Specific Illegal or Unethical Requests
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Finally, I will conclude this section discussing warning signs in freelancing projects by listing some specific types of problem requests that I’ve encountered on freelancing sites. Every one of these involves activity that I consider to be either unethical or outright illegal. Note that I generally base my ethical standards on the Golden Rule—do to others as you would have them do to you—and my general lay assessments of legality on my understanding of the laws of most Western countries.
As far as I am concerned, seeing any of the following in a project listing should automatically disqualify it from your consideration. You may also want to consider reporting listings that are flatly illegal or that violate the terms of service of the site you are using.
If doing the right thing isn’t enough incentive for you, there are also a couple of practical consideration. First, nearly all of these projects also generally pay poorly: crooks and cheats don’t tend to be generous. Second, many of these projects get delisted before they are awarded, so you are likely to be wasting your time even if you do try to bid on them. Third, engaging in a pattern of bidding on unethical or illegal projects can get you banned from freelancing sites (though I must concede that this is rare).
Believe it or not, brazen clients will post projects looking to openly hire people to send mass unwanted emails to others. Taking on this sort of task will not only make you part of an annoying problem for all Internet users, it may even cause you to get in trouble with your Internet service provider.
An only-slightly-more-subtle version of email spamming, these projects involve clients paying you to submit posts on popular forums or blog comment sections. These posts usually contain mentions of specific websites or links to them. This is just another form of spamming and should be similarly avoided.
These clients want you to create large numbers of accounts for them. Typical targets are email services such as Gmail or Yahoo, or social networks like Facebook or Twitter.
Why would one person want to have thousands of accounts on one service? I can’t think of any legitimate reason, but plenty of illegitimate ones come to mind.
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Last Site Update: February 1, 2012
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