Recently I had similar experiences on multiple projects. I have seen that clients even with good ratings post projects , they discuss for days and hours and then eventually disappear and not hire.
I am getting a feeling that these days clients are using Upwork platform for brainstorming their ideas and getting inputs from developers about things like feaisbility , implementation etc.
Eventually they endup settling their project elsewhere. I am specifically following up on project status like if that client has interviwed any developers and has hired, definitely hiring happens but its like 1 out of 10/20 projects .
Sometimes this feels frustrating that after giving lot of valuable info as a part of interview you dont get paid or hired.
Just wanted to vent my frustration , I am sure there are other developer freelancers out here who feels same.
I got an interview of a client that was obviously brainstorming to his benefits... it was obvious since before the intereview, and it was even more obvious in the interview. He had a data scientist working for him and he just wanted me to tell him what else would I ask for this data scientist to do... so obviously brainstorming because he didn't know what to tell his employee to do.
I felt disgusted but didn't really care.. not too many clients are like this really.
Yes this happens a lot. Not always for nefarious purposes. Sometimes the clients are trigger shy or were too quick to post a job before they thought needs through. Whatever the reason you tend to develop a feel for when things are simply going to iterate. At a certain point you just have to tell them that if they want to get deeper into things and get more advice, that they need to make the hire. You then disengage unless that actually happens. Every situation is different and you just need to get a feel for when is the right time for the nice ultimatum.
Also keep in mind that this is far from just a freelancing thing. There is no segment of sales that doesn't experience this from big consulting companies, to car dealers, to realtors and beyond. It's the cost of any business and a good reason why folks need to know when to cut bait and when to give that little extra needed to close the deal.
It happens all the time. I'm quite helpful and open, but once I notice how things are going, I politely tell the client "well, I'll give you more details once you hire me". 99% of times they disappear, so I avoid wasting any more time.
The above being said, there are client who genuinely want to know what would you do and how can you help them. Remember it's a job interview and they have all the rights to ask and know what are they going to pay for