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Spam is totally getting out of hand

The spam on/from Odesk is totally getting out of hand. I now received a direct email from Systematix Design sent to my inbox directly. It was also sent to my CEO, and to our comapnies' general info address. In order to obtain these addresses, some research must have been done. 

I long asked for spam measures to be implemented as part of the job publishing/vetting workflow. I was really happy when they were implemented. I am not at all convinced about how effective these measures are - despite my consistent and frequent marking down as spam of many (usually the same) applications from the same affiliates, they keep coming back.

I was tired of the irrelevant, recycled coverletters of people that you know cannot do the job you are asking for, would not deliver in time, and would generally make your life miserable. I was tired of the cluttered list of applicants. I was tired of the generaly hard work it has become to hire the Providers you want. But the fact half my company staff is now getting spammed, outside of Odesk, takes the biscuit.

It is increasingly clear to me that ODesk is not really willing to take a hard line with afilliates that spam, but also appear to bring in money. However, it would be foolish for Odesk to forget it is the buyers, not the providers, that bring in the revenue. We turned over almost $150,000 since we started with Odesk. In my, or anybodies book, that makes us a "valued customer".

I am incensed with this situation, and demand that real action is taken in this case. I want it to be public, and to act as a serious deterrent. If Odesk is not willing to guard the privacy of their buyers, I will take my dollars elsewhere.

Vote Result

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Score: 10.0, Votes: 1
The problem is that what you

The problem is that what you define as spam may not necessarily be someone else's definition of spam...and that's where it gets tricky for oDesk.  It has to be a multi-multi-repeat offense and/or clear violation of the oDesk terms.  Recycled cover letters, while annoying, may not always be considered spam.

Personally, I'd like to see a blacklist implemented...not globally, obviously (because that would cause even more problems) but for each buyer and provider (because it goes both ways, some providers may not want to work with or interview with certain buyers again).  Each account can define providers or buyers to simply not display applications or jobs (or receive system notification emails) from anyone contained in the list.  Just my $0.02.

In your case with providers/affiliates contacting you outside of oDesk (I'm assuming this is to ask if you have jobs, possibly for hire outside of the oDesk system?), report their behavior.  Use the "flag as inappropriate" link at the top of their profile(Drunk if you do not have an active interview with them - especially if you've never hired them before.  This is most likely (because it depends on the circumstances) a violation of the oDesk terms and disintermediation policies.

Danalyn West, oDesk Marketing
Follow oDesk on Twitter and Facebook

clearly spam - chatlog with the miscreant

*chat transcript removed by admin per forum policy

That is a violation of the

That is a violation of the oDesk terms since they initiated contact without being interviewed: contact information cannot be provided in applications initiated by the provider (it can, however, be provided in an interview acceptance email when a buyer initiates it), nor in job descriptions posted by the buyer. I'd report the inappropriate behavior.

Either use the "flag as inappropriate" link in the individual provider's profile, or submit a help ticket with the affiliate id (the company profile permalink should do).  Be sure to include your chat transcript. 

Danalyn West, oDesk Marketing
Follow oDesk on Twitter and Facebook

I think you were amazingly

I think you were amazingly patient to go through all that.

just giving him all the

Smile just giving him all the rope he needs to hang himself.

Note: I have to remove the

Note: I have to remove the chat transcript per the forum policy.

Providers are NOT permitted to contact buyers directly prior to the interview phase. Therefore this provider has violated oDesk policies and should be reported. We can't act unless an official report is filed. Every reported violation is investigated and acted upon if there is proof. Submit your proof (ie. the chat transcript and email they sent you) via a help ticket so support can investigate the provider.

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Jacqui Pittenger :: Forum Moderator :: Need help? Visit the Help Center :: Submit a Help Ticket

"Note: I have to remove the

"Note: I have to remove the chat transcript per the forum policy."

 sure, sorry wasnt aware of this .

 ah, and yes - i did open a ticket right at the start.

no problem, and thanks for

no problem, and thanks for submitting the ticket!

---
Jacqui Pittenger :: Forum Moderator :: Need help? Visit the Help Center :: Submit a Help Ticket

What I want

I can see where you are coming from with a blacklist. What I have asked for (and Odesk didnt have the stones to implement) is simply to allow *only* those that meet certain specs to apply for the job. For example, If I could exclude India-based providers from my applying to my jobs, 95% of the spam would be sorted. "hide" doesnt really work out for me.

As for your comment about recycled cover letters - that is actually how it is written down in the interface: "Spam: recycled cover letter"

The anti-spam measures at Odesk are not effective, and not enforced.  This is the second time I have reported such a clear violation of the terms, but the last time it was also a high-turnover provider, and it was overlooked, I was told "not really a violation, if we squint in a certain way."

At the end of the day, the point is that the money comes from the buyers, not the providers. It would be disingenious for Odesk to ignore that fact.

Oh, I know that's how it's written

Martijn D. wrote:

As for your comment about recycled cover letters - that is actually how it is written down in the interface: "Spam: recycled cover letter"

Oh, I know that's how it's written in the rejection options (I've posted jobs and have had my fair share of recycled cover letters submitted)...but what I meant was that a buyer may not always read a recycled cover letter just as that, so it relies on buyers to define them.

I can see your point about buyers paying the bills, but at the same time, if buyers don't have providers to hire, the bills don't get paid anyway.  It really is a tough situation to be put in.  I see both sides of the argument.

But still, I'd report them for violation of the terms.  A violation is a violation.  Enough reported violations, high-turnorver or not, and it will get someone's attention. 

Danalyn West, oDesk Marketing
Follow oDesk on Twitter and Facebook

API to handle providers

Martijn D. wrote:
I can see where you are coming from with a blacklist. What I have asked for (and Odesk didnt have the stones to implement) is simply to allow *only* those that meet certain specs to apply for the job. For example, If I could exclude India-based providers from my applying to my jobs, 95% of the spam would be sorted. "hide" doesnt really work out for me...
Perhaps it would not be a bad idea for oDesk to expose API to handle providers, so that some third party developers could produce a more customizable program. I don't mean the API to be public, just open to third party under some agreement.

There is an API - ODesk are

There is an API - ODesk are slowly working on making more functionality available. Although currently it isnt very useful (screenshots etc) they promised that more good stuff would come soon!

oDesk's doing great job.

Martijn D. wrote:
There is an API - ODesk are slowly working on making more functionality available...
He-he, you must be a real buyer Smile

Hi Mdekkers, I agree with

Hi Mdekkers,

I agree with you 1000%. I've been trying to get something done about all of this for the last 3 years now & no one seems to care. oDesk is actually way better than any other bidding site (see my other thread).

In fact, no offense to anyone on oDesk, I was soooo upset by all the precious time we have wasted with ICs, I wanted to start my own bidding site just to get things done properly. Wearing the HR hat 24/7 & spending 70-80% of my time doing just that clearly takes away from the growth of the business, not to mention has made me jaded.

The problem is, there are no common sense rules in place.

Our screening process has grown in the last 4 years, but b/c so many online companies don't care about screening, or don't act like a real "offline" company, ICs have become used to getting away with murder.

They are hired despite their negative attitude, arrogance & lies about their skills, so they learn they can continue this behavior.

Until such time that more companies start screening thoroughly just like offline companies do, people who want to work online will just continue to abuse online companies.

I just had an IC tell ME last week that I don't know how to handle freelancers b/c he refused to be screened & interviewed. So that is the general consensus in the online freelance arena.

Don't get me wrong, there are online companies who abuse ICs (I've heard stories), but b/c there are more ICs then companies, us companies feel it more IMO.

I already started my own blacklist via a blog.

Now whenever an IC does something I feel wasted my precious time, disappear, or they lie about the skill they supposedly have costing me stress, time & money b/c the task has to be redone, I out them on my blog.

Because of that, I've recently had a couple of them build their own blog lying about our company saying we are scammers.

What can you do, I hope one day all companies will search online first before hiring ICs, just to see if they made it onto my blog.

I've even invited companies to have me search my Admin DB for my notes about the IC. I keep notes on everyone that comes my way & that's only the ones who filled out the application, b/c about 80% of them don't fill out the application or make it to that stage b/c they don't read the hiring ad, they just spam out their resume or cover letter.

While not everyone will make it onto the blog, that doesn't mean the IC was smart, responsible, skilled, communicated well, etc. If they did, I've be holding onto them for dear life LOL

Thank you for listening & take care

 

Michelle

P.S. If no one wants to use the word "spam", then we should come up with another word for it. I've had people argue with me about this very word as well & I consider it to be spam too.

Something that is unwanted.

No company would ever say that a response is spam if the person responding actually read the hiring ad & followed instructions.

Sending off your resume or a generic response that has nothing to do with what the hiring ad asked for to 100 companies just to see who will be stupid enough to hire you is IMO, SPAM.

I think the bigger problem

Michelle K. wrote:

The problem is, there are no common sense rules in place.

I think the bigger problem is that a lot of people just don't have common sense.

Of course, there are cultural differences to take into consideration as well.  Sometimes, what you or I may think is rude or inconsiderate maybe be commonplace on the other side of the globe.  And vice versa - for example: in India, you only eat with your right hand because you wipe your a** with your left...sucks for lefties.

Michelle K. wrote:

They are hired despite their negative attitude, arrogance & lies about their skills, so they learn they can continue this behavior.

This, to me, is unacceptable. I know my limits, and I tell my buyers when I've reached them. To me, if I say I can do something that I know I can't, it'll only cause ME extra stress trying to finish the project. That's my common sense at work.

Michelle K. wrote:

I just had an IC tell ME last week that I don't know how to handle freelancers b/c he refused to be screened & interviewed. So that is the general consensus in the online freelance arena.

And that's just rude.  I don't mind being screened and going through necessary steps...and if I come across something that I'm just not comfortable with during the screening process, I'll thank you for your time and withdraw my candidacy.

Michelle K. wrote:

I already started my own blacklist via a blog.

Care to share that link? Oh, wait, posting it in the forums may be against policies

Michelle K. wrote:

Something that is unwanted.

No company would ever say that a response is spam if the person responding actually read the hiring ad & followed instructions.

Some of them have...it has happened to veteran providers who have always written 100% custom cover letters. So it does happen. But everyone has their own threshold for what defines spam...some people are just more liberal with their usage of the rejection flags than other.

Me, personally, I don't have a problem with the "spam" label.  Even when it was way too easy for buyers to reject as spam, I haven't received one.  If I receive a reject-as-spam letter, I'll look over my letter to see where I went wrong and figure out how to improve it.

Again, that's my common sense talking...

Danalyn West, oDesk Marketing
Follow oDesk on Twitter and Facebook

Spam notification?

Danalyn W. wrote:
...Even when it was way too easy for buyers to reject as spam, I haven't received one...

Pardon my butting into the conversation for a moment... but if a provider's application/cover letter is rejected by the buyer as spam, will the provider receive a notification about it? Because if it happened to me, even if I won't be able to contest my application/cover letter being labeled as such, I'd at least like to be able to do what follows next, as well.

Danalyn W. wrote:
...If I receive a reject-as-spam letter, I'll look over my letter to see where I went wrong and figure out how to improve it...

It comes in the normal

Arthur J. wrote:
Pardon my butting into the conversation for a moment... but if a provider's application/cover letter is rejected by the buyer as spam, will the provider receive a notification about it? Because if it happened to me, even if I won't be able to contest my application/cover letter being labeled as such, I'd at least like to be able to do what follows next, as well.

It comes in the normal "candidacy ended" email.  The only difference is that the "reason" will be listed as "Spam - Recycled Cover Letter" and I think the other one is qualification mismatch (or something along those lines).

There is nothing to do when your cover letter is rejected as spam.  According to what oDesk staff have said in older threads, if you repeatedly get rejected as spam (as in every single one of your 20-application-quota letters get rejected week after week), oDesk will investigate.  But if only a few here and there get rejected as spam, it's usually not something oDesk will suspend your account for (especially since "spam" is a relative term when used here...i.e.: if your cover letter is boring, a buyer may call it spam, even though you were 100% original).

Danalyn West, oDesk Marketing
Follow oDesk on Twitter and Facebook

Okay, thanks...

I see. Thanks for clearing things up again, Danalyn. Smile

well...

First of all: I swear because I care....

Danalyn W. wrote:

Some of them have...it has happened to veteran providers who have always written 100% custom cover letters. So it does happen. But everyone has their own threshold for what defines spam...some people are just more liberal with their usage of the rejection flags than other.

Speaking for myslef, I am extremely precise when rejecting stuff as spam, and when in doubt, I don't reject as spam, as opposed the other way around. However, take this example: I currently have a job open for a JQuery dev, where I am asking for a highly technical JS developer. The other job, I am asking for a serious designer with a deep passion for typography that goes all warm inside when he thinks about vertical rhythm. The designer job I specifically stated "We are only looking for eastern European providers for this position" - see here http://www.odesk.com/jobs/Designer-flex-Skills_~~a8874298b873d23e

So some random guy from India responds to both postings, with the same cover letter "blah blah PHP/JAVA/.NET/C#/Haskell/Drupal/Joomla/ blah blah read your detailed specifications with interest and in great detail (huh? specs? where? I did specs? the day I do detailed, clear specs all my providers will cry with joy....)

Clearly spam. Now, I post quite a lot of jobs, and spend a fair amount of time, like the other poster, screening and hiring. Dealing with some random fool like above every now and then is no hassle, but for most of my jobs I post, I will be hammered with completely irrelevant jobs from completely irrelevant providers. I estimate that a good 85% to 90% of responses are useless, with at least 80% of those outright spam. Not spam by somebodies vague definition, but real, clear "dont care about specs, dont care about what you need, dont care about what you want, dont care about anything, i-just-want-get-my-stuff-in-front-the-largest-possible-audience-so-just-read-my-stuff" spam.

It is no longer economically viable for me to hire people for short jobs (Odesks' core target, I would assume) due to the high HR overhead. Instead, I have now gone out, and hired an FTE that is multi-skilled to deal with small issues. Here is a clear example of Odesk losing money because of Spam. Easy enough for Odesk to see how my spending has declined

Spam is a problem for everybody. Nobody benefits by temporising about this issue - in fact, we are allowing a few bad providers to spoil things for everybody.

Since marking providers as spammers has no deterrent value, so spamming will increasingly be seen as an accpeted way of doing business. Odesk needs to create a clear, deterrent policy. This isnt something that will be solved by adding buttons and tools (although I would appreciate a "only allow applications from xyz geo areas"). This will only be solved by Odesk making it really clear, and following up with action, that spam isnt tolerable.

I'm sorry to hear

I'm sorry to hear that you're giving up on oDesk. We have excellent providers here who have lost the opportunity to work with you -- and you've lost the chance to pick and choose among specialists.

I'm glad you found someone who could take care of the small issues, though. And I appreciate your bringing this question up, so that the clever people of oDesk will have the chance to come up with a solution.

your own app to handle providers

Martijn D. wrote:
...It is no longer economically viable for me to hire people for short jobs (Odesks' core target, I would assume) due to the high HR overhead. Instead, I have now gone out, and hired an FTE that is multi-skilled to deal with small issues. Here is a clear example of Odesk losing money because of Spam. Easy enough for Odesk to see how my spending has declined...
Once the API is available, you may wish to develop your own application to handle providers.