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Forced to game the system

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Community Guru
Bill H Member Since: Aug 18, 2017
1 of 10

I am reduced to gaming the system. I have perfec five-star feedback on jobs for which I have ratings, except for a job in which the client fired me for taking too long to do free work after he paused the contract. Several jobs with no ratings (I hate to beg) from clients who kept sending me new work, which apparently are counted as less-than-perfect in UW's mystery algorithm. I have two ongoing UW hourly jobs with ecstatic clients.

 

Just now I wrote reluctantly to one asking that we end the current contract, the title of which no longer is remotely connected to what I'm doing, and start a new one. That allows the client to leave feedback. I hate doing that. I finally looked at my JSS, which is 80%. A reasonable and prudent prospective client would have to assume there's a twenty percent chance I will fail at whatever task I am hired to do. That is pure undiluted rubbish.

 

I never look at JSS when hiring, because I know it's meaningless. But it sits there highlighted on my profile: Danger! There's a one-in-five chance this freelancer will fail!!!! Caca de Toro, whatever that means.

 

Upwork, why do you force freelancers to game the system? Is it too difficult to allow a client to leave feedback on an hourly contract after, say, the first $5,000 in payments? Or, should clients be forced to issue repeated contracts to the same freelancer in order to prevent the freelancer from gaming the system?

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
2 of 10

@Bill H wrote:

I am reduced to gaming the system. I have perfec five-star feedback on jobs for which I have ratings,


 Not true and "public feedback" is only part of the story. There is private feedback as well.

 

Your JSS is better than it used to be and you had enough negative private feedback (all of which you will no doubt once again proclaim to be the clients' fault because nothing is ever anything to do with you) to knock your JSS to a poor level.

 

Community Guru
Bill H Member Since: Aug 18, 2017
3 of 10

Petra,

 

I'm not sure what to say, except that your characterization of me as a mediocre whiner is uninformed.

Community Guru
Bill H Member Since: Aug 18, 2017
4 of 10

The client ended the contract, gave me a five-star rating, and issued a new contract which I've accepted.

 

It should affect JSS the next time Jupiter aligns with Mars.

 

Why should a freelancer have to create inconvenience for a client to game the system?

Community Guru
Wendy C Member Since: Aug 24, 2015
5 of 10

Bill, this won't alleviate the issue but it might temper it somewhat -

https://community.upwork.com/t5/Announcements/Getting-More-Clients-to-Leave-Feedback/m-p/492190#M255...

 

Just as an FYI for those unaware of Bill's writing talents - he has at least 6-8 books under his belt ... all of which have impressive sales figures.

Community Guru
Rene K Member Since: Jul 10, 2014
6 of 10

You have few recent jobs it seems, which makes your JSS very very sensitive to changes. The job with a 3.20 feedback probably earned you a poor private rating which explains the figure.

 

The good news is, this new feedback that you just got should raise your JSS.

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless
Community Guru
Charles K Member Since: Mar 6, 2017
BEST ANSWER
7 of 10

Irrespective of Bill's personal specifics, the core point here is spot on. Upwork's assumption -- that a project is not "successful" where work and money have exchanged hands but there has been a pause in activity or the project wasn't closed -- is invalid, which leads to unprofessional "busy work" that wastes the time of both clients and freelancers and makes Upwork look bad.

 

It's lose/lose/lose and nobody from Upwork has ever provided anything approaching a rational explanation of why, for example, a client I have done over 200 hours of work for and have been paid thousands of dollars for those hours, would be deemed unhappy with my work simply because the contract has never been closed so that feedback could be provided, if it goes idle for a couple of months. It would be trivial to program in logic to the effect of "this freelancer has billed this client weekly for N months, and the client has never disputed or had any problem with it, so obviously this project is successful." You know, common sense.

 

I have spoken with experienced freelancers who have admitted that they have long-term clients with whom they do huge amounts of work, but they still have to find small projects to do so they can close them to get feedback to keep their JSS high. Basically, doing a $20 job in a few minutes for a client who closes it and leaves positive feedback seems to provide more tangible benefit to JSS than earning $20,000 over the course of a year from a client on a single project that remains open. This pretty strongly suggests an algorithm in need of refinement.

 

That said, they've made it very clear that they don't care and don't ever plan to change this, so you just have to work "gaming the system" into your routine. When I am done with a project, I ask the client if he or she anticipates any work in the next month, and if not, ask that the project be closed. Usually this works fine. For clients who say there will be more work and then there isn't after a month or so, I politely ask them to close the contract. It sometimes takes more than one request. I haven't ever asked a client to close a project just to give feedback, but I'm lucky enough to have enough new projects coming in regularly that I don't need to -- I can see why others might.

 

These are flaws in the system, but they are not going to change, so it's not worth wasting even more energy on top of the waste that the behavior itself represents. Just do what you have to do.

Community Guru
Bill H Member Since: Aug 18, 2017
8 of 10

Wendy, Rene, thanks for the comments. I'm far from mediocre, although I suppose I might be a whiner. In any event, I can document the client closing the contract because I wouldn't do free work. Why bother?

 

Rene, I'm doing little on Upwork and will continue to do little because I'm rapidly approaching the need to bow out due to health. In an average week there are no more than two or three job posts that interest me at all. G***.com has an average of 65 business and finance jobs at any one time, and I find about the same number there.

 

Wendy, I think I'm at nine published; the mystery where your course correction advice was golden is stuck.. I'm satisfied with plot and characters (and their development) but am missing much of the mystery element. I've asked my cover creator for help; she edits her wife's books, mostly mysteries that are superb.

 

The new feedback is for something over sixty times the amount of money of the poor feedback, so we shall see what we shall see.

 

Charles,

 

You're spot on. Upwork is by intention one-size-fits-all, and service sales and delivery in my niche are completely incompatible with the JSS. Neither the single rating nor the JSS itself bothered me particularly; what bothered me most was inconveniencing a great client to game the system. I'm not sure UW is worth my looking for slam-bam $200 jobs, let alone $20 ones. I start a new Mergers and Acuisitions job, off-UW, shortly. I'm considering going silent on UW, maintaining current clients to the 24 month mark, then quitting.

Community Guru
Rene K Member Since: Jul 10, 2014
9 of 10

@Bill H wrote:

I'm rapidly approaching the need to bow out due to health.


 Knowing what I know from your health, I hate reading this. And I hope for the best.

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless
Community Guru
Charles K Member Since: Mar 6, 2017
10 of 10

Sorry to hear about your health, Bill. I hope that all turns out okay for you.

 

In terms of Upwork, I'd encourage you to just take a "que sera sera" attitude towards it. No need to go whole hog or quit entirely (unless you want to, of course).


"Neither the single rating nor the JSS itself bothered me particularly; what bothered me most was inconveniencing a great client to game the system."

 

Then don't. Let the JSS be what it is. If you apply for a job take the bull by the horns and say that the JSS doesn't properly reflect your success here because you do large jobs, and let the client decide. But of course, if you have better options, you have better options.

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