Comedian Groucho Marx once quipped that he didn't care to "belong to any club that would have me as a member." The latest announcement from LinkedIn opens up the professional social network site a bit so that non-LinkedIn members can view Groups on the Web.
"In the new Open Groups, all discussions can be viewed by anyone on the Web, found on any search engines, and can be shared on other social networking platforms like Twitter, in addition to LinkedIn, Ian McCarthy, principal product manager at LinkedIn, said in a blog post.
LinkedIn made clear it's not opening up all groups to viewing on the Web though.
"Whether or not to make a group open is entirely up to the groups owner," said McCarthy. "If he or she switches to an Open Group, we'll immediately let all members know about the change and future discussions will be viewable online. Past discussions will only be accessible to group members, through a members-only archive."
Social media analyst and author Paul Gillin said it's a smart move by LinkedIn, particularly since it's maintaining the private group option.
"LinkedIn understands the value of friend relationships and the private community, which is a core space for them," Gillin told InternetNews.com. "But giving those groups the option to gain more visibility and get them some search love sounds like a smart idea."
The move builds on an earlier release LinkedIn made in October Linked that added new features for group moderators designed to limit spam and better control who gets admitted to a group.
Gillin said the tool has proved useful to LinkedIn group moderators like him.
"A lot of people liked LinkedIn because the groups aren't public and they won't get spammed. Also you won't get in if you're not legitimate member," he said. For example, Gillin said LinkedIn sends him an automated message when someone with no connections tries to join his group.
"It's a good first screen, because the ones who want to market to members are always trying to join these groups," he said.
McCarthy said LinkedIn's moderation tools help maintain the quality of conversations and now will allow managers of open groups to specify who can contribute and how.