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On reading the reviews of Freelancer.com on SiteJabber or the reviews of Elance on Mouthshut the freelancing websites do not look convincing enough. The reviews suggest that most of them are stealers are reluctant in releasing money, but I'm not sure how to evaluate them properly.

How can I measure the credibility of a Freelancing website?

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    If you are simply after a list of sites where 'you can get started', this is the wrong place to do so. If you have a specific doubt about how you can check the credibility of a particular site that is offering you freelance work, then it might be more on topic, but again depending on what your actual doubt is. Please either rephrase your question, or sadly don't expect to get a lot of response from the community ;) – bPratik Jul 22 '13 at 11:42
  • @bPratik thank you I have made the required edits ! – Prattosaur Jul 22 '13 at 11:58
  • Non-opinion based metrics are 'time to pay', frequency of non-payment (i.e., 2 out of 10), number of cancellations, etc. If this information isn't offered by the review websites, then see if you fish it out by leaving comments. If I knew I might not get paid for 2 jobs out of 10, that's different from not getting paid from 7 out of 10. This may also reflect particular clients as opposed to the website overall. – Meredith Poor Jul 22 '13 at 17:02
  • You probably go to freelance sites because those workers are cheaper. Going cheaper means increased risk. If you are so scared, you can always stay with the US company how will charge you more, but you will be sure since you can sue them if something goes wrong. On the other hand, there are many, many freelancers who earn their living via freelance sites. They feed their families and they will never trick their clients. I suggest you try with small-budget jobs and increase it slightly until you find good contractors. – Peter MV Jul 23 '13 at 15:45
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    I edited this post to focus more on the how than the what. I think there's a good question here, but we have to be careful to focus on teaching to fish and not giving fish. As it's worded, I think we can answer with facts, references, specific expertise, and techniques to evaluate any Freelancing website. Could you explain more about why you're confused about the validity of those sites? It may help get you better answers. Hope my edits help! :) – jmort253 Jul 24 '13 at 2:42
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I asked myself the same question 4-5 years ago when I started freelancing. I will tell you what I did and how you can avoid the same mistakes that I made. Since I do not do marketing for any freelancing sites I will not mention any specific names (as such recommendations would be against the rules of this group).

I first used Google to see which freelancing sites are on top, based on my search terms. It turned out that Google does not tell you which sites are the best for a contractor or a client, it simply tells you which website is better ranked in their indexes (and we all know what SEO experts can do).

So after I received the results, I tried the top 5-6 freelancing sites of today. I created accounts, filled in all the requirements, and after that I was able to find out the credibility by following these rules. You will see that usefulness and credibility is largely based on your own experience with the website and the number of ways you can pull money from the website.

  1. The general look and ability to navigate the website.
    In my case it turned out that those websites whose UI are easy to navigate, not confusing and offer a minimum learning curve, turned out to be better than confusing ones. Obviously, those websites paid more money for UI experts.

  2. Number of ways you can pull money out of the website.
    When I started, PayPal was not available in my country, and getting ahold of the money I earned was a pain. Those websites which offered more ways to withdraw money turned out to be more reputable. More ways mean that their contractors come from 3rd countries, and the reason US, UK, Canadian, and Australian clients visit these sites is to hire affordable contractors.

  3. The quality of contractor's profile pages.
    This counts if you are a contractor. The more information you are able to learn about the contractor the better the freelancing website is. They make profits from the clients (who bring in money), so if you are confused about how to find the right contractor, or how to see his profile, leave that website immediately.

  4. Number of bids on projects.
    A high number of bids (over 50) on most of the projects usually means that the bidding policy is bad. If you're a client, you will easily be spammed. If you're a contractor, it will be harder for you to get the first job.

  5. Statistics.
    A good and reputable website will have a statistical page where you can see what kind of projects they offer, average prices, etc. I see this increasingly over the last year, and I would not trust a website which does not have this.

  6. Do they rip-off contractors?
    Some websites take money from the contractor as soon as the project is accepted. This is a rip-off IMHO and as a contractor I would never work on such sites.

  7. Number of 3rd party tools they offer.
    Again, the more 3rd party tools a website offers (SVN connection, multimedia capabilities, connecting popular services which can help your work, etc.) the more reputable they are. All these tools cost money, and it means that they can afford them.

  8. Support service.
    The more support channels they offer (tickets, live support, forums, email, etc.), and the quicker that they reply, means that the website is reputable. In my experience, this means that money I invest there as a client or earn as a contractor is pretty safe.

  9. Resolution policy.
    Very important for both clients and contractors. The more ways they offer to resolve problems, the more reputable they are.

  10. Internal forums.
    Reputable websites will have their own forums. Take a few days reading the posts and you will understand the main issues other people have using that website. In general, don't trust forums too much. Authors of those articles are sometimes paid by competitors. Also, someone else's bad experience usually means that they were careless, not necessarily that the website is bad.

In the end, no matter what I tell you here, gauging your experience with a selection of websites is the most important thing. The rule of thumb is: "Start with small projects until you find out if everything is as shiny as they promised".

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I recommend you start by doing a Google/Bing search for the term "crowdsourcing" and see what shows up at the top of the organic search results - not the ads. Then perform another search of the site you're interested in joining, including certain keywords like "scam, ripoff, spam, lawsuit, etc...". If a site is shady, it usually shows up in search. Keep in mind that the topic of crowdsourcing tends to evoke some passionate opinions on both sides, so you'll have to filter your results to determine if a 'hit' is an opinion or fact about the site you are researching. If all checks out, then move forward.

Just about any subscription site will make you check the little box that asks if you "agree to the Terms Of Service (TOS) or Terms Of Agreement(TOA)" just before hitting that 'register' button. But how many of us (yes, myself included at times) actually read it? That's a great place to start. Since you are essentially signing a digital contract, it would be good to know what you are agreeing to - before you agree. Pay close attention to the sections that deal with how you will get paid, dispute resolution, and rights to the work you perform/submit. Most legitimate crowdsourcing sites often act as brokers or mediators and will hold any funds until the agreement between parties are satisfied.

If the TOS appear to be acceptable and legitimate to you, then go ahead and register. If you have to pay to register, that's a good enough reason to stop. During the set up process, a good indication of a legitimate site is their request for your deposit preference and account verification. In many cases you won't need to provide that information until funds are ready for deposit, but having a verified account may help you when competing for projects. Having a PayPal account is very useful here.

In the end, your own experience will turn out to be the best gauge of legitimacy. Just be sure to calculate the amount of risk you are willing to expose yourself to, prior to getting into the pool.

Go get 'em.

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One (non-foolproof) method I use is, whenever I come across a new freelancing site, I search for site_name scam on Google. You have to be very discriminating for this to work though: every single site is going to have pages that say they're scammers. You can ignore the complaints are about scammers within the site (i.e. clients who are scammers), as that's generally unavoidable in any site. If, after that, many genuine complaints remain, and they're not individual payment glitches or random issues (like "didn't receive email verification" or "not able to get jobs"), then it can be warning sign about the site.

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