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Educating clients about updated Terms of Service

Upwork Staff
Daryl S Upwork Staff Member Since: Oct 15, 2019
1 of 22

Hello Upwork Community!


Many of you have mentioned the need for client education around our new Terms of Service  changes. We would like to take the opportunity to share more about our work to ensure these changes are clear for all our customers.


We are testing a product feature that helps our users, starting with clients, understand what is and is not permissible under the updated Terms of Service. 


I’m sure all of you have stumbled upon the notes in Upwork Messages with various reminders. Our new feature takes this same concept and applies it across the platform in a way that presents the messaging front and center. This feature provides clarity on what is and is not allowed regarding contact information sharing, interviewing, and payments off platform. These messages also remind users that Upwork offers messaging, voice call, and video chat functions within the platform so there is no need to go outside of Upwork. 


Right now, this feature, like many product features, is being tested to identify the most effective positioning. This test is currently running on client accounts anywhere information can be filled out like Upwork Messages and Job Postings.  


Here are examples of these new notes:circ listener 1.jpg


circ listener 2.jpg


We hope that implementing this feature will help your clients better understand what they can and cannot ask of you during the interview process and lessen the amount of explaining you find yourselves doing.


We remain committed to user education and will continue to look for ways to connect with all of our customers. 


Community Guru
Douglas Michael M Member Since: May 22, 2015
2 of 22

Daryl S wrote:
These messages also remind users that Upwork offers messaging, voice call, and video chat functions within the platform so there is no need to go outside of Upwork. 

Dream on.

Community Guru
Abinadab A Member Since: Sep 26, 2016
3 of 22

Nice one, Daryl.

How will we know that Upwork is doing a great job at educating clients?


Ans: When folks are no longer posting on the Reddit every other day about what to do cos a client wants a Zoom or Skype meeting or otherwise share contact info and they don't know what to do.


Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
4 of 22

I don't really believe in "client education."


If a client uses Upwork a lot and wants to become well-versed in how it works, that is great.


But I don't expect a client to be "well educated" about how Upwork works before they try to use the tool. No more than I expect a customer to look up the store layout before they go to a grocery store.


If I don't know what aisle canned vegetables are on, I'll ask somebody who works at the store.

If a client doesn't know how to use Upwork properly, it is possible for him to look things up. But the best thing is for freelancers to be able to guide him.


Freelancers SHOULD know how Upwork works.

A client should be able to post a job posting without knowing how much things should cost, what type of contract he should use, etc. Ideally, a freelancer will provide any guidance that is needed.

Community Guru
Abinadab A Member Since: Sep 26, 2016
5 of 22


Are you saying that Upwork should use freelancers to police the clients into observing the new rules?

I want to get your drift.

Because that is precisely Upwork's strategy as at the time of writing.

The outrage (not on my part; to be clear, I like the new rules: I hate video calls and am equally not a liker of calls in general) in the freelancer community over the burden of enforcement being mostly on freelancers is as real as the bold font in which I wrote this.


The real issue is not with telling the client all pre-contract comms go through Upwork.

The real issue is some freelancers following the rules and others not, leaving the "good folks" to suffer.

Ace Contributor
April B Member Since: Jun 23, 2015
6 of 22

Hi Daryl,
That's a good start. 
However I have been finding in real life that only works to a certain extent.
The conversation usually goes:
- can we set up a time to call? / what number can I call you on?
- then a freelancer has to educate

So over the past few weeks, 20 odd times I've had to explain why I cant share a number and we have to do it on upwork call function.

So I dont think that the little notification that you screenshotted, is working as well as Upwork expects. Because it only works when they type in a phone number or email, which I believe most clients dont do off the bat... they ask first.

Perhaps if the words "call / phone number / email " for example come up in a chat prior to a contract hiring, THAT IS WHEN the notification should come up. 

I hope that difference makes sense, it does on my end.

In the meanwhile I have a copy paste message I have saved to send to everyone, so for those complaining about having to educate time and again, that's probably the fastest solution right now. 

Community Guru
Abinadab A Member Since: Sep 26, 2016
7 of 22

April B wrote:



How many of those potential clients do you believe you lost because of you having to school them?

That's where the injury is, and what I want to hear.

Ace Contributor
April L Member Since: Jun 1, 2016
8 of 22

None, I don't believe clients mind apart from the fact that the call function is of terrible quality.
None of this is of huge concern, upwork should just put those notifications where they are actually needed in real life scenarios. 

Active Member
Joanne W Member Since: Sep 25, 2016
9 of 22

The audio quality is so bad that I have had potential clients give up on using Upwork before they even get started. I've also had potential clients ask why Upwork doesn't trust its own freelancers enough to allow them to have meaningful interviews with them. They want to use tried and true communication methods that they're familiar with, not deal with static and dropped calls on Upwork, And in truth, in all the time I have been using Upwork, I've never had a potential client ask me to work outside of the platform. The current policy seems punitive and short-sighted. Could there perhaps be an exception for Top Rated talent?

Community Manager
Vladimir G Community Manager Member Since: Oct 31, 2014
10 of 22

Hi Joanne,


I'm sorry about your experience with using the call feature. Could you please confirm if you experienced issues on a recent call and if you have, could you please provide more information in a private message so I could take a look?


I'll share your suggestion with our team and we'll follow up with an update here if any changes are made to the current process with communicating with prospective clients/freelancers in Messages. Thank you.