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Upwork needs to be FAIR to all freelancers


I am one of many "newcomers" from Elance. So many complaints have been made. So many suggestions have been offered. I am not going to repeat them all. I just want to request Upwork to make this system as FAIR and OPEN for EVERYONE as Elance was. They say you dont know what you have until it's gone. Elance was so simple and straightforward its unbelievable! In hindsight, as a web developer, I salute the developers behind Elance. It was not "fancy" in any way. It just worked.


In Elance things were done in the open. Search for jobs, select one, place a bid and immediately see your bid in ONE LIST. Thats right, ONE LIST. Sponsored and recommened bids appeared at the top but still in one open list. And you could see who had placed these other bids without having to click any button. When a job was awarded you could see who it was awarded to and compare and contrast and learn something. On Upwork there seems to be alot of SECRECY and INTRIGUE surrounding everything! Why is it like this? I understand there is a "hidden" folder where our bids go or something like that? Really? And its a machine that determines if something is worth being hidden? You have to click a button to see who else has applied for the job? A machine can "recommend" proposals to the client? You cant see the client's profile? You also cant see the person who was awarded the job to get an idea or two? The system is too constrained! I think Upwork gets too involved in the selection process making it unfair. It makes the system seem rigged. The odds are stacked against you from the begining! I dont have a client account so am basing all this on what I have read here.


Ever since I came to Upwork, I have never got a job from a direct application. None. And I have made very many applications by the way. And in the same way I used to do in Elance and get interviewed and hired most times. The only jobs I have done on Upwork are from my clients from Elance who I told to come to Upwork, create the job and then invite me directly. Those are the only jobs I seem to do on Upwork! Is there something I am missing? Perhaps its the "hours worked" thing since I only do fixed jobs and hence have zero hours worked? And as for invites, I used to get so many invites on Elance that for some months I would never even use my connects. I have never gotten a single invite on Upwork! And yet I am always "top rated". How does being top rated help? Granted I dont have great stats but they are descent.


So many people have complained and ranted it has become boring. So I am just thinking out loud here. Does anyone else think the Upwork system is not FAIR to all? Or its me who is missing something? If so, what?


Happy 2016 all Upworkers


Thank you Alexandra for giving us the perspective of the client. I also think these "suggested" providers are most times already busy with other projects. These are the kind of Freelancers you find with 10 simultaneous open jobs while the majority freelancers cant get a single job!


Its important to stress that just because a person has so many successful past jobs or hours worked does not necessarily mean he is technically better than the "newbie" who in fact may be a genius. But just because he is new, the system favors the old boy over him. How then does he get up? I find this very ELITIST. Of course the elite will not complain.


As for the "hidden" list, the word itself is scary. Why hidden? They could have chosen a better term than "hidden". Its like someone is watching you or something?


Good recommendations as well. I winder whether the peole that matter read these posts?

Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi all,


I can confirm that in this new design of the applicant page there is no hidden folder. Instead, there is an Archived folder, where you’ll find proposals you’ve declined or archived, as well as those withdrawn or declined by the freelancer.


Hope this helps.


Vlad, that is good to know. Can you also tell us in this new design whether all applications appear in ONE list sorted by date of application like it was in Elance? Also, how does the "recommended" system work in this new design? Who exactly gets recommended and based on what criteria? Does it involve extra connects as with sponsorship in Elance? Then if you could also clarify on the "suggested" list. How is that list compiled? And does it appear first before all other lists the way it appears in that snapshot? Which list makes the landing page for an open project from the client's side? And finally, has the design been rolled out as the working design or you are still testing it?


Would appreciate your answers to these questions. Thanx.

@Isaac S wrote:

Vlad, that is good to know. Can you also tell us in this new design whether all applications appear in ONE list sorted by date of application like it was in Elance?


No they do not. Some automatically go to the Archived List if they are inappropriate for the job and do not meet the qualifications I specified.


Also, how does the "recommended" system work in this new design? Who exactly gets recommended and based on what criteria? Does it involve extra connects as with sponsorship in Elance?


The first thing a client sees after posting their job is 10 Freelancers that are "supposedly" a good fit for your job. They are usually worthless. At the top they "Recommend" 3 freelancers and they may or may not be qualified. The algorithm is seriously messed up and no one has a clue how it works. No idea with "sponsorship" means. Not applicable here.



Then if you could also clarify on the "suggested" list. How is that list compiled? And does it appear first before all other lists the way it appears in that snapshot?


No one knows how it is compiled. I'm not sure what you mean by suggested.


Which list makes the landing page for an open project from the client's side?


Not sure what you mean by landing page. When you go back to your job posting you have the option to click on Recommended, Applicants and then the Hidden/new wording Archive.


I strongly recommend you post a job, make it private so you can cancel it, and see the process or actually hire someone to do a small job.




Jean thanx for that breakdown. What do you mean when you advise that I post a job to see how the process works? I am registered as  Freelancer. You mean there is somewhere I can go to post a job? I dont see it on my dashboard. Or create another Client account? Confused on that one.

Hi Isaac,


Proposals are not listed by the time they were sent. They are listed according to how strong and relevant they are to the job posting. Make sure you apply to the jobs within your skill set and write great proposals that specifically address client's requirements and questions and you will appear at the top of the list.


Check out this article if you are interested in using Upwork for hiring freelancers.

~ Valeria

Valeria, thank you for clarifying the issue of proposal listing. You say they are listed according to "how strong and relevant they are to the job posting.....great proposals that specifically address client's requirements" This is exactly what I was talking about. Unless you tell me there is a HUMAN who manually reads proposals before they are listed, I find it hard to believe that a machine can diiferentiate a "strong" proposal from a weak one? That it can know a job that is "relevant" from one that is not? That it can know a job that address the "requirements" well? What AI or "metrics" are these? Does it base on length of cover letter? Length of answers to questions? Or what?


I believe there are certain things that only a human being can tell. I wonder why Upwork is obsessed with "helping" the clients and trying to make it "easier" for them. When in fact it just complicates the entire system. A number of clients I invited over from Elance left because of this complexity.



Principally, I do not agree with the view that HUMANS can rightly assess the relevance of the job application - unless this HUMAN is the "perfect" one.


The point I'm trying to make is, ultimately whoever does the check on relevance is doing by a "logic" - if it is humans - it will depend on the capability of the human. If it is done by algorithm - in my opinion, it will be more consistent across and the algorithm can be continuously improved.


I do understand your views - that algorithm (or humans) shouldn't interfere in the deciding the relevance of the applicants - but imagine if a job post has say 50-60 applicants, it becomes easier for the client to make his choice if Upwork presents a "recommended" list to him. As long as the client isn't complaining, I doubt Upwork would be willing to change this arrangement.

Thanx Rejith. My point is that no one should be doing any relevance checks. Not a human and not a machine. The reason why I said a HUMAN could be better is because the content of a job posting needs to be read and understood before the applications can be considered. A human can do that. A machine cant.


For example, I want a wordpress website with LiveDrive cloud storage. A newbie applicant who is an expert at LiveDrive and WordPress applies and also an "experienced" freelancer good at web design with a number of good reviews and hours but with no knowledge of LiveDrive also applies. In this scenario, since a machine cant read, it would think the latter freelancer is the most relevant because of his stats. Where as In reality, the former newbie expert at LiveDrive and WordPress is the better option.


By offering the latter as the recommended choice, the client will select him and probably end up with a poor result where as had he gone through the proposals by himself like it was at Elance, he would have read the proposal by the LiveDrive expert and get a better product.

Ace Contributor

Elance is better than Upwork in all the aspects. When you are applying to a job you can use your own connects to highlight yourself from other bidders. You are able to get much more information from other freelancers and clients (including nationality: country flags included) this way you can make a strategy or a "smarter" job application.
Upwork should take best from both platforms and evolve, the current system does not works for freelancers, I´m thinking about downgrade my membership and get the Elance premium membership.

Thanx Gabriel. You mention something that I think is critical. That is the ability to view your COMPETITORS. This is very critical and in Elance you could view everyone who had applied with you on one page in the same way. There was no feeling like some other people already have a headstart against you. That in itself is very demoralizing. In Elance if you lost a bid then you lost fair and square.


And also importantly, you could know how much the selected bid winner was going to work for. This is important because it helps you make smarter proposals in the future since you have a very good idea of your competition and what clients are willing to pay.

Community Leader

Isaac what good will it bring you if you know winning bid price ? I have never looked what other people are biding, you just calculate for yourself price and give it to client.


For example let's say winning bid for job is $100 and you calculated that it will need you $150 to cover yourself. What do you have from info that winning bid is $100 ?


You must focus on convincing client that your bid of $150 will in end save him time and money insteed that $100 bid...



I think that is very good advice for a platform like this. Like Isaac, I (and I suspect most people) have a natural propensity/inclination for trying to win "market share", i.e. beating the competition in as many cases as possible. (Because we think we are businesses dealing with loyal customers or clients who will return at a later date.) But while that makes sense for the equilibrium and profit-maximzing prices, it doesn't when there is a danger of losing out on profit alltogether.