Well, we don’t like it at all.
But first, what is spec work? From the NO!SPEC website:
“‘Spec’ has become the short form for any work done on a speculative basis. In other words, any requested work for which a fair and reasonable fee has not been agreed upon, preferably in writing.”
In a nutshell, spec requires the designer to invest time and resources with no guarantee of payment.
Your hard work, thinking, time… all with the promise of possible compensation at a later date. It should be obvious to anyone that this is neither good for the designer, the creative industry, or even the client and delivered end product. Yet, we see spec work happening again and again out there in the trenches.
For example, Dribbble’s inbox is filled with requests from companies wanting to run contests that leverage the creative pool to crowdsource their product needs. We tell them about spec work and let them know it’s not allowed on Dribbble.
Any contests we run here at Dribbble are strictly for fun, educational purposes, or promotion where the finished work remains owned by its creator and isn’t used by a third party. That’s an important distinction. The Playoffs on Dribbble are set up to encourage the flexing of your creative and artistic muscle, not to have a bunch of options designed, but paying only the winner.
We’ve received a few requests for our position regarding spec work, and hopefully we’ve cleared that up. Have fun, respect each other, and beware of clients or services that run contests to gain inexpensive options, or offer jobs without definite payment. You’re better than that.
For more info on spec work in general, see NO!SPEC and AntiSpec.