LinkedIn has announced that as of the end of January, Answers will be discontinued.
In an email shot to users it stated:
We’re focusing our efforts on developing new and more engaging ways to share and discuss professional topics across LinkedIn. We look forward to sharing the details with you in the coming months, so please stay tuned.
The Answers area was where professionals went to gather advice and opinion and worked a lot better than LinkedIn Groups which sadly has become an unmoderated place for spam content. In a lot of ways, Answers was the grandfather of Quora and LinkedIn was the perfect platform to launch it on, people could focus on specifics, create polls to garner consensus and also generate valuable leads from it, in this regard it was a marketer’s wet dream.
But the main thing that Answers gave was credibility. This was the platform to gain real endorsement from as the answers you gave were ranked. Sadly the actual Endorsements function implemented last year has become a bit of a joke, people receiving marks on their skills from tenous connections they’ve never met, it’s completely undervalued the meaning of ‘professional‘ networking. If LinkedIn had been clever they’d have connected Answers to Endorsements and made professionals work for their points, not give them away like sweets.
There’s an opportunity for Quora to capitalise on it’s demise, if nothing else Quora will expand on it’s user base and offer something else to entice more people to the platform, like micro-blogging a la Tumblr for example. Right now users of the social Q&A platform can connect their LinkedIn profile and post directly from the app, but if Quora and LinkedIn were clever they could find a way to connect voting up answers to endorsements and drive some value from that feature again. Even if nothing happened in this direction, with 200m members on LinkedIn compared with 1.5m using Quora they can reap the benefits and claim the Answers userbase for their own. So what’s next for the LinkedIn axe ? Answers is going, Events has gone. If LinkedIn provided a real way to engage people other than apeing Facebook and the spammers paradise known as Groups then it may save itself from a dirty decline.
For Answers it’s too late unless there’s a rally or petition from users to save it.
The alternative is for LinkedIn to buy Quora and do something meaningful with Endorsements again.