LinkedIn Answers to the rescue... plus a primer on full-post RSS feedsSolve your business problems - with help from a community

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You might think there's no other social network out there these days with the rush to Facebook. But while they're the undeniable 800-friend gorilla on the block, there's still good reason to spread your social networking around a little.

A case in point: LinkedIn. This business-oriented site was long on the networking and short on the social for a long time, but early this year they introduced a feature named, prosaically, Answers. It's a simple idea: you post a question, your network of contacts is notified, and they or anyone else on the site can then answer.

Which means you can now draw quickly and easily on the expertise and experience of your professional network. And there's a strong incentive to share knowledge, especially in a professional environment. You can become known for your expertise and judgment, which raises your profile and, potentially, your commercial attractiveness. (No word on whether it increases your attractiveness in other spheres; my experience in high school suggests otherwise.)

All of which makes a strong hard-headed case for jumping in. But don't underestimate the urge to simply be helpful. That urge is the social nudge that makes LinkedIn Answers both powerful and fun.

Here's an example of someone using LinkedIn Answers to find out more about RSS feeds:

RSS: Is there an alternative to it?

I would like to be able to read articles off-line. RSS appears to be used only as notification service only - title and a small description. I would like to receive the whole article. Does not have to be fancy, text is just fine.

So far, three people have answered his question. I'm one of them:

These are two good answers. I'd add that some blogging platforms have a default setting that puts only excerpts of posts into feeds, which is another reason you see so many abbreviated RSS feeds. So half the trick is doing a little evangelism among bloggers about why full-post feeds are a good idea.

RSS, by the way, can distribute not only the full article of a post, but also much more. Even though the feed itself is text (it's in a format known as XML, or extensible markup language), it can include pointers to sound or video files, which is how podcasts and videocasts work. I distribute my cartoon, Noise to Signal, via an RSS feed that contains pointers to the individual GIF files, and many photographers use them to allow others to subscribe to their work. (You can find photo feeds on Flickr, for example.)

Finally, as Christopher notes, there's another format for feeds known as Atom (not to mention a variety of flavors of RSS). Most modern feed-reading software and services can accept any of them, and feed publishers can use a service like Feedburner to avoid compatibility issues altogether.

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Comments

Steven Chris says

August 18, 2007 - 9:05pm
You could find it very useful, if you are reading Linkedin Questions and using RSS. From now on, you could read Linkedin questions and answers in one aggregated RSS feed http://www.edgehunt.com/mashup/linkedin . We have developed for internal use, but many of you could benefit, therefore making it limited beta, an aggregated Linkedin RSS Answers feed that contains not only question but as well answers. The regular Linkedin RSS does give you only questions, no answers. And as well, it does not aggregate all categories into one feed but rather you must subscribe to 10+ feeds to get all questions.

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