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Private feedback is stupid

Active Member
Joseph O Member Since: Aug 28, 2017
1 of 13

If Upwork’s goal in designing the Job Success Score was to create the most opaque, unpredictable, and frustrating metric imaginable, they have done a very good job. I have a client who gave me a rating of 4.85 stars and explicitly recommends me in her public feedback. Yet, my JSS went down because of something she said in her private feedback that indicated that she is a client that “wouldn’t recommend me”. The thing is, how private is it if I can still tell that she is saying something negative? Perhaps this feature was designed to protect the client, but it’s hard to see what it is protecting her from in this case, since I’m still very aware that she said something bad about me and it is now left to my imagination. I’m certainly not happy with her and am probably unwilling to work with her again because of this. Good thing she has that protection! The really stupid thing is that she probably didn’t say anything that bad. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Upwork applied some other weird rule to her private feedback that


Why is this necessary? Why do we need two layers of feedback, which allow clients to be two-faced? Why does running a business on Upwork need to be different from running any other business, where you are judged entirely by your (one and only) public review? Why did Upwork name it Job Success score if it is actually judging other things than the percent of jobs you complete successfully?


I get that maybe there was some inflation in reviews, but my god, the current system is just so miserable to work under. I have gone out of my way to make every client happy, including this one. They have all told me that I have completed their project and that they are very pleased with the finished product. They have all left me good reviews. Yet that isn’t enough to have a 100% JSS. Great system.

Community Guru
Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
2 of 13

It's not true that all of your clients have left you good reviews. Three out of 14 left no feedback and all three of those closed in the past few weeks. As I understand the system, those are more likely to have dinged your JSS than any private feedback from a client who gave you a 4 on communication and 5's on everything else.


Private feedback is not stupid. It's in place to protect clients from being harangued by FLs (which, according to many longtimers here, was previously a severe problem). I don't know why you think anyone running any business anywhere is "judged entirely by your (one and only) public review." There is never any way of knowing for sure and completely what clients say about you versus what they say to you.


The JSS is a flawed solution but nobody cares what we FLs think about it. And that's fine. You have a great start here with strong feedback. Even this recent ding--whatever its genesis--has only knocked you down to 91%. Instead of gnashing your teeth about it, spend the time and energy figuring out how to minimize the 'no feedback' contracts--they're a potential plague for all of us, and can't be eliminated but can be managed.

Active Member
Joseph O Member Since: Aug 28, 2017
3 of 13

I am very aware of the no feedback problem, another rediculous factor in the JSS, and am working to take care of it. However, those contracts existed before this review and only caused my score to drop to 94%. Upwork support told me that that the drop to 91% was caused by something this specific contract wrote in private feedback. So yes, it is this account's private feedback that is driving down my rating. 


As for the "one and only review" comment, I was referring to the rating systems of other businesses, where Yelp/Google/Tripadvisor give one aggregated public review. Obviously, there are lots of things affecting a business's reputation in general that happen offline, but there isn't a second review system on Yelp where customers get to mess up a business's rating without their reviews actually being published for the business to see. That would be a really frustrating feature for businesses to deal with. That is exactly what is happening on Upwork. 

Community Guru
Kat C Member Since: Jul 11, 2016
4 of 13

Why is this necessary?


Freelancers hounding clients for 5-star feedback. At least, that's the short answer.  Others who were part of the Elance/Odesk platforms prior to Upwork will likely give a more detailed reply. 


I'm a Yelp'er, meaning I regularly review establishments using their system. They have a protocol in place regarding any attempts at manipulating feedback. From my experience, if you as the reviewer go back in and remove the review, a pop-up screen appears asking why you're taking such an action. 


But, Upwork isn't going to change the back-end private feedback anytime soon (or maybe never). So, like many of the other FL'ers, I just accept it as the nature of the system and strategize, as best as possible, the opening and closing of client contracts. 


BTW, yes, I agree with you. Would love to see just a straight up star system. But, unfortunately, nefarious FL'ers and clients ruined that, sadly.   



Active Member
Joseph O Member Since: Aug 28, 2017
5 of 13

Interesting. Thank for sharing. It's nice to have some context at least. 

Active Member
Joseph O Member Since: Aug 28, 2017
6 of 13

The ironic thing is that the JSS is actually forcing me to hound my clients for feedback since no-feedback and idle jobs hurt my score! I never used to reach out to clients about feedback at all because it seems unprofessional, but now I have to, because Upwork does a bad job at convincing clients to leave feedback in the first place and then penalizes me when they don't. 

Community Guru
Kat C Member Since: Jul 11, 2016
7 of 13

I tell clients that open contracts begin to penalize my JSS (which in some cases this appears to be true). The strange thing is, there are FL'ers who have a plethora of open contracts and 100% JSS (or at least still somewhere between 90% and 100%). But, with all of the backend components that we cannot see, there could be other reasons why this is the case. And, perhaps they are still receiving ongoing work so the contract isn't inactive.


As I said in another thread, JSS is wacky. 


What I do not do is say anything about a review or feedback. 


The MIA client contracts I close ever so slowly (mainly because I don't want new potential clients to have a false impression of my availability, though this can be cleared up during the interview process). 


Community Leader
Kate R Member Since: Dec 5, 2016
8 of 13

How does a freelance harangue a client for a good review? I really am curious, and at what point? before th job is closed? 


Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
9 of 13

Kate, quite a lot of freelancers have come to the forums describing the way that they ceaselessly harassed clients who had left them negative feedback until the client changed it. In fact, I've seen freelancers do this after a client left them a "horrible, unfair!!!!" 4.5 stars.


It varies a bit from freelancer to freelancer, but basically they repeatedly contact the client with dramatic entreaties and demands to know what they "did so wrong" and why the client is "trashing their reputation" and blah, blah, blah until the client will say anything to make them shut up and go away. Fortunately, private feedback cannot be changed.

Ace Contributor
Kevin C. N Member Since: Oct 4, 2016
10 of 13
I believe I once read on these forums that only private scores of 8+ qualify as "your client would recommend you"...

I don't know where that came from and I don't think anyone really knows how it all works, so that may be complete rubbish... Anyone shed some light on this?