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Upwork vs. Nebojsa Todorovic

Nebojsa Todorovic Hacker Noon profile picture

@Nebojsa Todorovic

Noonies2020 Award Winner for the Most Controversial Writer of the Year

As this year's nominee for the Most Controversial Writer of the Year Hacker Noon Award, I couldn't possibly wish for better circumstances and time to write this story.

Upwork and I, we go way way back. Our story lasts for almost a decade. Upwork just added a new chapter to it. How?

Well, it turns out that the ghosts of my Upwork stories have haunted me everywhere I went.

The Stories Untold About Quora Freelance Wars

I already wrote about the bias in freelance topics on Quora. Just in case you've been wondering why is Quora so important for freelance platforms and freelancers, I did my best to explain it in this blog post. I made my writing peace with it and decided to let it go. In my naivety, I honestly thought that the newly introduced Quora Spaces would be big-money-and-corporate-proof.

With that thought in mind and reignited writing enthusiasm I created a new Quora Space of my own under an interesting name and tagline: Upwork Top Secret - Telling The Untold Upwork Secrets.

I didn't have any expectations in terms of popularity and the potential number of followers. Why?

Well, when you look at my Quora profile and pinned answer, you get a pretty clear idea about who I am, who I admire, for who I write for, and how I feel about Upwork after they suspended my account.

So, why would Upwork clients and freelancers follow a writer on Quora who writes for Upwork's competitor? I couldn't think of any other explanation than the simple fact that content is the king. I'm also a fair player who preaches what he teaches: the total honesty is the best (freelance) business policy.

I wrote an introductory post about what my Space is all about, and especially, what it's not about. Guess what? People liked it and started following my Space about Upwork on Quora.

You know you are winning when you see you're being copied!

I couldn't believe the stats. Between one and two thousand new followers joined my Space weekly on average. Before I knew it, I was administering the biggest unofficial Upwork community online. Just to give you an idea, the Upwork sub on Reddit, which has been around for five years now, has 13K followers.

At the moment Upwork took legal actions against me on Quora, my Space - Upwork Top Secret had more than 15K followers in less than five months!

There's more than one Upwork Space on Quora. For example, there's a Space with 2.6K followers. They reserved the "Upwork" Space name first:

The most interesting one, for me personally, is Upwork Secrets and Advice by Adam Palmer. One may say that this newly created Space tries to copy the one I created. I mean the name itself could've been a bit more original, but that's just my impression. Either way, this Space still has a long way to go before reaching the wider audience with less than 500 followers:

As you can see these Spaces use Upwork's logo. My Space is no exception. I have a law degree, but I believe we have a situation that falls under the category of fair use. Here's how my Space's icon and cover photo used to look like before Upwork decided to make an exception in my case:

This is how I "marked" the moment of reaching 15K followers on Twitter. Yup, you may say I was a bit emotional and got carried away:

I think it's worth mentioning that Upwork didn't lift a finger until my space hit some serious numbers in terms of followers. Then, I got a message from the Quora Moderation Team.

All animals are equalbut some animals are more equal than others!

From a strictly legal point of view, there's nothing wrong with the Upwork's trademark complaint. The trouble, though, is that trademark rules don't apply to other Upwork Spaces on Quora. I disagree, but I understand. Upwork is behind the two Spaces I mentioned above that are more than pro-Upwork. My Space is to put it this way: open to critical views and opinions, not only the positive ones.

Remember Mr. Palmer, who I admire, for the record? Well, he's one of the most successful freelancers on Upwork, who just like me, doesn't hide his affiliations. He also runs a website titled "Upwork Saved My Life". It's understandable that Upwork doesn't want to ruin his life by filling a trademark complaint, as they did in my case.

I'm Not A Conspiracy Theories Fan, But I Have My Limits

You have every right to ask the obvious question, I'm not going to take it personally.

What's the big deal? Why are complaining? They just made you remove Upwork copyright images from your Quora Space's icon and cover photo.


My only complaint is that Upwork should and could have done it earlier. I guess it's never a bad moment to do the right (legal) thing. It just a coincidence that I got hit with a legal hammer when my Space hit 15K followers. Besides the fact that this was one hell of perfect timing, nothing out of ordinary.

So, what did I do? My next move was a no-brainer. My French poodle Fifi came to the rescue with her lovely photos:

Again, you may ask, c'mon man, I still don't get it, what's Quora Space's icon and cover photo have to do with the potential followers? Well, as a writer, I have to admit that not always, but very often, by default, a picture is worth more than a thousand words. And, it can get you a thousand new followers on Quora.

Here's what you see when you type "upwork" in Quora search box:

Now, it's your turn to be honest. Which of these Upwork Spaces are more likely to check out first based on the icon photos? The ones that include the official Upwork logo, which makes them more credible, or the one where a big bald guy holds a smiling poodle on his shoulder? Just be as honest as I have been throughout the whole story.

And, That's Not All, Hacker Noon Folks...

I already told you that I'm not going to take it personally no matter what you may be thinking while reading my story.

C'mon man, when enough is enough for you? Why don't you just let it go?

I would, I really would, but there is this. Have a quick look at what's going on in the most popular freelance topics on Quora:

What you're looking at is the Upwork Business Account on Quora as the #1 most viewed writer. Is this an example of some fabulous writing or what? I mean, you have 4 to 5 answers in total, and each of these answers is "worth" around a million views. Amazing!

Where there's no money spent on ads to be found, you get a completely different situation with the lists of the most viewed writers. Here are some of the most interesting examples:

Have you noticed something unusual or are you fine with turning a blind eye on all of these pieces of evidence? The numbers never lie. These numbers are telling you that there's something strange about the ratio of answers and views, depending who's the writer on Quora in question.

It's 2020! Don't We (You) Have Some Real Problems To Worry About?!

There's an endless list of the more "pressing matters" that make this story a trivial one. One self-proclaimed writer is treated unfairly. So what? One Quora account with almost 400K views is in danger of being suspended. So what? Nothing.

Just put it all on the 2020's account and forget about it!

I eventually will, no question about it. But, before that, I'm going to write a story about it. At least I have justified my nomination for the Most Controversial Writer of the Year, haven't I?

I don't need your vote. I don't need you to follow me on Quora. I need nothing because I have nothing.

I come with empty hands and the desire to unbuild walls.

- Ursula K. Le Guin


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