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Re: Updated flags to report ToS violations and keep our community safe

Employee
Jeff C Employee Member Since: May 1, 2015
1 of 26

Upwork was founded on the idea that freelancers and clients can find and work with each other on meaningful, professional projects – anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, like any large marketplace with such a large reach, there are people who may try to spam or take advantage of our customers.

 

The Trust & Safety team I lead works 24/7 to identify and remove fraudulent users, spam and scam jobs, and any other content that violates our Terms of Service. Our mission is to help Upwork stay the world’s most trusted marketplace to get work done.

 

Despite all the time and effort we put into keeping Upwork safe, sometimes we miss things. Sometimes the bad guys find ways to evade our processes. Sometimes our agents and systems make mistakes. This is where the community can help let us know what we’re missing and help keep Upwork a safe place.

 

Over the past several months, we’ve been improving the ways we partner with users like you. We take every report seriously, and every one of our misses – your flags – are used to improve our security processes. Recently, we’ve also reduced the time it takes for us to review customer flags to within 6 hours of the initial report.

 

In the past, when we removed jobs or profiles for violating our Terms of Service, we would unindex them from search to prevent them from being found by anyone unless they had the direct link. Because this was a poor customer experience, we’ve updated this process so that every removal will be marked as such.

 

Lastly, thanks to your feedback and suggestions, we’ve introduced more relevant flags to report jobs and profiles. You can also use the included free-form text box to tell us more about why you’ve flagged something.

 

Flagging Jobs:

profile flag.png

 

Flagging Profiles:

profile flag1.png

 

My team and I want to send you our heartfelt thanks for all the work you do in helping us keep our community safe.  Please continue to report activity that  doesn’t look right. Together, we can help keep Upwork the world’s safest place for online work.

 

To learn more about how to report suspicious activity, see our help pages.

 

Jeff

Community Guru
Jennifer D Member Since: Feb 15, 2016
2 of 26

This is excellent Jeff, thank you to you and your team. The freetext box is really helpful.

 

I know that one thing that comes up a lot here in the forums is the ability to report jobs for academic fraud. In this case, would the "inappropriate" category and additional text evidence be the best option?

Community Guru
Jess C Member Since: Feb 18, 2015
3 of 26

@Jennifer D wrote:

This is excellent Jeff, thank you to you and your team. The freetext box is really helpful.

 

I know that one thing that comes up a lot here in the forums is the ability to report jobs for academic fraud. In this case, would the "inappropriate" category and additional text evidence be the best option?


Agreed, a long awaited and much needed fix!

 

And also agreed, we need some more specific action on academic fraud. Perhaps if enough jobs are flagged with "Academic Fraud" in the text box, that category will eventually be added.

Employee
Jeff C Employee Member Since: May 1, 2015
4 of 26

I would select "Job is inappropriate for Upwork." But it doesn't really matter. We review all reports, regardless of the selection. Sometimes it helps us to know why you are reporting. For academic jobs, it should be pretty obvious. 

Highlighted
Community Guru
Jess C Member Since: Feb 18, 2015
5 of 26

@Jeff C wrote:

I would select "Job is inappropriate for Upwork." But it doesn't really matter. We review all reports, regardless of the selection. Sometimes it helps us to know why you are reporting. For academic jobs, it should be pretty obvious. 


One would think, but search "Academic fraud" here in the Community and read the countless stories from freelancers who have had to jump through all sorts of hoops to get CS folks, and moderators in some cases, to understand what the problem actually is.

Community Guru
Renata S Member Since: Jun 10, 2014
6 of 26

@Jeff C wrote:

I would select "Job is inappropriate for Upwork." But it doesn't really matter. We review all reports, regardless of the selection. Sometimes it helps us to know why you are reporting. For academic jobs, it should be pretty obvious. 


Hi Jeff,

Wow. This exciting news. One thing I would have liked to see is a way to attach a screen shot to the additional comments.  

However, I think your feeling that fraud on academic jobs "shoud be pretty obvious" suggests that you've never dealt with customer service about one of these issues.  A lot of customer service agents don't really understand what we're talking about or you wouldn't see as many complaints about it (not sure if this is a culture gap, a lack of experience, or an issue with them not being as flluent in English as they need to be). So generally, getting this stuff looked at is an uphill battle at the best of times. 

Because you can't and shouldn't assume that anything is "obvious",  having a specific "academic fraud" flag would be a lot more helpful than letting customer service agents figure it out for themselves. The classic line I've received from agents is that people are "just looking for help with their homework."  So please never assume that anything is or should be "pretty obvious" to people you don't directly work with. We wouldn't be making the suggestion it wasn't necessary. It's necessary. 

 

 

Moderator
Vladimir G Moderator Member Since: Oct 31, 2014
7 of 26

Hi Renata,

 

Could you please share the ticket on which you received a response you mentioned? Please note that these reports are reviewed by a different team, trained and skilled in identify ToS violations, including jobs that violate academic integrity.

 

Thanks for continuing to flag and report these jobs, feel free to reach out to us here or via private messages if you have any questions regarding the flagging feature or following up on a job you flagged.

Community Guru
Renata S Member Since: Jun 10, 2014
8 of 26

@Vladimir G wrote:

Hi Renata,

 

Could you please share the ticket on which you received a response you mentioned? Please note that these reports are reviewed by a different team, trained and skilled in identify ToS violations, including jobs that violate academic integrity.

 

Thanks for continuing to flag and report these jobs, feel free to reach out to us here or via private messages if you have any questions regarding the flagging feature or following up on a job you flagged.


Vlad,

Thanks for your attention to this. The response was from a ticket I submitted a while ago, so it  would probably take me some time to even locate it. I use this particular response as an example because it was so memorable and it is so characteristic of the kinds of repeated non-responses we get to these issues.

The issues I was flagging in that series of tickets (there were about four of them) were from the profiles of a number of clients who seemed to be repeatedly posting ads for projects that were "pretty obviously" academic policy violations. There was even one freelancer who appeared to have made at least $20 000 on similar projects. All you had to do was follow the links around (something you probably can't do now because for some reason we can't access previous jobs on client profiles) and you could easily spot at least 20 violations. 

After that I pretty much gave up trying to call attention to anything like this because from what I was reading in other forum posts and the responses I was getting from PMing other FLs about it, I  would have to pretty much construct something on the level of a criminal court case to have it even looked at. While I appreciate your efforts in this regard, since I'm contributing my time to surveillance this for UpWork for free, I really have to know that my time is going towards something that's ultimately going to make a difference.  I'm not being paid by Trust and Safety, and I'm no longer really keen to shoulder the burden of doing their work for them for free when they don't appear to do anything about the problem.  Except of course, immediately shutting down anyone who's not doing anything that serious. 

If I can easily locate any of the emails, I'll send them to you. 

 

Employee
Jeff C Employee Member Since: May 1, 2015
9 of 26

Thanks Renata. This case will be really helpful for us to find out what we missed. It could be an isolated agent miss or it could be something larger that we'll want to try to detect in the future (so you don't have to).

 

I hope this new form will help customers report suspicous activity. If it's stratightforward, just send it in. If it's more complex or you feel adding more information will help us see what what you're seeing, use the comment box to let us know the specifics.

 

Thanks again for all you do to keep our community safe.

 

Jeff

 

 

 

Community Guru
Renata S Member Since: Jun 10, 2014
10 of 26

@Jeff C wrote:

Thanks Renata. This case will be really helpful for us to find out what we missed. It could be an isolated agent miss or it could be something larger that we'll want to try to detect in the future (so you don't have to).

 

I hope this new form will help customers report suspicous activity. If it's stratightforward, just send it in. If it's more complex or you feel adding more information will help us see what what you're seeing, use the comment box to let us know the specifics.

 

Thanks again for all you do to keep our community safe.

 

Jeff

 

 

 


@Jeff C wrote:

Thanks Renata. This case will be really helpful for us to find out what we missed. It could be an isolated agent miss or it could be something larger that we'll want to try to detect in the future (so you don't have to).

 

I hope this new form will help customers report suspicous activity. If it's stratightforward, just send it in. If it's more complex or you feel adding more information will help us see what what you're seeing, use the comment box to let us know the specifics.

 

Thanks again for all you do to keep our community safe.

 

Jeff

 

 

 

While I'm off finding those emails, if you need somewhere to start on this issue, I suggest the following:

1) type "academic fraud" into the little search box at the top if the Community Discussions page (screenshot attached). I'm sure there's a few other search terms that will work, like plagiarism, "academic cheating", or possibly "academic integrity" because it might have been called an "academic integrity violation" at some point. 
2) read the forum posts you find there.

https://community.upwork.com/t5/forums/searchpage/tab/message?advanced=false&allow_punctuation=false...

Screen Shot 2018-02-16 at 3.16.13 PM.png

 

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