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Table Of Contents  The Online Freelancing Guide
 >  An Analysis and Review of Popular Online Freelancing Marketplace Sites
      >  oDesk - Freelance Marketplace Site Analysis and Review

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oDesk - Customer Service and Support
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oDesk - Freelancer Community Characteristics
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oDesk - Ethical Policies, Fairness and Integrity
(Page 2 of 3)

Policy Enforcement

oDesk starts out with an advantage here, in that its lack of ethical policies means there is less to enforce. However, it doesn’t really do a very good job of policing even those limited conduct rules.

As I said above, oDesk has a number of rules against posting certain types of projects. However, the site doesn’t screen projects, relying solely on reports from its users to identify and take corrective action against illegal listings. And in practice, this is wholly inadequate.

I mentioned oDesk’s admirable policy against projects that violate the terms of service of other companies, and how they gave Craigslist as an example. Because Craigslist is so widely used, it is a common target for people who hire workers to spam the site for them, despite Craigslist having a clear rule against doing this. So it’s a great idea for oDesk to specifically discourage it.

However, the day I wrote this topic, I did a keyword search for “craigslist” in currently open oDesk projects, and got 329 hits. Not all of these involved breaking Craigslist’s rules, but a very high percentage did. Most of them had many applicants, none of whom reported the projects, either because they didn’t know these projects were illegal, or they didn’t care. oDesk could find these projects as easily as I did, and then delist them, but they obviously don’t consider this a priority.

It was similarly easy to find dozens of other project violations, such as people looking to have theses written. I got 59 results searching for “clone”, the first three results of which all had “website clone” or “clone of (name-of-site)” right in the title.

When I was active on oDesk I reported many of these to customer service, but eventually grew tired of spending time on it. If oDesk is going to make its users into unpaid staff, the least they could do is give us some sort of bonus or recognition for our efforts. And they should also do a better job of informing contractors about what sorts of projects should be reported, because right now that information is buried in the help files.

Another problem I have noticed frequently on oDesk is insulting and abusive employers. These are present on all marketplaces to some extent, but I see more of them on oDesk than elsewhere. This doesn’t surprise me: I see it as a direct result of oDesk’s attitude that treats online freelancing not as a place for clients and contractors to form a mutually respectful business relationship, but rather one for employers to hire workers. This seems to go to some people’s heads, and is further compounded by the low rates and poor English skills of many workers, which encourages insecure clients to “lord over” their “subordinates”.


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