Freelance Platforms Suck Naughty Bits - Part #1,485,129

You can find all the usual agonized, handbag-clutching drama over fake reviews here, along with a segue into TrustPilot, the internet’s favorite anybody’s opinion counts review site and claims that UW is fiddling the overall stats. Also, bonus points for a hatred of successful people unsurprisingly wishing to maintain the status quo!

It’s pretty clear that the author has a grudge against UpWork - he wrote a terrible ‘poem’ hating on the platform, too - but it does open kind of an interesting debate on the nature of freelance platforms. We’re all judged by our reviews, especially the unfair ones, and they can really kill momentum and send even the ballsiest freelancer into a panic that it’s all over, forever.

Fiverr has, of course, nipped this problem in the bud by making just about all reviews count unless they are full of blatant lies and psychosis (to be determined by an overworked CS hamster).

Obviously, the solution is to go out, make a sexy website, and market yourself to whoever your dream customer is - but I suspect most of us enjoy the convenience (laziness) of having everything in one place and the marketing kind of DFY. In the case of Fiverr, the extra benefit having a hopefully-friendly algorithm shine on us rather than sort through a hellscape of lowballing non-clients.

So, I guess the questions here are what method of feedback/review is fairest to both freelancer and client? Does one even exist? How can freelance platforms offer a better experience to both types of users while also managing the investor/profitability tightrope?

Curiously, while TP (note the acronym, people) reviews don’t seem to affect the platforms themselves, client reviews can and do massively effect freelancers’ ratings, rankings, and income. With both UW and Fiverr taking 20% (max for UW), on each job, is this really important to them at all beyond occasionally fixing things up to look busy about it?

Oh, and releasing self-serving stats about the freelance economy every so often as discussed elsewhere.

Discuss. Or not. I’m not your boss :slight_smile:

P.S. I’ve been waiting for a week for UW CS to get back to me over a question their help center doesn’t answer. I’m super-impressed!


Hmm… Perhaps verifying freelancers first (credentials and IDs, more than that, like an actual interview, would be too expensive), and also demanding that buyers verify their IDs and payment methods. That might weed out some of the bad ones (who’d be likely to leave unfair review or ruin the reputation of the platform, or both), while the others could be kicked out later, and with ID verification, creating a new account wouldn’t be that easy.

After that, let people leave whatever review they like, and make it possible for both buyers and sellers to contact CS and complain if they think that the review isn’t fair (a real human, preferably not overworked, should investigate the case).

I’m not sure whether it would still be profitable for the platform, though.

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There is the ‘pay to play’ method - ‘serious’ freelancers could pay the platform to verify various bits of paper (Elance used to have this) and get some obvious ‘verified’ badge. That does create a two-tier system though - not necessarily a bad thing, as not everyone on a freelance platform is in it for a career. The verification might also not work for everyone as it should in a perfect world, too - a BA in Whatever from some college in a third-world country few have heard of isn’t as superficially impressive as Harvard University.

Still though, that can be overcome with another service: portfolio verification. After all, a freelancer’s samples in some categories are quite important, more so than their education usually.

All seems a bit of a straitjacket, and obviously favors people who have the money/prior experience (at startup) to go through these processes over again over the complete newbie with 0 skills to speak of. Which is how it always is in business though, so I’m not sure that’s a huge demerit.

It might also be useful to show ratings on other freelance sites - say you’re a veteran of Freelancer and Fiverr moving to UpWork. When Elance and oDesk merged, all Elance reviews were ported over (with some tech flubs and angry people along the way, obvs). I wonder if such a website exists as a useful, third-party verification service that savvy buyers could check before hiring someone (with all the above ideas in it, too)? Not that the platforms would link to it because of those scary competitor commission-stealing links (let’s not forget the monetization from both verification and affiliate income for such a site!)

UpWork does have a dispute mechanism (related to order issues/challenging refunds rather than feedback) that costs something like $200 a pop that’s meant to be adjudicated by a neutral third party. Something like that could be implemented, perhaps with a little badge on the review saying that the review was judged and found to be fair/horrifically wrong.

In any case, if more and more people are going to be freelancing rather than doing traditional jobs in the future, an ecosystem of trust does need to start being built. The current one is not really good enough for either freelancers or clients.

Freelance platforms: plz hire me, I am full of ideas on how to gouge your users for every last dollar they have as a profitable, yet useful solution to their problems.