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Building the Collabolancer Project

  • By Aldo Suhartono Putra in Apps
  • 13 Jan 2021
  • 12 min read

Introduction

Collabolancer is an open source proof-of-concept decentralized freelancing marketplace, that enables seamless collaboration between employers, worker(s), and solver(s).

The idea behind Collabolancer is to connect fellow workers to collaborate in completing the work provided by the employer, and then integrating a dispute settlement system involving a solver. Collabolancer is built on a decentralized framework to provide additional benefits for all parties involved and offers further options that previously could not be achieved in a centralized freelancer marketplace system.

 

Current situation

The gig economy has grown into a strategic economic sector. The data shows that 54% of the United States workforce do not believe that the standard type of work existing in today’s marketplace will continue in the same form in 20 years. That number includes both freelancers and non-freelancers. Of course, freelancers are especially aware of this, with 65% of full-timers continually updating their skills as the world evolves.

The employment market is somewhat precarious today, with 57.3 million people having freelanced in 2017. Statistics point to a majority of the United States workforce becoming freelancers by 2027. It is now evident that 47% of all working millennials freelance more than any previous generation, showcasing how technology plays its part in the growing market. However, along with the rapid growth of the gig economy, market players who are dominated by the centralized gig economy platform are unable to answer various challenges and problems that arise. There are several problems caused by the centralized freelancer's marketplace system which are described in detail below:

 

Trust problem

According to this article, trust and safety are essential to the success of a gig economy platform. Workers need to know that they will get paid, that the employer is legitimate, and that the working conditions are reasonable and safe. Employers must be sure that the worker can do the job, can be trusted to represent the company properly, and will not steal or partake in any fraudulent or criminal activity. Furthermore, as these assignments are often short and require quick fulfillment, marketplaces need to quickly and accurately vet the identities of different prospects and opportunities.

 

Central authority

The Centralized freelancer's platform is run by the central party with the highest authority. This authority is even able to provide a suspension up to the deletion of a worker's account.

 

High entry barrier for new freelancers

Less experienced freelancers are often not the preferred choice. On the other hand, newbie freelancers sometimes only want to get work experience and build their portfolios, but there is no way to do that with a high entry barrier. Apart from that, the nature of doing business in the centralized freelance marketplace makes transaction fees quite high. About 5% to 30% are going to the intermediary platform, not to mention the fees for withdrawing funds. This also creates some barriers for new freelancers because they don’t receive 100% of their freelancing revenue.

 

Employer tends to retain ownership of the intellectual property

According to this article, there are several improper employer practices in the gig economy, such as theft of intellectual property and interference with contractual relations. An example might be a copyright infringement whereby workers create and therefore own the intellectual property to a specific type of work, but the employer improperly takes both control and illegal ownership of this and hence profits from it. The common employer rationale being: “I paid for it so I own it” is a frequent misconception.

 

Collaboration and innovation will be limited

As stated by this article, limited collaboration is among the top problems associated with hiring gig workers. Apart from that, naturally freelancers always come and go, also because there is no adequate framework that guarantees that every worker involved in the collaboration will get any rights according to their portion. Other than that, the bidding mechanism creates a centralized, and individual-centric ecosystem, so there is no benefit in collaborating with others, even though collaboration can actually solve more problems and will lead to more innovation.

 

There is no built-in dispute settlement system

According to this article, this is a very trivial issue as disputes are bound to occur when transactions are carried out between the buyer and seller, (freelancer and client). Disputes are resolved by single centralized entities that question the objectivity of the resolutions made, that are not directly integrated into the system.

 

Solution

FITS Checklist proposed by Dr. Adrian McCullagh Ph D. (IT Sec), LL.B., GAICD, Ph.D. is a simple set of questions consisting of Fraud, Intermediaries, Throughput and Stable Data, that can be used to see how likely it is that current blockchain technology will disrupt the concerned industry. By looking at the above problems and the current situation from the centralized freelancer marketplace sector, we can be sure that this is one that the blockchain will seriously disrupt as a  trust problem exists here, which includes Fraud. In addition, there is a centralized party which is the Intermediary and does not need high transaction Throughput to be viable, and furthermore requires valid Stable portfolio data. The Collabolancer blockchain is designed to counter these issues and present a workable solution.

The solutions built by Collabolancer can be broadly explained as follows:

 

Trust economy: Beyond the gig economy

As stated by this article the trust economy is a labor market which, like the gig economy, is characterized by freelance work instead of employment. However, unlike the gig economy, it is governed by a new set of rules which are more humane and equitable. These new rules empower independent workers to take ownership and control of their reputation, their network, and ultimately, of their independent careers. The trust economy is built on these principles:

  • People, not platforms own their reputation data and their network of contacts.
  • We can work together freely without middlemen.
  • The highest relationship is the service relationship between the worker and client, not between the middleman and the client.

Regarding the reputation data, in this case, Vincent Marle stated that “work experience, reforms to qualifications should be directed towards the validation of work experience and making them obtainable through different routes” (Vincent Merle, 1997).

Collabolancer provides an immutable way to store every worker’s submission and contribution, and make them accessible through their profile, that results in the creation of a valid worker portfolio. Collabolancer also utilizes the decentralized network, so a relationship occurs directly between the worker and the client.

 

A collaboration that is transparent and ‘final’

Blockchain based solutions can bring more fairness into the system. In this case, a built-in collaboration mechanism instead of an individual ‘bidding’ mechanism provides equal opportunities to all workers, including those who have the goal of earning money, and those who have the goal to grow their portfolio. In addition, blockchain based solutions also bring transparency and finality to the process, hence we can guarantee that the employer will definitely pay for the worker’s completed submission as stipulated in the agreement.

Collabolancer provides a ‘contract’ that consists of a Project Contract, Proposal Contract, and Team Contract. Each contract contains a fund vault and provisions and is visible to everyone.

 

Blockchain based dispute resolution system

Blockchain dispute resolution mechanisms have many advantages. Most notably, they can be very cost effective for all parties involved, as they obviate the need for the arduous process of litigating in state courts, and decisions are enforced automatically. This circumvents lengthy and often expensive battles to enforce judgments.

Collabolancer provides a dispute resolution system based on these principles, and to ensure smooth execution of dispute resolution, every party should include their ‘commitment fee’ from the beginning of their agreement. This ‘commitment fee’ will be frozen until the project status is completed.

 

Incentive system

Collabolancer provides incentives in the form of cashback, whereby the  percentage can be set in the config, where every party who has done a good job will receive this cashback. In this way, reputation and hard work can be tokenized!

Collabolancer also provides incentives for the dispute solver, namely when the solver votes for the winning party in the dispute, the commitment fee from the solver who voted for the losing party will be distributed to the solver who voted for the winning party.

 

Transaction details

There are a total of 18 custom transactions built in the Collabolancer blockchain application, which can be explained as follows:

 

RegisterEmployerTransaction (101)

This custom transaction creates a new address and registers it as an employer. The employer has the right to post a new project and select the winning team to work on his project.

 

RegisterWorkerTransaction (102)

This custom transaction creates a new address and registers it as a worker. Workers have the right to make proposals to employer projects and set provisions for collaboration with the team. Workers also have the right to accept or reject team contributions, and also can submit the final work to the employer. Besides being a leader, the worker can also apply to join another worker to collaborate together.

 

RegisterSolverTransaction (103)

This custom transaction creates a new address and registers it as a solver. The solver has the right to settle the dispute by casting a vote to the party they believe is standing on the right side.

 

PostProjectTransaction (104)

This custom transaction can only be executed by the employer. The purpose is to post a new project and set some project properties on an asset.

 

PostProposalTransaction (105)

This custom transaction can only be executed by the worker. The purpose is to make a new proposal and become a proposal leader. This proposal can be set to enable collaboration, as well as set to be a solo proposal. Workers need to pay a commitment fee, to incentivize collaboration. So instead of competing with another worker, it is more engaging to collaborate, and avoid both large commitment fees and the penalty, if their proposal is not selected by the employer.

 

JoinTeamTransaction (106)

This custom transaction can only be executed by the worker. The purpose is to join or apply on a proposal as a team member.

 

StartWorkTransaction (107)

This custom transaction can only be executed by the employer (the project owner). This is executed when an employer selects a winning team to work on the project. The rest of the not-selected proposal then needs to pay a ‘Not Selected Penalty’ that will be distributed to the winning proposal.

 

SubmitContributionTransaction (108)

This custom transaction can only be executed by the team member. The purpose is to submit their contribution to the team. The contribution is then embedded in their profile, and the applicable team member becomes the owner of the contribution.

 

LeaderRequestRevisionTransaction (109)

This custom transaction can only be executed by the team leader. If the leader doesn’t like the submitted files, they can make this transaction to request a revision. After maximum revisions are reached, the applicable team member will be rejected, and their commitment fee will be distributed to the team leader, and their participation is stopped.

 

SubmitWorkTransaction (110)

This custom transaction can only be executed by the team leader, that is being selected in a project by the project owner. The purpose here is to submit their work to the employer. The submitted work is then embedded in the leader profile, and the specific leader becomes the owner of the submitted work.

 

EmployerRequestRevisionTransaction (111)

This custom transaction can only be executed by the project owner (employer). If the owner doesn’t like the submitted files, they can execute this transaction to request a revision. After maximum revision is reached, the project status will be rejected. Then the prize will be returned to the employer.

 

FinishWorkTransaction (112)

This custom transaction can only be executed by the project owner. After the owner accepts or rejects the work, the status will be set to finished or refused, and a ‘workFinished’ timestamp will be set. As the prize is not claimed yet, everyone has a lag time (default to one day), as the frozen period until the ‘claimPrizeTransaction’ is then available to be executed.

 

ClaimPrizeTransaction (113)

This custom transaction can only be executed by a project member, whether it is the owner, leader, or team member. After the frozen period is over, and/or after all disputes are closed, this transaction can be executed, then the funds, plus the ‘cashback’, will be claimed and sent to their profile balance. This scheme is fair to everyone.

 

TerminateWorkTransaction (114)

This custom transaction can only be executed by the team leader. It is executed when the leader and team member have submitted all work according to the project provisions, but the employer doesn’t mark the work as ‘finished’. So after the ‘maxTime’ is passed, the leader executes this to change the project status to terminated, then after a frozen period, the prize can be claimed.

 

CancelWorkTransaction (115)

This custom transaction can only be executed by the employer. It is to terminate work transactions, cancel work, and is designed to protect employers from irresponsible workers when they do not submit any files until the maximum time limit runs out. The employer can cancel the work, and after a frozen period the prize can then be claimed and returned back to the employer. Canceled work is final, and can't be open to any dispute, as it is clear that the leader is not submitting any work until the maximum time limit expires.

 

OpenDisputeTransaction (116)

Disputes are categorized in the following two forms, the leader vs the employer, and the team member vs the leader. A respected litigant can open a dispute if they feel aggrieved. Dispute mechanisms are provided to be a way of solving issues regarding their work. A dispute can be opened during the frozen period and it will be possible to vote for the dispute within the maximum time period specified by the litigant, after that the dispute can be closed.

 

VoteDisputeTransaction (117)

This transaction can only be executed by the solver. The solver will cast a vote to the applicable dispute, and pay a fee.

 

CloseDisputeTransaction (118)

This transaction can be executed by everyone, but can only be executed when the maximum time period expires. Voting will be calculated based on the solver's balance as their voting weight, and the winning party will be the one who has a larger total voting weight. The losing solver’s fee will then be distributed to the winning solver.

 

User interface

 

Login Screen

 

Building the Collabolancer Project

 

Available Project List

 

Building the Collabolancer Project

 

Post New Project Dialog

 

Building the Collabolancer Project

 

Project Details Page

 

Building the Collabolancer Project

 

Open Dispute Dialog

 

Building the Collabolancer Project

 

Dispute Details

 

Building the Collabolancer Project

 

Cast Vote Dialog

 

Building the Collabolancer Project

 

Worker Profile Page

 

Building the Collabolancer Project

 

Future development

There are several aspects the author would like to mention regarding the future of Collabolancer:

  • Collabolancer is currently being built based on the Lisk SDK v3.0.2, with the release of the Lisk SDK v5, the author wants to develop Collabolancer by following the latest Lisk SDK standards, which of course will provide great benefits for this project.
  • Several transactions can be added to further support the trust economy. For example, to allow file owners to incentivize their work, custom transactions can be made for the ‘transfer of ownership’ along with transfers of funds, so that the owner can monetize his work.
  • The dispute resolution method can be improved according to future studies. The dispute resolution system that is currently integrated is just a proof of concept, and cannot fully answer the fairness of the system. For example, by implementing a delegate system just like Lisk's DPoS algorithm.
  • Apart from that, the vision and main ideals of the Collabolancer project have not been fully achieved, but only on a proof of concept level. Therefore, the author wishes to continue the development until the project becomes a workable product that can ultimately have a positive impact, especially for the freelancer marketplace field. Naturally, the author appreciates all feedback and suggestions, as well as input from all parties for the future progress of this project. For this purpose, the author has created a special area to accommodate these suggestions and feedback, at https://collabolancer.featureupvote.com/

 

Conclusion

Collabolancer is the author's first project in the blockchain field, and he would like to highlight that the architecture and features presented by the Lisk SDK provide the highest possible convenience for blockchain application development, without sacrificing application quality and security. Therefore, the author is very impressed with the features offered by the Lisk SDK, and hopes that Collabolancer can be a serious project in the near future that can make a real impact in the freelancing field.

 

Resources

 

Disclaimer: This blog post was written by our community member, Aldo Suhartono Putra (LinkedIn profile) as part of his participation in the Lisk Builders program.

 


Aldo Suhartono Putra

Aldo loves technology, although he is not directly from a technology-related academic background. He took several academic studies, including a Bachelor's degree in Public Administration Science at the College of Administrative Science Maulana Yusuf Banten, followed by a Bachelor's degree in Legal Studies at the University of Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa, and is currently undergoing Postgraduate Economics Legal Studies at the University of Indonesia. Even though he does not have a technological academic background, his love of technology has led to his continual curiosity about the latest technologies. During his college days, he wrote a thesis about Blockchain and its relation to the legal system. He has been studying Blockchain for quite a long time, and now wants to be an important player in this field by becoming a Blockchain Developer, and Lisk is his gateway! Currently, he is building a startup and becoming the Chief Technology Officer of this company.