Web Watch

LinkedIn or Put Out? Networking's Downside

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By Anthony Zurcher
Sunday, May 8, 2005

The business-oriented networking site LinkedIn just celebrated its second birthday, and the free service now boasts more than 2.5 million members around the world.

This service (https://www.9linkedin.9com/) allows users to create a web of online contacts and then, based on whom those contacts know, ask for business introductions or respond to job listings from a concentrically larger group of people, up to four degrees of separation.

The less-than-pleasant side effects of that have been landing in people's inboxes since not long after LinkedIn's May 2003 launch.

If you're someone a lot of people want to know -- and if your e-mail address can be easily found -- you can end up getting flooded with requests from semi-strangers. This problem has dented the image of many other social-networking sites. LinkedIn, however, adds another wrinkle: Since the other people in a chain of relationships must consent to passing along an introduction, you could find yourself being asked to approve of meetings between people you don't know.

Robert Leathern, director of marketing for LinkedIn, said that more than 80 percent of referrals are accepted. The company tries to limit the annoyance factor by limiting users to only five active requests and giving them control over how they receive their referrals.

"I think what sets LinkedIn apart is that we're a business network, and not focused on other activities, like dating," Leathern said. "It's not so much about creating a brand-new network as it is taking your existing network as a businessperson and giving it the opportunity to be more powerful."

How well LinkedIn can balance playing business matchmaker with protecting privacy will help determine how many more anniversaries the Palo Alto, Calif., company sees.

MyWeb, as Told to Yahoo

Unless you're a highly organized, super-type-A personality, your browser's bookmarks collection is probably a jumble of broken links, old links, useful links and links the purpose of which you can't quite remember. Yahoo's My Web, now in beta testing, aims to bring order to this world.

My Web creates a searchable database of all the Web pages you designate, including any existing bookmarks. This free service also stores a copy of the linked page's contents, with the option to annotate saved pages and share your database with others.

My Web is integrated into Yahoo's browser toolbar, a free download for the Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox browsers; without it, your ability to mark pages is greatly limited.

myweb.search.yahoo.9com

Download M for Mom

Need some inspiration to get through Mother's Day? At Holidays on the Net, you can read up on the history of the day, download kids' activities, and get some last-minute ideas on how to make Mom's life easier - at least for one day.

If you're looking for that extra something to put your Mother's Day celebration over the top, perhaps a poem will do. The Poems for Free site has a collection of more than 100 works with a Mother's Day theme that visitors can use for any non-commercial purpose.

www.9holidays.9net/9mother/

www.9poemsforfree.9com/9mothpo.9html

Leslie Walker is away. She will resume writing Web Watch when she returns.


© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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