New project

25 02 2010

Having posted a long rant about Freelancer.com, I have just won another project via the site today. This time it’s a 1000 word article, again on the subject of cosmetic surgery, for a e-book on anti-ageing. Looking forward to hearing more about it!





The trouble with Freelancer.com

24 02 2010

Please also see:

  • Is Freelancer.com a scam? (Part 1)
  • The Trouble With Freelancer: Part II
  • Freelancer.com: How to Spot Spam, Scams and Shams
  • As a relative newcomer to the world of freelancing, bidding sites such as People Per Hour and Freelancer.com are often very useful for me to find and bid on writing and editing projects. So far, I’ve actually found most of my freelance work through these sites. However, I have a major bugbear with Freelancer.com, in particular.

    Unlike People Per Hour (PPH), which charges both freelancer and buyer a fee to post and bid on projects, it is free for the buyer to post a project on Freelancer.com [edit: I’ve since found out this isn’t true; buyers pay a refundable $5 deposit – see the comments below!]. The successful freelance bidder is charged a minimum of $5 USD for being accepted for a project, and a further $1 for withdrawing funds to PayPal. Of course, because it is so cheap to post a project, there are a great deal more projects listed on Freelancer than on PPH. The quality of projects posted is also considerably lower.

    Although PPH is more expensive, I much prefer it because the buyers tend to be genuine individuals and companies who wish to outsource their work. At Freelancer.com, there are various problems. Firstly, many buyers openly exploit cheap labour from the developing world. Many will only recruit freelancers from India or the Philippines and as such, it is difficult for experienced, native English-speaking writers to be accepted for projects where the rate of pay is much more than $2 USD per 500 words.

    Secondly, there is a growing trend for “buyers” on Freelancer.com to ask for free samples of work from bidders. While I do understand that genuine buyers will want to assess the quality of the work that they will ultimately be paying for, a link to previously published work should be enough. What I suspect tends to happen is that the “buyer” will collect these free samples, cancel the project posting and disappear off into the sunset with a few tens or even hundreds of unique articles that he will then try to sell on or pass off as his own work when bidding on another project.

    Finally, although there are many other examples I could give, Freelancer.com seems to increasingly be a place where scammers can post their ads, with little risk. These often tend to be the type where someone says “I have money in my Freelancer.com account but cannot transfer it to Paypal because I’ve been blocked/I live in a country where there is no Paypal. I will pay you X amount into your Freelancer.com account if you transfer X amount into my Western Union/Moneybookers/indian bank account” etc. The freelancer is promised a vast profit with “no risk” because the buyer will pay a deposit up front. ha! Please go right ahead and pull the other one! Worryingly though, people actually bid on these “projects”!

    There is a “Report violation” button that users can click to report project postings or other freelancers for breaching Freelancer‘s terms and conditions, but I don’t think it should really be up to the users of the site. Freelancer.com need to be taking their own responsibility for the image and reputation of their business.

    I have written to Freelancer.com about this before and all I got in reply was a simple and very unsatisfactory, “Thank you for your suggestion, we are looking into it”. So today, after reporting yet another scam posting, I decided to try again. Here’s my email and I’ll let you know of any reply!

    Dear Freelancer.com,

    I have written to you about this before and received a very unsatisfactory “we’re looking into this” email. I have since seen no progress on this matter. The matter I am talking about is the problem of people posting scams on Freelancer.com. There have been many ads in recent months such as this one posted by user “getqualityconten”:

    “Hi
    I need an online sbi or icici account holder person who can earn regular cash for small help.
    My paypal is locked for some checking reason. I have money in gaf* account. I will send $50 in your gaf account and you need to send 1000 inr in my account. The process is very easy.

    I will send you first $25 and you have to send 1000/- instantly in my account then I will send remaining $25 in your account. So there is no risks for both of us…..and if this process goes fine then from the next transaction i will give you more than 1000/- profit. You can earn regular cash by this way. Thanks”

    My first point is that these postings are not genuine requests for freelancers. Freelancer.com is supposed to be a place where buyers can outsource their work to freelancers – this type of advert is not “work”. This also applies to the increasing number of people who try to sell articles that they have written (or more likely stolen from freelancers who have written free samples). This is not the place for sales.

    Secondly, this type of money exchange ad is often posted by “buyers” with no feedback. In the case of “getqualityconten”, he claims to have money in his Freelancer account – but how can this be unless he has transferred it there himself? According to his profile, he has not completed or even bid on any projects so logically, he cannot have received money. There is no doubt in my mind that this is a scam and I wonder why Freelancer.com do not do anything about it?

    In my mind, the answer is simple: each project posting must be checked and edited before it “goes live” to weed out the scammers. Not only the scammers, but people who post inadequately described projects – I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to ask what the proposed word count is for a writing project (which, if I am to bid on a project is really quite a crucial piece of information!), so if there was some kind of editing before the advert was placed online, these kinds of careless errors would become extinct.

    Please could you do me a big favour and reply with a detailed account of how aware Freelancer.com is of the problems I have described above, and your proposals for what you plan to do about them. As a regular user of your site, I feel entitled to know how scrupulous a company you are and whether I should even bother with you in the future. I don’t want to help line the pockets of a company that is itself a big scam.

    Regards,

    Lisa Martin

    * Freelancer.com used to be known as GetAFreelancer.com, so many users still refer to it as GAF.





    Project update

    22 02 2010

    Just a little update on my current projects…

    I’m happy to say i’m being kept pretty busy by Chris at Media Netrix and his cosmetic surgery copywriting project. I’ve so far notched up 15 articles about breast augmentation for women and male breast reduction and am now working on a set of “blog post” style articles, which is bringing out my creative side. I’m really enjoying it – it’s a really interesting topic, from both a medical and psychological point of view and thanks to my institutional access to SpringerLink, cosmetic surgery has been easy and fun to research.

    I’m learning more and more about the procedures involved and have been especially interested by the male side of things – cosmetic surgery for men doesn’t get talked about very often, but it’s clear that the desire to have a perfect body shape can deeply affect men too, and there is a growing trend for men to go under the knife for cosmetic reasons. Did you know that “man boobs” are most often caused by gynaecomastia – a hormonal imbalance during puberty? It affects approximately 60% of men at some time in their lives!

    As well as writing about boobs, I’m also planning a new article for Our Green Earth as I promised Tom a couple of freebies in the New Year and it’s nearly March already!





    MidAtlantian madness

    18 02 2010

    Further to my post on Wednesday about the joys of Freecycle, I thought I’d share with you an amusing little anecdote regarding a Freecycle advert that I responded to the other day…

    Ad (Fri 12th Feb 2010): OFFER: Swivel wheeled office chair
    Fully functional swivel office chair with arms. Upholstery needs minor attention. Rest of chair is excellent. Black frame, muted red and grey fabric.

    Me (Tues 16th Feb):
    Hi I was wondering if the office chair is still available? I am going to start working from home and need to set up a home office. This would be a great start. My boyfriend can pick up tonight (Tuesday) or Thursday.
    Thanks, Lisa 🙂

    Freakcycler (Thurs 18th Feb):
    Dear Lisa,
    Pardon that I’ve not responded until now. A “moving-house” tornado has rather overtaken us, but at the last minute we decided to keep the office chair, and the shredder is gone. The truth is that I would strongly suggest that you get a cross-cut shredder. The strip- cut variety is not only rather insecure, but the actual strips are very bulky, and do not pack well at all.

    Sorry for the delay in responding. We’ve moved into a house and BT has just told us it would cost over 10,000 pounds to get a phone connection!!! There are no connections remaining in the small village we are in, and we would need to pay to run a cable to the nearest exchange, 5 miles away. We’ve found an Internet Cafe about 6 miles away…. Ooops!

    Sincerely,
    MidAtlantian

    [Notes: I didn’t even mention the shredder – I guess he had another ad on Freecycle. Why is he giving me advice on shredders? Why is he telling me his life story? Why does he call himself “MidAtlantian”?!]

    Me (Thurs 18th Feb):
    Hi “MidAtlantian”,
    Thank you for your very detailed response. I have now got another office chair from someone else on Freecycle, so it’s not a problem that you decided to keep yours. Enjoy swivelling on it.
    Thanks,
    Lisa





    I Heart Freecycle

    17 02 2010

    I’m a big fan of Freecycle and it’s UK-run counterpart Freegle. Freecycle, an American organisation, was set up in 2003 by one man who thought it would be a cool idea to see if anyone wanted his old stuff, in exchange for other people’s stuff. It worked. Now, Freecycle, which is run through a Yahoo! groups message board system, has thousands of local groups all over the world, comprising millions of members. The aim is simple: advertise your unwanted belongings to save them from going to landfill. There are local variations of the rules, but the common theme among them is that you must offer your goods for free – no strings attached.

    Some Freecycle groups in the UK had a barney with the US organisers and decided to split from them in 2006, renaming themselves Freegle. I’m not really sure what the beef was – they look pretty similar to me! – but the aims are the same: to recycle unwanted possessions, for free.

    As the boy Tom and I are soon to be moving in together, we’ve become ever so slightly obsessed with Freecycling. The house in Bidford-on-Avon we’re moving to is completely unfurnished and because we’re both coming from fully-furnished rented accommodation, we haven’t got much to fill a two bedroom house (not unless you include my clothes, anyway…)! Momma and Poppa Benj have kindly offered to buy us a mattress, so we won’t be sleeping on the floor, and Mummy Martin has kindly donated her old sofa to our cause, but apart from that and a bookcase that I bought from Ikea a few years ago, we have nothing.

    We’re not moving for 3 weeks yet, but we’ve already started the Great Freecycle Hunt. So far we’ve managed to bag ourselves a TV unit, microwave, small chest of drawers and an office chair (very important as I will be working from home) – it’s a start! We could still do with a fridge/freezer, washing machine, desk, wardrobes, more drawers and other miscellaneous knick-knacks, but there’s plenty of time yet, and Ikea is just down the road if we need it!

    Don’t worry, I’m not just taking from Freecycle – I’ll be sure to give things back. I know that there are vast amounts of trash under my bed and in my cupboards, so when I start packing up my London flat I’ll re-Freecycle them and hope that they will become another man’s (or woman’s) treasure.





    Temple Grafton Cricket Club Race Night

    16 02 2010

    My boyfriend Tom *loves* cricket. He keeps wicket for Temple Grafton Cricket Club who are raising money to build snazzy new changing rooms. To this end, they’re holding a Race Night at Binton Social Club on Friday 26th February. Last year it was a really good night out (even if I did miss half of it owing to travelling up from London…) and this year they’ve got some excellent prizes including a batting lesson and dinner with none other than Andrew Strauss. If you’re in the area, pop on over.





    Rise in students caught cheating

    3 02 2010

    I use AOL email, for my sins. It’s crap and doesn’t save old emails longer than a couple of months unless you specifically request to save an email into the saved items folder, which is something I’m always forgetting to do, but it syncs with Windows Mail and I’ve had my email address for so long that I don’t want to change it now. *Gasp*. Anyhoo, the AOL.co.uk homepage often has some very amusing tidbits of celebrity gossip and superbly sensationalistic “news” headlines. For instance, today I learned from said AOL home page that Katie Price/Jordan has got married in a Las Vegas ceremony to her cross-dressing, cage-fighting ex-Hollyoaks gonk Alex Reid. I learned yesterday about a body discovered in a flat above an Indian restaurant when blood started dripping through the ceiling – “about a spoonful”, the helpful restaurant owner estimated. It really is quality journalism.

    Anyway, one of AOL’s headline news items today was this one: Rise in Students Caught Cheating. Last year, 4500 pupils were allegedly punished or warned for cheating in a public school examination, which equates to 0.03% of exams being affected by cheating scumbags. Hardly enough to make a front page headline, I would have thought, but there you go. Perhaps it was a slow-news day for AOL as Jordan was having a day off.

    Surely, as long as there have been exams, there has been cheating. My dad once told me that he wrote some answers on the back of his ruler when he sat his Geography O-Level and that was ages ago. I’m not at all surprised that the number of cheaters isn’t higher, though. Firstly, a lot of the cheating that goes on is probably not reported. Teachers, wanting to do the best for their pupils, however rude or disruptive they might be, would rather quietly take the smuggled dictionary away than making a big scene and ruining that child’s chance to get the only GSCE he will ever pass. Secondly, especially regarding coursework, teachers often help their pupils a little bit more than they should, spelling out exactly what needs to be written in order to meet the marking criteria. Finally, of course, not every cheater gets caught. Two boys in different Chemistry classes, taught by two different teachers could very easily get away with handing in exactly the same coursework, and it’s simple to write a few notes inside of the novel for your English Literature exam.

    I hate this tendency among students to see what they can get away with. As a former teacher myself, I’ve seen – and disciplined – plenty of pupils who have handed in copied work, or passed notes during a class test. Perhaps because I’m quite the perfectionist myself, I hate cheating.

    Venturing into my newfound career as a freelancer, I am stunned by the number of school and even university students who pimp out their coursework and dissertations to writers on freelance job boards. Just this week I was invited to bid on a project, the title of which was “Need writer for my school essay which is plagarized” [sic]. In this instance, the ad had been deleted before anyone could bid, but I’m sure it goes undetected quite frequently. In fact, I’m ashamed to say, although I didn’t realise it at the time, that I’ve helped a student cheat myself.

    A while ago I responded to an advert on Freelancer.com in which the client said that he needed a ghostwriter for an anthology that he was compiling on different medical imaging techniques. The pay was very good and so I happily completed 4500 words on the development and use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging. I found it very interesting. It was only when he asked me to do a second project that looked suspiciously like a university lab report that I began to smell a rat. I had the foresight to google him and found that not only is he involved in some “cash gifting” scam, but also that he was a student of Biomedical Engineering at a top American college. His Facebook page also revealed that he likes a good keg party.

    Well, quite. Doesn’t everybody? But my view on cheating is quite clear. It’s wrong. Don’t do it. Examinations are supposed to measure your skills and abilities and it doesn’t really matter if you get an E or a C or an A – your grade is a reflection of you, and if it’s not as good as somebody else, so what? Cheating, if you get away with it, will get you an extra mark or two at most, and if you don’t get away with it, you could be excluded from sitting that exam altogether, faced with the prospect of being branded as a cheat. I worked hard for my GCSEs, my A-Levels and my degree and people who spend too much time partying to do their own work, or who are too busy scamming the pants off people, or who just can’t be bothered to study properly shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.








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