Wave Your Flag!

Joan of Arc, copyright Ellen Wilson

I don’t care what country you are from, you should proudly wave your flag over at Elance.

Or, maybe not.

I used to enjoy strolling over to the Water Cooler. It was a great place to meet other writers from around the world. We could all share our commonalities and concerns.

But recently, it has become veeeery quiet.

Apparently Elance wants its Providers to police themselves over at the Water Cooler. Interesting theory. I searched their guidelines and could find nothing on how to accomplish this.

To make a long story short, writer’s have been complaining about having some of their concerns met that haven’t been addressed. Elance has been continually vague (to their own advantage) on various issues.

Basically, they are making things up as they go along.

But if you say anything critical about Elance, watch out! – they are apt to throw you off your horse.

There recently has been criticism of Elance over in the Writer’s Section of the Water Cooler. Lo and behold, some Virtual Assistants came over to “police” us. They threw flags up all over our little comment plots.

I started saving them the work of planting flags in my little comment plot by throwing up my own little flag.

All of this symbolic flag waving just begged the question: Just whose Virtual Assistant are you? Elance’s?

I made the comment that these “Virtual Assistants” could be made up by Elance. And that it all sounded very reminiscent of a movie called The Stepford Wives. If you recall the original Stepford Wives were automatons that policed all the other wives in the neighborhood. They were good little robots that did their husband’s bidding.

Elance said they would not dignify this Astroturfing theory with a response. Well, they did dignify it by taking down the entire thread that criticized what was going on behind all of this “policing.”

What I don’t understand is that Elance wants to learn more about how to make their company a better place to do business with. They have a Suggestion for Elance section.

A few days ago a writer voiced the concern that Elance might remove the writer’s category. And then another provider mentioned that the “top” 25 providers pull in a lot of money ($56,000 over a six month period) so therefore, Elance wouldn’t be shutting down the writer’s category, to which I responded:

That is very interesting analysis Niel, but that covers only 25 writers. What about the rest of us? As of today there are 11,479 writers. Add all the service costs associated with the rest of these writers doing business as Elance as the broker. I think it equals A LOT more then $56,000.

Suppose these 11,454 ( I subtracted the top 25 writers) pay $ 24.99 for a basic 40 connects/month membership. That equals $ 286,235.46. Over a six month period Elance membership profit equals $1,717,412.76 from these writers. Notice I haven’t added in the percentages Elance skims off the tops of projects.

So, in the main, $56,000 over a 6 month period is chump change to Elance. The writing masses are the driving force behind all of Elance’s profits.

Actually, I think this writer was really talking about Elance shutting down the Writer’s Section of the Water Cooler. They may very well do that.

Don’t get me wrong, if anyone says anything sexist or racist their comment should be removed. And there is always a constructive way to disagree with someone without cutting them down or harassing them. But people need to know the reality of doing business with Elance.

Elance wants to be seen in a favorable light, but in my opinion this does does not make them shine. It just makes them look arbitrary, capricious, and intolerant if they remove threads that criticize them or simply state reality.

Photo Credit:  © Ellen Wilson

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Number Crunching at Elance

Alright class, take a look at the overhead above. This little chart is self explanatory. But if you have any questions, please raise your hands.

I started compiling my data set on 2/12/08, and have been at it only 8 days. And what do we have? Writers increasing, jobs deceasing. The ratio of writers to jobs is therefore increasing.

What is going on? I vaguely remember that there used to be around 4000 writers vying after 350-400 jobs in December.

Now, is this a product of the American economy taking a downturn?

Is this a product of MFA programs shooting up all over the country like wild writer weeds?

I really don’t know. But, because I am forever trying to figure things out, I thought it would be interesting to gather some data and put forth my hypothesis.

I haven’t come up with a hypothesis yet, because I don’t have enough data. I have decided to gather data for a year and see what happens, because I can’t surmise too much from a week’s worth of data. You can look forward to future reports. I may add more variables to my data set.

So what are you ideas? Let me know, and maybe I can incorporate them into my research.

Oh, and incidentally, Blogger does not support any type of cut and paste activities like charts, tables, or graphs. I had to enter the data in Excel, print it, scan it (turning it into a jpeg file), then give it to you.

Somebody really needs to get busy and fix that.

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