Regardless of the original intent, that's a request to launder a protected class into an opaque "work performance" metric. Also, while they are not on the unfortunately short list of protected classes, using demographics like age is probably going to create similar discrimination problems.
If you want to know about job performance, use data that is at least theoretically related to someone's performance. While machine learning is going to find some sort opf signal in whatever pile of data you feed it, that doesn't mean it actually predicts something complicated like job performance. When you feed it a bunch of general demographics, it's going to find one of the signals that we know are present throughout existing demographic: the institutional discrimination and similar problems of the past.
Maybe the lesson here is that people doing unethical things will take the opportunity to do more unethical things, like not pay you, and it may well be in your self interest to apply your ethics when choosing a job? Upwork doesn't look great here, but seems like it's hardly the whole problem.
Isn't age a protected class though? At least in the US, discrimination over 40 is covered by the EEOC.
Grrr... or that's what they, and probably the courts, would say.
The OP calling it "discrimination laundering" had it right.
The courts are the ones that created the doctrine of "disparate impact." A criterion can be discriminatory even if it doesn't look discriminatory on its face. And, importantly, it does not require intent to discriminate, only impact.
Someone with a better grasp on the particulars here please chime in :)
There is nothing inherent in "being black" that leads to greater basketball performance. Also, define "black," good luck.
Being tall, maaaaaybe. But not perfectly so, and there's no useful correlation between tallness and race, considering that the NBA generally just selects for the most skilled basketball players.
Then you get into all the cultural influences that totally shoot any genetic arguments out of the sky, and really just makes trying to do any, uh, science, around genetics and the NBA pointless. In my experience (as a southerner) it's typically just a sort of dog whistle kind of psuedoscientific attempt to set the groundwork that race can be related to other things, such as likelihood to be a criminal, hence why I jump on this argument whenever I see it. Apologies if that wasn't your intent.
In short, "race" (good luck defining even one) is not related to job performance.
How so universities define someone as black?
First, what do you mean by "black people?"
First, from your link:
>Our data also provide evidence for shared ancestry among geographically diverse hunter-gatherer populations (Khoesan speakers and Pygmies).
Would we say that pygmies, being considered black, would be likely to make it into the NBA?
Second, can we guarantee that people who self identify black, would agree that the definition of someone else's "blackness" is legitimate? Whose definition do we "choose" to then move ahead with "and these sorts of black people are more likely to get into the NBA?" Given that it's not well agreed upon (is Obama black? Steph Curry? Not as cut and dry as you might assume. Are they "black enough" to have NBA advantage?)
Third, based on your tallness: why draw the line as 6'2"? There are shorter players that were Great. So, how do you deal with (relatively frequent) exceptions? "Tall people are more likely to get into the NBA, except when theyre short but grew up next to a court" ? And the tall People that aren't good at basketball? "Tall People are good at basketball except when they're not" ? And when they're too tall to the point that it's detrimental to their health and can't even play basketball?
Fourth, arbitrary. Exactly. It is arbitrary, and thus I argue scientifically impossible to have a rational discussion about blackness and its influence on likelihood to enter the NBA. Or, rather, develop an effective predictor algorithm based on genes alone.
We could have interesting sociological conversations about basketball courts in predominantly black neighborhoods, black NBA stars inspiring black kids, self-propagating cultural memes about blackness and basketball skills, etc. But we won't get any really good information that allows us to say something like "black people are better at basketball" to where it will be true.
Regarding pygmies, they are a different cluster from the highly homogenous cluster of Niger Cordofian from which current African American population in America descends. From the article I cited: "High levels of heterogeneous ancestry (i.e., multiple cluster assignments) were observed innearly all African individuals, with the exception of western and central African Niger-Kordofanian speakers (medium orange), who are relatively homogeneous at large K values(Fig. 5C and fig. S15).)".
I see you are also a bit disingineous if you dont think there is a high correlation between athletic abilities and genetics. Gimme a competent geneticist, 200 hundred genomes of 15 years old boys: 100 African Americans and 100 Guatemalans, shortest dudes in the Americas. I am pretty confident that I can pick 2 teams of 5 kids just by their genome and pick the correct winner of a basketball game between them with high probability. Yeah I cannot predict individuals outcome(yet) but population wise I think it is not a crazy stretch.
On the other hand I see your point that there is no crystal clear boundary between any human group, but if you take that position you have to be consistent with it. What I mean is that I assume you are not happy with an universal definition of black (I can understand and even agree with that). But then you are forced to admit the concept of White privilege is vague too. Same reasoning. You could say "White" is a cultural concept, but I could say the same regarding "Black" so we are back to part 1.
Again I suspect we have more points in common that differences regarding this topic, I just wanted to put out there some considerations.
As all parts of culture, the concept of white privilege is extremely vague, and I imagine white Milwaukee trailer park residents would be a bit offended to be lectured about their privilege. Hence why I would prefer we spend our time focusing more on socioeconomic factors of humanity rather than genetics - it just seems more useful.
I may return to edit this if I have time today but if not thank you for this discussion.
There's a difference between acknowledging some correlations, and using them as statistical tools in the job market. The latter is thankfully illegal or at least frowned upon.
At what point does a correlation become useful as a statistical tool?
If you look at hockey, it is mostly white. That doesn't mean being white gives you an advantage in playing hockey. It just means way more white people enjoy hockey compared to black people.
I suspect it's more that playing hockey implies a certain socioeconomic stratum (hockey is an expensive sport).
The sport is a VERY large time and finance drain on a family.
Rec-league hockey requires an ice rink and time on it. Ice rink time is highly demanded and you may be getting it at 6:00AM or 11:00PM. You also need to coordinate teams at those times. And if you want any practice time-you may be getting that at 3:00AM in the morning (not joking).
And, for all of that, you get the joy of shelling out lots of money for the privilege of using the ice on the graveyard shift.
Practically every high school and elementary school has a basketball court--that's probably 10,000+ in Canada. It doesn't count any associated with public parks, etc.
Contrast that with ice rinks which are probably about 1000. You have at least a factor of 10 differential--probably more. In addition, ice rinks are vastly higher outlay to keep running.
So, that means real money to use the rink when using a basketball court is, at worst, a nominal fee. Longer travel to play against another team if you're in a league. Fewer coaches which need to be paid more. And, your practice times are in the "dead zones" from 11:00PM to 6:00AM in the morning as the ice rink is looking to make real money from 3:00PM to about 11:00PM.
Trait conscientiousness and IQ predict job performance. Stop being Luddites with this technology.
"Creepiest shit ever" is a pretty accurate description of Upwork. If Upwork's attitudes and policies were described to me in the 90s, I would have said it was lame, unrealistic science fiction with an over-the-top villain.
If anyone wants to do freelance work, I'd recommend marketing yourself directly to local businesses, print some business cards, schmooze. It's about as much work and stress as using Upwork, and you don't have a misanthropic middleman taking their cut.
I think there is a real market opportunity for a startup that can provide a way to connect businesses who need short-term or specific project work (i.e. they don't want employees) with freelancers who want to work in that mode while (and this is important) avoiding the creepiness and flaky nature of UpWork. Conversely, it would also need to avoid being too similar to having the middleman as an employer.
I probably know 50 people who would jump on a platform that hit this sweet spot in a heartbeat.
I've been using Codementor for the last year or so and been very happy with them. For the past year I've worked for a US client and since a few weeks I work for an Australian client.
Why I like Codementor:
- The payments are done on time and they don't extract some platform fee as far as I know for the freelance jobs. Or it's invisible to me (perhaps more likely). What I ask per hour is what I get.
- There seems to be a decent amount of jobs available every month and not too many people respond to the same job as me at the same time. So there's a good chance that if I respond the job, I at least will be invited for a video call with the potential client.
- The rates on the platform seem decent (they advise setting somewhere between 40 - 80 USD, no race to the bottom imo). I'm based in Thailand, so these are rather nice rates for living here - I can save /a lot/ of money every month. My costs of living is currently around 1700 USD per month, everything above I can safe.
- I don't have to install software on my computer that spies on me to make sure I put in the proper amount of hours. And I actually tend to work more hours than I bill my clients, but I don't need software to keep me in check.
I have 9 years experience, and if I were to to go into freelancing (The kind where you solve problems for businesses, as opposed to the kind where you're a 9-5 1099 contractor), the first thing I would do is to take a job at a consulting firm, and spend my time there learning. Figure out what works, and what really, really doesn't.
That job is probably going to suck, but you'll have a much better idea of what to do, what your customers really hate about working with big firms, and your resume will look much better, when you can put down "I did the thing I want you to hire me for, in a consulting firm, for 18 months, I know how this works, and I can do it better."
Working as a consultant will also let you build a network that you can use when you want to go independent. Obviously you have to be careful not to poach from your old company, but often there are side projects and jobs too small for a large consultancy that are a good fit for an independent contractor.
When I was a consultant I considered it a slight failure if I didn't get a job offer from the client at the conclusion of each engagement. I never took any of them up on it, but if I'd been in the market it would have been a hell of a way to basically get paid for an extended job interview... and lots of people I know who decided to get out of consulting went over to the client side. That's a pretty standard path, really.
I have to disagree.
I've worked for several tech consulting firms(8 years of experience) and then started my own consulting company 2 years ago. And in my running a successful consulting firm involves 3 key skills(in order of importance).
Sales - This is definitely the hardest and most important skill. And unfortunately is also the skill developers usually have the least experience in. This involves finding leads and closing deals. This will take a long time to do and is emotionally very rough for most developers.
Customer/Relationship Skills - If you're already a nice a polite person who doesn't mind eating the occasional shit sandwich this mostly involves repeatedly learning the lesson that however important you think communication it's more important you think.
Execution - This is mostly involves a combination of being able to correctly identify requirements and technical execution skills. Most developers usually have plenty of experience hear.
The experience most developers lack is sales. And most consulting shops won't put you anywhere near a sales or account management role unless you have previous sales experience or have spent significant time at the company. A much faster route to learn these skills is to just start a company and start doing them. (while reading a bunch of books and talking to anyone you can who has relevant experience)
How do you think a fresh-out-of-college junior with less than a year of experience going to be at execution?
Knowing nothing but that, I'm going to take a statistical guess, and say: "Probably not great." I'm going to make another statistical guess, and say: "They probably don't even know what they don't know."
Also, joining someplace that's not consultancy-focused (like Google or Facebook) isn't necessarilly going to help with building relevant experience.
Yes, you're going to learn a lot about how to move protobufs around from one distributed system to another, and how to do on-call, and how to work in the cloud.
No, this is not the most useful set of skills to have, when the insurance broker down the street wants to pay you $XYZW to build them a custom SalesForce widget.
> Also, joining someplace that's not consultancy-focused (like Google or Facebook) isn't necessarilly going to help with building relevant experience.
It's soo much more important to have worked for one of these companies. If you have Google on your resume it will work magic. Clients love that. It'll help with leads, it will help with negotiation, and it will help close deals.
Honestly the two things I wish I'd done before I started my company was work for amagoobooksoft and put in some time at a sales job.(cold calling or some type of lead gen)
There's no way I would have known where to begin if I had just set out on my own.
If you have a relevant degree, why not to apply for a remote job position instead? That would help to build your CV, and allow to switch to contracting later on.
Angel list might be a place to find remote AND newbie friendly jobs.
I started trying to freelance online, with little success. When I mentioned to a dentist that I was freelancing he asked me to fix his old website. A small store owned by a friend asked me to make a website. Later the dentist asked me if I had cards to give to a friend.
About 75% of my business since then has been word-of-mouth. The rest has been me contacting local businesses that don't have websites. Business cards and flyers are supper cheap.
That being said, after three years, I'm only now starting to feel comfortable. There were very long dry spells, in between short periods of intense business, and word-of-mouth takes a very, very long time to operate (hence me reaching out to businesses without websites). I had to depend on my wife financially for stretches. I've also had to learn design, which is a much different skill-set to programming and has been very difficult. The main reason I went down the freelance path is because in my last salaried job, my boss developed substance abuse issues and unpredictable behaviours, which lead me to having a burnout. It's been hard but it's gradually starting to pay off. For all the difficulties, it is much more rewarding than watching all the value I generate go to some guy with a business degree who got through college doing elementary algebra.
Anyway, that was a fun rant, hope it was helpful to someone.
However, the surveillance just seems like an absurd waste of resources. The author quotes $400 for the job, why does it matter how many hours it takes them? If you think $400 is too much, then bid on the project.
Out of >30 contracts I had, only 1 resulted in a dispute, and it was decided in my favor.
I do agree the whole monitoring thing is absurd and I generally don't take jobs from clients that demand hours to be logged through the monitoring app.
If you want to see how the jungle looks like, please have a go at freelancer.com.
I once had a client who, at the negotiation of the contract, wanted me to work from an "office" (an in-laws quarters) for a specific set of hours each week. His desire for that was because he wanted to make sure he was getting his money's worth; that if I said I was charging him for 10 hours, I was spending 10 hours on the task.
I told him that, along with other stipulations, would qualify me as an employee. He and his fiance/business partner insisted it didn't. That was troubling because his fiance was a lawyer.
I declined to take the project.
Isn’t like 9/10 jobs there require you to use the monitoring?
I think you might be extrapolating from a single bad data point (never a good idea, especially for a data scientist) and reaching an incorrect conclusion about the Upwork ecosystem.
I’ve seen a lot of really shit job postings on Upwork & similar freelancing platforms that confirm the person posting the job has no idea of what they’re doing.
Somewhat less nontechnical me knows better now, but if I didn't have any idea how to hire still, there's a good chance I would be one of those bad buyers.
The author is right in saying that UpWork only guarantees payment when time tracking using their app. Where he is mistaken though is where he says that the app requires camera to be on at all times. There is such an option but personally I'd never go for a project like this. And yes, the app will take the screenshot of the stuff you are working on.
I don't get why author's customer would launch a dispute over not completing a 10 minute survey. Given that it was an hourly project I bet there were issues with communication and perhaps the author should have double checked with the client before closing the job.
UpWork is far from being flawless but for me it has been working quite ok.
In my mind, the screenshot every 10 minutes is no more invasive than sitting next to a colleague in an office and if you want to do something private, simply pause the timer and do it on your own time. Upwork is a pretty great site if you're a freelancer.
... so they don't have to pay for the work?
It is an imperfect system in an environment rife with problems from both employers and works attempting to cheat their way through. Now they are a public company now and have an incentive to squeeze fees from all ends. For that reason, I rarely hire new workers from upwork any more.
Workers or clients who get screwed on the first job will never come back and they will tell everyone else not to use it. In the long run that will add up.
Any company with dubious ethics could easily manipulate the data (collection) to match their intentions.
Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
And now, from the convenience of your home...
Very well vetted devs, excellent platform and framework for managing them, and human customer service at (currently underpriced IMO) $55/hr.
The two apps I’ve used Turtle for:
- React site for my business
- Ongoing Node integration work at about 10/hr per week.
(1) Great talent, (2) great customers, and (3) an easy to follow process (platform) are critical for making freelancing work. UpWork typically misses at least 2/3.
Also reach out to your network... I belong to several slack nodes that have channels just for contracts and leads are dropped in there pretty regularly.
It's hard for any "we focus on everything" platform to get the specific needs of each vertical (customer + talent side) right. It's why TaskRabbit (focus on everything) never reached the scale of Uber/Lyft (press a button, get a ride).
I'm not deep in the Data Science world, but hopefully there's a platform focused on vetting customers + freelancers and providing a platform for working together easily, fairly, transparently (without the creepiness). Platforms should also decide what kind of work is fine to outsource. Long-term/strategic work the company has to live with for many years (i.e. a core prediction model or fundamental backend arch) shouldn't be outsourced. People who will see the benefits of their work in 5+ years should be the ones working on stuff that'll benefit the company in 5+ years.
I appreciate the mention of Turtle (https://www.turtle.dev/) in this thread already (I'm one of the founders).
For freelancers, Turtle:
- Makes sure customers are vetted (just as freelancers are).
- Pays for all hours billed (even if customers don't pay). Freelancers are trusted to enter all hours manually. No creepy screenshots.
- Provides an easy-to-use platform for task management, chat, video, payments.
We're specifically focused on React, React Native, iOS, and Android dev now. Front-end/mobile is easier to compartmentalize. I'm not sure if that's possible for many forms of data science.
Part-time work is an important part of our economy and will become more important as the world further globalizes (ex: "Remote" now being a hot topic) -- but the infrastructure is seriously lacking. UpWork is a sloppy solution attempt.
I encourage freelancers, customers, and platforms to be honest about what should and shouldn't be outsourced, to make sure there's quality on both sides (great freelancers and shit customers fail), and to make sure there's an easy process to follow (great freelancers, customers, with shit process still fail).
I hope you will consider branching out beyond those particular technologies. For example, I'm a Node dev who has done Angular and React before but would probably rather use Vue on the front end (if it's appropriate) these days. Also have a fair bit of Linux experience which might be an important skill (as well as C++ and many other technologies from 20+ years). And I am thinking I might focus more on AI by learning to use some of the high level APIs out there. I assume there is demand for that type of thing.
I guess one of the main difficult things about branching out beyond React etc. is, how can you necessarily do a weekly demo for something that really isn't visual or interactive or may not have a short term deliverable? I think the simplest answer is just some type of screen share or short video that shows the raw progress, for example just a run-through of data cleanup scripts highlighting some of the data issues being resolved.
We will absolutely branch out, but not sure on timing or specific skillsets.
Fixing what companies (Startups) and freelancers (React, React native, iOS, Android) are on Turtle lets us focus on our platform.
We believe the infrastructure is the biggest missing element in making remote, part-time work successful. Something as simple as how fast or reliably a chat message gets delivered becomes important in asynchronous work. Chat, tasks, meetings, payments, and vetting processes are the core elements of our platform today and these feel critical to any vertical. The vetting processes and meeting templates are the only unique pieces to each vertical.
Since most of our customers are technical, the non-visual demo is not a concern. We are more concerned with distracting ourselves away form focusing on the platform or outsourcing things that shouldn't be outsourced (ex: strategic, long-term impact decisions should not be outsourced. Co-founders should never be outsourced).
I’ve used Upwork and had good success, but also there have been bad actors. It’s up to the person hiring to do research before they hire, and cut ties by firing if they don’t work out, like pretty much any other workplace. Maybe the vetting process could be better, but Upwork is the best contract to hire marketplace for a variety of work, IMO.
I mention what I think is necessary for a platform in any vertical to work. We just happen to already be doing it for our vertical.
> how is it really a race to the bottom?
- Just about everyone has a 4.5+ star review, so the cheapest 4.5+ star review looks objectively better to a Co trying to cut costs. Just like any review system, it can be gamed.
- Customers get preferential treatment. That's not a fair two-sided marketplace -- that's a race to the bottom, for whoever keeps the customers happy, including the bad ones.
- Look at average salaries/hourly fees for different fields and look at UpWork. That should be the clearest "race to the bottom" evidence.
> Maybe the vetting process could be better, but Upwork is the best contract to hire marketplace for a variety of work, IMO.
They're the biggest. That's about it. Read OP's write-up, ask other freelancers, ask other customers. UpWork is a lame excuse for what part-time, remote work has the potential to become in the economy.
Re: it being an imbalanced marketplace in favor of customers, I guess you’d also say the same about eBay?
I understand your motive is driven to compete with Upwork, but it’s the most built-out and legitimate platform out there, and given their size, I trust them over some smaller operation.
P.S.: I read the OP’s naive writeup. He didn’t follow the platform rules and was surprised that it went against him. Shocking. $400 is a lesson to do more research next time.
I would say the same about eBay. Would you rather bet on eBay or Amazon today?
> given their size, I trust them over some smaller operation
Fair enough, but "trust the biggest fish" is a dangerous assumption.
> P.S.: I read the OP’s naive writeup. He didn’t follow the platform rules and was surprised that it went against him. Shocking. $400 is a lesson to do more research next time.
Maybe the platform rules suck?
Any self-respecting professional would think the random screenshots thing is creepy. If talent is vetted and to be trusted, the screenshots/camera thing should be unnecessary.
The title is "Why data scientists should never use Upwork"
And how can I, the person being filmed, verify that?
Isn't this site for nerds?
I think the way to know that your camera is on is to look at the little LED next to your camera and hoping UpWork didn't find a way around it.
What you have to do is churn a bunch of jobs/contractors until you get the one that really pays off. Don't let the hassles get to you, just keep turning the crank.
—-just a joke, I have nothing against them
I know how bad upwork is and when we hired we genuinely always set out to get the contractors we worked with off using it so they can keep more money.
> I completed the survey which was asking me workplace situational questions testing my unconscious biases and then quickly rejected the dispute.
This sounds like the "consulting company" was someone running a scientific experiment to see who is willing to create racist/ageist/otherwise unethical models.
1) Build a network - go to product meetups (assuming you're a dev)
2) Contact agencies near you and see if they have contract projects you can hop on
3) Use other sites - Toptal, Freelancer, Remote, Gigster, etc.
It did make me nervous having so much of my income tied to Upwork and there were a few things that seemed like minor red flags, but I didn't have any awful experiences with them.
Someone with a few years of experience probably has better avenues to look at for work but it could be a good option if you're looking to get experience and build out a freelance network.
Your best best is to take matters in your own hands, and proactively email people you know you can help with your services. This way, there's no intermediary controlling your relationship with your client and you don't have to play the waiting game either (waiting for referrals or networking to pay off, waiting for people to find your website, etc.)
This may seem hard at first glance but let's the take the example of data science work. You can reach out to startups who recently raised a sizable investment round (sign they have the budget and bigger growth goals) and share a few interesting ways you can help them uncover user behavior patterns that would them hit their next milestones.
Data scientist doesn't read agreement.
Compare this to the Upwork App's description https://support.upwork.com/hc/en-us/articles/211064098-Log-T... .
It seems pretty reasonable. By default, it snaps a picture every 10 minutes. If you do not want to upload a snapshot, it removes the 10 minutes from your recorded hours. It captures info about how often you used keystrokes and clicked, but not what you typed or clicked.
The benefit of using the app is instant approval and payment.
On my reading, it looks like the author failed to take a 10 minute survey in 3 days, losing his work hours. That seems like a pretty reasonable ask that he failed on.
* They record your screen
* Your screen contains data