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Offering actual money as a bounty?
Is it alright to pay real money for useful help?

I'm trying to learning programming by doing. I think that finishing an app has a great motivational power to me, do something that people could use. But it occurs that I have a lot of the doubts by the path (the nature of my doubts can be seen in my profile). I was thinking about the possibility of accelerate a little my slow walk by paying a little fee (something like $25) to someone that could indicate what to do to finish my app. It's not to program for me. It's just to show me what to do next when I get stucked (like in this question: How to query GAE datastore to render a template (newbie level)). I think that this, in my case, would speed up my learning because I'd have to explain my doubts only to one person (instead of little troubles without a whole vision of my goal). Is it possible? Is this according to this site rules? There is another site/forum where I could get this kind of help?

Buy the way, my project is this: http://contractpy.appspot.com/

And my code is here: How to query GAE datastore to render a template (newbie level)

The goal of the help is just learn how to render in this form several contracting parties (more than one buyer, seller or witness e.g.) using GAE datastore.

  • 2
    Careers might be the appropriate forum for this careers.stackoverflow.com
    – Somantra
    Jul 3, 2012 at 13:26
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    Flagged as off-topic; this belongs on Meta Stack Overflow instead. Don't worry, if others agree with my vote, it'll be moved automatically. -- and here we are. :-) Jul 3, 2012 at 13:28
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    If you're willing to pay money, why not just take a class? Or pay a consultant / freelancer? Stack Overflow is certainly not a place to be paying for coding help (I don't know about other websites). Jul 3, 2012 at 13:31
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    [insert WSOIN link here] ;)
    – Lix
    Jul 3, 2012 at 13:33
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  • 4
    @Lix -1, too much snark. Jul 3, 2012 at 13:43
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    @jadarnel27 -1, not enough snark
    – Ben Brocka
    Jul 3, 2012 at 13:49
  • @jardnel27, I'm also a CS student taking basic math and intro programming class. It's common in my country pay small sums to get help from other students in mathematics or physics, for example. It is seen as an honest way of retribution. Jul 3, 2012 at 13:49
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    Too much snark / not enough snark.... What really seems to be missing here is some STARK!
    – Lix
    Jul 3, 2012 at 13:54
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    @Lix I suspect that would solve a lot of the problems with this post! Jul 3, 2012 at 13:55
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    +1 because you bothered to ask, "is it OK to post this kind of question?" Hopefully you will take the advice given herein. (I also would not have so voted had this post still been where you initially posted it, FYI) Jul 3, 2012 at 13:56

2 Answers 2


Get some more rep, bounty the question(s). That's how you can get attention to a post. COnsider the bounty as a "payment". It "pays" for the extra advertising you get in the featured tab, and it's an enticing reward for the answerers.

You can also hire good programmers via Careers.

IMO, pushing money as an incentive for answering a question is not too good an idea. I think it may lead to fierce competition for the "prize" (including unfair downvoting, etc). Rep is one thing, money is another. It's muuuch easier to get into a heated debate over money. So, I feel that it's a bad idea to add money to the SO equation.

There probably are legalities as well :\

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    I think Meta has proven that we can get into a heated debate over absolutely anything. Also your mother dresses you funny.
    – Ben Brocka
    Jul 3, 2012 at 13:40
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    @BenBrocka: Meta will be meta. Just like your mom will be <insert yo' mama joke here> :P Jul 3, 2012 at 13:44
  • Thanks, @ManishEarth , I didn't know about bouties and I'll use then. I also didn't know that my awnswer was almost offensive. Jul 3, 2012 at 13:45
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    @Pythonista'sApprentice: Your answer? Which answer? Jul 3, 2012 at 13:46

The solution:

Use the bounty system, or hire someone via http://careers.stackoverflow.com/ There are other services where you can rent workers for short durations too, such as oDesk and Rent-A-Coder. However I really don't think that StackExchange should become oDesk or Rent-A-Coder.

The larger issue:

I don't think it's particularly an issue of ethics, but instead one of how the community should be motivated. I think StackOverflow and friends are successful because they've found a way to motivate the individuals of the community toward the benefit of the community as a whole rather than toward the benefit of other individuals. Offering paid bounties would largely upset this balance.

There's a problem with attempting to motivate people extrinsically who are already intrinsically motivated. What happens is the extrinsic motivator supersedes and replaces the intrinsic motivator, to the point where if the extrinsic motivator is removed intrinsic motivation doesn't kick back in to take its place. This could potentially destroy the StackExchange community, as in an extreme case people would glom onto the "for profit" questions and largely ignore the simpler, but community-valuable, "how do I get helloworld to work in BrainF*ck" questions.

Sure you could argue that the point system is an extrinsic motivator, but if it is, it's a very weak one. Instead I'd say its primary purpose is to automate moderation of the site, and any extrinsic motivation it provides is purely secondary. Although I'd be interested to hear others' opinions on the bounty system and whether or not there's a similar effect to the one I describe above.


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