Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Leapforce, Raterlabs and Appen

Leapforce splits and forms Raterlabs

The only thing you can count on in life is change, so of course, Leapforce changed.  The company split in June 2017 and the largest project went to Raterlabs so I went with it.  But Raterlabs limits workers to 26 hrs per week, in actuality they typically cut you off from working much more than 25.  Now both companies have been sold to Appen.  A look at the jobs posted on the Appen website shows that they limit their workers to 20 hours per week.  Is the weekly hours limit in Raterlabs and Leapforce going to be 20 hours now?  They haven’t told us yet.  But certainly we can only count on our work hours being lowered or staying at 25-26 at best.

How Raterlabs differs from Leapforce

The pay and work remain the same with Raterlabs and it is done on the same interface as Leapforce.  Raterlabs decided to make everyone an employee instead of being a contractor so taxes are taken out of your pay, and we’ll get a W2 instead of a 1099 at the end of the year.
Much of the work now involves evaluating the performance of “Virtual Assistants” like Alexa and the Google Assistant (I wish they would give her a name already).  There is also a lot of focus on identifying offensive or disturbing content.

How will Appen change things?

Workers for Appen are contractors and are limited to 20 hours per week.  Their job listings don’t give a pay rate it just says pay is dependent on the project.  After reading a Reddit discussion on the issue it seems that generally Appen pays less than Leapforce/Raterlabs does.  Fellow raters, it may be time to look for other work.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

How many hours a week can you work on Leapforce?

People often ask me how many hours a week you can work for Leapforce; currently you are limited to 40 hours a week, but soon that will be changing.  A new policy has just been announced that limits hours to 26 per week.  Starting June 1, 2017 Yukon raters in the US will be restricted to working no more than 26 hours per week.  This will disappoint many people hoping to make Leapforce a full time job.  I believe it is probably difficult to consistently get 40 hours per week every week anyway, but I’m sure some people come close to that.  Leapforce workers who consistently worked more than 26 hours per week will now have to find other work to supplement their income.

If you work for Leapforce from a country other than the US your rules may be different, based on the labor laws in your country, so this policy change will probably not affect you.

Though this policy change is bad news for many people, it could be good for people looking for part time income that aren’t already working for Leapforce. I assume that Leapforce will be hiring more raters because they will have to cover the work that others will soon be restricted from doing.  For better or worse, everyone needs to be aware of the policy change and take that into account in their financial planning.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Is Leapforce a good job for retirees?

Leapforce is a good way to make money working from home, it can be a good source of income for retirees and people with a full-time job who want to make extra money.  Leapforce should be thought of as part time, the availability of work can be inconsistent at times, those just starting with Leapforce will not be given as much work as experienced agents, and even experienced agents may not always be assigned work amounting to 40 hours per week.

What is required to work for Leapforce?

You must have a computer with internet access, Wi-Fi in your home is best, and you must have a smartphone.  Most of your work will be done using the smartphone.  If your eyesight is not the best, it’s good to have a large screen, some of the text you will be reading can be very small.  You need to know how to manipulate the screen to enlarge the text and scroll around.  Knowing how to install and use apps is also useful.

Before you are accepted as a Leapforce agent you will have to read and understand the guidelines they will send you.  Then you will have to pass an exam which includes true/false questions and a practical section that simulate the tasks you will be doing when you are hired.  For more information see my article on taking the exam, keep in mind that the exam process changes and some aspects of the exam may be different from what I wrote then. 

What challenges might seniors have while doing Leapforce evaluation tasks?

I am 62 as of this writing so I understand some of the challenges of seniors.  Reading small print on smartphones can be challenging.  If you aren’t accustomed to working with smartphones, it can take some getting used to.  Before you apply with Leapforce, practice searching the internet on your phone.  Download a couple of apps, like Yelp or YouTube, and try using them.  Familiarize yourself with the functions of your phone, how to magnify what’s on the screen, how to scroll horizontally and vertically, and change the volume of the media playback.

The job involves lots of time sitting at the computer.  If you have a problem sitting in one place for a long period of time, you can break up your work sessions.  Leapforce is very flexible about your hours, both how many you work and when you work, so you can do several one-hour sessions instead of one long session if you prefer.

The types of sites you will visit may or may not be a challenge for you.  You can tell Leapforce that you don’t want to visit sites with Adult content (porn), although some will accidentally get through to you, but you can refuse the task if that happens.  However they don’t classify vulgar rap music as adult content, which I’ve suggested to them that they should, some rap is not vulgar or obscene but some is and if you haven’t heard it before it can be shocking.  You will also visit more sites about Pokemon than you could imagine existed.  You will also encounter a lot of other video game sites and incredibly pointless YouTube channels and twitter feeds. Through all of that, though, you will learn a lot about pop culture, gain some conversation starters and be able to talk to your grand kids about Pokemon.

Even if you are struggling to find any redeeming value to some of the websites you visit, you have to keep in mind that your job is to rate the value of the webpage based on what a “typical” user who typed in that query wants to see or learn about.


With the caveats mentioned above, working for Leapforce and be a great second job or supplement to your income at any age.  If you think you are interested in becoming a Leapforce agent take a look at my other articles to learn more:

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

How to make Google Love your website: Advice from a website evaluator

I work for Leapforce evaluating webpages and search engine results. Google uses the data from evaluators like me to rate webpage quality.  The quality of your website affects where it shows up in the search engine results, so it affects the traffic to your site. While doing my job I find the same mistakes over and over on the websites I visit.  Here is some advice for website creators.

If your website is for a business with a physical location that you want people to visit you must include your full address.  I’m continually amazed at how many websites just say things like “…on North High Street” or “…in the Garment District” and nothing else.  Some websites have the address but it’s not prominently displayed, they make the user search for it.  You should never make important information like that hard to find.  When someone searches for your site they want quick easy answers to their questions. If you want someone who is not familiar with your neighborhood to visit they need to know your full address.  The addition of a map and directions will give your website a better ranking in Google and you will also be rewarded with more visitors to your business.

Google wants to know that you have some authority to write what you are writing about.  If you have no information about yourself or the people contributing content to your page Google may become suspicious.  If you want a high ranking in Google you should include a little bio about each of the contributors to the site giving the reader some reason to believe your contributors know what they are writing about.

Unless you only want young people to read your site do NOT use black with white font on your website. Worse than that is black background with a gray font.  People older than 30 have a hard time reading it, they won’t bother and will leave your site for another.  I recently saw a site that had a dark reddish brown background with royal blue font, it was like trying to read while on LSD.  If you want people to read and spend time on your site it should be easy on the eyes.  The best combinations are like what humans are used to reading – a light background with a dark font.  You can play with colors but keep it a dark font on light background and your readers will be happy.

Yes, Google cares about grammar and spelling.  If your site is poorly written, Google assumes that the content on the site isn’t trustworthy, that the content was just thrown on the page as a filler and the only purpose of the site is to have a place for ads.  If you aren’t a good writer find an editor to check your work before you post it.


Google is looking for websites that provide helpful, trustworthy information to people; that information should also be easy to find and read.  The better your website is at meeting these criterial the higher your ranking in Google will be.  I hope this helps you make better decisions about how to structure your website.  

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Leapforce FAQ's

I get a lot of the same questions from readers and often the comments are on different posts so it’s hard for everyone to find what they need.  So I thought I’d organize the most often asked questions into one post, hopefully this will be helpful for everyone.

First I want to talk a little about what this blog will do and what it won’t do.  Because of the non-disclosure agreement I signed when I started working for Leapforce, I can’t discuss the specifics about the guidelines or how to rate a webpage.  If a comment asks for this kind of detail, I just don’t post it.  Also sometimes readers will ask me to answer specific questions just for them, I don’t want to start doing that.  The purpose of this blog is to share general information about working for Leapforce and taking the qualification exam.  I hope and believe that this information is helpful for a lot of readers.

How much work will be available when I start working for Leapforce?

This is the most frequently asked question.  Unfortunately, it is also impossible to answer.  When you first start working you will probably not get as much work as you would like, there is a probation period where they evaluate your work and they expect you to improve as you go.  If you are getting good evaluations of your work you will keep getting more work, if you receive poor evaluations the amount of work will be restricted.

The amount of work available also depends on how much work and how many projects the company has going.  There will be times when there just isn’t that much work to do, this often happens in the summer and around the holidays.  There will be other times when Leapforce has an abundance of work, when that happens they often encourage us to work more by offering a bonus for working more hours.  Occasionally Leapforce will announce the start of a new project and offer the opportunity to qualify for and work on those projects.  To keep your rater queue full, it’s a good idea to take advantage of these opportunities.

No matter how much work is available, Leapforce won’t pay you for more than 40 hours per week.

What if I have technical problems while taking the Leapforce Qualification Exam?

From reading numerous comments I can see that Leapforce is not very responsive when people report issues with the exam.  I don’t know why this is, once you are working for Leapforce they are very responsive to questions and technical issues, but I suspect that they believe that if you have problems doing the test you will also have problems when doing the work.  It is a test after all, they are testing you that you can understand and follow instructions and apply the guidelines, but they are also testing that your equipment (mobile phone, PC, router, internet service) all works well with their system.

If you do have technical issues I would suggest emailing them anyway, it may affect their decision whether or not to offer you a chance to retake the exam.  You should also try to solve the problem yourself.  Re-read all the instructions and make sure you are following them to the letter. Also, as one reader commented, keep trying, it’s possible that either your system or theirs was having temporary issues.

Will I get a chance to take the Exam again, and will I have to re-take all three parts or just the one I failed?

Yes, often people report that they are offered the chance to re-take the exam, even up to three times.  If they are going to give you a second chance you will get an email sometime after the exam deadline has passed.  And yes, according to readers, when you take the exam again you will have to repeat all the parts.

What is the best advice you can give to help me pass the Leapforce Qualification Exam?

Prepare yourself.  Read the guidelines and study all the examples they give.

Start the exam early.  In case there are any technical issues you want to have time to resolve them before the deadline.  You don’t want to feel rushed, you will think more clearly when you aren’t stressed.

Read everything carefully.  One of the things they are testing you on is your ability to understand instructions and follow them.

Take your time.  Especially with part 1, the questions in part 1 are tricky, read them carefully several times if you have to and be sure you understand them before you answer.  I don’t think the exam is timed, however, if you don’t hit the submit button for 30 minutes it may sign you out of the server. This may be the cause of some technical problems that people encounter.

Keep the pdf version of the guidelines open while taking the exam.  The pdf version is keyword searchable, it is allowed and advisable to refer to the guidelines while taking the exam, so take advantage of it.

How do you keep track of your time on each task and for the purposes of your invoice?

I don’t think it helps to keep track of your time on each individual task.  You don’t have to be under their expected time on every task, instead the average time of all of each type of task you do has to meet their expected time.  So you should just occasionally check that you are within a minute or two of the expected time.

As far as the invoice goes you just need to keep track of the total time you work each day.  There are numerous online timers you can use to keep track, or you can be low-tech like me and just note the time you start working and when you stop.

How are you paid when you work for Leapforce?

You are paid monthly via direct deposit.  (This is for US workers, I’m not sure about other countries)  You will submit your invoice on the first day of the month for the previous month’s work. If there are no problems with the times you reported, you will be paid within 30 days.  I usually receive my pay around the 21st of the month.

Thanks for reading my blog!  Keep asking questions and sharing information so we can help each other succeed! 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Develop These Mental Qualities to Increase Your Success with Leapforce

People ask all the time for tips on how to pass the entrance exam.  I can’t tell you the answers or give you a formula to follow that will help you pass, but I can give you some ideas of the way Leapforce wants you to think about webpages.  They are looking for people who can follow detailed instructions, turn off their own biases and analyze webpages based on the guidelines you are given.

To be successful as a Leapforce agent you can’t look at the internet the same way as a casual user; you have to try to understand what the user wants to see when they issue a query, you then have to try to understand what the creator of the webpage intended to convey, then analyze how well the webpage served the user.  To do that well you have to dig deeper and think more critically than the casual user.

Here are some of what I believe to be the most important mental qualities for a Leapforce agent:

Understanding – ability to get inside the head of the user.  Probably the hardest part of evaluating search results is figuring out what the user wants when they type in a query.  Some queries are straightforward and easy to understand; others are vague or outright impossible to grasp.  How do you interpret something like this (a query I actually had to rate): “Knuckles when I was young”?  How about: “je”?  Or: “anchors tow”?  Your job is to figure out the most likely interpretation of these queries.  Sometimes it’s an individual thing and you can’t figure it out, sometimes if you play around with words a little you can find something online that is similar and may be what the user meant.  You have to use your imagination and understanding of people to try to work out these puzzles.

Skepticism. Don’t trust everything you read on the internet.  You have to be skeptical about every website you visit.  Does it really have the authority to make its claims?  For instance, I was rating a page by a “Dr” about uses of an herbal supplement.  I tried to find out what kind of doctor he is, there was nothing on the site stating his qualifications or even if he really is a doctor.  If you can’t find that information, what does it say about him?  To me it says he’s not the kind of doctor we would want to take advice from.

Attention to detail.  Does the page give the user the latest information or is it outdated?  Is it about the latest version of the software or device the user is asking about? Is there something else with a similar name that is not showing up on the search results, but may be what the user wants? If the user gave very specific details in the query, do the results match exactly?

Curiosity – willingness to dig deeper to understand the query, willingness to go beyond the search results that are given to see if there is something even better.  What would happen if you search for it a slightly different way?

I hope this will help those of you about to take the exam, or those thinking about applying.  This is the way Leapforce hopes you will be thinking when you work for them.  Good luck in your efforts.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Explaining the Leapforce Qualification Exam

Updated Information on the Leapforce Qualification Exam

I’ve been working for Leapforce for 3 years now, but recently I was unable to work for a couple of months.  Leapforce really is serious about the requirement that agents work at least 200 tasks per month or they may remove your authorization to work.  

That is what happened to me; however, they did give me the opportunity to re-qualify and get back to work.  This is great for my blog readers because now I can give an update on the way the current qualification exam is conducted.

The exam is given in 3 separate parts; you must pass each part in order before you are allowed to go on to the next part.  You will receive an email outlining basic information about each part, however I can tell you some things that the email doesn’t.

Note: As needs change, Leapforce changes the methods of evaluation and when that happens the Qualification Exam will also change.  So the information in this post is only true of the exam that exists at the time of this writing.  It will change some day in the future. The exam today is VERY different from what it was like when I originally took it three years ago. 

The main thing that has changed in the last year is that you must begin rating pages from a mobile device user's perspective by rating pages on your own smartphone.  If you don't have a smartphone and don't want to get one, you can't work for Leapforce.

Part 1 Theoretical

The email you receive says that the Theoretical part consists of (one email says 32 but its really) 33 questions.  This is misleading, each question has 4 parts and you must answer each part so it is in effect 132 questions. 

They aren’t trick questions, but some can be tricky, so take your time and read them carefully.  You are allowed to refer to the guidelines while taking the exam and I recommend that you do.  

You should plan on taking at least an hour to complete this portion of the exam. Once you have submitted the last page of questions the evaluation platform will display the following message:
No tasks are currently available. Please try again later.
In my case, within about 10 minutes of submitting the last page of questions I received email notice that I passed Part 1 of the exam.  The next batch of tasks will take a few hours to show up on your evaluation platform, so take a break while you are waiting.
Part 2 Page Quality
In this section you will evaluate a webpage, fill out the online form that is only mentioned in the guidelines, and give your rating of the page. 
As with Part 1, you are allowed to refer to the Guidelines while doing the evaluation.  It is advisable that you use this resource.  Take your time and think about what you are doing.  How well does this page achieve its purpose?
Note: the email about Part 2 that you receive says: Comments within the tasks are not required for the exam and will not be read. However, if you don’t put anything in the comments box when you submit the task you may get an error asking you to comment. So if this happens just put something in the comments box and hit Submit again.
You do not have to complete this part of the exam all in one sitting.  You can take a break by hitting the "Submit and Stop Rating" button when you are ready to submit your rating.  The rest of the tasks will be there when you sign in again.
When I took the exam there were fewer than 10 pages that I was required to evaluate.  After submitting my last rating, I received an email within about 10 minutes stating that I had passed Part 2.
Part 3 Send to Device  
This is a relatively new way of evaluating pages for Leapforce.  When Google decided that webpages should be mobile friendly if they want to be ranked highly on search engine results, Leapforce began evaluating webpages based on how mobile users see them.  The most recent change has been that agents are now evaluating pages directly on their smartphones.  So now in order to be a Leapforce agent you must have an internet enabled smartphone.
To complete this part of the exam you must follow the instructions carefully, there will be a link to a video in your email notice that you passed part 2.  Watch it, do what it says and you should have no technical problems with the tasks.
Note: Here’s a trick if the User Location map doesn’t display properly on the task page (this is a glitch that has always been there and hasn’t been fixed).  If you have a blank map at the top of the task page, hit the back arrow button at the top next to the page address:
This will pop you out of the task, but you will still be on the Evaluation Platform.  There it will say: "Incomplete Tasks" and next to that will be a Continue button.  Click on Continue and your task will come back along with a usable user location map.
Again, you don’t have to complete all of Part 3 in one sitting.  You can use the "Submit and Stop Rating" button to take a break and complete the other tasks later.
You can also refer to the Guidelines while completing Part 3, and you would be wise to do so.
When you have submitted the last task on your exam the only notice you will have is the message:
No tasks are currently available. Please try again later.
This time you will have to wait longer to learn whether you have passed the exam depending on when you finish the last task. For some reason Leapforce waits until after the due date and time before they will let you know whether you have passed.  I got my notice on the morning after the due date.  You won’t be able to start work immediately, once they have all your paperwork and permissions in order you will receive another email letting you know when you can start working.
Much of what is in my older post Leapforce Qualification Exam Advice is still valid, so take a look at it too. You may also like my original post on Leapforce and my 2nd Year Update. Also my latest post on the mental qualities that Leapforce is looking for may help you when taking the exam.

Good luck on your exam!