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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Does Work?

A lot of people ranted against online consulting sites- such as Elance, guru, RentACoder and so on. Of course, given that the bids on those websites are ridiculously low ( at least by developed world's standard), one would tend to assume that the quality would vary proportionally with the bids.

Whether you think those websites are cannibalizing the software craft, or whether online consulting sites are a force that flattens the world, one thing is certain: online consulting sites work.

Yes, they do work.

Or else how do you explain the success of those sites? I mean, if the coding quality is so bad, if the solutions proposed are so buggy and so unusable, if the effort to need to manage the coders are so great that it outweighs the benefits, if a lot of projects are demanding unrealistic budget and time frame, how can those sites thrive, and earn themselves a place in the blogsphere discussion? They would have been wiped out long time ago by the principle of natural selection.

Although I have never used the freelance sites' service-- either as a buyer or a seller-- but by pure economical reason it's not hard to conclude that those sites fill a niche, that was previously unfilled. They work because they connect the high income buyers with the low income sellers. The high income buyers see that some of their works can be outsourced to cheaper countries, and low income sellers see the opportunities to earn the kind of money they can't get in their countries. The globalization, and the internet bring them together. Both of the parties benefit.

This is a flat world.

I guess when the blogsphere says that doesn't work, it's saying that the price tag on it simply won't work on a developed country. It's saying that a lot of projects are unrealistic in terms of price and time.

But if you think that those projects are unrealistic, there are people-- maybe at the other side of the globe-- think otherwise. If you feel that there are too many failed projects, please keep in mind that there are enough successes also, and those successes are powerful enough to cover for the failed ones and carry those sites.

And if you lament that the price tag is cannibalizing the software craft as a whole, do remember that money always go to the cheaper, better labor. The reason why others can provide the service at lower price and you can't, means that they are more competitive.

Although I am coming from a third world country, but I don't feel even the slightest glee. I always believe that when you underbid someone, one day someone else will in turn underbid you. This sort of underbidding business model is the last thing I want.

I am merely pointing out a fact. No matter what you feel about freelance sites, at the end of the day we still have to deal with it. It's here for real.


Anonymous said...

Are you sure those sites aren't being funded by investors? With gullible investors it can take a long time for a business to fail.

Soon Hui said...

Anonymous, I think you miss the point.

Those sites may or may not make money, but the fact that buyers and sellers are actively engaged on those sites speak volumes about the sites' usefulness

Brian said...

So then you think ponzi schemes speaks volumes about people's desire to be tricked out of their money?

Rentacoder and the like are betting on people's desire to get something developed cheaply. Whether or not they are satisfied is an entirely different matter, but as PT Barnum used to say a sucker is born every minute.

Kjartan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kjartan said...

Actually, I have a different story... Few years ago, I made a bid on a project, very very low for the size of the project. But later on, because of continuing developing work needed for the site/project, the company offered me 10% share of the company if I would take on all programming / maintainance tasks for the company... The company turned out to be very very successful, and I've mostly retired from programming (I just do some research and fun projects from now and then)...

So my point is, RentAcoder is actually the best thing that ever happened to me, it was like a gift from heaven.

Even though you do some work for a little money from now and then, it usually pays off later.. If you bid on a project and return it with quality, the company usually looks to you again for next project, and you can charge a little more... Or write a unreadable code, and charge on the maintainence :)

William Shields said...

So basically your argument is:

- You've never coded for these sites;
- You've never procured code from these sites; and
- These sites exist.

Therefore they work.

Brilliant, just brilliant (not).

Willie said...

I've used these sites as a buyer, and am recently starting out as a seller. I also know other people who use them.

Overall they do work well. Some projects posted are complete jokes and disasters, just like some of the bids recieved are complete jokes. I read some project descriptions that are just hillarious.

Overall, you generally get a few very good bids from very good companies. You kick away the unrealistic ones. That's the whole point of the bidding process.

The negativity towards these sites in the blogosphere is primarily orientated around fear. People, like me, fear losing our jobs or our wages dropping. That's why people say these sites are crap.

It's not because the sites actually are crap, its because people in the west *want* them to be crap. They *fear* them.

My recommendation to people succumbing to their fear is to toughen up. Adapt! Get better in what you do. Change what you do. Learn in demand skills. Really, just stop complaining.

Elance is the best from my experience. It contains both the largest number of serious buyers and sellers. Guru is second with a substantially more noise, though there are still some good buyers/sellers there.

DocuMaker said...

Rentacoder works very well for those who maintain a professional stance. That's why I earn my living through this site and recommend it every chance I get. (Been with it for 4 years now.) As far as low bids go, you get what you pay for.

Anonymous said...

While it may work fine for US citizens, I doubt these sites work with countries that aren't in "work contracts" with the USA (if there are any).

For example: I'm from Germany and while there is some law that allows me to work otherwhere in the EU without too many issues, I'm not sure how that applies to taxes with countries outside the EU (Buyer's, seller's or both's countries? And what about the USA as a service provider?). It gets complex if you consider taking such a programming task from a US buyer: Usually I would need a visa and a work permit to work in the USA, which - from a legal point of view - I would do when being "bought" (better say "booked") on such a coding site by a US company. The financial-legal situation is completely unclear in that case and even if it comes down to only paying additional taxes, revenue for my work would dramatically decrease if I had to pay for multiple countries.

I don't think these sites work legally on a global scale if you want to really keep some of the earned money?

Maybe it works in Commonwealth, though, but I guess the site would need to be hosted in a CW country; maybe US sites work for Canadian buyers and CW sellers too if there is some additional trade/work contract between Canada and the USA. But I don't know if there is some law to permit free work roaming across CW countries?

Anonymous said...

"do remember that money always go to the cheaper, better labor. The reason why others can provide the service at lower price and you can't, means that they are more competitive."

Money often does not often go to the cheapest labor. Example: Apple or Google - You ever use an iphone or search on Google? The employees at Google or Apple are not cheap.

Kurei Kain said...

Those sites make money!!!! Even, a lot!!!
Because they cost some fee for each project and cost money when you withdrawl!
They protected your right, both buyers and sellers!
If a project fail, you will be reported "incompleted project", and you maybe no longer work on that site!
Just newbie bids low, the guys with many reviews(200+) always bid pretty high!
In my country, Vietnam! A normal free lancer who work on those site earn 700-800$/month! They can not get this money when working for a local company! Just 300-400$ for a normal developer!
The buyers often come from rich country(US, UK..) while provider come from poor country(Vietnam, Pakistan, India...)! So, the buyer can cut down the cost and the provider can improve his income!

In fact, according by my exp when working on free lancer site! It has many low quality projects delivery by bad coder! That often comes in projects which project's owner doesn't care much about quality! They just want to make it works! That's all!
But has project with big budget, the quality is high! Because project's owner understand how important the project's quality is!
I just want to say out that: It has low quality project& high quality projects! And the free lancer sites make money!

uniacid said...

I've tried using sites like Elance and even rentacoder and some other "freelance job" sites. I thought Elance looked the best and one that would actually work out of all, as it actually looked professional and up to modern standards.. rentacoder looks like some hacked work from india.. just my opinion.

Anyways I wasted some money with Elance using their membership plans and tried it out for 6 months and unfortunately I never got any real work out of it even though I made bids with proper info for the client and their project, not just a random bid but an in-depth explanation of what I or a team would accomplish and under what time deadlines.

Like I said I Never got anything out of it, personally I don't believe in these sites especially when there is so many issues with them in terms of bidders location and frequency or amounts of bids from many of these low cost locations.

I'd rather go out and talk to someone in person and get business that way, more secure and reliable in the end than dealing with someone through the web.

AdvanCode said...

Of course those sites may work with 1 condition: to know what you are buying. It's exactly the same way as other businesses like recycling or scrap cars sold for parts. Many times we just throw things or pay next to nothing for other things, but there are people that are making a living out of that.

If you are greedy and focused only on the money and no quality at all, or if you don't have the knowledge to see what has value and what it's garbage just stay away from those sites, but otherwise they may work. I used them a few years ago, and recently a company I work for with good results.

imDavidLee said...

i just bought another domain for pretty girl posting...wait n see

Flattery said...

I have used many times over the years as a seller. I like to program and do free opensource software so when I am board I wonder on to this site and find some little jobs.

One job I made $100 for 5 minutes of work. I continue to keep in contact and support my work if they have any problems and many times people come back to me for more work.

I also used the site as a buyer when I wanted some graphic work done for my site. I found a guy from India who did a great job for only $35 and had a very quick turn around.

The site takes commission from ever project and all money is escrowed to protect buyer and seller.

Money doesn't go to the seller until buyer accepts the work and seller doesn't start the work until money is escrowed so it is safe and works great. How can it not work.

I tried a few others but never had much luck on them, but I can usually find simple quick jobs to do on RentACoder when ever I have some free time.

bugner1 said...

I agree with Documaker. You definitely "get what you pay for." It's really is just common sense; the law of supply and demand. What's cheap for one guy is lucrative for another. RentACoder allows those who need work to get it done, and for people who want work to find some."

Wesley Alexander said...

The poster is clearly right, though. RentACoder wouldn't be a profitable site if people didn't keep going back over and over again--and they do. Buyers and sellers actively engage by the tens of thousands at RentACoder--that is proof positive that it works.

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Anonymous said...

Great post, I am almost 100% in agreement with you