Why 80 Percent of Web Projects Are Total Bullshit: A Freelancer’s Rant

This is a guest post from the pseudonymous Edward Case, a Brooklyn-based freelance developer, which was adapted from an email

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.

Budget: $1000
Timeframe: 14 days
URL: http://www.festicket.com

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.

Budget: $1500
Timeframe: 14 days
URL: http://www.interfacevision.com

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.

Budget: $1500
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.)

Why 80 Percent of Web Projects Are Total Bullshit: A Freelancer’s Rant