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Once again I object to penalizing freelancers for disappearing clients / inactive projects

I had a 100% JSS for a long time. I recently had one job not end successfully and that dropped to 99%. Fine, I'm no longer perfect. But there haven't been any others and now it's down to 97%. The only thing that I have heard of that can affect this that has occurred in that time is a couple of contracts have gone inactive.

 

I object to this metric being part of JSS. It has nothing to do with whether or not I do my work or please my clients.

 

It's UNPROFESSIONAL for Upwork to constantly make me have to nag clients to close projects so I'm not penalized for something that DOESN'T FLIPPING MATTER IN THE FIRST PLACE.

163 REPLIES 163


@Charles K wrote:

 

 

To be clear, I consider 100% a good score. Anything below that means I am doing something wrong


This idea is not only totally wrong, but is also bad for your own sanity. Considering not only the way the algorithm works but also the not so rational way human mind works (clients rating freelancers), your assumption is flawed.

 

A JSS of 95%-100% is just great. I can't see your profile so I know squat about your ratings, but I'm sure that a drop of few % in your JSS is not due to you doing something wrong.

 

People with JSS lower than 80%, for instance, are doing something wrong.

 

You are just overthinking all of this and you're hurting yourself.

-----------
"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

Fair enough Rene, I probably overstated matters more than a bit there.

 

I would however point out that while we may know that a JSS can drop into the low 90s with nothing being wrong, this doesn't mean that clients do. Clients that Upwork does its best to keep completely in the dark about what affects freelancers, mind you -- most I talk with don't even realize that Upwork is taking a hefty chunk of what they pay in fees.


@Charles K wrote:

Clients that Upwork does its best to keep completely in the dark about what affects freelancers, 


I'm happy to hear this. That's good. That's very good.

 

Clients come here to get work done, period.

-----------
"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless


@Rene K wrote:

@Charles K wrote:

Clients that Upwork does its best to keep completely in the dark about what affects freelancers, 


I'm happy to hear this. That's good. That's very good.

 

Clients come here to get work done, period.


That also means they don't come here to have to worry about whether or not a successfully completed contract is closed or not.

 

Want clients to not see the freelancing side? Don't make freelancers have to involve them because of a nonsensical algorithm. If the client gets work product and releases / doesn't dispute payment to the freelancer, then the project should be assumed to be going fine NOT assumed to be unsuccessful. It makes zero sense.

 

Either keep client activities out of our assessments or inform them of their need to close projects. Can't have it both ways. (Well, they can, but that doesn't mean it is right.)


@Charles K wrote:

...most [clients] I talk with don't even realize that Upwork is taking a hefty chunk of what they pay in fees.


I can't imagine a reason to point this out to them. My rates are my rates. Clients can and will pay them, or not. If they're paying, it's for value received: neither to keep me afloat nor to make Upwork profitable (which by the way it still is not, so we'd better hope it's focused on the bottom line).

It's all mind games.

 

The outfit cares only for the bootom line.

 

If they can get you to clean up these contracts, less work and expense for them.

 

The real joke on everyone is they do practically nothing to faciliate the best possible chances of good client / freelancer matches; HOWEVER, when they deem fit, they will do some "social engineering" and manipulate scores to get you to behave in a certain manner; which is still always geared to minimizing their expenses and maximizing theiir profits.

 

Sacrifice some profit in order to have better client - freelancer facilities and features? You must be joking,

 

The less visibility, the more confusion, wasted connects, dragged out contracts .... But in all this, they will always have had their "cut".


@Charles K wrote:

Appreciate the response Valeria.

 

To be clear, I consider 100% a good score. Anything below that means I am doing something wrong and I want it corrected. Sure, this is perfectionistic. But I worked hard for that 100%. I promise my clients a good job done every time. That's what the number is SUPPOSED to reflect.


 That is entirely outside your control. For example, no matter how well you perform, you cannot guarantee that no very satisfied client won't choose 8 or 9 in "how likely would you be to recommend". 

 

You can't afford to invest your time and energy in insisting on a perfect score based on a formula that's not available to you. 

Thanks for you reply Valeria. 2 things (and I'm serious about this request):

1. Please tell CS to stop sharing incorrect information or information that they're not supposed to share.

2. Please tell whoever's in charge that an idle contract is a ridiculous factor to use in the calculation of JSS. But if Upwork insists on using it, 1 or 2 months of inactivity is much too short to let it affect JSS.

I also believe that clients are much more likely to come back to a freelancer for more work if they don't have to keep closing, starting, unpausing, etc. contracts. This is just a guess though - if clients come here and say otherwise, I'll happily accept it.
atreglia
Member

It's UNPROFESSIONAL for Upwork to constantly make me have to nag clients to close projects

 

I agree. JSS decreasing due to inactive contracts, or contracts closed by the freelancer, is absurd. My JSS is about to go down from 100% because I have two inactive contracts that I refuse beg the clients to close. Their needs have been met, they’re outta here. It’s degrading to go begging for closure, and Upwork has some nerve forcing freelancers to do this. I can’t speak to other areas of expertise, but for Photoshop, there are many jobs that are $10-$20. I like those jobs because I’m retired and I only want short and fast projects for something to do. So, what am I supposed to do…… Write to the client and say “Hey, remember me from last month? I’m the one that erased your daughter-in-law from the family photo, can you please close our $10 contract so I can continue here?"  REALLY?!?

 

I've only been here for six months and I’ve seen so many complaints about this very subject, and for some self-serving reason Upwork refuses to do anything about it. This is not professional, at all.  I'm sure Upwork is very aware of this but does not care because they derive some form of benefit from it. Just follow the money and it will lead straight to the answer. It always does.

macollinsone
Member

uhm, it's job /success/ score...having contracts that aren't actively receiving payments and things means there isn't any success with them...you can end contracts yourself and select "job completed successfully"...i'm certain if the client doesn't respond back after 14 days with something negative, then it should be a positive to your score

 

reichstephen
Member

Charles K is 100% correct.

Wake up and smell the coffee.

 

I have and had clients who have...

- Disappered

- Will not answer my emials of phone calls.

- Forgot to close a job

- Use my services once ever 3 months or longer and dont want to rehire and why should they?

- Dont want to pay after delivery of projects

- Frankly are lazy and cant follow thru with a project.

- Change their minds on job or the office changes the project and they are just the messenger.

 

MY JSS score is 92% 

I know i give more than 100%.

I given up caring about the JSS score which means nothing to my clients that hire me.

 

Thank you

 

 

 

 

Good for you, Stephen, that you no longer care about the JSS. Sounds as if caring about better vetting of your prospective clients would be good for your pocketbook and peace of mind.

I currently have 7 contracts on Upwork,3 of which were paused by Upwork for inactivity.  I have two with no milestones funded and no work for some time now.    I have one ended with no feedback in the last few months, several in the last year. My JSS is 100%.

davidd1008
Member

Upwork has always been very tight-lipped on exactly what goes into the JSS score. And for good reason. If people know exactly how it was calculated then they could game the system.

 

I have several inactive contracts at the moment because the work has been completed but the client has wanted to keep the contract open for future work. Some have been idle for a few weeks, others for several months. 

 

My JSS score is 97%.  I think it's far more likely that you've received some less than perfect private feedback from the client that's impacting your score. Still, 97% is not bad. I wouldn't worry about it too much. There are plenty of great freelancers on this very thread who have been around Upwork for a long time, made lots of money, and aren't at 100%

 

IF you knew a restaurant was going to be great 97% of the time, wouldn't you still go? Still a pretty good rating. Just keep doing good work and your JSS will be just fine. Clients, for the most part, won't care much about not being 100%. It's only when you start to dip below 90-95% that there's cause for worry in my opinion. 

I keep hearing the opinion about not allowing freelancers to "game the system." What gets to me is that, because of the lack of transparency, it's hard to know how to respond if you're concientious and concerned about why your ratings are changing. I think the lack of transparency is a significant issue.

Also, a few of the contracts I've worked the hardest on have been the ones that garnered the worst feedback. Clients can be difficult, they can have unreasonable expectations, and they can at times make it difficult to do good work. Sometimes clients don't communicate well or don't supply enough context about aspects of the job that they feel aren't relevant. I once had to edit a job that I later found out was being authored by at least 7 people. That's not something I would assume and it wasn't something that I thought to ask about. Issues like that can make a significant difference in the level of difficulty it takes to pull off good work. Since what I do gets boiled down to this score that no one understands the mechanics of, I have to say I don't really feel all that shored up by this system. 

I just had my rating drop to 89% and I don't have any clear idea why. I've been top rated since the rating came out. I've also got a client who's driving me somewhat nuts but gives me five star ratings. So do I have to wonder what he's really saying about me behind the scenes? If the private feedback counts for more, shouldn't I be able to understand what it's about?

Plenty of us understand the system enough to maintain 100% job success scores, even though we are far from perfect as freelancers.

 

We don't keep this information to ourselves. There are dozens of high-JSS freelancers who answer all kinds of questions and give advice here in the Forum.

 

I don't regard the score as mysterious.

Then why even bother participating on this thread? Surely you've got something more evolved to occupy your mind with.

 

 


@Renata S wrote:



I just had my rating drop to 89% and I don't have any clear idea why. 


Try closing your inactive jobs. Not all at the same time but a couple every two weeks. And don't let them pile up.

 

Once a job is done, if the client doesn't close it, send them a polite reminder (a client who closes the job has to leave a feedback and a constant pattern of no feedback jobs is bad karma, so clients closing jobs is the best option).

 

If the client doesn't answer, close the job yourself. Inactive jobs are like jobs without feedback, bad karma.

 

If you follow this discipline, you may see an improvement in your JSS.

 

Don't close all inactive jobs all in once. Bad Juju.

-----------
"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

This is something I've heard but don't understand. I work as a proofreader and editor. It's frequently the case that people have things they need done on a sporadic basis, and some clients like to keep contracts open. An inactive contract might be one with an academic who writes one or two papers a year. An inactive contract in this case says absolutely nothing about the work that a freelance editor does or how the client feels about it.  It simply says that the client doesn't have any work for a while. Or if it says anything, it's more positive than negative, since they want to retain your services the next time they have work.  I've had a clients who resumed their contracts after 4-6 months of inactivity. So I really don't understand why inactive contracts would be a  factor that is negatively affecting my JSS. People delay projects all the time. People get sick, or take extended leaves of absence all the time. People run out of certain kinds of work all the time. People get more involved in other projects all the time. Why would this drive the JSS score down? And what reason does UpWork have for determining that this is a negative evaluation of the work done by the freelancer? If there is no negative rating or negative statement from the client, why would it bring the score down? 

Renata, it's a statistics game. There are more than one million freelancers on this site. While the situations you mention occur from time to time, abandoned contracts are much, much more common. 

 

The fact that there are exceptions is the reason that inactive and no feedback contracts have little or no impact if they're the exception in a freelancer's work history. But, the general policies are aimed at what's happening 80 or 90% of the time, not the possible exceptions.

That doesn't justify penalizing the contractor if the client hasn't specifically complained about the way the work was done. They have the means and the ability to do so on the system. If they don't end contracts and don't leave appropriate feedback,  that's not within the freelancer's control.  An abandoned contract doesn't mean that the freelancer abandoned it or did anything wrong. 

As I mentioned, I've had people resume after months of inactivity. If the downgrading is actually occuring as a result of inactive contracts, I can only assume that part of the reason the issue exists is because they are legacy contracts that don't seem to be subject to the current fee structure.

 

Yes, I guess you could say it's a numbers game. I've really understood that since the new fee structure came into play. I used to really enjoy taking contracts with students and early career researchers, who often have really interesting projects but no money. Now, since the fees for contracts under $500 are 20% (and an additional 2.75% on the freelancer end), I can't really afford to do this. It costs Upwork $113.75 for me to make $400? On the other hand, clients in the US can pay freelancers $3 an hour.  Yes, I guess you could say that's a numbers game. 

I really used to enjoy working on this platform but I'm becoming really jaded by the megacorp mentality. 

You're suggesting that JSS should always be 100% so long as the client hasn't "specifically complained"?

 

So, for instance, a person with 23 open inactive contracts and 17 contracts with no feedback would "not be penalized," and so have perfect JSS, whereas the person with 18 5 star contracts and two 4.6 star contracts would not?

 

That really makes sense to you?

Since that's not in the text of my message, no, I did not suggest it. 

I am asking why "no feedback" and "open contract" necessarily equals bad freelancer. 

I don't know how you got to 23 open contracts and 17 contracts with no feedback. I have noticed quite a few editors with long lists of open contracts; I don't know whether these are active or inactive. It might be possible that someone has 23. And I have noticed quite a few editors and proofreaders who have at least a handful of projects with no feedback. It might be possible that someone has 17. Sometimes the project deadlines are short because people have deadlines they're rushing to meet. They meet the deadline and they're off the site. This might be true of other client populations where people work to deadline such as clients seeking graphic designers. Clients are in a rush, meet their deadlines, and leave the site with only the thought that their job is done. I'd say that happens more frequently in some lines of work (other examples are video and audio editors). Does that mean the job was bad or the client was unhappy? 

The whole idea that Upwork is assuming an open or no feedback contract is "bad" is misguided.

 

JSS means "job success score." You get credit for jobs successfully completed. When a contract has no feedback or has been hanging open for months or years, Upwork has no indication that the contract was successfully completed, and so can't give you credit for success.

 

A lot of freelancers like to throw around dramatic language about punishment and penalties, but JSS is an affirmative measure...how often did you do WELL, and how well did you do? Those are measurements that require data that simply doesn't exist for inactive and no feedback contracts. 


@Tiffany S wrote:

The whole idea that Upwork is assuming an open or no feedback contract is "bad" is misguided


 Exactly.

 

JSS is supposed to be:

 

great experience.jpg

 

A "great" client experience isn't just the client not losing the will to live or his business in the process.

 

The majority of clients who truly had a a "GREAT" (not "fine, adequate, pleasant enough, ok") experience will be happy enough to close contracts (which by default leads to feedback.)

 

A small percentage of clients who don't end contracts and don't leave feedback will not affect the JSS, nor will a small percentage of idle contracts.

 

The argument that having to rehire is somehow a hardship for clients is also false.

 

It takes no more time (realistically) to click the great big fat obvious "Rehire Freelancer" button right on the main client interface than it does to unpause a dormant one, in fact it arguably takes less time.

 

Again, it comes down to managing both clients and contracts professionally and effectively.


The undeniable fact that there are hordes of freelancers who manage that just fine means it IS entirely possible.

Upwork's position is that a *pattern* of jobs with no feedback indicates poor client and contract management, and as a client I tend to agree. This is why JSS is negatively impacted if a freelancer has a *pattern* of jobs with no feedback.

There is more to being a successful freelancer on Upwork than just winning a job and delivering the finished product. Client and contract management is an important skill for all freelancers. It starts before you even bid on a job (does the client have a great history of feedback, both given and received) and doesn't end after you have delivered the finished product.

That's the first time I've ever heard that UpWork has something official to say about the matter. But again, that just shows the lack of transparency. The problem with the current lack of transparency is that in this particular instance, freelancers have no idea what UpWork considers "bad." It's the same thing with the issue of many contracts with no feedback. As I've mentioned, I've had clients restart contracts after months of inactivity.  I'll mention again that I work as an editor and proofreader and that sometimes they have things for me to do and sometimes they don't. My contracts are small and I work one-on-one with people.  Is that a "badly managed contract" or is that just "maintaining an ongoing agreement with a client where nothing has changed." There are all sorts of different kinds of ways of doing work. And I think a lot of the people who are noticing their scores dropping might be working in a similar kind of way.

 

I don't think there's "officially stated" about this anywhere. I've written to customer support to find out what it's about and i've never been told that UpWork has any kind of "official" view of this. So where's the clear and unabiguous statement about that we can all refer to? No one at support has given me the information that you've mentioned. If that's an "official positiion", I think it would only be fair to publish it somewhere. But of course, that would give me the opportunity to "work the system" by being able to interpret a set of clearly stated rules. There are about six pages of commentary on this thread that show that many people can't identify this as an issue. If they are concerned about contract management, why not communicate that to freelancers? That gives us some opportunity to respond. Or is responding to some clearly stated information "working the system."


So please tell me where you found that information published. Or are you speculating that that this must obviously be the case? 

I think the other problem is that UpWork is operating with this "one-size-fits-all" algorithm that's created by some tech guys in the programming department who are just told to solve a problem. What's the norm for client behavior  in your industry (i.e., being able to easily contact a client when the project is finished) might not be the norm in mine. One way of managing that would be to make sure you get some outside contact details so you can track them down -- something UpWork doesn't approve of.  



@Renata S wrote:

 


So please tell me where you found that information published. Or are you speculating that that this must obviously be the case? 



 Moderators have used that exact language in dozens of prior threads on this topic.

Maybe that's part of the problem. I haven't in the past spent significant time on the forum -- I spend my time working and trying to find work -- and I was unaware that the forum had any role as a formal repository for the UpWork rules. When I first started noticing the issue of declining JSS (as I mentioned, I've been top rated since that rating came out -- so I wasn't a "bad apple" freelancer before), I contacted customer service to find out what might be happening. I was never told, "Oh, you should close those open contracts because that might be affecting your score." What I was told was, "Oh, we can't tell you how the JSS works because if freelancers know how it works they will try to 'work the system.'" 

This is very circular and very frustrating. And largely the response people come up with here tends to be the repeated and sanctimonious one: "Oh, well we've still got 100%. We don't see a problem. The problem must clearly be that you're obviously doing a bad job." This is less than helpful. And it's the reason I'm opting not to continue on this forum. It's not really helping me in any way. It's like some sort of zombie cult.  I originally wanted to know whether the "open contracts" and "no feedback" issues are real rather than just endless speculation about the inner workings of the mysterious JSS that no one understands. I would like to know that I'm dealing with people who can analyze the situation and come up some answers. What I'm getting here and from customer service is the same things repeated over and over, or slightly different variations on the same misinformation.


I think there are issues for people working in certain roles and in certan industries that  aren't considered. And no one is consulting anyone about the issues they're having. All they're saying is, "Well, according to our algorithm, you must be doing a bad job."

Oh, and just to be clear, I didn't ask "Where on the forum can I find moderator's interpretations of the UpWork rules that are not clearly stated anywhere else?" I asked where I could find the UpWork rules on this. 

 





@Renata S wrote:


Oh, and just to be clear, I didn't ask "Where on the forum can I find moderator's interpretations of the UpWork rules that are not clearly stated anywhere else?" I asked where I could find the UpWork rules on this. 


Hi Renata,

 

While a lot of information about Job Success score was shared here in the Community by moderators, same information in a more concise form can be found in Help Center articles that are linked directly to the tooltip that shows next to Job Success Score on freelancer profiles:

 

Screenshot_29.png

 

My Job Success Score

Why Did My Job Success Score Change?

 

Screenshot_30.png

 

 

~ Valeria
Upwork

Been there. Done that. it doesn't explain the problem. And it completely misses the point about the lack of transparency in the JSS calculation. 

And it doesn't answer my question: where is it clearly and unequivocally stated that a closed contract equals "a great experience"? Where is clearly and unequivocally stated that freelancers will be penalized for having too many "open contracts" and having finished projects with "no feedback"?

No feedback = no comment, but no comment does not equal "bad experience." 


 


@Renata S wrote:

 

...

I think the other problem is that UpWork is operating with this "one-size-fits-all" algorithm that's created by some tech guys in the programming department who are just told to solve a problem. What's the norm for client behavior  in your industry (i.e., being able to easily contact a client when the project is finished) might not be the norm in mine. One way of managing that would be to make sure you get some outside contact details so you can track them down -- something UpWork doesn't approve of.  



 Who says they don't approve of you having your client's contact details? You certainly can't publish your private contact details in your public profile, but once you have a contract in place (or even before that, at the interview stage), there's nothing at all stopping you from exchanging contact details. The first thing I do when I hire a new freelancer is get their email address, and I *primarily* communicate with my large team of freelancers via email.

 


@Renata S wrote:

Been there. Done that. it doesn't explain the problem. And it completely misses the point about the lack of transparency in the JSS calculation. 

And it doesn't answer my question: where is it clearly and unequivocally stated that a closed contract equals "a great experience"? Where is clearly and unequivocally stated that freelancers will be penalized for having too many "open contracts" and having finished projects with "no feedback"?

No feedback = no comment, but no comment does not equal "bad experience." 

 


 If you'd "been there, done that" you would have seen the links Valeria gave you state "Missing feedback is only flagged when it represents a significant portion of your contracts" and "if you have many contracts where no feedback has been given, it can impact your score (a little) negatively because it indicates some of your clients were dissatisfied", among other points.

 


@Zac G wrote:

I will also say ontop of your argument that Yes, specific sectors of jobs have different qualifications for inactive jobs - I have a client who every month gives me about 10 hours of rotoscoping work and has just opted to leave the contract open becuase he hates how the upwork interface works - I'm not going to ask him to close it, becuase thats money that I'm passing up, but at the same time I know its hurting my JSS. Hourly contracts shouldn't have a inactivity flag, having a hourly contract open is just like having a freelancer on retainer, its easier for the clients, and it makes freelancers money as well as upwork.

 

I think right now a really easy fix would be to force clients to close the job when the final milestone has been approved or released, I think a lot of less tech-savy clients are struggling or confused on why they have to return to the site when there job is done and freelancer is paid.


 Zac, your first point, as others have already pointed out, is incorrect. If you are getting regular work each month that contract is *helping* your JSS, not hurting it. (As an aside, it's extremely easy as a client to rehire past freelancers.)

 

Your second point - I almost 100% of the time only set up an initial milestone for fixed price contracts, then continue to add additional milestones over time. Who decides which is the "final" milestone? And anyway, when you release a milestone with no more milestones set up, you're prompted to either create a new one or close the contract. It is very easy and obvious to close a fixed-price contract when you pay out a milestone.

 

(Edited to fix a typo and for clarity)

kenstone
Member

I also have a contract that has become inactive despite messaging the client many times and yes everthing was going great and he is very pleased with my work.  This is a common thing in contracting/consulting.  People start projects and for whatever reason they get sidelined.  Other priorities take over or whatever. This has nothing to do with the contractor.

I have clients who leave contracts open for several weeks between gigs. I know they plan to return, so I leave the contracts open. I have other clients who have simply faded away or with whom I no longer plan to work, so I close those contracts after a few weeks of inactivity. As others have pointed out, handling these issues is not a death sentence for one's JSS. 

zacgman
Member

110% agree that this system needs to be re-worked. I have over 20 inactive / closed contracts that I don't have feedback for. Client documented that they where happy when I submited the final works, but never closed the contract.

 

 

 

I will also say ontop of your argument that Yes, specific sectors of jobs have different qualifications for inactive jobs - I have a client who every month gives me about 10 hours of rotoscoping work and has just opted to leave the contract open becuase he hates how the upwork interface works - I'm not going to ask him to close it, becuase thats money that I'm passing up, but at the same time I know its hurting my JSS. Hourly contracts shouldn't have a inactivity flag, having a hourly contract open is just like having a freelancer on retainer, its easier for the clients, and it makes freelancers money as well as upwork.

 

I think right now a really easy fix would be to force clients to close the job when the final milestone has been approved or released, I think a lot of less tech-savy clients are struggling or confused on why they have to return to the site when there job is done and freelancer is paid.


@Zac G wrote:

I have a client who every month gives me about 10 hours of rotoscoping work and has just opted to leave the contract open becuase he hates how the upwork interface works - I'm not going to ask him to close it, becuase thats money that I'm passing up, but at the same time I know its hurting my JSS.


 Abject nonsense. Not only does that contract NOT hurt your JSS, it actually BOOSTS it.

 

Please do not add to the general hysteria by spreading such "alternative facts"

Yeah, but what exactly are these "facts"?  


undefined:

Yeah, but what exactly are these "facts"?  

 

Have you considered using the search feature and reading what the moderators have had to say in the several dozen prior lengthy threads on this topic?