Freelancer.com - Bidding, Client Interaction and Project Award Policies and Mechanisms
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Bidding Process and Policies
Like pretty much everything else on Freelancer.com, the bidding process is designed to be simple and easy.
You can only bid on a project if at least one of the categories you have chosen as a “qualification” matches one of the job types specified for the project. Your categories can be changed by clicking “My Qualifications” under the “My Profile” menu on the site. The number of categories you’re allowed to choose depends on your membership level, and you can change them only on a limited basis. This is, in my opinion, a weak way of limiting bidding, since there are hundreds of work areas, and some of them are very specific. If you’re a programmer, for example, you may have dozens of categories where you have expertise.
If you do have a match to a project, a blue “BID ON THIS PROJECT” box will appear on the project’s description page. Click it and you’ll be taken to a bid page where you are asked for the following information:
That’s it; pretty simple stuff. No specific guidance for how to create a bid is provided. There is also a checkbox to allow you to send the proposal directly to the client, and to be notified if you are underbid.
Freelancer.com supports both open and closed bidding. However, unlike many other sites, Freelancer.com encourages open bidding; it not only makes this the default, the site actually charges the client extra ($3) to have a closed bid project. No surprise, then, that the majority of projects are open. I find this policy quite strange, because while Freelancer.com claims that closed bidding may lead to lower bids, in my experience it is actually open bidding that leads to lower bid values.
Contractors don’t generally like open bidding, and will do what they can to be secretive. Even though the numeric values of bids can be seen by others, many providers will refuse to put details in their bids in this system, instead just putting “please see PMB” and sending the actual bid privately. As a client I would consider this a nuisance, though I’m not sure I’d pay extra to avoid it.
There is a public message board for each project, called the project clarification board. Sadly, this feature is constantly abused by contractors (who use it, against the rules, to put in proposals without having to consume their limited bids), and ignored by clients (in part because of the aforementioned abuse). In the time I was active on this site, I don’t think I ever received a reply from a client to a question posted on the public board. For its part, Freelancer.com contributes to the lack of seriousness of project clarification boards by not notifying clients when a message is posted there.
This leads to yet another odd contradiction in the Freelancer.com system: the company prohibits placeholder bids, yet provides no way to ask pre-bid questions directly of the client. The public board is basically useless, so if you want to ask the client a question you must put in a “dummy” bid and then send a private message saying that the bid isn’t real and asking for more information. This is done routinely and Freelancer.com doesn’t seem to do anything about it.
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Last Site Update: December 13, 2011
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