100 signatures reached
To: Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft
Asking Microsoft for fair treatment of UHRS workers
This petition was drafted with the express intent of seeking a fundamental change in the way that crowdsource workers (“crowdworkers”) are viewed and treated by the platforms for which they work. While this petition was generated by crowdworkers who work indirectly for Microsoft through the UHRS platform, we feel that the ideals expressed herein should apply to crowdworkers across all similar platforms.
The Universal Human Relevance System, or UHRS, is an online platform where we as crowdworkers complete various tasks (“hits,” part of larger task groups, “hitapps") in exchange for compensation. While these tasks are offered by Microsoft, we do not work for Microsoft directly in this capacity but rather through various companies that contract with Microsoft including Clickworker, Lionbridge, Appen, ISoftStone and others.
Unfortunately, some recent incidents have shaken our ability to deliver quality work. These include an unprecedented wave of broken hits, broken qualification tests (required in order to work on a hitapp, but often beset with technical issues or “correct answers” that are manifestly incorrect), inaccurate guidelines, and mass disabling. There is little to no communication about these problems to the workers or the contract companies for whom we work, to the detriment of everyone involved. Ultimately, these issues have prevented us from doing our jobs effectively. Moving forward we would like to offer the following suggestions to Microsoft in order to ensure fairness and the highest level of productivity:
1) A more open communication channel. We understand that confidentiality is of the utmost importance to Microsoft’s business, but we as workers need to have a place where we can discuss legitimate problems with our work environment without fear of being terminated by the contract companies we work for. We would like to offer the idea of an official, private, UHRS forum accessible from the UHRS portal where workers across all contract companies can discuss problems, ask questions and offer suggestions for improvements to the platform.
2) There should be a public list of reasons for the hitapp owners to choose from when issuing a ban. This will assist us to anticipate desirable and undesirable behavior and therefore deliver better work.
3) Every hitapp should have up-to-date, accurate guidelines available; unfortunately many do not. This will aid workers in producing quality work as expected by Microsoft and its contract companies. We know that our income requires strict adherence to guidelines from Microsoft; unclear or inconsistent guidelines keep quality workers from being able to deliver quality results. Similarly, every hitapp should have up to date training hits available that can be retaken as many times as the user feels is necessary to master the task. In addition, having the “skip” button present for every hit guarantees that we aren’t delivering subpar work by being forced to judge hits that we don’t understand.
4) There should be a meaningful appeal process for bans, with a guarantee that someone from UHRS will read and respond to our appeal within a reasonable time frame. We feel frustration at the income loss we experience when we know we've been unfairly disabled from a hitapp without recourse. This will reinforce our sense of commitment: with due process, your workers can be assured of stability in the system, which in turn attracts higher-quality workers to your jobs.
5) Any type of ban (temporary or permanent) should have a reason attached. This will permit us to have some closure regarding the cause for the ban, make it easier for our contract companies to either appeal or reinforce the ban, and give us guidance on how to perform our contracted tasks better.
6) We would like to see increased quality assurance from UHRS before hitapps are released to us, through several ways:
a. Assurance from Microsoft that in the future, hitapps will be more carefully tested internally before being released to crowdworkers on the UHRS platform.
b. Spam/RTA questions are used to gauge a crowdworker's understanding of the task at hand and are the most important factor for determining whether or not we are allowed to continue working on the hitapp. As such, these should be written, or at least thoroughly reviewed by native speakers of the language they are intended for.
c. If a hitapp is clearly broken to the point of being unusable or causing major problems (i.e. a disproportionately large number of people being banned from the hitapp, a highly reported number of improperly formatted questions/answers, or excessive bad Spam/RTA's), the HitApp should be taken down until the owner can fix it.
7) We encourage Microsoft to substantially increase the availability of UHRS work for people outside the U.S. This will show UHRS’s commitment to equality as well as provide a valuable diversity of data in an increasingly global market.
Why is this important?
As workers, the tasks we complete for Microsoft are many. We are the ones helping to improve Cortana's speech recognition, and improving Zo.AI by judging the quality of its responses in human interaction. We help users of Bing map services travel quicker and more efficient routes by analyzing map results. We help deliver users more accurate results by providing feedback on Bing search engine results. We help safe search filters filter out adult content, in the process of which we expose our personal computers to viruses and occasional illegal content. In doing these tasks we take pride in the work we are doing because we believe it to be truly valuable and useful. We ask Microsoft to match our commitment to the platform by not treating us as disposable.
We understand that as contract workers there are many rights enjoyed by others in the workforce which we do not, such as a guaranteed minimum wage, employment benefits, job security or a guaranteed right to work. While we are truly grateful for the opportunity to perform work for a successful company through the UHRS platform, which offers competitive pay and the opportunity to work from home, there are certain changes we would like to ask Microsoft to consider in the interest of fairness and productivity. Many of us rely on this platform as our sole source of income. While this is our choice, we do believe there should be a strict set of guidelines and some sort of system in place to ensure that we all know what is expected from us and that we as workers are able to deliver high-quality results.
In short, we are asking that Microsoft stop treating its workers as disposable and address some longstanding inefficiencies with the UHRS platform. Happier workers means higher quality work delivered and faster output, which as a result will benefit Microsoft and the exchange between workers and hitapp owners as a whole. We believe that these changes will not only help to ensure that those working for Microsoft are treated fairly, but will also enable workers to perform the highest quality of work for Microsoft. Improving work conditions will potentially place Microsoft on the vanguard in terms of recognizing the value of contributions made by crowdworkers, and ensure continued improvements to UHRS in the years to come.
How it will be delivered
Once we get enough signatures we will email them to Microsoft.