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Elance - Project Quality
(Page 3 of 3)
Project Screening and Approval
One of Elance’s weakest points
when it comes to project quality is the company’s steadfast refusal
to implement a comprehensive project screening or approval process. Elance
cites two reasons for this: the manpower cost required to review postings
(due to the site’s high volume); and the delays that result from
the need for screening, which could have an impact on time-sensitive
projects. Instead, Elance relies on flagging (reporting) by users to
identify inappropriate listings.
These are both somewhat valid rationales,
though it can (and has been) argued that a company as large as Elance
could afford to implement a timely and effective screening mechanism.
And the consequences of not having a screening system in place do have
an undeniable impact on project quality. Elance could greatly improve
their overall project quality by instituting more stringent quality requirements
and more comprehensive screening procedures to go with them.
Update: It appears that Elance is
finally realizing that they need to do more here. In early March 2011—after
I wrote the above, but before this Guide was published—Elance announced
that it would now start automatically flagging and reviewing some portion
of its project submissions, based on a computer algorithm. No details
on how this works have thus far been provided.
Project Listing Process
While the Elance site does try to
guide clients in providing the necessary information to ensure high quality
project postings, this is definitely another area where the company could
do a better job.
When you start a project posting,
a “smart” form appears on the site; as you move the data
entry cursor from one field to another, help bubbles pop up to help you
fill out the project’s information. Unfortunately, the amount of
assistance provided is minimal at best. There are a number of long-standing
problems here that reduce project listing quality, which have yet to
be addressed (despite feedback and requests from Elance users stretching
back many years):
- No guidance is provided on how to write a project
title that will do a good job of summarizing the work required.
- The project description box is essentially “free
form”. It’s possible to click a button to fill this text
box with a very brief project outline, but that consists of only a few
vague guidelines like “What I need or require” and “What
I already have versus what the provider will deliver”.
- Like most sites, there isn’t a clear indication
of what sorts of projects are unacceptable, which increases the number
of illegal project postings.
- There are a number of important options that,
for inexplicable reasons, are hidden in an “Additional Options”
drop down box that clients frequently don’t notice. Among other
things, this sometimes leads to private projects being listed as public
ones, because public listing is the default and clients don’t realize
there is a private option. This in turn causes contractors to waste time
or even money on projects they really don’t have a chance to win.
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Last Site Update: October 21, 2011
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