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RentACoder Losing Street Cred?

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the lowest-bidder dept.

190

Itninja writes, "Having used RAC several times in the past (as a buyer), I was shocked by a recent experience. I did a bit of looking around to see if I was the only one having problems with Rent-A-Coder. Apparently, I'm not." From the article: "This unfairness of RAC fees motivates the majority of coders to negotiate payment outside the scope of RAC which amounts to you and coder getting a better deal. For example, I have several coders that I fully trust willing to work on projects on a monthly basis because it is easier for him to deal with established clients than to have to bid for projects all the time. It saves me time and trouble because I can work with a person that I trust and he knows what is expected." A comment to this posting links a discussion of RAC at Google Groups, and there the service has its defenders. What has your experience of RAC been, either as a buyer or as a coder?

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Experience (1)

zenithcoolest (981748) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566226)

I have though never used the services of RAC but I heard about their exhorbitant commission charges they incur on the coders. But some coders have no other choice I guess

"Street Cred" WTF is that? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16566500)

Speak English. What does that gibberish mean anyway?

Re:"Street Cred" WTF is that? (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566590)

What does that gibberish mean anyway?

"Street cred" is slang, short for "on the street credibility." It basically means how well regarded or how much credibility is placed in someone or something by those who actually work with something. For example, you might speak of the "street cred" of a particular brand of product as how normal people value that product compared to others.

Don't Feed the Trolls (0, Offtopic)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567686)

come on, someone who doesn't know what "street cred" means? ask them if they know what a moisture barrier is for, they apparently live in a basement and they should know the answer to that one.

RAC rates are too low for US coders (5, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566240)

First off, both of those links have basically been overtaken by the same two guys throwing feces at each other.

Also, I did try RAC for work during a time when I was unemployed about 4 years ago. Things might have changed since then, but at the time RAC was basically a site where small shops (a lot of spam sites and such) would post projects and get ridiculously low bids from foreign workers. As someone trying to survive in the US at the time, I could not really see myself working on a 10 hour project for $50 or $100, which is indicative of the sorts of bids that were being offered.

Same same... (1)

bjk002 (757977) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566326)

I cannot fathom how anyone could survive on the offer/bid proposals out there.

$500 to develop a Data-driven web site?

They're NutZ!!

Re:Same same... (4, Informative)

orasio (188021) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566816)

I live in Uruguay, and here you find some programmers working for 500 dollars a month (luckily not all of them), and the numbers didn't add up for me for doing extra work, although I did make just about 700$ back then.
A week of extra work, plus the administrative issues of managing a small project surely is worth much more than 200 dollars to me.
The cost of living should be at least 10 times less than in the US to make a profit working at RAC rates.

Re:RAC rates are too low for US coders (4, Informative)

cshark (673578) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567250)

I used to work with RAC pretty extensively as both a buyer and a coder. I don't see what the problem is that's being discussed. It's a great service. I don't mind working with the site, or the people on it. Generally, I did find that as a buyer I got a lot of bids that didn't sound credible. Or bids from individuals trying to look like companies, who did that by re-packaging my RFP word per word in a corporate formatted word doc.

As a rule, it's been my experience that RAC is far better for smaller projects unless you have a support agreement with the coder. But you win some, you lose some. Out of the dozen or so projects listed with RAC during my period of working with them as a buyer, the service was outstanding on about nine of them, and I worked with people I grew comfortable with.

As far as the others, not everyone is a people person, and sometimes projects needed to be re-drafted and re-contracted. Can't really blame someone for my lack of foresight. But you can blame people when they're rude or completely obnoxious for no good reason. And that happened once that I can remember in my dealings with the site.

Being an American coder, I found it to be an extremely competitive market place. There were times when it seemed like everyone in the world was bidding on the projects I was most interested in working on for less than I could consider bidding. Didn't make much money at it, but I liked the way the site was organized, and most of the people that I met.

Just after the service started, my boss at the time found out about it and fired six of us in favor of the "per project gurus" on RAC. Two months later he tried to hire us back, so I imagine that it probably didn't go well. When I went back, I managed the process of working through RAC for him. So it's all relative.

It's a lesson in outsourcing.
It can be great when it works. Or not when it doesn't.
It's up to you.

The key is to work with people who communicate well from the beginning rather than the low ball bidders or incoherent spec writers. Oh, and keeping your project specs, and bid proposals short and simple.

If you're a coder, take the time to read and understand the spec. If it's unclear, ask for clarification before making a commitment to work on the project.

If you're a buyer, it's a good idea to read feedback and make sure that the coder understands exactly what it is that you want him to do. It also helps not to get too friendly with your RAC coders. After all, it is a business relationship, and it's easy to offend or get offended when conversations stray too much from the task at hand.

Just some thoughts.

As a coder... (1)

PastAustin (941464) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566248)

...I always try to negotiate deals outside as some of the fees and rules seem pretty damn ridiculous.


Than again I haven't touched that site for at least a year.

Re:As a coder... (1)

PastAustin (941464) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566350)

Then Again*

Re:As a coder... (1)

XMyth (266414) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567260)

Too bad Firefox 2.0 doesn't have a grammar checker too huh? :)

Re:As a coder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16568366)

You're missing a comma:

Too bad Firefox 2.0 doesn't have a grammar checker too, huh?

And technically your sentence doesn't have a subject.

It's too bad that Firefox 2.0 doesn't have a grammar checker too, huh?

And really, grammatically you can't add ", huh?" like that, but that's also common usage.

English as a second language... priceless (2, Funny)

charlesbakerharris (623282) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566260)

Check out the gem way down the flame war in the first link:

"How can you expect to win an arbitration if the arbitrator is not capable to understand more then 2-3 sentences plain English?"

Heh heh heh.

Re:English as a second language... priceless (1)

rizzo420 (136707) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566380)

that whole discussion is hilarious. takereal, the guy fighting for RAC, can't speak english at all. it's really amusing and if that's the kind of guy that represents RAC, then i don't think anyone should be using them.

Re:English as a second language... priceless (4, Funny)

Who235 (959706) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566588)

this explains why rentacoder team do not understand plain English if is
more than several sentences
the rentacoder team took to do job(rentacoder site) according their
mental abilities


I don't understand plain English either, if that's what you're calling English.

Re:English as a second language... priceless (4, Funny)

charlesbakerharris (623282) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566648)

what plain English do not understand? was more than several sentences over too much for hopeless head?

the rentacoder team took to do class in English grading according their total class spent time!!!!11!

English as a second language.. COBOL as the first? (1)

Nushio (951488) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566912)

public class Message{
        public static void main(String[] args) throws NoSuchLanguageException {
                String opt1 = "COBOL";
                String opt2 = "FORTRAN";
                System.out.println("Perhaps he uses "+opt1+" or "+opt2+" as the primary langage and "+opt3+" as his second?");
        }
}

Re:English as a second language... priceless (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567728)

Yeah, I get it... But you don't have to use the language perfectly to be comprehensible. There's a big difference between a grammatical/spelling mistake here and there, and completely butchering the language. I think the sentence you quote is better formed than a lot of sentences I hear from native speakers.

Anyway, replace "capable" with "able" and the sentence is perfect. Or, replace "to understand" with "of understanding" and again, perfect. We're talking about nuances of the language here, not terrible errors.

Obligatory... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16566262)

As a coder living in the US, I looked at RentACoder with some interest back in, oh, 2002. These days there's no way any American coder is going to make beer money - much less a living - when the competition can afford to underbid the way they do.

When you "conservatively" bid $100 on a gig, knowing even that's a low price for all they want done, and within an hour there are 10 other bidders, all of them under $10, some of them even under $5... You just can't compete.

Re:Obligatory... (0)

Tet (2721) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567270)

These days there's no way any American coder is going to make beer money - much less a living - when the competition can afford to underbid the way they do.

Agreed. We've just come to the end of one of our rentacoder jobs, and it was done by a guy in Pakistan for peanuts. The quality is not great, but it's passable, and there's no way we could afford to have hired anyone in the UK to do it. We're basically outsourcing our noddy projects to rentacoder, and keeping the serious stuff in house. We know we can afford to pay three different coders to do the same job on rentacoder, and at least one of them will probably churn out something usable, and it'll still be cheaper than doing it in house or paying someone locally to do it. While it's worked out for us in this case, I do think that the idea of sealed bids is a good one. Coders being able to see the lowest price and undercut it is ultimately not good for anyone.

Re:Obligatory... (-1, Offtopic)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#16568690)

Re your sig: We should invade the USA, kill Ann Coulter and convert them all to atheism.

I'd just like to point out that the reason that all of the religious nuts are in America is that this is where put them after you kicked them out of your country :) A friend of my wife's from Switzerland saw our Amish folks, who are quite the tourist draw here. She said, "Oh my God! It's those crazy cult people that we kicked out of our country! We learned about them in school!" I thought that was pretty hysterical, since they are thought of as "persecuted" here, but apparently not in Switzerland...

What they don't tell you (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16566304)

Is after several years of payments you actually own the coder outright. You will have to feed them and find a place for them to sleep in the basement. And when you add everything up, you will find that you overpaid massively.

Re:What they don't tell you (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567154)

Precisely the reason I never pick the same stripper twice.

The Middleman (4, Insightful)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566318)

This sounds like RAC is facing the same problems any other middleman service does eventually. Specifically:

1) People soon start trying to remove the middleman, saving both the client and vendor time and money
2) There are always a few 'bad eggs' in the basket and there's not much you can do about it (and is one reason people start to do #1 above)

I don't think there's anything wrong with RAC establishing relations between coders and buyers, but they shouldn't complain if people stop using them because they've already found a match. I'd much rather find a trustworthy contact for whom I could do freelance development and then stick with them, instead of hunting through offers and making bids.

Re:The Middleman (2, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566444)

1) People soon start trying to remove the middleman, saving both the client and vendor time and money
Of course, any middleman company worth its salt would have legal recourse if any service provider of theirs actually went ahead and did this. Every employment contract I've ever seen stipulates that the employee cannot go work for a client without the express written permission of the employer.

Anecdotally, a past employer of mine got sued (and lost) for poaching an employee of one of our consulting firms... nasty stuff, breach of contract is.

Re:The Middleman (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566624)

Yes, but in this context, the coders would be 'independent contractors',not employees, which would change what RAC could do to wayward coders.

Of course, any middleman company worth its salt would have legal recourse if any service provider of theirs actually went ahead and did this. Every employment contract I've ever seen stipulates that the employee cannot go work for a client without the express written permission of the employer.

Even your comment proves this point, as both client and employer are the same person.

Re:The Middleman (1)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566836)

Yes, but in this context, the coders would be 'independent contractors',not employees, which would change what RAC could do to wayward coders.

Not by much. If RAC puts it in their contract with the coders, they will be able to sue for lost income if a coder does independent work for a client that he met through RAC. And if a client does this, knowing about the contract between RAC and the coders, the client could be liable for intentional interference with contract.

Re:The Middleman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16567050)

In a lot of states this doesn't hold up. You can't prevent somebody from earning a living. So if the client decides to ditch RAC after the contract is over, RAC has little recourse to no recourse.

I know I've gone to work companies in the face of no-competes because the company I worked for was fired by the client.

Re:The Middleman (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#16568688)

In addition to the other flaws being pointed out, as soon as RAC starts 'employing' they're going to run smack into all the business with more than X employees rules.
Benefits must be paid, etc.

Which court will RAC sue in? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 7 years ago | (#16568870)

Pakistans? Read before posting, no competent coder in the first world can afford to work for RAC.

Unless RAC has a binding agreement with the client that prevents the client from hiring any RAC coders RAC is SOL. Unless the client is also outside RACs reach. Or the client has better land sharks. RAC does'nt sound like they have a large legal department.

Re:The Middleman (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566824)

However, the middle man in this case only sets up work for specific projects. So if I hire a coder from RAC to do project A, and they do a good job, I may just decide to go around RAC and get them to do project B also. I may also decide to hire them full time. I don't really see anything wrong with this, as RAC (from my understanding) is set up to provide coders for specific projects. I don't imagine the coders sign anything saying they are only allowed to get work through RAC, or that the people hiring may not hire someone they've worked with through RAC.

Re:The Middleman (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567598)

Every employment contract I've ever seen stipulates that the employee cannot go work for a client without the express written permission of the employer.

Except in very rare cases, any clause like that is unenforceable. Regular employees are free to work for whomever they choose, just as their employers are allowed to terminate their employment at will.

Anecdotally, a past employer of mine got sued (and lost) for poaching an employee of one of our consulting firms... nasty stuff, breach of contract is.

That is a whole different story, the contract was between the two companies involved - notice who got sued, it wasn't the employee.

Re:The Middleman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16568236)

I have successfully used RAC for many projects over the past 3 years, but my initial projects were unsuccessful. It's a great place to go if you have more time than money to work through the bad apples and get the best people working for you.

I've since stopped using their service and have hired the good RAC developers full time for almost a year now. Granted, they are earning something like $7/hour with the salary I pay them, but they are more than happy for the continuous flow of work. And since one is in eastern european country and the other is in Pakistan, they are very pleased with the pay.

The only issue is there is a lot of hand holding in the beginning. YOU have to know how to complete the project on your own so you can step in when they get stuck. The coders make a great addition to a team, but if you think they can head up an entire project by themselves, you're going to have a failed project. Give them small pieces to do and not the entire project to plan and you'll definitely get your money's worth.

Which begs the question (4, Informative)

porkThreeWays (895269) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566404)

Did it actually ever have any street cred? For as long as I can remember RAC has been filled with insanely low bids being eaten up by foreign coders. I've gone there several times over the years looking to pick up some extra cash and have never seen a bid I thought was worth my time.

Re:Which begs the question (5, Insightful)

TigerNut (718742) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566502)

From the coders' perspective they would be better served if they could submit sealed bids (or at least, if the bids or statistics were only visible to the organization that posted the job). In that way you wouldn't get people going "$500? I can do that for $400" and progressively undercutting each other right out of existence.

Re:Which begs the question (2, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566868)

It would be nice to have a silent auction kind of system. You could submit your bid, along with a resume, and they could pick from the person who they think is going to give them the best value for their dollar. They may not always go with the cheapest person, since they may not do the best job.

Re:Which begs the question (2, Informative)

Raynor (925006) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567222)

That isn't how i've seen it.

I'm no guru (yet :D) but I just recently joined and put down a $10 bid to get some business and some credibility on a random number generator (I think someone wasn't doing their homework -.- ).

I lost the bid to an Indian programmer who bid $20 and his bid was a generic "I look forward to hearing from you, and rest assured that the results will meet your requirements and expectations."

Whereas I had just spent the last half-hour talking with the guy about exactly what he wanted, and sent him a demo.

All in all I figure RAC is good for odd jobs and an occasional good-deal... but I doubt many people like me (American -.-) make a living off of it.

Very true... (2, Insightful)

mohjlir (553108) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567646)

In that way you wouldn't get people going "$500? I can do that for $400" and progressively undercutting each other right out of existence.

This is a big problem, and one that is difficult to address. A lot of inexperienced programmers underestimate the amount of time required to execute a project to an acceptable level of completion. "Text editor? I'll do that for $50".

Re:Very true... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16568966)

I'd gladly do a text editor (coded in VB) for $50 - I'd regard that as good money for 1/2 hours work.

Re:Which begs the question (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567768)

If the bids are secret, it's not really bidding anymore. It's just the usual business of "pick the lowest price."

Re:Which begs the question (1)

Doctor Memory (6336) | more than 7 years ago | (#16568336)

you wouldn't get people going "$500? I can do that for $400"
It's called a "reverse auction", and they're actually pretty popular in commodities markets — which is what RAC boils down to.

Re:Which begs the question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16567210)

Ah, thank you so much for correctly using the phrase "beg the question".

It's like a warm fresh breeze blowing through /.

(Yes, I'm serious.)

Re:Which begs the question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16568800)

Newsflash: the world doesn't end at the US of A's borders and beyond those borders there are actually qualified professionals in every field.

What's wrong with going outside RAC? (2, Insightful)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566414)

If you already know the person, and you can trust them, and have worked with them before, you no longer need RAC's services, and you won't get their escrow or mediation help either if something goes wrong. But at that point, the Coder is more like a semi-regular employee for you.

Also, I had a bad experience there. It was partly because I rushed to post the program specs, but also because the Coder was a complete dick. He'd always demand payment despite not making milestones. He'd show he understood the specs with an example, and then two phases in, "forgot" that he had to meet that, and had a solution worked out that precluded it, requiring him to start over. He tried to clarify the specs for one of the phases by putting it in his own words. It looked good, so I just made that the formal contract for that phase. Then, in arbitration, he claimed the requirements were unclear and vague. Yeah -- his own words, vague. He's since been banned since the arbitration.

Btw, what's with U.S. programmers complaining about wages? The task was a simple word-processor that handled stuff similar to html markup. It couldn't have taken a regular programmer more than 10 hours, working from pre-existing solutions (open source stuff was okay) and there were no (trustworthy) bids under $500. And none at any price from America.

Re:What's wrong with going outside RAC? (4, Interesting)

silas_moeckel (234313) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566890)

10 hours work 500 bucks 50 bucks an hour thats not much for consulting work. The prices on RAC in general were less that what you can telecommute a contract on dice for.

Re:What's wrong with going outside RAC? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567336)

$50/hr is hardly anything to sneeze at.. especially if you're a college student or living in a country where $50 will feed your family for a month.

Re:What's wrong with going outside RAC? (1)

Bamafan77 (565893) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567624)

10 hours work 500 bucks 50 bucks an hour thats not much for consulting work. The prices on RAC in general were less that what you can telecommute a contract on dice for.
Not grand theft true, but it ain't THAT bad. If I had the time to spare, I'd take that in a heartbeat (as a side project). If you're planning to live off this though, the trick becomes lining up enough projects to keep a steady income (that's a LOT of 10 hour projects).

Re:What's wrong with going outside RAC? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16566944)

But there's the problem: All the contracts want unencumbered source that you have to give up all rights to. I'd guess a lot of people just ignore that and use code they can find on the internet. If all they want is a solution that they can use, many of them are "no brainers". But if you have to build them from scratch, they're ridiculous.

Re:What's wrong with going outside RAC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16567000)

How can you be so sure the work was 10 hours? Custom word processors are deceptively hard to write or tinker with, unless the programmer already has a very deep / specific focus on word processors. Got to serialize / deserialize to some file format, deal with displays and fonts, probably printing too... and then whatever peculiar requirements you have that made an off-the-shelf WP unsuitable. I could see it taking easily more than ten hours just to figure out the structure of an existing word processor before setting out to modify it.

Re:What's wrong with going outside RAC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16567082)

Agreed. He did say that open source stuff was ok, but it's still time intensive to modify it. I'm thinking 4x that much time.

Word processors are not easy.

Re:What's wrong with going outside RAC? (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567146)

Heh. Your post is a great example of the jerking around I got in my search for a solution to my problem (of which RAC was only a part). People would tell me, "OH, hey, that's so easy, man, just let me do it, it's a cinch" and then when it came to actually, you know, doing it, they'd quickly sputter. They'd say, "Oh, simple, just use off-the-shelf $PROGRAM_X for that, that handles requirement Y." "Did you actually understand Y?" "... oh ... I guess X can't do that." Then people would say, "Oh, simple, just modify the source code of $OPEN_SOURCE_SOLUTION_Z, because as everyone knows, anyone familiar with C++ can always learn from any open source solution they come across simply by reading the clearly-written, well-commented code!" And now you're coming in and saying, merely to figure out the word processor itself, let alone write with it, is complex.

Now do I have an excuse for high blood pressure?

Anyone who wants to follow up on the specs, btw, should post about it in my journal, even though it'd be off-topic.

Re:What's wrong with going outside RAC? (2, Insightful)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567632)

couldn't have taken a regular programmer more than 10 hours

How do you know that? I think part of the problem with the basic idea is the extreme difficulty of predicting how long a project will take. But even before that, it can be a big problem merely to specify what is to be done. You sound like you were cheated by a coder who was deliberately making specification even more difficult.

You mention pre-existing solutions. That's another thing that makes scheduling software engineering extremely difficult. If one can take existing work and tweak it a bit, it might indeed be possible in 10 hours. But one could spend a lot of time trying to adapt existing software only to discover it won't work because there are fundamental problems, such as finally understanding that the way the data is structured makes it impossible to add a new feature in an efficient way. Starting from scratch, a "simple" word processing project could easily take months. MS-Word wasn't written in a day. Neither was emacs. You may also get a rush job, where the poor programmer is throwing in functions from libraries all over the spectrum, to produce something that meets the requirements but is so slow, bloated, and fragile it must be rewritten.

Yes, I'm in America. I looked at Rentacoder, and decided it wasn't worth my time. Many of the requests had a Dilbertesque flavor of "anything I don't understand can be done in 6 minutes".

Re:What's wrong with going outside RAC? (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#16568020)

The "cheating" was in "forgetting" a requirement he obviously understood from the beginning, even showing an example of its implementation. The "cheating" was in demanding that I pay him *right now* for work that's obviously not complete. The "cheating" was in griping about cost of living to get me to pay him more after we agreed to terms.

Also, you seem to have a misunderstanding of what "word processing" is. A text editor that allows you to make words bold counts as a word processor. A wysiwyg html editor that handles three tags is a word processor. Take a look. [wikipedia.org] I used the term "word processor" here because I thought people would realize I was using a term with a standardized meaning, but I guess all the meaning you got out of it was that I think MS Word could be written in a day. But at least now I understand that anyone who suggested that I "just" modify an existing word processor had no clue what they were talking about -- and that's a lot of people.

As for unpredictability, they had time to look at what they would need to do to implement the features. It's not a huge project with loads of unpredictability.

Re:What's wrong with going outside RAC? (1)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 7 years ago | (#16568286)

Because the only way to make a decent living is not trying to hustle $500 jobs every odd week. You've got to find a regular contract that will specify 1000-2000 hours at a predetermined rate.

Despite what the media and everybody is telling us, good programmers who you can trust to do the job without managing them like a 12 year old are rare and expensive, and when you find one you pay him or her enough money to keep them happy (in fact, I don't personally know a programmer who would even bother with anything under about a 90 day gig. There's just too much work out there).

Gotta love the server overload page on the link... (1)

Panaqqa (927615) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566424)

"SiteGround - Hosting Suitable For You!"

Well, I know slashdotting can really tax a server, but still. Would you want the name of your hosting service to appear on a server overload error page? Us /. types understand what's going on, but John Q. Public doesn't.

RAC has always been a waste of time (4, Interesting)

JanusFury (452699) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566430)

I've done contract programming work for people directly before, and that always worked out fairly well. I tried using RAC a few times to find both small and large pieces of contract work, and always had a bad experience - either I'd deliver a working product and the buyer would run off with it without paying (and RAC would ignore my requests for them to actually do their job as an escrow service) or the buyer would continually redefine the requirements so that I could never actually 'complete' the work and 'earn' the payment.

Of course, half the listings on there are so ridiculously underpriced ($25 for a week of work? No thanks!) or utterly brainless (Please write a custom clone of Winamp from scratch for $500) that it's not even worth bothering.

You could literally make better money by releasing an open source app and putting google ads on the website. Seriously.

Re:RAC has always been a waste of time (1)

rjamestaylor (117847) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567866)

You could literally make better money by releasing an open source app and putting google ads on the website. Seriously.
Agreed. RAC's signal to noise ratio is so poor that it's not worth the time to find the good deals for buyers or coders.

I make mad money with RAC, and my skillz be 1337! (0, Offtopic)

Cr0w T. Trollbot (848674) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566460)

Check out this 1337 coding, dawg:

10 PRINT 'HELLO WORLD'
20

Awww, CRAP! Gimme a minute, it will come back to me...

Crow T. Trollbot

Re:I make mad money with RAC, and my skillz be 133 (3, Funny)

Mr. Sketch (111112) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566542)

20 GOTO 10

Glad I could help. That'll be 50% if your revenue please.

Re:I make mad money with RAC, and my skillz be 133 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16567058)

You got it!

WTF? (0, Offtopic)

Deflatamouse! (132424) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566462)

WTF? So two guys, one hates RAC (kamen...@gmail.com), the other (TakeReal) obviously works for RAC (or owns RAC) --- therefore responds 60 something times to kamen's comments, dukes it out in a forum, and Slashdot concludes that RAC is losing street cred??

Did kamen...@gmail.com submit this story to slashdot?

Re:WTF? (1)

djdavetrouble (442175) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566592)

and Slashdot concludes that RAC is losing street cred??
Which begs the question,
Don't you have to have street cred in the first place to be able to lose it ?

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16566612)

Same thing I thought.

Re:WTF? (4, Interesting)

Itninja (937614) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566642)

Did kamen...@gmail.com submit this story to slashdot?
No, I did. This all started because I had submitted a project for bidding. The best bidder came in at $500, so I accepted the bid. When RaC asked how I wanted to fund 'escrow', I chose PayPal. Only then did their site bother to mention that they were no longer accepting Paypal.

Okay, then I will use a CC I guess. They took the $500, and then sent me an email informing me that I needed to go through some additional 'verification' that went a little something like this:
To do this, please scan the front and back of your card and email it to me at Verify@rentacoder.com. (If you do not have a scanner, you can either take a digital photo of the card or fax a copy of it to the fax number below.) For your protection, I suggest that you block out the middle eight digits (AMEX middle seven digits) on both the front and back of the card before you send me the copy.
The hell?! This is for only $500! Then I had to ask three time to have the whole thing cancelled. I got my $$ back and went to coder directly. Good times.

Re:WTF? (3, Funny)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566694)

Well, I already knew it wasn't kamen who submitted the story. Your summary was far too readable to be him/her.

Re:WTF? (1)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566740)

I don't doubt your honesty, but please tell me you're kidding.

That has got to be the most rediculous "requiremet" for an online transaction that I've ever heard.

Re:WTF? (1)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567206)


  Sounds like the RAC payment system was coded using some of their top bidders.

  The program! She is having bugs!

Re:WTF? (1)

PinkPanther (42194) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567278)

Interesting. I use Elance.com. Their CC validation process involves them putting two small charges on your credit card (both under $2.00 USD) which they then refund. You need to contact your credit card company (or get an online statement) and submit to their site the two amounts.

Emailing a scan of a credit card...that is so "steal my identity, please!" :-)

Re:WTF? (3, Funny)

elcid73 (599126) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567536)

You didn't through all the requirements then!

They told *me* I had to mail the card to them so they could run it through their old school credit card swipe. then they'd mail it back. Also, I had to fly out to meet them so they could verify my identity.

Then, when my flight gets back home, I would receive a fexex package containing my credit card and...since this is an online transaction! they'll send me an email when everythign is all good. ...and by "e-mail" they really meant a telegram.

ifreelance (5, Informative)

trwww (545291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566494)

So use ifreelance.com [ifreelance.com] .

Its free and you and the programmer decide on your own payment method

Re:ifreelance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16567138)

ProgrammerMeetDesigner.com [programmer...signer.com] is pretty good too if you need a web developer. It's free too.

getacoder (1)

Zashi (992673) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566550)

I (and friends of mine at http://nonlogic.org/ [nonlogic.org] ) use getacoder.com for various projects. The fees are pretty outrageous. We find it easier to make initial contacts via getacoder and then conduct further business outside of the site.

Re:getacoder (1)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566746)

Which just increases the fees, because they have to make a lot of money on that initial connection because that's the last they'll see of you. Which makes me wonder - did these sites always have exorbitant fees? Or did they just trend that way as they started losing customers?

Up and Down With RAC (3, Informative)

Revenge_of_Solver_Ta (862178) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566594)

Got good PHP coders from Scriptlance.

Good designers from GetAFreelancer or Designoutpost.

Good content people from Guru and Elance...

That's it.

Similar sites, and my experiences (2, Informative)

dieth (951868) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566732)

http://www.kasamba.com/ [kasamba.com] (they have more than just a "technical" advice area)
http://elance.com/ [elance.com]
http://www.scriptlance.com/ [scriptlance.com]

Personally these sites really don't encourage a Buyer/Bidder relationship, and I have had my accounts on elance, and kasamba, banned for initiating direct contact with my clients. Ofcourse talking through the vale of secrecy and the worst e-mail systems ever concocted by a webcoder are always the best means of communications with clients.
As these sites want there Buyers to keep posting more projects so they can continue to leech money from both sides out of either in monthly membership fees, posting fees, and percentage of earnings fees.

Google Groups? (2, Interesting)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566840)

Discussion on Google Groups? It looks like it was on USENET to me. alt.computer.consultants to be specific.

Has it come to this?

Re:Google Groups? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567864)

Yes, yes it has. What's the next homebrew technology news site? All million of us can go over and fuck it up, next. (Not that there can possibly be a million active users - not because there's not enough people but because the UIDs aren't far enough over a mil.)

These work? (2, Interesting)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566866)

I tried out scriptlance as both a renter and coder. As a coder I always got underbid until someone was willing to do a 20 hour plus project for $10 (with $5 of it going to scriptlance). Then I figured if it's so cheap, I may as well get help with my own projects instead of trying to make extra cash with it. As a renter, I got a bunch of bids from people who clearly didn't read my proposal or have any idea what I was asking for and what it involved.

The "Ideal" Site? (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566896)

There is a definite and ongoing need for sites that connect coders with project managers (or whomever). My thought of what a site that caters to both would be the following:

  • Simple straightforward method for posting positions at a nominal fee
  • A rating system, both for employers and coders
  • The ability for the site to provide arbitration services in case of dispute (for a reasonable fee)
  • some sort of escrow system, again, reasonable fees

None of this is that difficult to do by any stretch. I guess you could always use other escrow services, and the "ideal" site should allow that without penalty. Or maybe it shouldn't offer escrow at all and let other sites handle it. The arbitration and rating systems I think are the biggest things.

I have no idea if there are sites out there that provide this service or not. If not, and anyone is interested, I'd certainly be willing to help build it. The key is to keep all expenses to bidders and buyers low, to encourage more users, but they have to exist to keep away scammers and such.

Slahsdotted (0)

operagost (62405) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566898)

Perhaps they should Rent-A-Server...

Google Groups?? (5, Funny)

grcumb (781340) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566968)

A comment to this posting links a discussion of RAC at Google Groups

We prefer the term 'The Service Formerly Known as Usenet.'

Eh... (4, Interesting)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#16566990)

I used to be a big RAC seller. It was great for a while, I hit the top 10 (as #10), had a perfect score, and thousands of $$ earned. As a US-based worker, English was my best tool available. A lot of US-based shops were very xenophobic, and perhaps rightfully so. I made more money off of failed outsourced projects than anything. I rarely saw any good work out of the foreign shops (usually India, although there were some eastern European ones, too). When it did work, it only did what the original project had asked for, and in the shortest, messiest route. Expanding one of their projects was almost impossible -- no scalability or future design in mind.

Rent-a-coder lost it for me when I bid on three projects over the course of three months. Two of them alone would be been fine, however, Rent-a-coder permitted the buyers to accept months-old bids. I was away at the time and missed my 24-hours to decline the project. I ended up with 3 concurrent projects with altered scopes (much larger than the original bid had been for), but Rent-a-coder leans toward the buyers, not the sellers, in disputes.

Despite my attempts, my account's cred was lost within a week due to the stupidity of the RAC system. This was about two years ago, so it may have changed.

On the up side, I did find a few very nice clients through RAC projects. Dazzle the right guy and you won't need to go through RAC anymore. I got a 2-year consulting contract out of a $500 project, made a few good friends, got a few free trips from helping an unnamed travel website, etc.

So, if you're going to do it, beware that you can find yourself royally screwed. If you're a native English speaker, that is your best asset -- advertise it, use it! Do not paste a form letter. Most buyers would rather see a short 1 paragraph response saying "Yeah, I can do that!" rather than a 6 paragraph form letter explaining what should be in your resume section, not your bid forms.

Another thing to be wary of is if you are a college student. Helping another college student on their homework through RAC is likely a violation of your school regulations, e.g., cheating. $50 is not worth possible punishment for both you and the person you're "helping".

they keep your CC on file even if you cancel- crap (1)

genevaroth (685479) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567014)

I tried using this company- they made me prepay and then all of these useless coders bid on my project, none of these guys have any experience or certs. so I canceled, big hassle with that, and on top of it they kept my credit card info on file forever, you cannot get them to get rid of it. I changed my CC number and have never looked back at this cr*ppy service.

CC rules (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567964)

Aren't there rules with the CC companies that when you tell somebody to get rid of your number, they must. How do you know they're keeping it (never used their services, don't plan to)

Cut Out the Middleman (2, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567090)

How is this scenario different from any coding "headshop" agency, including giant consultancies like IBM?

Except that IBM typically sells consultant hours fulltime (or more), across projects for years, so IBM can tell whether you're circumventing them to go work for the customer? And that IBM's customers typically rent different coders from IBM across projects for months or years, so they don't want to screw IBM and lose their supplier? And generally, which consumers of significant consulting resources want to piss off IBM, and its army of lawyers?

The coders I know who are placed by IBM get paid about half of the $1-200K per year their project pays IBM. So I don't think this has anything to do with how RAC is especially "unfair", except maybe they charge their customers too little, then have too little left to pay their coders. And RAC is a lot easier to scam^Wcircumvent than is IBM.

It's a referral service (1)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567160)

I use these sites as a referral service. They're great for finding new customers/coders, but once I've established a relationship with the other person, it's foolish to keep on using the sites.

That's also why I don't mind RAC's high fees, since the fees are peanuts compared to what I will gain from my new customers/coders in the long run.

I've had good luck with RAC as Buyer (1)

iolairemcfadden (1017670) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567228)

I've had three good experiences with RAC. Two have been small Ruby on Rails projects which were not to complicated, but far above scaffolding and one WordPress template. In all of the cases the work product was not quite final. But due to the low ball prices I asked and received, I felt it was fair for me to finalize it myself rather than drag the developers through rounds of revisions. I've felt fine using on personal projects which I'd rather have done than sitting in the working on folder for months. That being said, I don't know if I would rely on it for a business critical project. Instead I see it as ideal for hobbyist type projects.

Also not mentioned is http://odesk.com/ [odesk.com] this is a site more geared towards hiring people by the hour, rather than project, there most average hourly wages are over $15.

RAC for media? (1)

Darthmalt (775250) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567434)

Does anyone know of a setup like this but for media (audio/video)?

If you think occasionally hiring a coder will ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16567442)

... improve the quality of your software, you are mistaken. If you think hiring random guys will help your software, you are badly mistaken. If you think all it takes to build some software are "coders", then you pobably recently had a headshot.

Good software requires people who know the software in questions. Excelent software requires people who positively relate to the software, see it as their baby. It requires people who know the problem domain. Soldier of fortune don't cut it.

Re:If you think occasionally hiring a coder will . (1)

vandon (233276) | more than 7 years ago | (#16568090)

Good software requires people who know the software in questions. Excelent software requires people who positively relate to the software, see it as their baby. It requires people who know the problem domain.

Any you usually get what you pay for.
You want to take the low-ball $20 bid on a job worth $100?...prepare for some crap.

Rap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16567532)

Rapping is the cure.

An "almost" buyer (1)

gallwapa (909389) | more than 7 years ago | (#16567738)

I posted a bid for a relatively simple project for $200 with a one month timeline. Not only did the coder (who had a wonderful rating by numerous people) fail to deliver, they actually used a code generator to spew out the basic framework of the application (which, as explained in my original paperwork was clearly going to invalidate the project and probably violate a few licenses if that were done). At any rate, I extended it out another week, but in the end had to have RAC arbitrate to get my money out of escrow.

Aside from that, RAC itself posted an charge of $200, three times to my bank account causing $95 in overdraft charges even though the original charge did not overdraft the account and the others were "pending" - something I easily cleared up with my bank, but it was still troublesome.

The whole experience made me bite the bullet and do the coding myself...it took longer and a lot more work, but I think it was worth it...

Just for kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16567832)

I thought the main point of RentACoder was for students to cheat on their homework....

I've got a question... (1)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 7 years ago | (#16568168)

People are willing to take coding jobs to make $150 for what amounts to a day of work? If you think that's a lot, you have to estimate some serious overhead into that. So for all practical purposes, you're clearing about $15/hour to code? Or am I reading this wrong?

Ouch. The only way to go is to get long-term contracts and do the work. Or take a staff position. Even if you hate it. You'll at least make decent money if you stick with it.

Spelling error? (1)

xrayspx (13127) | more than 7 years ago | (#16568296)

So the root of the problem is that he wanted an arbitrator and got an arbortrator . He might not have been specific enough, and if he requested Arbortration on his project, that's exactly what he got.

Re:Spelling error? (1)

The Outbreak Monkey (581200) | more than 7 years ago | (#16568356)

So the root of the problem is that he wanted an arbitrator and got an arbortrator . He might not have been specific enough, and if he requested Arbortration on his project, that's exactly what he got.

Yeah...but what he really needs is The Arbiter! [wikipedia.org]

I agree (1)

Acecoolco (1012419) | more than 7 years ago | (#16569008)

I have stopped using them altogether, for not paying affiliate earnings, poor layout and other reasons.. I use this: http://www.acecoolco.com/jobs.php [acecoolco.com]

Did you mean... (1)

DuranDuran (252246) | more than 7 years ago | (#16569066)

> They charge the coders an exuberant amount

Did you mean "exorbitant"?

exuberant [ig-zoo-ber-uhnt]
-adjective
extremely good; overflowing; plentiful:
profuse in growth or production; luxuriant; superabundant:
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