Damned by Faint Praise

LinkedIn endorsements, the SM equivalent of picking parasites out of each others fur.

Recommendations are fine. I’ve received a few and dished out about the same. Each was gratefully received and truly given.

Endorsements are for driving licenses.

No thanks.



19 thoughts on “Damned by Faint Praise

  1. Agreed.

    Actually, I don’t give recommendations, either. What if someone I recommend subsequently goes and does a lousy job somewhere else? Or just doesn’t get on terribly well with the next client?

    I’m always happy to give a verbal recommendation for the people that I truly value – ring me if you’re interested in working with any of my contacts. But permanently on a public platform? No thanks.

    • I know what you mean. I dish out recommendations only when I have long personal and trusted second hand experience of someone. In those circumstances the occasional failure is something we have to live with otherwise we aren’t living.

      This latest development represents the fatuous and superficial end of SM and is fuelled by good old FOMO.

  2. I find the endorsement game rather odd. I’ve not given any and I’ve received over forty. I haven’t asked for them – they’ve been given, and though I appreciate that, they do feel a little unnecessary to me. Recommendations can be very helpful and I am not above occasionally asking for them (shudder) when the work I’m doing with people feels particularly fun/exciting/different/energising.

    If I’m asked to give a recommendation I sometimes do. If I feel I can’t say anything useful though – I reply and politely decline the request. I enjoy giving recommendations without being asked and I do so without fear of future failure on the part of the person who I am recommending.

  3. Doug,

    Thanks for joining in. Recommendations require a little thought and in some cases quite a lot. They also require a small investment of your own reputation in someone else’s. That makes them quite powerful, valiuable and worthwhile. Conversely endorsements are simply too easy to dish out.

    I have also learned how to spell faint properly. Perhaps I should add spelling to my skills 🙂



  4. Each to their own I guess!

    The phrase “picking parasites out of each others fur” is interesting though. That act serves an important social interaction – beyond that it has a very practical purpose. How does that relate to LinkedIn Endorsements?

    Here’s another perspective on endorsement… If I endorse someone it’s done with meaning & aforethought – I believe it’s my reputation on the line when I endorse someone tacitly or explicitly. It’s no different from a recommendation – in fact it is a recommendation. If that’s my stance and usage, am I wrong to use the endorsements function on LinkedIn?

    • David,

      Frankly, I am delighted that someone has taken an opposing view. Thank you. However… 🙂

      Amusingly, the rate of people endorsing me on LinkedIn increased after this post, which went out through my LinkedIn stream as well as on Twitter. I guess that was because I had been active and people got emails saying so, though not why, or not in detail anyway. Perhaps that’s my point. If I recommend someone it takes time and thought. I can endorse you in a fraction of a second. It’s impossible for me to say your carefully considered endorsements are  less valuable than a recommendation. I suspect that many others are though, it’s just too easy.

      I think of LinkedIn as a considered and purposeful social media platform. It is brilliant when, I want to connect two people, I want to recommend someone in a considered way, I want to connect with someone myself and, of course, if I were looking for a new role. That I post a blog criticising endorsements and the result is an increased flow of endorsements just about sums up my discomfort with them over recommendations.

      Where SM becomes an, “I’ll touch you if you touch me” environment, fuelled by FOMO, I am out. Make me invest a little and give it a considered purpose and its awesome. I think LinkedIn have made an error here and destroyed value for the sake of ephemeral buzz.

      I have made a conscious effort recently to think about my purpose on all SM platforms. I am also making a conscious effort to enjoy where I am, what I am doing and especially who I am with.

      This will be an interesting one to watch. My guess is that people will get sucked in. That endorsements will take off. That the value of ones profile will be measured by the volume and perhaps provenance of ones endorsements. That’s great news for entrepeneurs, it means there is a gap in the market for a professional SM platform 🙂

      Saying all that, I reserve the right to be wrong (which I keep forgetting is pretty much the intent of my blog) so thank you again for taking the opposing view and making me think.


      • I fully agree with your perspectives on FOMO and false reciprocity – I think they epitomise a large part of what is bad with SoMe. My view is that evolution and ethics will naturally overcome much of that nonsense with time… I think we naturally move away from such people. However, we shouldn’t wait until they’ve gone should we?

        Also, I’d forgotten this posts title… we are indeed damned if the praise is faint. It’s an important point. We may separately still disagree on LinkedIn so I’ve shared this post and my own personal feelings about endorsement here http://t.co/r3CCdHY2

        BTW I really appreciate the dialogue this post is encouraging. The succinctness of the original post is something to emulate especially if it provokes learning this way!

      • David

        Thanks again. The following was to have been a blog called, “I just bought a latte!!!”, but it fits better here:

        I first worked in London from 1989 to 1998. During that time mobile phone ownership exploded. The  commuter train journey home became an unpleasant cacophony of half conversations ranging from the banal,  “I will be home at 730”, presumably as usual, via obvious lies, “the cheque is in the post”,  to the downright offensive, specific quote omitted, available on request on proof of age.

        In 2010 I began working in London again after a stint well west of London. In this time mobile phone conversations on commuter trains had all but stopped. It does happen, but often by people I suspect don’t commute regularly or, as in my case, for calls from a very few people.

        People are absorbed in different things, like gaming, watching video and social media. But I am pretty sure that a de facto phone conversation protocol emerged. 

        The once booming and famous cry, “I’m on the train!”, which roughly translated to, “Look at me, I have a mobile phone, how cool am I?!”, has been replaced by the same phrase, but sotto voce, and which now means, “I can say, yes, no and maybe, but not much else”.

        I suspect that SM is going through the same process as we learn how to use it. 

        I have personal policies, well sort of. 

        Facebook – people I’d invite for dinner or friends from far flung places. Silliness allowed. Buzz rate high but intermittent. Essentially about showing off and having a laugh which is ok with friends. Tempted sometimes to post “LOOK AT ME !!!” and leave it at that, but I enjoy it really.

        Twitter – see my profile, @allinsona. Buzz rate off the chart. Personal use increasingly selective. Silliness occasional and usually alcohol related. Essentially about sharing content and swarming, then often for connecting with future work or thoughtful purpose in mind. As the connective tissue of community, amazing. However, if I want to talk to an individual I know really well, then, er, I will but not on twitter which in that context would be slow and utterly useless. Good for talking to myself which amuses Alison Chisnell 🙂

        LinkedIn – work. Silliness rare. Buzz rate, not the point, so please stop turning it in a Facebook / Twitter melange. Less swarm, more rolling maul. Essentially about stewardship of reputation and trust. Handle with care and when necessary.

        Being with and talking to people. Better than all of the above.

        In reality, each of these environments will appeal to different people in different ways as will what they are for. In turn, these perceptions will be informed by when people join in and perceive as normal. I joined LinkedIn about a decade ago. There is something about the growth of the LOOK AT ME element of it that I find amusing on Facebook but wrong on LinkedIn. Room for a serious competitor?

        Perhaps we need a comedian to announce that they have, “Just bought a latte!!!”, to accelerate the evolution process. Either that or I have to go and work in Bristol for another decade.



        Increasingly bemused by the length of my comments on my own blog but enjoying the conversation.

  5. My pet bugbear, is reciprocal recommendations (or endorsements). Often I see that X has recommended Y, and then 15 minutes later Y recommends X. It’s valueless, and for me it damages the credibility and integrity of both parties.

    With endorsements I sadly see an opportunity to do this even more easily.

    Which is another way of saying that if I recommend or endorse you, please don’t reflexively return the compliment. (Equally, if you endorse /recommend me please don’t expect me to automatically do the same for you!)

    In the end though I agree with David. I love giving and receiving endorsements & recommendations, where they’re thought through, well-meant and well deserved.

    PS May I endorse your blog for provoking a great discussion 🙂

    • Hi

      Thanks for joining this interesting conversation. To some extent my ludicrously long comment to David above is a response to your comment also but I should highlight that I consider LinkedIn to be a reflection of reputation and trust.

      I do wonder if recruiters will judge incessant buzz on LinkedIn negatively and perhaps already discount mutual recommendations if too numerous.

      The ease of mutuality works well on some platforms and suits their purposes. I still think the LinkedIn model benefits if its just a little harder as the result has persistent value. Other SM platforms tend to be more transient so instant mutuality makes more sense.

      I might just entitle my next blog, “Why?”, and see what happens?



  6. Thoughtful comments, all, on the uses (& abuses) of social media.

    The few LinkedIn endorsements I’ve received have also left me wondering what this game’s all about, namely, you’re endorsing the fact that I am a PMP (Project Management Professional certification from the Project Management Institute)?! Do you understand what you are doing in making that endorsement?

    It says ‘PMP’ after my name on my profile. ‘He’s a PMP,’ the bell rings, and so you click ‘Endorse’. So what? Are you endorsing it as a professional qualification? Well, there’s much debate as to how that ‘professional’ in PMP is qualified but it is a widely (=globally) recognised accreditation among project managers as a recruitment criteria. That you endorse my entitlement to it? But I had to meet the qualification criteria and pass an exam to do that, and continue to practice project management to keep it. Your endorsement has no bearing on my entitlement to it. That you endorse my competency as a PMP? On what basis are you making that judgement if you don’t even understand how the PMP is accredited in the first place? Or is your endorsement a proxy judgement on my abilities as a project manager: ‘Oh, he’s a PMP so he must be a good project manager’ Not necessarily so. A PMP say nothing about competency as performed by the holder.

    HR recruiters take note: a PMP endorsement on LinkedIn is redundant and meaningless so please don’t use it as a way of selecting a ‘good’ project manager (‘Oh, she’s got 12 PMP endorsements and he’s only got 6 so she’s a better PM’ – not).

    This whole endorsement thing feels like collecting bubble gum cards in the school playground: ‘I’ll swap you two Illya Kuryakins for one April Dancer.’ Showing my age with that example. That’s another redundant endorsement you can give me…

    • We all have along way to go with this stuff. I guess that acceptable norms will emerge but it seems to take everyone a while, like the way our use of phones for voice calls on trains has changed beyond recognition.

      There was an article in last Saturday’s Telegraph which contained an interesting quote and reflects why I thought hard about what I use different SM platforms for.


      That “… Websites such as Facebook and Twitter were creating a generation with a child-like desire for constant feedback on their lives.”, probably ought to make us think, and I suspect is what is behind your experience.

      I commented earlier on some of the thinking I had to do to try to get it right and I bet I still fail.

      Perhaps its time for a remake of the Jim Reeves classic, “Please Endorse Me, Let Me Go”.



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