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Why Does UpWork Continue to Make it Easy for Essay Mills & Contract Cheaters?

Community Guru
Renata S Member Since: Jun 10, 2014
1 of 21

I received an invitation to interview for a "research" job this weekend from a client in Birmingham. The post contained one of the most blatent descriptions of a course assignment I've yet seen posted on this platform, complete with a detailed marking scheme. 

When I look through the client page, it appears this particular client has hired 48 freelancers and from a quick scan, other than jobs for freelancers to set up their website, most of the rest of the jobs are for college- and university-level course assignments in computer programming, statistics and accounting. This is obvious based the descriptions themselves and on the content of files attached with the job descriptions  (a few of the course assignemnts, based on the content of the attachments, are readily traceabe to schools in Toronto with computing programs). This means the client has been able to use this site multiple times to help their clients commit academic fraud. Not only that, they're able to do this while being ridiculously blatant about what they're asking for. 

It's inconceivable to me that this particular client has not been flagged by freelancers in the past. However, in the past, I've also been able to trace a lot of similar jobs back to a freelancer who appeared to have made at least $20K doing other people's homework, or better still, farming it out to lower priced freelancers on the site. 

Although UpWork supposedly has an academic integrity policy, similar clients continue to flourish on the site. My question is this: Why does UpWork continue to support essay mills by making it easy for them to do business on the platform? 

The links below suggest this is not a small-scale problem:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-45358185
https://birminghameastside.com/investigation-the-hidden-problem-of-the-uks-essay-mill-industry/

Moderator
Vladimir G Moderator Member Since: Oct 31, 2014
2 of 21

Hi Renata,

 

Please note that we have a dedicated team tasked with reviewing questionable jobs and it's best to report your findings while flagging the job post, since they will be able to make a final determination after reviewing all the evidence and take appropriate steps if needed. As we advised before, we can't comment on reports of suspected ToS violations publicly. I'll check the private messages you sent me for the job post link and submit a request for review from my end as well. Thanks for flagging!

Community Guru
Renata S Member Since: Jun 10, 2014
3 of 21

Vladimir G wrote:

Hi Renata,

 

Please note that we have a dedicated team tasked with reviewing questionable jobs and it's best to report your findings while flagging the job post, since they will be able to make a final determination after reviewing all the evidence and take appropriate steps if needed. As we advised before, we can't comment on reports of suspected ToS violations publicly. I'll check the private messages you sent me for the job post link and submit a request for review from my end as well. Thanks for flagging!


Hi Vlad, 

Thanks for your response. I don't expect you to discuss the specifics. I just wanted to put it up for discussion. 

The problem I'm having with this particular invite is that the client history of similar jobs with similarly blatant descriptions of college and university course assignments (with assignment sheets provided) is pretty damning. If you read the Birmingham article, you'll get an idea of the types of vague descriptions companies hide behind to legitimize the services they offer. They're pretty predictable and easy to understand once you get the hang of them. And, as far as I can tell, the "dedicated team" tends to allow companies that provide similar statements to keep on using the platform to solicit writers, programmers and other professionals to do people's homework. Making it a piece of cake for them to operate contributes to academic fraud.   


This isn't a concern to me because I'm a goody two shoes. People use the types of assignments that are generated by freelancers responding to these postings to pass courses in professional degree programs. The one that worried me most was the aeronautic engineering homework, but of course there are postings for writers to produce essays for law courses and postings for accounting homework for CPA programs.

In addition, I don't think it reflects well on the professional image of the platform to support these types of companies. And whatever contributes to creating a questionable image for UpWork eventually reflects on the people who choose to maintain freelancer profiles on the platform. 

Community Guru
Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
4 of 21

Vlad, this is yet another instance of FLs pointing out a chronic problem that hurts the platform as well as everyone who is professionally invested in it and being asked to continue reporting individual examples. The proliferation of academic fraud is so rampant and so blatant that many of us have given up trying to help UW police it. We understand there is a dedicated team in place charged with controlling this problem. Whatever they are doing is not working. Change needs to happen at that level, not through individual FLs flagging individual violations. 

Community Guru
Baris A Member Since: Mar 15, 2017
5 of 21

Phyllis G wrote:

We understand there is a dedicated team in place charged with controlling this problem. Whatever they are doing is not working. Change needs to happen at that level, not through individual FLs flagging individual violations. 


Or they are "keeping up appearances" to keep up the income.

Community Guru
Renata S Member Since: Jun 10, 2014
6 of 21

Phyllis G wrote:

Vlad, this is yet another instance of FLs pointing out a chronic problem that hurts the platform as well as everyone who is professionally invested in it and being asked to continue reporting individual examples. The proliferation of academic fraud is so rampant and so blatant that many of us have given up trying to help UW police it. We understand there is a dedicated team in place charged with controlling this problem. Whatever they are doing is not working. Change needs to happen at that level, not through individual FLs flagging individual violations. 



Even when we do flag individual violations, nothing happens to the clients who post them or the freelancers who accept the jobs. The individual job may be shut down if the lengthy deliberation process finally deems that the job violates policy (provided the client hasn't already hired someone to do it by then), but the "team" doesn't tend to look at the broader picture of repeated postings of jobs that violate the policy by the same client. 

What I hope will happen as a result of this is that the team examines all of the jobs the client has posted and the attachments and make some sort of determination based on multiple incidents of repeated policy violation. 

This isn't a case of one bad student making one bad request for one fraudulent essay. This seems to be a client that consistently and systematically makes money on the platform in this way. 

Ace Contributor
Pierre L Member Since: Feb 23, 2016
7 of 21

I agree with you Phyllis except for one thing you said:

 

>> The proliferation of academic fraud is so rampant and so blatant that many of us have given up trying to help UW police it

 

It should not be our place to help UW police it. It's up to UW. I have better things to do than to police bad apples on the platform.

Community Guru
Nichola L Member Since: Mar 13, 2015
8 of 21

Vladimir G wrote:

Hi Renata,

 

Please note that we have a dedicated team tasked with reviewing questionable jobs and it's best to report your findings while flagging the job post, since they will be able to make a final determination after reviewing all the evidence and take appropriate steps if needed. As we advised before, we can't comment on reports of suspected ToS violations publicly. I'll check the private messages you sent me for the job post link and submit a request for review from my end as well. Thanks for flagging!


__________________________________________

 

Vlad,

 

We have long noted your "dedicated team", but they seem to view "questionable jobs" in a very different way from concerned freelancers and those educational bodies who are extremely worried about this really very insidious and serious problem. 

 

Upwork's dedicated team do zap a few isolated cheaters, but they do not zap the serious mills that are consistently making money for Upwork, but at the expense of academic integrity. Not only that, freelancers, if not encouraged, are certainly allowed to compound the problem. 

 

None of us are asking for a comment from CS (which in fact we get generically) when we flag fraud; we are asking that "clients" dealing in academic fraud - even when they have made Upwork thousands of dollars - be removed from the site - as well as those freelancers who think cheating is OK.

 

It simply means that Upwork condones cheating provided it is disguised euphemistically (euphemism is not something that CS is trained to recognize), or if it goes underground in the form of private invitation. Sooner or later, someone in the academic B & M world  is going to call Upwork out on this. 

 

This is a serious issue - not just a few crackpot editors and writers ranting on the forum.  

 

Community Guru
Janean L Member Since: Apr 6, 2016
9 of 21

Quote:

"This is a serious issue - not just a few crackpot editors and writers ranting on the forum."

Thousands of kudos to this and everything else that has been said!!

 

Community Guru
Kathy T Member Since: Jul 17, 2015
10 of 21

I am an educator so this topic is of GREAT concern to me. Your dedicated team is either turning a blind eye to these types of clients because, as stated in another post, perhaps they are bringing in a lot of money. Let's face it, and be honest, making a profit is what Upwork is all about. 

 

Perhaps your dedicated team is made up of people who come from countries where this type of "cheating", - where essay mills are legal. 

Perhaps they are made up of people where, even though cheating is illegal, cheating is so rampant that it's almost impossible to contain. 

Perhaps they just don't know the meaning of academic, assignments, homework, reports, contained in a job's description. 

And perhaps, the job descriptions doesn't mention any of the above, but contains a link and when opened, will show it's 110% academic. but the dedicated team doesn't open it.

 

I too have reported many times jobs that are academic in nature. Most of the time they never are taken down, The majority of them stay open for days before they are taken down. (more then enough time to not only find freelancers, but also to get the job done.)

 

And what about the freelancers who apply to these academic jobs? Aren't they violating yoiur TOS? 

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