Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Is this a breach of TOS?

Active Member
Julian G Member Since: Nov 15, 2019
1 of 15

This came up in my job feed. I attached a screen shot so others can find it.


Is this....

I am looking to see if there are any good fiction writers that are willing to part with their work. The price is a placeholder, we can discuss further once I have read through it.


a breach of this...


Requesting or demanding free services, including requesting Freelancers to submit work as part of the proposal process for very little or no money or posting contests in which Freelancers submit work with no or very little pay, and only the winning submission is paid the full amount;


Which comes from 4.1 prohibited uses of the site.


This looks like a scam to me.


**Edited for community guidelines**

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
2 of 15

re: "Is this a breach of TOS?"




I am not sure why you are asking such a question.

The job posting has a placeholder budget of $10.

That is TWICE the minimum allowable fixed-price budget on the platform.


Also: The job posting clearly states that this is a PLACEHOLDER. The client is interested in what quotes the freelancers want to provide. He may well be planning to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for this work.

Active Member
Julian G Member Since: Nov 15, 2019
3 of 15

because 10 for 100k manuscript is "very little"  and I'm asking the question because I am trying to learn.  Just finding the TOS on Upwork was a challenge.

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
4 of 15

A Placeholder means that the client is open to discuss the real cost with interested freelancers. That is a smart move because clients are sick of people just bidding whatever the budget is.


No violation of any terms of service and the client isn't asking for free work.

Community Guru
Will L Member Since: Jul 9, 2015
5 of 15



You can reply with your own placeholder proposal amount, making it clear that you will provide a final bid only after you completely understand the deliverables the client is looking for.

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
6 of 15

This really reflects a limitation in Upwork's client-side interface for creating fixed-price job postings, and this is something that has been discussed extensively in other threads.


MANY clients find the interface problematic in the way it requires them to specify a budget. They don't know the budget. They don't know how much it will take to accomplish the goal. That's why they are asking for help on Upwork.


This isn't the client's fault. He is doing the best he can within the limitations of the tool.

Active Member
Julian G Member Since: Nov 15, 2019
7 of 15

Why wouldn't he say  "I have an upper budget of $N dollars"?


Or I'm willing to pay between x and y for the right work.


The bit that grates my cheese is NOT the price, because I get that.  It's this bit...  "We can discuss further once I have read through it"


Err, not for 10 bucks you're not.


Having had my work STOLEN before, there's no chance I'm showing him anything substantial before I'm protected.


How do I communicate that to the client without wasting connects?




Active Member
Julian G Member Since: Nov 15, 2019
8 of 15

I'm looking at this from a risk reward perspective.


What is the worst case scenario for the client?  Nothing. Bubkiss. Zero. He wants to read and assess the work before he pays for it - which is fair enough, yet he wants the whole thing. He's not asking for a summary, outline or synopsis... he wants it all.. and he has nothing at risk, not even ten dollars, because he already has it.


What is the worst case scenario for the freelancer?  I share my work hoping to be paid for it, (Not even knowing if it's the genre he's looking for) possibly months of my life and the client turns out to be a dishonest person. He takes the work, and either passes it off as his own, or even worse, turns out to be one of those Kindle pool scammers and uses the words to fool the amazon algorithms which now track for word salad. I can't afford to hire a copywrite lawyer, and/or my words get used to commit theft from other hard wrking authors..


Where's the balance?



Community Guru
Christine A Member Since: May 4, 2016
9 of 15
He wants to buy work that writers have already created; he's not asking anyone to create work specifically for him. Most of us have portfolios of our work that we share with clients before they agree to hire us; how else is a client supposed to determine whether our work is suitable? You don't have to respond to this job post if you don't want to, but there's no TOS violation to report here.

Also, if this person is dishonest, he could just find stories all over the Internet and steal those; but he's not doing that, he's offering to pay.
Active Member
Julian G Member Since: Nov 15, 2019
10 of 15

If the stories are all over the internet.... then it wouldn't fool the algorithms.