In April 2023 I got a notification from Fiverr that they had taken down my gig from their promoted ads program. After that a two-month-long period followed, filled with uncertainty. In this post, I will tell you my experiences as someone who got shadowbanned by Fiverr.
As I mentioned before, this all began when a notification popped on my Fiverr dashboard. My ad had stopped running, for an unknown reason. I went to inspect it, as one does when faced with such a red flag on one of their income streams. When I hovered my mouse on the grey question mark, it simply told me that Fiverr had suspended the gig due to possible problems with performance. This took me by surprise since my credentials on the platform are on the high-end of Finnish translators.
I did what any sensible person would do, and contacted support. After all, there was no way they would unduly mark me unworthy of the ads program. I was naive in thinking that they would help me with the situation. I wanted to know what the problem was, if not to make it go away, then at least to learn from it. And learn I did, just not what I thought the lessons would be about.
Fiverr Support sent me a generic message. In 6 lines it told me that Fiverr doesn’t guarantee positions or impressions on search results. They also repeated what I already knew from the grey mark on the gig: Fiverr may remove Gigs due to poor performance. As if the generic reply was not insulting enough in my blight, they also made a point of letting me know that I ‘can continue to work with my existing buyers.’ Thank you, Fiverr, for giving me the grace of being able to work with my regulars.
Noticing the shadowban
While I was writing my letters to Fiverr Support, my husband took the initiative and went to check the search results. He began to worry after reading the reply, which had not mentioned anything about the ads program but instead talked about searches. Sure enough, he couldn’t find me no matter what filters he used.
Once he had revealed the scale of my issues, I started questioning Fiverr. I asked them about the quality issues hinted at on the ads page. My record was impeccable, so this situation was not something I could’ve foreseen in a million years. I enquired about the precise reason for my flagging and removal, and about how to make it better. My willingness to cooperate and find a way forward from this mess was abundant at that time.
I made the case of how this all impacted my freelancing. It’s already difficult to get orders in such a niche topic (Finnish to English translations), not to mention the competition. When I got removed from the search results altogether, my income dropped from a steady 6 a month to closer to 1. In no realm was this an acceptable place to be in. I, in my innocence, figured that Fiverr would see this nonsense and fix the problem.
More of the same
Fiverr sent me a lengthy response to my inquiry, not that it helped me much. The key thing in the message was, they would approve me for promotion if I met the requirements. The female Support member kindly listed the 4 requirements for me. I fulfilled everyone but one: “Additional quality metrics”. The fine print that lets us peasants know that all the power in is the corporate’s claw.
The Support tried to reassure me that Fiverr would check my eligibility daily and that the situation wasn’t permanent. I already had the feeling that this would not be the case, and another person validated these suspicions later on.
To add more insult to injury, the gracious Support worker also emphasized that I should be trying my best. It started to be evident to me that these people had no interest in the Seller’s actual state, and that they were operating based on a lacking algorithmic system. I hadn’t had one bad review, yet they had shadowbanned me while the actual crooks remained free.
The biggest shock was that I didn’t have any idea how my performance was lacking. At that point, I had been working on my translations on the platform for about 3 years without a hiccup. My level had risen to 2, which is the highest attainable tier without being a part of the VIP elite of Fiverr.
My clients are consistently happy with my work. I encourage them to give me feedback, be it criticism or praise, and this shows up in the over 200 reviews I have on my gig. All of them are 5 stars.
When it comes to my performance, I see nothing alarming in it either. I answer my Buyers within an hour, usually. I keep my metrics on the page topped up at 100% performance, with not a single ripple in sight. When one of the indicators dropped, I worked for a month to get it back up. The difference was, back then I knew exactly what had caused the issue and how I could fix it. This time, I had no such luxury.
As if it isn’t enough that my metrics show me now discrepancies, Fiverr had also listed me on its own pages. The best Finnish-to-English translators had my gig up there in the top tier for a while. On top of it, various people who like my service have favorited my gig.
Needless to say, I wanted answers.
The bureaucratic toss-around
As with any customer service these days, the Fiverr workers began to toss me around from person to person. The worker might’ve changed, but the overall tune did not. The message they gave me was simple: This is your fault, you figure it out.
The second Support gave me yet another speech on my needing to get good. This time the list of things that I should do consisted of generic tips for the trade. Provide a high-quality service. Deliver on time. Communicate with your buyers and adhere to the guidelines. Yes, Sherlock, I shall keep your wisdom in my mind, even if I’m already giving my best service.
One thing the workers at Fiverr kept re-iterating is that I should advertise outside of the platform. While there was a point of introspection there, since I don’t do said advertising enough, it didn’t change the facts. 95% of my clientele comes from the platform itself. I did, however, take note of this and started sneaking in my gig where I could. (By the way, if my translation services interest you, you can find them here!)
I pressed on, reiterating my history and credentials on the platform to the Support. After asking precise questions, probably in a bit of an aggravated tone, the worker passed me to yet another person in the chain of the Fiverr Support hierarchy. This person relayed my questions forward in the hopes of getting answers.
The machine gave no answers and the only words uttered by the whole Support Team were generic babble. However, a new twist in the saga took it a step further, revealing the sinister side of corporate control.
“After consultation with our relevant team, there is no further information that I can release regarding your Gigs as it is internal.”
I was not satisfied. This was a travesty. How can Fiverr punish a Seller with a shadowban without any way for them to know what went wrong?
The Manager for Fiverr’s Customer Support Team
One might think that a managerial-level entity would be able to help solve such problems for us peasants. While I did get some scarce information, the realization hit me that these people would not help me. Either they didn’t have the power, or they were simply just a part of the grand corporate machine.
The most useful thing the manager told me was that they did not check gigs daily. Instead, as I had suspected, they had a set time period on which the evaluations are based. This was a revelation. It also made sense in some infuriating way, as it meant I’d likely have to wait for 2 months before this was resolved. The evaluation period for my accounts metrics is 60 days, after all.
The manager took it upon himself to comment on my gig appearance and tell me that I shouldn’t be like the other 1000 gigs on the searches. The problem of not being in the searches, as I had told the Supporters before, apparently slipped his mind. It was painfully clear that he had not bothered to look at my gig. I have hand-crafted, easily distinguishable, self-made images. It’s not every day you see a pixel art rendition of the task at hand amid the typical flags and chaos.
There are only about 3 pages out of the mass of search results that have anything to do with translating Finnish. After that, it falls into obscurity with people offering different languages. And even further down you’ll start seeing content creators (not in Finnish), voiceovers, and things that have nothing to do with translations or languages in the first place.
One month later
I gave up a bit, I admit it. The corporate machine was too much for me to handle, so I waited for a month before contacting them again. During that time I made feeble efforts on Twitter to alert people to this lunacy, crying my frustrations into the void. Until one day I decided to check-in.
I had to make a new ticket, as they had permanently closed the previous one. The reply they gave me was the same as I had gotten the first time. Word for word, the exact generic answer. It was devastating, as it meant I would have to go through the whole farce all over again.
I thanked Fiverr Support for the generic repetition and referred them to the previous ticket I had opened. Without much regard, the Support worker continued the cycle as predicted. It was clear he had not revied the previous conversation I had with Fiverr Support.
I tried to also reach out to the community in hopes that there would be people that could relate. People that would have answers. And what I found out was that many have indeed gone through the same treatment. And most of them were without any proper reasoning as to why Fiverr shadowbanned them. It was good to know I wasn’t alone, singled out by the corporate beast.
I learned about something dubious that Fiverr allows, which is private feedback. This is a Buyer only option, a way for them to let a big brother know if they are unhappy. Without the Seller ever being privy to this knowledge. I had a sneaking suspicion that there was malicious feedback somewhere along my journey. There had been some difficult clients within the period in which Fiverr shadowbanned me.
While one of the commenters thought it was a good thing to have this system, I disagreed. Their claim was that it promoted more honest reviews since it is sometimes hard to give that feedback in person. While that may be the case, it doesn’t help anyone. The Buyer doesn’t get their issues solved, the Seller doesn’t grow. And on top of it all it is an extremely unfair situation to us Sellers. If people can get us banned without Fiverr ever taking a good look at the situation as a whole, there is no hope for us. We are forever in the looming shadow of the Corporate and the feedback we never know about.
I got out, eventually
At the end of May, and beginning of June, I finally got out of Fiverr Jail. After two months of tiresome talks with Fiverr Support and not getting any tangible help, I saw the notification pop up once more on my dashboard. My gig started running itself as if nothing had ever happened. And the next day I found my gigs in the searches.
This whole process has taught me not to rely on Fiverr, as well as to be more paranoid about my Buyers. The sad fact is that turning down those that are seemingly more hassle (hagglers, people who try to get out of the platform, etc) are not worth it. I would much rather take the occasional hit of losing a client or two than lose most of my income stream because of one bad, hidden review I’ll never know about.
My amazing regular clientele keeps blessing me, and I can only express my gratitude to them. We were able to keep our spirits due to their patronage and kindness. I’m unwilling to leave the platform only because of these amazing people, who are not afraid to come to me with issues they may face. They also help me get better in my linguistic skills, which translates directly into my creative writing!
To those who might be going through a shadowban, not knowing why. Please keep going, ask questions, and pester Fiverr. And bring your experiences to light. We can make the Sellers’ position better in the corporate machine. But we can only do it if we band together.
Last Updated: 06/06/2023