When you have a vibrant community, you need to protect your members from other members who might not have the best interest of the community at heart – like spammers or bullies. Sometimes it becomes hard to do that, especially when you have the wrong tools – like Facebook, which does not allow you to communicate with your members if you have a large group, or does not allow you to manage the membership easily, as I described here.
Sometimes, companies go to far – as is the case with LinkedIn. Now I have been a longtime fan of LinkedIn, spending a fair amount of time brainstorming and advising the early management team and acting as a press spokesperson when there were few of us on the system. I have over 700 connections and unlike with some other systems I am religious about only accepting and inviting connections that I have actually met. Ok, there might be a few exceptions in there where I accepted invites from a few people that I never met because they were well crafted. The last time I synched my contact list with LinkedIn there were three people who said they did not know me – even though two of them had had gigs with my clients through me. That instantly made me a pariah on LinkedIn. I can no longer invite people who used to work with me at previous companies, and every time I try inviting somebody I am reminded that “You are now required to enter an email address to send invitations from this page because several recipients of your invitations indicated they don’t know you,” and asked to contact customer service.
When I did that they did not even bother responding – what was I expecting?
That, I believe, is going too far – what do you think? What is the right balance and how do you maintain it without making your strongest champions feel like they are no longer welcome, even the ones who may have made a mistake?