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What is the difference between licensed customers and collaborators?

Hello community,

we operate an internal help desk where most of the customers are licensed software users. This seems to lead to the weird behaviour that comments coming from those licensed customer by email are handled as internal by the JETI mail handler. 

I have therefore tried to do some research but did not find any hints on how we can effectively avoid customers being treated as collaborators. They are not even added to the teams role which I understood would make them collaborators if they do not have an agent license.

Any advice would be highly appreciated.


2 answers

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Laura Holton Community Leader Nov 18, 2021

Hi @Nadine Schuett 👋

To potentially help I've provided the roles in JSM - this should help highlight the difference between customers and collaborators. 



Customers are unlicensed users who send requests to your service project through the portal, email, or widget.

Customers can:

  • raise requests through the portal, email, or widget

  • track their requests in the portal

  • comment on their requests

  • read knowledge base articles

  • approve other customers' requests

  • share requests with other customers (if allowed by customer permissions)

Learn how to add or remove customers and group customers into organizations.

Collaborators are licensed users in your Jira site whom agents in Jira Service Management work with. They usually belong to internal teams in your organization and they occasionally assist agents with customer requests by making internal comments. For example, developers who help support staff analyze a bug and add a comment that explains the cause and any workaround available. Collaborators can:
  • view issues, comments and attachments
  • add attachments and delete their own attachments
  • add internal comments to issues and delete their own comments
  • watch and vote for issues
  • view other watchers and voters
Learn more about the best practices when collaborating with teams in other Jira products.

Additionally there are a couple Atlassian Support articles that could help:

I hope this helps but if you have any other questions just ask away 😃

All the best,


Hello Laura

Thanks a lot for your feedback.

Yet, I am missing the option to actually have licensed customers, i.e. users who work in software development projects but only have access to the portal. How do I achieve this?

Laura Holton Community Leader Nov 18, 2021

Hi Nadine,

No problem. Is it the set up and management of the portal access you're having more of an issue with then?

Hello Laura

The actual problem is that the JETI mail handler handles email comments for existing SD tickets coming from licensed customers as internal. This makes it impossible to set up automation rules and also does not display the comment in the portal.

We really need an option to differentiate between customers and collaborators that does not simply rely on whether the user is licensed or not. Otherwise, I do not understand how we can use SD as an internal help desk if every customer with a license is automatically a collaborator.

Laura Holton Community Leader Nov 18, 2021

Hey Nadine (me again),

Hmm, that's definitely not what you want! Okay, so I've been having a good look around / read up for you and my recommendation at this point would be to raise a ticket directly with Atlassian Support and they should be able to take this further for you. 

You can raise a support ticket here >>

Many thanks, Laura,  you understand me ;-)

I have not found any real hint on this one in the documentation either so I'll raise a ticket as you suggested.

Like Laura Holton likes this
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A customer is someone who can raise, view and update requests.  They have no access to the issues behind the requests, only the requests.

A collaborator is a Jira user (core user, developer or agent) who gets drawn into the issue behind the request for some reason, usually to help out the agent.  

My guess is that Jeti is getting confused between the user types, not that some other part of Jira is considering customers to be collaborators (it does, sort of, but only the customers involved with the request)

Role explanation detail is at

Thanks for your input, Nic.

In the documentation it says that customers are unlicensed users and collaborators are licensed ones so I am wondering how we are supposed to make this work for an internal help desk where customers are licensed users working in HR or marketing projects never being considered collaborators in IT support?

Do you happen to know how the built-in SD mail handler treats comments coming from "licensed" customers?

Yes, customers are "unlicenced", they don't count towards your licence count.  Collaborators do, they must be "Jira users", with an account that lets them log into and use Jira Core (Work Management), Jira Software or Jira Service Management.

The important thing I think you might be missing in this case is that an account can take on many of those roles.  We use Jira Service Management internally of course, I'm a customer in that project, but my Software licence lets me see the issues behind the requests, and it's not unusual for me to tag me into my own requests so I can "collaborate" as a "developer" on the issue behind the requests I raise!

The mail handler for Service Management treats mails from customers as a customer updating a request.  It does not care if that person also happens to be a Jira user as well, they're a customer first.  Emails from people who are not customers of the project will be either ignored (if there's no Jira account for it at all), or processed as though the account is an agent or collaborator - turned into an internal comment on the issue.

The complexity here I think is that you've used JETI to do something differently to that!

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