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Is PolyWork the new LinkedIn for Developers?

Andrew Brown πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
πŸš€ CEO of ExamPro πŸš€ free AWS Certification courses on freeCodeCamp youtube πŸš€ AWS Community Hero πŸš€ DEV Moderator for AWS tag πŸš€ Star Trek Obsessed
・Updated on ・6 min read

P.S. I just want to frontload this article to ask you what is your opinion about the new professional network? I'd love to read the comments. I want to get the conversation going so this is why I wrote this long form post.

What is Polywork?

Polywork is a professional network, and it could be described as an alternative to LinkedIn though It would be better to compare them as the following:

  • LinkedIn β€” A resume directory with a social-professional network built adjacent to your resume profile.
  • Polywork β€” A historical professional portfolio or journal that also is the social-professional network.

I think the co-founder was previously a designer at Google, and the marketing and onboarding give you a strong impression that UX is this team's immediate strength.

UX alone is not enough, so let us dive into a few thoughts about this new platform.

What can I do in Polywork?

Polywork as of the time of this article is incomplete. They are slowly bringing users into their network via invites and with a strong feedback loop, ensuring the features they engineer will deliver on their service's core principles.

What you can currently do:

  • create a profile
  • choose an AI assistant
  • create posts to your professional timeline (you can backdate to anytime)
  • follower other users
  • contact other users via strictly defined opportunities

What you cannot do:

  • you cannot like a post
  • you cannot comment on a post
  • you share a post to your professional timeline
  • you cannot see public metrics about posts

Some of these "cannots" I think, are by design, and others are latent features yet to be released. I think we can expect to see commenting, and I think Polywork may decide not to have likes or show metrics.
The latter is a strong possibility when we see Instagram talking about giving its users the options to hide mentions and metrics.

This stems from being socially aware of the negative effects on a user's mental health when putting too much value on social media statistics.

Who is Polywork targeting?

Superficially speaking, it would look like Polywork is building a professional network that strongly appeals to the aesthetics of young professionals eg. influencers, developer advocates, designers, hustlers, lifestyle entrepreneurs, models and musicians. So far, these have been the early adopters.

It is important to put aside the presented aesthetic and talk about the function and future of resumes because it becomes apparent that this network is for everyone.

Resume 2.0

A resume is a pdf you email to a company, but another way to see is that it is a protocol (standardized method of communication)

A resume is job-history-oriented, and the we verify an applicants authenticity is via the resume protocol:

  • analyze the written composition of the resume for anomalies
  • references for a third-party attestment
  • interrogate an applicant against their written content at a per task level

Shifting from Job-Oriented to Activity-Oriented

With a resume it primes the hiring manager or recruiter to use job-history oriented as the filter:

  • Is this person switching jobs too frequently?
  • Does this person have gaps been workplaces?

The problem with this kind of analysis is that these are superficial concerns and do not tell if an applicant is qualified. Also, it does not adapt to the market as a whole such as:

  • more people want only to be part-time to be their own entrepreneur
  • companies are offering fewer full-time roles
  • companies are offering less long-term stable roles
  • the rise of a generation who knows how to produce public-facing content
  • the rise of a new global workforce from developing countries and not sticking to resume norms

Wouldn't it be more valuable if you could filter and explore activities?
If you still needed a summary, wouldn't it be nice if an AI could be trusted to generate the cliff notes from sourced materials?

Change of the Composition of Resumes

AI is becoming more accessible and valuable. Look at GPT3 and CopyAI, and it is getting good at generating content that is indistinguishable from human-generated content.

What happens when your entire resume can be spoofed by AI and cannot be discerned as being generated by AI with another AI?
You will need more granular information to show where information has been sourced from.

Attestment

References have not been legitimate for years. Anyone can pretend to be your reference; anyone can endorse your work without tangible proof.

People on LinkedIn will endorse me as being knowledgeable with AWS. The reason they endorse me is that I help them pass their certification exam. It would be more useful if the proof of endorsement was tied to an activity such as posting their cloud certification, which I helped them obtain through my free study course and then associated it with me.

In LinkedIn, you can kind of replicate this by mentioning people on a post in the LinkedIn public time-stream, but it becomes eventually lost since it cannot be easily filtered because LinkedIn social network with adjacent, not your resume.

Opportunity-based instead of Spam-based

Direct Messaging on LinkedIn, on the whole, is people messaging you for unsolicited services. It has us treat every connection or relationship with suspicion and apprehension.

Polywork has fives messaging a purpose before being sent to a target user, and this is the first big step to cut down on spam.

I could see them expanding this feature with their AI assistant to assess whether the sent message is genuine, meaningful and a wanted communication, and the system could quickly penalize unapologetic spammers via an internal karma system.

It could also be that activity tags could be associated with contact types. This would allow contacting users to be forced to understand the context of what they are messaging for and do their homework to understand if there is genuinely is alignment.

Can't LinkedIn copy these features like how they can copy Instagram User Stories and Clubhouse audio chats?

LinkedIn could replicate these features, but the fundamental way their social network works like connections and resumes profile the public live stream, these features would be subject to exploit that render them not as valuable.

LinkedIn would be better off acquiring or partnering with Polywork and position themselves as a job board and resume platform.
LinkedIn Resumes are not useless, but their value and purpose are going to change, and LinkedIn is not positioned to deliver on Resume 2.0

What does this Polywork have to do with developers?

The normal combination today for developers applying to a job is Resume + LinkedIn + Github.
Learning in public like #100DaysOfCode and #100DaysOfCloud challenges help provide structure around these proof of work.

Github is great that it you can use a repo as a journal, but even for 100DaysOfCloud I have to tell people take those entries and tie social proof to them like on Twitter on LinkedIn and we don't have useful social-relationship metadata with these github entries for discoverability.

I can't tell you how many people completed the 100DaysOCloud challenge, I can't find journals github unless people self-submit, I can't consistent filter to find the 100th day on Twitter or Linked since people are inconsistent with tagging.

Polywork can make solve all this in one package and I think that will be better for developer communities for their proof of work.

How does DEV fit with Polywork?

DEV has a user profile that can be customized, but I think Polywork can allow you to showcase your best work, and by being selective of posting your best DEV articles into your Polywork timeline. Rich relational metadata can built ontop of your content.

I don't see Polywork replacing DEV for dicussion, because DEV is a forum quasi-blog which excels for more in-depth and long-form discussion.

Summary

There is more to Polywork that I did not have to cover: like

  • community building
  • content discovery
  • user and relationship discovery
  • professional identity 2.0

But I want you to know that Polywork is not just for young professionals; it's for everyone, and whether you decide to use it today, tomorrow or three years or five years from now, it will become a valuable tool you will use at some point.

My recommendation is if you are not yet ready to adopt, sign up and get your handle, so when you are ready, you aren't andrewbrown543242.

Discussion (18)

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markramrattan profile image
Mark Ramrattan

I think if I didn’t read your blog about the negative effects on user mental health with social media statistics. I would have thought it was a forthcoming feature not yet released (liking posts). Great idea to go down that route. Would be great if they promoted that as a main characteristic too.

I like the angle of creating better attestment. You’re right anyone can endorse anyone falsely via LinkedIn or the current processes we have in place. I still think we need something even more deeper than activity based endorsement. If I took your free course but never interacted with you personally. I think that would be wrong of me to ask you for endorsement in that scenario. Maybe if it had, who you worked with in the activity with direct links to the project work and the examples of the areas you contributed.

Took me a minute to switch from no search box and exploring via area / people / tags. Definitely growing on me, looking forward to seeing how this platform develops. Weirdly, I prefer the experience more on the web version rather than on my mobile.

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andrewbrown profile image
Andrew Brown πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ Author

I think user search is coming but yet to be implemented.

Full text search can be tricky to get right and since I noticed their platform was built with Ruby on Rails and hosted on Heroku I imagine it wasn't in their wheelhouse to roll out easily.

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markramrattan profile image
Mark Ramrattan

What's your thoughts on Polywork speed of development / releasing features? I was just thinking about Clubhouse and how Twitter Spaces and now Facebook Live Audio rooms have come on the market. I'm sure polywork alternatives will start popping up. I wonder what it will take to continually grow in this space. Maybe that would involve companies only recruiting via Polywork…

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inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial • Edited

They really need to do something about performance if they want to entice developers there, nearly 4 second load time for your profile on a monster connection is just not going to work. (I then ran Page Speed Insights - yeah it isn't good and it will hurt your readership numbers).

Then there is accessibility - or lack of it.

Looks like they have the right idea - throw all their resources at marketing, something most devs forget about, but I think they have already made some pretty poor choices to try and get a MVP out the door that are going to hurt them when they try to scale and their seed funding will just go up in smoke.

And the final worrying thing - is this not built by the same guy who built Lystable (which seems to have changed name to Kalo and is now defunct as far as I can tell - or their whole site just happens to be down). Patterns like that are a red flag sometimes to be aware of.

I could be (and hope) I am wrong as I am not overly familiar with Kalo and Lystable and if someone has some better info that would be great as in principle I like the idea behind polywork, just cautious where I invest my time I suppose!

At the end of the day though, great article and thank you for introducing me to polywork - I will watch on and hope it becomes what it claims to be and people can point at this comment and laugh at me in the future! β€πŸ¦„

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andrewbrown profile image
Andrew Brown πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ Author

Profiles were really slow but they fixed it the other day bringing the load times from 1420ms to 350ms

twitter.com/PolyworkHQ/status/1407...

While that is large improvement 350ms would not meet my technical standard. On my apps 200m is the highest load times with average of 100ms

I noticed they are using Ruby on Rails and Heroku. So likely it is backed by Postgres, and not a graphing database (which is what they should be using for a social network).

I think they are using turbo, so that means Rails is doing the rendering.

Heroku is terrible for scaling and gets expensive really fast. I'd hope to see them migrate to AWS but they might not have the cloud knowledge in house to make the leap.

This reminds me of DEV where they too were once on Heroku and so they ended up relying too much on third-party services which lead to a long development cycle and and maybe why we see such neglect of their community building which used to be the strongest aspect of DEV.

Polywork is bringing lots of people in the door, but there is not much to do the platform, and I think they should have had a community engagement plan in place.

Complaints aside I think they're doing well, we'll just have to see long term how it plays out.

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inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial

Their Time To First Byte is now between 0.7 and 1.6 seconds on your profile. Which is a bit better than it was but not sure where they get 350ms from? (I am on the web version)

A really good analysis of some of the backend pain points and decisions that will hurt them! Lets hope they have a plan to get around those!

Front end wise (not going to do such a great deep dig as you did here, just the easy win!) the 2*mb* (and that is Gzipped - 6.8mb total!) of font awesome JS is one quick win they could improve on πŸ˜‹πŸ€£

It will be interesting to see when they start trying to get pages to rank!

I will watch on in interest, I hope you do a follow up in a couple of months on whether you get any engagement etc.

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mandarvaze profile image
Mandar Vaze • Edited

@andrewbrown I think you meant to say "GPT3 and CopyAPI" when you said "GLP3" :)

I'll delete this comment later. Don't mean to point of mistake in public, not sure of dev.to allows DM for such scenario

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andrewbrown profile image
Andrew Brown πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ Author

Its okay. I make mistakes in spelling all the time.
I don't mind when people point it out.
Thank you for noticing!

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itsasine profile image
ItsASine (Kayla)

Notification that Andrew Brown followed you on Polywork

Well, you're quick haha

I found a code on Twitter and figured I'd give it a shot, though I'm mostly going to hold off until I can figure out how indexed profiles are. Real work as Kayla with real named employers and fun work as ItsASine do not mix in public spaces.

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ranb2002 profile image
Benjamin Rancourt

I am #12814 on the waitlist. I think I will wait a bit before trying this new product lol. Can you send me a VIP access code?

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andrewbrown profile image
Andrew Brown πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ Author

send me a DM here on Twitter or DEV

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joshuaalpuerto profile image
Joshua Alpuerto

Hey, if you could send me a code also that would be great. I would love to try it. Thanks!

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ritaly profile image
Rita {FlyNerd} • Edited

Hi! I can't send you DM on Twitter, but I'd love to join Polywork 😜

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cjsmocjsmo profile image
Charlie J Smotherman

Why not just have Polyworks AI directly negotiate with the AI's that the recruiting services use and have a system that actually puts people to work.

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andrewbrown profile image
Andrew Brown πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ Author

I love this idea.

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leewynne profile image
Lee Wynne

This looks very interesting, great write up. Could you send me an invite? I can’t sign up.

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christopheek profile image
Christophe N. El-Khoury

Tried signing up, was countered with the waitlist?

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claudiorivel profile image
claudior

Yet another social network