LinkedIn Links to Recent Contacts, Redefines Recent

    August 14, 2007

On Friday, I wondered what happened to a favorite LinkedIn feature for viewing recent users. I received two subsequent emails from customer service, only to find out I was wrong about the feature because of LinkedIn’s questionable grammar. The semantic web’s a long way off if we can’t master our native languages’ semantics first.

Here’s the first of the two responses:

I do apologize for not being familiar with this feature. I did some research and no one that I talked to was familiar with this feature either. So, I have escalated this to a higher level for you. I am sure we will get to the bottom of this for you. Thank you for being a valued Linkedin Member.

While I didn’t feel that valued, I received one more email that answered enough of my questions for the time being:

I found the answer to your dilemma. The old “Other Contacts” browser (which is still available for users who don’t have Javascript enabled) allowed you to “view recent users first”.  It displayed the LinkedIn members in your “Other Contacts” sorted by when they joined LinkedIn, not when they last logged on. To get to the old contacts browser without actually disabling Javascript on your browser, you can use this link:

The specific view you’re talking about is this:

I hope this helps. I do apologize for not being familiar with this right away. For the confusion I have given you 5 InMails to use. They do expire in 90 days so don’t let them go to waste. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

This gets into the semantic confusion. The entire time, I thought "recent users" meant "people who used LinkedIn recently." Yet LinkedIn actually meant "newest users," which is still helpful, but nowhere nearly as useful for me. If my contacts were on LinkedIn recently, as I thought LinkedIn implied, then it meant I was reaching out to someone already recently engaged with the site. Yet these were the newest contacts, so I was performing a different service instead, often becoming one of the first people to connect with them and helping them build their networks.

The end result is the same, and I still like being able to sort by newest contacts as one more way to slice and dice the list rather than just alphabetically. I’d love for LinkedIn to amend its privacy policy and allow sorting by recent users additionally, but I’d imagine given the frequency to which LinkedIn is used as a job hunting site, the backlash would be greater than the appreciation by a few of its power users. Granted, if people are actively job hunting, they’re probably suddenly ramping up connections, especially to recruiters, and that will in turn be displayed to others in that person’s network. It’s hard to take advantage of a site like that and use it in complete stealth; a much better practice is to use it consistently, whether that’s daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on your role, profession, and temperament for networking.

Two postscripts:

1) A blog reader wondered if LinkedIn still has the feature where you can view who’s viewed your profile (at least in some vague sense, such as a location or employer) and how many times your profile came up in search results. I saw it about a week ago but don’t see it anymore. Do you still see it? I’ve also asked my new best friend in customer service for more dirt.

2) If we have met or been in contact to some degree, I welcome connecting.