[ANNCMNT] Major LinkedIn Updates (that impact you!) and Group Transition

Hello Etherneteers!

Folks, it’s great to be able to restart updates, even if in a somewhat restricted form. So, welcome back! As the genie said in Alladin “10,000 years (in a lamp), will give you such a crick in the neck!” https://youtu.be/s94HmtQwX7o, and as a Group Owner, trapped in the lamp that is LinkedIn Groups, I feel much the same!


The Significance of Announcements …

The ability to share announcements with you again is very significant (at least in the near term), because it allows us to feature important posts, and get the word of those posts out to the entire Group membership. And, it allows communication with you to let you know about important Group developments that I am planning, which will require some serious action on your part if you wish to remain part of this Group (more on this ahead).

This is big! Because being able to send these updates to all of the Group’s members (at least for now) provides a renewed incentive to Group members to post their questions, their important queries, and their technical issues to the Group once again because they can be assured that, through this update, their posts will get the attention of the Group’s membership, and can lead to fruitful interactions, which is the foundation upon which this Group is built. 

As I feature member posts as part of the updates (gradually, I will go back to sharing a mindmap of important posts, classified by topic, together with my commentary, as I was doing from early 2014 through early 2016 or so), all members will become aware of these posts, and we can now have engaging discussions on important topics of value to the members.

Indeed, this process was instrumental is making our Group one of the most engaged ones on LinkedIn, until just a few short years ago, when LinkedIn, in its infinite wisdom, began emasculating Groups by cutting some of their most useful features off, and severely restricted a Group Leader’s ability to truly energize and lead the Group, and thus, the owner’s ability to provide value to the Group’s entire membership.

… The Plan to Migrate …

The last couple of years were very busy for me on many fronts – both professional and personal. I was (and still am!) making some exciting changes to my consulting practice and the direction of my company (stay tuned for announcements on those fronts soon as we focus more on web-based content that can be accessed by professionals globally), my daughter was growing up and entered high-school, and along the way we decided to home-school her for the last couple years of her high-school (a most unusual decision – most people don’t generally pull their kids out half-way through high-school to home-school them – that’s a story for another day! But, if you’re in this boat (hint – we got tired of the regular school system, which seemed to demand more and more, while giving less and less) feel free to reach out with your queries, as I now have  a little experience in these matters :-)). As a result, while I continued managing the Group, the process of Group migration obviously slowed down :-).

… and The Reason Why?

With the changes that LinkedIn has now made, however, it is imperative that this Group find a new home, and I am actively working on that. I outline a couple of these significant changes below and explain how they effect you as a LinkedIn user, and, more importantly, as a Carrier Ethernet Group Member. While we can still use LinkedIn as a home for now, we must, as many other Groups have wisely done, migrate to a different home as soon as practicable – one where it is easier to communicate, where member’s posts get appropriate coverage, and where members can more meaningfully interact with each other to truly benefit from the sharing of knowledge on our Group, which is the raison d’etre of our Group.

It is of no use, I believe, to have a Group where interaction is stifled, member communications are made needlessly difficult, a Group Leader’s ability to energize the Group and to even see who is in the Group (!) is unwisely curtailed, and a live, vibrant community of many years is unnecessarily stifled – all of which has happened to our Group with LinkedIn’s changes the last couple of years (and which show all signs of getting worse!)

So before I discuss the technical topics that our Group is known for, let me systematically cover some recent changes by LinkedIn that gravely impact your ability to utilize the platform, and effectively make a mockery of the effort you have likely expended in building your connections and relations on LinkedIn, and, by the same token, affect your ability to benefit from membership in a group such as ours.

LinkedIn Has Effectively Removed Your Ability to Communicate with Your First-Degree Connections! (Yes, you heard that right!)

Did you know that with some recent changes instituted by LinkedIn (actually, nearly a year old at this point!), your ability to communicate with your first-degree connections is effectively gone? No? Not surprising. Millions (and I suspect hundreds of millions) of LinkedIn’s users don’t yet know that, and neither did I until just earlier this year, when I downloaded a list of my first-degree contacts only to find that none of their emails were included!

You see, back in November 2018 or so, LinkedIn quietly changed the way members’ privacy settings are configured, without ever informing its members/users of this critical change! The change is that LinkedIn introduced a new option under “Who Can See Your Email Address” in Privacy settings, where a member has to give explicit permission for their first-degree connections to be able to access and download his/her email, AND, the default setting for this option is “No”. 

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The result is that with the stroke of just one change, LinkedIn effectively barred you from having access to the contact information/email of your own first-degree connections!

Let that sink in for a while – the whole reason you have first-degree connections is so you can communicate with them, at least via email (if someone does not wish to communicate with you, they should not be a first-degree connection to start with, and visa-versa – what would be the point of having a first-degree connection that you cannot communicate with? Or, whose contact information needs to be hidden from you??) 

Now if LinkedIn, by this artifice, takes away your ability to access a contact’s email, you have no way to communicate with them, except through the LinkedIn messaging system (this messaging system, if you’ve used it, is the absolute worst-one there is! There is no way to collate messages from a given user or by topic, no easy way to find messages from years ago, no way to group messages, hard to attach files, and on and on and on). 

Also, you cannot now, get a list of your first-degree connections and their email addresses via a simple csv file download (as you could until just a few months ago), unless every one of your contacts is aware of this change, and has changed their default email visibility to allow their first-degree contacts to download their email. 

But that’s the classic catch-22! How could a member change that option, if, like you and me, they don’t even know (and have no way of knowing!) that this privacy option has been altered, and has been set to “No”! If you wished to make all your contacts aware of this change and request them to change that default setting to “Yes”, you would, literally, have to message each and every one of them to tell them what I just told you! That could take weeks, if not months, even with just a couple thousand connections.

You see the problem here? It will be many months, possibly many years (or possibly forever), before every one of your first-degree connections changes this default, and until that time (if it ever comes) you effectively have no access to their contact information, which in this case is email! Unless … you wish to take the time to go to the profile of every single one of your first-degree contacts, click on the “See contact info” link, find their email in the resulting pop-up menu, and copy it from there into an Excel file! If you have even a few thousand connections this could take months to collect – plus, if you do it too quickly or by using a bot or program, LinkedIn will detect that it’s not a human (and operating much faster than human speed), and block or suspend your account (at least temporarily)!

What this has meant for me is that even though there are at least 2100+ or so Carrier Ethernet Group members that I am directly connected to, I cannot communicate even with this subset of members to inform them of the migration of the Group! So, I have to find a way to inform each of you of the need to provide your contact information to me again!!

What this additionally means for you, as a Group member, is if you wished to help with the migration of the Group by informing (via email) those of your first-degree contacts that are Group members (and who I may not be able to reach), you also cannot (easily) do that!


So, it is now more important than ever that all of us, collectively, work to get the word out of the imminent migration of our Group to a different home, and that we all request members that we know to provide their contact information/email using this form http://bit.ly/20OjGVO.


LinkedIn Doesn’t Let a Group Owner See Who is in Their Group! …


Another change by LinkedIn has been that they only allow a Group’s Owner (me) to see about 3000 members of the Group, and block access thereafter. And, even this is obtained by the painful process of mechanically scrolling down the list of members. 

Earlier, this would show up as 50 (and, later, 20) members per page, and one could navigate to a certain page number (say, page 50) if one wanted to see members after a given number of members. So, with 50 members per page, page 50 would show members from 2451 through 2500. Now, one has to just keep scrolling down, waiting for LinkedIn to keep loading more names, and there is no easy way to count how many members you’ve passed! This is more than stone-age backwards, in my view! And, it serves no useful purpose, other than to frustrate users/Group Owners and waste their time, time that could be invested in doing more for the Group. And, what is gained by frustrating users? …. I simply don’t know!

It follows then that I can no longer even know exactly who is in the Group! And, more importantly, unless I already know that someone is in the Group, I cannot find and communicate with new members, send personal messages/reminders to old members, and so on. This is beyond backwards, it’s asinine!

What this means is that the immense amount of energizing that I did for the Group behind the scenes, by communicating off-line with many members about their areas of interest, suggestions for topics to post on or do videos on, motivate them to participate, inspire them to contribute, and share ideas to improve Group management, can no longer happen!

If I, as a Group Owner cannot see beyond 3000 members, that leaves, in our case, upwards of 9,000 members who I cannot reach, and thus, cannot interact with, motivate, or learn preferences from. (I shudder to think what happens to Group Owners of groups with tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of members!)

This, by itself, means that we must move to a different venue, and that is why I am going to take time in these updates to constantly remind members (if they indeed wish to continue being part of this Group) to update their contact information (and, at the very least, their email address) via this form http://bit.ly/20OjGVO.


 … So We Need Interested Members to Fill This Form (If they haven’t already done so) …


As a result of the changes outlined above, and their impact on Group communications, it is imperative that every Group member who wishes to remain part of this vibrant community make a little effort and do the following:

  1. First, do fill out this form yourself, asap! http://bit.ly/20OjGVO It only takes about 5 minutes, so make sure you do so right now, before you forget! 🙂 If you are one of the 303 members that have already filled this form, great! We got you covered; you needn’t fill this form again.
  2. Second, if you have colleagues/friends who are members of our Group, please share this post with them, educate them on the changes on LinkedIn, inform them about the imminent migration of the Group, and do ask them to fill the above form.
  3. Third, share the link to this form on your social media channels (LinkedIn, Twitter, …) requesting other Group members to make sure they sign up/register, so we know how to reach them. This collective effort is important, because, as I’ve explained, we can leave no stone unturned when it comes to ensuring that every member of our Group is aware of the situation, and is given the opportunity to make a decision about whether they wish to continue being part of the Group.
  4. Fourth, if you have any suggestions on how we can get the word out to more members of our Group (at present, we are limited to those members who receive this update or recommendation; that is decided by LinkedIn’s algorithms, so there is no assurance that every single member of our Group is necessarily receiving this update).

… And, now on to Technology Matters! …


This issue covers 5G Evolution, Cloud-Native, SDN Complexity, Network Automation, AI, Telco Evolution, and Industry  goings-on, which are all covered in the technology portion of the post here http://bit.ly/2YrMNE6The corresponding Mindmap is at http://bit.ly/2sIeUCY. (Note: You may have to refresh your web browser at least once after clicking the Mindmap link to actually see the map!)

Would love your feedback on how you like the new formats, and what else we can do to make this more valuable for you. Until next time, may be bits in your byte and the bytes in your packets be profitable!