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LinkedIn collaborative articles? Write on your blog instead

LinkedIn is prompting users with strange questions to contribute to collaborative articles. What is it all about?

I see more and more people on LinkedIn answering those You’re one of a few experts invited to add to this collaborative article: [insert AI question here] prompts, and find it sad for different reasons.

  • They’re asking a lot of people.
  • The answers are going to feed a machine in a gated platform.

Further reasons for sadness

LinkedIn laid off nearly 700 employees in October, and I wonder whether it has do with this trend. LinkedIn’s owner, Microsoft, is investing heavily in AI which needs to be fed information to work.

People mean well, and generally want to help. Besides, there‘s the exposure. This dirty word implies we need to tell our opinion to the right audience, at the right time. We need to find our voice as designers, our followers, so that big companies can find and hire us. We need to do it where everyone is, the social media platforms.

I did fall for it as well in the past, but companies will hire you even if you are not a LinkedIn Top Voice. A badge on a social media platform won’t change your professionalism.

The collaborative articles

A notification invites me to contribute to an article. Once I land on the article page, LinkedIn shows me my reward. Three or more replies would grant me a Top User Experience (UX) Voice badge.

Screenshot of the that introduces the top expert in the article. A box with my avatar says: Contribute to 3 or more articles in this skill to be eligible to earn a Top User Experience (UX) Voice badge.
Contribute to gain a title that doesn’t mean anything in the real world

The article is already structured. The title is a question, and presents sections that guide answers.

Screenshot of the article introduction. The title says: What are the most common UX design mistakes that hinder your career growth? The sections are: 1 – Lack of user research, 2 – Poor usability testing, 3 – Inconsistent design, 4 – Ignoring accessibility, 5 – Overlooking feedback, 6 – Here’s what else to consider.

Clicking on a section, it expands to reveal a sort of excerpt, to which I can add my perspective.

Screenshot of a section. Its title is: Ignoring accessibility. The text says: A fourth common mistake that UX designers can make is to ignore accessibility. Accessibility is the practice of designing products that are usable by everyone, regardless of their abilities, disabilities, or preferences. It helps you to reach a wider and more diverse audience, comply with legal and ethical standards, and improve your user satisfaction and loyalty. Without accessibility, you risk excluding or discriminating against users who have different needs or limitations, such as visual, auditory, cognitive, or motor impairments, and losing their potential value or revenue. To avoid this mistake, you should always consider accessibility in your design process, using methods such as personas, scenarios, guidelines, and tools.
Not sure if I should feel patronised or encouraged by the quite basic and generic text

Why it doesn’t work

Sharing knowledge is always good. However, generic questions followed by generic text are not likely to prompt overly helpful answers. Take the question above as an example: What are the common UX design mistakes that hinder your career growth? Then take the suggested mistakes:

  • Lack of user research
  • Poor usability testing
  • Inconsistent design
  • Ignoring accessibility
  • Overlooking feedback
  • Here’s what else to consider

Doesn’t it all add up to a person not actually doing what a UX designer is expected to do? The reality is surely more complex than suggested though, and the reasons why a designer’s career is not growing can be completely unrelated to their skills. More appropriately to the case, what kind of question is that? What does it even mean?

To what end?

The answers are going to feed Microsoft’s AI machines. They will take them as they are – outside a real-world context – digest and sputter out to whoever asks a similar question on Bing, or elsewhere. What happens to the subpar answers? They will be digested, too.

A solution

Write on your blog instead. That way:

  • You can help people, but your thoughts are in a meaningful context.
  • You can reach more people, even the ones that don’t have a LinkedIn account.
  • You have your own website, one that reflects who you are. That’s exposure done right.

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