The first time I heard about RentACoder was from David Byttow. He was telling me how he wanted to make a new account and get all 10′s for every project. It’s a service where post a bid with a detailed description of what you want done, and people bid on it. In one week I got about 10 bids on something I posted. It was pretty easy to setup and use. They have a review system so people want to do a good job because if you get a lot of bad reviews nobody wants to hire you anymore.
The only problem I have with it is the same problem an art gallery would have if they posted a bid on a street corner for new paintings. There’s a 100X difference between the best and worst programmers. If I wasn’t a programmer I would only care that the job gets done. Since I am one, I also care that the job gets done at a certain level of quality that goes far beyond the code just working. The code has to be documented, adhere to existing standards, be a good solution architecturally, solve the problem completely, be fast, do not leak memory, and solve the intended problem. A lot of this comes from investment in the code, which is hard to get from a hit and run contractor.
75% of the bids I got are clearly unqualfied. They have an arbitration system if things go bad, but I don’t want to deal with that just over a few hundred dollars, I just want the job to get done right. Also, arbitration does not lend itself to quality, since the things I posted are somewhat objective and require thought. A bad job that satisfies the minimum requirements may pass arbitration, but be totally useless to me.
I was thinking one good way to use this system is for annoying bug fixes. For example:
Does not work with Gmail POP
The error returned is
220 mx.google.com ESMTP f42sm3090097rvb.13
250 mx.google.com at your service
530 5.7.0 Must issue a STARTTLS command first f42sm3090097rvb.13
It’s a good thing to post because it either works or not. There isn’t much in the way of objective metrics, and higher level concepts like architecture aren’t really an issue. It’s worth a hundred bucks to me to pass it off, since I hate dealing with RFCs. (Not that I hate standards, just that the RFCs are sometimes ambiguous).
Good service to use if you don’t care about code quality and time is not an issue.