Saturday, December 08, 2007

oDesk Team Software vs Privacy Concerns.

You know, when I first started using oDesk Team (that's the software that monitors your keyboard / mouse activity and periodically took screenshots), I used to be super paranoid about what kind of pictures it was taking.

I was always staring at my Work Diary screenshots, mumbling to myself when I accidentally tabbed to the wrong browser window and oDesk Team happened to take a screen-shot right at that very moment.

Hasn't been like that for months, to be honest. Months? More like a year. Christ, how long have I been on oDesk? Feels like forever.

One thing I learned about the Work Diary's screenshots: Nobody cares. Nobody. Not unless you're cheating the buyer, or the buyer thinks you're cheating him, or the buyer's new to the system and is staring in wonderment at the screenshots page.

The real appeal must be that "safety-net" feeling for both buyers and providers: the buyer can't cheat you because you've got proof (work diary) that you worked those 8 hours, and the provider can't cheat the buyer because the buyer has proof the provider wasn't working at all (again, work diary to the rescue).

Don't get me wrong, providers try every once in awhile: you'll see an angry buyer posting on the community forums because some guy in Urbekestianiza was running a simple mouse macro and stole about $1k from this guy, followed shortly by oDesk personnel announcing they're "handling the issue." I suspect they've got some guy that just monitors the forums all day, waiting for those kinds of posts to crop up so he can alert the rest of the A-Team.

Honestly, I'm surprised at the number of "cheats" that still try to make some quick illegitimate cash. There's, like, a 2 week lag time before the money is actually available for withdrawl in your account, and then there's another 3-5 days for the withdrawl to be posted and end up on your Payoneer MasterCard or ACH-enabled bank account.

There are way easier, way more successful ways to scam someone out of money than trying to fool them on oDesk. The company is just way too alert and quick when handling these kinds of issues.

Back to the issue of privacy: eh? Seriously, what are you doing while you're working that makes you feel as if your privacy is being invaded? Typically when I'm working that's all I'm doing -- working. Not chatting, maybe listening to music, definitely not video-camming nubile young women.

Of course, maybe it is because I have another, dedicated work computer -- the one I'm typing on right now has a billion different windows I wouldn't want anyone to see. My work computer is completely clean: some dev tools, that's it.

This post went on way too long.


Gregory said...

I wanted to share with you the fact that the oDesk puts Employers at risk of having to pay employee Taxes because their service allows Employers to monitor Employees.

Here is the Link which spells this out.,,id=173423,00.html

Please do not use the oDesk software and only post flat fee projects Not hourly projects.

Francis said...

Nice look "behind the scenes" at someone who is actively using Odesk. As an active Odesk employer, I have to say that I do care.

I am looking at the screenshots all the time. They show me where the providers are at. I see how well they follow my instructions, and I can jump in and send them a message if anything goes wrong.

But your advice on having a dedicated work computer is golden.

Ruslan Sudentas said...

Arron, you are making good point that if the work is done and trust is in place, nobody cares if once in a while a wrong screenshot pops out. I use ScreenshotMonitor instead of oDesk Team (it has random intervals and much harder to trick) and just spelled out to my freelancers - as long as the number or screenshots not related to work is below 5% - I don't care. For a good worker is give an opportunity to show his work, so while in the beginning screenshot monitoring software is accepted with caution, most are happy to use it.