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The global online work platform oDesk will start imposing fees on its freelancers in one of the major changes following its merger with competitor Elance a year ago.

“With online work expanding, more clients and freelancers are joining Odesk every day. Some members of our community compete for clients by sending out as many applications as possible. The result can be a frustrating experience for everyone,” Fabio Rosati, Elance-oDesk CEO, wrote in an announcement on the company’s official blog.

“Clients who receive too many generic applications are less likely to hire, while freelancers who are a great fit and have submitted high-quality applications have a hard time standing out,” Rosati said.

Through the new system, freelancers will be given “Connects” or “virtual tokens” they need to use to apply for a job posting. Every freelancer will receive a monthly allotment of 60 Connects, with each application requiring use of anywhere from 1 to 5 Connects (two on average), depending on factors such as the size and type of job.

But if a freelancer wants to go beyond the monthly allotment, a payment of $10 a month needs to be made to have 70 Connects a month, the option to buy more Connects at $1 each, and the ability to roll over 70 unused Connects to the next month.

Freelancers who are invited to apply for a job or are being rehired will not need to use any Connects.

At present, freelancers on the platform are limited by job application quotas, which they could increase by passing certain tests or reaching certain feedback scores from their contractor.

Elance and oDesk, which were former competitors in the online freelancing space, announced their merger in December 2013, which was finalized in April of last year. According to its annual report last year, the combined platform now has 9.3 million freelancers in 180 countries and has generated $900 million in freelancer earnings.

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