About six months ago, I got a contract with LeapForce to work at home as a search engine evaluator. I've written about this before, and consequently I've received a handful of emails from people asking me how it worked out. I don't mind answering LeapForce-related questions because I had a lot of questions before going ahead with the contract, and I found other people's comments to be very helpful. At this point I thought it would be better to update the blog with my experience rather than having to keep sending individual emails to curious folks. This post is substantially copied from emails I have sent.
In short: I have found LeapForce to be 100% legit and on the level. I will risk breaching my confidentiality agreement to say that for a 6 month contract negotiated in October 2009, they paid me $13.50 per hour. Note that does NOT include taxes or Social Security, and LeapForce does not withhold anything. You will receive a 1099 statement of your earnings. It is up to you to keep track of your earnings and make sure you put enough aside to cover the taxes and other fees normally withheld.
I did run into a couple of issues. Occasionally there are no "tasks", that is, there isn't any work to do. Saturday and Monday mornings were the worst for this, but at most other times of day, including late at night, there was usually plenty to do.
You do have to keep very careful track of your time worked, to the minute. It is generally easy to do because you're doing everything on your computer, and most computers display the time in the lower right corner. So just make a note of when you start and when you finish, because each entry on your invoice must be to the minute. LeapForce's AtHome website has an invoice application that helps you to keep track of your hours. I recommend entering your time(s) at least once a day.
Keep in mind that this work is self-selecting. If you take the test and it makes you think your head is going to explode, this is not a good job for you. Initially I thought it was fun, but it can be repetitive, and you have to make a LOT of decisions rather quickly. LeapForce has "task per minute" (TPM) expectations of productivity which I think are reasonable, but some people commented that they disagreed. Your TPM is displayed in a little indicator on your LeapForce toolbar, and if it's not green you know you're being too slow. It seems odd to think that an innocuous little indicator going from green to yellow to red could cause your stress levels to rise, but it can. Somedays I dealt with it, other days it really got on my nerves.
For my first six weeks working, I didn't have too much trouble with making the tasks per minute targets, and I didn't have any problems getting my invoices approved. Subsequently I did have a problem getting my invoice approved when I included time I worked on "experimental" tasks. These tasks were supposed to take around 20 minutes, but I could not get them approved on my invoices no matter what explanatory notes I attached (as directed) and I ended up just dropping them. Overall I'd say that I wasted about 3 hours of my time on them, and since those particular tasks were holding up the rest of my invoice, I just deleted them and decided never to do "experimental" tasks with big warnings about how long they were going to take, again. (Other experimental tasks were shorter and I had no problem getting the time for them approved.)
About adult content: when you apply, you tell them up front whether or not you're willing to deal with it. I said I did not want to see that kind of thing, and generally I didn't. However, in some lists of results, a pørn site would occasionally show up. You can never be sure whether or not you're going to run into something like that, just like in a web search you're doing yourself at home. Very infrequently, a query would show up in a task that was clearly looking for pørn, and then you're kind of stuck: if you release the task (drop it), you don't get paid for any of the work you've done on it. So if you've invested 20 minutes in a task and hit a pørn query, you have to decide whether you want to kiss that 20 minutes' pay goodbye, or just evaluate the pørn query anyway. This did not happen often, but it did happen at least once or twice over the few months I was working for LeapForce. It is entirely possible that I've misinterpreted this policy, but I seem to recall getting a warning about not being able to bill any of that task's time if I were to drop it. It didn't happen often enough to me for me to pursue this for clarification.
I will say, the few times I sent email correspondence with a question, I received helpful replies with good turn-around time. They also sent checks right away after the invoices are approved.
Finally, pay attention to the small print: you have to work at least 200 tasks per pay period (month) to keep your contract current. Around Halloween and the beginning of November, I was very busy and didn't put in many hours, and they suspended my contract. They said I could re-qualify if took the test again, but I decided not to. I had to wait until December 1st to submit my invoice, which was annoying since I was no longer working; this further delayed my last paycheck.
Having my account suspended for not working the task minimum annoyed me, and I never really got over that. The experimental task issue and the TPM-pressure added to my negative impression. Neither of these was that big a deal, I just didn't want to deal with it anymore for the relatively tiny sum I was netting after taxes. I think this could be a great job for many people, but it's not one I would do with kids around to see the computer.