Here is an idea for the Stack Overflow team. I'm a freelancer and I am always on the lookout for new projects. Currently I use sites like PeoplePerhour.com, Elance.com and other such sites, though they all suck in one way or another. I think the Stack Overflow team could easily do a better version.

Stack Overflow has a site for jobs, but this mostly targets full time work. I think it would be great if there was a Stack Overflow project marketplace to go with it. This would also allow the provision of part-time contacts and fixed-price work.

One of the reasons why these project marketplace sites often end up sucking is the chicken and egg issue. People won't post projects because the site has no developers and the developers won't register because there are no projects. The Stack Overflow team already have one side of that covered. Attracting buyers shouldn't be that hard once the developers are on board.

Is this a good idea? What do people think?

  • My only concern is that there is no mediation process that other sites have in place. SE, in my opinion, does fine as it is. Maybe the careers UI could have a simple checkbox for Freelance Only so contract help can be found. This way, SE stays out of the mediation game and a big change is not required. – IAbstract Nov 17 '10 at 15:47
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    @dboarman The thing with that is that most people looking for freelance work probably won't want to pay the money that Careers requires employers to pay. If a freelance job is only a couple thousand dollar project, adding $500 just to find a person isn't very appealing. – Tyler Carter Nov 17 '10 at 17:39
  • @Chacha102: I agree...I'd prefer to cut out the middle man. I think something as simple as what I suggested keeps SE out of any mediation role, reduces responsibility or liability of responsibility for mediation to an insignificant level. Personally, I wouldn't want to see any part of SE evolve into a freelance mediation service. – IAbstract Nov 17 '10 at 18:34
  • I think people may have misunderstood me a little. I not sugesting a modification to any existing SE site. I was more thinking of a whole new site under the SE brand. In the same way that careers is seperate from the main SE Q&A site. – Martin Brown Nov 18 '10 at 14:52

We have thought about having a "gigs" section on http://careers.stackoverflow.com -- but it would be very tough to regulate, and obviously we wouldn't want to be involved as anything other than the initial matchmaker between "person offering gig" and "person interested in gig".

But as pointed out in the other answers, there are a lot of ways that could go wrong, and very few ways it could go right.

  • But lets not forget that one of the ways it could go right is that you and Joel make a huge wedge of cash. Even if you didn’t want to get involved beyond the initial contact stage (something I'm sure you could outsorce to a legal firm) there are still companies like ApprovedIndex.co.uk that are making £33 ($52 USD) per lead. Still it is just a suggestion and you are obviously entitled to do whatever you want with your company. – Martin Brown Dec 9 '10 at 10:24

I'm intrigued by this idea, but I think you're missing the biggest potential synergy between SO and a freelancer site...

Think about it: what commonly happens after a bid is accepted? The freelancer starts asking questions!

  • How I write order processing system in C Sharp ?
  • What is the best service for sending SMS messages with no caps and free?!
  • Javascripts question ??
  • etc.

Inevitably, these questions are impossibly broad, poorly-asked, and lacking in context. But if SO could automatically link them back to the project that sparked them, many could still be effectively answered - a net win for all involved!

To complete the package, SO could require that the work submitted be held in escrow until payment is received, partnering with TDWTF to provide a safe repository for the completed code.

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    Wearing our cynic hat today, are we? – Aarobot Dec 7 '10 at 23:48
  • I would sincerly hope that anyone that bid on a project would already have some idea how to fulfill the order. It would wory me a lot if people started asking these kind of questions. Also there would need to be some way to stop clients finding out that the contractor didn't know what the hell he was doing. – Martin Brown Dec 8 '10 at 16:43

As @ChaCha102 and I discussed, there are concerns about certain sites that connect freelancers to contract work. In my opinion, it would be disastrous to the Stack Exchange community for any sort of mediation service to grow out of it. Therefore, in an effort to remove any liability or responsibility for mediation, the change must be something that can be something that the freelancer decides on his/her own.

I feel that something as simple as a check box on the freelancer's CV (it is CV right?) display page would suffice. It should be understood that by checking Freelance Work Accepted confers no responsibility to Stack Exchange to assist in collecting payment, etc.

This, in my opinion, would be a minor change in the UI. Employers seeking contract only, or freelance workers would be able to use Freelance Work Accepted as criteria for their search.

I may be over-thinking the scenario, but I err on the side of caution.

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    I'm not so sure what's so disastrous about having SO be the mediator? In fact, that's what I hope will happen. Something like odesk.com (which by the way is very successful); they are the mediator and take a percentage of the money paid. – Thomas Bonini Nov 17 '10 at 18:48
  • Yep, I have looked at oDesk and am familiar with them. Problem is that I can't charge what I think I'm worth if I want to be competitive because my time is worth much, much more than $15/hour. – IAbstract Nov 17 '10 at 18:54
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    Then you probably shouldn't sweat it. Let people that are willing to work for 15 do it and keep your day job. – aaronasterling Nov 17 '10 at 21:33
  • Honestly, I'm not sweating it...now. A couple of years ago I was. My point is that I think it's a great idea to be able to search for freelancers, but I don't think Stack Exchange should put themselves in the middle. – IAbstract Nov 17 '10 at 21:56
  • I think the main point I am trying to make is that the new site should allow freelancers to search for clients and not necessarily allow clients to search for freelancers. – Martin Brown Dec 8 '10 at 16:47
  • So, basically, I would search for clients in need of my services rather than them looking for me..?? – IAbstract Dec 9 '10 at 0:42

I agree, I think there should be some mechanism in place that allows askers to turn their question into small scopes of work.


"Well, thanks for answering that"... "Since you answered it so well, can I pay you even more through my reputation, or actual currency, to do a small amount of work that's related to that question?"

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