Nuances — Leapforce, part 4

Part 1 of these posts is here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Nuances are hard for people. We all prefer clear heroes and villains. The important questions, though, arise from the in-between places. Here are the points I want to make… you can draw your own conclusions.

– I don’t think Leapforce is the devil. I was, as I said, desperately grateful to be able to work for them. Leapforce work supported me through a financial desert that I honestly don’t know how I would otherwise have crossed.

– The desperate need I felt for an income made me willing to put up with just about any employment policy. I think that’s true for a lot of people who make ends meet through online work in this economy.

– Leapforce is a product of this era. I don’t think it’s worse than the average online employer, though my personal experience is limited. But Leapforce (and the Client-who-shall-not-be-named, otherwise known as Google) benefit from the fact that there are thousands of us out here in cyber-land, isolated, willing to take almost any job, completely replaceable and expendable. Crowd-sourced employment is worth taking a good look at, because it so easily enables employers to deny the humanity of workers.

– I quit working for Leapforce because I knew there had to be some other way to earn a living that didn’t place 100% of the power in the hands of the employer. I was (and still am, as of this morning) in good standing there, with access to all tasks and channels.

– I still work online, I’m still somewhat expendable — but at least online writing is straightforward. Success is clear, clients are happy, finicky guidelines are minimal. But online writing is no panacea; it’s harder than Leapforce work to get started with, and you work for pennies while you learn the ropes. Maybe you have to love writing to do it profitably, but in any case it works well for me.

Oppression

Leapforce Chat is, as I said, a crucial element of the job. It functions as an ongoing training resource and news conduit, water-cooler and source of random personal expression. The majority of Chat is occupied by news about who’s got access to what sorts of tasks, and how everyone’s work is going, and various practical details. When I refer to oppression, however, I mean the ongoing evidence of anxiety represented by such chat messages as these, pulled from a random hour:

  • If I just got a “there will be no work for you today” message that would be great. Sitting around “hoping” is frustrating.
  • I understand when there is a lack of tasks but when you read that some are getting 10-12 hours a day and you are getting zero it is confusing.
  • Have you emailed support?
  •          Many times but I never get a response to my emails. I think they must go into someone’s spam folder or something.
  • I thought even being capped I would get some tasks now and then…
  • Okay email sent. seems odd after my last review my task load is down. And the fact that all the (–) and (–) tasks disappeared….well that’s weird.
  • Just asked him. he says yeah he was removed from (—) project, but he wasn’t sure what that meant. he says that he can’t access any other projects, any chat channels, or anything.

One bit of nuts and bolts info for workers

Sometimes people worry about being terminated if they complete less than 200 tasks in a month. I’m only one individual, but my experience is that, after billing for 3 hours for December and zero hours for January, I’m still able to log in to tasks and I’m still getting Leapforce email bulletins about guidelines, tasks, etc.

Undoubtedly my access will be terminated soon. I suspect these blog posts will bring that day sooner rather than later. But if you’re worried about a slow month, and you haven’t gotten 200 tasks done, it’s probably going to be OK. Leapforce will probably still love you.

148 thoughts on “Nuances — Leapforce, part 4

  1. Another LF rater

    If you could now just reveal your nickname on Leapforce social, then other raters would know who it is that writes these insights. I agree with some of it, but some I find is viewed too pessimistically.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Hi — I was “madrona” on LF, but I really don’t ever end up in Chat these days, so it probably doesn’t matter. I haven’t even had time in the past couple days to think about this in any depth. Feel free to post more if you want, and I’ll respond at some point.

      Reply
  2. Dissapointed new LF rater

    But of course Leapforce are a thoroughly nasty organization betsysharp. It all stems from the bad character of the man in charge and the heavily exploitative and fear based culture Leapforce have evolved to think is necessary.

    I agree with you about the Stockholm Syndromists. Their desperate need and indigence clouds their sensibilities and objectivity.

    Good organizations seek to keep people, even weak ones, long term, in order to mold them into the kinds of workers that perform autonomously well. The key is to give employees ownership and a stake in doing well.

    That thousands of raters are employed, then cold shouldered and let go for being cold shouldered says a lot about Leapforce’s malevolence and cynicism.

    But such a company cannot last. Remember Enron and their arrogance in thinking they were the smartest workforce of little Midas’s ? Underneath it all was a wicked sham hence the inhumanity and stridency … not unlike Lepforce.

    I started with LF but very soon hated their behaviours already.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Disappointed New LF Rater: I’m cynical enough to think that LF will do just fine with this employment model. I’m sure it’s cost-effective for them.

      Reply
  3. Jen

    I’m applying for a LP job now and I have a question: As a LF worker, do you have a sit at your computer and wait for tasks? Could you just do whatever during the day then during the evening do any tasks if you get any? Or do you actually have to be ready when you get them and do them right away? I like the idea of working at home, setting your own hours. But I don’t think I could live with wasting significant portions of my time.
    I’d really appreciate any feedback :)

    Reply
  4. admin Post author

    Hi, Jen -

    The answer to your question is: it depends. For the most part, tasks are dumped into a general pool, so the workers who are around when they’re available are the ones who get them. Some days, there are so many tasks in the pool that you can just pop in anytime you feel like and there’ll be as much work as you want.

    Other days, there might only be work for a few hours, so the people who were logged on during that time will do all the work and when they’re done, there won’t be any more tasks available til tomorrow. Or til the middle of the night. Or who knows. There’s no schedule to it.

    Still other days, the tasks trickle in. Most people use a Firefox addon called “Check for Change,” so they can do other things online and then when a task appears the little addon will jingle to notify you. Then there may be 2 or 5 or 15 minutes of work, and then it’s back to waiting.

    Finally, there seem to be a few instances in which they actually do portion the tasks out – so maybe everyone gets 40 of a certain type. So even if you log in later in the day, and everyone else has finished their 40 tasks and don’t have anything to do, you still have your 40 waiting for you. This is unusual, though, and when it does happen it’s usually with shorter types of tasks.

    When people log in to Chat, the usual question is, How have the tasks been today? Sometimes people get frustrated because they go to eat lunch or something and when they come back, the work has disappeared. You never know how long it will last or when it will stop or when it will come back.

    That said, however, there are people who regularly have 30, 40, 50, or 60 billable hours in a week. So, there is usually work available, on average, overall.

    Reply
    1. Jen

      Ah, I see, so work is distributed (often) on a first come basis, hmmm.

      Are all contracts 6 months? Is it okay to break the contract prior? I’m in the middle of my pre-screening test and I didn’t know I’d be committing to 6 months (which is what it sounds like I might be doing according to what you’ve written). Ideally I would like to get a different (~better paying~) job, but until then I’m up for working for LP, but I WOULD keep looking for another job during my work with them.

      Do you know anything about that?

      Reply
      1. admin Post author

        The contract is for them, not you. It says they will keep you on for 6 months, as long as you perform well.

        You can leave anytime you want. They don’t care. They won’t even notice. You don’t actually exist as an individual worker in their corporate mind; you exist as part of the crowd that generates the river of data.

        Your question is really interesting: The very fact that you’re asking it shows that you’re still thinking in terms of work where the employer actually trains the worker or pays attention to their existence.

        Just quit logging in when you find something better. (And make sure you remember to submit your last invoice.)

        Reply
        1. Jen

          Re: 2nd paragraph… yeah, that’s pretty true. That way of work is so ingrained in my mind (and probably most peoples’). But I shall soon learn different!

          I guess I’m pretty much going to become a part of an extremely sophisticated computer program made up of a bunch of human brains, and the addition/loss of a single brain is really of no consequence at all to the running of the program overall. I don’t really know if that’s dehumanizing or whatever, but anyways… I need money :)

          Thank you so much for all your feedback, and the quickness of them! I really honestly appreciate it, and the blog entries too. You’ve been super.

          Reply
          1. admin Post author

            Thanks – I genuinely wish you well. Regardless of ideals about how society or business ought to be, LF is a life-raft that you can climb onto when money is scarce.

          2. Jonathan Burnett

            I realize your reply was in March, and it’s now December, I am looking for an additional job to supplement the annual dry spell at my current job, and was researching LF prior to going deeper down the rabbit hole. I’d like an update if you would: would you evaluate your experience similarly? Also, if you’re still looking for work, try RGIS. and no I’m not plugging RGIS because I think it’s perfect, but as the author of this blog stated, at the time, when I NEEDED that cash, RGIS came through for me.

            RGIS is a retail inventory auditing company. As such, it’s slow for the holiday seasons when no one wants to subject their already overworked employees to the stresses of an inventory. However, this is a great time of year to start there, because you get to ease into it, and get learning the basics out of the way for the january rush. it’s unfortunately similar in some ways to what’s described here about LF. However, I think the employee/management balance is much better worked out, and when you understand the nature of how it works it becomes a little easier to handle some of the other things. a large difference seems to be that RGIS realizes that when their employees benefit, they benefit. it’s closer to a symbiotic relationship than any other company that I’ve worked for so far. They want you to be accurate and fast, and they will gladly teach you to be accurate and fast, and the more accurate and fast you are, the more work you get, and the more money you make per hour. Most people don’t ever see that aspect of it, especially new hires, because of course when you first start, you’ll be neither fast nor accurate and it takes most people a while to adjust to the mind-set required. also RGIS is everywhere as our customers are too (Walmart, Target, HomeDepot, Sears, Macys, etc). If I move to another state, I could conceivably transfer to a different office there.

            I feel like these two ventures might complement each other though because they’re very similar in concept. Also, I want google search to get better, I think many times the biggest issue with searching for something is coming up with the right words to search with

          3. red

            This is in reply about RGIS, I worked for them 5 years. I enjoy counting. Someone made a comment about malevolent, I have seen it is women who are causing the problems.
            This is a humorous story, but while working at RGIS, a group of women, for some reason wanted me to hook up with some man working there. I wasn’t interested, I was happy working and paying my own way through life. But he was interested in me. This man was slow mentally, he was nice looking, but couldn’t carry himself through life. They would say, he is inheriting a lots of money, as though that would make any difference. The women in charge, were the work schedulers, they schedule people for when they would work. This was more than 12 years ago, but they made my life a living *&*$* because I rejected this man. I quit because of the pressure and games and my scheduling was getting to be less and less, plus I was surprised to see someone posting for RGIS, it’s not the same as working online. I hope RGIS has changed management by now, because it’s stupid that someone can’t work because some old married women want to decide whether you have a job if you date who they want you to date.

            I have worked online for two different transcriptions companies. One company I worded for 1 and half years. Some of the QA people were getting frustrated with some of the work turned in by the transcriptions. They came up with a test to weed out the people they didn’t like. I passed that test. They came up with a different test, they thought it was better. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong, and failed the 2nd part. I had been working with them for 1 years and half, and only had one rejection. They ask me to stay and not to give up. They didn’t pay enough and it wasn’t worth the frustration, but what I find, women want to make life miserable for people they want to see leave because they want people working under them that make their work easier. It’s about them, they don’t look at it from the view point of potential.

            2nd transcription company, I have been with them 1 years and half, and they have a rating system, which I rated high eventually. The first year, people downloaded free dictation software they could use, then they created their own text editor a year later. I like to download my work and complete it in WORD and I didn’t like using the text editor, and now they pressure me to use their editor. It is a woman who is pressuring, she even sends emails to offer me extra money to use it. She doesn’t care, that I’ve done a good job, she is taking is personal.

            The point being, don’t be so quick to judge and blame men, women have this thing about everyone doing whatever everyone else is doing, and men, they look at a person’s potential and like the challenge of helping to get that person to their potential from my experience. I find woman are not patient and are selfish, it’s all about themselves. Many men are pushed by women to do what they do.

            As for being angry with companies having all the control, it’s their company, they are the ones who if you as a contractor mess up, they have to answer to the customer. If you want control, start your own company and I bet your view of contractor workers will change, you will want control over what they do, because it’s your loss if your customers don’t get what they want.

            I do appreciate the post, and I am thinking about applying, just to see. I do have one question, is there any way possible a person could mess up and be sued for doing something wrong?

  5. David

    Hello, I’ve been working with LeapForce since December 2012. During the first two months I had lots of tasks available at any time I logged in.
    But since February it’s hard to find any tasks on weekends and sometimes even on some weekdays. Is it normal?

    Thanks, David

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Hi, David -
      There isn’t really any “normal.” Your question is at the heart of LF anxiety. Task availability fluctuates completely unpredictably, but everyone’s always anxious to know: “Is it everyone, or is it just me?”

      Hang out in Chat, and see what people are saying. If you’re in the U.S., and other people have tasks at times when you don’t, then it’s possible you’re under some type of cap. Or, if you have tasks in the early part of the day and then suddenly there aren’t any more in your queue (but others in Chat seem to keep on having work) then you might be under some type of limit. But you never know — some people used to speculate about whether certain regions got tasks when others didn’t. Personal caps eventually are removed, but they’re nervewracking while they’re in place.

      If everyone in Chat is also NRT (without tasks), then you have the faint comfort of knowing you’re not being singled out. Task availability is fickle and unreliable. Nobody ever knows how the next day will shape up, taskwise. Summers seem to be uniformly horrible – be sure to get some other income source in place by summer, because work really dries up.

      I wish you all the best!
      Betsy

      Reply
  6. Laurie

    Hi Betsy, thanks so much for posting your experience. I’ve been rating for about 3 weeks and just got my first review. Substandard for one and lower than that for the other. Like you I’m well educated, aced my college boards etc and I too was feeling pretty discouraged. It seems like you try to follow their “guidelines” and then are marked wrong. So the next similar page you adjust your rating to match what they said you were wrong on before, and then you’re wrong again, you should have rated this second page as you would have if hadn’t adjusted your rating to match their suggestion . Consistency would be wonderful. And seriously, mark it totally wrong because they think it should be Much Better rather than Better? I also find it interesting that I never had any problem logging on and finding tons of tasks available – til I got this lousy rating. Coincidence? I think not. Maybe they’re waiting to see if I log on for more training/practice before they decide I’m worthy of more tasks. I also find the time they allow is just insufficient to do a quality rating job. Luckily for me, I’m not relying on LF to survive but I feel sorry for people who are.

    Reply
  7. Kristine

    Laurie,
    Thanks for making me feel better. I am also college educated and have often tested well. I had my son last year and tried to rely on the LF income to survive, bad news, almost impossible. I just received similar ratings, substandard and below, after feeling I was finally making enough to live on. I was removed from the project with the most tasks, essentially let go. I have definitely been given less tasks when my reviews were lower in the past. I don’t think it’s a coincidence at all. I did tests and simulations and was then given more tasks. Glad to hear you have other resources to live on, unfortunately it’s back to job searching and submitting apps for me.

    Reply
    1. Laurie

      What I can’t figure is how some of their own ratings, when they’re scoring us, violate their own guidelines. I think they have some software issues because when I was testing for them I was sent an email saying my test date was a date that was already past. Very strange….My brother’s theory is that if your answer is outside the most common answer it’s automatically wrong. Like taking a math test and answering 2+2 = 4 but the majority of the class answers 2 + 2 = 5 so you’re marked wrong because your answer was less common. Or maybe they’re really running a huge project to measure the desperation of workers for jobs ;-)…. who knows? Are you familiar with Amazon’s Mechanical Turk? The pay for a lot of the tasks is really low but it’s no stress and according to one of the WAH sites I was looking at, can help you get your foot in the door for higher paying things such as transcription. Have you looked at oDesk? I don’t know if you type well but I found this article interesting: http://www.workathomenoscams.com/2010/02/15/how-to-make-money-typing-at-amazon/. I also found this whole site interesting: http://www.workathomenoscams.com/ It was where I learned of Mturk. So hang in there & don’t let LF make you feel like you’ve suddenly lost all your marbles!

      Reply
    2. admin Post author

      Hi, Kristine and Laurie -

      I haven’t been tending my blog too closely lately, but I’m glad it is functioning as a meeting place for people to speak honestly about LF. Weirdly, I’m still getting LF emails, so I guess they haven’t purged me from their list of contractors yet.

      I agree that the whole ratings approach is counter-intuitive and frustrating. It would be such a different experience, so much more freeing, if they just asked us to rate according to our own perception, as examples of typical users.

      Kristine, your email gave me an idea. Would you be willing to let me anonymously interview you about what it’s like for you to be a single mom, making your whole living by extracting money from the cyberworld? I have my own experience, since only part of my income is from art and the rest of it comes from online work. But I’m interested in this whole sector of the workforce, and I’d like to put together an article about it that I could maybe pitch to a reputable online journal.

      If you feel like doing that, you could send me a message via my contact form (the “contact” tab on this website) and give me an email address for you. I wouldn’t need your last name or anything. Maybe your city or general region would be useful. And if you’re not interested, it’s OK. I do wish you well.

      Reply
      1. Laurie

        Betsy, if you find enough people to interview for your article, I’d love to read it. It’s a great idea. Interesting that LF hasn’t purged you yet. I do wonder, if they’ve already decided what’s good and what’s bad, why are they having all these pages rated further? I still think there’s an ulterior motive that we haven’t figured out.

        Reply
      2. Keith

        As someone who is looking for a way to supplement a fixed income, I have found this blog very interesting, especially the remarks and questions in the comments section. Has anyone ever tried ignoring all the dictates and just doing the tasks randomly— you know, without any consideration of what you really thought or what LF demanded from the task?

        Might that improve an agent’s LF performance reviews? Because quite honestly, it doesn’t seem like it could possibly hurt.

        Reply
        1. Laurie

          Who knows? Following LFs dictates was kind of like keeping up with the moods of a manic-depressive person

          Reply
  8. Kristine

    Laurie, Thanks again! Resources are very helpful and I will definitely check them out.
    Betsy, I’m giving you my contact info…
    I never used the chat function on the website and now that I look back that would have been a great resource. I wish I had seen this site a couple of months ago, it might have helped me. I noticed the more tasks I did my quality went down. When they first gave me a below average rating last year I also freaked and used as many resources as I could to improve and it worked for awhile. I can see how you referred to the resources as a ‘calibration’ tool, I should have used them more often. Hindsight is 20/20. I would try other rating firms like Lionbridge, Appen Butler Hill or Workforce Logic but I’m still technically with LF. They let me qualify for another project but there’s no tasks except if your an MAC/Apple user. I also don’t think I’ll qualify for the others because I have worked for LF. I have two friends who work for Lionbridge and they have a lot more resources for instruction and their timesheets are a lot easier to fill out. I watched some of their seminars and they were helpful.
    I completely agree with you Betsy, if it is a rating system for the typical user why are there so many rules and guidelines. I never fit very well in a box-like mentality and that seems to be how you have to think for them.

    Reply
    1. Laurie

      Well I wish now I’d gone with Lionbridge. I applied for LF and Lionbridge both, heard from LF right away, then Lionbridge contacted me during my second test for LF. I should have kicked LF to the curb at that point but from everything I was reading online the two were pretty much the same so I figured I’d go with the devil I knew & if you’re testing for LF than you get shut out of LB. I still wonder if they aren’t using the “training” resources as a way to get unpaid ratings out of the worker bees. Suddenly tell somebody they are sub-par so they’ll leap right into doing the training modules and thus providing unpaid ratings? I suppose I could learn to think in their box but the problem I found is they kept changing the box….!

      Reply
  9. ex-rater

    Great article,
    Wanted to add the fact that google is leapforce’s “client” and that they require you to do your work ( the yukon project) with Firefox not Chrome (which is funny in my opinion), also I have seen at least 2 of “grandpa’s” posts in his social profile deleted which amounts to censorship and just adds to the sense of paranoia that seems to pervade the chat and social area.
    Anyway I think the author of this article hit the nail on the head, this job is for desperate people. I think there are two types of people that this job would benefit the most: 1) People that need a few thousand dollars to get by for the next few months but are not looking to make a career out of it. They can just do the minimal amount of training and research until their quality scores get them kicked after a few months, but by then they have gotten what they needed so no loss. 2) People that want to make a real job out of it. One strategy would be to study the guidelines inside and out, take all the quizzes and finish all the simulator tasks maybe multiple times while doing just enough tasks for the first few months to keep them employed and spend many hours per day reading the chat and social areas (like ‘grandpa’ does), because if they are informed that their quality is not up to par there isn’t any time to “do a better job”. For example they will find out how their quality of work for February was near the end of March, which leaves no time to improve, they just have to hope they did better during March, but they won’t find out until about 3/4 the way through April.
    It seems that leapforce is expecting higher quality than they did in the past and it is defiantly achievable, but it is the people with few or no high paying job possibilities that seem to take the “job” seriously. However the job advertisements say they need highly educated people…

    Reply
    1. Laurie Binns

      It’s really hard to do a quality job for them when their own ratings of your quality directly contradict the results you get in the simulators and what they say in their own guidelines. Because of the NDA I can’t cite specific examples. But if their software is not a problem, then why would I have gotten an auto-generated email giving me start test date for a date that was already past? I also got an email saying I should practice a certain task, but when I logged on, I couldn’t access the task. When I emailed support, the answer I got is that task is not relevant. So they’re sending emails saying practice something you can’t access in the first place, because it’s of no use? I still wonder what their real purpose is because I don’t see how they can be gathering good data with such a screwed-up system. Oh well, I’m done wasting my time trying to figure out what Leapforce really wants. I just feel bad for people who really need the job, work hard to pass the test, think they’ve got a job, and then get tossed into their Alice-Through-the-Looking-Glass craziness. If you look at things like the work-at-home-mom forums, it’s full of people waiting with baited breath – did I pass? Why aren’t there any tasks? I’m locked out of chat – why? and so on. It’s just sort of sad.

      Reply
  10. Leah

    I swear I could have written that chat log example. Although I have no chat channels open to me so I cannot. I never had a substandard rating on my work but was pulled from the Yukon project because I hadn’t completed enough tasks. Never mind that for where I am Canada (EN), there were not 200 tasks in a month the last few months. God forbid some facts get in the way of LF logic. Anyway, it is like being in limbo. No idea what is going on and they do not respond to emails.

    Reply
  11. JMH

    First off, Thanks so much for your candor and also quick response with questions and comments.
    Second, I’m a junior in college, home for the summer, trying to make more money as always. I don’t have a car and I am taking online classes so the idea of working online seems the most practical. My question is: is it worth it? You talked about tasks being fewer during the summer, but I can’t help but think that anything is better than nothing. Since I’m taking online courses I have no problem sitting and working on homework/listening to lectures and waiting for a notification from the add-on you talked about. Thoughts/opinions?

    Reply
    1. Laurie

      If you have all the time in the world to devote to their testing, and don’t mind struggling to understand why an answer that was wrong one day is right the next, go for it. But I would try Lionbridge or Appen-Butler-Hill before I went with Leapforce. ABH wants people to commit to 4 hrs/day M-F which is why I can’t work for them regularly since I already have a job. I do a few freelance tasks for them and IMO they are much more professionally run than LF. I have no experience with Lionbridge – by the time they invited me to test I’d already been sucked into the LF vortex, and you can’t work for both, but I’ve heard it’s a better set up. LF demands an ungodly amt of time for study in order to do the job and none of that time is compensated which is, IMO, not right. We have two trainees at my “real” job. They have been in training for a few months now but we certainly don’t expect them to show up and work for free while they learn the ropes.

      Reply
      1. JMH

        Laurie,
        Do you think you could give a simple list of the pros/cons to Lionbridge or Appen-Butler-Hill? Thanks for the suggestion.

        Reply
        1. Laurie

          I can’t post any personal experience with Lionbridge because I never worked for them. Saw some comments on some of the WAH forums that they were a better deal. But I’ve found ABH treats their people like real people. If you have a question you get a personal response from a real person, not a computer-generated canned response from the “support team”. That said, I have not worked for them as a rater so I don’t know how that goes and if you’re working at occasional freelance jobs, there’s not much work. Unless you happen to be online at the time a job pops up, all the work will be gone in short order.

          Reply
      2. Eve

        You say you can’t work for more than one of these companies. Are you allowed to apply to two at the same time? I am supposed to be receiving a test from LF on Friday, but just read all this stuff and would like to apply with Appen-Butler Hill instead. Suppose I take the test I get from LF and still apply with Appen-Butler Hill, intending to choose which one I really want to work for at a later date. If this is technically not allowed, how will they find out what a terrible person I am for applying to both of them at the same time? Can I get away with it?

        Reply
        1. Laurie

          I know that Lionbridge has a way of knowing if you are connected with Leapforce because they had invited me to test after I was taking my second Leapforce test but as soon as I logged onto the second Leapforce test they canceled the offer. Also some of the test materials will say something along the line of “Leapforce/Lionbridge workers stop here” or “read this” I never ran into a problem with ABH connecting me with Leapforce. Good luck on your Leapforce test. When fighting your way thru the material trying to find the exact answer, remember Ctrl-F is your friend ;-)

          Reply
          1. kR

            Hi Laurie,

            I just applied to Leapforce before I saw your blog, and immediately applied to Lionbridge. I did not take an assessment test with LF yet, but clicked on the Yukon project to “qualify”. It’s currently in that status and I received an “IN PROGRESS – Basic qualification package to be reviewed by Leapforce”, but have not completed and passed the Yukon online qualification exam.

            Do you think this will disqualify me from Lionbrige offering me the test? I will not reply or click on anything else from LF if I am still OK. Thanks for review and answering questions!

          2. Laurie

            Probably not but I can’t say for sure because I have no idea what goes on in Leapforce’s alternate universe. Best of luck to you!

          3. kR

            So I never did log in to take the Leapforce test, and it seems that Lionbridge decided to drop the offer to take the exam a few days after they had scheduled it. Their explanation was that they had performed IP checks and decided that I wasn’t a fit anymore. It looks like regardless if you take the exam or not, if they see that you have contacted Leapforce, they dismiss you. So, the moral of the story is: Unless you change your IP address on your router, pick one of the companies and apply for them, otherwise the competitor will know!

          4. Eve

            KR – I just got a link from Lionbridge to access their qualification portal. Did you get to this stage before they dropped the offer to take the exam? I am wondering if I need to change my IP address before I access the qualification portal.

      3. Joy Rockwood

        I just past the test for LF and signed a contract and filled out a w-9. I have not given them my bank info to be paid yet, nor have I began any work. Now having found this blog and all of these comments I am just hearing of LionBridge. In your’s or anyone elses opinion and experience am I still able to apply to LionBridge or should I consider myself LF property as far as WSE work until the 6 month contract is up?

        -Joy

        Reply
        1. Betsy Post author

          Hi, Joy – I don’t understand why your comment ended up way up here, but I’m going to copy it down at the end so people can find it.

          Reply
    2. admin Post author

      Hi, JMH (and everyone) -

      I’m traveling and distracted right now, in the middle of Manhattan, but I wanted to respond because I’m surprised by how much traffic this blog has been getting. I never expected that.

      JMH, if you’re already spending hours in front of the computer taking courses, the Mom part of me just wants to tell you to figure out some physical way of earning money. Can you walk dogs or do landscaping for people? Or get a job waiting tables? I hate to think of someone young becoming a mole-person, stuck to the screen for their education as well as their income. But, I totally understand transportation being an issue, so to answer your question:

      There are delays involved in beginning to work for LF, so if you started your application tomorrow you might not see any money from your work til around August. The early phase of working for LF involves heaps of finicky unpaid study time, so there’s a learning curve during which your income would suck.

      On the other hand, if you truly have nothing else to be doing this summer, getting into Leapforce is more productive than playing video games or something. But once classes begin again in the fall, you might not have the time or focus for LF’s endless hair-splitting details and changes, and you might feel happier if you balance all the schoolwork with a real-world offline job.

      Best of luck to you.

      Reply
      1. JMH

        I have a 5-8 pm. custodial job (only makes about 350/mo) and have applied to every CVS or Olive Garden, Starbucks, etc within walking distance. Until/if I hear back from any applications or other options, online it is, unfortunately. Thanks for the advice, most likely LF will be an absolute last resort. Thanks for taking the time to right a post answering questions that I and others have had.

        Reply
        1. Laurie

          As a student, have you thought about tutoring at all? Or childcare? A friend of mine’s daughter is working this summer as a babysitter/tutor and is making decent $$ – better than what you’d make at LF once you factor in the endless hours of unpaid training. I was lucky in that I could work on it during downtime at my real job – I dispatch 911 so when we aren’t actively dispatching a call, our time is our own, we are free to read. But I’d never have given up my own free time for all of that.

          Reply
  12. Danny

    Hello Betsy,

    I began working for Leapforce at the end of May, totally unaware to the anxiety I’d soon experience. Just recently, I received a substandard score for the month of June so I don’t expect to be a part of their workforce for long. I will not dehumanize myself to understand their warped rating logic nor waste my youth & precious time reading their never-ending-always-updating guidelines, simulators and chats. Simply, If I can get an okay 2-3 (700-1k/month) paychecks before they come for me, I would be happy.

    1. Are “experimental” task paid? I get tons of these and I’m weary as I hear stories of LF not allowing workers to bill for those task
    2. When can I expect my first direct deposit?
    3. I will be going out of state to attend college. Is it possible with a change of IP address to apply to the other online work forces discussed in the comments section?
    4. What is the earliest you’ve heard someone being fired from LF? Like how do they know if we talk about LF outside of their site, do they have remote access to our computers?

    Sorry for all the questions but I am curious and would like to know if I should game the system before it games me or whether to reconsider. If you could answer some of my questions that would be very appreciated.

    Reply
    1. Laurie

      Your first direct deposit will come a week or two after your first invoice is accepted. Maybe 3 weeks or so into the next month. I think if you want to try Lionbridge or ABH with a different IP you would be fine. ABH let me go to work for them even with the same IP. But I don’t have time (4 hrs day) to rate for them and the other tasks are few and far btw. Just earn what you can from Leapforce and if/when they kick you to the curb, move on. I suspect if your rating isn’t nearest to the “norm” (like at the top of a bell curve) they consider it substandard. That is the only thing I can figure because what they say in the training and how they assess things in real life are apples and oranges. Oh, FWIW I got paid for the experimental tasks. I actually liked them better, they were more interesting than endless side by sides which are nearly impossible to do a quality job on in the time allotted. Of course you can take more time but then you are working for less than the going rate because you’ll only get paid for the time they allow. So go ahead and spend 20 minutes to do a quality job on a side by side with ten different complex webpages to evaluate, but realize you’ll only get paid for the 9 minutes they allot for the task.

      Reply
        1. Laurie

          When you work for LF you submit an invoice to them at the end of the month. They give you very specific instructions. It’s been awhile since I did it, but it’s not hard.

          Reply
  13. Paul

    Having just spent close to 45 minutes completing the initial application,I came upon your site.
    Thank you for rescuing me! I think I’ll go back to waiting tables.
    A little too Orwellian for me!

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Hey, Paul – if you can wait tables, you’ll make better money and stay saner in the bargain!

      Reply
    2. Elder-one

      Orwellian is putting it mildly. Namless and faceless responses, abrupt endings to the individual tests, sketchy instructions, no practice examples, no feed back and subjective examples in the guide, which sometines conflict make the LF test one of the most odd experiencess I have had in my life time.

      I just got done completing all 3 parts of the LF exam. I failed number 3. How can anyone fail a test using a guide that is littered with phrases like “when in doubt, rate low”, or “use your own judgment?” The guide itself is a jumbled series of subjective interpretations and subjective examples.

      The only reason i took so much time and made such an effort on this is because i needed the job. In better economic times I am sure LF will change its tune.

      It is time we see some laws in congress for governing the actions of these ‘CrowdSource” companies.

      Reply
  14. Suzanne

    Betsy, I am so glad you posted this. I, too, have experienced what I thought were software issues or glitches on LF’s end, and I’m just in the qualifying stage! I had been beating myself up about how to proceed, and the feedback and honesty from everyone here has been invaluable. I am in my 60s, in great shape physically, but still facing an awful age prejudice in the workforce trying to get employed after losing my 20-year job of faithful service suddenly, with no benefits, nothing. Reading all this really takes the pressure off. I can’t make it on my SS alone, unfortunately. I hope I can learn something here to pass on to my daughter. I would never want this to happen to her and her two little boys. Thanks, again.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Hi, Suzanne -

      I’m 57 and you’re right – if I had been trying to apply for work in person (rather than online) I would be completely shut out on account of my age. I’m so sorry that you were treated that way by the place where you worked for 20 years.

      Leapforce is a headache and it takes forever to learn and study for, but it can help you survive until you figure out something better. Check out WriterAccess – you seem like you can string English sentences together. Writing online has a slow starting time, too, but it’s way less aggravating and dictatorial than Leapforce.

      Reply
      1. Suzanne

        Thanks for the suggestion – you can bet that I will follow up on it. I have really enjoyed reading your blog – you have a great voice. You sounded like someone in her 30s – by that I mean, that’s how I envisioned you. Good for you, Betsy. And again, thanks so much for sticking your neck out to lay it on the line for those of us who typed in “how to survive in LP”, and found you.

        Reply
  15. admin Post author

    Suzanne,

    I’m happy to be helpful. I’ll post more of what to know about WriterAccess; their application and profile-building takes HOURS to wade through, but with patience you’ll end up with a better job than LF, and a skill you can expand into the real world. Immediate tip: When you choose which sample assignment to complete for WriterAccess, choose the press release. It’s the most sophisticated of the samples, and will start you off at the best level. You can learn online how to write press releases.(I’m assuming the application process hasn’t changed in the last 8 months or so.)

    Reply
  16. Laurie

    You know it’s kind of sick and/or kind of funny but your comment: “I found myself becoming pitifully preoccupied with what they wanted from me, and with what was meant by each tiny syllable out of System Support” reminds me a bit of how a young girl with a crush acts, analyzing every word and nuance (“yesterday he said ‘Hi, Laurie’ and today it was just ‘hi….’ – what do you suppose that means….?”). I used to think WAH would be low stress compared to my real job but that was sure not the case. Chalk it up to life experience and move on, I say.

    Reply
  17. edisciple

    I’ve just spent an hour reading Post 1, 2, 3 & 4 along with every comment on each post. As some have mentioned, thank goodness I’ve found this blog. It just so happens that Google has the blog placed on first page (ironic). Here’s an idea (epiphany); this blog posts & comments about LF should be turned into a movie script. It’s a fascination story; dark, melancholy, man (or woman) against the machine kind of a story. We should all collaborate and pitch it on Kickstarter. And, since Betsy and others are writers, it shouldn’t be that difficult to get started. Anyone???

    Reply
  18. PJB

    I’m interested in working for Leapforce (could use the income) and have always considered myself ‘pretty computer savvy’, despite that, and despite having read through the guidelines I was unable to pass the final part of the Leapforce exam. I went through the first two really quickly and passed, but the third was a little more vague with the utlity slider and the page quality rank all in one. I pondered to myself as I was taking the test – How much margin for error is there exactly? For example, let’s say the correct answer is ‘Highest’ on the utility rating of one question – but I chose ‘High’ instead – Is this still counted as a partially correct answer, or is that automatically a fail? I find it very uncomfortable not knowing how the test is scored. I have been given a chance to resit the exam, so any tips would be appreciated… Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Laurie

      My best tip would be – don’t bother. Even after you take the test that’s no guarantee that you will continue to get any work. Even if you get hired, if they decide your work is less than stellar, you’ll get the boot without any examples of what they didn’t like. Personally I think their software has some glitches. When I was invited to retest I was given a test date that had already passed then out of the blue the test shows up in my inbox. That’s just one example of many of the bizarre world of Leapforce. You can analyze and overanalyze and it’s still a crapshoot. Factor in the endless training and updates you’re supposed to do on your own time, divided by the time you’re actually earning, and the rate of pay drops considerably. Also if you take the time to do a quality job, you won’t get the task done in the allotted time. They will only pay you for the allotted time. If you work within the allotted time in some of the more complex tasks, such as the side-by-sides where you have to do a fairly in-depth look at 10 different webpages, you won’t have time to perform a careful analysis and your quality rating will suffer. Even something like working during a time when pages are loading slowly will affect your ability to finish in the allotted time, so you might spend 18 mins on a task, but you’ll only be paid for 9, further cutting your pay. My brother’s theory was that the answers they like are the ones that fit the “norm” so if you are a creative thinker, thinking outside the box, you won’t match the masses. I used to think working at home would be low stress but LF was one of the most stressful things I’ve ever done. I felt like Alice down the rabbit hole. My “day” job is 911 dispatch and it’s low stress compared to LF. I don’t know why LF doesn’t train people well and consistently, give them useful feedback, and keep the ones they hire rather than running a revolving door of newbies. I almost wonder if their “testing” is really getting them a lot of free data. LF is a huge waste of time and an insult to the intelligence of those they “hire”

      Reply
      1. PJB

        Thanks for the reply – I will take it into consideration, though I will still resit the test as any extra income to me is useful at this point in time. I’m also primed to take a qualification test for Appen Butler Hill which I am really hoping to pass – I’ve heard good things about them and have so far been impressed with the welcome material.

        Reply
        1. Laurie

          Best of luck to you – I can’t recall if ABH has any restrictions as far as working for anybody else? If they do, I would leave LF alone and concentrate on ABH because they are a much better company. I can’t work steadily for them because they require min 20 hrs week and I already have a job (I was looking for just a little extra income) but I have done a few small things for them. You will honestly get more per hour at McDonald’s than with LF, once you factor in all the unpaid time LF requires you to put in. Good luck, wishing you the best!

          Reply
        2. Laurie

          Another WAH opportunity I forgot to mention is Alpine Access – that’s providing customer service for high-end companies who don’t have their call centers outsourced. You work at home but it’s a fixed schedule of when you sign on and start taking calls. Seemed like a decent company. My hours didn’t fit their schedule but it’s worth exploring.

          Reply
          1. PJB

            I passed the second exam and have been going through the endless pages of reading material on the social feeds and project pages. It’s a lot to take in, very overwhealming. I’m going to try and work a few tasks in the coming days, but I don’t like the look of those experimental ‘research’ tasks – What’s the deal with those? Around 8 minutes assigned for what looks like a good 15-20 minutes of research. Is it possible to release tasks if you don’t like them?

            If I pass the ABH tests I wll likely just drop LF, and at the moment I am just pouring through countless WAH sites and applying where possible.

          2. Laurie

            I would check their policy on releasing tasks since I honestly don’t know if they “penalize” you if you release too many. I agree, the time allotted isn’t enough but that works in their favor since you only get paid for the time allotted. Good luck!

  19. CoffeeBean

    Hello,
    I really appreciate your post. I just had a baby 5 months ago and am able to stay home with her until March or April, but the thought of leaving her is already killing me. So someone recommended Leapforce to me. I noticed that there is an exam to take. Is the exam difficult at all? I really want to give this a shot-regardless of the downfalls that LF seems to have. I’m desperate. Also, how much do you think, on average, people bring in in a month?? I just need $300/month to survive right now.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Laurie

      Before you try Leapforce, try Appen Butler Hill. MUCH better company. Also try Lionbridge, look at the WAH moms websites, try Alpine Access, if you type well you can try transcription (get your foot in the door thru Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, there’s a good link to how to get started doing transcription in a website called Work At Home No Scams). If LF has regular work, yes, you could make $300/mo but that’s always an if. The test is not that easy, mainly because LF evaluation criteria isn’t cut and dried, it’s like you’re shooting at a constantly changing target. I would go to LF as a last resort if you’ve exhausted all other options.

      Reply
      1. admin Post author

        Laurie, thanks for supplying that helpful reply. I should make a post about the WAH site, because there probably are a lot of folks who don’t know about it.

        Reply
    1. Laurie

      Tasks per hour – there is no set answer. Varies depending on the complexity of the task. I think they required a min of 200 tasks per month but sometimes there aren’t 200 tasks available. I have heard that they didn’t “fire” people for not making 200 per month. Also keep in mind if you are hired, it’s a 6 month duration and it’s up to them whether or not to renew you at the end of the 6 months.

      Reply
  20. AC

    I started working with LP a month ago. I have invoiced them twice, and they returned me my second invoice with a “Non Compliance Notice”, because my productivity rate was 50% of the expected target. I felt totally devastated, but in some way I have found explanations to my “low productivity” in this blog: I didn’t pay attention, or didn’t take seriously the allotted time for the tasks. I simply spent the time I needed to make a conscientious evaluation. Now I am in a dilemma: they are asking me to correct any mistakes in the invoice prior to a final submission, or if there are not mistakes (which is the case) re-submit the invoice “as is”, and that would mean I acknowledge receipt of their notice. Have any of you been in a similar situation? I don’t know what to do, and even if I would want to make adjustments, I didn’t know how to do it. Any suggestions…? : (

    Reply
    1. Betsy

      Hi – replying from phone – I’m no expert but I think you should resubmit invoice with only the amt of hours you SHOULD have spent on tasks. Just shave off time and make up new ending times. I used to do that all the time. They don’t care about truth – they just don’t want you billing for more than the allotted time. Good luck; hang in there. -Betsy (I’m not logged in right now. )

      Reply
    2. Germangal

      Hi,
      I just had that issue with them as well the first time in 3 months . I was 95% instead of 100% and I went another route though that strange wise was accepted from then. I left a note why it might have taken longer for a specific tasks and they bought it. Don’t know if that works in other case but worth a try if you are just below the 100% and kinda can recall on what tasks you spent more time than average!!! Note on the side: They give LF workers a warning that if the performance level is not improved in the next pay cycle they will be able to remove them from the project……oh and recently they start to bother me with reviews where they want an answer to why my rating differs (only marginally) from theirs and they don’t provide me with any explanation why their rating is better than mine..as a response I kindly required the type of review from them in which they at least explain why they give a certain rating…And all I think is “When they already know the correct answer what do they need a rater for?”. –Invoicing: Try to keep track of how many tasks you did in which time (Toggl + maybe a handwritten list?) – so you could use that as an argument if they bother you again about an invoice! Happy Lforcing! a gal from Germany

      Reply
  21. Jasmine Wright

    HELLO I RECENTLY APPPLIED TO LEAPFORCE. I STUDIED VERY HARD AND PUT MY LITTLE DOWN TO SLEEP TO TAKE THE EXAM… SHE SLEEPS THROUGH THE NIGHT BUT OUT OF ALLLLL NIGHTS SHE DECIDES TO WAKE UP AND WANTS TO PLAY LOL. ANYWHO I FOUND MYSELF FOCUSED ON HER AND ENDED UP FAILING THE TEST :(.. CAN I REAPPLY????? I KNOW I CAN PASS I JUST NEED TIME AND WOULD I HAVE TO CHANGE MY IP ADDRESS BEFORE I APPLY AGAIN??? I TRIED APPLYING TO LIONBRIDGE BUT NO RESPONSE AS OF YET… I REALLY NEED THIS JOB CAN ANYONE HELP ME PLEASE!???

    Reply
    1. AC

      I think you might be able to take the exam again. The exam has three parts and they allow you to take each after you pass the previous one. In my case I passed the first part (theory) and when I tried to take the second test the system did not allow me to take it. I got a message telling me the test window was closed, which was not true: it was the last day, but I still was in a valid time period to take the exam. I emailed LF letting them know about the issue. For my surprise I got an new invitation to apply very few days after that, but I had to take the first part again (even though I had passed that part.) Good luck!

      Reply
  22. Laurie

    Isn’t that the worst luck? The day I was testing we had a power failure! I couldn’t believe it, I’m halfway through the test and the power goes out. They tell you you can only test once but then you get an email inviting you to retest. Best of luck to you and fwiw if you aren’t invited to retest for some reason, don’t feel too bad, it’s not the opportunity of a lifetime.

    Reply
  23. Sil

    all of you were very helpful!! thank you so much! it’s always scary to me to try to find something from home and not know if its some kind of scam. I’ll be unsubscribing to LF as i didn’t take the Yukon exam yet :) Thanks so much!

    Reply
    1. Jenyavan

      Hi
      Looks like I am rocking the same boat that you were. I have not taken any LF exams and want to opt out or unsubscribe. When I logged in to do this, there were no options for me to choose from, just same notice saying what the email said already. How did you unsubscribe from the test date? Any ideas for me?

      Reply
      1. Jenyavan

        I wasn’t looking for opinions so much as I was asking for constructive advice from someone with experience in this exact scenario, such as the person whose comment above which I was replying to. It seems that applying to Lionbridge may be more difficult now simply because the process has already been initiated with LF. When clicking on the link in the email that supposedly takes me to a page that will allow me to change date or somesuch, I am taken to my account where I am pretty much frozen on a status page, that does not help me. I would like to attempt to reconcile this and simply with draw my application, in hopes that this may help in applying to Lionbridge. Sorry that was so detailed, it seems that if I neglect to explain myself thouroughly, I may end up with another sassy remark rather than a thoughtful answer to my situation. I spent well over an hour reading through all the pages and commentary, and this seems like the best forum out there that actually explains what LF is, and even offers some viable alternatives. Thanks to Betsy and all other contributors for this wealth of information, as the BBB didn’t have much to go off of.

        Reply
        1. Laurie

          I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that you were also considering Lionbridge. I’m not sure how the two link together. As I recall I applied for both simultaneously, heard from LF first so i began testing with them, as soon as I did LB cut me off. I’m not sure how the two coordinate together. I’m sorry, I don’t know if you “ignore” LF and just let your test date expire and continue on with LB if that will work or not? I can’t remember at what point you submit your SS# so are they IDing people thru their IP address or other info? That’s the frustrating part, everything is so secretive, and for what good reason?

          Reply
          1. janaeve

            I applied at Leapforce, and then decided not to take the test. I then applied to Lionbridge, did not tell them I had previously applied for Leapforce, and got the job with no questions asked. The important point is that I applied for the Ad Assessor job with Lionbridge, which is NOT a project for Google. This led me to wonder if the IP checking comes from the company’s client and not the company. But of course I am not sure, it’s just a suspicion. I would highly recommend applying for the Ad Assessor job over the Search Evaluator positions. I have seen the guidelines for both, and the rules for Ad Assessor, while still a little ridiculous at some times, are much more manageable and easier to understand. As in, 40 pages long instead of 100 plus pages.

  24. Keiron - A Current LF worker

    I’ll be honest, Leapforce has been touch and go for me. When I first started it was around Summer holidays after I finished university, which was apparently a notable time for a lack of tasks – I didn’t let this worry me, I had a friend who had already been working for them and knew when tasks were available, I’d be rolling in it. However, the first month I was sitting and waiting and had 0 tasks, only to find they hadn’t activated my account properly.
    Since then, Things were going well, doing around 98 hours in my first month, the second month I received feedback of substandard, and the month after that I received Unacceptable for one category (Which apparantly meant I couldnt work the other categories..)

    Regardless, I did some research into how to get back to unlimited tasks (At this time it’s pretty rare to get NRT, I haven’t been NRT in weeks currently and done over 100 hours before its even halfway through the month)
    & So, I continued to do ALL the simulations and practice Quizzes. After doing these (took around 1 week / 50 hours) I had realised my rating was completely different to how it should be due to the simulations going against the guidelines in places. And since then, my work has been fine and ongoing.

    The bad thing about Leapforce in my opnion:

    Communication is touchy. My friend and I got unacceptable in the same month, we contacted them a day apart, i received a reply straight away and was given work. 1 month later he received a reply and was still capped.
    Sometimes you can literally be waiting weeks, sending off multiple emails to multiple different addresses (I found some addresses reply much better than others if you find out what these addresses are). And it’s just a pain if this is your only income.

    However, when things are running smoothly, there is nothing better than leapforce.. it’s just getting to that point that is tricky.

    Reply
  25. Germangal

    Oh forgot one important thing: Appen Butler Hill is WAY more humane! And they offer better pay rates and less stressful tasks plus they track your work hours! I work for them as well and so far have been pretty happy with them. The only thing you might have to consider is that a contract might contain 20hrs/week but sometimes a project can be amended and the work load can be unstable and low as well in the end phase or when their client is adjusting the tasks. By the way there is an Appen Butler Hill branch in Australia and they offer transcription tasks for some markets and a paid training!!!!

    Reply
      1. admin Post author

        Hi, Jonathan – I don’t know anything about Appen, but I pasted your question into the bulletin board. Maybe someone else knows something and can write an answer.

        Reply
  26. Erdem

    Hello,

    First of all i would like to thank all of you for this invaluable informations. My questions are simple. Realistic expectation of income(Assuming giving all the time in the world) from LeapForce and Appen? Thank you for your time.

    Reply
  27. admin Post author

    Hi, Erdem – I posted an answer to you in the new Online Work Forum. It’s a tab in the menu bar. I also copied and pasted your question there. Maybe others can answer you in the forum as well.

    Reply
  28. TheDuck

    I just submitted an application for leapforce. Will I get a study guide by email, or will I have to look it up online? I will have to take 1-6 to 1-13 off this year. Is leap force accommodating of vacation time?

    Reply
    1. Laurie

      They send you links to the study guide. Don’t worry about taking time off, there is no set time to work. You log on when you’re available but there is not set time you have to work

      Reply
    1. Laurie Binns

      it’s not easy and one of the hardest parts is it’s very ambiguous. To be honest I wouldn’t worry about it. If you pass, great, if not, your thinking isn’t quite the same as Leapforce’s, so don’t beat yourself up over it. Whether or not your answer is “right” seems to be based on the opinion of whoever is judging that question. And if they already know the “right” answer then why are they having more evaluators evaluating stuff that’s already been evaluated? (how is that for a sentence ;-)? Also some of their software is just plain crazy… they tell you you can’t retake the test, then send you an invite to retest… it’s as if their right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing.

      Reply
      1. Betsy Post author

        Laurie, thanks for responding. I think your answer gets a gold star for accuracy, at least as far as I remember the test. And I did always wonder about the question you raise: if Leapforce really wants us to represent an average user, then why don’t they let us use our opinions in the work? Wouldn’t a whole lot of Leapforce workers, over time, actually represent the range of real user opinions? As it is, they tell us we’re supposed to represent an average user and then they bully us into utterly conforming to THEIR opinions.

        Reply
        1. Laurie

          Thanks Betsy – I just hate to see other people falling into the “OMG will LF approve of me & let me work??” trap that I was in. In order to do a quality job you can’t work as fast as they want you to work and sometimes there are variables beyond your control, such as how fast is the internet running right then? If you work slower you are of course cutting your pay and when you factor in how much unpaid time you spend keeping up with updates, the hourly wage drops considerably & you might be better off and less frustrated at the counter at McDonald’s. There are too many variables – “useful” “somewhat useful” (I can’t remember the exact wording) and say a worker picks “useful” rather than LF’s choice of “somewhat useful” they’re marked down just as much as if the answer was totally off the mark, say if they chose spam. When I took the test the first time, a large number of pages wouldn’t load. I even tried loading them with a different computer and a different browser just to be sure it wasn’t just my computer, and they still wouldn’t load. So you of course mark them “page wouldn’t load” and then get told you didn’t finish the test. I just hate to see a company take such advantage of people’s desperation to find work and I also cannot fathom how Google finds their results useful. I wouldn’t be surprised one iota if a lot of what they submit to Google is the results of their testers practicing and their workers studying new updates. For every person they hire, how many unpaid testers are submitting data? So if they “hire” and pay some people, they can maintain their image as a legit employer while getting a huge amt of data for free via the carrot they dangle in front of people hoping for employment.

          Reply
          1. Betsy Post author

            Laurie, I think the unhappy truth is that LF is in fact a “legit” employer; this is what legitimate online employment looks like right now. Your comment about Google taking advantage of people’s desperation is right on the mark. I was one of those desperate people myself when I took the LF job.

            A few generations ago, labor unions got started in order to counter the ability that employers had to exploit desperate people who would put up with any sort of treatment because they had to feed their families somehow.

          2. Laurie

            Agree totally on the union comments. My sister is vehemently anti-union and won’t listen when we try to explain to her that the things we all take for granted today, such as an 8 hour work day, were all fought for by organized labor. My doubts about the legitimacy of LF all stem from our wondering why they are paying people for their opinion if they already know the answer they want, and that they mine an awful lot of “free” info from people studying for the test. Yes, they do pay people but I also do wonder how much the free data they get from people studying adds to their bottom line. If they didn’t pay people then shortly nobody would be willing to do all that free evaluation, if the carrot of possible employment wasn’t dangling in front of them, keeping them plugging along.

  29. PJB

    I’m sorry to say, but having now had experience with both Appen WSE and LF I’d have to say LF is a MUCH easier and more relaxing job. Appen is a NIGHTMARE. The company is very nice, the people are very nice – But the work is AWFUL! The metrics are so tight, that just missing a few key ratings will result in you being taken out of work for a 1-2 week review (unpaid). And these metrics are recorded every week, so after months of agonizing training you can be blocked from rating after just your first week on the job (and for every other week you miss the metrics, untill they fire you). And if you think following Leapforce guidelines are hard, well Appen has no ‘acceptable rating range’ in their rating system – Whereas with Leapforce you can select a ‘range’ of correct ratings, with Appen, being 1 off the mark means you got it wrong – and if it was an important rating it means you will be 10% closer to being taken out of production. I’m sorry but the grass simply appears greener on the other side of the fence, Appen is quite likely the worst WSE job I’ve had to do.

    Add to that, they require you to use Internet Explorer and a lousy toolbar that makes LF’s toolbar look like a godsend. Incorrectly recorded work hours, countless browser crashes and toolbar issues, unfair and IMO an unethical metric rating system – the list goes on. Leapforce may suck at communication with their raters, but I’d rather put up with that for a whole year than work a single week with Appen simply because of their lousy client’s toolbar and metrics. Too bad really, because Appen are actually a really nice bunch of people and if you combined the rating system in Leapforce with the staff at Appen, you’d have the perfect WSE position.

    Reply
    1. PJB

      I should add that this applies mostly to their WSE position. I don’t know much about their translation or transcription jobs, I’d assume they are a better catch as the main problem with the search jobs is the lousy metrics. Their crowdsourcing isn’t bad, but tasks are often underpaid.

      Reply
    2. Betsy Post author

      Eesh. Well, I suppose it’s an economically viable model, so more than one company will follow it. It’s an entirely new species of workplace having virtual employees that you have no responsibility for. Replaceable cogs. Thanks for your informative comments.

      Reply
  30. Pingback: Leapforce, part 3: Discussion Questions | Betsy Sharp

  31. Betsy Post author

    A new comment was just posted here, way up in the middle of the long thread for some reason, so I’m copying it here: Joy Rockwood writes:

    “I just past the test for LF and signed a contract and filled out a w-9. I have not given them my bank info to be paid yet, nor have I began any work. Now having found this blog and all of these comments I am just hearing of LionBridge. In your’s or anyone elses opinion and experience am I still able to apply to LionBridge or should I consider myself LF property as far as WSE work until the 6 month contract is up?”

    —————-

    Joy, my answer to you is a big “I’m not sure.” Maybe if you apply to LionBridge, and got accepted, you’d have to tear up the contract you signed (figuratively, that is, by contacting LF). At the very least, it would be important for you to give different emails and Google accounts to each of those places. Is LionBridge better? If other folks can weigh in on this, it’s probably a pretty common question.

    Reply
  32. Gisselle

    Hi, I’m in the middle of studying the guidelines to take the test. Do i have to take the test right now or can i take it anytime between now and the due date? I just don’t know if closing the browser after i printed the guidelines will cause me to not be able to take the test.
    thank you

    Reply
  33. Betsy Post author

    Hi, Gisselle – Hmm. I really hope someone with more current knowledge will come here and answer your question, because it’s been so long since I took that test that I can’t recall the details. I would assume that the due date is what you need to look at. It seems unlikely that LF would set up a situation where you aren’t allowed to close your browser for days on end.

    You’re probably ok — by now, you’ve probably either finished the test or else closed your browser. If you get around to it, come back and let us know what happened.

    Best of luck to you.
    Betsy

    Reply
  34. Helen

    Betsy this is a very good and balanced review from an piecework, workpool contractor. Google, Apple, MS, Sun and most other IT powerhouses have the same type of mentality and people-skills as university and insurance companies of the 1930s & 40s. They have recreated the pool of “calculators” that were way-underpaid, way overworked women that did endless arithmetic for the important men (mostly Sheldon Cooper types). They were told they were lucky to have the work and were never offered advancement.

    I often hear that the new economy doesn’t maintain a middle class as the old economy did. “Sil Valley type work creates billionaires that doesn’t require many actual workers like Henry Ford did and that’s just the way it is.” B-S-. There are many-many workers hidden throughout the world behind the scenes, turning nuts and bolts on the cyber assembly line and doing QA without: W2 employment protection, proper HR, regular schedules and unemployment or workman’s comp protection.

    I’m a 1099 contractor, but people earning less than $25/hour on task & less than 25 billable hours a week should not do it. Don’t let employers turn this nation into Indonesia or the slave labor model we had in the 19th century, except with the overhead of SET, required ACA-health insurance, quarterly tax filings (hard to estimate with wildly fluctuating piecework) and special Schedule C filings.

    Reply
  35. Betsy Post author

    Helen, thank you for the cogent commentary. As I listen to endless news chatter about unemployment statistics, I feel frustrated by the fact that there’s no acknowledgment of the legions of contract workers. Especially for those people whose sole income is from one company like Leapforce, it’s an insecure form of employment.

    I would add, though, that while of course it’s preferable to have an income of $25 per hour or so, many people don’t have the luxury of deciding that they won’t accept less than that. When I was hired by Leapforce, in 2012, my back was absolutely against the wall financially and I was thrilled to have the work. Thirteen dollars an hour is WAY better than zero dollars an hour.

    Yes, I have plenty of skills – but in my late 50′s, living in a remote area, with nothing official on my resume in the past four years, I didn’t have a lot of options. I was subsequently lucky enough to develop some commercial markets for my writing, which works out much better for me, but that took a few months to get established in.

    Reply
  36. metrohippymom

    Hi Betsy:

    I found your site as I searched for a spoiler for LF’s guidelines and read through all 4 parts of your story and the comments. Great information and I also love your site and vibe!

    My situation is this: I’m a single mom working full time during the day as a Proofreader. I am looking to earn an extra $4000 (or $400/month) on the side in 2014 to make my budget work this year. The only time I’m available to work is from home from about 9-11 pm. (And, if my son’s father doesn’t cancel his visits, then I also have a few hours every other Sunday). I’m thinking at $13.50 an hour, I’d need about 30 hours a month for 10 months to earn $4k. Do you think that’s possible?

    I’m trying Mechanical Turk, however, I only seem to be able to make about $3/hr there. I am quite a decent content writer, but having a hard time finding gigs. I really don’t want to spend time building a presence on Fiverr, etc before getting clients. Any thoughts there?

    I also really don’t want to spend time building a presence on ODesk or Elance as a freelancing Proofreader either…I kind of just want to log in and work.

    I do have time during the day at work (between proofreading tasks) to study guidelines and such, so I was figuring that perhaps, even with it’s warts, LF might be OK. And I’m not depending on it to survive, just to keep our budget from falling flat.

    I’ve been given a test date, so hopefully that will work out.

    Anyway, any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated!

    Reply
  37. Betsy Post author

    Hi, Metrohippy mom – I’m impressed by your methodical approach to budgeting. I hope you can budget in a few small chunks of time for your own relaxation and fun — consider it an investment in your general health.

    Let’s see… first, you have to remember that as an independent contractor, you don’t get to keep the whole $13.50. You’re self-employed, so 15.3% of your income is the basic self-employment tax rate, and this applies to every dollar you earn (as long as you get more than $400 in a year.). You can’t hide your Leapforce income – they report it to the IRS and send you a 1099 form.

    It’s safer to simply subtract 15.3% off every paycheck and stick it into a savings account. When tax time comes, you won’t owe that full amount for self-employment tax because you can take a few deductions — but if you earn enough overall to be required to pay any income tax, that’s in addition to self-employment tax.

    Just a warning – I have friends who worked as contractors and just kept all their earnings – and then were crushed when the IRS caught up with them.

    The fact that you have chances during the day to read LF guidelines and so on is promising. It’s not going to be guaranteed that you’ll have tasks between 9 and 11 every night, though – although you probably will, most of the time. But I’d guess that if you need 8 paid hours, you might need to sit there for 10 total hours.

    I’d suggest that you go ahead with the LF process, because you have nothing to lose, and you may actually meet your financial goals with it. But I’d also suggest that you take some of those spare moments in the day to polish up a content writing resume and then check Craigslist writing gigs every day.

    You might also want to invest some daytime moments in applying to WriterAccess. It won’t be instant work, but you’re clearly literate and WriterAccess is a highly legitimate platform — and a super-friendly one in the bargain. There are people on there who are able to write fast and who earn their whole income there. Don’t mess around with Mechanical Turk and Fiverr – your skills are better than that.

    Good luck to you!
    Betsy

    Reply
  38. Crystal

    Hi Betsy:

    Thanks for the quick reply and kind words. But fun? What is this thing called fun? I haven’t had that since I gave birth 5 years ago LOL.

    After leaving my first comment, I perused your site and found the Writer Access info and went ahead and applied. I think you mentioned writing a press release as your sample to possibly gain a higher rating so I did so. It helped that the topic was about a veterinary hospital since I’ve worked in one!

    Thanks again for your thoughts and wish me luck :-)

    Crystal

    Reply
  39. Not giving that away right now due to fear of retaliation

    Hi Betsy,

    I admire that you came out with this story. I am working with another company for the same contractor. The first 6 or 7 months were just as explained – a job with flexibility where employees could get anywhere between 10 and 30 hours per week. It was perfect for my present situation. Then, just before the holidays, the ability to get on and rate tasks was limited without any reasonable explanation. They called it a systematic problem that they were “working on,” but here we are, almost February, and I am still needing to weave my entire life around trying to get a measly 30 hours to pay my bills. I have written several times to my nameless supervisors, only to get canned and useless answers. I think Google owes us an answer about how it treats its subcontractors. I needed this work, and appreciate having it, but I don’t appreciate my stomach being in knots because I am just a number who cannot get any information about my status and when I will have work available in any given week. It’s abusive and degrading — even more so when I know that the real employees have every perk known to man. I work holidays, weekends, nights, and make half of my normal salary. Google claims to be a progressive company, but this aspect is well under the veil — I’m sure for the reasons stated about our experiences. I also have a master’s degree. These are hard times, indeed.

    Up a shit creek without a paddle, in Florida

    Reply
  40. hyjyljyj

    Thanks so much for posting all this. The time you’ve saved me alone is worth it, but this horrifying oppressive Stockholm Syndrome-inducing slave-culture you describe so eloquently is truly depressing–not what we’ve been led to believe should be expected from a forward-thinking, “progressive” (yecchh), internet-based, youth-oriented-culture type of organization like Google. I guess corporatism is soul-devouring no matter which side of the aisle it’s on.

    Leapforce…as in, “Look before you Leapforce.”

    Reply
  41. just me

    I began the application package for Leapforce today after doing some research to determine that they are indeed legitimate. However, I stopped partway through the signing of privacy policies, etc. because, well, I am a pretty private person when it comes down to it. I don’t do anything illegal, but I don’t want my web activity being “tracked” any more than I know it already is. I especially don’t need a company I contract with having any ability to evaluate my online activity that is not associated with my job function.

    My question is — how invasive is Leapforce? Has anyone ever heard, or experienced any issues with them having direct access to all computer activity?

    I doubt I will continue with the application/testing process unless I become desperate for work. I am too private of a person to knowingly and willingly open up all activity performed online to a company that I expect a paycheck from.

    Any thoughts, opinions, or experiences would be appreciated.

    Reply
    1. Laurie

      I never had an issues in that regard, despite all the nasty things I have said about them on-line. I figure that nothing I do on-line is “private” and LF would be just one more “snoop” ;-)

      Reply
  42. Pingback: Devenir une petite main de Google - Rentables.fr

  43. Heather

    Found your posts really helpful and informative. I just started the qualification with LF today but having second thoughts now. You mentioned enjoying working at home through a content writing job. Could you suggest any legitimate resources for locating jobs like that? It’s something I would be very interested in. Thanks in advance! ~Heather

    Reply
  44. Linda W

    Hi Betsy – What a wealth of knowledge – so glad I found your blog. I had heard of Leapforce from a co-worker, and was ready to apply, until I started reading your blog and all the comments. I am actually more interested in the Writer Access company you mentioned in a previous post. While I don’t have any profesional writing training, I have written lots of training material at various companies I have worked for; mostly for financial processes. I would love to be able to break into a field like that, but don’t know where to start. Thanks so much for all the information and time you have put into your blog related to work from home opportunities.

    Reply
  45. juuhachigo

    Hi Betsy!
    I’m about to take the Leapforce Exam so I have researched opinions about the company to better understand how the whole thing works – I must say, now that I have read all these comments and experiences I am a bit worried. I’m 23, recently graduated (I have the equivalent of a Bachelor I think), Italian, and disabled, trying to earn something more to decently pay the rent in a very expensive city, without relying on my mum. The only way I can do that is to work at home. I have tried to give private English lessons, but only got two answers so far, and one of the two wannabe-students didn’t have the decency to come to the scheduled lesson, which means I’m pretty desperate. I am especially worried about Leapforce controlling my Internet activity and possessing my personal information, and, if they hire me, my bank account information. Is there any chance they will retain and use my info for their purposes if I’m not hired/decide to leave? And more importantly, what happens to taxation if you live abroad, and never worked or lived in the US?

    Thanks,

    Paola

    Reply
  46. Brad

    Quoting…”And I did always wonder about the question you raise: if Leapforce really wants us to represent an average user, then why don’t they let us use our opinions in the work? Wouldn’t a whole lot of Leapforce workers, over time, actually represent the range of real user opinions? As it is, they tell us we’re supposed to represent an average user and then they bully us into utterly conforming to THEIR opinions.” …This strongly indicates that you and some others who have posted comments don’t really understand the nature of the work and the way it is used by the client. The client is testing its algorithms to see if new refinements are working as intended. The raters are examining search results and rating them as to relevance and quality. This data goes to the client, who then can see broadly whether refinements are producing better or worse results or about the same. In order for that to work, the raters must rate according to the guidelines they’re given. (Without guidelines, many “average users,” no doubt represented by many Leapforce raters, might think a community college student’s content mill article about a rare disease or a complicated tax issue is very high quality and useful.) Without all its raters using the same guidelines and having a broad understanding of what constitutes good results IN THE EYES OF THE CLIENT no useful data is going to be returned. Leapforce raters are contract workers who must perform the work according to the client’s specifications. The client is not interested in someone’s “creative, out of the box” assessments; it wants assessments based upon its instructions to the contractor. There are a number of relevant — useful, actually, ha — videos on YouTube in which Matt Cutts explains how raters are utilized. Here is a recent one. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muZuX9OaMLo

    Reply
    1. Laurie

      Obviously you have not studied their training manuals. Anybody attempting to follow Leapforce’s guidelines & do a good job would NOT rate a comm college student’s content mill article as high quality and useful to the “avg user” entering the query and I find that comment rather insulting; anybody on this forum who passed the initial test would know that is not how to rate. The beef with LF is that their instructions contradict themselves I have seen the same exact page rated two different ways BY Leapforce. The amt of time given to do a quality job is not sufficient so you wind up working for next to nothing – and that’s not including all the unpaid training time. Furthermore what kind of skilled, quality operation does things like send out an email inviting you to test – with a test date that is already in the past? Or commends you for doing a great job one day and tells you the next day you stink when you’re doing the same task, the same way? FWIW I have several close family members who are programmers, including one who works for the client, who found LF guidelines nonsensical.

      Reply
      1. Brad

        Obviously you missed where I said “without guidelines” many raters might find that content mill article useful and of high quality. If the community college student writes well and researched the topic well, then it could be very helpful for someone who just wanted general information about the subject. That is where the guidelines come in, that is why raters cannot just give their personal opinion even if it is a reasonable one. Because the client is not seeking average user opinions about web pages, it is testing its own algorithms to see if modifications produce better search results IN THE CONTEXT OF ITS OWN CRITERIA for good search results. As for pages being rated two different ways, the exact same page could easily produce utility ratings at the opposite end of the spectrum depending on the query. The quality of that exact same page might change as the client adjusts its views about the quality of certain types of results and changes the guidelines accordingly. There are plenty of raters who manage to do excellent work and on average remain within the specified time. If some work very slowly and can’t improve their speed even after months of working, then it is on them to decide whether it is the right sort of work for them to be doing. Along with you not understanding the purpose of the work that raters do, I think you do not understand the nature of contract work. Contractors do not get paid for “on-the-job-training.” (Do Betsy’s freelance writing clients teach her how to write and teach her all about the topic she has contracted to write about? No, they have hired her to write an article about a particular subject and she is expected to deliver that article to them by the deadline. It is none of their concern how much time she has to spend researching and writing it.) Contractors are not employees.

        Reply
        1. Laur

          Same page, same query, different rating so your argument doesn’t hold water. I worked for a contract company that provided training and paid employees for the time. There is a difference between contract and freelance. I consider Betsy’s writing freelance. As far as speed goes, half the 8 minutes you’re given to rate 10 pages can be spent waiting for the pages to open. As far as Leapforce goes, I wasted enough time with them so I’m not really interested in continuing this argument. Fortunately for me, I have a “real” job and don’t have to rely on LF for my sole income but I do feel sorry for those who do.

          Reply
    2. googlein10years

      The whole user rating system is a complete joke. It’s purely to get by anti-monopoly laws in that Google likes to claim they are working in the users best interest.

      It’s OBVIOUSLY FALSE AS THEY ARE SHAPING AND MANIPULATING USERS TO GIVE “CORRECT” ANSWERS, or in other words, forcing answers that tell them site xyz is poor quality, and site abc is good quality.

      I also left another comment on here recently about this stuff. Check it out.

      Reply
    1. Laurie

      Direct deposit. There is no problem getting paid by them. They’re not a scam & it’s easy to keep track of your time if you load the right timekeeping software.

      Reply
  47. Brad

    Laurie the work wasn’t for you. Your posts from last year during the time you were rating show you didn’t even have basic understanding of the purpose of the work. Your reviews were bad, no doubt you were removed from the project well before your contract expired, and rather than just accept that it wasn’t the right sort of work for you, you prefer to place blame. Webpage loading eats up half the time (and of course that somehow is LF’s fault and can’t possibly be an issue with your internet connection or computer), your negative ratings were caused by software issues and not by your own performance, you weren’t paid for training (the IRS has many helpful pages about the difference between independent contractors and employees — I suggest you read them and perhaps you’ll accept that paid training is NOT part of the former), and on and on. I hope other readers here recognize sour grapes and don’t let that deter them from applying, if the work sounds interesting and appealing to them.

    Reply
    1. Laur

      You’re a tax expert in addition to LF cheerleader? Paid training is not required by law but employers who treat their people – including contract people – well – provide it. I never told anybody not to apply, I never said LF was a scam, I just said people shouldn’t beat themselves up if it doesn’t work out for them and not to count on it for steady income. I didn’t say slow internet was LFs fault either, I just said it’s a factor. A person who lives in an area with readily available high speed internet is going to have it a lot easier than somebody in a rural area with an internet running around 1 Mbps. Contrary to your assumption, I got both good and bad reviews from LF. It’s really amazing to me that you can presume to know what my LF ratings were. In your defense of LF you have yet to explain how it is that their test invitations arrive a week after the test date, nor how it is that a good 25% of their test pages wouldn’t load during one test, regardless of what computer, provider, or browser you use. I’m really not that interested in hearing your explanations – you don’t know me, you don’t know what work I did for LF, you don’t know how long I worked there, nor do you know what my education and background are. Why you feel the need to attack me personally – many people on this blog have had much uncomplimentary to say about LF. FWIW, if anybody wants to try LF, I hope to works out for them but I hate the thought of some mom desperate to pay her bills hovering over her computer while the kids sleep, waiting for a task to come her way. I suspect you are a LF troll who happened upon this blog and don’t like what has been said. Are you planning to attack Betsy when she returns from Georgia, too?

      Reply
  48. Brad

    “Paid training is not required by law?” You’re not understanding. Paid training, whether periodic or ongoing, is a strong factor in establishing an employer-employee relationship in the eyes of the IRS.

    EMPLOYERS sometimes provide paid training. The people to whom they provide it are EMPLOYEES, not independent contractors.

    Leapforce is not the employer of the raters. The client is not the employer of the raters. The raters are not employees. They are independent contractors. As such they must learn how to do the work on their own time, with their own equipment. Any training provided by LF must be voluntary on the part of the rater and uncompensated.

    It is important to understand this distinction. A good many of the complaints in this blog, both in Betsy’s posts and the comments from former raters, suggest they expected to be nurtured and guided and molded into good “employees”, as might happen if they’d gotten a job in an office or a restaurant. But once again, they are not employees. My earlier comparison to Betsy’s freelance writing was correct. Betsy is a contractor who writes the articles she agrees to write, for the agreed-upon compensation, and if she wants to continue writing for that client then her work must be satisfactory. They don’t train her in writing, or teach her about the topic of the article. That’s on her. Raters are contractors who do the work the client needs done, for the agreed-upon rate of compensation. If they want to continue, their work must be satisfactory. It is up to them to take the time to learn and understand the tasks.

    Reply
    1. Laur

      Look, this is pointless. I didn’t read your last post, just saw you posted it. My only response to you is again, enough already. Drop it. You don’t know me, you don’t know Betsy, or anybody else who has posted here, and you have no right to assume anything about people you don’t even know. This is Betsy’s blog, not mine or yours, and she didn’t create it so it could deteriorate into the usual internet spite-fest. Since you think LF is a great opportunity, maybe the time you spend here could be better spent there. I’m sure you’d be a great asset to their team. Best of luck to you.

      Reply
  49. Betsy Post author

    Well! Sitting in a room with the loud sounds of Istanbul streets coming in the windows, LF seems like a different planet. I’m finally taking time to check in on comments here, while I recover from some alien flu bug that got hold of me.

    Laurie, I appreciate your articulate expression of the difficulties with LF work. And Brad, while your comments (the non-snarky ones) are enlightening about Google’s reasoning regarding standardizing raters’ work, what you say does illustrate how it’s fairly sketchy to classify this work as a true independent contractor situation.

    Brad writes:

    “Because the client is not seeking average user opinions about web pages, it is testing its own algorithms to see if modifications produce better search results IN THE CONTEXT OF ITS OWN CRITERIA for good search results.”

    LF’s use of the “independent contractor” model skates very very close to the legal definition of that work. (I’m sure they’ve paid lawyers a hefty fee to stay just a hair’s breadth on the legal side of that definition.) LF uses the “independent contractor” model in order to save money by not extending any worker protections. The “training” section in the IRS material quoted below seems especially pertinent, since (if you think about it) most true independent contractors are not trained in their basic skills by the person who pays them. When I do freelance writing, my clients rely on my having skills that they don’t have. Also, to refute something Brad said, the IRS does NOT distinguish between paid and unpaid training.

    Below, pasted in from the IRS website, are some of the ways that the feds distinguish between independent contractors and employees.
    ____________________

    Training

    If the business provides the worker with training on how to do the job, this indicates that the business wants the job done in a particular way. This is strong evidence that the worker is an employee. Periodic or on-going training about procedures and methods is even stronger evidence of an employer-employee relationship. However, independent contractors ordinarily use their own methods.

    Degree of Instruction

    Degree of Instruction means that the more detailed the instructions, the more control the business exercises over the worker. More detailed instructions indicate that the worker is an employee.  Less detailed instructions reflects less control, indicating that the worker is more likely an independent contractor.
    Note: The amount of instruction needed varies among different jobs. Even if no instructions are given, sufficient behavioral control may exist if the employer has the right to control how the work results are achieved. A business may lack the knowledge to instruct some highly specialized professionals; in other cases, the task may require little or no instruction. The key consideration is whether the business has retained the right to control the details of a worker’s performance or instead has given up that right.

    Evaluation System

    If an evaluation system measures the details of how the work is performed, then these factors would point to an employee.
    If the evaluation system measures just the end result, then this can point to either an independent contractor or an employee.

    Permanency of the Relationship

    If you hire a worker with the expectation that the relationship will continue indefinitely, rather than for a specific project or period, this is generally considered evidence that the intent was to create an employer-employee relationship.

    (Leapforce gets around this by taking people on for six month contracts, but they pretty much always renew contracts if your work passes muster. Some folks have worked there for three or four years — Betsy.)

    Services Provided as Key Activity of the Business

    If a worker provides services that are a key aspect of the business, it is more likely that the business will have the right to direct and control his or her activities.  For example, if a law firm hires an attorney, it is likely that it will present the attorney’s work as its own and would have the right to control or direct that work.  This would indicate an employer-employee relationship.

    Services available to the market

    An independent contractor is generally free to seek out business opportunities. Independent contractors often advertise, maintain a visible business location, and are available to work in the relevant market.

    Reply
  50. Brad

    Betsy: “Also, to refute something Brad said, the IRS does NOT distinguish between paid and unpaid training.”

    It does indeed make that distinction. From the IRS’s own training manual for its agents who are tasked with determining employee vs. contractor issues:

    “The following types of training, which might be provided to either independent contractors or employees,
    should be disregarded:

    • orientation or information sessions about the business’s policies,
    new product line, or applicable statutes or government regulations

    • programs that are voluntary and are attended by a worker without
    compensation

    Voluntary and uncompensated. Potential contractors are furnished with the client’s guidelines BEFORE they are offered a contract. It is up to them to voluntarily familiarize themselves with the guidelines and demonstrate knowledge of them by passing a test, and only then can a contract be offered. The considerable studying of the guidelines required to pass the test is not employee (or contractor) training. It is a completely voluntary effort that is undertaken prior to any contractual relationship existing. Most of the tasks performed by agents incorporate the basic principles found in those guidelines. A few tasks do not, but agents are free to decline to do those tasks without penalty.

    As for tasks which have additional instructions…If a home remodel company pays a contractor to add a bathroom to a client’s home, it isn’t going to teach the contractor how to lay tiles or install tubs and toilets. However, the contractor is going to have to follow the client’s specific instructions pertaining to that specific task, the bathroom — where the tub, toilet and sink are to be located, what tiles and fixtures to use, etc. Those types of instructions are not employee training. They are simply requirements of a particular task that still require the underlying foundational knowledge in order to perform the task.

    As for contracts, LF does not “get around” the permanency matter. From the same manual:

    Courts have considered the existence of a permanent relationship between the worker and the business as relevant evidence in determining whether there is an employer-employee relationship.

    If a business engages a worker with the expectation that the relationship will continue indefinitely, rather than for a specific project or period, this is generally considered evidence of their intent to create an employment
    relationship.

    However, a relationship that is created with the expectation that it will be indefinite should not be confused with a long-term relationship. A long-term relationship may exist between a business and either an independent contractor or an employee.

    The relationship between the business and an independent contractor may be long-term for several reasons:

    • the contract may be a long-term contract

    • contracts may be renewed regularly due to superior service, competitive costs, or lack of alternative service providers

    LF certainly does not contract with raters with the expectation that their relationship will continue indefinitely. And many raters have other work-at-home “eggs” as they call them and many also have “pants jobs,” as they refer to outside employment.

    Reply
  51. Brad

    Oh, and for Laurie, who isn’t reading…the “spite fest” is to be found in the comments of those who either could not perform the work to the client’s satisfaction or could not pass the test to begin with and have repeatedly suggested that the tests are nothing more than a sneaky way to get unpaid work out of unsuspecting people (see Laurie’s December comments as an example — absolutely and utterly ridiculously false.) Comments that have repeatedly used phrases such as “slave culture” and “Stockholm Syndrome” (because of course nobody could possibly be good at the work and enjoy doing it and love the freedom it affords them — no, they are simply mentally unhealthy slaves who have come to adore their oppressor), comparing LF to Enron and labeling it a “wicked sham.”

    I think Betsy probably likes the lively discussion on her blog, though of course if she does not then she is free to ban people from participating or delete the posts and comments entirely.

    I do think it should be pointed out that a great many of Betsy’s complaints and frustrations, though valid at the time, are now NA, having been addressed by LF.

    Reply
  52. Betsy Post author

    Brad, you make some good points. I don’t have a lot of concentration for this whole topic at the moment, but it seems to me that you are dextrously presenting LF’s point of view. Although your bathroom tile analogy is persuasive, I am not convinced that LF’s training is “voluntary.” I mean, technically yes, but real-world no. It would be tough to continue at LF if you did none of the “voluntary” training.

    As I wrote in one of these posts, I don’t think LF is the devil — I just think that for many people it’s a cold and somewhat exploitive-feeling experience that has been made possible by a new digital universe. And I think that as the online work universe expands, it behooves people to pay attention to how these new forms of employment develop, and if you feel tense and uncertain about a work situation, it’s worth asking if something in the scenario should change. It’s also worth asking whether public or union oversight of workers’ rights is a valuable component of society.

    I’ve repeatedly reassured people that LF is not a sham or a scam, it’s safe to give them your bank info etc, while also honestly saying that I personally found the experience to be tedious and inhumane. I’m well aware that some people find it a good work environment — although even those people can probably list ways in which it could improve. And LF helps keep the wolf from the door for plenty of people who don’t have the luxury to worry about liking or not liking it. That was true for me for a number of months, and my neediness made the uncertainty more stressful.

    For me, the work of researching and writing commercial content has been a much better fit. Far less anxiety, far more control of my time, and work that I often find fun. Not to mention happy clients and enough income from part-time work to pay for this trip to Turkey. But online writing has a slower startup than LF as you develop a client base, and it takes a LOT of dinking around with the quirks of various platforms. Plus I’m kind of weird about writing; I don’t get tired of doing it.

    So, to each their own. As you say, maybe LF has changed since I worked there. If so, I’m glad.

    .

    Reply
    1. Linda Walker

      Hello Betsy – I appreciate all your input. I have decided to go the Lionbridge route, and am just getting started with them. I am actually more interested in finding opportunities doing online writing; blogs, editorials, reviews, etc. I am self taught, but consider myself a good to excellent writer, and am willing to take additional training to improve my writing skills. I am also an excellent proofreader/editor, so am interested in that field also.

      I know you are traveling right now, so hopefully you can respond once you get back from your trip – I enjoy reading about your adventures!

      Reply
    1. Laurie

      If you open them as an Adobe attachment you should be able to print and study to your heart’s content. However when you’re testing, it’s nicer to have them open online so you can quickly reference information. Ctrl-F is your friend when quickly looking for a specific piece of information. Or Command-F in an Apple (can’t remember now if you can work for LF if you’re an Apple user). so study on paper if you like but when you’re testing I recommend you have the study guidelines open on your computer so you can search quickly for that one little tidbit of info you want to be sure on.

      Reply
  53. A

    Hello, Laurie!!! I have a question for you. I supposed to have the first test on saturday may 31, 2014 but I’m still waiting for LP email with the link to have the exam. Is this normal, to wait too long. I sent them many emails but no answer. I tried to communicate with them by phone but no answer either. What should I do since is my first time working with them.

    Anie

    Reply
    1. Laurie

      Have you gotten the study guides yet? It’s been over a year since I tested but my memory is they send you the entire package with the study guides and practice and you have a week to study and you decide when to log in and take the test within that time frame, and you have to pass test one before they send the link to test two. It could have changed since then, I don’t know. They sometimes screw dates up, for example, as I recall, I tried to reschedule a test and then the email with the reschedule date was a date that was already past, and then the test itself arrived in my inbox on a totally different date from any of their emails to me. It almost makes you wonder if there are any actual humans on Planet Leapforce :). I know it’s frustrating when you want to work and need the job – I wish I could be of more help. Did you doublecheck your spam folder and make sure it’s not there?

      Reply
    2. Laurie

      forgot to mention, did you also check out Lionbridge and Appen Butler Hill? They offer some other work at home opportunities. I’m not sure if applying at LF will block you out of Lionbridge or not but at least you could check into it.

      Reply
  54. full time govt employee

    These kinds of jobs are not meant to be employee friendly, stable or relied upon in any way. It’s simply a way to pad your family (or self) income during a time that you would be at home anyway (homemaker, unemployed, etc.). If you can Google, than you can read all the blogs such as this and know exactly what you are getting into. I really don’t see how any of the complaints (and there are plenty here) can be taken seriously in a modern economy.

    Reply
    1. Laurie

      By “modern” economy are you referring to the fact that employers are sitting on record amounts of cash while requiring fewer and fewer people to do more and more work? The economy will continue to drag so long as the cash is stockpiled away. Flowing cash is the engine of a thriving economy.

      Reply
  55. Tristin Timmons

    Wow, okay so I have spent a considerable amount of time reading through Betsy’s blog, all the comments, concerns, and questions. I recently applied with LF myself and was approved for the job. Though I have done work-at-home jobs before, I am still a bit on the nervous side as I begin this new type of work. I am an excellent writer, proofreader, and computer activist with 2 Masters degrees that I can do nothing with due to my recent health. As Betsy boasted, this is a job that you chose to do, much like getting a pants job. If it’s not for you, move on to something else. I saw many references to other companies similar to LF in some aspects, and even references to companies that are a world away from them. Personally I can’t work at the present time but still have responsibilities like nearly everyone here that are exactly that, my responsibility. Personally I sit at home and make zero dollars, have tried many scam jobs at home, lost thousands of dollars trying to get it figured out, and even if LF is as posted on this site, 10 dollars is still better than no dollars as I continue my search to truly work from home. Pull your heads out of the sand, look around, and figure out your options. Many of the posts on this site sounds very intelligent and probably do represent the opinions of the masses; however, being that many of us are well educated, it is up to us to help those less fortunate (brain power-wise) to filter through all the bs and (as I feel Betsy had intended this site to be), help to guide others to their niche, regardless of their education. Knowledge is a gift and not one that everyone is capable of. Maybe LF does not perform up to par in many people’s minds, but look at any corporation today and see if you can name only one that has not been guilty of any and all of the wind listed here. If you don’t like the way you’re being treated, move on.

    Reply
  56. keyspoet

    Betsy – thanks very much for this blog.

    My experience with LF was far less positive than yours, in that my one and only invoice is still being ignored three months later, and I am no longer wasting my time with them. The long and short of it is that, after they switched from Firefox (which I love) to Google Chrome (which I hate), my LeapForce app stopped working and would no longer switch into the “ON” position, meaning that any work I did was for free, since it is a requirement to have the app running while rating.

    After over three months of having my emails, calls and Social messages ignored, with the exception of one terse email about three days after my first request, which failed to address anything I asked, but instead answered a bunch of questions entirely irrelevant to my issue, I got an email informing me that I was being let go because I had failed to keep up my production.

    So how exactly does one keep up production, when unable to login, and unable to get ANY help or even response from the company? I sent them an email blasting them for their failure to give ANY help to starting raters, about two weeks after which I received an email stating that my account was being reviewed regarding my reinstatement request. Needless to say, I NEVER made a request to be reinstated.

    I am filing a formal complaint with the Attorney General of the State of California regarding their false and misleading business practices. I am also filing complaints with the FCC and any other agencies who have jurisdiction over the Internet and they type of work for which they are soliciting.

    Maybe that will get their attention. Judging by the numerous Better Business Bureau complaints against them, though, I doubt it.

    Reply
  57. Brad

    There is plenty of directions and troubleshooting info regarding installation of required “apps.” People in chat are also very, very helpful and I very much doubt you were ignored there. Issues with your personal computer are not something you should expect LF admins to solve for you.

    Reply
  58. Laurie

    Brad, do you have reading comprehension issues? Or are you saying she is a liar? Considering LF sends out test invitations with start dates that have already passed by the time they send the invitation, or two simultaneous emails, one saying “we want you to test” and another saying “we don’t want you to test” I’m not impressed with the reliability of their software. Her big mistake was continuing to work when the app wouldn’t run. She worked, won’t ever see her pay, which I’m sure she needs, she doesn’t need to be belittled on top of that by the president of the Leapforce Fan Club.

    Reply
    1. Brad

      Laurie I have no reading comprehension issues. What I said is fact. There is a great deal of information on the site about installing the “app” that raters must be signed into when they work. I just took a look at it and it is comprehensive, detailed, step-by-step, including a wealth of troubleshooting information. It is fact that people in the chatroom are very helpful and many of them are highly tech savvy. It is patently untrue that LF does not give ANY help to starting raters. In addition to the set-up instructions, the raters’ homepage is FULL of all sorts of other helpful information, FAQs, guidelines, training, etc. If the other poster needs handholding and personal tech support, then LF is probably not a great fit.

      Reply
  59. Jeri

    Can someone tell me how long the first test takes? Also, they said my test date started today and I have a week to test. Does this mean I MUST start the test today, or can I start it, say, tomorrow, as long as I finish all three parts within the week?

    Reply
  60. Brad

    Jeri, this reply is probably too late, but you can start the test whenever you want. You have a week to complete all three.

    Reply

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