Memo From Our Founder: Recent & Upcoming Changes

   

Hello PPHers

Hope this finds you well. There have been numerous changes on the way since my last update to you which I’d like to talk about here:

1.Fresh New Design Coming Up

I’m delighted to see how engaged the community have been in our recent post on the new design of the site coming up. By and large the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive which is refreshing to hear.

For those of you who haven’t seen it or had a chance to have their voice heard, we’d love to hear from you. The thread is alive and kicking here.

A few have commented ‘why the change’? Whilst there is nothing broken with the existing design and UI, it has been the same for almost two years now. In a world that moves as frighteningly fast as it does,
we feel that constant change (even though painful to some) is needed to stay in the game. We hope you will find the experience better and thank you once again for your feedback

2. Introducing Curation – PPH just became exclusive!

PPH has always been known for its focus on the quality of the community over anything else. Following on from the introduction of CERT 6 months ago, we decided to take this to the next level by introducing another quality filter.

From now on, new freelancers cannot just sign up: they need to ‘apply’ to join the community. Each applicant is screened manually and quality checked for authenticity, relevance to their skills, quality of uploaded assets like a resume, portfolio and recent video application.

That’s a lot more work for team PPH to do, and with time we hope to be able to scale it by involving the community in the curation process. However for now we’d rather do more work, and have a smaller community, in order to aim for higher quality. We don’t strive to be the biggest. We want to be the best

3. Richer Profiles: more skills, profile videos + more

For those who are already in the marketplace, this is also a chance to update your profile, including a video in your profile which is worth 1000 images and hence a million words! Nothing beats uploading a video and telling the world what you can do, why you are different, why customers should pick you over others who may place a similar proposal on a job. So don’t miss out on making yourself stand out!

Here are some examples of latest videos uploaded >>. You can visit your profile to upload a video!

4. Introduction of Video Bids

Taking the above to the next level, we have just launched video bids which allows you to personalize a proposal considerably. Placing a video bid is FREE, takes a few minutes and gets you much more real estate in the Buyers proposal view. Here’s a sneak peak. Plus you get a ‘featured proposal’ (normally with £9.95 thrown into the mix on the house)
Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 15.11.02

How can you upload a video proposal? It’s dead simple. In the proposal form you can either record a video on the page or choose to get an SMS sent to your phone and record it on your Smartphone. This then auto syncs with the page and appears in the Buyers proposal view.

Read more about Video profiles and bids >>

5. More ‘Intelligent’ Job Recommendations

As part of the curation project, and given how much more information we now gather by each applicant, we take a much more active role in quickly recommending highly relevant jobs that match your skills with some deeper use of data science.

Why do we do this? As we grow we feel that finding your way through the increasing volume of listings can be tough and tiring. So we use algorithmic intelligence to match highly relevant jobs based on tags you place in your profile and information we gather from Jobs, and give you a chance to get a first call on placing a proposal.

We are aware that limiting the bidding to only those recommendations for the first 3 hours has led to some discontent and frustration in the community. We have listened and removed that restriction. The idea behind that was to ensure that those with highly relevant skills are given a first shot at the job that’s relevant to them

Update your profile to get relevant jobs matched to you!

6. A Marketplace where Everyone Wins and Keeps Moving Up

In line with the move to becoming more exclusive as mentioned above, we are introducing a scheme whereby freelancers who are inactive for six months will have their accounts paused.

Why are we doing this? After all what harm is there in leaving a profile dormant on the site?

We happen to believe that this does do harm to the community and dilutes the perception of quality to those who remain active. There are too many sites out there which are gradually turning into digital graveyards, which makes the discovery process for customers tougher.

On the flip side of that argument: we will ensure that Sellers are sent a minimum number of relevant jobs to bid on thereby ensuring that they had a fair chance to win. And for those that don’t manage to break in and feel they deserve a second chance, we will be introducing an ‘extension period’ for a small fee. Again, this is to separate out those who are serious about freelancing from those who are not.

Our goal is to have a community of winners who keep moving up the ranks, winning more work and at better quality. And if that means having less of them, then so be it.

As always we’d love to hear your feedback on any of the above. And you can reach me personally on xeniosth@peopleperhour.com

38 Comments

  • Carlyn

    Surely you must be aware that by the steps you have taken you are now officially required to function under the same laws as an employment agency. This means you cannot allow employers to post jobs that are below the minimum wage of any country they accept workers from. There can be no more fixed rate jobs because monitoring of hourly wage is not possible. The same new rule that you apply to new hires must be applied to those currently listed as sellers on PPH. Incidentally, there are no more sellers and buyers, you are now an employment agency and have employers and workers. Should you not require your current database of sellers to be screened and authorized to work you are showing unfair bias and discrimination. All potential employers must have legal documentation to do business in whatever country they are hiring workers from or there is the additional violation of international law.

    I am so fed up with your discriminatory policies. And by the way, I worked and was paid on PPH before these changes, but after them can no longer even bid! That I am willing to have your company investigated by all federal and state agencies in all countries you have had and continue to have employers and workers from so as to see that all laws are followed.

    You must hire a staff that will now search for workers for your employers because your skill listing does not allow for realistic defining of skills for consideration.

    Additionally, it is quite obvious that you have NOT been reading the posts regarding changes because they have NOT been primarily positive.

  • VICENTE F GAMBITO

    I really do not mind if PPH decides to remove my comments here, provided I see the positive changes addressed by my criticisms.

    I like the exclusivity move although I feel that PPH should look not just into the desirability of the freelancers who provide the work but also on the quality of the clients and the kind of jobs that they bring to PPH. Match the best clients with the best freelancers….. way to go!!! Let your competitors have the rest. New freelancers can work to improve their profiles and portfolios elsewhere. When they are ready, PPH can approve their applications.

  • Jan White

    Excellent communication, concise and explanatory.

    I don’t like the idea of placing video bids, but only because my work is totally visual, and for all those PPHers who will use this service, I am sure it will be a great way to promote their activity on the site.

    Thank you for taking the time to explain why and what is happening. It’s good to be kept in the loop.

  • Geoff Jackson

    “By and large the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive which is refreshing to hear.”

    Are you serious? Have you read the umpteen pages of complaints in the comments?

    Holding your hands up and admitting there is a problem is the first real step to any kind of credibility.

  • Sandrine - Imaginerie

    I see those changes as overall positive (I am not sure that, as a buyer I would like to see 10’s of cheerful video sales pitches, but anyway, that’s every freelancer’s choice …)

    The freelancer screening process is a good thing, as much for the competition among freelancers as for keeping the clients’ confidence in the quality of the “pool”.

    That said, now there is a need to screen the clients too. Not as much as in the freelancer’s process. But particularly in the area of payment means, there have been a few scams in here, using fake credit cards, and they are screened after the job is complete, and escrow funded, so maybe screening, staright after the escrow is in place, but before the invoice is raised could be nice, so to avoid delivering the work to the clients and having to notice a DMCA takedown to all the parties involved. That’s not a step that PPH is willing to make right now, and I think it would be fair that each side of a project (freelancer and client alike) would be somehow protected.

    BTW: I am still to hear from the money PPH owes me back from February where I have advised that my client has fraudulent means of payment, after the escrow was funded, work delivered and actions taken by me (including extensive research on the client’s background) to remove my work from their website.

    Despite that, don’t get me wrong, I sense it’s all getting better… 🙂

  • Ken

    How about vetting jobs as well?

    The number of, frankly ludicrous and insulting, job offers I get for what are big projects at a non existent budget have led to me to use PPH a lot less.

  • Saskia

    Sounds like some really interesting changes are coming up to make the PPH experience better. I’m not hugely keen on the video bidding concept – just because I feel with a video proposal, freelancers may start to be chosen for their on-screen charisma as opposed to skill set or promptness… Not everyone has the confidence to put a video forward but it doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be fantastic at the given brief. Having said that it might be something I try in the future!

    Thanks for the update.

  • Rob Wood

    what refeshing to hear because PPH does something and rarely is there positive feedback?

  • madhu

    Best wishes to the community. Changes always bring about a freshness which is energizing. Hope everyone does well.work hard and stay blessed

  • Jan White

    I totally agree Rob, I can’t understand why it’s only minority [the MOANERS] on PPH who raise their voice. I have always found PPH makes changes for the better.
    May be the majority of PPHers are too busy earning money. PPH works for me!

  • Geoff Jackson

    There are serious flaws with the entire platform. User’s aren’t moaning for the sake of it. PPH is failing in a multitude of aspects in providing a fair, ethical platform for freelancers.

    There is no escaping that and often they are blind to the issues until a number of user’s speak up which has just happened on one of their other blog posts and they back tracked to scrap a new feature that was preventing hundreds of freelancers from bidding on jobs most relevant to them.

  • Jan White

    WOW Geoff! That sounds serious.
    I haven’t experienced anything like that in 4 years of being with PPH.
    In fact, I have always found PPH to be most interested and considerate and open to idea’s. When I have sent an email to suggest something, I’ve got a personal reply and often within a few weeks the new feature I have suggested has been implemented.

  • Geoff Jackson

    I suppose it depends on what niche you operate in, there’s definitely a lot of favour placed on the buyers side than the sellers side currently.

    There’s all sorts of new features causing problems. Take for example the skill matching that doesn’t match your skills to the most appropriate jobs. Or those that allow you to be invited for jobs that aren’t relevant or request onsite worker 3000 miles away from you. Etc etc. There loads of problems such as this.

    Or we could talk about the idiotic jobs that get posted requesting a 10,000 word book wrote for them for £20. Or the ‘I want a completely bespoke ecommerce website built from scratch for £50’ jobs.

    You’re lucky not to be experiencing any of this. The system is a mess and riddled with low quality garbage and umpteen tyre kickers.

  • VICENTE F GAMBITO

    MOANERS? I don’t think any serious freelancer would waste time complaining to PPH if they have imagined issues precipitated by a PPH announcement for changes.

    In my case, I have been vocal about clients posting “time wasters.” These are job postings by lazy clients that are not willing to make a decent effort to explain their projects. You can see these in job postings with a lot of questions for clarification for items that could have been included in the job posting.

    The laziest one says “more information will be provided to successful bidders” or something to that effect. How on earth……;.?

    This is a very simple request, but up to now, we still see a lot of these postings from lazy clients.

    PPH should concentrate not just on the best and qualified freelancers; but, also be on the lookout for clients that waste the best freelancers’ time.

  • Jan White

    Just as in any market place, I don’t buy every tomato I see, I select only the ones that suit me and likewise on with work on PPH, I look through all that comes my way and choose the best.

    For the client who want work for nothing, I wish them well and I guess there are people who can afford to take low paid jobs and I do not view these people as my competitors, they offer a different skills set to mine.

    For clients who place work that is not explanatory or rational, I take little notice, and I am sure they must eventually realise if they don’t know what they want neither will bidders!

    For the jobs I am invited to bid for, but which have little relevance to my skills, I move on without a second glance.

    BUT for PPH I am grateful because with PPH I could not have moved from the cold and moody UK to more sunny climes in the mountains of Spain.

    So PPH you have my vote and my thanks, and long may you continue to excel. There is no perfect system and no perfect answer, but I think PPH does pretty well and certainly tries hard to facilitate genuine opportunities for it clients and for its contractors.

  • VICENTE F GAMBITO

    PPH, there you have it. No need to wrack your brains further. Take the cream of the crop, forget about the “moaners” and the dregs. You can get back to the “second best” once you run out of workers.

  • Anj

    It’s true that the online community is rife with delusional workers and tyrannical clients. You know, the type of clients Geoff Jackson mentions above, the sort that appear to think it’s perfectly reasonable, even magnanimous of them, to demand a ten volume set of encyclopaedias written from scratch, including the relevant research, for a tenner.

    If we are trying to create the best online freelancing community we need rid of them.

    We also need to do something about the sycophantic wannabe workers who’d sell their grandma to land a job by undercutting someone with a lot more skill. Could there be some sort of algorithm put in place to detect people trying to rip each other off? A minimum bid setting? Or perhaps the proposals should have the CERT ratings prominently displayed so clients know that the cheaper offers with no CERT are likely to be poorer quality than the ones that have higher CERT ratings?

    A lot of clients are trying to drag the work off the site as well, usually to avoid paying, usually by inviting workers to join them on Skype. I have seen a lot of this, the jobs are usually titled something like STEADY STREAM this or that and the ‘seller’ is shown as having awarded no jobs. How come PPH hasn’t cottoned onto these community-corroding cannibals?

    I love that PPH is doing something to make it fair for the honest worker. I would say it’s already the only online work community worth dealing with whatsoever, I’m 100% down with all the founder’s philosophies and agree that it should be about quality, not quantity.

    We’re heading in the right direction and if there’s anything I can do to help, I will.

  • Paul A.

    Jan, those rosy glasses sure are working!

  • davide

    I agree with both the positions, the moaners and the enthusiasts.
    Perfection is a difficult balance between good and bad.
    I found PPH quite useful and I use my skill to find the most of the job I found. Is up to your skills and your peculiarities at the end, customers that are happy with your job will come back for sure, if not you would not have loads of customers also if you were having them giving you no commissions and a list of all the customers in the world.
    I can say on the other end that some simple SURVEY about topics would be more productive that test new features randomly and remove them after loads of freelancer got pissed off, surely would save considerable time to both ends!!

    Listen to us a little more PPH and ASK our opinions, for the rest you’re not a bad site and I’m happy to be here!

  • VICENTE F GAMBITO

    When one is at Level 5, nothing can be that importantly wrong with PPH and its system. There is no annoyance when you get invited to a job not matching your skills set.

    However, when one is still struggling to reach Level 2, all possible job postings have to be considered and any assist to land a job is very much welcome. But, when you receive an invitation that requires a meet up as in this case it makes one wonder why PPH should be sending such rubbish. The mismatch simply does not match the PPH intention.

    It does not take that much imagination to arrive at a solution to prevent such a ridiculous invitation. Who would want to be invited for dinner half-way around the globe?

  • VICENTE F GAMBITO

    There’s something wrong with the way this thread is being conducted.

    My first post, that was 6 weeks ago, hints at a reply that I could no longer find. I could be wrong here, it could have been on another thread.

    However, when four of my posts, the oldest already 6 weeks old is still awaiting moderation puts into serious doubt the sincerity of PPH is asking for feedback and comments.

    This is akin to being asked to join in a conversation around a table and given a chance to speak. The embarrassing thing is that nobody responds to what you are saying. Even the host that invited you has turned a deaf ear to what you have been saying.

    If there is some kind of censorship and selectivity on comments posted here, it should be made clear that only positive comments are welcome and posted immediately. Anyway, this is supposed to be for improving the PPH image, so I will leave it at that.

    I just feel uncomfortable when someone that I expect to be polite just ignores me.

  • Pilar Nalwimba

    Hi Vincent,
    Thanks for your comment. Just to reassure you we haven’t moderated any of your comments, this was posted 2 weeks ago so any comments you made 6 weeks ago are likely to be on another thread. We welcome all feedback and love to see an open discussion amongst our community.
    Many Thanks,
    Pilar

  • xenios

    Hi all

    Thanks for all the comments. Just to clarify a few things

    – My comment regarding the feedback being overwhelmingly positive: this was referring to the new Design / UI following a post we published here. http://blog.peopleperhour.com/blogroll/pph-gets-a-facelift/

    – Regarding the ‘matching’ of jobs to freelancer skills: we have removed the 2 hour bidding restriction following complaints from the community, so this no longer holds. So we have listened to the feedback. The accuracy of the recommendations we send depend on the skills a freelancer places in their profile as well as past success for jobs with those skill requirements. So to get accurate jobs routed one needs to ensure that they select a small and highly relevant number of skills tags. The idea behind the restriction was to ensure that the first proposals are from relevant freelancers to improve the first impression to Buyers. Buyers consistently tell us that they often get irrelevant freelancers bidding on their job early on and then never return to the site as it creates a bad first impression. That said, we listened to the feedback and reverted that, but in the end the results will dictate the practice. So far i am happy to say that the matching project has resulted in an overall higher award rate and some 3.5x increase in success rate per proposal sent by freelancers who are routed jobs. So the numbers show that this is working overall

    – Regarding stricter curation of Jobs: this is something that we have been battling with since Day 1 unfortunately. When we try to be stricter in the approval of jobs, the amount of Jobs falls and then the earning power of Sellers does as well. So its a clear trade off. We do strive to improve quality, however we’ve seen time and time again that Buyers need educating as they don’t know what a fair price is for the services they ask. The most successful sellers are the ones who educate them on what the right price is and convert the job, turning a negative to a positive. Equally we as a marketplace should not really get into price setting as then we go against the grain of a ‘free marketplace’ and start controlling the price. Much like Buyers, we don’t always know what the price for a Job should be, so restricting budgets will inevitably lead to false positives. And we have seen this in practice. So we redly on the community to explain, educate the Buyer and convert that prospect. Conversions have always dropped when we interfered with budget setting.

    It is perplexing to us (or me personally at least) why freelancers would think we have any benefit to push budgets down. We make more money the higher the budgets are so we are fully aligned with you in that. That said, we are a marketplace not an e-commerce shop, and so the purpose we service is to connect people together and let the forces of demand and supply dictate the outcome. The grass is always greener on the other side : i feel if we started to interfere in that price setting we would be met with equal amount of discontent and less jobs on the site (as we have seen when we tested that) so overall its a lose-lose situation.

    We are constantly trying to innovate to make PPH a better place for everyone, but we cannot satisfy everyone all of the time. Ultimately we take decisions based on data and feedback from the community. We don’t always get things right but as the above shows we do listen to feedback and revert things when that feedback is also backed by evidence.

    I hope this helps.

    Xenios

  • Jan White

    YEP! That really helps, thanks Xenios

  • Suzanne

    Hi Xenios.

    It seems that your algorithms need some tweaking in the “selection of suitable sellers” department. I appear to have acquired skills in Japanese, Swedish, web development, coding and a host of other skills that were quite a surprise. 🙂 In fact I now get offered nothing but web development work, yet the only possible link there might be between that and my profile is “web research”.

    If you’re suggesting that our future success depends on our taking a minimum number of those “you have been invited …” jobs, then many of us are going to fall at the first hurdle i.e. we don’t have any of the skills required by the buyer because we’ve been selected in error. I hope the very big algorithmic glitches will be ironed out.

    Then the Cert thing. Just a few days ago my Cert level dived down a notch simply because I’m on a long job and so am a) not taking on more work than I can reasonably handle and b) not being paid every other day to keep that Cert level up. There can have been no other reason for it dropping down – my clients and I communicate frequently and there is definite action on the work threads, plus they’re generous in their appreciation of the work I’m doing. Suggesting that clients will perceive the Cert as a marker of quality is therefore only half true. It’s quantity, too.

    My tuppencethreefarthings’worth.

  • Graeme Pietersz

    Even if skill matching is working overall, there are a lot of people for whom it is not working and it will work better if you iron the bugs out. In particular overly broad matches and skills that are not listed at all on our portfolio. The latter is hard to understand: my profile lists a number of web development skills, and particular computer languages, and some related skills. I keep getting matches with legal and bookkeeping jobs. Because these skills are not in my profile I cannot remove them!

    Strict job curation may not be a good idea, but at least remove outright spammers – e.g. those who keep posting the same job repeatedly.

    You also need to stop the abuse of clarification questions. I see a lot of clarification “questions” on the lines of “can we have a chat?” or even directly asking for or giving contact details. These mostly look like low quality sellers and many of them are clearly trying to take the work outside PPH to evade paying your fees.

    You also need to communicate changes. Something like the need to re-enter payment details and the new ID verification system should be announced, preferably well ahead of implementation. As it was the first I heard of it was in the forum thread, and I suspect many people still do not know about it.

  • Christos

    hello everyone,

    just wanted to let you know that we have been working on some enhancements for these features of PeoplePerHour.

    First of all, after listening to your feedback we have removed the private bidding period of new Job Postings. So everyone that can bid on a Job can do it from the first minute.

    Also today we are deploying a lot of fixes in our matching algorithm. The goal is to minimize the missmatches and send you job recommendations that fit your skills as much as possible. Please let us know if you find the new job routings more relevant to your profile and experience.

    I have read many good points here and will use these in the future as we are contantly working on enhancing the marketplace and specifically the quality and matching of Sellers and Buyers.

    Best,
    Christos
    Product Manager PeoplePerHour

  • Jan White

    thanks Christos I’ll be interested to work with the new system

  • Paul A.

    I really think we will have a ‘Month of Sundays’ before your algorithm works. It’s not about just the algorithm it’s about the data upon which it operates – which will never be consistent enough for your scheme to work.

    I would really like you also to add a filter to the user preferences so we can filter out any jobs that are below a chosen budget level or below a chosen hourly rate.

    That will save me being sent jobs that may suit me fine but I will never make a proposal for.

  • Paul A.

    Here’s an example of why this algorithm is poor:

    You’re one of the most qualified Sellers for the Job “Drupal and Server Maintanance Pages” because of your skills in Website development ”

    Well, ‘website development’ is a very wide skill and ‘Drupal and Server maintainance Pages’ is not.

    I don’t have the skills for this job, at all.

  • Paul A.

    Now I’ve been invited to make a proposal for an Adult web site. Skillset fine, but I think you guys should give us an option to not be selected for Adult services.

    I’m no prude, but it’s not something I want to get involved in and I know many people could be offended.

  • Paul A.

    And again..

    You’re one of the most qualified Sellers for the Job “Magento – Make edits to site to allow checkout to work” because of your skills in Website development *.

    Magneto is a very specific web development technology. While I do do website development, I know nothing about Magneto.

    You cannot infer that someone who does website development will also be a magneto developer.

  • Christos

    Thanks Paul this kind of feedback really helps. We are looking into these cases.

  • Paul A.

    Christos, there are many, many of these cases on the feedback forums.

    You will never get this to work properly.

  • Paul A.

    Today PPH has invited me to do Law work. It’s flattering that PPH thinks I’m so skilled ( how many software developers can do Law stuff too?), but in practice it’s purely down to the inevitable failure of the skills matching algorithm.

    I do and have done “Flash” software development work.

    The Law work for which I have been selected by PPH is “I need someone to write CFA level III Flash Cards”. So we can see why the matching algorithm chose me. Unfortunately, the buyer specifically said: “Only a CFA charterholder to take this task please”.

    So, PPH says “You are a perfect fit for a new Job” when in practice I am the worst possible fit.

    I am waiting for the time PPH suggests I take on some Flash photography work.

    You cannot extrapolate skills reliably by analysing and pattern matching text content. I am far from alone in getting crazy job selections from PPH.

  • Jan White

    So the system isn’t perfect yet, but we have already been told by PPH that they are working on it.

    I am glad to receive these random offers from PPH because they have sent me jobs that I wouldn’t otherwise have considered. I have won 2 of them.

    This service doesn’t cost you anything.
    It gives you a chance to see the broader picture.
    If you don’t like what you see, DELETE is a good idea.

    But please stop going on about these emails because they are working for some of us and I am here to earn money.

    They are working for me, so, thanks PPH for the diversity and please don’t stop the job notification service, it’s not perfect but then neither are the clients who place the jobs or the contractors who bid on them, and the very lack of perfection allows more job opportunities.

  • Paul A.

    Jan, PPH may be “working on it” but it’s of an order of difficultly that they seem to not understand.

    DELETE is a good idea? of course, but I’d like to feed back in a small way to PPH and Xenios in particular, that this system isn’t even close to working reliably.

    While we are talking about job recommendations, PPH are also pattern matching skills to decide who can bid on certain jobs and that isn’t working well either for many people who are locked out from bidding on work they can do.

    I’m glad it’s working well for you. I’d like PPH to work well for everyone, though.

  • Jan White

    Hi Paul, thanks for explaining. I do not understand the technicalities, I just enjoy the benefits LOL.
    All the best, Jan

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