The day dribbble stopped working

Paweł Kwaśnik
Dec 14, 2018 · 5 min read

TL;DR; We found serious bugs in the dribbble messaging system, that makes it so that most people get fewer leads and some none at all. As of today the problem is unsolved and attempts to solve it with dribbble support has failed.

Dribbble is a key acquisition channel for many design agencies and designers. Their revenue and profit depend on that platform. It would be a serious problem if an only significant number of leads from this source were lost. That is exactly what we stumble upon recently and not sure what we can do about it.

As we recently noticed, we have been receiving fewer messages on Dribbble. We used to get several leads a week. Gradually, the number of queries has dropped dramatically, and eventually, it reached 0.

Not-working messages on Dribbble

We started an investigation. Accidentally we discovered that some messages sent to our inbox, don’t end up. And that leads us up to test Dribbble messaging system.

We began testing with setting up an account for a user who can’t post designs. That’s the kind of account you would normally get a design inquiry from.

As it turned out, some of the messages don’t reach our account, and those that do are received after a few hours delay. It raised a suspicion that the Dribbble messaging system is buggy, and we contacted Dribbble support at once.

We created an excel file where we were saving all sent messages

Talking with Dribbble support

Source: Internet

We decided to contact Dribbble support about this immediately.

Their first response about this was:

I took a look and it seems your messages are working fine.

We reserve our messages strictly for the purpose of designers getting hired for jobs or projects. This means we don’t allow messages that aren’t directly related to jobs to be sent over Dribbble; thus, the test messages your team tried to send were flagged as spam and were not allowed through. I hope that helps to clarify the situation!

Yes, it makes sense, but the messages we sent were diverse. From messages that only had the word “test” in them, to ones that looked like genuine business queries.

Funnily enough, it was the “test” messages that got through their anti-spam filter more often than the normal ones disguised as real inquiries.

We then tried to bypass their anti-spam filter and see what would happen if we sent the messages in Polish. But it ended up same as in the case of messages in English.

We wrote to support about this, and their reply was rather startling:

There aren’t any issues with your inbox, or our system understanding different languages. The messages you’re referring to were not sent through because they were not working inquiries. We reserve our messages strictly for the purpose of designers getting hired for jobs or projects.

So in response, we sent them the message in Polish that managed to get through their anti-spam filter. Such as:

Dude, give me those designs! :)

After another attempt to communicate and point out that their filter doesn’t work as it ought to, we got a vague reply:

We won’t send messages which do not meet our guidelines.

Confirmation of the theory

At this point, we were almost sure that message filtering system is stealing our leads.

Our first direction was the internet. We found just one place when someone mentioned a similar problem — Twitter.

As you can see in the tweet, Peter Deltondo from Unfold had a similar issue. Some of the messages never reach them either. And any attempt at communication with Dribbble looks similar.

The next step was to check whether other accounts also have the same problem. We contacted friendly agencies we’re in order to carry out a test. We sent them 6 test queries about the graphic. As it turned out, only 3 queries reached them, and they were the ones sent from our employee accounts. The 3 messages that didn’t reach them were sent from basic accounts — the kind used by clients. They send us 5 messages as well, but none of them have reached us.

Obviously, there is something fundamentally wrong. Unfortunately, Dribbble doesn’t see the problem.

The disappearing “Hire Us” button

Another thing we discovered while testing was that the “Hire us” button keeps disappearing on some user profiles. We noticed that one of our employees didn’t have an access to the button, which means there is no chance of sending a query to him. Even though he has a pro account, it was impossible. We tested on many different browsers, and the button was still invisible.

On the left: https://dribbble.com/martyna-kwiatkowska Mac Os, Chrome. On the right: https://dribbble.com/pawelkwasnik Mac Os, Chrome
On the left: https://dribbble.com/martyna-kwiatkowska Mac Os, Safari. On the right: https://dribbble.com/pawelkwasnik Mac Os, Safari
On the left: https://dribbble.com/martyna-kwiatkowska Mac Os, Chrome. On the right: https://dribbble.com/pawelkwasnik Mac Os, Safari

We asked our community whether anyone else had the same problem, and it turned out quite a few people couldn’t see the “Hire Us” button as well. Clearly, it is a rather serious problem. What if the clients who use the platform can’t see the button either?

We asked Dribbble about it and they answered:

Messages may be throttled as they are checked by our spam system. Your messaging privileges have been revoked for sending messages that do not meet our guidelines, which is why you’re not able to reach out to others.

Fine, but it happened to a person that doesn’t write work inquiries at all and just replies if gets any.

Just to let you know, clients write usually multiple messages having the same content while searching for the perfect company to cooperate with. According to Dribbble, sending multiple identical messages is treated as SPAM.

Dribbble sends you no information if your account is blocked and one can not get access to messages wrongly classified as spam. Leads just get lost.

So if you are wondering why suddenly you have fewer leads or none at all, now you know why.

Hope

We hope Dribbble will take a closer look into the issue. If anything new shows up, we’ll keep you informed. Let us know in the comments if you had any issues recently as well.

With much love to Dribbble,

Ethworks Design Team 💙

Ethworks

On the blockchain, software engineering and running a company.