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Table Of Contents  The Online Freelancing Guide
 >  An Analysis and Review of Popular Online Freelancing Marketplace Sites
      >  Elance - Freelance Marketplace Site Analysis and Review

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Elance - Project Quantity and Marketplace Size
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Elance - Project Discipline Focus
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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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Elance - Project Quantity and Marketplace Size
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Elance - Project Discipline Focus
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Last Site Update: October 21, 2011

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