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Re: Changes to Upwork’s User Flag System

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Employee
Dorian H Employee Member Since: Jul 7, 2020
1 of 13

Hi, Upwork Community! I’m Dorian. I joined Upwork’s Trust and Safety Team a few months ago as a Product Manager. My fellow Trust and Safety Team members and I are committed to making your experience on Upwork as positive and fruitful as possible. 

 

As some of you may have noticed, we recently revamped our User Flag options. We added a few new flags, and we removed some as well. 

 

We recognize and understand that users aren’t happy about some of these changes. Let’s talk a little bit about our User Flag system and what we’re doing to address the concerns of users on Upwork. 

 

What are User Flags? 

In short, User Flags give talent and clients the ability to flag and report profiles, job postings, portfolios, and messages that contain content that goes against Upwork’s Terms of Service. All reports are confidential, and we do not share your identity with the user you flagged. 

 

Here are a few examples of common User Flags: 

 

  • Person is requesting payment outside of Upwork
  • Message contains a suspicious link or looks like spam
  • Profile looks fake or contains stolen/plagiarized content

 

This reporting system helps keep Upwork safe and efficient for both talent and clients. 

 

Why did we change our User Flags? 

We consolidated some of the User Flag options earlier this year hoping to improve clarity and make it easier for us to receive and process reports. Most of the options that we combined were often either confused for other violations or not commonly used. 

 

After receiving feedback on the changes, though, we realized the Upwork community as a whole was not happy with the revisions we made. In order to understand how we could remedy the problem, we reviewed the comments from the  “It's something else” flags. 

 

I ran a deep-dive analysis of the comments. Here’s a quick breakdown of the most common comments that were left under the “It’s something else” option: 

 

  • Client is asking for free work- 17.40%
  • Job post is Illegal or Unethical- 12.70%
  • This is a Freelancer ad not a job- 10.90%
  • Job post is unclear or incomplete- 7.70%

 

Now that we see and understand the Upwork community feels these issues are important enough to have their own User Flags, we will be adding them, along with a few others, to the list of reporting options.

 

Why did we take away the “Client is asking for free work” flag? 

As the numbers show, I found the most frequent “It’s something else” comments to be some form of “Client is asking for free work.” 

 

We’ve received feedback from talent and acknowledge that a lot of users are especially disappointed that the “Client is asking for free work” flag was removed. We heard you, and we listened. You’ll be happy to know that “Client is asking for free work” will definitely be added back to the list of User Flags. 

 

How can freelancers effectively utilize the User Flag system? 

If you need to flag a user or a job posting, all you have to do is click the “Flag as inappropriate” button located at the upper right of every job and profile on Upwork. We take all reports from users very seriously.  You can also find more information in our flag system Help article

 

Here are a few tips for using our User Flag system: 

 

  • Make sure your report is as specific as possible. In order to ensure that we can directly address your concern, please provide as much specific information as you can about the issue. Try to match your concern to one of the available User Flags to the best of your ability so that we can address the problem as efficiently as possible.  

 

If you don’t see a User Flag option that relates to your concern, select “It’s something else” and give us plenty of additional details so we can look into the situation and address it appropriately.

 

 

  • Remember that you have the ability to flag private messages. You can certainly flag job posts and user profiles, but you can also report specific private messages that are sent to you. Here are a few of the options you can select when it comes to flagging a private message: 

 

  • Person is requesting payment outside of Upwork
  • Message contains a suspicious link or looks like spam
  • Message is threatening or abusive

 

In order to report a message, just click on the gear icon next to the message in question and select your reason for reporting. 

 

 

  • Don’t hesitate to report something that seems suspicious. We’ve probably all heard the phrase, “If you see something, say something.” This applies to Upwork as well. If you see something that seems a little off, don’t hesitate to take advantage of our User Flag system and report it. Reporting suspicious content or activity will help keep you and other users safe on our platform. 

 

Without talent and clients, there would be no Upwork. We take all reports and concerns from our users very seriously, and we’re doing everything we can to make sure Upwork remains a safe and high-quality marketplace. 

 

If you feel there’s a User Flag that should be added to our reporting options or if you have any other concerns about the flagging system, please feel free to reach out to me or any member of our Trust and Safety Team. We will review your feedback and do whatever we can to address the issue. 

 

I hope this clears up some of the confusion surrounding User Flags, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

 

Best, Dorian | Trust and Safety Product Manager

 

Community Guru
Abinadab A Member Since: Sep 26, 2016
2 of 13

Finally.

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Community Guru
Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
3 of 13

Thanks, Dorian. I'm curious to know how frequently the 'something else' option is used for reporting academic fraud. That is by far the most common transgression I see in job posts.

 

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Community Guru
Wes C Member Since: May 3, 2019
4 of 13

Phyllis G wrote:

Thanks, Dorian. I'm curious to know how frequently the 'something else' option is used for reporting academic fraud. That is by far the most common transgression I see in job posts.

 


Agreed. Academic fraud and "this is a freelancer looking for work" are the two I use almost exclusively. I even made macro for "academic fraud".

 

And yes, thank you, Dorian. This kind of transparency is very helpful.

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Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
5 of 13

Wes C wrote:

Phyllis G wrote:

Thanks, Dorian. I'm curious to know how frequently the 'something else' option is used for reporting academic fraud. That is by far the most common transgression I see in job posts.

 


Agreed. Academic fraud and "this is a freelancer looking for work" are the two I use almost exclusively. I even made macro for "academic fraud".


I think that this will differ wildly by category. Writers will flag those lots. Customer service agents will likely never see one that can be flagged as such. I am not sure I've seen one in my job feed.Graphic designers won't see many either.

 

So whereas the other flagging reasons are common across all categories, the academic fraud one will be concentrated in a finite number of categories and hence represent a low(er) percentage overall.

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Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
6 of 13

Petra R wrote:

Wes C wrote:

Phyllis G wrote:

Thanks, Dorian. I'm curious to know how frequently the 'something else' option is used for reporting academic fraud. That is by far the most common transgression I see in job posts.

 


Agreed. Academic fraud and "this is a freelancer looking for work" are the two I use almost exclusively. I even made macro for "academic fraud".


I think that this will differ wildly by category. Writers will flag those lots. Customer service agents will likely never see one that can be flagged as such. I am not sure I've seen one in my job feed.Graphic designers won't see many either.

 

So whereas the other flagging reasons are common across all categories, the academic fraud one will be concentrated in a finite number of categories and hence represent a low(er) percentage overall.


No doubt you are right. But I'll bet they can filter by category if they want to. (I would argue that on a platform as diverse as this one is in every way, it makes little sense to look at anything 'across the board'.) I see academic fraud pretty often in research jobs ( a sub-category of Sales & Marketing) as well as writing, people seeking help with all kinds of B-school projects.

 

 

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Employee
Dorian H Employee Member Since: Jul 7, 2020
7 of 13

Hi Phyllis and Wes,

 

Thanks for your feedback. Academic fraud is against the ToS and job posts of that nature will be taken down when flagged. I reviewed over 1,000 "something else" comments from the past 60 days in my deep dive analysis, "academic fraud" was less than 5% of responses. This amount did not warrant having its own flag. We want to add flags that address common concerns the community has without increasing the number of flags to the point where finding the right one becomes a chore. With this in mind I chose to group "academic fraud" into the "Job post is Illegal or Unethical" flag as "academic fraud" is unethical behavior. I hope this addresses the concerns you had. I welcome any additional feedback you may have on flag categories and locations on the website where flags would be helpful.

 

Best,

Dorian

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Community Guru
Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
8 of 13

OK, that makes sense. Except I am not seeing a 'job post is illegal or unethical' flag. Only these:
Job post flags 11Sep20.png

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Employee
Dorian H Employee Member Since: Jul 7, 2020
9 of 13

Hi Phyllis and Elizabeth,

 

Thanks for your engagement and feedback.

 

Phyllis, you're correct the flag "job post is illegal or unethical" isn't an available option yet, but will be added in the near future. Once it's added feel free to use that flag and leave "academic fraud" in the comments. After I add that flag, along with the other three flags I mentioned, the total number of flagging options for job posts will be 10, which is a pretty large amount.

 

Elizabeth, I'd like to share a bit more insight into the data that I used to determine what flags to implement. The "something else" flags represent a little more than 1/3 of all flags we receive on job postings, factoring that in, "academic fraud" is around 1% of all flags. I understand your concern that academic fraud is a problem, however based on this information the best course of action was to group "academic fraud" into a broader category so as not to expand the list of options to an unreasonable length. I plan to do another deep dive analysis on the "something else" category after we implement the new flags and revaluate. 

 

I hope this has provided more transparency into how these decisions were reached. I look forward to your continued feedback on how we can make Upwork better.

 

Best,

Dorian

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Ace Contributor
Nedra W Member Since: Jan 17, 2017
10 of 13

I'm just chiming in to say that, like many of the other posters here, the thing I'm reporting 90% of the time is academic fraud. Even if we have the "unethical" option, you're saying we still have to type in "academic fraud" and it saves us no time. Can we assume that if a human is reviewing these flags, they will be able to understand that academic fraud is the likely reason we're flagging it, or do we still have to type it out? Or perhaps you can add that to the description of the category (ie, "job post is illegal, unethical, or academic fraud")? Thanks!

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