I've told a client it's against odesk policy and he's quite reasonably asked to see the information pertaining to it. Can Preston or someone else knowledgeable guide me to the specific passage? I feel like I can make a positive change here!
It's in the TOS, free work of any kind is prohibited.
oops, its on the client policies which can be found on the side bar of the TOS page.
Tell your client to come see us here at the forum so we can drill some sense to him.
I can't find anything about samples being against the policy. There's a big difference between a sample and a custom piece. I have no issues with providing the client with a free sample - which consists of something from my portfolio or work I have done before, or would take me no more than 10 minutes to create. When I worked as a translator, some clients did ask for a sample translation of a short paragraph, which I would encourage any client to do actually. As long as everybody is translating the same short paragraph, and the client isn't trying to get the work done for free, I really don't see any issues with it especially on larger scale projects. I'd actually prefer doing a sample than jumping through the hoops in a multi-step interview.
You have made a good point.
I can easily see how asking for "free samples" DOES NOT mean asking for free work. But then there's the whole issue of "free custom samples" versus "free samples", and when does asking a contractor to do something as part of an interview cross the line into asking for free work?
I don't know.
I don't offer translation or writing services, so I'm really going to abstain from further comment on the more nuanced aspects of this topic.
No client or prospective client has ever asked me for free samples, and with the type of work I do, I don't expect anyone will ask anything like that from me.
I agree - depending on the field of work a sample may or may not make any sense. Asking someone do a sample sale for example would completely be asking for free work, whereas asking an applicant to edit, proofread, or translate a 5 sentence paragraph could qualify as a sample, as long as it's mentioned in the job post or job post's question section (this ensures that everybody is asked to provide the same sample and the client isn't trying to split up the work to get it done for free).
I think everybody has to draw their own line and apply common sense and do what they're most comfortable with. I personally love doing a quick sample. It gives me an opportunity to shine and so far, I got every single job that asked for samples. I'd rather risk 10 mins of my time working on the sample, than spend 45 mins in an interview - but that's just me.
I too have a fair share of mistakes on Free Samples. A month ago, a US client interviewed me and to gauge my skills, he asked for a sample. The client had spent more than 5k and had 4.5 Star. It's a Translation, English to Tamil, which is one of the toughest language pairs. The client sent me a 300 words sample file, tough piece, took me 3 hours. I realized that the sample was indeed an Organization profile of one of the popular banks in India. With some sizable doubt, I sent him the completed sample.
Now you would have guessed what might have happened. Yes, I never heard from him again. I followed up with him every alternative day for 10 days. No Response. No Hires on the job post. My Bad. That's a 75$ work. Whoever the client is, whatever the project size is, free sample is bad.
Ramon, you might be missing a trick. Whatever they send you, you send them ten minutes' worth back to them, telling them that's all they need from you ( which it will be if your quality is high enough).