Understanding CERT


Hi PPHers

We had a resounding response to the new ranking algorithm that we released earlier this week. As can be expected when introducing something new a number of questions are raised from the community. We aim to provide you with more clarity on how CERT works and answer any potential concerns you may have surrounding CERT.

The aim of the new ranking algorithm is to reward the highest quality Sellers and the most relevant talent, so they get more exposure to Buyers. The CERT score is a function that encompasses many things, each of which are factored in a different weight as outlined below:


CERT takes into account your earnings through PPH with a bigger weight on recent earnings. The aim of this is to reward freelancers who are active and continually serving Buyers through the site, over people that had once built their earnings in the past and have since stopped doing so. If you have stopped billing through the site, your score will eventually start to drop as you become less active.


CERT calculates the average feedback you have received as a Seller. For Sellers new to PPH with no feedback, no earnings, or no track record it can at times prove difficult to get a new job as Buyers tend to prefer working with freelancers that have a track record that they can view.

We therefore provide new users the opportunity to build up their earnings and feedback by inviting external clients they have outside of PPH to continue their work through PPH at 0% service fee, which in turn provides the foundation to build a reputation and win more work at zero cost.

For existing Sellers who have built their earnings and feedback already this is still a great way to improve their rankings and get more feedback.

It’s important to note that recent earnings and feedback hold the biggest weight in CERT. All the other factors affect CERT to some extent, but it’s your earnings and feedback that will really help to drive your score.


This is another way for both new and existing Sellers to show they have a good working track record and build an element of trust with potential Buyers. It goes without saying however that feedback still holds much more weight than endorsements.


A good solid profile matters for Buyers therefore including a photo, job title, portfolio, and short bio are very important. Moreover, connecting your account to Facebook or LinkedIn to have a complete profile is a way for Sellers to build trust with Buyers, especially those without a previous track record on PPH.


We understand that refunds and disputes are not always a Seller’s fault. On the other hand, we do believe that even with a non-cooperating Buyer a good Seller can always do something to help prevent a surplus amount of disputes and refunds from happening and Sellers doing so deserve to be rewarded. We don’t penalize anyone for refunds but we do reward and promote those with a low refund rate as it’s an indication that they go the extra mile to turn a problematic situation into a success. In order to do this, CERT measures the amount of refunds issued in relation to your total sales.


The number of penalties has greater impact on your CERT score. That is, the number of refunds and disputes the Seller is solely responsible for. We are therefore able to distinguish when the Seller is not at fault, and as noted earlier we believe that good Sellers can take preventative measures when they are clearly at fault.


This is the number one complaint we receive from our Buyers. Buyers come to the site to have their Job completed as soon as possible.  When a Buyer is urgently looking for someone to do a Job, we prefer to show them someone who is more likely to deliver the job in their allocated time period first, over someone who yes may have excellent feedback however may take up to 3 days to respond to the enquiry. For Buyers it’s not only a matter of quality but also a matter of speed.

When they contact Sellers who reply after 2-3 days Buyers lose faith and Jobs are not completed. For this reason speed of response is something we factor into CERT.


When a Buyer gives more work to a Seller following a completed project this is a very good indication that the Buyer is happy due to the level of service you provided, and this will be reflected within your CERT score.


The C in CERT represents the PPH community. Apart from individual performance we have to reward contributions to the community. If the community grows everybody wins. An increase in the number of Buyers using the site also increases the number of Jobs that get posted. The Seller, Community, and PPH all benefit from this.

So even though ‘C’ is not directly related to individual Seller performance, it’s a way to help onboarding and reward those that help the community to grow. Of course, the weight of the ‘C’ as part of your total score is small in comparison to the other factors. It’s not the ‘C’ alone that will get you from level 1 to level 3. But among people of similar earnings and feedback levels the ‘C’ can help to make a difference.

All the above factors are put together with feedback and recent earnings holding the biggest weight, and this produces a total score based on the levels you have been assigned.


We wanted to reward Sellers with a stellar performance, so in order to qualify for level 5 you must also meet some qualitative criteria in addition to having a high score. Qualifying criteria for levels 4 and 5 is outlined below:


We have set a maximum acceptable refund rate for Sellers to qualify for levels 4 and 5 . Our aspiration is that top Sellers should try to deliver the job even if they come across a non-cooperating Buyer.

We have seen that a great Seller has the ability to defuse a situation with a potentially difficult client and we want to reward Sellers that achieve this standard of excellence. As stated above, this is what distinguishes the good from the great.


Following the same rationale as refunds and disputes, you must have a low amount of penalties to qualify for levels 4 and 5.


To qualify for levels 4 and 5 you must have an average response time of less than 24hrs to any new incoming enquiries from Buyers.

We hope this has provided you with some much-needed insight into your CERT score. It’s important that you don’t confuse the old ranking method with CERT as the old ranking was purely based on all time earnings and feedback while CERT is based on earnings with a recency weight (recent earnings count more), average feedback and several other criteria we have listed above.

As always we would greatly appreciate your feedback and will be at hand to answer any questions.


  • PeoplePerHourBlog

    Hi Zvone,
    It’s important to note that recent earnings and feedback hold the biggest weight in CERT which is a direct reflection of the service you provide. All the other factors affect CERT to some extent, but it’s your earnings and feedback that will really help to drive your score.
    Let me know if you have any further questions.
    Many Thanks

  • PeoplePerHourBlog

    Hi Bryony,
    Response time is only in relation to new work enquiries. We discuss it further in this post: http://bit.ly/IVB5tc
    Many Thanks

  • PeoplePerHourBlog

    Hi Zvone,
    Glad to hear we you now have a better understanding of how CERT works. Let us know how you get on 🙂
    Many Thanks

  • Tim

    I did have 1 refund but this wasn’t my fault the guy wanted WordPress installed and it turned out that the server didn’t support PHP and he wanted me to install it via the shell (which was in a foreign language) and this was way out of scope for the hourlie.

    Anyway, I am CERT 1 and I see many others with less reviews and that have sold less than me and they are CERT 2 and 3. I can only assume because of that one refund, which wasn’t my fault I have been marked down?

  • PeoplePerHourBlog

    HI TIM,
    Thanks for writing in. Refunds are not the only thing considered with your CERT score we also look at response times, follow on work etc so it would be good to also ensure those are inline with the suggestions we made in the post and i’m sure your score will go up 🙂

    Regarding refunds I would suggest that now you’ve had that experience in order to avoid a situation like that happening again add more specific details to your Hourlie so that Buyers have a clearer idea on what you can deliver and what will be required from them in order for you to deliver the Hourlie. Let me know how it goes.

  • PeoplePerHourBlog

    Hi CF,
    Thanks for taking the time to write in, we appreciate your comments. Just to clarify Earnings and feedback are considered along with factors like response time and follow on work. These factors are a direct reflection of the quality of work for Buyers. We don’t penalize anyone who doesn’t link out their profiles however we do reward contributions to the community. We have to do this as it helps the PPH community to grow and the benefits of doing so are more jobs which is great for our Sellers and also for us. I hope that gives you a better understanding as to why we reward growth of the community.
    Let me know me know if you have any further questions.

  • PeoplePerHourBlog

    Hi Bryony,
    Sorry it wasn’t clear. The first enquiry is when a Buyer sends you a job invitation or when they first contact you about one of your Hourlies.
    Hope thats helpful.
    Many Thanks

  • PeoplePerHourBlog

    Hey Joe,
    Thanks for your comment. Regarding your question about job invitations, best practice would be to respond to the Buyer so they know if you are not available or interested.

  • PeoplePerHourBlog

    Hey Sharon,
    Thanks for your question. No, you wouldn’t look inactive if you are working on a project for a few weeks. It’s only affected after long periods (months) of inactivity.
    Thank You

  • SofiaAntoniaMilone

    Yes – I’m not sure how it can be argued otherwise.

  • Mark Summers

    “Our aspiration is that top Sellers should try to deliver the job even if they come across a non-cooperating Buyer.”

    Why? What incentive is their for a freelancer to to do something as ridiculous as this? If the customer is not cooperating, then by definition there is no way of pleasing them.

    This policy has not really been thought through at all.

  • PeoplePerHourBlog

    Hi All

    Thanks for your comments. We just wanted to give you an update.

    As the original post highlighted we believe that the introduction of CERT will make the quality of the marketplace better, however in saying that we have seen your feedback and suggestions and we will be making some changes in the coming weeks to accommodate some of your pain points to make CERT a better experience.

    Thanks again for your feedback.

  • Shabbar Abbas

    I was CERT 3 before but for a month i was away and was not using peopleperhour , when i cam back my CERT was 2 , while i do not had any disputes or there was not even any client waiting for my response , i had completed all my projects before leaving , why this happen ?

  • Ian Hamshaw

    Super helpful article 🙂

  • Dehan Nathaniel

    I did a refund and immediately PPH dropped my score. My question is, does anyone really read the reasons why we have to do refunds at times?

    Anyhow, I did the refund, and the buyer still insisted that he wanted me to do the job so he paid me more than his budget. I sent him a different proposal, which he accepted, and I completed the job within 24 hrs and got paid before 24 hrs. (the same job that was refunded)

    PPH, you did not give me any score for my efficient work and for the way I managed to get more payment for the job, but my score was quickly taken away when I almost reach certi 5.

    I felt so defeated. Again I ask, does anyone really read our reasons for refunding a Client sometime?

  • Kelly

    Hi Dehan,

    I’m so sorry to hear about that! Please email us at support@peopleperhour.com from the email address associated with your PPH account for further assistance.

Post A Comment