FAQ: Public and private messages on Freelancer.com – what are they for?

9 02 2011

OK, so I’m not *loving* Freelancer.com right now, and I won’t be fully au fait with them until they have implemented the compulsory milestone payment feature they promised me in response to my last post so that freelancers don’t have to take a gamble every time they bid on and accept a project. But I am OK with them again, so it’s time for another FAQ session. This week, I’m talking about the public and private message boards on Freelancer.com, and what they are for. And what they definitely are NOT for.

First of all, the public message boards. Each project description page, say for instance, this one, has a link to a “project clarification board” – that’s the proper name for the public message board, and it’s an important name. This message board is where you’re supposed to ask questions to clarify details about the project before you place a bid. In theory, the buyer is supposed to read the comments on this message board and answer any questions that potential bidders might have so that they can make an informed decision about whether or not they want to bid, and if so, how much to bid. That’s it. That’s all this board is for.

Here’s what the clarification board (public message board) is NOT for:

  • Placing a bid. Bids MUST be placed via the proper bid form (the blue button on the other side of the page, where it says “Bid on this project”). If you place a bid on this message board, you’re breaking terms and conditions and could be suspended. Regular freelancer members have a finite number of bids that they can make per month, so this rule is to stop people who have spent their bids from trying to get an extra chance or ten (TIP: if you find yourself running out of bids each month, upgrade to Gold membership – you’ll get unlimited bids for a monthly fee). Also please note that there is a minimum bid amount of $30. You cannot bid lower than that, so bidding on the public message board is not a good way to get around this!
  • Uploading your samples. I actually don’t really know why there is the facility to upload files to the public message board – I don’t see any need for it and it can actually be damaging for freelancers to do so. People who post samples here should realise that because the board is public, ANYONE can access and download those files. ANYONE. Even people who are not registered Freelancer users. Even people who might collect samples and republish them elsewhere without your permission. Even (*gasp!*) buyers who might take your work without asking and not pay for it!
  • Uploading your CV (résumé). As above, remember that ANYONE can view files that are posted to the public message boards, so if your résumé contains your email address, your date or birth, your home address, etc etc, these all have the potential to be collected and abused by less scrupulous folk. This also breaks the next rule about…
  • Posting your contact details. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – it is against Freelancer’s rules to post your contact information ANYWHERE on the site, other than when you first register for an account. Contact information includes your email address, phone number, home address, instant messenger ID or any other way that someone might be able to contact you other than through the Freelancer site. It even includes not-so-cunningly disguised email addresses such as “name at domain dot com”. The reason? Freelancer have been clever enough and kind enough to provide the infrastructure for you to find work by hooking you up with employers. If you contact them outside of Freelancer, you dodge having to pay Freelancer’s commission fees if you win a project. Like it or not, Freelancer, as a business, are entitled to make money, just like you, so pay the darn commission fees and bid/accept bids properly! If you don’t, well then don’t be surprised if your account is suspended, much like the idiot featured in this Freelancer blog post.
  • Posting a project or advertising another website. I’ve seen this quite a lot lately. Buyers who don’t want to play by the rules or pay Freelancer’s fees, instead try advertising a project on the public message board. This not is not only a deliberate attempt to dodge fees, but these users usually have to leave a contact email address or IM ID to get people to respond, so that’s two counts of Freelancer felony! I’ve also seen people advertising their companies, their affiliate schemes or other freelance websites here. It’s not allowed!

Each project also has an associated private message board. This is ONLY available to people who have placed a bid using the designated bid form – you cannot send a private message to a buyer until you have placed a bid. On the bid form, right at the bottom, you will find a little check box that says “Also send a private message to the project seller”. Check this, and a message box will appear and you can tap out your message to the buyer. The message will only be sent when you confirm your bid. If you chose not to send a private message at the time of bidding, you can still do so later by accessing the project from your project table (Projects > My Projects). Thereafter, you can message the buyer in private to your heart’s content.

As with the public clarification board, you are NOT allowed to post your contact details on the private message board! The private message board is “private” in the sense that the message cannot be viewed by Freelancer users other than yourself and the buyer, but it does not mean that Freelancer staff cannot see it! If you post your contact details here, or try to bypass any other rules and regulations, Freelancer have access to all this information – they can and will use it as evidence to suspend your account, just like the guy in the Freelancer blog post I mentioned earlier.

By all means, if you trust the buyer, feel free to post your samples and your résumés on the private message board (but be careful to remove any contact information first) and continue to discuss the project. Remember that even if a buyer replies to your private message, even if they show interest in hiring you, hell even if they SAY they want to hire you – the project is not yours until you have received that all-important congratulations email from Freelancer.com asking you to accept or reject the project AND until you have actually accepted it!

As the saying goes, “to be forewarned is to be forearmed”. I’ve told you everything you need to know about the Freelancer message boards – now make sure you get it right!




18 responses

27 04 2011

Hi Lisa,

I find your posts about Freelancer.com very helpful. I’m new to the site (and freelancing) and it seems like a great place to find work, though I can see how easy it is to be taken for a ride.

It is frustrating how many projects seem to go by without being awarded to anyone. I take it it’s not against Freelancer policy to send a follow up message to the project poster to enquire in such cases? I’m still waiting for my first withdrawal to paypal to go through so I don’t want to risk my account being suspended!


28 04 2011

Hi Annie, once you have bid on a project you are perfectly entitled to contact the buyer through the provate message board, and it’s absolutely fine to send follow up messages to posters of projects you have bid on. In fact, sometimes it can help to show you are keen! Just don’t give out your email address or any other contact details or offer to do the project for a different price than your bid 🙂

14 09 2011

Anyone considering using an Indian company by the name of Webseekers to do their web design or IT work be extremely careful. You may pay money and get nothing. Be warned.

29 11 2011

I posted contact information in Private Message. Will my account be suspended? how can i delete these msgs?

30 11 2011

I don’t think you can delete private messages, but have a look and see if you can. It’s not guaranteed that your account will be suspended, but it is a suspendable offence. Don’t do it again!!

15 12 2011


I am not able to write on public clarification message board? Why is it so?

22 12 2011

I’m not sure, are you logged in? If you can provide some more information about the project you are trying to post on, then I might be able to offer more advice.

27 05 2012

how to PM somebody? I can’t find the PM button also

28 05 2012

Hi Lau, you can only private message someone after you have bid on their project. Otherwise, all comments must be done through the public message board. This is to stop people soliciting for work behind Freelancers’ back, so to speak.

30 01 2013
Cindy Hamilton

Why can’t I place a clarification question on the public board prior to placing a bid? A lot of jobs aren’t clear on the quanity of the work required. Thereby the freelancer isn’t able to place an appropiate bid. Also I have received private messages that are dated back in early 2012 and would like to delete them. How can I do so?

17 04 2015

Badly written projects listings are a constant source of frustration! In theory, the public message board is to allow you to ask the buyer questions about the project, and for them to clarify the answers, so that you can place an appropriate bid (and you should be able to do this before placing a bid so I’m not sure why you can’t, unless your account is suspended or you’re not logged in?). But, in practice, most buyers ignore these questions, never answer them, and just select the cheapest bidder anyway. In my opinion, if the project isn’t absolutely clear, don’t bother bidding – it’s not worth it. Alternatively, if you do place a bid, send the buyer a private message explaining exactly what you are bidding on. E.g. if you bid on a project that vaguely asks for “someone to write some articles”, state in your bid/message that your bid amount is for X number of articles of X number words in length, or X amount of time. Make it clear that anything over and above that amount will be charged as extra.

17 04 2015

Contact Details????

17 04 2015

What is your question? I don’t understand.

6 10 2016
Dibyendu Mandal

How to send a private message to a “contest holder” in freelancer.com
if some one click on my entry then he/she can see that what conversation is going on with contest holder, but I want to send a private msg.
Is it possible

Best Regards

23 10 2016

I don’t know anything about contests, sorry. I would assume it’s not possible to contact someone privately before you have awarded the contest, because if it were possible, people would just award projects outside of the system, and that would mean that Freelancer wouldn’t get their cut! This is the price you pay for using this system.

23 10 2016

Got it, and thank you so much for your quick answer 🙂

7 11 2016
bisma ilyas

how can I delete an old conversation in freelancer.com?

7 11 2016

I don’t think you can.

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