Freelancer.com

writing content on demand

In general I always highly recommend that you write your content for sales you wholly manage. There are just SO many ways to benefit from content you write, whether it's putting it on webpages you manage, creating ebooks, creating paperback books, or more. But let's say that you need money quickly and you're willing to take on the job of writing content for others in return for that quick paycheck. Freelancer.com is one such site that pairs writers with people who need content.

The idea is fairly simple. The people who want jobs sign up and indicate their talents. The people who need to hire help sign up and make job listings. The job-seekers can bid on jobs in an auction-style listing where all the bids are visible. The person who needs help can review all those bids and decide which one best suits their needs.

So sometimes the job posting is fairly straightforward. In this one, a company wants a writer to create interesting product information for theri website.

Freelancer.com

In others, the request seems a little ... iffy. I smeared the project ID on this one, but someone wants an academic paper written for them that is paraphrased from a sample and 100% unique, assumedly so it couldn't be spotted as a duplicate essay.

Freelancer.com

But in general you can get enough information about the jobs to know what you feel comfortable bidding on. There are jobs writing essays and web content, writing fiction and non-fiction. You can bid on the ones you're interested in and skip the ones that don't feel like a good match to you. If you get chosen as a winning bid, then you start working on the project with the employer.

CERTIFICATION TESTS - HUGE ISSUES
Up until this part it all seems fairly straightforward. But here's where it gets iffy. Freelancer.com charges you money to get "certified". What that means is you pay them a fee - $5 for the US English Level 1 test - to get a shiny badge on your profile. This badge indicates that you've passed the test in that subject area.

So, sure, I thought I might as well do that. Some jobs did require you to have that certification before bidding on the job.

First off, they don't warn you up front that they're timed. You pay the $5 (or whatever) via PayPal and then POOF you're launched into a timed test. In this case it was 15 minutes for 40 questions. It would be good for them to tell you up front what was coming so you could prepare.

Second, this is a US English test. Sure, some questions were straightforward. But others used British terms like "spectacles." Others tested comma usage but didn't use the Oxford Comma, which many feel is the correct way to handle commas. Some had multiple correct answers. When I finished my 40-question test, in just over 7 minutes, I was annoyed to find it thought I had one wrong. I didn't know of any question in that set that I should have gotten wrong.

But even WORSE than that, their results page showed a leaderboard of top winners in the quiz. The top winners had all answered the 40 questions - and remember these are multiple choice that require you to read a long sentence and then the various answers that go with the sentence - in UNDER FIFTY SECONDS. That's a second per answer to read the sentence, all the options, and then choose one and click to the next button! That seems wildly improbable.

Here's the screenshot of my results with that information. Click on it for the full sized image.

Freelancer.com

So, being grumpy about both, I used their online chat system to talk to someone about the issue.

I was on the chat with them for NEARLY AN HOUR and most of that time was with them being clueless.

First, they told me there was no way to know which question I got wrong. So there's no way to appeal the system. The questions are random so they don't even know what questions I was shown. This seems a completely flawed way to handle a test for which I paid them money. I know some people would think that 98% was "good enough" but it's the principle of the issue for me. The test in general seems flawed and there's no way to address that.

Second, I pointed out to them that their "leaders" all seemed clearly to be invalid entries. There's no way a person could legitimately take that test on a first pass and manage each question in a second, one after another, for 40 questions in a row. It's just not possible.

The chat person claimed I was wildly wrong - that nobody had ever complained about this. Even though that "leaderboard" is shown prominently on every results page. Then she demanded a screenshot.

Well, I was already off the results page because I'd gone to find the contact link. When I tried to click on the quiz again it wanted me to retake the test.

I asked her, can't you just run the report on your end? This is your system that is showing me those results. Can't you just have it show you the fastest times the test was taken in?

She said no, that I had to send a screenshot as proof or they wouldn't pursue the issue.

Thank goodness, I was able to navigate my history files and get that page up again. I showed her the text.

She claimed the 0:46 by the top leader's name meant they took the test in 46 minutes! Keep in mind this is on a test with a 15 minute time limit. She just couldn't fathom that her company's data was filled with bogus information.

We went back and forth on the fact that my test was taken in 7:03 minutes which meant 7 minutes and 3 seconds, and this other user seoariful had managed to take that test in 0:46 which meant in 46 seconds. The chat person simply refused to believe anything was wrong with their system.

Finally I posted the screenshot (the one above) onto this website and pointed her at it. She said she'd pass it along to the developers. We will wait to see if that happens.

But, really, how in the world could their own internal systems not see that this is happening? How could they accept and promote that the top winners of these quizzes were finishing the quiz in a time which was wildly beyond belief? And this is a quiz system that they are making substantial money on - and that job posters are relying on.

All in all, this whole quiz situation has soured me greatly on the quality levels in Freelancer.com and the ethical standing of the company behind it. I should not have had to invest nearly an hour of my working day to help them open their eyes to a huge flaw in their own system.

I would love to hear your experiences with Freelancer.com.

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