I am an oDesk contractor and client. I do NOT work for oDesk.
Here is my idea, which I'm completely making up out of my head. I don't want you to think I heard about this anywhere or that oDesk has actually announced anything like this. This is just an idea.
"Introducing: oDesk Quality Training"
The primary purpose of some new quality assurance programs such as using Connects instead of job application quotas and introducing premium memberships is to improve the quality of job applications and job applicants, and to improve the quality of the oDesk experience overall for both clients and contractors.
One problem that diminishes the quality of the oDesk experience is clients and contractors acting in ways which violate both oDesk's stated policies as well as general best practices.
Poor quality job postings and scammers posing as "clients" who post scam jobs diminish the quality of oDesk. Job applications that contain basic fundamental mistakes also diminish the quality of the oDesk experience.
Training can help. For example, if all oDesk contractors knew more fully about the policy prohibiting clients from asking for free work, then there would be fewer instances of clients actually being able to get away with doing so, and fewer clients would consistently and repeatedly do so.
But oDesk contractors are anxious to sign up and start earning money on oDesk. They often do not spend the time reading through the available oDesk literature. And even if they do, they may not return to see updated versions of the literature which reflect the latest trends and research available that would help them be high-quality contractors. Or at least know about the latest client scams that they should watch out for.
What would prompt oDesk Contractors to take time out to continue educating themselves?
Each week, oDesk contractors will be presented with a multiple choice question that will test their knowledge of quality assurance issues. These questions will be quite difficult, but they will be open book questions. The questions will be accompanied by links to a few paragraphs of information they can read that will provide the knowledge necessary to answer the question.
The questions will be varied widely. Each contractor will not receive the same question, but will receive questions from a large question bank, and the questions themselves will vary in form, with the answers being randomized and the content of the question being changed by an algorithm that changes the name of hypothetical company names, changes the specific parameters, etc. All in an automated way, but done so that it discourages cheating. (You won't be able to simply click "C" as your answer because your buddy chose "C" for this week's answer.)
But why take time to answer a multiple choice question (or maybe there are 3 or 4 question's in each week's quiz)?
YOU DON'T HAVE TO!!
This program is COMPLETELY OPTIONAL. If it is a waste of your time, then opt out.
But if you choose to participate in oDesk Training, then you receive incentives: There are no penalties for incorrect answers. But you receive one additional Connect for each correct answer. (Or 3 additional connects? Something like that...) And/or your oDesk Quality Testing Score is shown on your profile. Or it is shown on your My Stats. Or it can help to undo some of the damage done by negative performance metrics.
If there is some sort of incentive, then I think oDesk can get contractors to improve the quality of oDesk for clients, and improve the behavior of clients as well as contractors, by enhancing the overall knowledge of contractors with regards to what constitutes proper and high-quality behavior.
Training the oDesk contractors will be a more effective way of improving client behavior than training clients. Clients come here with money wanting service. They're not interested in undergoing training. But training contractors can help improve everything.
I like the idea but don't you think it would be a big bite (is that a correct phrase?) for software engineering team. I mean, we see they implement one thing and instantly broke seven other that worked.
I have often said the same thing about other proposed changes, worried that adding another new feature might cause more problems in a system that already has bugs.
I think this proposal is far simpler and less potentially hazardous to implement than many other proposed changes. But I completely understand where you're coming from.
Maybe if more contractors comment in this thread regarding whether or not they like the idea of being able to take part in regular oDesk Quality Training quizzes or other training initiatives, with the possibility of earning Connects or something for demonstrating oDesk knowledge... Maybe if there is more feedback about this oDesk will seriously consider doing this...
With the greatest of respect. my friend on here, maybe people in general are not as optimistic as you are. I recently get a sense of overwhelming weariness, wariness, brow-beaten-ness and reluctant resignation from these forums, based mainly on the view that oDesk does what it wants, when it wants, for whatever reason it wants; and that no amount of suggestions, complaints, queries, feedback or constructive input is going to make the blindest bit of difference to what they say or do. So, just saying, maybe that's why there isn't a rush to back up your suggestion. It's not personal...
No offense, taken, Stephen. I understand where you're coming from.
I have seen oDesk hearken to SOME suggestions. But, yeah, mostly we as users are pretty limited in our power to change things. We just try to grasp the cards we're dealt.
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