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HN Contractors: Add Yourself
222 points by scottru on Apr 13, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 65 comments
Over the last few months, I've seen a lot of HN members talk about being contractors, and why - designing to bootstrap their business, building an iPhone practice, moving to China to work and live, etc.

I'm often on the other side of that transaction, where I need to hire contractors for one or more projects, and I'd like nothing more than to hire from this group of experts, but I don't remember to bookmark every talented and possibly hungry person. I'm sure there are many other people on both sides.

So here's a Google Spreadsheet for adding yourself and your expertise so that folks who need to hire have a quick way to find HN folks: include your contact info [if you want], etc.

Spreadsheet is at https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AlD_6iEb8Ed9dGs3clVJYi0yYVBka181Z0ZKRW9kQ0E&hl=en, I promise to leave it there and hope that nobody's a jerk about it.

(If someone has already done this, by all means let me know or add to this thread - I just want the list, not the credit.)

I bolded the top row if you don't mind...

sans serif font + italics = no go

You're better off doing this with a Google form that feeds to a Google spreadsheet automatically. Then, you can publish the spreadsheet read only and not worry about anyone blanking it or corrupting the data.

Thanks. I thought about that, I just thought we'd get more participation (and more consistency) if people saw what others were saying, and I trusted the group (which seems to have mostly worked).

I am actually thinking of making a web app for this, perhaps along with non-freelance profile/job postings, if anyone's interested. :)

Aren't there already other apps meeting this need? The problem with a "directory" format is that it lacks personal depth. I've never gotten a qualified business lead from a directory (and I'm listed in several thanks to some certifications I've earned int he past). They are always looking at the rate and keywords rather than "Is this person good to work with?"

At the end of the day, personal referrals are the way most people do business. It's inefficient, yes, but so far I've never seen a suitable replacement.

That makes sense. Though I wonder if the problem of freelance match-making is similar to the problem of online dating.

I agree with you, but in the worst case scenario, Google provides a full revision history so it would be easy to recover from something malicious (or accidental).

I love this. So much, in fact, that I made an app for it tonight


Let me know what you think! you should be able to claim your profile using the forgot password link. Email me at rbitar [at] gmail if something doesn't work. I'll get to it in the morning.

Just for fun: quick word cloud visualization of core consulting skills form the spreadsheet http://twitpic.com/1fe1zt

I've actually been building an app for this, though I suck at making CSS word clouds. Worry not, the source is on GitHub.

Here's mine: http://www.cvloud.com/max And here's the source: http://github.com/maxaf/cvloud

What did you make that with?

IBM Word-Cloud generator: http://www.alphaworks.ibm.com/tech/wordcloud

It works quite well, but you will need to tune parameters to get good output. I am using simple script which generate few variants of settings and than hand pick one image.

My guess is: http://wordle.net

Are contracting rates really this low? I would have expected $150-$200/hour range for serious programming skills, which most on this list seem to have. Instead it looks like the number is somewhere between $75-$100.

Maybe a form of selection bias. If you're a talented contractor worth $200/hour you probably already have work and aren't advertising on a google spreadsheet

In my experience most companies that pay 150-300/hr are big companies who get their people through contracting agencies. Which agencies of course take about half of that for themselves. As a lone programmer, unless you are very good at marketing, you find work with smaller shops, or startups, which can't afford that kind of rate. So you end up with roughly the same range ($90-150/hr) in pocket, whether working alone, or through a contract firm.

So the problem is not that the market for programmers is too big, it's the other way around: the market of jobs available at a better rate is too small and larger companies have this market cornered.

My hourly rate expectation was based on a few years working at Accenture and seeing rates for Java programmers. I figured it would be adjusted down for individual developers, but I didn't realize it would be that much.

Well, yeah, of course certain languages and skills are in much higher demand in corporate world, hence pay a lot higher.

But my personal criteria for now is more about whether I will enjoy working somewhere and learn useful things, rather than the amount of money I can make. I could get a dead-boring programming job and make probably 50% more than I do now, but right now I feel like I am learning a lot more, and like people I'm working with a lot more than I would in that situation.

Were the rates for Java programmers that:

- Accenture was hiring to build internal infrastructure for Accenture

- Accenture was hiring as subcontractors for Accenture's own consulting contracts

- worked fulltime for Accenture and were being hired out and billed to Accenture's clients

I didn't realize that rates were that high. I've only been charging like $25/hr for the freelance work I've been doing. Then again, I live in Ohio where the cost of living is pretty low and no one seems to have a lot of money.

Yeah, I moved from Columbus, Ohio to the Bay Area. Ohio is actually very low pay compared to most places. You just don't realize it if you grow up there.

There's a bit of a HN discount built-in, at least for me ($100/hr vs. $125 normally). Reason being I'd hope to get a lot clearer specs from folks here, which cuts out a lot of wasted time.

A) people are scared of asking for more

B) how much you can get isn't just a matter of programming skill. it also has to do with contacts and networking, which many people here are bad at

Personally for me is hard to find work at that rates (I live in Italy). I think I have the skills but I'd me more than happy to work for ~$50/hour part time remotely.

Just out of curiosity, is your $150-200/hr expectation based on empirical data, and for what programming languages? I'm certainly not discounting your statement, just looking for more information about from where that expectation arises.

Based on rates I saw for Java developers while working at Accenture for a few years. I adjusted down, assuming individual contractors wouldn't be able to bill out at the same rate, I just didn't adjust down enough...

Accenture, I imagine, has a lot of overhead. Freelancers, in general, don't. I rent an office for $200 a month and buy a laptop maybe every other year. All my business comes in via referrals. So my costs are pretty negligible. Thus a lower rate.

I'd imagine anyone on this list is in the top 5% of programmers at least but I don't think you'd get work here in Australia at $150-$200.

I am going to go on a hiring spree for all of my ideas. It'll be a knock-down drag-out round robin tournament of start-ups. At the end of each week (month?) we have elimination.

Survivor: Silicon Valley

Premiering tonight on the "Paul Graham Network"

Would be awesome if you had the cash :-)

And if I did?

Awesome. I am on the other side as well, and the next time I need a contractor, I'm going straight to this spreadsheet.

Aside: Best answer to "Why are you doing this" is by cmos: "To support my cat" :)

This one was also funny, although I think accidentally: "Extra money for my new child's college fund."

That was me, and it's not accidental. I just had a new baby and making extra money would be a great way to fund his college :)

Are spreadsheets private? For instance does this data appear in Google results or is it cached indefinitely or anything like that?

This might be useful to add under the "Jobs" link on this site. I know that it is meant for people looking for work, but I feel that it could work just as well in the opposite direction.

BTW, I will clean up some disorganization once the editing slows down.

Wow, wouldn't this be a recruiter's dream? What prevents them from harvesting this and spamming us all?

This is extremely useful just to be able to see rates across different areas and skillsets.

its funny to see how amazingly cool google docs shows how some 30 ppl contribute to this spreadsheet at this moment ))

Now 37. A bit twitchy ... filled some info, but will check back tomorrow when it's calmer.

For anybody who's tracking, we're up to 140+ folks, and the spreadsheet has moved into high-traffic mode. Thanks all - this will be great and I'm happy for it to be linked from a more permanent location.

Someone just blanked the whole table, is there a way to make this add-only? I vaguely recall being able to set up a form with Google docs. Even better: some way of undoing the vandalism?

Yes you can easily share the sheet as a write-only form and for this purpose it seems like a perfect solution.

Try reloading. I also thought that (Firefox 3.5).

Looks like someone restored it.

Right, thanks to the anonymous person who fixed it. I'm trying to keep an eye on it.

Out of curiosity, was it really wiped and restored ? I thought the browser just might have tripped and lost track, being machine-gunned with (correct?) updates, thus showing a mostly blank sheet ...

It was wiped as I was almost finished entering my data. It was restored back to the point where I was about halfway done. I did try in multiple browsers before it was restored.

Anyone doing this in order to find a co-founder/project to join?


I love the way HN provides free load testing for Google Docs! Although usually we trigger the low bandwidth version. :-(

We did. :)

Looks like this thing is getting pretty full! If you hit the "Insert > Add Row" at the end you can enter your info.

This is absolutely fantastic! Exactly what I wanted at the right time.

I don't have much bandwidth to work on the UI & design side of XP-Dev.com as I'm focusing more on functionality and other products, and in bad need of a web designer http://bit.ly/9FafRq

I have to say, watching everyone add data in real time is pretty cool...

This is a great idea. Let's see if we can get those other areas filled up as well under marketing and design. Surely there are more?

This is why I love HN

Lots of low rates ...


I doubt that very much. I would say you're going to get far more than you pay for from any of these.

That deleted comment was mine, the text was: "You get what you pay for ;)"

I admire your attitude, nopassrecover. And you're right, even as contractors we can shape the outcome of our projects. Software development seems linked with cynicism (see: http://thedailywtf.com and others) but it's better to be proactive and help guide projects to completion.

is anyone making a google app for this? hncontractors app id is not available

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