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Freelancer.com - Feedback System
(Page 2 of 2)
Provider Profile Feedback Page
As I mentioned when I went over the
details on the Freelancer.com 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
Issues and Problems with the
The Freelancer.com 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. Freelancer.com’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 Freelancer.com 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
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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The Online Freelancing Guide (http://www.FreelancingGuide.net)
Last Site Update: May 18, 2011
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