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42 starting on a relatively leveled playing field with regard to their understanding of how to complete the task. However, the task was specifically designed to not require any advanced skills—freelancers were only asked to be able to read and understand English, and extract data from a file. To maintain the integrity of the experiment, it was important that the freelancers believed that they were working on a typical Upwork job, not participating in an experiment. As I have been hiring

Spring 2017 freelancers on Upwork for the past two years, mostly for real tasks related to data extraction and processing, my account looked legitimate—I had posted eight jobs and had 32 reviews from freelancers that I had previously hired. I made sure that my job posting looked similar to those for regular data extraction tasks and that I was not doing anything out of the ordinary that might make freelancers suspicious (e.g.paying a rate that was significantly lower or higher than the average, or making freelancers sign a release

Columbia Economics Review

form to participate). As far as I know, none of my freelancers suspected that they were participating in an experiment. Introduction to Upwork Upwork (formerly known as oDesk), had nine million registered freelancers as of May 2015, when the company last reported growth metrics. At this time, four million clients (employers) were registered on the site, three million jobs were posted annually,and over $1 billion

Columbia Economics Review: Spring 2017  
Columbia Economics Review: Spring 2017  

We aim to promote discourse and research at the intersection of economics, business, politics, and society by publishing a rigorous selectio...