I'd like to raise an ethical question about oDesk's recent drive to trounce freelancers for more cash to apply for projects.
Did you know that your application for a project can be AUTO HIDDEN from the employer? That the system chooses what to show the employer and that, although your application is still there in their account it could be cast into the 'hidden' folder... While oDesk may not think you meet the right criteria your potential employer may never get to evaluate your skills for the job.
I'm normally on the freelancers side of the fence but today I employed someone to complete a task I didn't have time to do, while I was working on something else. (This is a freak occurrence, one that I hope to repeat but as with most buses, you wait for ages then three come at once.)
I asked an oDesk operative over live chat what the parameters were, I was told that it is based on the relevance of the skills for that job... I wasn't given a detailed breakdown but I don't think it should be left in the hands of an algorithm to decide whether or not I'm suitable to be assessed for work.
What I forgot to ask was, does this system employ the same rules to someone who has used up all of their connect points and has then bought more? Or someone who is a 'premium' member?
To add insult to injury I hired a guy to do the work and oDesk automatically took the $$ from my Paypal account, even though I have a couple of hundred dollars in my freelancer account!
Fees are kept in separate accounts and conveniently cannot be moved between the two without incurring a cost! Not unless you're a US citizen – ACH.
So oDesk isn't just content in taking 10% of everything I earn through them (which I think is a very fair price) they now want to coerce me into paying for the privilege to apply for a job, regardless if I get it or not as my application could be residing in a hidden folder that the client hasn't looked in.
Maybe for those of us that have huge projects these measly amounts don't add up but when you're just starting out and you're trying to build your presence and portfolio it's a bitter pill to swallow.
The 60 connect points we've been awarded can be quickly whittled away by applying for the chance to work on a project, the application can cost between 1 and 5 connect points depending on certain parameters, so if by chance you're applying for 2 connect point jobs that's around one job application per day.
This auto hidden version I have heard about this today, it really sounds stupid as well as bad. why is oDesk doing so many 'reforms' for the benefit of freelancers, oDesk should atleast let us know that our job application has been hidden or notify us about it, its ridiculous that we waste so much time while placing a bid for a job and our application goes in to trash (hidden folder)
The auto hidden feature has been discussed at great length on here for months and months. This isn't new at all.
So many unhappy freelancers who have been affected by it, but nothing has really changed.
We really have no way of knowing if our applications have been sent to the folder or not.
I have never been here on community forums before, so I'm not aware of the discussions on auto-hidden stuff, the only reason I came here on forums was to let oDesk know how bad I feel about those 'connects' system and all the restrictions that come with it.
Thanks for letting me know, for the past 2 days thanks to oDesk I have a new pastime "Forum posting" :-D. Earlier I would refresh oDesk web design category page atleast 100 times a day to apply for new jobs, with less 'connects' now I'm refreshing forum pages to see if there has been an update from oDesk regarding the connect system.
I hope we see some radical changes in the present connect system soon.
Thanks again :-)
You can find more details on the automatic process that moves some applications to the Other tab here. If you're targeting jobs that are a good fit based on your Skills, work experience, the client prefrences, etc. then it's unlikely that your application will be affected. This is true even if you are a new freelancer. If you have the right skills and fit the needs of the client, that's what matters.
Finally, as we've reinforced several times throughout discussions about the new Connects system and freelancer Memberships, we will continue to support a free membership plan. So, there isn't an effort to "trounce freelancers for more cash to apply for projects."
I'm afraid oDesk is going to have to do better than that. You can't operate a pay-for platform and then limit the reach of someone's efforts to be seen and considered. That's OK, I guess, if the attempts are free as before but I've paid the extra $10 and I'd like to think of myself as a premium member. It seems a little churlish to accept 10% of my earnings knowing that I may or may not have been auto-hidden*.
For all of oDesks chirpy banter with communication there lies beneath a very bias business model toward the employer and not the employee, it would seem that at each step we're slowly being penalised much the same way as other employees who have zero hour contracts or who are being stiffed by unscrupulous corporations.
This is maybe going a little too far but in this day and age I would like to think that oDesk has a duty of care to level the playing field here, to truly carve out a new path for a way of working together symbiotically, with fairness, not just trudge on in the same corporate dirty, deep muddy footprints of yesteryear.
Let me give you an example of what just happened to me. I didn't get many responses to my request, it's quite a technical task, or maybe people didn't want to fritter away their connect points... Anyway. I employed the services of one young man in Uruguay, he's doing a sterling job and I'm very pleased, looking at his private portfolio away from oDesk his work is amazing.
The other chap however who applied but was auto hidden has a very limited profile but the work which I saw had potential, now I don't want to get political but this particular young man is in Palestine, Gaza to be exact. His hourly rate was much lower than the other guys, had I seen his application first without it being auto-hidden I would probably have given him the task instead to help him with his oDesk presence, with payment up to the same value assuming he was able deliver.
*I'm about to employ the chap from Gaza when the other guy is finished, I'd like his input into the creative concept of my project. Again, that is not a political statement, at some point we've all needed a break to get a foothold along the path to developing our skill set in our chosen vocation, for some it's a little harder.
Firstly I'd like a direct answer to this question:
Does the algorithm cease it's selective duties when someone is applying with paid-for connects? If it doesn't then it should, that is fradulent.
Secondly, I've had the good fortune to work on some amazing projects in my time, from sculpting parts stage shows for AC/DC and Sarah Brightman to being part of the team that sculpted the 15th hand outside of Madame Tussauds in NYC. I've personally designed and developed the trees in Ski Dubai and worked on a whole host of things that are not in my profile. I'm not going to list every thing I can remember, my portfolio does that task by showing a broad cross section of what I have worked on and with whom.
Sad to say that your algorithm does not evaluate the images in my portfolio, nor does it look at the term AC/DC and think – wow! I've got to take a look at this guys work, I wonder what things he can bring to my project?
In closing I'd like to point out that although I have almost 10 years of professional experience with AutoCAD It's been a good few years since I've used it so I can't complete the test as I can't remember what hot keys rotate what etc. I'll hold my hand up and say OK, that's fair. I don't use AutoCAD anymore, but employers ask ill informed questions.
What I do use is Rhino 3D which is very similar to AutoCAD in many ways and is far more powerful in others, it's even a recognised platform on your system BUT! There is no test for that particulate program, go figure.
So when a potential employer is asking for AutoCAD and my profile says Rhino, but there is no test and my skill set is perfect for the job and I have the opportunity to 'sell myself' I'd like to think that with the correct approach, with a human touch I maybe able to pique their interest and deliver to them something that wows them. (Just to be clear Rhino can export .dwg files among a whole host of other file extensions which are compatible with AutoCAD)
Please take the 10% you earn from your employees and invest it in a logical structure that is fair to all and don't fall into the same trap as social media giants with B&W algorithms, this is our livelihood, not a game, stop micro managing us and please don't try to fix something that isn't broken.
Happy Easter, if that's your bag.
Andy, thanks for an interesting post. (Interesting is over-used, I know, but it's also apt). You wrote, 'Does the algorithm cease it's selective duties when someone is applying with paid-for connects? If it doesn't then it should, that is fradulent.'
oDesk will contest that, I'm sure, but to me the algorithm violates the 'first, do no harm' principle, because as you pointed out it's no substitute for human judgement. In the case of paid-for connects, oDesk is taking money out of freelancers' pockets on top of sabotaging freelancers' livelihood, all under a cloak of secrecy. If the algorithm was infallible, all this might be justified, but anecdotal evidence like yours says otherwise.
The only mitigating factor I can think of for this oDesk policy is that they have acknowledged that applications using paid-for connects may be hidden from clients at the algorithm's discretion. As far as I'm concerned, paid-for connects are a form of lottery I choose not to participate in.
"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce