Digital platforms claim to offer new income opportunities and promise to democratize access to the labour market. Web scraping, a computing technique used to extract digital data, offers a way to test these promises and to understand how work is distributed on these platforms. This article describes how we extracted, analysed and interpreted data from two platforms: Etsy, dedicated to handmade goods’ online sales, and La Belle Assiette, a platform for hiring home cooks. While examining the benefits and limitations of web scraping in comparison with other research methods also used in the study, the article shows the diversity of uses of such platforms. It reveals that reality is quite different from the platforms’ promises.
- Web scraping