I’m writing it for 2 main reasons. Firstly, to actually say what has happened since the post. To clear up any misconceptions, to give both sides of the story and to just put it to bed. Secondly, because I despise the idea of becoming an ‘Armchair politician’. There’s nothing worse than the people who complain and call for change, yet don’t act in way to actually see that change through. You know the types. So, the follow up post will focus on actually providing valuable information to those working either freelance or remote (Or looking to do so). So I’ve also wrote The state of freelancing, a guide to 2017.
What actually happened?
It went all, a bit bonkers really. Front page of Hacker News, multiple Sub Reddits (Except r/freelance & r/programming, ask the mods why). My Twitter went crazy. People sharing stories and their experiences, both good and bad.
I think the important thing to come out of this is the Conversation. Freelancing and Remote Work is an inherently lonely thing. People think that they should struggle by themselves, whatever their issues may be. As the World and it’s Economy seems to move more remote and fluid, it’s becoming ever increasingly vital that we still try and keep the human conditions alive, being social, talking, maybe even going outside. Hey, I’m guilty of taking back to back client calls in my underwear too, you’re not in it alone.
What happened with Upwork?
I was put in contact with ‘Ay’ (Not real name). A lovely lady remotely working for Upwork on the Dispute Escalations team, from Canada. I think they use Canadians because of how amazingly nice and kind they are, but that’s a tangent.
We spoke at length, on a range of topics. About the situation and Upwork itself. As to not drag this out longer than it needs to be, and while not disclosing or misrepresenting what she said, I’ll keep all of this brief.
- The financial restrictions were lifted from my Suspended account and I was given the ability to withdraw money. It all still hasn’t been through the 10–14 days of review periods yet, but I’m sure it will all be okay.
- Upwork are proactively dealing with these types of situations and trying to improve. It’s a big company, growing faster than ever. I believe she was being sincere when telling me that they have a ‘vision’ and that they care about Freelancers and Clients. The reason being is this, money. They’re a company with a lot of vested interest . If people like me or you don’t make money, if clients and buyers don’t spend money, then Upwork doesn’t make money. So it gets to a point where it’s in everyone's best interest to have the best possible experience. Do I believe they’re there yet? Well, no. But I think it’s plausible that they’re trying, at least, to go in that direction.
- After talking to her, she relayed my proposals to the executive team. They went ahead and created (firstname.lastname@example.org). This is a place for all of you, client or freelancer, to voice your genuine concerns for any disputes you may have on the platform. Please, only use this email if you actively use Upwork and have problems. NOT, if you have a problem with Upwork itself and want to send bad messages. Please don’t spam it, as people with honest problems actually have a chance to get in touch with the ‘higher ups’, to talk through their issues.
Anecdotally, I feel as though I have to write this. At one point, I was in pretty dire straights. I hustled through Upwork and it got me past. Of the thousands of proposals I submitted, I did come away with solid client relationships, some of whom I still talk to, to this day. There’s positives and negatives to everything. Use your own critical thinking and brain to decide what’s right for you and your situation.
The Medium Piece
After the post hit something like 120k views, I was contacted by their support. Essentially, the internet decided to start sending hate mail to the client-to-be, as well as doxxing them.
Medium support told me I had 4 hours to alter my post, as it broke a number of rules. The main one being ‘posting conversations, altered or unaltered, without the other parties consent’. I believe that the other party wrote to Medium, showing genuine distress. I was shown the messages also, directly from the client-to-be, where people were telling them to ‘Go hang themselves’ and so on. Not mention the 50+ one star reviews posted to their Facebook. Now, I don’t believe any of those pictures had enough information to go off to actually contact someone. But I think Medium were taking the ‘better to be safe than sorry’ approach. I’m not sure how I feel about it, if I’m honest.
The only weird thing is that the post went from second page on Google for the term ‘Upwork’, to literally falling off it. Nowhere to be seen. Very odd…
I just want to move past this now.
If you’re interested in remote work and freelancing, you can read this post.