How to Work while Traveling Abroad and Do Not Violate Vendors’ Conditions? 

 v-20_c-1_b-4_g-m_9-1_1-3_16-1_3-6_8-1_7-1_5-1_12-3_6-35_10-1_2-18_22-1_15-4_4-1Public networks and foreign IP addresses

When you are working as a rater, you understand that you have to use your computer, and that the IP address, which is the numerical address that your internet service provider gives you, must belong to project locale, it means that you cannot work from abroad. Companies like Leapforce, Appen and Lionbridge do record your IP address. The main reason they do this is for security. The job is considered ‘work at home’ and that is where they want you to be when you are connected to their system and doing ratings. Let’s say that one day you decided to leave home with your laptop and go to a McDonalds or coffee shop with Wi-Fi and connect to dashboard for any one of those companies. Their servers can detect when your IP address has changed and that your IP belongs to a public network and will flag your account and you could lose access. We don’t need to go over how insecure Wi-Fi really is, especially in a public place. This puts their information and servers at risk and this is why they want you at home on a secured connection. If you’re on your laptop at home, you’re still behind your IP address, so they aren’t going to detect this. They will however detect when you go to a friend’s house, or library, etc.  

So you see, this really is a work at home job that doesn’t give you any flexibility at all. And it’s very important that you maintain the integrity of their security systems or you could very well find yourself suddenly terminated. It’s easy enough to lose a rating job for no good reason, and so it’s a good idea to not break the rules when it comes to their security.  

There is, however, a way that you can work remotely and securely from anywhere. You might be asking how that’s possible with everything we just talked about. But there is a way that you can control your computer remotely.  

Working from abroad via TeamViewer

Many of you are probably aware of the software TeamViewer which allows you to connect to any computer remotely, and then take control overt that computer as you normally would if you were sitting in front of it. TeamViewer is not something that is hard to setup and get going. There are just a couple of steps you want to take to make sure its setup correctly. Simply download the installation file from TeamViewer and install it. You are going to want to select the option: Installation to access this computer remotely. You’re just going to set it up for Personal/Non-commercial use. Don’t select the Company/Commercial use unless you want to pay for it and have extra features which you do not need for this setup, nor do you need for your job as a rater. In fact, you also want to install TeamViewer the same way on the laptop computer that you will use remotely. You need to make sure you are setting up unattended access for the desktop computer that you normally use to work. The installation is pretty straight forward and you just need to set a name and password to access the desktop or main computer you will work from. You probably want to access the device quickly and that is as simple as adding the computer to your list of computers and contacts.  

Once you have TeamViewer setup on both computers, it’s the perfect time to test everything and make sure that it’s all working. You don’t want to get remote and then find out it’s not working for some reason or another. There are many things to consider when checking everything out. If you have some problem with connecting, then the first place to check is your anti-virus. Make sure that if the anti-virus you use has the option to allow the TeamViewer program through its firewall.  

What about the smartphone thing?

At this point many of you are probably wondering about the smartphone thing. Some tasks are done using your smartphone at home, and some on your main work computer. But there is also a solution for this, and you can run an Android emulator right from your desktop.  

Lately there has been a need for Android emulators for PC’s, and mostly the need has come on from gamers. However, there are many good Android emulators out there for the PC and the Mac. For your smartphone tasks you just need something that is going to do the job, and most of these will work fine.  

The mainstream emulator is Bluestacks and has been around for quite some time and it looks as though it probably has the most active development team. The newest version is Bluestacks 4 and seems to work pretty good for many applications and will likely work for what you need.  

MeMu is another decent emulator that has a lot of good functions and works well with just about everything. Additionally, it supports Android Jelly Bean, Kit Kat, and Lollipop. That’s important working with some applications that Appen uses because their requirements are a smartphone running Lollipop. The nice thing about MeMu is you can run several instances of the program at once in case you are working on two different projects which can come in handy.  

In our experience, Nox is also another Android Emulator that works well and has good features. The nice thing is that this emulator is really forgiving on system resources which for slower computers might be an advantage. There are other Android emulators and there are plenty out there for Mac that run well. Nox is free and works just as good on a Mac as it does on a PC.  

Of course, you want to make sure to test out your system and make sure that everything is working. There is only one drawback to this system and that is when you want to work remotely, you need to leave your main computer on. You do not need the monitor on, and it can go to sleep. But this also brings up another problem, and if someone uses your computer, or turns it off, then that could be a problem. So if you live with your family, then you might want to make sure they understand your computer is off-limits. 

If you have any questions or suggestions on this topic, feel free to leave a comment bellow.

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Lionbridge Ads Rating Project Massive Timesheet Disapproval: on Purpose or Unprofessional Approach? 

Ads Rating Project massive timesheet disapproval: on purpose or unprofessional approach? 

It appears that lately there are a lot of problems with the Lionbridge payment systems and it’s not actually a new thing. According to comments of my readers and discussions on https://www.reddit.com/r/WorkOnline/comments/9b0n2n/lionbridge_scammers/ , it the problem started to happen in May-June 2018. It just seems that now it’s becoming worse and there are more and more raters complaining that the time sheets that are being submitted are being returned. Lionbridge is asking people to carve a lot of hours from their time sheets and it’s obvious that there is a big problem somewhere, but the company isn’t acknowledging that there is an issue, or perhaps they are just doing this to save themselves a lot of money and get away with it. And the raters who are affected by this Lionbridge payment problem aren’t being asked to take an hour or two off, in fact, in some cases, people have been asked to cut 30-40 hours from their time sheets, some of them are asked to remove all hours from July timesheet. This is huge and it’s a lot of money for someone. In fact, it appears that it’s happening to a lot of people as one rater who has been working for the company says that he has 6 friends who all got the same notifications. In one case, one of our readers PrestigiousExplorer says that after working one year for Lionbridge the same thing has now happened to him and the company wants him to deduct 68 hours!  

The problem on their ends appears to be that the hours that are being submitted don’t match their data. What it means is that the amount of tasks completed isn’t matching up with what your submitted amount is. But here’s the thing; if suddenly the Lionbridge payment department starts seeing a lot of discrepancies in time sheets and the data that they have, shouldn’t they realize that there is a problem somewhere? Now suddenly here you have a bunch of people being asked to shave a lot of hours off their time sheets, and even people who have been working for the company for a long time and then suddenly are having issues. It seems that Lionbridge doesn’t care about any of this and are sticking to their guns and won’t budge on time sheets.  

The big question is does no one at Lionbridge see this as a problem? Or is there something else going on?  

As you may know raterhub automatically records the time and the number of tasks completed by each rater on the platform. It is very unlikely that the problem takes place there, however many long-term raters remember that raterhub used to have built-in task counter which was very helpful in terms of recording completed tasks, but for some reason this useful tool was removed from the raterhub functionality.

More than likely this is some kind of problem some database issue, it looks like the Lionbridge system is just an Excel spreadsheet which corresponds with data from raterhub (time recorded/the number of tasks completed) with their internal timesheet database and the problem is likely there. Many raters worked lots of hours in July and got an email with 0 hours/0 tasks recorded by the system. Lionbridge seems to be very unprofessional in the handling of this problem. It undermines the project and the company’s reputation.  

But the fact that no one has caught the problem or made any statement about it since it started happening in July leads one to believe in some kind of conspiracy here. Some people are calling Lionbridge scammers because of what is going on. If you’re suddenly asking a lot of raters to cut hours off their paychecks, there’s an obvious problem somewhere.

It does appear the company had the same kind of problem in May in which they sent out incorrect data. It’s quite possible that this is the same issue, but instead of trying to figure out what is going on, it looks like the raters are getting the short end of the deal.

A company can’t just suddenly take away your pay when you put in the hours and did the required tasks to the best of your ability and as per your contract. There are some laws that protect freelancers and independent contractors, and if you are doing the work, then you should be paid. But for freelancers and independent contractors, your options are limited depending on what country you live in.  

Real timesheet correction required due to low productivity vs. Lionbridge error 

In some case raters might be asked to correct heir timesheet due to low productivity and it is OK, keep in mind that your average productivity per a week should be 2 minutes/per tasks.  

In this project, most of the tasks do not have any recommended time limits. Raters have to manage their own productivity and their own time. The customer does not indicate average estimated time because the priority is quality in rating the tasks rather than productivity, or how many tasks you rate. Raters have to keep in mind that the productivity and time invoiced should be within reasonable metrics. It is OK to spend more time in the beginning and increase your productivity when becoming a more experienced rater. 

Appen and Lionbridge have productivity metrics called RPH. It is assumed these metrics are based on the average raters’ performance in the project which is calculated as the ratio between the number of tasks and the time spent within an invoice period completed by all raters. In my view this metric is not useful, because in many cases raters get different types of tasks which require a different amount of time to complete, therefore the RPH matric is not accurate at all. This can lead to a situation where if your productivity doesn’t fall within their RGP metrics, your invoice will be returned for correction and they will ask you to align your RHP to average even though you spent a reasonable amount of time for completing more time-consuming tasks. The customer understands this issue. That is why they do not indicate the average estimated time. But it would seem that Appen and Lionbridge have again invented their own metrics to pay less to its raters. 

What raters can do in this situation?  

  1. To calculate the number of tasks completed weekly and entered into time sheet vs. Lionbridge records, if you have a huge discrepancy (like most of raters have) this is a clear indication of wrong data sent by Lionbridge. 
  2. Send an email to Lionbridge explaining the discrepancies.  
  3. Additionally I recommend sending an email directly to the Ads rating project admin (Google Ads Eval: ads_eval@google.com) to make them aware that this is some kind of issue that really needs to be resolved. 
  4. Do not correct time if you clearly identified discrepancies until lionbridge responds to your email and provides you with correct data 

 Perhaps if the right people receive a large response on the issue, someone will take a look and fix the problem. But as of right now things aren’t looking too good. For those of you who have lost wages, hang in there and hopefully, someone will get this straightened out.  

If you have questions or comments then leave them below.  

Bing Search Engine Rating Projects vs Google

Bing Search Engine Rating Projects vs Google

экрана 2018-08-25 в 14.23.09When getting into jobs as a search engine evaluator, you will find that one company will produce ratings for one search engine, such as Google, while another company will offer jobs as a rater in Bing which is Microsoft’s Search Engine. Like Google, Microsoft also needs research and pages rated just like Google.

As far as the job is concerned, it is basically the same job except you are rating results in different search engines that turn up different results. The pay generally varies depending what company you work for with some reporting earnings in the $12 to $15 dollar per hour range.

Some of these jobs are changing and they are being called different things such as ‘internet analyst’ which puts a twist on the tasks you are given. Previously when working as a search engine rater, you were given results that were based on generic search results. However, as time went by, Google started asking raters for permission to use their personal data. Basically, if you were surfing for stereo’s or smartphones, and you started doing this job, you’d get back results based on your surfing habits as linked to your Gmail address that you use.

The job that Raterlabs offers is a Google Search Engine and Google Playstore project where the raters are now called ‘Internet Analyst’ where the tasks you get are based solely on your personal Google use. It’s a part-time position that currently looks to be for the USA region only, but this does change from time to time. The requirements and skills to get this job are nothing that most people don’t already have if they are good at searching or surfing the internet. With this job they want raters to possess a computer with high speed internet, and also an Android phone with version 4.1 or higher, or an iPhone version 4 or higher. The job most likely involves doing ratings on both the computer and the smartphone. Sometimes tasks are available on only one device or the other. So it’s good to have them both because you will likely get smartphone tasks. It is also noted that in the description that they want raters who use Google Play often. There is a possibility that tasks involving Google Play will be available. This job’s testing and qualification is no different from the previous exams for search engine related jobs. There are three parts to the exam leading us to believe it’s the same exact material for the regular rater. The job is basically the same after all, the only difference is now its personalized to you. It is not known what the pay is for this job as that information is confidential and you sign a non-disclosure agreement about not discussing your pay. But it’s likely in the $12 dollar per hour range if its Raterlabs.

Appen Global also offers this type of position even though they also own Leapforce and likely are using them as a source of experience and also taking advantage of the workers who were already employed by Leapforce along with their experience. Appen calls their position Web Search Evaluator which likely has the same test. It is unknown if Appen supplies raters for both Google and Bing but it’s possible that they do both. All the requirements and testing are the same for Appen since they are providing raters for Googles Search Engine. But it is rumored that the pay for this position is much lower than you would get if you worked at Lionbridge or Raterlabs. This is because Appen is a much larger company with a much larger talent pool to take people from. This allows them to pay much lower wages. So in this case it’s actually better to get these types of jobs at other companies like Leapforce/Raterlabs, and Lionbridge. It’s interesting to hear that Appen is doing some interviews from Skype now.

Speaking of Lionbridge, we are getting to them next. This company seems to have a good reputation for paying people better than the other companies for the same type of job. They also offer opportunities for the Search Engine Rater but they likely offer rating jobs for both Google and Bing. Microsoft does use Lionbridge to hire human search evaluators, but Microsoft calls you ‘judges’ instead of raters. Lionbridge was known to pay raters $14 an hour for these positions although that wage has probably fluctuated over time.

You’re probably wondering what the difference is in rating for Google or the Bing search engine. Bing has a project called Human Relevance System or HRS and it’s the system that they use to have human raters judge search results with. The HRS project is similar to the Quality Rater program that Google employs. However, it’s interesting to know that Microsoft’s version has been around since 2004 since MSN Search began generating its own results.

Not much has been written about Miscrosoft’s HRS project, but leaked copies of the guidelines are floating around that go over the process of rating or ‘judging’ websites. The difference between Googles rating guidelines and the HRS is that HRS uses what is called a rating matrix. This matrix combines the searcher intent with how well the returned document satisfies the searchers intent.

 

You can see the five rating options that judges can use from perfect to bad. This is the absolute heart of how you would rate returned search results. This might actually be a little easier to understand for some raters by judging just the intent and how well the intent is satisfied.

But there is one other aspect of the HRS system and the guidelines go over it in a pretty detailed manner. This is called Freshness and basically you will look at the content to see how up to date it is. Some information can be relevant but be a couple years old when some things have changed and the information isn’t updated or fresh enough to contain those changes. The Freshness system is based on three categories; Fresh Not Important, Very Likely Fresh, and Most Likely Fresh. The Fresh Not Important will be for things where the facts will never change no matter how fresh the article or the page is, while the other two will be based on the articles ability to receive fresh content.

When it comes to the difference between Google and Bing as far as their rating systems, they aren’t really all that different from each other. But if you will be working as a search engine rater, and you are looking for stable tasks, you might want to try and get Google search rating jobs since there is more volume when it comes to this search engine over Bing. Still, both jobs are decent, but it really depends on who you are employed by. Appen seems to be one of those companies that will pay people as little money as possible to make more money themselves. This was their whole point of buying Leaforce; to squeeze out the competition. So this company will pay less. Lionbridge or Raterlabs will be the places to try and get these jobs.

When it comes down to Bing, it’s not a very big project in terms of the number of raters who are hired for this as compared to the raters that are hired for Google. That shouldn’t be a big surprise because we all know that Google has a much higher search volume and a lot more users. The judging platform for HRS is a bit outdated, not convenient to use, and it only works on Internet Explorer of course. Also, the test has a part in where you have to judge the search results for relevance of around 100 items and they give you very little time to do this. Many candidates often fail the test and are unable to pass the exam.

iSoftstone is another vendor and is regarded as the main vendor for Microsoft Bing. They also have the 3 test qualification and that test seems to be the same no matter who you apply for. The first test goes over the guidelines, the second test is an English Grammar test, and the third exam tests your computer and internet skills. All work is done in the HRS platform and you have to complete a qualification for each task. There is a guideline for each one of the tasks, but you don’t need to worry because everything is explained in videos and emails. Tasks are categorized as hits or pages and for each hit or webpage that is shown you get 0.01 penny to 0.20 cents US. If you do tasks/hits quickly, then you can make easily $10-$15 dollars US per hour, and some people even more. You might be tempted to go through some of the tasks as quickly as possible because the more you complete, the more money you obviously make. However, sometimes during these tasks you are sometimes tested so you have to be very careful. Too many mistakes and they will remove you from the project and you won’t receive any more hits. ISoftstone is a bit easier to work for in that they don’t have a huge amount of work compared to Leapforce/Raterlabs.

Basically, what this whole thing boils down to is the individual. Some people might like working for Bing because the workload is lower, but you’re going to make less money because of this. If you need more stable work and higher than average work, then working on a project that involves Google will probably be a better alternative.

Do you work for any of these companies? We would like it if you shared your experience here in the comments. And as always, if you have any questions, let me know by email or in the comments and I will answer them as soon as possible.

iSoftStone and Appen Butler Hill: search engine evalution service for Microsoft Bing

 

 

Falcon Megataxon

Text-AnalyticsAppen Global usually has a lot of new and different projects, and a new project has recently come out called Megataxon which is an ad review job. This is an interesting project because most of the Falcon projects usually are rating social network stuff like actual videos from pages or the actual content on Facebook or Instagram. This project focuses on the types of ads that you would see on Facebook. The objective on the project is to decide if the core purpose of the ad is presenting a product, service, or advertising content such as getting you to go to a Facebook page and subscribing to that pages feed. Once you understand what the ad is about, you categorize the ad by using a tool that is specially designed by and for Facebook.

Along with the tool, you get the project's guidelines that go over all the categories, and it does a very good job of explaining the categories and how you should categorize them.

As previously mentioned, the object of the job is to categorize ads as you see them, and you are asked to spend no more than 60 seconds on each ad. This is likely due to the sheer volume of ads that are currently cycling on Facebook. However, there is no minimum view time to apply the tags. With that said, if you are on this project it might take some time to get used to deciding what ad should be categorized where, but after time it is likely that you will pick up speed. It should be noted, however, that if you rush through the ads and categorize them wrong, you could be taken off the project. Once again, they want you to spend no more than 1 minute on each ad with no minimum view time, but you also shouldn’t spend more than a few minutes on each ad. Doing this will surely get the attention of a project manager asking you if there is a problem.

For each ad there are basically 3 steps to putting each one in the proper category. For the first step, you have to choose the core purpose of the ad and decide if it presents a product, a service, or content.

There are times when you can automatically skip the ad if you run into errors, the ad won’t load, the ad is not in the target language for your region, for example the ad is not in English, or there are other issues where you immediately see that the ad is illegal, offensive, or needs to be immediately escalated such as in a case of child exploitation, child nudity, hate speech, acts of terrorism, etc. If you see this bad stuff you have the ability to escalate the Job ID to a manager who handles escalations. If you have to skip the ad for any of these reasons, you just indicate the correct option at the bottom of the Facebook tool.

After you select the purpose of the ad, the next step is to choose a top-level category for the ad. Some of the top level categories have some sub-categories and you will see these appear below the top level categories if there are sub-categories available. This is an extra categorization for some top-level categories. If you select a top level and see a sub-level category appear, you simply choose the best one that fits.

Defining the purpose of the ad simply asks you to choose whether the ad is a Product, a Service, or Content which is defined as the sharing of information that doesn’t provide a specific physical product, service that the reader can buy. Content includes all digital content, articles about an experience with a product, photos of products with no specific call to action, or if the ad uses the ‘Learn More’ button which more than likely leads to content.

Choosing the purpose of the ad should become second nature and you should simply ask yourself ‘What is the core purpose of this ad?’ Ads might reference many different products, services, or content, but your goal is to consider and categorize what is most important for the reader.

The tool itself isn’t difficult and is fairly straightforward. Under the ad, you simply choose the appropriate categories by clicking the radio buttons. Each one of the radio buttons opens with different categories or sub-categories. After you have selected the categories, then on the bottom under that is the submit button. You want to be sure that you have chosen the most correct categories for each ad. Also at the bottom next to the “Submit’ button are the other buttons that we previously mentioned. Those are that the ad has some error, the ad won’t load in the tool, or the ad is not in the English language. You will also see the ‘Other Issue’ button here where you would report an ad that contains something that it shouldn’t that may be offensive or illegal. In this case, the ad would go to one of the managers of the project where its escalated and they take action to remove the ad altogether. You should understand that you have to be careful using this and that the ad should really be offensive and not just something you disagree with or don’t like.

One of the things that is not mentioned in the guidelines is that you might see the ad appear more than once during the week or the month. You should try to remember what you have categorized this ad as and not change the results on the next day if you see the ad again. It’s important that Appen collects precise data. An example of this could be categorizing an ad as something different one day, as opposed to the day before. This will surely get the attention of a product manager. Try to fully understand the categories and email your project manager if you have a question. This will ensure you are able to stay on the project if there is something you don’t understand. Admittedly, there are a lot of products and services on Facebook and categorizing them all correctly might be confusing at first.

The guidelines are really concise and fully detailed and go over the majority of products and services in order to help you categorize them. The guidelines are also very helpful when it comes to deciding what is content or not, and discusses what should fall into those categories.

In conclusion, the Megataxon Falcon project looks to be a very easy job. It might be interesting for some people who want to make a difference in what ads are seen on Facebook, however, after 4 hours of doing this job, it might become tedious on a day to day basis. But for those who don’t mind doing this kind of job, it’s definitely not something incredibly vague or difficult such as some search engine rating jobs.

If you are working on this project, we would like to hear from you and your experience with it. And if you have any questions, you can email me or leave a comment and I will reply as quickly as possible.

As Payoneer is now the only way to get paid by Appen, and if you do not have a Payoneer account yet I invite you to apply for Payoneer account via referral link:

http://tracking.payoneer.com/SHRq
Use this link for applying for a Payoneer account/card and we will both benefit by earning 25$, once your account is loaded with payments.

The Evolution Of Human Data Collection Companies In The Last 5 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 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 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?

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.

Appen Acquires Leapforce in Multimillion Dollar Deal: What Are Potential Risks for Current Leapforce/Raterlabs Contractors?

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.

Leapforce (Raterlabs)/Lionbridge Third Party Extension Ban:What Are Alternatives?

Leapforce/Lionbridge Third Party Extension Ban

 banned-1726366_960_720If you are a search engine rater for either Leapforce or Lionbridge, you probably got an email from both of these companies talking about how the use of extensions to track time and your tasks would end up being banned, and they explained their decision in a couple of emails with this one being their last warning to remove them.  

“As a follow-up to our communication sent out on March 12th, we wanted to remind you that as of Monday, April 9th, all 3rd party browser extensions must be uninstalled when working on Yukon Search tasks. While 3rd party extensions were developed to aid in rater work, some actually pose security risks and compromise the integrity and the quality of work.” 

While it’s not known exactly how and when these security issues were found, or what types of exact security problems were identified, it does put raters back to a problem of keeping track of tasks and time while doing their jobs. It was a lot easier to use some of the extensions that you could add to Chrome such as Rateraid, Greater Acceptor, and LBTimer which were all great extensions for keeping track of your time and tasks.  

So now what do you do when it comes to keeping track of your tasks as a Search Engine Rater? Well you could resort to using a pen and paper like they used to do back in the good old days, or you could find some alternatives to these tools that can’t be tracked. And before we get into that, we really have to mention that although we are here to help everyone in any way possible to make their job easier, we are not responsible if you start using some tool that ends up on the banned list and you get caught for it. And for anyone wondering if they can detect these tools being used, they can, and if you get caught using them after the fact, you can lose your job.  

Of course we don’t want that to happen to you so we will take a look at some things out there that can help pick up where these tools that were banned left off.  

What are alternative and approved way of tracking your time in effective way? Apparently there are some tools out there that can keep the integrity of the browser intact without opening any security holes. And while it’s not fully understood how using these tools compromises the quality of work, it is very possible that the makers of these tools are being used to scrape data as you are using them as time keepers. Anything is possible and the data you are collecting is an invaluable asset. We are not sure if that is the case with these tools, but you might be aware that RaterAide was released in July 2012 and has since become the de facto time tracking tool for raters around the world. It is produced by an independent developer and fellow rater which is probably the reason that both companies decided to ban use of the tool.  

But this was not the only tool that was banned. Greater Acceptor is also banned and cannot be used as well as the well-designed LBTimer. All of these tools are designed by third-parties and was likely the main reason behind the decision to ban these from being used in connection with tracking your time and your tasks. If someone really wanted to steal something, it wouldn’t be the time you have spent, or even the tasks that you are working on. However, these tools like any other type of software could be used to track everything else and even spy on your activities and compiling a log of results with your data input. We’re not saying that this has been done, but if you are the companies that offer search evaluation jobs, then you probably should tighten things up a little bit when it comes to data collection.  And aside from this, no one knows if these tools were used to exploit or farm data. It’s not likely that either Lionbridge or Leapforce would speak of the specifics about such a topic. And as far as Leapforce is concerned, many of you know that this company was acquired by Appen Global who probably also decided it’s time to tighten things up a little bit when it comes to security.  

So now you are a rater and you’re stuck with no tools to use to track tasks and time. Well there are some extensions that you might be able to use and be OK with. Some of these things are tools that were not designed with search engine rating in mind, and work offline. Something that keeps track of your time while being offline is probably key in that the program works as a standalone application and doesn’t need the internet to function.  

One of those tools is called Task Timer which can be found here 

Task Timer

This tool allows you to create a list of tasks along with time goals represented in hours. It does keep track of each task that you perform and it has a lot of options so that you can customize it. You can input any amount of tasks and include goals, which could be the time you are allowed on each task which is handy for Yukon or other search engine tasks, and you’re able to start, pause, reset, and edit tasks on the fly. This makes it a perfect replacement for the stuff that these companies have banned. Task Timer is available on Chrome Web Store.

Manual recoding of time spent and task done in excel file  

There are some people who love Excel, and some people who loathe it. However, if you need something right now that is completely standalone whether you have internet or not, and you need to keep track of things, Microsoft Excel can fit the bill. It is also worth mentioning that you can customize Excel beyond your typical applications and even create a template for adding time and tasks.  

Auto Page Refresh

As you all probably know, refreshing the page when you are logged into the backend of Lionbridge or Leapforce to check if new tasks are available is quite a pain. There is a tool that is available that can help with this called Auto Refresh Plus. It is a simple add-on for Chrome that acts as a page refresher which sends notifications to your email about tasks availability/ and new content on the page, such as when tasks show up. Auto Refresh Plus is available on Chrome Web Store.

 These are just a few tools that can help you out while Lionbridge and Leapforce have banned the use of these tools. It could be possible that both companies are coming up with their own solutions for helping track time and the amount of tasks that you do, but for now, this is what we have as Search Engine Raters. Of course the moment that we find something new that will help your job go by a bit easier, we will let you know. As always, if you need help with something pertaining to Search Engine Rating, leave a comment or drop us an email and we reply as soon as possible.  

uTest Software Testing and Feedback Platform

utestuTest

More and more people are looking for freelance jobs these days. Not so long ago a variety of online jobs included just a few options, such as copywriting, customer support, search engine evaluation, and the social media jobs offered by the big companies such as Appen and Lionbridge. Lately, a lot more types of businesses are showing up online needing help from people that own computers or smartphone devices. Now any independent freelancer can choose from a handful of companies that offer jobs like application testing, software testing, and other types of jobs where installing applications and running them for stability which are options to make some extra money. Sometimes an independent contractor can find full-time jobs and become skilled specialists. Some companies come and go and some stand out, being especially interesting and worth everyone’s consideration. With that said, there is a new company that just started out recently called uTest.com.

uTest offers new opportunities to get paid while making a contribution to modern software markets and improving different applications and giving feedback on bugs. The service is dedicated to software and application testing. Professional software testers, developers, and web enthusiasts are able to register on this website and test various apps and writing bug reports that get sent back to the developers. Right after this, they can get offers on their first paid projects. Each one of these offers has some short questionnaire on your equipment and checks to see if you qualify.

The interface of the platform is quite simple, and the payment policy is clear with the ability to get paid by either PayPal or Payoneer. The service also has a friendly community of testers who share their experience with each other. In addition, uTest has its own Academy which helps beginners from all over the world in learning software testing.

Registration

To become a freelance software tester, you must be at least 18 years old and have a device such as a PC, tablet, smartphone, and even gaming consoles. uTest works with freelancers from all over the world. No previous testing experience is required. Moreover, on uTest, you can find thousands of free online courses, guides, and webinars to learn more about functional testing and sharpen your skills.

Registration of a new account is fast and simple. You have to fill a form, providing basic information about yourself, such as the full name, location, email address and native languages. After this, you will need to specify the types of devices you own, the models, operating systems of your PC. You can choose multiple devices to expand the range of available software that you are able to test. The service claims that testers are allowed to work on any device that provides a stable internet connection, including smart TVs, gaming consoles, and even fitness trackers. However, currently, mobile devices comprise 70% of all the projects on uTest. That will likely change in the future as the company becomes more well-known and picks up other clients that need software testers.

uTest registration is absolutely free, without any hidden fees.

Getting Started

First of all, you must complete your profile. To do it, select “Expand my Profile” or “Go to Platform” in the navigation menu. The more accurate information you provide; the more projects that you will get matched up with. Thus, we suggest updating your profile anytime you get a new device.

Once you’ve registered an account, you have to prove your qualification skills for certain projects by completing the uTest Sandbox Cycle. You shouldn’t worry about this as it’s all relatively easy stuff. This is a mixed testing cycle that includes elements of exploratory testing as well as a test case. Usually, you get your invitation to the Sandbox within two weeks after the account is registered. But in our experience the moment we registered we started getting invitations to join certain projects. You may also contact community managers to request an invitation. We received several invitations for different jobs that had different requirements such as age or device specific projects.

Generally, the number of test cycle invites depends on your statistics. The more bugs you report; the more jobs you get. This is somewhat how Appen Global works. Thus, we suggest participating in more test cycles and collecting more experience in your profile. After the Sandbox, you can check out the uTest Academy section to find more cycles that will give you basic experience. Another way to make your profile more attractive is the uTest 101 Quiz that is focused on your expectations and rules of the service. The completion of the uTest Quiz gives you higher priority in the distribution of test cycles.

Payments

As mentioned previously uTest supports Payoneer and PayPal systems. Testers get paid twice a month, on the 15th and the last day of every month. The transfer to a PayPal or Payoneer account may take up to 24 hours, which is a usual time for these payment services. However, PayPal payments once sent are usually immediate.

Keep in mind that if you use a Payoneer account, you won’t be able to link it to your uTest account unless you’ve earned at least $10. In case your Payoneer account is set up to transfer payments directly to your bank card, you’ll need to have at least $50 in uTest to transfer money to the Payoneer account.

Payoneer now has a sign up program that’s a good incentive to join, lets benefit together!

%d1%81%d0%bd%d0%b8%d0%bc%d0%be%d0%ba-%d1%8d%d0%ba%d1%80%d0%b0%d0%bd%d0%b0-2016-12-04-%d0%b2-19-31-58As Payoneer is now the only way to get paid by Appen, and if you do not have a Payoneer account yet I invite you to apply for Payoneer account via my referral link:

http://tracking.payoneer.com/SHRq

U.S. citizens who earn more than $500 a year on the website may also need to complete a W-9 form for taxes. You are always responsible for doing your own taxes as uTest will never take out taxes. In this case, you can find all necessary information in Accounts & Settings > Payments.

All freelancers get paid in USD only, though the website allows them to see their earnings in any local currency.

Rating System

uTest has its own rating system, rating freelancers based on their activity and the quality of their work. Ratings are calculated every day. Any tester can be classified as Rated, Proven, Bronze, Silver, or Gold. However, you won’t see any badge on your profile unless you have enough activity points. This rating system considers various parameters of your performance. For example, you can be unrated in some types of testing while being rated Gold in functional testing.

Higher ratings allow you to get higher payout rates. For example, Gold testers earn 10% more on every approved report. Silver and Bronze testers receive additional 5% and 2,5%, respectively. These extras are calculated only for a certain testing type. For example, if you’re a Gold Usability tester, you won’t get extra 10% for Security tests.

The rating system takes into account the percentage of approved and rejected reports. All bugs are classified by their importance. Thus, you don’t have to go for a higher approval percentage. Instead, try to find more valuable bugs. Some testers have 98% of reports approved, but their bugs mostly fall into the “Somewhat valuable” category. Their ratings are lower than those of testers who have more reports approved and end up having a higher percentage of exceptionally valuable bugs.

The important thing that often affects ratings negatively is the submission of test reports. If a tester accepts a test cycle without providing at least one report, this will cause a negative impact on his or her rating. It’s better to decline a test cycle from the very beginning than to accept it and get a negative rating.

If a report was rejected but a tester doesn’t agree with the customer on such a decision, he or she can use the Dispute feature built into the website to provide the customer with more information. However, we suggest avoiding unnecessary use of this feature because a rejected dispute will have a more negative effect on your rating than an initially rejected report.

Conclusion

uTest is a convenient and reliable platform for professional software testers as well as for those who want to try something new. The friendly environment and clear payment policy guarantee the best experience for freelance testers of any skill level. In addition, you can register here for free and join the uTest Academy to learn more about testing and to try this service. If you are a uTest member, let us know what your experience has been in the comments, and as always, leave any questions you might have in the comments and we’ll answer them.

Taxation for Independent Contractor’s Pros and Cons

contracting-with-an-independent-contractor
If you are working as a Search Engine Rater or Social Media evaluator for any company that doesn’t hire you directly, then you are known as an independent contractor. Regardless of whether you are an independent contractor, a freelancer, or consultant, you will be considered as ‘self-employed’. What this also means is that you are responsible for doing your own taxes. There can be some advantages to this and also some drawbacks.

But first some of the pro’s.

If you’ve been working for companies like Appen Global, Leapforce, or Lionbridge, you know that you are basically your own boss. It’s very rare that you have to work with other people in these jobs or have much interaction at all. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. Keep in mind that the people you are working for are not your supervisors. You’re a contract worker which simply means that you provide your services in exchange for a set wage or price. You are largely in control of when, how, and where the work is done. And you can do the work when you want to as long as it gets done.

Another advantage of being an independent contractor is that you will make more money than if you were simply an employee. The reason for this is because companies are willing to pay more for an independent contractor because there aren’t any expensive long term commitments and the company doesn’t have to pay extra money for employment benefits.

The other great thing about being an independent contractor and working on your own is that you get to deduct more business expenses than a typical employee can claim. Think about everything you need to do your job, your computer, your desk, your chair, even the internet connection you are paying for can all be deducted as an expense at the end of the year. This basically means free office equipment.

One of the first things that you will want to do is come up with a plan to save enough money to pay your taxes at the end of the year. Working as a freelancer means that no one is doing your taxes. Your pay is given to you all in one lump sum with no taxes taken out. It is important to understand the basic tax laws. If you are not sure what to do, it is advised to talk to a tax specialist in order to help you save enough tax out of your paycheck.

But there are also some cons of working as an independent contractor.

One of the big things is that contractors aren’t eligible for any type of health or unemployment benefits because you are basically self-employed. So if you need health insurance, you would have to find something on your own that you could pay per month. Now you see why being an employee has its benefits when it comes to taking care of taxes and health insurance. You can still do all this stuff on your own, and it’s not impossible to get your own health insurance, but all that stuff takes time to keep track of.

It should be noted that if you are a US Yukon project rater then you’re a part time employee and your taxes are done for you. There still are other projects that are done on contract basis.

Knowing your taxes and how much you need to deduct is the most important part. As long as you keep enough money to cover taxes then you won’t have to pay anything. The biggest problem here is not withholding the right amount or not enough taxes. A single person in the USA will pay more taxes than a married person will. So it’s important to know exactly what you should be deducting from your pay.

For the USA you must take out self-employment taxes which are Social Security and Medicare contributions.

Some things that can help you:

There are some tax calculators online that can be used to accurately deduct the correct amount of money in taxes, including the self-employment taxes. That money should be kept in a separate bank account always so that if anything happens with the main bank account, that money is safe. So create a savings account and put that money into the account and don’t touch it until the end of the year when it’s time to do taxes. It is important to remember that it’s better to save too much than not enough.

When it comes time to do your taxes, it might be good to hire someone that can put together everything for you including your business deductions such as your office equipment or computer that you use to do your work on. There are some limits of course on what you can deduct. Find out exactly what you should have paid and make out a check and send it to the tax government in which you live. In the USA it’s the Internal Revenue Service.

As an independent contractor you won’t pay less or more taxes than if you were an employee. The only difference is that you have to do all the paperwork yourself. However, you are able to take more physical deductions than an employee would because you provide yourself with all the tools you need to do your job on your own.

In closing, it shouldn’t scare you to do your own taxes. It’s not any more difficult than doing your taxes as if you were an employee, and you might actually get the tools you need to do your job for free.

Appen Typeahead Project

Appen Typeahead Project 

This article goes over the guidelines of the project at Appen called Typeahead e2e. This project is somewhat the same as being a search engine rater and rating queries and results, but you are rating queries for Facebook and their website search engine. They may be trying to get this search engine as tuned as Google, except it’s based on their platform. Facebook is considered a family website, and they are trying to make sure that none of the bad stuff gets through. The main purpose of the job you perform is to detect low quality suggestions, and the ratings tasks are mostly based on your own point of view, which is unusual for a project of this type.  

What is Typeahead e2e?  

Requirements and payment rates 

E2E stands for ‘end to end’ but that seems irrelevant at this point. In order to work on this project, you must have a Facebook account. The project has a work volume from 1 to 4 hours per day. This is the usual amount of time on Appen projects. The pay range for this project depends on where you live, but it can range from $6 an hour to $14 an hour. This project is exclusive of Appen and runs in many markets. 

Qualification  

Qualification process is straight-forward, before proceeding with actual exam you will be given a chance to do a practice test which consists of 20 tasks and covers all possible rating scenarios. Once you complete the practice set you will receive feedback and recommendations on your ratings. The next step will be actual exam which also consists of 20 tasks. If you pass this exam successfully you will be moved to production. 

The process 

Typeahead are queries that are given with suggestions when you type something in the search box on Facebook.  

The search Typeahead provides suggestions, and it’s your job to see if the suggestions are relevant, or if suggestions are bad. There are a lot of different things that can make them bad. You might recall that Google at one point had a big problem many years back when Google ads were coming up with some violent and hateful content that caused them to lose some advertising with big names. It wasn’t until this happened that Google wanted a real human to look at what ads were being displayed, and what websites were providing as far as search content. The same thing is happening at Facebook and they want to make sure that people are not getting bad results with violent, offensive, hateful, or pornographic content. That is where the human rater comes in, and it’s your job to determine if the results are good or bad, or if they should be flagged.  

As mentioned previously, the workflow of this project is to determine the quality of suggestions in the search bar drop down. There are some things that the guidelines go over. 

You are presented with a list of categories when doing the search. You make a decision based on what the results are. You would follow these labels and determine what is acceptable and what is offensive/porny (cute new word that Appen or Facebook apparently made up), junky, or acceptable.  

It is important to remember that you are rating the quality of the suggestion, and not the quality of the query. Quality doesn’t have anything to do with the query. The query should be looked at to determine if it’s in a foreign language other than the language you are contracted to work in.  

Furthermore, a suggestion should be rated 1 if it is offensive, violent or porny, such as “hot girls”, “sexy videos”, etc. The suggestion, at first glance, needs to be obviously offensive or seeking offensive material.  

You need to remember that you are not rating the results generated by the Facebook search engine but the suggestion itself. Many common names may generate pornographic results (ex.“mary ann”) but should not be rated as offensive. If it’s junky, then it is because the suggestion is unrecognizable and, most importantly, you think the suggestion is junky/gibberish. Junky entails the suggestion is difficult to understand or is entirely nonsense. If you rate the suggestion as junky, you would then choose a category to support your decision.  

A suggestion gets a 3 – Acceptable if it is not junky. This is considered a good suggestion which doesn’t contain foreign language or anything offensive. It is spelled correctly and free of grammatical errors. If a suggestion is rated acceptable, then it must receive an additional rating to indicate whether it is personally recognizable to you. This is a weird task, because you wonder how it can be acceptable if it’s not recognizable. They clear that up by saying ‘The suggestion is UNRECOGNIZABLE based on your own point of view but still makes sense’. They say that you can use Google/Bing to determine if the suggestion is acceptable or junky. But once again, the rating is based on your own personal view.  

The job itself doesn’t look very hard, and the work flow should go pretty fast since you only have to choose from 4 different categories, and then choose a label from one of those 4 categories. There are a lot of examples in the guidelines that show you what to do in certain cases in case you are unsure of what to select.  

It is interesting to know what this will end up doing to the Facebook pages that rely on certain words that are brought up. Some searches may end up disappearing from the suggestions at all.  

As always, if you have any questions about this project, or you are working on this project, leave us a comment and tell us how it’s going.

 

Multiple Accounts – Is There a Safe Solution? 

Multiple accounts – is there a safe solution? 

There might be a reason that you would want to have two accounts, and some contractors do use more than two accounts. There might even be a possibility that you may want to work on this job while someone else in your household is also working for the same company or on one project but at different vendors (Leapforce and Lionbridge).  

However, according to the Leapforce policy you can only have one account per IP address, while Lionbridge allows to have one account per household. Those pretty much mean the same thing. There can’t be two accounts coming from the same internet service and this requirement come from Google system requirements.  

When it comes to Google rating projects or Facebook related projects, Leapforce, Appen and Lionbridge can find duplicate accounts very fast, and as a result, you will end up losing your accounts and they will be terminated. You certainly don’t want that to happen.  

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to get around this problem, and arrange them in way that Leapforce, Lionbridge, and Appen won’t be able to detect.  

Note: One thing before we go on that should be totally understood. There isn’t anything illegal about what you are doing, but if there are two of you that want to work for the same company, or if you want to work on multiple accounts from different vendors, you need to do things the right way. And let’s face it, most of these jobs are part time and give very little hours with most projects allowing a maximum of 20 hours per week. This restriction is due to the fact that vendors do not want pay for insurance and extra expenses which are associated with full time employment.

So how can you work on multiple accounts without violating the company’s rules?  

  1.  You will need two different laptops/PCs and smartphones/one set of devices per account. The reason for this is because of the devices MAC Address which can be detected per device;
  2. Use different internet or mobile networks which guarantees different IP addresses per network. Make sure that each PC is connected only to its designated network. Your internet service provider can provide you with one or more IP addresses, or use SIM card (cellular data connection) for this purpose. SIM card internet has dynamic IP addresses for each SIM card;
  3. Do not use your Wi-Fi network to connect your devices because it will increase the chance of your device accidently connecting to another network by accident and as a result, may lead to an IP address conflict with your client; 
  4. In the project where smartphone devices are required, you will need a separate smartphone for each account; Smartphones must be connected to Internet via sim card only. If you use your WiFi network for your mobile devices, they will all connect to the same IP address, and you will be flagged as duplicate account on the same IP address. For this instance, it might be a good idea to switch off WiFi so that you don’t run the risk of this problem;  
  5. Don’t use the same Gmail addresses for the accounts. This is already a given, but we thought that we should mention it. As an example, if you use one Gmail account for Appen, create another account exclusively for Lionbridge and make sure you reply using only those emails;  
  6. Once you have everything setup, and you’ve checked your IP addresses, only then should you try to apply for other accounts at other vendors. 
  7. You will need to apply on behalf of two different persons as normal.

Thanks to this approach, vendors’ detection system will see your accounts as two separate accounts with different IP addresses which are registered on different people, it means all contract conditions are met.

You also might be interested in this article:

Projects and Vendors Compatibility: How to Work on Several Projects and Do Not Violate Vendors Conditions? How Much Can You Earn With Leapforce, Lionbridge and Appen When Combining Several Projects?