Having a quick look back… it seems that your users have been requesting a chat feature since at least the 14th Nov 2012!!! How long and how many users must request a feature before it’s actually added eh?
Please know that I totally understand your rationale for not implementing a skype type of chat feature, in your messaging system. “It is harder to monitor” and you fear that users will collude with one another, to cut the middle man (Fiverr) out of the equation, so your revenue would drop as a result!
However the way I see it, you’re really not making the most out of the highly valuable feedback you have received for a long time from so many of your users.
Just because this is free, please don’t think it’s worthless! This would be a mistake, as I would not normally put this much time into helping a business without being paid for it! I’m just feeling pretty generous right now, so I’ll let you take advantage of it and give you a few suggestions.
Have a little more faith in your user base! Sorry but it’s true…
Make some form of voice chat available to your users, one way or another.
2.1) If you wish to remain fearful that your users will stop using Fiverr after they’re able to share their details with each other in a voice chat, then actually record all the communication that occurs, and simply make it clear to users that all calls are recorded, and appropriate action will be taken if someone violates your terms of service. However, I hope you don’t mind my pointing out that this logic is deeply flawed. This is why and how: the main reason your users violate the “You may not communicate with users directly or provide your email, Skype, or phone number.” part in your terms of service, is actually just so they can speak to each other about the gig, rather than anything else. However, most ironically, as far as I understand, the penalty for violation is, according to one seller I’m working with at the moment: “accounts have been suspended as a result”! So you potentially lose a user or two anyway.
2.2) Still in the realm of being fearful that your users will stop using Fiverr after they share their details with each other. Why not make your own skype-type voice feature a premium service that users who wish to use it, pay for it! This would provide you with an additional revenue stream and provide your users with almost exactly what they wanted. I am one user who would be more than happy to pay for this optional premium feature, providing it was reasonably priced.
2.3) This is the most radical approach! If you were to stop and think about what you have achieved since you first created Fiverr… how far you have come in a relatively short time, etc… and realise that what you have created has a real tangible value! It is the same kind of value PayPal provide their users, but with transactions. Can you imagine how weird it would be if PayPal suddenly implemented a policy where users could not longer communicate with one another directly if they wanted to continue to use PayPal! That would be crazy right? So in reality, I would much prefer to have a multiple transactions with you, than transact directly with each user directly anyway. You provide me with a very much appreciated safety layer, just like PayPal do with transactions. So have faith in your user-base and take pride in the invaluable responsibility you have with each of your users. Reverse your policy on direct communication between your users. Enable them to use Skype, the phone, and email… and closely observe and monitor the effect on your revenue. If it drops, you can always change it back, but you may be very pleasantly surprised to find it may actually increase over time!
The irony is, you don’t seem to realise that what you’re doing at the moment is more than likely going to be the primary reason for user base attrition!
When I stopped thinking about using Fiverr, years ago… you did not get the opportunity to find out why, I just left and did not return for years and years! You see, identifying the primary reason for user base attrition and revenue loss is really difficult. However, let me assure you that I would most definitely start using Fiverr a lot more if you allowed direct communication between your users.
I hope this helps you make Fiverr even better than the awesome platform it already is!
Very best regards.