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Table Of Contents  The Online Freelancing Guide
 >  An Analysis and Review of Popular Online Freelancing Marketplace Sites
      >  Criteria for Choosing Online Freelancing Marketplace Sites

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Customer Service and Support
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Freelancer Community Characteristics
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Ethical Policies, Fairness and Integrity
(Page 2 of 2)

Policy Enforcement

Having a set of policies doesn’t mean much unless they are properly enforced. After all, while most people don’t want to play a game that has no rules, it’s not much better when there are rules but the referees aren’t paying attention.

Unfortunately, a lot of freelancing sites really fall down in this area: they talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk. They give a lot of lip service to the importance of following their rules, and they may highlight a few high-profile cases where they engaged in proper enforcement, but they allow significant numbers of cheaters to get away with breaking the rules over a prolonged period of time. And the usual reason they do this is the reason you’d suspect: they don’t want to spend the money on the personnel needed to enforce their policies.

This can lead to surprisingly amount of frustration and resentment among honest freelancers. It’s very irritating to play a game by the rules when your opponent is not, and the people in charge don’t seem to care.

Fairness and Integrity

It is essential for a good freelancing site to not only have reasonable policies and enforce them, but enforce them in a way that is fair and even-handed. After all, if playing a game with an indifferent officiating crew is frustrating, one played with corrupt officials is even worse.

I doubt anyone would disagree with the importance of fairness and integrity in our dealings. The problem is how to assess them. These concepts involve value judgments, and in some cases require knowing what the motivations are of the administrators of freelancing sites. In assessing a site, I have to tread very cautiously, and be sure not to make any claims that could call my own fairness into question.

That said, there are a few positive indicators of fair behavior that I do look for in a site:

  • Openly stated policies with respect to rule-enforcement.

  • Reporting to the community about enforcement actions (even if such reports include just generalities such as overall figures).

  • Evidence that enforcement that is carried out not only against smaller customers but also larger ones.

  • Disclosures of any potential conflicts of interest in the company’s business.

Again, I should point out that this last issue, conflicts of interest, can be problematic in most cases, simply because none of us has access to the necessary proof to make such a charge. Many freelancers who are unhappy with how a site is run are quick to toss around allegations to the effect that rule-breaking is being allowed to continue because a site gains a financial benefit from doing so. For obvious reasons, I would only level such an accusation in the most egregious of circumstances. Also remember that there is usually no reason for a site to create a policy and then break it for self-serving reasons—they are completely in control and could just as easily change the policy as try to side-step it.


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Last Site Update: October 21, 2011

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