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Google Raters Start to Speak Out Over a Cut in Hours

     
3:52 pm on Apr 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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We know that Google is big into AI, but, it's also big into raters that help it hone and improve its search and services. Most of us here are familiar with the raters guidelines [webmasterworld.com], but few know anything about the raters themselves.

ARS has some interesting research on the raters as a few have decided to speak out about their latest conditions.

The work isn't fun, necessarily, but raters do have a sense that they are doing something meaningful. "We actually do make a difference and we're integral to Google's main form of business," one said. Another said it was nice to have a job that involved thinking rather than just clicking. Google Raters Start to Speak Out Over a Cut in Hours [arstechnica.com]


However, according to ARS, on Monday, April 3, thousands of US raters received an e-mail from the subcontracting company that they can only work up to 26-hours per week, which was a pay cut to as much as 20% of its raters.

This is an extensive article which is more about employment than about rating sites, but it's still and well worth reading.
6:09 pm on Apr 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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If the current US administration can repeal what is commonly called Obamacare, these raters might get their old hours back. That's one possible explanation as that number of hours is suspiciously close but less than the hours per week which requires companies to have full health coverage for their employees.
9:50 pm on Apr 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The article explicitly states the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare does not apply to these workers according to a lawyer that specializes on ACA compliance cases.

Let's be careful to keep the conversation focused on Google and leave political discussions for other sites.
11:30 pm on Apr 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The article also says the change is due to regulations without revealing any. As set up, Leapforce employs these workers as they are the sole director and determine the work to be done. Leapforce is contracted by g and their sole business is servicing that contract. Calling these folks contract labor will not change the fact they are employees as far as the IRS and other work-related agencies are concerned. Reports on line from ex-Leapforce employees seems to indicate a very rigid and directed work and in many cases raters are limited to $600.00 annually (ie. log in and there is no work and might run that way for weeks at a time). They are under contract for 1 year and are constantly under review.

I suspect that regardless what arstechnica (I view that source as political one direction as some view brietbart the opposite) reported, all the above (including my previous comment) would appear LIKELY to apply as reasons why Leapforce in particular and g secondary want to limit work hours as that then falls into PART TIME labor rules which is completely different from contract labor by any definition. Additionally, several States have more rigorous laws regarding contract labor definitions and it would be interesting to see which States the cut-timed raters resided in.
4:47 am on Apr 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I think that the reason behind the cuts is completely different to what most people here think. This is simply because most people here are web developers and webmasters and rarely see the web at a greater scale than a handful of websites. Over the past ten years or so, the effect of Google, in particular, on the web has been rather toxic. SEOs and webdevs have been chasing the latest kludgefest of an algorithm change to the extent that web development has been suffering. The renewal rates of domain names has also been dropping, particularly in COM/NET/ORG/BIZ/INFO. In 2004 or so, the renewal rates for one year registrations in .COM were around 74%. Over the time since then, the renewal rate has fallen to approximately 50% or so. In simple terms, 50% of the domains registered on this day last year in .COM will not be renewed this year. The .COM typically has around 2.3 million new domains each month. It varies depending on the season and what registrars are running promotions. While the Chinese domain bubble has hit renewal rates in late 2016 and early 2015, that falling renewal rate for new registrations is a major problem and some of the other gTLDs are worse. While a lot of the domain names that drop do so without ever having being developed, They either go straight on to PPC parking or holding or 'for sale' pages. Others are simply registered during heavy discounting promotions and many go straight on to low quality affiliate lander pages. The new gTLDs focused on the Chinese market are notorious for this kind of low quality usage with some having high percentages of such websites. While it hasn't really affected .COM, Chinese registrar promotions generally lead to an uptick in this kind of content. The other kind of content that has been facilitated by discounting is video streaming sites (general and adult) and some new gTLDs have serious problems with this kind of content in that it can represent a higher percentage of sites than genuine user developed content. They are also present to some extent in .COM and other gTLDs and their presence in a TLD is linked to the registration fee.

So basically 50% or so of .COM registrations are not renewing the following year. And not all these domain names are developed into working websites with unique content. The FUD from Google's FUDbuddies on Social Media about linking to sites also played a part as did the moronic Animal Farm kludges and the absolutely moronic Panda kludge. People, being social animals, tend to move in packs and there has been a shift away from blogs as a method of expression towards Facebook groups or other groups on Social Media that supply almost instant feedback. While Wordpress has found a new function as a website production tool and has effectively replaced Dreamweaver, many people who had formerly developed blogs with good content have moved on. The characteristics of new websites on new domains have shifted. The .COM may well be the defacto US ccTLD but the nature of the TLD is changing. It has turned into a legacy TLD in many countries with a strong ccTLD to such an effect that it has plateaued (new registrations are replacing deletions) or is losing market share to the local ccTLD. While the US accounts for most of the new registrations, the shifting nature of development on the web means that new countries are growing and English is not the main language in these countries. So rater companies that primarily deal in English language rating may well find themselves competing with other English language rating companies in a much more competitive market.

Regards...jmcc
4:57 pm on Apr 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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What I wonder is whether Google's AI is now trained enough to be set loose on its own.
Looking at some of the SERPs, I don't think so.
6:34 pm on Apr 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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^^^ Good point! Raters will be around for a bit longer.
4:15 pm on Apr 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Didn't I just read a PR story/post about how fake news and search quality is going to be even better? Less hours = better quality? Sure they can likely hire more people doing less hours each. It's hard to find good workers so don't you want the good ones or do you want less quality which comes with volume hiring? This story likely won't have legs but the PR stories regarding dealing with fake news and accuracy in the SERPS certainly will. I always refer back to Cutts as the compass. It becomes a bit more clear each day how the search aspect of Google is being run or not run. @jm thanks for that insight!
6:05 pm on Apr 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Even fake news sites are have characteristics that allow them to be distinguished from genuine sites. Ironically, Google has a lot of the data necessary for this but is locked into a kind of terminally braindead strategy for dealing with it.

Regards...jmcc
 

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