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Hidden restrictions in the free version?

I am very disappointed to find out that my projects are now "gone" because of a hidden restriction in he free version of Jira software.

"You can't edit project permissions or roles on the Free plan for Jira Software or Jira Core, and you can't configure issue-level security on any Free plan (including Jira Service Desk). Find out more about how project permissions work in Free plans. To take advantage of Jira's powerful project permission management features, upgrade your plan."

What kind of bullshit is that and why is that not clearly presented on the signup form?

I am very disappointed in this very unnecessary step to make the free version nothing more than a playground for testing purposes.

Shame on you Atlassian for promoting the free plan as a way to make it easier to work together when you are actually just giving a locked down version meant to force people to pay for the $10 version.

Feel free to give me any reason why project permissions would otherwise be locked down if not for this very shady reason....

3 comments has more details about permission schemes in the free version:

"Jira won't change any permissions, roles, or security schemes, as this could reveal project information that shouldn't be shared with certain users."

It would indeed be helpful if the differences were more obvious during signup, I agree. But personally I don't see this as a shady move. Just not setting expectations properly.

Like Jimi Wikman likes this

It is not mentioned anywhere here?


The pricing also use dark UX to avoid showing the reduced functionality, which normally are shown with a red x to clearly indicate the limitations:


On the signup form it does not show any restrictions:


This kind of dark UX is what I would expect from companies like Ryan Air, but not from Atlassian.

Make it clear what you get and be transparent in your communication. This is not by accident because there are to areas where the restriction is downplayed or outright hidden.

This is by design and as a designer that work with psychological design I recognize dark UX when I see it...

Andy Heinzer Atlassian Team Apr 11, 2020

Hi Jimi,

I understand that you are upset in regards to Atlassian's free Cloud plans and the associated limitations of the free plans. We have tried to document these limitations in such pages as Limitations in Jira Cloud Free plans. Among these are the limitations of permission settings. While that documentation notes:

If your site has always been on a Free plan, everyone with access to Jira Software is an admin for all Jira Software projects, and the same goes for Jira Core

I suspect that when you created your Cloud site, you were actually in the the evaluation or trial settings. These Cloud evaluations last for 7 days, and in that time, you are not charged based on the number of users you have. However after that trial ends, you will either need to enter into a payment plan, or convert the site to the free plan. If this does describe your site, then that document explains what is expected to happen here:

If you change to a Free plan or migrate from Jira Server to a Free plan, project permissions are kept in their current state but anonymous access (if you had granted it) is removed. You'll need to upgrade again to change permissions. Read more about Project permissions, roles, and issue-level security in Free plans.

Is this an accurate assessment of what has happened on your site? 

I would like to better understand why you stated

my projects are now "gone"

Is this because your project was setup to allow anonymous access? If so, your data is still very much there. It's just that on a free plan, it would only be accessible to authenticated users, and for Jira Software, that user limit is 10 users. I don't believe that your project is gone. I think instead it is just not accessible to anonymous users.

Please understand that there are costs and overhead that Atlassian incurs for every Cloud site. Atlassian can limit these costs by restricting these features. For example, to leave a site accessible anonymously could potentially have very high operational costs if the traffic 'goes viral' for example (let's say your site gets a million unique visitors in an hour). The idea behind offering free versions of our Cloud products is to help teams get started at no cost to them. In my view, it does that for the users on your team (the 10 limited in the free plan for Jira Software). However, if I understand your use case correctly here, it seems like that your site would have a greater potential to incur higher operational costs with anonymous access. Which is why I suspect this permissions feature is locked down behind a paid plan.

You asked why this is not on the signup page:

What kind of bullshit is that and why is that not clearly presented on the signup form?

In my view, it is presented in the sign-up form with the statement of 'For up to 10 users'. 

Screen Shot 2020-04-11 at 1.15.53 PM.png

I could understand that if did not see this detail in the sign-up, that you might have a different expectation of how many users can actually use the free plan site.

I am interested to better understand your frustrations.  If we have not communicated the limitations of the free plans sufficiently during your sign-up, then please accept my apologies.  I would like to improve our own documentation and sign-up pages to communicate these limitations more effectively.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the evaluation period might have granted your site paid features for that 7 days and then the site converted itself into a free plan.  I am interested to understand when this change happened on the site?  Was it at the end of that 7th day?  Perhaps we need to investigate this behavior more closely to avoid unexpected results with the free plan feature limitations.

Sorry to hear that you have had a bad experience with Atlassian, and thank you for the feedback here.



I actually had a 10 user license already setup and built for my training classes as well as for testing out apps for review and things like that.

In the blog post Atlassian stated that the 10 license was now free to help out in the current situation. This has been talked about several times before that Atlassian is moving towards a free 10 user license so it seemed like perfect timing to get that out to the many users that could benefit.

I did not sign up for a free license, I changed it in my current setup and no, I did not notice the notifications that warned me about loosing control over permission schemes.

My setup is still screwed up from this and I will ahve to sit down and change all the permissions again it seems. Changing back to the normal 10 user license did not fully reset the permissions to it's original state...

As I have written before I do not mind you having a trial version that is limited in what you can do with it, just be up front about it and make sure it's clear. The blog post never mentioned this and your signup page did not mention it either.

I have heard similar complaint frrom several friends and collegues that this was a very bad way to introduce a free, but limited tier and no one can see any reason for doing this other than having people move to a $10 version as soon as they realize the limitation in permissions.

Feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but for me this is a money grab with shady intentions that is unworthy the Atlassian I know and respect. To use Corona as a marketing tool for this just makes it even worse...

Ben Jackson Atlassian Team Apr 14, 2020

Hi @jimi I am PM for Jira Software free edition.

We launched our free edition back in September last year and tens of thousands of small teams have enjoyed a product for free which is has almost all the power of the paid edition. The only differences are advanced permissions, audit logs and a 2gb storage limit, and given this edition is aimed towards small teams felt that these were very reasonable limits for a free product and more generous than most other free products in this space.

We call out the difference on our pricing page when teams sign up and in product when teams downgrade as you did in this case (See below).

Screen Shot 2020-04-14 at 10.00.27 pm.png


The 'starter' edition that you were on originally at $10/mth for 10 users is a heavily discounted version of our Standard edition which includes all permissions and existed well before our Free Edition. It's also worth noting that all moneys collected from our Starter licenses are donated to charity

The most recent Press announcement would have called our products are now generally available (GA) for teams of up to 10 to promote to smaller distributed teams who may not have been aware during this time. The post was designed to promote that our free products were available to new teams and not necessarily to communicate the nuance of downgrading from Starter or Standard to Free. We were relying on the in product communications shown in the screenshot above.

If you are training users on Jira advanced Permissions you would need a paid account to be able to demonstrate those permissions.

I hope you don't mind me correcting you that this is not a money grab for shady intentions but a misunderstanding of the differences of Free vs Starter which we have tried our best to communicate. I have found in my time here, that Atlassian is an incredibly generous company donating much resources and staff time to charities.

Like Daniel Eads likes this

Hi Ben,

with all due respect I still have not heard anyone frrom Atlassian explain why a reduced free version is needed instead of a free starter version? Why not just let the donation part be optional and this would be an amazing offer?

This is where I feel you have failed a lot because like you I have worked with atlassian for almost 10 years and I always respected Atlassians standards.

The fact that you do not see an issue with having 2 seemingly identical options for a 10 user license make me wonder if Atlassian is growing a bit to large for it's own good.

People are already confused with the split eco system as it is and now you want to add to it by having 2 licenses that is very hard to understand what the difference is for many.

I can tell you as someone who follow Atlassian closely that the message that the free license would be a reduced version has not been clearly communicated. In that regards you failed pretty badly.

Both the free software page and the blogpost fail to mention this, which make me wonder if you have just missed this or if it is intentional?


If I am correct that this is a money grab, then I expect that the starter license will be harder to find gradually over the next 6-12 months and in a year or two it will be completely gone. This to force users into a regular license faster.

Prove me wrong and update the promotion page and the blogpost so it's clear that the free version have limited features and that the starter license will still be there in 5 years from now.

It might be a good idea to also link to the starter package as well in case someone want to support a good cause and the get the fll version?

...and it looks like I was right. The starter license is gone from the signup forms already. How can new users signup for this in the future?

Thanks for the feedback Jimi. We have no ill intentions here.

The free edition is designed to be a new edition for small teams getting started with Jira. 

For those wanting the full power of Jira Standard Edition for a small team they can still purchase the Starter License for Standard Edition. On the pricing page if you select 10 users on the standard edition and you'll see the $10 option.

It sounds like your use case is training people on the Standard Edition so it makes sense you would need to use the Standard Edition to train people on that Edition.

And you do not feel that this way to present the packages will severely reduce the number of people using the starter license?

In no way do you see this as intentionally obfuscating what the user actually get or do not get or what options there really are for them?

My use case is not the only one, there are many, many reasons for not having permissions available to be a big issue for many teams/companies. Purposely obfuscating this is a sure way to loose trust and I don't think I need to tell you that the Starter license and Trello have plenty of competition out there.

If you upset people when they are small then as they grow they will choose ServiceNow, Azure DevOps or one of the other competitors over Atlassian. I have seen it first hand and I think it's a poor decision to go this route, especially with the announcement blog coming during the Corona outbreak.

It leaves a bad taste in people's mouth that I think is unecessary and will bite Atlassian in the butt in the long run.

I have spent a lot of time defending some strange behaviours lately, but with this I am not sure I will anymore. I even stepped down as Atlassian Group Leader before this because of some of these new attitudes that I consider not just greedy, but like one of those wallstreet yuppies back in the 80's.

It is a far way from the company that would go out of their way to make life better for others from a few years back...I do hope Atlassian find their way back and one good way could be to be transparent with your offers.

at the 3rd page of google i found your message.

i am another victims of this change, my company are runing 3 starter instances and now the biggest one of these three is set(automatically) to free plan.

Guest what, my project leader can no longer add people to projects. 


And until now i still can not find the solution for this problem.


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