It was just two months ago that I reported LinkedIn would soon discontinue their Events page. Today, I have even more bad news... As of Jan. 31, LinkedIn Answers will be retired from LinkedIn. What's going on? LinkedIn says rather than keeping Answers alive, they want to focus "efforts on the development of new and more engaging ways to share and discuss professional topics across LinkedIn."
LinkedIn Answers, very much like Events, was an almost hidden feature of LinkedIn. Neither of these elements were on the top navigation pane. In order to find them, you had to delve into the More area of LinkedIn's Navigation bar.
LinkedIn Answers provided a way to leverage LinkedIn's knowledge base by asking questions that anyone on LinkedIn could answer. LinkedIn Answers was a great way to get advice from subject matter experts but conversely, it was a great way to showcase your expertise. Whether you had a question that needed to be answered OR you were answering other people's questions, LinkedIn Answers provided real value to those participating.
There were some issues with LinkedIn Answers. Namely, people were a bit hesitant to ask truly probing questions, especially around their own industry. You see, there is no anonymity on LinkedIn and so by asking certain questions, you could showcase a lack of knowledge. Additionally, marketers LOVED LinkedIn answers and many times you'd find the same people answering questions, regardless of their expertise level, with the sole hope of getting a poor schlub to click their spammy link. Regardless of the cons, LinkedIn Answers was a great place to find expert advice and a forum to share your wealth of knowledge.
Alternatives to LinkedIn Answers
Now that LinkedIn Answers is headed out to pasture, how will you get your questions answered? How can you showcase your knowledge by helping others? Well, here's a few LinkedIn Answers Alternatives:
"Quora connects you to everything you want to know about... When you want to know more about something, Quora delivers you answers and content from people who share your interests and people who have first-hand knowledge"
"Metafilter is a weblog that anyone can contribute a link or a comment to and exists to break down the barriers between people, to extend a weblog beyond just one person, and to foster discussion among its members."
"Stack Exchange is a growing network of individual communities, each dedicated to serving experts in a specific field. We build libraries of high-quality questions and answers, focused on each community's area of expertise."
"Yahoo! Answers is a place where people ask and answer questions on any topic. Why not share your facts, opinions and personal experiences with the Yahoo! Answers community?"
"Answers.com oﬀers peer-generated answers to millions of searched for questions. An incredibly active community keeps Answers.com relevant and always up-to-date."
Of the alternatives to LinkedIn Answers listed above, my favorite is Ask Metafilter. AskMeFi is truly a community of users devoted to helping each other. Whenever I have visited the forums or asked a question, I received good, solid, thoughtful advice. Additionally, marketers haven't yet descended on this site and so you get real people helping each other without the smarmy marketer pushing their product or service.
Of course, if you wish to stay in the LinkedIn universe, you can take LinkedIn's advice: "In the meantime, you can still pose questions and facilitate professional discussions through other popular LinkedIn channels including LinkedIn Polls, Groups, or status updates."
"LinkedIn Polls allows you to easily find answers to your business and market research questions. Ask your question, and we'll distribute it to your connections and millions of other professionals on LinkedIn. Share your Poll through our Facebook or Twitter integrations, or embed the voting module on your own website or blog."
"LinkedIn Groups provide a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to share content, find answers, post and view jobs, make business contacts, and establish themselves as industry experts. You can find groups to join in the Groups Directory or view suggestions of groups you may like."
LinkedIn Status Updates
You can share thoughts, articles or other content-rich websites by using the posting module on your LinkedIn homepage to share with your network of connections within LinkedIn.
Bye Bye LinkedIn Answers
It's really a shame to see LinkedIn Answers discontinued. It wasn't a popular spot on LinkedIn but to those who ventured inside, it was a place to get expert advice, help people, and see the trends of the day.
Over the last 6 months, LinkedIn has truly pared down to its core functionality. It's certainly sad to see aspects of their site disappear but it's clear they have a focus and goal. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for new functionality. What do you think is in the works for LinkedIn? What site will you use as an alternative to LinkedIn Answers?
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