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fernandovaz
Member

Seeing when a message is read

Hi! My name is Fernando, and I am a Product Manager working on the Collaboration Platform team here at Upwork. My team is responsible for everything that lives inside the Messages page, as well as all features that allow a freelancer and a client to work better together.,

 

One of the issues that come up most frequently when we review feedback between clients and freelancers is a lack of responsiveness. Things are going well, until one of the parties (the client or the freelancer) stops responding to messages and people get anxious to know whether it's just a delay or if people have seen the messages at all.

 

In order to address that, we're considering adding "message seen" indicators to our Messages page (and consequently to the Messages window on the desktop app). If you've used mobile messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger you will be familiar with this - being able to tell when someone has seen your messages.

 

It would look something like this when you hover over a message (these are early mockups):

 

Screenshot 2016-12-08 15.43.41.pngScreenshot 2016-12-08 15.43.58.png

 

 

When we launch this feature, would you like to be able to turn it off? Bear in mind that this means you would also not see these indicators for when other people see your messages.

 

Any other feedback you might have about this would be most welcome.

 

Thanks!

ACCEPTED SOLUTION
fernandovaz
Member

Thank you all for your feedback. Many of you voiced legitimate concerns, and so we have decided not to pursue this at this point. Once again, thank you for being so awesome, it's great to be able to have this sort of communication with our users.

 

Happy holidays to you all!

View solution in original post

50 REPLIES 50
cupidmedia
Member

I responded to a thread about this recently and said I'm not a supporter (I'm a client). Just because I've read a message that doesn't mean I have time to respond to it right then, or I might need to research the answer to a question or something first.

 

In terms of managing my freelancers, it's extremely rare for me to have a communication issue with my freelancers. And I understand that they have lives and other clients, so again, just because they read my message that doesn't mean they have time to respond to it right now.

 

I can see this being a nightmare for freelancers with already demanding, difficult clients. It should definitely be optional, if it is introduced.

csjarmitage
Member

As long as it remains optional, I think it's fine.

 

I would strongly suggest that the default setting is "disabled", with hover instructions on how to enable it.  That way, users aren't passive participants in functionality they're not interested in using.

 

 

lysis10
Member

To answer the question "When we launch this feature, would you like to be able to turn it off?" Yes.

 

inb4 "Freelancer read my message 3 hours ago and did not answer... want my money back."

 

How would you know if the messages are read in email? I often leave the message center closed so people don't see me online or because I find that by turning off the message center I can rely on emails better. 

What happens when I read a message on my phone but can't answer right now? There are a lot of people who get really ridiculously insulted if you don't reply right away. It's why I turn off Skype.

What happens if I leave the message center open on the message room for a client that just messaged me? What status is shown? The message center is open but I haven't read it yet.

What happens when I reply via email? Does it show "read?" 

What happens if the client sends me a bunch of messages one right after the other and I send a response via email in between them? How are emails batched? Will it show that I read all of them even though I only read the first 5, for instance, and walked away but sent a quick email in between them?

 

 

Honestly, this is going to cause problems. Just think about Skype or text messages that show read status and what happens when people don't answer. So many people get so impatient over it. It's primarily why I don't keep Skype open. 

 

I also think that when people see that a freelancer reads a message and answers hours later (I'm someone like that), it's going to play a factor in their JSS scoring even though replying within 24 hours is perfectly OK unless there is some 911 issue.

Oh and without a doubt there are going to be freelancers bugging the living hell out of clients over the fact that they read the message and didn't answer within a few minutes. 

Ugh no.

 

How do you know I didn't click on a message or open a message without reading it?

 

If there was only one freelancer on Upwork this might be needed. But there are millions of freelancers.

 

If a client hires a freelancer and the freelancer is not responsive.... Then the client should consider hiring someone else.


@Jennifer M wrote:

 

<snip> 

I also think that when people see that a freelancer reads a message and answers hours later (I'm someone like that), it's going to play a factor in their JSS scoring even though replying within 24 hours is perfectly OK unless there is some 911 issue.


This.  I didn't even think about this.  It's a huge concern and there should be some pretty significant thought put into it before you launch.

 

Because communication response times are such a fluid metric (24 hours is fine for me but a client might think that 2 hours is excessive), the risk to JSS is high.  This might significantly impact private feedback.

 

I don't want to be all "Chicken Little, the sky is falling!" but I think it's a very legitimate concern.

Fernando, I 'liked' your original post because you actually ASKED if this was a good or bad thing and what our feelings, from both client and provider perspective, was.  

 

However, I'm another vote for only if we can disable it.  Frankly, it is too intrusive and micro-managing for professionals - and I believe that professional is how Upwork would like to portray their service.

niag
Member

I would certainly like to be able to switch this off. 

 

Personally, I would prefer not to have it at all. IMO, it really seems to be a feature best left for social apps, platforms, etc. It doesn't strike me as belonging on a business platform.

 

And, when I've heard this idea tossed around in the forum, it has always been by inexperienced, anxious newbie freelancers. As was already stated, this will cause nothing but problems for these freelancers (who don't always conduct themselves in the most professional manner due to being in a tizzy about client responses and the like). Seems like more of a detriment to me.  

david_gregory
Member

 I'm not a big fan of this idea and would definitely want to turn it off.

 

I just had a client who marked me down on availability and communication for a job because I didn't get back to her quick enough on email--keep in mind that this was a job that started and ended within twelve hours or so but she still felt I didn't respond quick enough to emails.The client was pleased with the work, just wanted to know why I didn't respond immediately to emails. If she knew when I had actually read the emails, she may have been even more upset.


David G wrote:

 keep in mind that this was a job that started and ended within twelve hours or so but she still felt I didn't respond quick enough to emails.


This ^^




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fernandovaz
Member

Thank you all for your feedback. Many of you voiced legitimate concerns, and so we have decided not to pursue this at this point. Once again, thank you for being so awesome, it's great to be able to have this sort of communication with our users.

 

Happy holidays to you all!

Thank you, Fernando, for asking, truly listening to the responses, and for acting on the feedback provided!!!

anima9
Member

Sounds like a great idea for a social media platform but a poor decision on a freelancing platform in my honest opinion.

 

I vote with the others specially with Jen M's queries.

 

"Off"


@Robert James R wrote:

Sounds like a great idea for a social media platform but a poor decision on a freelancing platform in my honest opinion.


 Exactly. Fine for social media but not on a platform that supports our livelihoods.

lomen_jan
Member

 

 

So Fernando, you came up with "seen" gimmick as a solution to problem of responsiveness? "Seen" doesn't solve that said problem - just makes it more visible. But you are on the right track if you think that lack of responsiveness is a communication problem. While we're at it, can you solve briefing problems? Can you make some sort of briefing checkpoints thing that client fills up before job post? I am just talking for my area, but I guess that other freelancer can add what solutions could work to make communication with clients more clear. 

Because as you know, "seen" can be avoided if you disconnect, read and connect again.  That is why I see this as a gimmick that we can live without. What if I read the pop up while working or read message via e-mail? This feature is already making more problems that solutions. If I were you, I'd not waste any more time on it. 

I think that having emojis renderes would help me more to decipher what client said by this row of squares. It takes some trickery to find out that I had recieved lips, rocket, peach and bamboo sticks. 

Just have to poke my cyber-pencil into this discussion -- some levity, here --

 

I had a colleague back when I was at our local middle- and high-school, who taught classes that were, shall we say?, less academically demanding than English, math, history, science, etc. However, this annoying little man was always at great pains to explain to the rest of us how hard he worked. (He did not.) --And, by the way, ths was not P.E. The "gym" teachers, in fact, worked very hard, and to a person were quite sharp, and we all considered them to be fully on par with the "academic" faculty. This was just a guy who had started life as a science teacher, found that to be too much work, and had been gaming the system for years.

 

Anyway, Annoying Little Man had a habit of sending EVERY ONE of his e-mails with a red flag and the message "Top Priority," plus the request that he be notified when the message had been opened. Until he started doing this, I hadn't even much noticed that this function was available to us faculty users of the e-mail system. I think that the "High Priority" function had only been used for a few messages, such as "Two-Hour Delay due to Heavy Snow" or "Recent Graduate Killed in Car Accident Over the Weekend." The "notify when opened" function might have been used a few times when the administration sent us e-mails regarding paperwork we had to sign by a certain date.

 

Annoying Little Man considered all of his e-mails to be of such importance that he burned to know when everyone had seen them. Yes, every one of his photographs of his son's baseball game... His forwarded praise from a former student (not kidding! He sent such stuff out generally--I suppose in the belief that he was the only one who received such notes)... A rant about the offerings in the cafeteria... An explanation about why he couldn't possibly share one of the two (yes, TWO) classrooms that were assigned to him, despite requests from other teachers that he do so...

 

All of these e-mails (and more) were "High Priority."  Many of the rest of us used to check in with each other, making sure that none of us had been foolish enough to open his mails, thus setting unrealistic expectations about what Annoying Little Man could expect in terms of the "return receipts" for which he so longed.

Lol Janean!

Janean:

 

That's a great story!

 

Along similar lines:

 

When it comes to email, if somebody wants me to read an email message, they need to make sure they don't send it to anybody else.

 

If I see that I'm part of a "cc" list or if I see that there are multiple recipients who are getting the same email message, then that means other people are getting the same message. So it's not very important that I, personally, read it.

 

So I probably won't read it.

j_muiruri
Member

I don't know why most of the clients see this as unuseful. I as a freelacer i can support the first thought to activate this feature. Its very important.


@Joseph G wrote:

I don't know why most of the clients see this as unuseful. I as a freelacer i can support the first thought to activate this feature. Its very important.


It was freelancers as well who oppose this. Frankly it is nobody's business whether I have or have not read their message.  

Thats according to you. You have a reason to to oppose and i have a reason to support. Anyway, since majory are opposers, i comply!

How & Why? We are paying the cost of Connects to apply that particular job, the upwrok score system is monitoring our profile rankings. Is this okay to you all? I'm perfect in a skill, my proposal is awsome, my rates are in client's bracket, I'm sending sample work. In spite of this all client ignores my proposal just because of upwork's promotion of top earners. If you are not willing to add this feature then do a little bit for us:

-Free the connects
-Limit the Job opening time for clients
-Do'not monitor that particular proposal which is not even seen by client

 

Thank you so much for taking care of Upwork Community.

rkmahin
Member

It can be solved by giving the permission to the users (both freelancers and clients). Permission can be given in any way, by letting the users choose to seen or unseen in a pop-up during the opening of the messages.

 

But if not, I am also not supporting it!

n_mhatre
Member

Hi Fernando,

 

The below posted information is treally helpful, can you please guide me how to activate this settinig where I can seen the freelancer has read my msg or not


@Nandram M wrote:

Hi Fernando,

 

The below posted information is treally helpful, can you please guide me how to activate this settinig where I can seen the freelancer has read my msg or not


 There is no setting. The feature was never introduced because no one wanted it.

blk11190
Member

As a freelancer, I feel that this would be a valuable option. For instance, I recently completed my first job, and, being new to the Upwork network, was unfamiliar with how the workflow is supposed to happen. Therefore, I mistakenly did all of the work on the clients content management system, and they published the changes I made to their live site, but they never officially โ€œofferedโ€ me the contract. So the work is done, the client is happy with the outcome, but I have no idea if and when Iโ€™ll be paid for my services. Now, I have sent messages to them, and am getting no response. It would be nice to know if they have at least seen what I sent them.

Ben,

 

Based on feedback we received from users on this thread and via other channels, we decided not to go forward with implementing this feature.

 

Please, always make sure you have an active contract under My Jobs tab before you start working on the project.

~ Valeria
Upwork


@Ben K wrote:
As a freelancer, I feel that this would be a valuable option. For instance, I recently completed my first job, and, being new to the Upwork network, was unfamiliar with how the workflow is supposed to happen. Therefore, I mistakenly did all of the work on the clients content management system, and they published the changes I made to their live site, but they never officially โ€œofferedโ€ me the contract. So the work is done, the client is happy with the outcome, but I have no idea if and when Iโ€™ll be paid for my services. Now, I have sent messages to them, and am getting no response. It would be nice to know if they have at least seen what I sent them.

 lol how would knowing if they read the message help you when you got scammed into doing free work? lololol how much time are you out? like did you spend a week on it or lots more time or just a couple days? man they got you good. A whole cms or just customizations?

mtngigi
Member

Never mind ... just realized I was replying (and giving kudos) to a very old thread. Let's hope this function never raises it's ugly head again.

m_terrazas
Member

On the one hand, it seems good to me, especially if it is optional.
But this, which is optional, I do not know, I think it can be a problem.
What will customers think of a freelancer who does not have it activated?

I do not know if I explain myself very well (my terrible English) Robot Frustrated

 

It seems that I have arrived late Smiley LOL

sivavranagaro
Member

I would love this.

Make it optional so everybody who are against it can turn it off, and few of us have it turned on.

I don't know if clients see my messages or not due to some bugs. 

There was a time earlier where I could read messages only through what comes on email. 

And other time where messages were sent to my client account instead freelancer account.

There were also some incidents with time lags.

And now I have either duplicate response to client's invites in my message dashboard, or none at all.

Conclusion: bugs with messages appear often. 

____________
Don't correct my grammar!


@Vesna M wrote:

I would love this.

Make it optional so everybody who are against it can turn it off, and few of us have it turned on.

I don't know if clients see my messages or not due to some bugs. 

There was a time earlier where I could read messages only through what comes on email. 

And other time where messages were sent to my client account instead freelancer account.

There were also some incidents with time lags.

And now I have either duplicate response to client's invites in my message dashboard, or none at all.

Conclusion: bugs with messages appear often. 


Knowing whether a client has seen the message won't help the workflow at all. It'll only ramp up your anxiety if they don't reply to a 'seen' message, and you'll still have no idea if the 'unseen' message is due to a bug or to the client riding off into the sunset. Just do a simple follow-up on the third day of non-communication, then on the 7th day - if they don't reply to both, they probably won't come back at all, or will pop up months later. 

 

And from a client POV - what will they think of your communication if you don't reply to a 'seen' message for more than 2-3 hours? For 12? How would they know if the 'unseen' is due to a bug or timee-lag, when they can just as easily think you've just ditched their project and end it for non-communication?  


@Bojana D wrote:

you'll still have no idea if the 'unseen' message is due to a bug or to the client riding off into the sunset.


 If it happens with ten clients in a row, and I see they were online (green) at some point, I can be pretty sure they didn't see my messages due to bug, and not uninterest.

 

You are correct about clients who expect too much, that's why feature should be optional. I can see messages from within my email and not log into main site until I want them to see I've seen the message.

Because my main desire isn't to check if client sees the message, but if he received it all, I have no trouble if client does the same practice. I just need to be sure he read it sometime.

____________
Don't correct my grammar!
ayubshahzada
Member

Last seen status should be there with the option to turn it on/off.

I'm a professional, and I treat the people I work with as professionals.

 

If a client sends me a message, he sends me a message.

If a client replies, he replies.

 

Until then, there is nothing.

There is no "did the client SEE my message?"

Or "when was the client last on the Upwork site?"

 

None of that has anything to do with me.

 

If I log time, I get paid automatically, even if the the client does nothing.

If I submit a fixed-price milestone, then I get paid automatically if the cleint does nothing.

 

That's all I need.

Any further word on the status of this possible implementation? 

More important:  will we have the option to turn it on/off if implemented?

 

@ Preston, how you work is completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand but thanks for reactivating the thread so we can follow-up on the status of same.

I would just like the messaging room to perform correctly and constantly, before they add any more ingredients to the mix.

 

We already have to keep hiding clients that never materialized and put up with what must be one of the untidiest and clumsiest message rooms on the web.      

I think it's a good idea. I know not everyone likes it and I think keeping it optional would solve that problem. Also, I think it's important for people to remember that not everyone can respond to messages as soon as they've seen them - at least they've seen the message and you know they'll respond at some point.

 

I like the idea because sometimes, if you don't get a reply, you start to wonder if your client (or freelancer) has even been online to see your messages. I know I would feel better knowing they've seen the message and will reply as soon as they can.


Katerina S wrote:

I think it's a good idea. I know not everyone likes it and I think keeping it optional would solve that problem. Also, I think it's important for people to remember that not everyone can respond to messages as soon as they've seen them - at least they've seen the message and you know they'll respond at some point.

 

I like the idea because sometimes, if you don't get a reply, you start to wonder if your client (or freelancer) has even been online to see your messages. I know I would feel better knowing they've seen the message and will reply as soon as they can.


yeah once again someone with NOTHING going on making this suggestion. NO, it's a terrible idea. Some of us actually have work and a real career and aren't desperados.