing this to the attention of bloggers who write about badly implemented policies. Declan McCullagh who broke the news about Instagram — his profile is http://www.cnet.com/profile/declan00/
    or someone from Ars Technica or Reddit etc.

    (f) On the same day, we work towards creating a twitter trend by posting concerns using hashtag #SWAM and any of the twitter handles @LinkedIn @LinkedInDev @LinkedInToday @LinkedInEng @LinkedInHelp @LinkedInNews @LinkedInIndia @LinkedInSelling @LinkedInFrance @LinkedInSelling @jweiner @LinkedIn_jobs @LinkedIn4Good @AdsOnLinkedIn @LinkedInSmBiz @LinkedInU

    If this is done in a coordinated way for a 36-48 hours period but in an open, transparent way by all here and others you can engage, then this “amplification” might get the attention we need.

    Feel free to connect with me or comment here.
    Three Cheers! to the wisdom of open, transparent discourse.
    Rini Das

  • Richard Maybury July 1, 2013, 6:31 am

    Looking at the number of books you have written and are in the pipeline, I’m sure you have a lot to say, George. I think LinkedIn will soon see that their sledgehammer approach to SWAM, especially as it was unannounced initially, will be reviewed. I’m less sure that it will be reversible. Which means that many friendly dolphins will remain trapped in the tuna net of SWAM.

  • a.g.moye June 30, 2013, 7:36 pm

    Since I have been placed on this submit for approval system for all my comments regardless of which one, I very seldom post anything but will hit a like when someone else says something I agree with like this one. I am tempted to just leave all the groups. At least one thing, it will clear up my email box in the future. I will stay a member for a while longer. I like the connections I have made on LinkedIn but! This post will be moderated and maybe not even posted. I have no idea!

  • Richard Maybury June 27, 2013, 1:28 pm

    Hi Hans, that is another way to do it. Thanks

  • Hans Maerker June 27, 2013, 1:16 pm

    Great report and a good reminder. However, you write at one of those ‘bullets’ above the following, “…Unfortunately it is not as simple as going to the ‘Blocked’ tab, so ignore that and go, instead to the Members’ Tab”.

    That’s where I disagree with you. My question to you why not going to the [Block] tab instead? Why do you think it’s not that simple? Using the [Block] tab instead, offers 3 option for each blocked individual. Managers can chose between [Approve] [Unblock & Delete] [Add Note].

    Each individually selected person can be handled that way. I really don’t see why you try to keep managers away from those options by just saying, “.. ignore it and go to…. instead”.

  • Richard Maybury May 7, 2013, 7:13 am

    Hi Joanne, I think you are right when you say ‘This is about who “flags” who and NOT about the content of the discussion or the comment.’ This is compounded because of the automatic application of SWAM across all groups because of the decision and action of one manager or owner. Senseless.

  • Joanne Chiocchi May 6, 2013, 9:05 pm

    Great advice! Unfortunately, I really don’t have the time, energy or patience to go through this debacle. The “powers that be” at Linkedin should know better.

    I “was” a premium member with a network of over 16,000. I’m director of clinical services at a medical practice management and billing consulting company. As a victim of the U.S. financial crisis who lost jobs twice due to our failing economy, I enjoy assisting other LinkedIn members with advice about job searches, resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and job hunting “etiquette”. As compliance officer for my company, I enjoy updating group members (where applicable, of course) with HIPAA information, as well as learning and participating in the compliance discussions. I am a member of 47 groups and find that exchanging ideas is helpful. I’ve made many valuable business connections through groups. Last Friday, I experienced the exact scenario as you described above.

    On December 20th of last year, a LinkedIn group member sent a harassing message to my personal email account. He accused me of trying to market my company via the type of posts that I submit to the groups, among other things. I advised the managers of the groups to which we both belong. Seriously, what could they do? Unfortunately, they choose to block and monitor folks who have a lot to offer instead of these interlopers who obviously have a lot of time on their hands to be able to flag posts, “inappropriate”. If I see a post or comment (and I see many) that has nothing to do with the discussion, I just pass it over. However, some “inappropriate” discussions are also passed over by group managers. This is about who “flags” who and NOT about the content of the discussion or the comment.

    Quite frankly, I have no patience for this nonsense. Immediately after I discovered the delay in my post and comment submission, I emailed Linkedin customer service and cancelled my premium account. Why should I pay LinkedIn good money if I am unable to partake in all the amenities offered by LinkedIn? I think many other members may resort to this tactic as the entire situation is unprofessional and unfair.

    Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading your blog and I believe that it will be helpful to many people. Thanks!

    Joanne C.

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