Leni Mayo

aussie startups and stuff

Linkedin Recommendations Are Junk

You’re asked by a former colleague for a linkedin recommendation. What do you do?

I (mostly) plan to say “no”.

Why? Because I’m struck by the similarity between linkedin recommendations and “new buy” stock market recommendations.

“new buy” stock market recommendations

In Behavioural Bias and Conflicts of Interest in Analyst Stock Recommendations, researchers found that on average, “new buy” stock market recommendations have no investment value.

The specific concerns are:

sell-side analysts’ recommendations were overly optimistic and did not seem to reflect their true beliefs about the stocks they were reporting on.

By mid-2000, the percentage of buy recommendations had reached 74% of total recommendations outstanding while the percentage of sells had fallen to 2%

Both of these observations strike me as consistent with linkedin recommendations, which are:

  • overly optimistic

    How often have you read a nuanced linkedin review?

    so-and-so was great at X but struggled with Y

    It’s rare. I don’t recall ever reading a nuanced linkedin review.

  • mostly positive, rarely negative

    How many times have you read a negative review on linkedin? Almost never? Me too.

I want to contribute more signal to the world, and less noise. Sorry linkedin, I suspect that your recommendations aren’t providing value to their audience, so I’m not motivated to participate.

This is argument by analogy - dangerous territory. The incentives and biases around stock analyst recommendations have been studied extensively. I’d love to read something that explores the incentives and biases around linkedin recommendations. Anyone?

Discussion on HackerNews.