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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

LinkedIn Group Guidelines or Rules of Engagement

LinkedIn Group Guidelines or Rules of Engagement
Have you given thought to your LinkedIn Group Guidelines or Rules of Engagement? It's an important question, and yet one that many group owners, managers and moderators haven't addressed.

Recently, Tricia Pompo from Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants, Inc. - whom I got to meet in person at Coverings - emailed me about LinkedIn Group Guidelines or Rules.  Here is her message: 


I wonder if I can pick your brain a little? In your presentation and in our conversations you’ve said that “rules” should be created for those of us that have a group on Linkedin. For the life of me, I cannot find any examples! Is it just that not too many groups are actually making rules, or are they hiding somewhere in their page where I cannot see them? I looked under all the groups of which we are members and there aren’t any. Can you send me an example?

Thanks so much.

My model for LinkedIn Group moderation, interaction and guidelines is HIMSS, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, which has successfully grown a LinkedIn Group to over 40,000 members by nurturing interaction, carefully moderating and consistently communicating its guidelines. [For more perspective, read my post HIMSS, Social Media & Heathcare IT Community.]

When I read Tricia's email, I immediately went to the HIMSS group and found their guidelines. But, then I became curious and decided to check out more of the groups I belong to in search of LinkedIn Group Guidelines or Rules. And I had difficulty!

Many LinkedIn Groups aren't that vibrant and others, too self-promotional. The ones that shine are ones where the group owner actively moderates, invites conversation and encourages the sharing of true value with members.

Regardless, I expected to trip over more examples of LinkedIn Group Rules and Guidelines to share with Tricia.

What has been your experience? Which LinkedIn Groups do you consider most vibrant and what are their guidelines? How are those guidelines and rules of engagement communicated?

Here are two examples:

Lead Change LinkedIn Group:

The purpose of this group is to connect and discuss character-based leadership. You will notice that self-promotion is generally ignored. People in this community connect and share openly about leadership, but if all you do is talk about yourself, people will lose interest quickly. Promoting other groups or services that don't have to do with leadership development will cause us to move your discussions to the Promotions area, or ban you altogether.

HIMSS Group Rules of Engagement

Please read the following rules of engagement before posting. They are designed to ensure the HIMSS Group remains professional, vibrant, and useful for all group members. Since there are gray areas for such rules, HIMSS Group moderators reserve the right to interpret the rules of engagement so the group can successfully lead change in the health IT and management systems field through knowledge sharing and communications. Although, HIMSS staff moderates the group, members are encouraged to help the moderators in this process by reading and following the Rules of Engagement, flagging inappropriate content and inform a moderator of spam and inappropriate content.

RULE #1: All discussions and shared links must clearly relate to the health IT and management systems field.

RULE # 2: Discussions should advance the professional development of health IT and management systems professionals.

RULE #3: Discussions must clearly invite member response and participation. When posting discussions or sharing links, pose questions to garner quality conversations.

RULE #4: Discussion items must be self-contained. While articles, blogs or other reputable health IT and management systems sources may support a good discussion, these resources cannot substitute a discussion.

RULE #5: Be professional, kind, polite and respectful of other members.

RULE #6: Promotions of products and services (even when free) are not allowed.

RULE #7: Job posts are not allowed. This includes messages that advertise job opportunities; recruit candidates; feature resumes and applications, or that self-promote one’s availability for positions. If you are in the process of seeking a new position or looking to hire a new candidate, visit HIMSS JobMine at

RULE #8: Spam messages and postings are prohibited. Spam includes:
• Sending multiple unsolicited messages to group members. Substantiated complaints will result in the spammer being removed and blocked from the group.
• Posting the same discussion repeatedly in order to promote a product, service or company.
• Posting commercial comments in discussions when such comments have nothing to do with the discussion.
• Posting comments in one’s own discussion for the sole purpose of making it go to the top of discussions.

RULE #9: General invitations to connect are not allowed in the discussions forum.

RULE #10: BREAKING THESE RULES OR ANY OF LINKEDIN TERMS OF USE MAY LEAD TO MEMBER REMOVAL. Members who break the HIMSS Group Rules of Engagement or the LinkedIn Users Agreement, may receive a reminder or may be removed and/or blocked without additional notice.

Thanks, Tricia, for the question.

For those of you with LinkedIn Group Guidelines and Rules experience, what would you add to these examples? What other examples have you come across?

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  1. This is a great topic and a real sore spot with me. I dropped a number of LinkedIn groups last years because there seemed to be no enforcement of any rules. (Assuming rules even existed.)

    I just got fed up with it. I was having to sift through too much noise before finding the one or two nuggets of great discussions. Maybe this is more prevalent in the marketing-related groups.

    I had originally joined different groups in the hopes of having a great discussion with people... on the LinkedIn site.

    A lot of people seemed to want to have a discussion... on their site. So you'd see someone ask a question, then encourage you to answer it on their site. If you answered it within the LinkedIn discussion, you were likely to be asked to repeat your answer on their site.

    I like traffic to my site just as much as the next person. But this just rubbed me the wrong way to the point where I started dropping groups.

    Even with the groups I'm still a part of, I see (in most cases, not all) more noise than useful dialog.

    As I write this, it strikes me that in this age of social media, it can still be a challenge to find places to have good, helpful, meaningful conversations with people that aren't centered around trying to sell something.

  2. Mike,

    Thanks for weighing in. I’m actually surprised that there isn’t more effort made to curate and manage these various conversations.

    Unfortunately, most who create LinkedIn [or other] groups, don’t spend enough time up front thinking about the purpose of the group and what the guidelines and expectations will be. What you describe contributes to social media fatigue and overload.

    I’m meaning to sift thru my LinkedIn groups for the exact same reasons you describe…. Meanwhile, I delete the notifications.



Reminder: Please, no self-promotional or SPAM comments. Don't bother if you're simply trying to build inauthentic link juice. Finally, don't be anonymous: it's too hard to have a conversation. Thanks, CB

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