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Upwork rating algorithm punishes hard work, rewards scammers

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Ace Contributor
Anton A Member Since: Dec 12, 2017
51 of 69

To me, this idea of classifying, judging, and ultimately valuing humans and human relationships with some secret algorithm feels Orwellian and counterproductive. In some ways, it's like the debate about standardized testing and whether it measures actual achievement or simply how well people take tests.

 

In addition to being quite fallible (see my original post about my friend being scammed) the system fosters the atmosphere of distrust and second-guessing.

 

If I take on a new client and realize that things are not going well, I may want to cut my losses, refund what I've billed and end the contract rather than risk a low rating. I don't want to think or act like that, but at the same time, the system does not encourage taking risks or seeing difficult projects through. I have dealt with people that I immediately regretted taking on as a client because their behavior indicated that nothing will make them happy and they'll leave me a crappy rating. Worrying about the potential hit to your score is an unwelcome distraction when trying to focus on doing the job well.

 

Likewise, there is manipulation of the system on the client side as well. I had a client for one job that did not go well tell me straight up that they would like me not to leave a bad rating for them, in return for not leaving a bad rating for me. 

 

This is not a healthy atmosphere and it creates a metric with questionable usefulness. I understand it works for many people here on this forum. That's great. But I also see a whole lot of room for improvement. 

 

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Community Guru
Hiu Chun L Member Since: Jul 27, 2017
52 of 69

@Anton A wrote:

 

If I take on a new client and realize that things are not going well, I may want to cut my losses, refund what I've billed and end the contract rather than risk a low rating.


Don't do this... contracts ended with no money paid would almost certainly hurt your JSS seriously.

 

And while I personally think that the idea of having the JSS system is great (since it allows me to know that some clients think that I didn't do a good job), I do agree that the calculation of the JSS should be more transparent than it currently is.

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Ace Contributor
Anton A Member Since: Dec 12, 2017
53 of 69
Hiu Chun L wrote:

Don't do this... contracts ended with no money paid would almost certainly hurt your JSS seriously. 

I was told by a support rep that the JSS was specifically designed to ignore any contracts where no money changed hands.

 

However, you may well be right about this.  Reading through this thread shows that people have gotten conflicting information from various Upwork sources. This is like the mysterious Uber algorithm that has also been criticized. We are positioned as independent contractors but in reality, behind-the-scenes calculations create a different relationship between the freelancer and client then you'd have in a traditional environment. We are left to guess and zig and zag to try to figure out what's really happening and what would be the most beneficial course of action based on incomplete information. 


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Moderator
Goran V Moderator Member Since: Mar 24, 2017
54 of 69

Hi Anton,

Your client's record of feedback is also taken into consideration when weighing their interactions in your score. We know that not every contract will end perfectly, and your JSS won't be ruined by just one or two negative contract outcomes. 


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Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
55 of 69

@Anton A wrote:



Don't do this... contracts ended with no money paid would almost certainly hurt your JSS seriously. 

I was told by a support rep that the JSS was specifically designed to ignore any contracts where no money changed hands.



 On the contrary, they count quite heavily if nothing was paid and no feedback given. After all, nobody earned anything from those so clearly they can't be considered to be a positive factor.. This is also clearly explained here.

 

"How do contracts with no earnings or feedback affect my score?

 

  • No Earnings – In general, when a contract fails to lead to any earnings your JSS will be negatively impacted.
  • No Feedback – Contracts with no client feedback, including ones you ended or left open and inactive, do not affect your score unless you have excessive contracts with no feedback.

Contract with past earnings, but your client has left no feedback for you

 

Contracts with a history of earnings but no feedback, whether closed or not, are mostly excluded from your JSS. However, 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.

 

Contract with no earnings AND no feedback from your client

 

Contracts with no earnings and no feedback, whether closed or not, can significantly lower your JSS because they indicate client dissatisfaction. If you are awarded a contract but no work materializes in the first days or weeks, we suggest talking to the client about the project and why it isn't moving forward. If the contract won't move forward, closing it as soon as possible or asking the client to do so and leave feedback will minimize the negative impact on your score. When client feedback is received, even without earnings, it will be factored into your JSS."

 


@Anton A wrote:

 We are positioned as independent contractors but in reality, behind-the-scenes calculations create a different relationship between the freelancer and client then you'd have in a traditional environment. We are left to guess and zig and zag to try to figure out what's really happening and what would be the most beneficial course of action based on incomplete information. 


 I disagree. Personally I don't give the JSS a second thought. I do my jobs, I manage my client relationships and my contracts from start to finish (which includes encouraging clients to close contracts once work is accepted), and that takes care of my JSS. No need for any zig-zagging.

The JSS is the result of the way you run your Upwork business. It is not a purpose in itself.

 

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Community Guru
Jess C Member Since: Feb 18, 2015
56 of 69

@Anton A wrote:

To me, this idea of classifying, judging, and ultimately valuing humans and human relationships with some secret algorithm feels Orwellian and counterproductive. In some ways, it's like the debate about standardized testing and whether it measures actual achievement or simply how well people take tests.

 

In addition to being quite fallible (see my original post about my friend being scammed) the system fosters the atmosphere of distrust and second-guessing.

 

If I take on a new client and realize that things are not going well, I may want to cut my losses, refund what I've billed and end the contract rather than risk a low rating. I don't want to think or act like that, but at the same time, the system does not encourage taking risks or seeing difficult projects through. I have dealt with people that I immediately regretted taking on as a client because their behavior indicated that nothing will make them happy and they'll leave me a crappy rating. Worrying about the potential hit to your score is an unwelcome distraction when trying to focus on doing the job well.

 

Likewise, there is manipulation of the system on the client side as well. I had a client for one job that did not go well tell me straight up that they would like me not to leave a bad rating for them, in return for not leaving a bad rating for me. 

 

This is not a healthy atmosphere and it creates a metric with questionable usefulness. I understand it works for many people here on this forum. That's great. But I also see a whole lot of room for improvement. 

 


Once again, remember that you choose to work through Upwork. No one's forcing you. And all of the time and effort you've spent in this thread could have been put to better use finding clients and doing the work.

 

Upwork has a lot of issues, that's for sure, but this kind of complaining doesn't do anyone any good. If there's a technical issue that is preventing you from finding clients and actually logging hours, by all means, raise holy h3ll. But JSS has been discussed to death and it isn't going to change. 

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Ace Contributor
Anton A Member Since: Dec 12, 2017
57 of 69

Jess, thanks for your feedback. I agree with your sentiment to an extent. 

 

But also don't think "if you don't like it, leave"  attitude is helpful for creating a healthy social organization or working environment. Change is possible and people are not powerless. 

 

 

 

 

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Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
58 of 69

Anton, it's true that change is possible. However, the type of change you're looking for doesn't seem to be purchasing a car and saying, "but I'd like to add tinted windows" It seems like you've walked into a Honda dealership, chosen a hatchback model with an automatic transmission, and then said, "Okay, I'm happy with this car. But, I need you to turn it into a Ford, make it a sedan-style four-door...oh, and I want it to be stick."

 

If the core functionality of a site doesn't suit you in a way that's important to you, the site doesn't seem to suit you.

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Community Leader
Kristo H Member Since: May 6, 2017
59 of 69

Tiffany, however, UpWork is rapidly gaining kind of monopoly status in the online freelancing work. That is awesome, I think. But, at the same time, it brings more social and ethical responsibilities. Just saying "my way or highway" is a bit naive policy response.

 

Personally, I think, those who are able to solve the question of social responsibilty in the cyberspace will be the ones who can defend against the time and head on well to the future. This is nothing but easy terrain.

 

 

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Community Guru
Jennifer D Member Since: Feb 15, 2016
60 of 69

@Reinier B wrote:

@Jennifer D wrote:

@Kristo H wrote:

It is also good to recall what Financial Times wrote back two years ago:

 

"The chief executive of Upwork, an online work marketplace, once told me his company had a “classification algorithm” to predict which employment status lawyers might assign to any given worker."

 

This might be more remarkable notion to the matter than ever discussed here before.

 

 


 That has nothing to do with JSS.


 To which I would add this...what does it even mean? 


 Reinier, if you Google Kristo's quote, you'll find the article in question. In context, it was talking about the changing status of work and employment with the rise of freelancing and the gig economy, and how various groups (like, for example, Uber drivers) are fighting for recognition as employees and that kind of thing. So it's implying that Upwork recognises that there are scenarios in which freelancers working through Upwork might be considered employees under various employment laws. The article doesn't directly name this "chief executive", and doesn't directly quote him, so it's possible that the statement was taken out of context or something.

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