stop annoying people on LinkedIn

featured-on-usnLinkedIn can be an awesome tool for networking and even finding jobs, but if you’re not careful, you can end up using it in ways that alienate the very people you’re hoping to form connections with. If you’re sending connection requests to people who you don’t know at all, constantly updating your status, contacting strangers about job openings to try to circumvent their company’s application system, or indiscriminately endorsing people, you’re probably annoying people on LinkedIn.

Over at U.S. News & World Report today, I talk about these and other annoying behaviors that you should stop right now. You can read it here.

{ 88 comments… read them below }

  1. Kelly O

    I will add that I really don’t like the “endorsement” feature on LinkedIn at all. It gets spammy at the top sometimes, and I hate that “unfinished” feeling when I’m looking at a page.

    Plus, I mean, my mother endorsed me on LinkedIn. Seriously? I appreciate the thought, and we actually do share some professional contacts, but whose mother is not going to think you are the best chocolate teapot maker ever?

    1. Sydney Bristow

      I’m a bit torn on it. When it started, I took the time to list skills that I actually focus on and have been lucky to only have people endorse me for those skills without adding others. These people are also people I’ve worked with who actually do know about my skills in a particular area. I have endorsed other people but always make sure it’s a skill they’ve already added and then only if I have first-hand knowledge of their capabilities for that skill. I know there is a lot of abuse of it, but maybe if enough people attempt to use it thoughtfully then it might be useful.

      1. EnnVeeEl

        Kristi, I need to do this! I don’t think hiring managers care. I do have a couple of recommendations, but I am not sure they care about those either!

          1. Kristi

            If you edit your profile, you’ll see the option to edit skills/expertise. Click on the pen/pencil or click manage endorsements, and you should see the option to display. I also usually skip showing recommendations, for the same reasons.

            1. Blinx

              Thank you!!!! When endorsements first started, I complained to LinkedIn that there was no option to turn them off — glad to see it’s been added.

            2. Me TOO

              I also tweeted @linkedin that I thought that they were crreeeepyyy. People I didn’t even know professionally (like old classmates) or people I barely knew professionally (met at conferences) were giving me endorsements for things that they had no idea if I could do. Soooo happy to be able to delete this. Also kind of wish linkedin hadn’t FORCED them on us in the first place.

      2. Ann O'Nemity

        Kristi, thanks for the tip. My endorsements have gotten really disjointed from my actual specialties. I think part of the problem is that a small part of my work is public and those are the areas for which I’m often endorsed. My #1 endorsement skill is for something I don’t even *like* doing. Far fewer people have endorsed the skills that I use regularly!

      3. Lanya

        I just hid mine as well. It was fine until a new “connection” went absolutely crazy with endorsements last week while at home recovering from surgery, and I just didn’t want to deal with it anymore.

      4. Zahra

        Yeah, I like the skills and expertise because I can add a lot of buzzwords there to help recruiters/employers find my profile. Endorsements, so far, haven’t gone overboard but it’s nice to know I can hide them if I want to.

    2. Esra

      Oh biscuits, my mom wrote a recommendation for me. I was like, thanks mom… but I’m not putting this on my profile.

      The endorsement feature reminds me of the irritating and lazy “poke” features on other social media sites.

        1. Kristi

          And while we’re on the topic, this may also be a good time to review your profile privacy settings. Turn on/off your activity broadcasts, Select who can see your activity feed, Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile
          Select who can see your connections, Change your profile photo & visibility.

          1. Christine

            Can this be done by groups of connections, similar to how you can have groups of friends on Facebook? That is, if some connections are colleagues and others are former classmates, could I hide my activity from the colleagues only?

            1. Kristi

              I don’t think LI is as flexible in that sense as FB. It looks like you can choose to share your activity feed with everyone, your network, your connections or just you. (I’m not clear yet on difference between network/connections.)

              1. Christine

                Thought so, thanks Kristi.

                By the way, connections are just that: those you’re connected to. For example, say you are connected to Joe Smith. Whereas I think “network” includes those who are 2 and 3 degrees away. So, Joe Smith is connected to Jane Connor; she is 2 degrees away. Thus, Jane Connor is in your network because she is connected to Joe, and Joe could introduce you to Jane.

                It’s confusing so that probably made no sense—hope it helped some!

  2. MJ

    Most of my friends are still in university whilst I’ve been working for four years, and they keep endorsing me for things I’m pretty sure they know nothing about whatsoever given that none of them have ever had a job, and given that they’ve never worked with me they have mo clue I know anything about it. It’s so annoying and I really can’t imagine any recruiter is going to look at my profile and be impressed that I’ve been endorsed by a university student.

  3. AdAgencyChick

    You know what I hate? Recruiters who don’t know me and try to connect with me without sending a message. It’s fairly obvious they want to contact me about some job. Really, if your *job* is to look for good candidates for positions, you can’t spend the 20 bucks a month for premium service so you can send messages to people you don’t know?

    1. Juana

      I was just going to post this same thing! One has sent me multiple messages asking me to relocate halfway across the country to work for a company I don’t believe in supporting. He either forgot or just ignored the polite “no thanks” message I sent to the first request. And now that I connected to him, I get recruiters popping up all the time.

      I guess it can be a good thing because they are all specific to my industry and could be useful in the future if I needed a new job… but for now, it’s just really annoying!

  4. Chaucer

    I also hate it when random people who AREN’T alums at my alma mater spam crap on our group page. I don’t know if this is misguided people, but shouldn’t an alum page be exclusive to, I don’t know, alumni? Our page gets a lot of crap from out-of-state people and people with no affiliation with my school trying to recruit for crappy MLM “opportunities.”

    1. Christine

      I’ve wondered about those types of groups, and not just school-specific ones. When approving someone’s request to join a particular group, does a group manager truly perform due diligence and check (by viewing the person’s profile) to see if said person really DID attend a given school or is a member of a given organization?

    2. EnnVeeEl

      Yeah, I wonder if the Admin is not doing their due diligence with people wanting to be a part of the group. I know when I request to be a part of a group in my industry, it takes a few days. I’m cool because I know they are just checking me out, and I am not trying to spam anyone and I basically just go on the group boards to read stuff, not really participate.

    3. Lexy

      My sorority’s alumni group required us to submit our badge number. I guessed at mine (I remember that it was a year of the civil war, but couldn’t remember if it was 1864 or 1865 and didn’t care enough to look it up) and was still approved.

      Either I guessed right or she wanted to see that you would put something that could be a badge number and didn’t actually verify it? Whatever.

    1. Blinx

      I don’t know that anyone actually asks for endorsements… LinkedIn automatically does this on your behalf.

  5. kristinyc

    I get requests/messages from recruiters on LinkedIn at least once a week. I have a pretty specific/in demand skill set and work at a really popular company right now. I put a note in my “tips for contacting me” section that I’m happily employed and not looking for anything right now, but would be happy to connect people with my contacts if appropriate (hoping that recruiters would see it and not waste their/my time), but it hasn’t helped much.

    It’s super annoying, because I get messages from recruiters about contract work in cities other than the one I live in. I guess it’s a great problem to have, but I don’t understand why they don’t read my whole profile before bugging me about some job I don’t want.

    1. AdAgencyChick

      I think LinkedIn is like online dating sites (or, at least, what people tell me they’re like, since I’ve been with my husband for 10 years now). There are some people who actually peruse profiles, and others who just look at the picture (on a dating site) or the headline (on LinkedIn) and just go ahead and spam you, figuring SOMEONE will respond and they have nothing to lose.

      Take note, recruiters: you DO have something to lose. Maybe a candidate isn’t interested now, but might be later — and if they remember you as “that annoying recruiter who…” then you’ll lose a commission!

      1. anonintheUK

        I’ve had recruiters contact me saying I’d be ‘ideal for job X at company Y’. Had they read my profile, they’d realise I actually DID job X at company Y between 2006 and 2009, when I left for a promotion.

        And seriously, if you are a recruiter and you see that someone has been a manager for 4 years, there is probably little point in trying to recruit them for an assistant manager job.

        1. kristinyc

          One time I had a recruiter for a major retailer contact me about a job I would have really wanted.

          …. Too bad, I had interviewed for that exact same job 3 months prior, and they had never contacted me after my interview! (I made sure to point that out in my response to her, and didn’t hear back).

        2. AdAgencyChick

          I too have been recruited for a job at a company I’d already worked for.

          It takes two minutes, maybe even less, to scan someone’s profile and get enough information to know that no, you cannot recruit someone who has worked at ABC company for a job at ABC company. Even if the employee wants to go back, there’s no way ABC is going to pay a headhunter to recruit a former employee!

      2. Piper

        I get (at minimum) 5 recruiters contacting me per work for jobs both in my city and in other major cities around the US. Like adagencychick, I have an in demand/unique skill set in a booming field.

        Most of the recruiters who contact me have been fine and I add them to my network for future reference/networking. The other day, though, someone contacting me about an entry level job in an area that relates to what I do but is not all what I do (not even close, actually) plus I have a decade of experience. Why would I want an entry level job? I’m not even sure what about my profile, whether she scanned it or just looked at the picture/tagline led her to believe it was an appropriate job to contact me about.

        That said, after struggling for several years in a depressed area where jobs in my field were far and few between and no one wanted to hire someone from another city, I’m actually relieved to be getting all of this activity on LinkedIn.

    2. Anonymous

      I was on LI for a while, then quit (maybe, since getting deleted is a whole ‘nother story), but the only contact I got from recruiters was for pharma sales reps. My background is research; I have no sales experience and even less interest.

      On the LI side of things, I do wish LI offered the option of simply declining an invitation from someone I do know and do not want to be associated with.

  6. Christine

    A big fat AMEN to this article, particularly the first two points! It’s definitely a bit of a pet peeve when people use the default message when asking to connect. If I know the person well, I’ll certainly accept. However, I occasionally get invites from people who I know by name (e.g. they’re on the board of a nonprofit I’m familiar with or I’ve seen their name as a workshop presenter), but whom I’ve never once communicated with. I get that many view LI as a networking tool, but I prefer quality over quantity; please tell me WHY you want to connect. Whenever I accept, I often write back thanking the person for the connection. That way, if it’s a person I don’t know well, it’s my way of nudging them to give me a reason. Hehe ;)

    I’m mixed about the endorsements. I don’t think they’re terrible, but I am extremely selective about endorsing others. I almost always skip the prompts (e.g. “Does Joe Smith know about Social Services?”) unless I can truly vouch for that person’s skill.

    1. Carmen

      I have never received a personalized LI invite, it’s always the default generic message. I am surprised to hear that’s “not cool”. I used to always personalizes my invites (I don’t really use LI anymore) and after 5 years on LI, I still don’t understand how LI as a networking tool is helpful at all.

      Well, I guess it’s helpful in identifying idiots: I had two LI connections who requested me, then the next few times I saw them in real life they had no idea who I was. They both have over 500 LI ‘connections’.

      1. EnnVeeEl

        Argh! This is what everyone is complaining about. These people just running around connecting/collecting names on their LinkedIn list. If you don’t really know these people and they can’t vouch for you in any way and you can’t vouch for them, why have them as a connection?

        I don’t see the point or how that is helping anyone.

    2. Yup

      The ones that confuse me are the invites where the sender, a total stranger, is connecting to every single person at my office. This has happened multiple times. I got an invite from one guy I didn’t know who was already connected to 25 of my 30 coworkers. I asked them, “Who is he? A client? A former employee?” Every single one of them replied, “No idea, I said yes ’cause I saw he knew other people here.” (Hello, spear phishing.) What’s the point? You’re now connected to an entire company where no one knows who you are or what you want.

  7. ThatFormerHRGirl

    I’ll officially NOT be a recruiter/HR person in about 36 hours, thank god, but I get harassed on there all. the. time. from people that are just randomly messaging anyone who works for Chocolate Teapots Inc. and has any form of HR in their job title.
    My profile is pretty clear about what types of positions I recruit for (and furthermore – shows that recruiting is about #10 on the list of stuff I do for the company) so reaching out about positions outside that realm is really annoying.

  8. EnnVeeEl

    Thank you for this! I don’t know if it will stop the LinkedIn abuse by people who intentionally do these things, but it may stop someone who was told to do this mess and they don’t really know any better.

    I’ve had bad experiences with strangers on LinkedIn so I am pretty strict about accepting requests like that. I might consider it more if you give me a compelling reason in the note section to do so. They NEVER DO. I’ve had people try to circumvent the hiring process by contacting me on LinkedIn. I really couldn’t help them. And the recruiters – they just mined my contacts. I deleted them all and I won’t accept anymore unless I know the person, or they contact me about a specific job – not just to connect.

  9. Bryce

    My LinkedIn policy is this: I don’t “friend” anyone I haven’t met in real life, and I ask people if they’d feel comfortable giving recommendations.

    1. -X-

      Not sure what you mean by “real life” but I have a number of strong working relationships with people I’ve never physically met.

      My organization is fairly global, but even on simple stuff I have a contractor in Chicago I’ve never met. Mainly email, a few phone calls.

      Earlier this month I finally met another person I’ve worked with a fair amount over the last year via email, Skype and phone. She does great work and I think we both respect each other a lot. She’s in based in Southern Africa, I’m in the US.

      I think this is increasingly common.

      1. Bryce

        By “in real life,” I mean someone I’ve talked to/worked with before…not just random people.

  10. Chocolate Teapot

    Exactly. If you have a connection request without any message and your first reaction is “Eh? Who are you?” then don’t connect.

    1. -X-

      I look at their profile and then decide. If I can easily imagine some value to me, I accept. it.

      I got a request to connect from a high-up person at an organization I’d like to work at. So I accepted it and this person emailed me about a job opening she thought I’d be good at (my LinkedIn profile is fairly public).

      I guess she could have put all the info into the contact request, but I didn’t see any problem with the connect. I’d have liked to know this person anyway.

      1. Jen

        I agree. I used to do public relations for a food company. I would frequently work with dietitians to do media interviews and social media work. Once I had added a few dietitians to my linkedin, I’d get invites from many other dietitians even though I’d never met them. But I’d look at their profile and judge whether or not they’d be good to connect with. A dietitian who’s done media interviews in Atlanta was great to have on my connections in case I ever did anything with CNN. But other times I’d get an invite from a software engineer in DuBai or a realtor in Rockford and I’d reject both of those because there’s no reason I’d ever need to connect with them.

  11. JR

    YES to the people being able to see your profile! I have someone who checks out my profile about once-twice a week (and there is really only my company info in my profile, nothing exciting). I’m pretty sure they have no idea I can see that they are creeping me.

    1. Lanya

      Personally I hate that functionality of LinkedIn. I would feel much better not knowing who is looking at my profile, and them not being able to tell if I’ve looked at theirs.

      1. Lexy

        If you make your information private people can’t see you creeping (and you can’t see who’s seen yours) I can’t remember how… but I’ve done it before.

        But, that’s like my favorite feature of LinkedIn… see who’s cruising me :)

        1. ThatFormerHRGirl

          It’s kind of a double edged sword – if you take away the ability to see who’s viewed YOU, you then can view other people’s profiles without them knowing you viewed them.

      2. Kristi

        Lanya, have you tried restricting this? If you look at account settings (under your name) and then privacy controls, you can “Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile.” By changing yours to Anonymous, they won’t recognize you and you won’t know who’s checking yours. Win-win!

  12. Ash

    This is helpful, thanks! I have recently decided to create a LinkedIn profile, even though I’m in the public sector, I’d like to eventually branch out. I haven’t really filled anything out yet, it’s nice to know what not to do. Any other tips anyone would like to share with a newbie? :)

  13. Liz in the City

    I had the weirdest LinkedIn experience the other day. Usually recruiters just email me (via LinkedIn), but I had one guy do the following:
    1) look at my LinkedIn profile
    2) look up my current employer’s website for the phone number
    3) call me AT WORK to ask me if I knew anyone with a specific skill set that would fill his position

    I was polite, but I should have just said, you know, contact me on LinkedIn, and maybe I can devote some time to thinking about this instead of asking me in the MIDDLE OF MY DAY to give you references. #RecruiterFail

    1. AmyNYC

      I had this happen too! I wasn’t looking to leave that job, but if I was this would have been a good reason to NOT use that recruiter.

      1. kristinyc

        Ugh, that’s awful! I had something similar happen one time – someone called my company’s main line, and one of our customer service people answered and took a message. The person was saying that she was calling about a reference. No one I knew had mentioned listing me as a reference. I looked up the person and discovered she was a recruiter, and she had just posted a bunch of jobs in my field.

        So, she called my company’s main line, and LIED about why she was calling. That call could have gone to my boss and made him think that I was looking for jobs! I was super pissed and didn’t call her back. Seriously recruiters – there are plenty of people looking for jobs right now. Stop doing stupid things.

  14. Elizabeth

    I will add, unless you & your family member have professional connections beyond sharing genes, connecting & endorsing them can really be obnoxious. My husband’s family connected to him & requested to connect to me. They promptly endorsed him for everything under the sun. I rejected the connection request, because I work hard to keep the personal & professional lines tightly drawn where I can. I really don’t need the retired school teacher & the ex-cop endorsing me for web design when I have to go copy & paste the HREF syntax when I want to embed a link.

    I am connected to my brother, but he is also in healthcare, and we share a couple other professional connections.

    1. -X-

      It seems to me this is a problem with the endorsing more than connecting. Sometimes it’s useful to connect to “personal” contacts because through them you can reach other people.

    2. Lexy

      I don’t know… I’m connected with family (both my husband’s and mine) because you never know how a new connection will come. Although I agree, the spam endorsing is obnoxious as all get out.

      My mom and I actually do have an overlapping network, my husband and his father are in a different industry but both still “professional services” type of things where we may have common/useful contacts. My sister-in-law is in a completely different industry in a different part of the country, but we still have common connections actually as I’m involved, through non-profit volunteering, with people in her industry locally.

      Anyways… basically I think family is case by case… if your family can’t handle the responsibility of using LinkedIn appropriately, by all means don’t connect. But I don’t think it’s a universal rule that you shouldn’t connect with them.

  15. Corporate Drone

    This is very timely, as I just received a notification from my alumni network’s LinkedIn group that someone had posted a question. That question was “Does anyone have a professional contact at the University of Pennsylvania?” No context, no introduction of herself or explanation of what she was looking for, just a “professional contact.”

    It succeeded in annoying me.

    1. EnnVeeEl

      And I bet people just answered, without thinking. Pretty sure this is some MLM crap, a way into the alumni group. Very annoying.

      1. Corporate Drone

        Your response piqued my interest, so I went and checked. No one has replied yet, and the person posing the question is listed as “Client Relationship Manager, Vanguard Institutional Investors.”

        I’m guessing she wants to sell UPenn some kind of crappy financial products, which really isn’t much more than MLM.

        1. EnnVeeEl

          Right. Because if it were legit, she would go through more appropriate and direct channels than a LinkedIn Group.

  16. -X-

    Do those of you complaining about strangers trying to connect have your profiles set to have most items public or at least available to non-contacts?

    I’d imagine some people are trying to connect so that they can actually see your ful profile and then decide if it’s worth contact you in a more substantive way. You might even not be the John Smith they’re trying to reach but they can’t tell without seeing more detail.

    1. Blinx

      There are options to hide your activity feed and your connections, but not your profile. It doesn’t work like Facebook, in that aspect.

      1. Lexy

        If you go to “settings” “edit public profile” you can customize what everyone sees vs. what your connections/network see.

        I have everything visible because… why not. But you can definitely hide some details.

        1. Blinx

          Thanks — didn’t realize you could do that! Boy, I’m learning all kinds of things today!

        2. guest

          If you set the LinkedIn profile to public, it will become visible in Google searches too- which I do not like.

  17. Zahra

    One thing about default messages: If I request a connection through my iPhone, I don’t get a chance to edit the message at all. It just sends the request.

  18. Jamie

    I just thought of something – you know what is NOT annoying about Linkedin? Networking groups!

    They have all kinds! By industry, by field…even groups of readers of super awesome and really popular career blogs!

    Yes, you too can become a member of the AAM Networking Group on Linkedin! Sound too good to be true? It’s not!

    Just go to groups > search for Ask a Manager in the Networking section > and request to join. It’s that easy and it’s FREE!

    And this, my friends, is why I would starve to death is I worked in marketing…a bad Billy Mays impression is all I’ve got.

    1. A Bug!

      I chose to read it in the voice of Vince Offer, the Sham-wow guy. I’m not sure which I prefer now that I got to the end of your comment.

      1. Jamie

        Sham-Wow is the name of one of my cats!

        It was Seamus, but I nickname everyone I love so he quickly became Sham-Wow and I don’t think he even knows his real name anymore…unless he checks his driver’s license.

        Monday night he got out for the first time, he’s strictly an indoor cat, and we were all fanning out in a 5 hour radius (most indoor cats out for the first time won’t stray more than 1-5 houses away – love stats) and our whole family was leaning into bushes and under decks calling Sham-Wow and rattling cans of cat treats.

        Yeah. Peter Gethers said not to name your cat anything you’d be embarrassed to yell in public if he was lost…but did I listen? Nope.

        Sorry – topic? Our Linkedin Group also has a local networking subforum so people who are geographically close can arrange get-togethers and whatnot. And we have over 800 members as of this morning – I really don’t think one day has gone by where I didn’t head in to approve new members. Pretty cool.

  19. W.W.A.

    I have hundreds of connections on LinkedIn, and I have literally never received a personalized request. I have also never initiated a request with a personalized message. I assumed that was just for those occasions when you have to remind someone who you are.

    1. Blinx

      Most of my requests that I’ve sent and received have been personalized. It’s more polite instead of having LinkedIn automatically send an invite to everyone in your address book.

      I don’t get very many invitations, but I did get one today from a stranger. We’re in the same field and have a few first-level connections, but he sent me a generic invitation. No idea why. If he wanted to communicate with me about something (like a job opening on their end), my email address is in my profile, but I can tell that he didn’t look at it.

  20. C-suite Diva

    I’m really fed up with the LinkedIn job applicants – it would be bad enough if they were just going to random employees, but for some reason, people think it’s a great idea to email our CEO about any and all job postings. AND they can’t even be bothered to do any of the work requested in our job ads. They want US to call THEM and “tell them more about the job.”

    To be clear, I think it’s fine if you know someone or are connected with them via LinkedIn to let them know you’re applying and why you want to work at a particular company. But that still puts the onus on the job seeker to actually apply for the open job.

    I am dumbfounded by how often this happens. Is there some kind of opposite-land Ask a Manager that is advising people to do this?

    1. EnnVeeEl

      I JUST opened up a LinkedIn email from someone looking for work and business opportunities in a field totally unrelated to mine. I don’t know who he is, how he got my name, why he would send me an email…Our fields don’t intersect in any way. I agree with you – someone out there is telling people to do crazy things on LinkedIn. I had no good response for him so I just deleted the message.

  21. Anonymous

    Serious question here: I thought LI was for networking. And yet you all don’t want to connect with people you don’t know. How am I supposed to network with people when I a: don’t know a lot of people (none actually) who know anyone outside of our current employer, and b: LI doesn’t always give you the opportunity to write a note to someone unless you already know them. To not request a connection from someone you don’t know seems to defeat the purpose. I request connections from people in my field at companies I might want to work for. How else am I supposed to connect to anyone at that company, unless I first make a connection?

    And really, do you all spend so much time on LI that things like endorsements really annoy you? I didn’t know it was a social network like Facebook. I only go on there when I want to update my profile.

    1. Sniper

      I have to second this. Yes, there are some quirky things about LinkedIn, but if you tolerate some of the nonsense, it can be quite a powerful tool.

      No need to all get worked up over endorsements or people looking to expand their network. Like most things, you get out of it what you put in. Some people are trying to make new connections. You never know when that connection may be beneficial.

  22. Chris80

    Am I the only one that noticed (and loved) that this can be read in two ways? “Stop Annoying People on LinkedIn”…so are we trying to stop all of the annoying people on LinkedIn, or are we trying to not be annoying on LinkedIn? :-)

    If there ever really is an AAM post about how to stop all of the annoying people on LinkedIn, I’d love to read it!

  23. Tom

    I work in corporate finance with a specific skill set. I get on average 5-10 LinkedIn invites/messages per week. I’m not going to leave my cushy, high paying job for a 3 month contract assignment without benefits. Now it’s recruiters asking me if I know any previous employees looking for work. The LI bombardment I don’t mind so much, but I get a dozen calls per day at work. Fortunately it filters to my assistant…

  24. k07

    My past employer manager kept in sending me request on LI wHich is very annoying; considering I don’t even work there anymore. I Don’t know what her intentions are but all I know is its up to no good. I unsubscribed myself from her and the following day, she had someone request me in LI. I denied it as well, and a Month later my ex manager Sent me another request. This is very annoying, does anyone have any suggestions on what I should do?

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