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Re: Reportable, or not reportable?

Moderator
Bojan S Moderator Member Since: Mar 9, 2018
12 of 22

Hi Christine,

 

Could you please click on my name and send me a PM with the link of the job post you're referring to. I'll share it with our team for the review and take action as per our internal processes.

 

Edited to add:

 

It would be against the ToS for clients to request freelancers to do any free work. Please, see Upwork Terms of Use for more information.

 

That said, freelancers can offer and deliver work to their Upwork clients free of charge if they feel it's appropriate. It won't be a violation of Upwork ToS.

 

Thank you.

~ Bojan
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Community Guru
Scott B Member Since: Nov 20, 2015
BEST ANSWER
12 of 22

Without seeing what they wrote I can only go on what you indicated below in that they directly said they are "suggesting it". If that is the case then it should be considered a violation. The intention should be that asking for free work is not allowed. That is the "severity" of the ask should not be the determining factor. An ask of free work is an ask whether it was "suggested" or "demanded". Upwork wants to get paid and the result of a demand or an ask of free work is the same. Upwork isn't getting paid. It's a violation.

 

Without regard to the above, I have a hard time feeling bad for a freelancer who does this. We are all adults here. You know you are giving free work and are accepting of it. That's on you. 

Community Guru
Christine A Member Since: May 4, 2016
13 of 22

I wish that I could repeat what the client wrote, but that's against the community guidelines. It was pretty obvious to me that this is a client who knows perfectly well that he can't ask for free work, but is obviously hoping that freelancers will provide it anyway.

 

It seems to me that Upwork SHOULD make it a TOS violation for freelancers to provide free work.

 

Anyway, I did report it so it'll be interesting to see whether it gets taken down or not.

 

Community Guru
Scott B Member Since: Nov 20, 2015
14 of 22

Christine A wrote:

 

It seems to me that Upwork SHOULD make it a TOS violation for freelancers to provide free work.

 

 


That is a slippery slope.  From the freelancer point of view how do you very rigidly define "free work". To give an example from my personal experience in mobile application development. Often I will engage in chat room dialog or a pre-engagement call to discuss the job. In most cases I will give information based on my professional experience to help guide the client who often does not have the background to understand key things about what's possible and how these projects work. Absolutely some of that I could easily charge for in terms of a consulting engagement. I am imparting expertise that the client could only get from a professional and this is expertise I would charge for during a consulting engagement. Now it's up to me to determine where the line is between being helpful and demonstrating value that I hope will lead to an offer versus essentially giving professional advice away that I could and should charge for. Do I really want Upwork to determine to what extent my sales process is giving "free work" versus a legitimate attempt to show value? Certainly not. Upwork does not have my expertise - nor yours - and I do not want them in anyway to make determinations that they are not qualified to make. 

 

A client asking for free work is rather binary. They either ask for it or they didn't. Not a lot of intuit there. For the freelancer though, as my example illustrates, the boundaries are not so clear. As a result I don't think UW should make it a terms violation on the freelancer side. Let us determine what is right for our own business. 

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

Scott is right on.

 

There IS some nuance here.

 

There IS a difference between a client simply being bad person and a freelancer doing something bad.

 

If a client asks for free work, he is almost certainly violating ToS, and is almost certainly a bad client, and probably a bad person.

 

If there is any gray area or uncertainty, a client should simply pay something. Pay for ten minutes of consultation time. Or a tiny test job. What will that cost you? Five dollars? Twenty dollars?

 

But for freelancers... Yes, I agree that there CAN be strategic, tactically logical instances in which a freelancer does some free work.

Community Guru
Joan S Member Since: Mar 18, 2019
16 of 22

Hey Preston - How about a freelancer who edits a 17,632-word document for free - in the hope she will get her first job posted on her profile with a good rating.

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

re: "How about a freelancer who edits a 17,632-word document for free - in the hope she will get her first job posted on her profile with a good rating."

 

Such a (hypothetical) freelancer is a fool and I would not want her on the Upwork platform at all.

 

I'm certainly not saying that a freelancer doing free work is wise. Or doing the right thing.

 

I'm simply saying I agree that a client asking for free work and a freelancer doing free work are in different categories.

 

I understand that a freelancer doing work is unlikely to face any kind of Upwork-levied penalties against her.


But I have often expressed my displeasure at freelancer's doing free work. I'm not giving them a free pass.

Community Guru
Joan S Member Since: Mar 18, 2019
18 of 22

Preston - That was not a hypothetical freelancer. That was an actual freelancer who did that editing job. Crummy client.

Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
19 of 22

Joan S wrote:

Hey Preston - How about a freelancer who edits a 17,632-word document for free - in the hope she will get her first job posted on her profile with a good rating.


There should be (and likely will be) some other way of weeding out this type of freelancer, since he/she is clearly not prepared to be in business.

Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
20 of 22

Christine A wrote:

 

It seems to me that Upwork SHOULD make it a TOS violation for freelancers to provide free work.

 


I don't agree with this for two reasons.

 

One is that the freelancers who most often get caught in this trap seem to be those at the lowest end--the least likely to have business smarts and experience and the most desperate. I dislike the idea of further crippling a person's ability to earn a living because he/she was near enough starvation to work for free in hopes that it would lead to a paying gig.

 

The other is that at the other end of the spectrum, it's pretty typical for a professional to do some up-front work as part of a pitch. For example, many marketing companies do an assessment of a company's website and/or current marketing efforts and provide general suggestions for improvement as part of the process of demonstrating what they can offer. I wouldn't want to hobble the ability of higher-end professionals to form that type of relationship, either. I have one Upwork marketing client who has thus far paid me just over $58,000. I didn't have to do an up front work in that case, but it certainly would have been worth investing a couple of hours to kick-start the relationship if that had seemed the right approach.

 

 

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