A friend of mine recently suggested I check out ODesk and Freelancer as a way to market my Delphi skills. I tried to sign up on ODesk once and they have you take this so-called “proficiency test”. It seemed to me like a bunch of “trick questions” designed by folks more interested in your “hacking” skills than whether you understand programming design and efficiency. About 1/3 of the way through, I quit and sent a nasty email to their support desk. I haven’t been able to login since then.

There’s a small middle-tier php app I’ve been trying to get developed since August of last year.
It’s not all that complicated, in my mind.

I want a basic REST/JSON API on the client-facing side. Internally it uses a third-party service to fulfill some requests, stashes the results in a database and a file, and returns the result of a query as a URL link to a file. When a request is made for something, if it has been made before, it simply returns a link to the file. If it’s new, it needs to make a request of the third-party server, get back the result, save it to disk as a file, and update the database; then it returns a link the file. In essence, it’s a file cache that sits between clients and a third-party service provider.

It also needs to validate client requests against a membership database before fulfilling them. I’ve got a bunch of membership plugins for WordPress, so rather than have someone build an entire membership site from scratch, I figured it would be easier to have the logic packed into a WP plugin that has an Admin page to control it. (There’s nothing visual about this plugin.)

Overall, this is intended as a “proof-of-concept” kind of thing; it needs to work, but it doesn’t need to be “production quality”.

I’ve gone through three people now trying to get this developed — two were Indians (one in India, one in Canada) and one was in New Zealand. I’m very clear about the project in the description.

The first guy (Indian in India) finally admitted after three weeks that it was simply outside his skill set after swearing that it was something he had experience with at the beginning.

The second guy (Indian in Canada) turned it into a major research project, then started arguing with me about what i wanted and demanded to know why I was giving him “busy-work” simply to test his skills — he made it all about him.

I didn’t pay either of these guys a penny, although I felt like charging them for wasting my time.

The third guy (in NZ) actually made some headway, but he took a different route than I suggested and ended up going down a blind alley. He had to back-track. He kept focusing on stuff that was lower-priority than other things, never discussed any of this with me, never asked any questions, didn’t attempt to clarify anything, and generally just did some work and sent me a link to a zip file with a one-line explanation about what he’d done.

I still need more work done on it, but every time I ask him what’s required to proceed, he dodges the question. I guess he doesn’t want to be paid anything more. And the frequency of his contacts is now about weekly.

I began this in August; this is January and it’s still not complete. I don’t know how anybody can succeed employing workers who’ve got this sort of work ethic. All of those silly “proficiency tests” they give in ODesk aren’t worth squat, IMHO, if the people cannot deliver something that works in a timely fashion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *