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.

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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?

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

About the Deal

In what might not come as a surprise to many, Appen, the language and search data service provider has made a move to acquire its US-based competitor ‘Leapforce’ for an estimated $105.3 million dollars. Leapforce was founded in 2008, headquartered in Pleasanton, California, and specializes in search relevance through a highly automated and proprietary end-to-end technology platform, which of course is Raterhub; the tool used by search engine raters to rate search engine results. It is a move that will make the company a leading provider in search data services. Mark Brayan, Appen company CEO said that it gives Appen the capability to serve their customers better. This deal comes after Mr. Brayan and Leapforce CEO, Daren Jackson, met a couple of years ago and remained in touch and formed a friendship. About six months ago, Mr. Jackson reached out to discuss a potential deal as both acknowledged at some point that the businesses would be better working together instead of against each other.

The Acquisition is subject to customary conditions precedent and is expected to complete on or around 7 December 2017. Appen’s existing customer base consists of, amongst others, a number of large global multi-national technology companies. The projects awarded by these companies, or the ongoing services which Appen may provide to these companies, can generate large amounts of revenue from that one client. The same is true for existing customers of Leapforce. However, and not surprisingly enough, Leapforce generates 99% of its revenue from only two customers, in the approximate proportion of 71% revenue from one customer and 28% revenue from the other customer. We’re guessing that these are both Google, and Facebook.

This brings up questions such as the acquisition of those contracts, or how Google feels about this merger of the two companies. The existing CEO and CTO of Leapforce, Daren Jackson, will join the Appen management team and will continue to manage the Leapforce business going forward. Leapforce is heavily dependent on the CEO who has the key relationship with its major customer and is key to the operations and service delivery of the Leapforce business. This of course means Google. Leapforce has only about 21 full-time staff, all of whom will be joining Appen.

What Are Potential Risks for Current Leapforce/Raterlabs Contractors?

The biggest question about this merger is finding out what exactly what will happen with Leapforce independent contractors. One of the risks that was mentioned in the acquisition merger was as follows:

“Some of the Appen Group’s search relevance and data analytics services are crowdsourced to, and often performed by, independent contractors. This is also the case for the Leapforce business. The independent contractors performing these services are retained pursuant to written agreements with a member of the Appen Group that commonly specify the individual’s status as an independent contractor, confirm the individuals are not employees of the employing company, and require the individuals to indemnify the employing company in the event the individual incorrectly represented their status to the employing company.

So if you are a Leapforce independent contractor, then you might have to sign new agreements with Appen after a certain time. And for the time being it looks like your job is secure, but its only as secure as it was before. Leapforce can at any time choose not to renew your contract for whatever reasons they see fit.

Or there could be a good chance that Leapforce independent contractors could have their contracts not renewed because Appen has a huge crowdsource pool from which to draw people from. Why do we think this? It was also mentioned in the merger agreement the following as seen as a risk factor for the merger:

“Notwithstanding the foregoing express contractual language, from time to time in the United States individuals retained by a member of the Appen Group as independent contractors may file claims for unemployment with the applicable state unemployment agencies claiming employee status with a member of the Appen Group and seeking unemployment benefits. Leapforce, being a US-based business, enhances this risk. Unemployment benefits are, from time to time, awarded by the US state unemployment agencies, which may result in nominal charges or increases to the employer’s unemployment tax accounts with the various states in which these individuals perform services and in which the member of the Appen Group does not have existing employees. The Appen Group is also subject to the usual risks posed to businesses that employ crowdsourcing, including claims relating to employee classification, claims to benefits, wage and hour claims and other employment claims.”

Of course this is true for any company when they acquire another business. But to be honest, in some markets Appen is known for paying miserable wages as compared to Leapforce and Lionbridge for the same search engine evaluation job. They have even lowered wages in some countries and pay far less than Leapforce did. There really isn’t any regard for the independent contractor in this situation.

And while its certain that all the internal employees were taken care of, as they will also go to Appen with their CEO, it is uncertain what the discussion was about the current raters. In our experience, independent contractors with both companies are simply a number or statistic. As an independent contractor for either of these companies, you are nameless, and you are expendable. This is the sad truth about being a contractor and working for these companies, along with the fact that you’re not really an employee for any company, and you have no benefits at all unless you are an employee.

And outside of this merger, it’s easy to see the behavior that this company takes against the people that help make them money. In some markets, Appen Global reduced their hourly rate for a project known as Aztec. In fact, some raters were hired with a higher starting hourly wage than others. And as mentioned before, in some countries Appen only pays HALF of what a Leapforce rater is paid.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the current independent contractors who work for Leapforce and whether they retain their contracts. One thing that is uncertain is if Appen will be calling the shots on the current Leapforce raters, or if Appen will take over and get rid of the ones that are paid more so they can take from their talent pool those who are paid far less for the same job. Regardless of the outcome, we feel that there might be a lot of raters who will end up losing their jobs in the mid or long term. After all, Appen Global doesn’t really care about the little guys who actually do the work. They seem simply set on cornering the market by acquiring their competitor, and then paying people lower wages for the same job.

If you are currently a Leapforce search engine rater or Raterlabs rater, leave us a comment and let us know what you think about the merger, what has been shared with you. We’d like to hear from you.


 

 

What Should You Do If You Fail Leapforce or Lionbridge Exam Twice and How to Re-Apply?

If you fail the exam the second time, Leapforce will not allow you to retake it a third time. In this case I would advise that you apply to another vendor like Lionbridge (or vice versa). 

Option 1: re-apply from your own PC 

Before proceeding with application you will need to clean your devices from the data left from unsuccessful exams.

  1. Sign out all Gmails associated with your unsuccessful attempts (make a complete sign out on a laptop, PC and your smartphone) and to be on the safe side, re-install your chrome browser on your PC;
  2. A new IP address will be required. You may use a residential VPN to change your IP address. Do not use normal VPN if you are going to apply for Lionbridge, use only a residential VPN. It is VERY easy to know if you are using a regular VPN. As an option you may change your Internet provider or if you have a dynamic IP address then no action is required at this stage;
  3. Create new gmail;
  4. Proceed with application as normal.Once you have started the application and qualification process, I recommend you keep the same IP address during the whole process. If you need to, later on you may change your IP as many times you want.

Note: I would like to point out that Lionbridge is very strict in terms of IP address. The vendor prefers to deal with applicants who have a residential IP address, but it depends on your country. 

Option 2: re-application on behalf of another person the same vendor is possible

Use someone else’s PC to apply and move the account to your PC once you complete the qualification process. 

Note: Before proceeding with registration, make sure that you use a new Gmail account which previously was not used for application process.

Note: It is very important that when you filling out the application and answering the application questions, you must indicate that you have never applied/worked the search engine evaluator position before with another company. Answering yes to this question will automatically disqualify you.  

Lionbridge Unsuccessful Application

There might be many reasons for the rejection of your application. These are some of the reasons: 

It might be possible that your CV does not meet Lionbridge standards. Lionbridge is very selective in terms of quality of CVs of applicants in India and other developing countries.Make sure that you CV looks professional and accurate and there are no gaps in your experience.  

Your IP address might be suspicious, or does not meet Lionbridge requirement. If you have a dynamic IP address (an IP which changes each time you connect to the Internet) – you will be rejected for sure. Make sure that you have static IP address. One way to check is to ask your internet service provider.  

Someone is using the same IP address for a rating project (in the case of sharing an Internet network connection), make sure that your IP address is unique. 

And finally, try to arrange new IP addresses, update your CV, create new Gmails, and apply one more time. If possible you might need to find a person you can trust, like a friend or family member, and apply on behalf of them. It could be a possibility that your name is blacklisted in the vendor database.  

Unable to enter IP address into the Lionbridge exam

It can be possible that the vendor was unable to enter your IP into exam because you have dynamic IP address. It might be very risky to have this type of IP address because it means that many people have the same shared IP address. Some internet service providers put a group of customers on the same IP address behind a NAT. This could be a problem and may lead to getting flagged for multiple accounts being used on the same platform such as raterhub.  

These posts also might be interesting to read:

How to pass the Leapforce (Raterlabs), Appen (Inca) and Lionbridge exams? (Exam Guidelines 2018)

You Failed the Leapforce (Raterlabs) or Lionbridge Exam – Now What?

Common Issues of New Raters (Appen Aztec and Lionbridge Ads Rating Projects)

Support_636x350-600x330Workflow 

After you have passed either the Lionbridge Ads or the Aztec ads exams, you will start getting access to different tasks. There are some things to keep in mind here. You should understand that if you are in a different market that the USA market, the training tasks are going to be in English. And as a side note, it’s going to be a good idea to have someone that is fluent in English ready in case you don’t understand something. Once you have passed all the initial training tasks, you will start to see tasks appear in the language, or region, that you applied for. There is a chance that you will still see some English tasks come through once in a while.  

Time keeping and quality 

Time keeping is one of the most important things you need to keep track of when you are doing your tasks. It’s recommended to track your time manually including the amount of tasks that you have completed. There are some free apps out there you can download for your computer, or you can use your timer app on any smartphone. I keep a small notepad and a pen handy and just cross down a line on paper for each task. Depending on how organized you are, it might take you some time to get used to this. Timesheets are reviewed every weeks starting on Monday and ending Sunday. Make sure you are entering the actual time it takes you from getting the task, to submitting it.  

One of the tough things that a rater has when they first start is getting the quality up high and improving the quality of your rated tasks and keeping them there. That is likely because of the overwhelming amount of information to swallow at the beginning. The guidelines that you get need to become your bible so to speak. You should have them open always or easily accessible when you are rating so you can check some of the examples if you are confused about something. If you have some extra time to study the guide while not rating, then it’s a good idea to do this before rating. Don’t spend too much time going over the guide while rating. You are only allotted a certain amount of time for each task. So you can’t spend 15-20 minutes on one task and then bill for that if the task should only take you 5 minutes. Bookmark the examples in the guide for quick reference. Your tasks are reviewed and you will get some feedback concerning your rated tasks and where you can improve. You need to be prepared at all times so that when your quality is personally examined, you get good scores. All of this is very important because the client has a strict process that must be followed. By not following the process, you won’t supply the valuable data that is needed. Read the guidelines even after you passed the exam, and read them again and always refer to them when rating. Even the most experienced raters refer to the guide for help.  

What are the quality review tasks? 

Blind sets as they are called, are rating tasks that have the correct rating answers already correctly completed as they should be as per the guide. You will have no idea when these blinds sets come, or be able to identify them, but generally the blind quality tasks are uploaded to the system throughout the month, and you are graded on these to see if you are following the guidelines correctly, and applying the correct ratings. This is why it’s important to follow the guidelines at all times. In fact, it might be even better to not think about the blind sets at all since you will have no idea when you are doing them. We just thought it would be important for you to know that they are there. 

Reasons for losing your service as an Ads Quality Rater 

It can happen to anyone at any time. You could end up getting a short email from the company you work for at any time saying that your contract will not be renewed or that your service is no longer required on the project. We hope this doesn’t happen to you, but if it does it could be from some of the following issues.  

Quality of service is really the big one here as the client needs each rater to strictly follow the guidelines and the processes of doing each rating. There are levels of quality and you should be sure to try and get the highest quality rating possible. Also its important to remember that just because you are at an acceptable level doesn’t guarantee job security. If there are a lot of raters for a project and a group of raters are providing much higher quality, then the ones at the bottom are likely to go first in the event of a downsizing or, the client just needs the best quality possible. It is advisable to keep striving for perfection when it comes to rating.  

Participation in the program means that you must put in a required amount of hours or ‘minimum hours required’ which for most of these programs is 19-20 hours per week. Some programs require you to work at least one weekend day as well. If you miss a day or two on some projects, it will be OK but be careful because if you don’t participate on a regular basis then you end up losing access and are removed from the system. Regular participation in the projects also guarantees that you see a larger portion of different types of ads, and will certainly help you build up your quality levels.  

IP address conflict/Network sharing

In some cases people may share their Internet network, while working as search engine evaluator make sure that you have your personal unique IP address and no one uses the same IP to go online for rating project.Once you are in the Project, you may change your IP address many times, it will not affect your project status. Make sure that you do your project tasks in a private place as it stated in the contract.

Multi-accounts

Be informed that it is prohibited to have multiple accounts, without special arrangement. The customer can find duplicate accounts very fast (even if you are in different Google projects which administrated by different vendors), and as a result, you will lose both accounts.

No tasks are available, all task options are not available anymore except the QR code

This is a sign that system automatically cut your account from receiving tasks. Unfortunately this is an indication that your account has been deactivated due to unacceptable quality, such raters will be removed from the program shortly.

Lionbridge (Ads rating project) vs Appen (Aztec)

Productivity 

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. In this respect, Lionbridge is very loyal, and most invoices are approved without any issues. Of course, 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 has it is own internal 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 has again invented their own metrics to pay less to its raters.

Working hours and flexibility

At Lionbridge, there is no minimum requirement for working hours. However, the maximum normally is 20 hours and in some cases, the max might be increased.

At Appen there is a strict requirement to work a required number of hours as indicated in the consulting agreement (15-20 hours), not meeting this requirement may lead to removal from the project.

Payments

Lionbridge normally pays via direct deposit for US raters or wire transfer for raters in other countries. Non-US raters will receive their first payment only on the second month of work this due to their specific payment cycle set up.

Appen pays on a monthly basis via the Payoneer payment system, normally on 14th of every month.

Payoneer As a Payment Method for Appen, Raterlabs, Leapforce and Lionbridge

Payments rates

In most markets, the Lionbridge payment hourly rate is 15-30% higher than what Appen pays for the same work. The customer sets the basic pay rate which is the same for all vendors (Lionbridge, Appen), and part of this rate goes to the vendor for project administration services and the other part is paid to raters. As some of you may know this project was previously administrated by Zerochaos and at that time the payment rate was 2 times higher than it is now. After Google outsourced this project to Appen and Lionbridge the payment rate was significantly reduced including US market.

More info about payment rates is available here:

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?

General Support

The project itself is fully automated and was designed in a way that raters should manage their training and education, and work with minimum support. Those who fail are automatically removed from the project due to low quality etc. In general terms Appen provides better support by means of monthly practice sets and detailed feedback on those practice tasks, Lionbridge does not provide this type of support.

Optional Agreements

It might be beneficial to know that there is an optional agreement that you can sign that gives the vendor your personal browsing history that personalized tasks are generated by. Basically what that means is that you would get tasks to rate that would be based on your own personal browsing habits. A lot of people don’t want to do this for fear of sharing personal data with an employer. However, your data still remains private and the vendor will not see what websites you are visiting. It does add a little more personalization to your tasks though. This history is associated with the Google Account that you are signed into at the time of browsing, like if you were logged into Chrome and browsing the internet. It’s important to understand that Google has access to this data anyway, but it’s an optional thing whether you want your own personal history used for generating tasks.

The Final Word 

If you can get in on this project, it can be very interesting while you are contributing to search engine or ad algorithms. Your direct contributions help to train specially written algorithms that help ads and search engine results become more relevant to the user. So it’s a very important job, and one that you should take seriously. However, this job is not for everyone. Unless you find looking at ads and webpages 4 hours a day, you might get bored very quickly. But for some this is the perfect part-time job because as long as you meet your productivity, deliver high accuracy and quality, then you could be on the project for as long as you want. As with all other Appen projects, you may even be invited to work on other projects too.