Human Data Collection Companies have popped up all over in recent years. A lot of interesting things have happened over the last five years when you take a look at the three big companies that offer work at home opportunities with jobs in social media evaluation. Those big three companies are of course Appen Global, Leapforce, and Lionbridge.
To get a good idea of the geographical presence of these three Human Data Collection Companies you need to look no further than Google trends as far as interest over time along with the search different search terms.
The confusing part of how and when Raterlabs came into play leaving many people wondering if they were the same company as Leapforce. The website looked the same except the logo was changed, and this time when someone went to apply for the search engine rater job, you were redirected to the Raterlabs website. This also had people wondering if the two companies were the same or not.At one point, one of the clients for RaterLabs decided to only work with companies that hire raters as employees and not independent contractors. It’s not known who this is exactly, but considering what happened with the legal situation with Leapforce and Google, it was quite obviously the search engine giant Google. In order for LeapForce to keep their client they created the company RaterLabs and hired people as actual employees, but this is only for the USA.
This brings up two things. You might remember that Leapforce was recently acquired by Appen Global, both of which are Human Data Collection Companies, and that there was a situation in where there was confusion on whether independent contractors were considered full-time employees of Google if they were simply independent contractors. One of the biggest mysteries for raters at Leapforce is who they actually work for. After all, paychecks come from Leapforce, but their work all seems to take place via Google’s Raterhub service. Despite all this stuff going on, the press release that Appen was going to acquire Leapforce came out on November 29th, 2017.
From the Google trends charts, you can see a steady rise in interest for Appen Global while the other two companies Leapforce and Lionbridge took a sharp decline. Leapforce as a company still exists, but all hiring is done by Appen Global now since the acquisition. The main reason for this is because it’s easier to simply acquire a company and use their already hired staff. In this way Appen is able to completely control the company and while at the same time, grow much bigger. And while it sounds like company growth would be a good thing for everyone involved, it’s not. As Appen becomes bigger, it can hire more people and pay them less money, which is what is currently happening. The pay rate at Appen has decreased for raters, and because they have so many people internally from their ‘crowdsourcing’ pool, it’s harder to apply and get a job for this position. By the way, Lionbridge also has changed the way they do business in USA (Google rating project) and also made it is raters as part time employees. With this in mind, we wonder why, Appen continues hiring raters as independent contractors for the same project (Inca also known as Yukon) for less pay at $9.00 per hour as opposed to $12.50 per hour at Raterlabs simply because they haven’t had any legal cases so far and they tend to hire people in states with minimum payments rates at the $9.00 per hour rating. This comes even as most states in the USA have a minimum pay rate of $10 per hour and some states even signed a law to increase the min. wage to $15 an hour. It’s almost a guarantee that if you live in these states, you will not likely be hired when they can pay cheaper wages in another state.
Update:Project Inca at Appen, Part-Time team members
On July 1, 2018, independent contractors will move from Appen to RaterLabs. RaterLabs is a separate legal entity owned and operated by Appen. The contractors will become part-time employees amd most likely their hourly rate will be increased. This decision most likely is forced by the customer (Google) and US legislation.
However, it is worthwhile to mention that Leapforce had its own problems in the past when it came to pay as they claimed you would be making a certain amount of money per hour, but that wasn’t accurate. You were actually paid for the time it should have taken you to do the work rather than how long it actually took you to do the work. In other words, they calculate how long they think each task will take you, and pay you for each task no matter how long it took. Work wasn’t consistent enough to make the hourly pay rate either. And the biggest thing, of course, is that training that takes a long time and you’re not paid for it.
This is something that Appen hasn’t changed either. They’ve basically adopted the system which Leapforce uses, but instead, they pay far less than Leaforce did or even as Lionbridge pay. Speaking of Lionbridge, we’ve been talking about Appen and Leapforce. But what about Lionbridge? Still the same thing…this is another player in the Human Data Collection Companies arena.
If you look at the 5-year chart on Google trends and compare the three companies together, you can see that Lionbridge has just barely managed to stay above the interest level of Leapforce which of course is old news now because of Appen. At the same time, you can see that interest skyrocketed for Appen in January right after it acquired Leapforce. It was the big story at the time, and people that didn’t know about Appen finally found out about them and the work at home jobs they offered.
However, it might be worth mentioning that Lionbridge is probably still the best place to work for when it comes to being a search engine rater. They are known to have a higher pay rate that Appen offers the same job. There are however a couple things that seem to be problems still and that is the 20-24 hourly cap they have for each week, and the fact that there appear to be full-time jobs but part-time employees have no idea how to get into these jobs. With that said, these have been issues for quite some time. Otherwise, Lionbridge is more stable and more rater oriented than Appen which offers a ton of different jobs and doesn’t focus on search engine raters. That is just what you would logically experience from such a big company whose main goal is to increase their client list while utilizing their crowdsourcing at low pay rates.
If you were looking at these companies from a market share perspective, anyone knows that Appen is taking a huge share of the market when it comes to data gathering, translation services, and human-annotated datasets for machine learning and artificial intelligence. But Appen seems to be getting too big for its own good and the bottom line is that the people who work for this company are the ones who miss out on the benefits. Appen seems to also be getting a lot of negative reviews lately and even some people are calling them a ‘scam’ company. Leapforce, since it was acquired, will likely end up being broken down and dismantled and ‘enveloped’ if you will, as more time passes. By the way process has already started as we got confirmation from lots of markets regarding decrease in payment rates in Yukon project at Leapforce. As you may remember we predicted this when Appen acquired Leapforce.
The future for Lionbridge lies in its ability to separate itself by doing things that Appen doesn’t do. If this company is going to survive, they should make a few changes, such as hiring full time employees with benefits, pay for the long training that one needs to go through as a search engine evaluator, and make the pay competitive enough so that people will want to work there instead of the big competition, who doesn’t really have much to offer in the terms of well-payed employment.
We just might get lucky and see Lionbridge make these changes in the future.
Have you had experience with Appen, Leapforce, or Lionbridge? Let me know in the comments and as always, if you have a question, let me know and I’ll answer as soon as possible.
MACHINE LEARNING, HUMAN BIAS AND HUMAN RATERS