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Table Of Contents  The Online Freelancing Guide
 >  An Analysis and Review of Popular Online Freelancing Marketplace Sites
      > (Formerly - Analysis and Review

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(Page 2 of 2)

Provider Profile Feedback Page

As I mentioned when I went over the details on the website, a summary of each user’s feedback can be found in his or her profile. If you click a user’s overall star rating, you are taken to a more detailed page that shows you all of the numeric and comment feedback received by the user as employer or freelancer. Average ratings are also shown, as is the number of incomplete projects.

Issues and Problems with the Feedback System

The feedback system helps clients and contractors see who they’re poten­tially getting in bed with before they pull back the sheets. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do much more than provide the most basic of indications of another party’s quality and trustwor­thiness. This system suffers from most of the classical issues associated with simplified “1 to 10” feedback mechanisms:

  • Inconsistency of Ratings and Lack of Clear Feedback Instructions: Clients are given little guidance in the feedback process, and are basically left to “pick a number” from 1 to 10 without this figure being based on any specific quality metrics. Most clients will interpret the scale as indicating happiness or satisfaction or some other overall assessment factor, but not all will agree on what exactly warrants a 10 rating, versus a 9, or an 8, or another number.

  • The Deceptive Culture of Perfection: The above notwithstanding, many sites develop a community culture where 10 is the expected rating if the project goes smoothly; anything below that is considered an indication of a problem, or even viewed as an insult to the one receiving the review. Clients who are faced with a contractor who has already received many 10 scores will, perhaps subconsciously, also give them a 10, even if they aren’t entirely happy. The end result is many contractors with overall scores of 10 (or nearly 10).

  • Feedback Hostaging: As with other sites, feedback can be fairly readily “hostaged” by unscrupulous users: the threat of getting a bad feedback rating can be used as a means to coerce concessions from the other party.’s system is symmetric, so there isn’t a big imbalance of power between clients and contractors as on some sites. On the other hand, this does mean that the potential for abuse can go in either direction.

  • Reviews Allowed After Arbitration: Even if a project is forced into the dispute resolution process and then arbitration, it is still possible for the two parties to leave feedback for each other. This situation is ripe for abuse by those who have lost arbitration for a good reason, often by acting in bad faith.

The huge percentage of “10” ratings is a big weakness, which ends up devolving the feedback system to almost a “pass/fail” mechanism. Those who have scores far lower than 10 are considered bad apples to be avoided, but there’s no real way to differentiate among the others when they all have uniformly high ratings. As one example, I just looked at a project with 65 bids; 20 of the Freelancers showed 10 stars (meaning an average of 9.5 or higher), and the other 47 had no feedback rating. Not exactly helpful.

To its credit, the company does address one of the typical issues of feedback systems, by recording incomplete project statistics. This means that clients can identify (and avoid) contractors who frequently take on projects but never complete them. Some sites inadvert­ently hide this behavior by not allowing feedback on incomplete projects and not reporting them in any other way.

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Last Site Update: May 18, 2011

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