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xalixo
Member

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

33 REPLIES 33
vincentjames
Member

While I agree with you on some of the issues and key points you made in your post, I don't think these things make Upwork "unfair", I think it's just slightly less convenient than the prior system you are used to.

 

In my honest opinion, the Upwork platform is great, with the exception of Job Success score bar being incorrectly calculated.  

 

I think the core problems with Upwork are

 

- Low quality cut-and-paste response support

- Slow support (but it's actually quite fast to talk to a human, just slow to recieve functioning support)

- Too much penalty on freelancers who are the one's generating Upwork's income, and too much freedom for clients.

 

Other then that, especially when compared to other platforms, Upwork is A+ - if it wasn't, I don't believe you'd be here, as there are other platforms that accomplish the same thing (but let's be honest, they are not nearly as good or 'fair' as upwork).

 

Thanx for the reply vincent. My argument about fairness is based on the way in which the system handles the applications made by the freelancers, not the platform as a whole. I would liken it to a secretary in a company that advertises an open postion and invites ALL people to apply for $2 each application. But after putting in the applications, this secretary (upwork) picks out the ones she "thinks" the boss will like and hands them to the boss and then the rest she shows him only if he asks if there were any others. Is that fair in your view?

 

And you also said one of the problems you see with the system is that there are "Too much penalty on freelancers who are the one's generating Upwork's income, and too much freedom for clients". That just re-inforces my point about fairness, dont you think?

You must be aware that competition here is much higher then on Elance, so for each job now there is double amount of applicant since there are former oDesk and new Elance freelancer working on same site.

 

And you see that old approach to application from Elance is not working - so try to change few things.

 

To refer to your secretary story, if you ask your secretary to give you few candidates for job and you get list of 300 of them would you just give up looking after 10 of them ? Same thing is with application for job, clients don't have entire day to go through 300 freelancer applying for his job so Uwork try to help them.

Thanx Igor for the reply. It is true the increase in competition was supposed to be there. Especially coupled with many clients moving away.

 

I guess my issue is really about the way Upwork presents our proposals to the clients. I think Upwork unjustifiably "interferes" with this process. You refered to my secretary story and said "clients don't have entire day to go through 300 freelancer applying for his job so Uwork try to help them". The mistake with that sentence is the "assumption" that clients dont have the entire day. That is not for Upwork to decide! And by trying to "help them" in fact Upwork can hide very good freelancers from the clients and also deny opportunity to other freelancers.

 

I think Upwork should not INTERFERE with the selection process.

Good point! It indeed would fall under the area of 'fairness' , I stand correct 

Spoiler
 


@Vincent E wrote:

While I agree with you on some of the issues and key points you made in your post, I don't think these things make Upwork "unfair", I think it's just slightly less convenient than the prior system you are used to.

 

In my honest opinion, the Upwork platform is great, with the exception of Job Success score bar being incorrectly calculated.  

 

 

 


 I agree..there are things I wish were better - many he mentioned and I wish they didn't hold our money for 6 days too. But I can live with minor inconveniences.  But there are 3 key issues I think.  

 

1) The JSS scores need to go - period. Factoring in open/idle contracts, no feedback and private feedback is incredibly unfair. Especially feedback solely because they keep it a secret but at the same time expect you to improve. On what? It's mindblowing they penalize freelancers for clients walking away from contracts when jobs are done or even in the middle as if it's always the freelancers fault. Also, many jobs are not long term jobs so many freelancers don't have that to balance the occasional bad client. 

 

2) the hours worked is another one. I think it's incredibly unfair that on the snapshot clients view when they get proposals, freelancers who primarily do fixed rate work show no work hours or very few and they don't show how many jobs the freelancers did on a fixed rate. No doubt people are getting passed over for that when clients have so many proposals to view, I would skip those too. But they could be skipping freelancers who did 100s of jobs because Upwork gives the perception they have done none or very few. 

 

3) the messaging system. I think enough has been said on that one but it's not conducive to working effectively with clients.

 

 

 

 

lysis10
Member

I get on the recommended list. I think it's totally fair. I'm qualified for it.

suznee
Member

The hidden list is very easy to view. I have not ever had anyone in the hidden list who was someone I would hire, but I have the ability to view that list.

 

Also if you read through the posts they have stated they are getting rid of the hidden list. They are working on the new client layout which no longer has a hidden list.

 

You aren't going to end up in hidden folder if you are applying to jobs that are a good fit.

Suzzane, thank you for the reply. The fact that the hidden folder can be "easily seen" is of no consequence at all. The question is why "hide" my application in the first place yet I have used the same amount of tokens as those on the recommened list? This is BIASED and affects the hiring decision of the client. I dont know much about it since I dont have a client account and if they said they are removing it, then thats good.

 

I hope in addition to removing that list, they try other things to make the system fairer like showing ALL applications on ONE LIST sorted by time of application since all applicants are spending the same tokens. Recommendations can be put at the top of the list like sponsored proposals were on Elance. Let the client DECIDE from an open field. Thats my view.

Hidden list. I don't see any hidden list on my client's page when I look at the posted job screen. There is an archive tab where I can put proposals manually if I want, but no hidden lists. 

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

Thanx Rene K. Perhaps you can clarify for me what exactly the proposal page looks like and how it works for clients?

Here it is, redacted. This is after a provider is hired, this is why the Applicants tabs shows 0 (all applicants but the hired one are moved in the Archived tab once the job is closed).

 

Also, as long as nobody is hired, the applicants are listed below. Once one applicant is hired and the job closed, only the hired applicant is listed.

 

The Recommended flag is added by Upwork to the applicants with the best profile. I have no idea how they chose which one to recommend but I have to admit that it's pretty accurate.

 

Also, those applicants who are recommended are on the top of the list.

 

The Suggested tab is for people who have not applied but for who Upwork thinks they have a good enough profile for being invited by the client. This is what Upwork's algorithm thinks, and contrary to the Recommended flag set on applicant's profiles, this one is completely useless.

 

capture.jpg

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

Rene k. I was more interested in the page that lists the proposals for a job before hiring or interviewing anyone. I want to know how the proposals appear to a client on the page of a job before they hire anyone. It is at this point that the "fairness" is requested because at this point we have all spent 2 connects. Do they appear in one long list as like in Elance? You say there is a recommeneded list at the top then the rest are below? Sorted by date or what? I didnt know about the "suggestion list". That just makes it even more ridiculous! We have spent connects and yet the system is busy 'suggesting" other people who have not even spent any connect? Wow! Now I see why jobs are hard to get on Upwork. Not only am I competing against many providers, am basically competeing against the system itself?

Isaac, look at the screenshot I posted, you are looking at the page that lists the proposals for a job before hiring or interviewing anyone. You can see only one proposal because in this case, I hired this person and closed the job, all the other applicants were consequently moved to the Archived folder. Otherwise you would have seen many proposals below this one. They are sorted by date.

 

They do appear in a long list, well it's paginated and you need to click on a button labeled View more to scroll further down every now and then.

 

As I mentioned it, those who are marked as Recommended are listed on the top.

 

As for the Suggested tab, it may show you good fits who have not applied and who you might want to invite. However, whatever algorithm is populating this tab, I'm not impressed by its accuracy.

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

Rene K, I think I get it now. The person on the screen is the one in the "hired" folder, correct? The "applicants" folder is the one that has all the applicants before you hire anyone? After hiring, they all move automatically to "archived" folder? I wonder how they appear in the archived folder? Is it in the same format as in the applicants folder? In a list by date of application? I wonder what info appears in the snippet? In Elance it was description, is it the same here? Do you have a snapshot with the archived folder? I also notice the "suggested" folder appears first and has quite a number of people in there! Talk about "influencing" someone's decision. I think Upwork tries too hard to be "helpful" they end up affecting the system. Elance used to work for me. Everyday was Friday. Upwork just is not working!

I think Upwork is planning on phasing out the hidden tab. At least, I remember one of the moderators stating this before. They were doing a trial run with a new layout for clients which they were going to eventually role out to everyone.

 

I don't know if they have done this yet or not but obviously they have done it for some people. Basically, this is a non-issue now because they are getting rid of it.


@Rene K wrote:

 

... 

The Recommended flag is added by Upwork to the applicants with the best profile. I have no idea how they chose which one to recommend but I have to admit that it's pretty accurate.

 

Also, those applicants who are recommended are on the top of the list.

 

The Suggested tab is for people who have not applied but for who Upwork thinks they have a good enough profile for being invited by the client. This is what Upwork's algorithm thinks, and contrary to the Recommended flag set on applicant's profiles, this one is completely useless.

 Hi Rene,

This helps answer questions in one of my recent posts - about the effectiveness of the recommended list and the suggested list.

 

So the good news is that the Recommended flagged applicants are pretty accurate.

 

I was worried that new Upwork clients might use the suggested list to invite freelancers and possibly have a bad experience. But if you say that the list of applicants has the recommended ones at the top then the Client will see them first.

 

The only possible bad experience a new Client could have is if they ignored the recommended applicants and just picked from the Upwork suggested list of invitees.

 

Having said all that - Upwork should not be interfering at all with the default list of applicants - they should be listed by date of application.

 

Recommended applicants should be under a separate menu.

Thanx Chris for that observation about the "suggested" list. In my view this is even worse than the recommended list. Why? Because these suggested freelancers have not even applied for the job in the first place like us who have spent time and connects applying for the job!

 

Human beings like to follow authority. It looks like when a new client posts a job, the system (which is the authority) tells the client - "These are the people I RECOMMEND that you hire and if from these you cant find, then I SUGGEST that you look at these freelancers over here". Are you kidding? Of course the new client will follow the AUTHORITY or advice of the system and go with what it has told them!

 

And from that snapshot, it looks like the suggestions tab appears even before the applicants tab! How can suggestions appear before the applicants themselves? The applicants tab should be the first and should stand out from the rest surely?

The easy way to partly solve all this concern and worry about the 'Recommended' flagged list and the 'Suggested freelancers to invite' list interfering with the application process is to:

 

Make the default list of applicants ordered by date of application - with no Upwork recommended best fit flags attached. This default list should be the most prominent on the page.

 

Have 'Suggested' and 'Recommended' lists under a separate menu at the SIDE of the page - less prominent.

 

Can we have a moderator push through this change as soon as possible please.

Having recently hired twice on Upwork, I have to agree with Isaac that the "suggested" list is pointless. I don't know about other clients, but I never feel as if I should wait for the suggested freelancers' replies to my invitation. If they don't apply to my RFP (because they're busy, not interested or not aware of it), there's a reason for it and I don't need to know about it.

 

The "hidden" list is something I don't quite understand. I had a few proposals hidden for my job, and except for one or two cases where I thought I knew the reason (hiring off platform, different specialisation, etc.) I felt a bit unsure about what this was meant to signal to me.

 

What I DO want as a client is the choice (right at the start) between a) inviting all suitable candidates (plenty of scope for Upwork to show off with its wonder algorithm) and b) throwing my RFP out there into the wide spaces of the freelancer universe to see what comes back. I also want the automatic status update function we had on Elance, so that I don't have to go running after my freelancer with questions about how work is coming along. And last but certainly not least, I expect freelancers to actually read my request. Few people seem to have a problem with selling themselves. Wonderful. But what about my needs?

 

Just a few thoughts from a novice client and sole proprietor. 

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?

vladag
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.

~ Vladimir
Upwork

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
Upwork

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.

Isaac,

 

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.

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.

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...

 

Igor,

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.