vWorker - Project Quality
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vWorker is in many ways my favorite of the big freelancing sites. I like its moderate size, independent attitude, respect for freelancers, advanced features, automatic escrow and arbitration protection, and the hands-on approach its management takes to dealing with customers. What would make it perfect is if it also had above average project quality—but unfortunately, much as I’d like to say it meets that goal, it does not. The site’s certainly not bad in this regard, but there’s definitely room for improvement when it comes to project quality.
My overall grade for vWorker’s project quality is slightly below average to moderately above average, with high variability among individual listings. Most of the projects on the site are of pretty good quality, and some are very good, but there is also a substantial percentage of projects that I don’t think would really interest a serious freelancer. Programming and development jobs—vWorker’s speciality—seem generally better than those in other fields.
vWorker has a number of policies that tend to encourage higher project quality. It has a list of disallowed projects, which is based on both practical and ethical considerations, and it implements those rules by pre-screening projects. The company has a sophisticated project posting process that helps clients craft better project listings. And the fact that vWorker is focused on technical fields also tends to be positive for quality, since these are often the best jobs on any site.
But there are some problems as well. One is that there are no standards for contractors to join the site, and no disincentives (such as monthly fees) that tend to keep casual freelancers away. vWorker is also the only major site that has no limits on the number of bids that a contractor can place. These factors lead to fierce competition on projects, driving down rates.
A major related issue is a lack of project value standards. As we’ll see shortly, vWorker essentially has no minimums, which means clients can list projects that will net a contractor as little as $1 after vWorker’s fees are taken off. To make matters worse, vWorker is the only major site that allows a client to specifically set a maximum bid that cannot be exceeded. The combination of these two rules leads to a substantial number of projects that aren’t even worthy of consideration to most serious professionals.
I also think that vWorker, like some of its competitors, reduces its overall quality by yielding to the temptation to gain clients by emphasizing cost savings. The company’s own literature focuses on appealing to clients on the basis of saving money. It’s understandable that vWorker does this, since cost is important to businesspeople and its competition is doing the same thing, but this has an impact on the types of clients coming to the site, and the sorts of projects they list. In a recent interview, the founder and CEO of vWorker, Ian Ippolito, claimed that 18.5% of vWorker projects are awarded to the lowest bidder. He seemed proud of this figure, believing it to be reasonably low. But having seen first hand what a lot of people bid on projects on vWorker, I think roughly 1 in 5 going for the lowest bid is not a great commentary on project quality.
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