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Frequently Asked Questions on TOS changes regarding information sharing and interviews

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Community Manager
Lena E Community Manager Member Since: Apr 7, 2015
1 of 595

As noted in our original post we are making changes to our Terms of Service (TOS) regarding communicating on and outside of Upwork. 

 

We understand that not sharing contact information prior to starting a contract is a very real change for how both freelancers and clients use the Upwork platform. Many of you in the Community have shared your concerns in our previous thread which amassed a significant amount of comments burying many of your questions and our replies. 

 

We have created this thread to better highlight and answer your specific questions. We are actively exploring opportunities to improve our product features, tools, communications, and education to better meet user needs. 

 

UPDATE 6/4/20: 

 

On May 26, 2020, we announced upcoming changes to our Terms of Service that will require users to conduct all pre-contract conversations through the Upwork platform. 

 

We understand that many of you have questions and concerns about this change, and we want to let you know we have heard you. We also want to clarify the new requirements, which will go into effect on June 26. 


We know at times it is necessary for a freelancer or client to provide an email address so the other party can gain access to critical systems (for example, an ad analytics account, code repository, etc.). This access allows a freelancer to review a project prior to a contract so they can determine if they have the needed skills, how many hours it will take, etc. 

 

Because the Terms of Service changes are about preventing off-platform communication (rather than blocking freelancers from reviewing projects in advance), we are making the following exception:

 

Users may share email addresses for the sole purpose of providing access to a system that contains information about the project. If the system can be accessed without sharing an email address (such as via a link), it should be shared that way.  

 

If an email address is provided, it should not be used for any communications, including discussions about the project, until a contract is in place. Off-platform communication creates a risk of scam, fraud, other harmful behaviors, and can lead to circumvention, which is a violation of our Terms of Service. 

 

As always, email addresses cannot be requested or shared in a profile, proposal, invite, or job post. 

 

 

  1. I have had a problem using Upwork’s video/voice calling system in the past. How can I rely on it now?
    We have released several major upgrades to Upwork Messages, including a new video/voice provider with more uptime and successful calls. You can learn more about these changes here. When using Messages, we encourage you to provide feedback in the prompt as we review this feedback and use it to make ongoing improvements. 

  2. I need to share my screen during my interviews. Can I do that?
    We offer this feature as part of our new video/voice features in Messages. Check out the announcement here for more details.

  3. What happens if the call or video fails?
    We recognize that this is always a possibility. The recent upgrades to our video/call system have significantly improved the success of video or phone calls. If you continue to have issues, please contact us immediately so we can assist.

  4. Can I share my external portfolios?
    Yes, you can share your external portfolios. Portfolios are an important part of a freelancer’s bidding process to show off their past work and their potential to complete a future project. That is why we are not prohibiting the sharing of external links to personal portfolios or other websites that provide examples of past work. We recognize that some of these links might include contact information and ways to identify and contact you outside of the Upwork platform. When you share these outside links, please remind potential clients to only communicate with you through Upwork until a contract is in place.

  5. I worked on a website and want to share the link with a potential client, is that allowed?
    Yes, If you worked on a website (design, writing, etc.) for a past client and want to share the link with a potential client as part of your portfolio, you also may do so even if the website includes contact information. In these cases, please be sure to ask the client to only contact you through Upwork until a contract is started. Please note that sharing social media handles/IDs is not allowed. 

  6. Can I share files before a contract starts?
    Users are free to share files via Upwork Messages at any time. Documents can be added into Messages for sharing or you can use Upwork’s integration with Dropbox to share files. If critical project information is stored in a system that requires an email address to access, you can share your email address for this purpose only. Remember all communications before a contract starts must take place on Upwork. 


  7. I am a client who needs work done on my website and I want to share the link. Is that allowed?
    Yes. You are free to share details of the work to be done, including links to your websites. You may do this even if the website includes contact information. In these cases, please be sure to ask the freelancer to only contact you through Upwork until a contract is started. Please note that sharing social media handles/IDs is not allowed.

  8. My project involves a social media account, can I share that information?
    Sharing of social media accounts, handles, or IDs is not allowed before a contract is started. You may provide screenshots or walk through the account via screenshare during an interview to help scope the project. 

  9. I use Calendly or another scheduling software to coordinate interview schedules. Can I do that via Upwork Messages?
    We understand that many users need a way to schedule meetings and interviews. You can use Upwork Messages to quickly discuss and schedule an interview. We are looking at adding new features to Upwork Messages, including a calendar option for scheduling. 

  10. Can I share my name or my company’s name?
    Yes, you can share personal or company names. However, we advise you to be cautious with whom you share identifying information to prevent unwanted spam, fraud, or harassment. 

  11. What about signing Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) or other legal documents?
    We've heard your feedback and made the decision to make an exception regarding legal documents. If prior to starting a contract a legal document must be shared that includes contact information (such as NDAs), this will be permitted.

  12. Can I submit a video proposal?
    Absolutely. There is no restriction on sharing files as part of your proposal/interview process as long as those files do not contain contact information and/or requests to contact you outside of Upwork. 

  13. How can I verify credentials and professional memberships?
    Names and credential/membership numbers may be shared.

  14. Who do these new rules apply to?
    The restrictions on sharing contact information apply to both clients and freelancers. However, if you are discussing a project with a Business or Enterprise client you are permitted to use off-platform tools to communicate with these clients before a contract is finalized. You can identify whether a client is Upwork Business or Enterprise by looking for the following symbol (a light blue building) in the job search tile or job posting.

  15. When is a contract officially considered “started?”
    Once a client has made you an offer and you accept it, a contract is in place.

  16. How can I have others on an interview call who don’t have an Upwork account?
    As part of ongoing improvements, we have been looking into giving Upwork account holders the option to invite non-account holders to join a call. We will keep you posted.

  17. How do I access file-sharing tools (e.g., inVision, Google Drive files, Google or Facebook ad accounts)and/or private code services (e.g., Github) that require an email address?
    Thanks for reaching out. We realize that some tools and services require the sharing of an email address to gain access. If you require access to a system before a contract starts, you may share your email address for the sole purpose of gaining access to a system. All communications, however, must still take place on the Upwork platform.

  18. What should I do if a client or freelancer shares their contact information or requests mine?
    Let them know that sharing contact information before a contract has started is against the TOS and that all communications prior to the contract starting must take place on Upwork. We also encourage you to let us know if a TOS violation has happened by using the Flag as Inappropriate option throughout the platform. You can learn more about user reporting here.

 

For more information, please see:

 

Other helpful articles:

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Active Member
Jay D Member Since: Apr 19, 2020
2 of 595

I have asked this on previous threads but must have been missed.

Sometimes just a screenshare isn't enough. We need to give/gain access (mouse/keyboard control) to the other person like TemViewer / AnyDesk does, so that we/they can perform some actions on the other device - a use case would be to ask a freelancer to demonstrate that they have understood the process and can operate a private software as required. Having an access would be unavoidable in such case - a screen sharing is not enough!

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Active Member
Alex T Member Since: Nov 19, 2017
3 of 595

Ok old thread closed. Now we have a new on. So now we need to duplicate all 100 pages of questions here? I left couple of questions in the closed thread. What to do?

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Active Member
Adam P Member Since: Jul 3, 2015
4 of 595
Do you guys know when new iPhone app will be released? As of today I was still having some pretty major issues.

This will be great once the messenger works better than the other platforms we’ve had to compensate with. Especially because it can lead right to a contract without hopping on and off different platforms.

Rock on Upwork!
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Active Member
Andrei H Member Since: May 1, 2017
5 of 595
What about the constant clients, that already have my contacts or they added me in their Slack. For example, we had a couple of fixed price contracts, but all of them are closed. Starting from June, 26, I must tell these clients that we can discuss new projects only in Upwork Messages?
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Moderator
Vladimir G Moderator Member Since: Oct 31, 2014
6 of 595

Hi Andrei,

 

Thanks for your question. In case of existing clients, you may use any communication methods you choose to discuss new engagements. However, when communications (and work) stay on our platform we can better track, verify, and help address any issues that emerge.

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Community Guru
Nichola L Member Since: Mar 13, 2015
7 of 595

My impression was that Maria was not asking for specific information. I think we would all like to know how it is - given assurances of privacy - that someone is allowed to enter stealthily into a chat room. The link  does not appear to cover that, or if it does, I have missed it. 

 

Of course if you are not allowed to answer the question about stealth visits in general terms, then there is no more to be said. Just one more doubt to add to the debit column.

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Community Guru
Maria T Member Since: Nov 12, 2015
8 of 595

Nichola L wrote:

My impression was that Maria was not asking for specific information. I think we would all like to know how it is - given assurances of privacy - that someone is allowed to enter stealthily into a chat room. The link  does not appear to cover that, or if it does, I have missed it. 

 

Of course if you are not allowed to answer the question about stealth visits in general terms, then there is no more to be said. Just one more doubt to add to the debit column. 


Thanks for the clarification of my comment Nichola! Smiley Wink

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Active Member
Alex T Member Since: Nov 19, 2017
9 of 595

 

  1. What if the client needs my email so they could add me to gitlab, for example, so I could see the code that is over 2 gigs? They should send it througth Upwork Messages? What if the project is 10 gigs? 
  2. To get access to his gitlab he needs my email, but to send my email there needs to be an active contract. Does this mean I will have to blindly accept the project, check his files and if I dont like something I could close the contract without any payment or consequences to my score?
  3. "Business and Enterprise clients can request contact info". But how do I know if they are Business or Enterprise clients? This is not visible in chat
  4. I have a personal portfolio site and a github portfolio site which is more convinient as the client can see the full code and my work. Can I share my github portfolio site or not? 
  5. Video and voice is good. But the most important part for me during each call is showing the screen. Will this feature be added soon?
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Community Manager
Lena E Community Manager Member Since: Apr 7, 2015
10 of 595

Hi Alex, 

 

Many of your questions have been answered in the post. If a client needs to send a large file they can use a filesharing service that doesn't require an email. We also have Dropbox integrated already in Upwork Messages. You can share links to any of your portfolios and sites as long as they don't require an email for the other party to access them.  Also, the Video/voice feature in Messages already has a screen share function. 

 

-Lena

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