Renting a coder

Dan Appleman and Jeff Atwood both wrote a blog “Can You Really Rent a Coder?” about coding auctions such as  ElanceRentACoder and, which make coders bid on projects worldwide. Typically a lot of small, low-paid projects appear there and those sites have had their share of bad comments.

But they can work, just follow these rules:
– if you live in a rich country, be a buyer, not a bidder;
– subcontract parts of your projects, tell your customer, and tell them you can charge less because of this: they’ll appreciate you for it;
– subcontract technical parts only: a Russian will understand HTTP or XML, but not Dutch law;
– expect to spend a lot of time on specs and communication;
– use a few iterations to polish out parts where your specs were unclear or misinterpreted;
– test a lot and inspect the source code;
– never go for the lower bids: they’re always crap;
– build a longer relationship with coders you have good experience with, give them bonuses and follow-up projects.

2 Replies to “Renting a coder”

  1. Actually these are really good tips – have you got any for when a coder threatens to hack your web site and those of your customers if he does not win an arbitration?

    Rentacoder threatened to make me lose an arbitration automatically for complaining about this sort of threat that was being made to me (for reporting it to the arbitrator).

  2. @Buyer: No, I haven’t experienced that. I did find coders on Elance much more professional than the average coder on RAC (they have plenty of good ones too), not unsurprising since the coders on Elance have to make a financial commitment themselves before bidding. I did have a very bad experience on RAC where a company boasted on experience which they didn’t have, delivered crap and I had to rewrite everything over the Christmas holiday (see my rule on the lower bids above, I paid my learning fees)… To be fair, I’ve had good experiences with RAC as well.

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