This is a guest post from the pseudonymous Edward Case, a Brooklyn-based freelance developer, which was adapted from an email to Betabeat. Mr. “Case” preferred to remain anonymous, as clients pay his bills.
You know ratemyprofessor.com? I want something like that for potential clients. (Note: I just tried ratemyclient.com and it’s something porn-related, so don’t try that if you’re in an office.) I’m not sure it’ll ever exist though; nobody would want to write negative reviews of past clients for fear of endangering their prospects of getting future work.
I would write about how everybody that needs a cookie-cutter CRUD app or piece of brochureware thinks their project is a beautiful snowflake, when the reality of the situation is that the vast majority of projects out there are all very samey. When people approach me with work that’s very cut-and-dry, but they’re realistic about it, I’m liable to listen. When they act like they’re changing the word with the most important web form that’s ever graced the face of the planet, I run.
I’ve spent my entire life as a nerd, at times marginalized for playing Magic: The Gathering after school or writing a Dragonball Z fan page in the 7th grade (on Geocities, with a starry background … sigh … the good ol’ days). But now that the internet is the new black, every douche with a checkbook thinks they’re God’s gift to software and that their sudden interest in making computer programs is genuine, but of course they’d never dream of trying to learn a thing or two about programming. That’s beneath them. I’m sure I’m not the only programmer that can sniff out a fake nerd.
Last week, Kyle Bragger unveiled an email newsletter featuring gigs for freelancers called Tinyproj. The problem with Tinyproj is the problem with nearly every other job-related thing from a developer’s perspective: it’s not well-curated enough (yet) and I could see the signal-to-noise ratio getting worse as more and more two-bit charlatans find a new avenue to exploit hapless dweebs into materializing their half-baked product “visions” for solving oversolved or nonexistent problems.
But hopefully as Tinyproj gets more requests in, Mr. Bragger can be pickier about the listings. It’s a good concept since it’s simple and people are obviously interested in using it, so I’m staying subscribed for a while to see how it plays out.
But check it out:
[Looking for a developer] I am working in a project called Festicket.com and I am looking for a dev to create in our back office a way to integrate different API from affiliates travel programme.
( expedia, orbitz ect… )
Our website is builld with django / MYSQL / jquery.
Timeframe: 14 days
Vague snowball requirements, language barrier, and low pay.
Need a really good/amazing/awesome OpenGL developer.
Our startup is creating software that will need 3D controls in OpenGL using C sharp on Mac.
What We Would Like to Have Done
We need a general window/control (will be what image,button,radio button, checkbox, etc. will be built from). A few images (Corner – http://imgur.com/W2D8t, top view -http://imgur.com/jRMmD). The window has corners of configurable radius (0 would be a 90 deg edge) – each corner could be configured independently. The window would have thickness.
The window should be resizable such that the corner radius doesn’t change.
Timeframe: 14 days
OpenGL knowledge is a somewhat coveted skill. The technical requirements are somewhat vague, the supplied images show a disturbing lack of attention to detail, and the actual end goal is virtually absent from the description. It’s very difficult, based on this description, to determine the complexity of the task at hand.
[Looking for a developer, a designer] A simple marketplace for contracted and freelance work that is only over $1,000 per project (high quality jobs). Like what 99ladders is to monster.com.
Timeframe: 14 days
Well, I know what the end goal is, but I can’t tell what they’re looking for in the short-term. Reading this, I don’t even know if I qualify or not.
(Note: The only product in this space that I’ve seen that gets me legitimately excited is Hirelite, specifically because it’s tightly-curated.)
Every time I tell a suit about an idea of mine and they ask “what’s your exit?” the answer is “death,” because my goal is to make software that is useful and makes users happy and that’s all I need. These same people openly discuss ways to turn users into food for advertisers, or of their aspirations to abandon those that helped them to succeed as soon as they reach the apex and their heads hit the clouds. Or they have that “fake it till you make it” attitude, that it doesn’t matter how it’s built because by the time it matters you’ll be swimming in investor money and can hire “real” engineers, as if nerds were some kind of fungible currency, that your founding engineers are something to toy with, that you will knowingly look someone in the face and smile and think “you’re not good enough but you’re cheap, and when I can afford someone better I’ll fire or demote you.”
I’m a member of the Startup Weekend LinkedIn group, for better or worse, home to some of the most asinine conversations about startup dumbfuckery on the internet. A user posted a question:
to which one guy replies:
none. you are a founder, not a programmer, non-technical, none. Learn how to hire and manage great people.
and later continues:
Every successful entrepreneur surrounds themselves with advisors, friends, comrades, etc that help them with these decisions.
Not just code, (coders think businesses are just code) but marketing, financial, HR, lots of problems that arise everyday. Great founders are generalists and know just enough to know when to seek advice, and can spot BS from a mile away.
Founders need to know how to manage people, implement idas, create value for human beings, code can be written by employees or contractors.
How to hire great people:
So … what’s his qualification? He runs stickergiant.com, a site that sells stickers. Wow. Now that’s a big fuckin’ deal. For every businessperson worth talking to and worth working with, there are ten dreamless hacks just like this guy.
I’m not suggesting that a non-technical founder write code, that everyone needs to write code, but I don’t have any respect for anyone that won’t learn a thing or two about one of the most critical roles in his business.
Now, that’s not to say all business people are necessarily douchey. A friend introduced me to the guys at Prehype, which spins startups out of big companies, and even though neither of them can write a line of code, I LOVE hanging out at their office and talking to them because they get it. They’re not hackers, but they understand that programming is a craft; that programmers are artisans, not serfs.
I think the reason I could never be a writer is that I’m just way, way too mean. If there’s anything I’d want to read an article about, it’s “why 80 percent of web projects are total bullshit,” but there’s no way I’d ever put my name on such a whiny, Napoleonic tirade.
Alright. That was fun. Thanks for the therapy. I should probably do some actual work now.