Policy notice: no private solicitations for work, paid or free

We want people to be able to participate freely on meta without being badgered about doing work for others – so just a heads up, we’re now formally enforcing a policy that has been informally enforced in the past:

All solicitations for any kind of work, paid or free, must be in public in the #marketplace category

This is a part of our community guidelines and terms of service. Basically, no private soliciting:


The primary bit that’s important here is asking in public in the correct category, and avoiding private solicitations.

If you are open to being directly contacted about Discourse-related work opportunities, indicate that on your user profile with external contact information. We would prefer that this contact not occur here on meta, but it is OK if you have explicitly indicated you want to be contacted on your user profile, or of course in a public #marketplace post.


Just so I understand logistically, you don’t want folks pinging each other asking for help via PMs? It all needs to be in public (pricing included) or off of Meta?

I just want to make sure I understand how to handle this in the future.


The deal here is only about paid gigs.


  • If you are open to to paid gigs, you must have something about it in your user profile.

  • The actual negotiation about the paid gig should be done in your own private email not on meta discourse messages.


Sort of, we don’t want people badgering others here privately for free work either.

Basically any structured work commitment, whether you get paid or not, needs to start in public topics. If there needs to be a rule, let’s call it any work that would take more than 3 hours, regardless of whether it is paid or whee you just enjoy doing 3+ hours of free work for other people out of the goodness of your heart.


Bear with me as I ask more questions. I just want to make sure I (and others who do third-party Discourse work) understand the correct process to take potential clients through.

Got it. I can do that easy enough.

So if there’s a post in #marketplace I’m interested in, I need to share my email publicly and continue the conversation off of Meta? I would assume that most folks won’t want to continue the full scoping/invoicing process in public. So posts in #marketplace essentially become connectors between folks willing to pay and developers sharing how to contact them. Am I on the right track with what you’re after?

Does this really happen? I obviously can’t see everyone’s PMs but that seems like a rude thing to do. I assume this (or something like it) has become an issue and has prompted this policy. But since I like receiving these solicitations (for paid work), I don’t see the potential downsides.

Are you ok if there’s a PM from me to a potential client after they post in #marketplace to make the connection point? Or does that need to be public as well?

If you put a rule like this in place, I would make it one hour. I do a fair number of two-hour projects for pay that would slip through the cracks.


@joebuhlig thanks for asking these questions because I had the same things in mind about what the policy is intended to prevent. I’m presuming that spammy requests for unpaid work has become an issue for some users? I would also agree that a 1hr threshold for any proposed rule makes sense.

@codinghorror would it be possible to clarify what the problem behaviour is that the policy is trying to mitigate? I’m happy with putting ‘Available for Discourse work’ in my profile, but I don’t see why further discussion of the proposed work can’t happen in my Discourse Meta PMs? It’s surely no different from email, right? Unless this is a legal issue to do with ensuring clear separation between Discourse.org the entity, and the freelancers providing services (which I could understand being the case)?


Yes, that should be your business but it is not our business. I would say some initial contact is OK here (provided you have said you are open to it on your user profile), but the rest should be on your biz website / your biz email.

Unless you’d like us to start taking 30% of your money like Apple does? :wink:


Thanks for clarifying, I thought it might be something like that. I’m happy to take discussions to an off-Meta comms medium after initial PM to exchange contact details.

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There is another pathological issue I would like to address

If everyone is doing all contact in private, how does anyone know that marketplace works? All we have is one post topics, that automatically close after 1 month

I would say, if you are taking on a marketplace topic, it is beneficial if you reply to the public topic


Well yes that is the whole point.

A post was split to a new topic: No private solicitations

I think there needs to be some more guidance here, or at least: @riking and I are reading this differently.

In [PAID] Plugin developer (long term, pay: $$$$) Riking says:

But I’m not sure about this, this topic seems to say this is ok:


Can someone with authority please clarify? :slight_smile:

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My takeaway from the replies to this topic is that the fact someone is responding to the posting should be public, so that #marketplace doesn’t look like a ghost town of unfulfilled requests.


And I think that there are two pieces,

  • make it seem like people do respond to stuff in the marketplace
  • don’t do all your business here in PMs.

Yes, I understand and I agree. But I think that we should be able to perform the transition to e-mail using a PM (i.e. being able to avoid posting one’s email address in the #marketplace topic).



My ideal chain of events is:

  1. You post job on marketplace
  2. Bob-the-builder, posts a reply saying Hi, I would love to build this for you!
  3. You PM Bob-the-builder with an email address so they can continue discussion at your preferred location
  4. You take on the work, you post on the topic, hi this has been filled by Bob-the-builder, thank you!
  5. Bob-the-builder, finishes building it
  6. Potential follow up on the topic with any public artifacts (if it is prior to 30 days)

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