Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Freelancer.com has ruined my life (trustpilot.com)
845 points by hohaa 4 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 344 comments

Stay away from Freelancer.com

They reversed two milestone payments i had received, becasue they had to suspend the buyer's account due to some issues with the buyer's payment method. Note that this is after completing the project fully and leaving feedback for each other.

I left the money on my Freelancer account, becasue they are/were having issues with Skrill withdrawals. It was there for about a month and they suddenly reversed both payments at the end of the last month.

They should validate/verify payments before accepting/processing them, not after a month after completing a project.

Basically, i just did a job for free. no one's going to pay for my time. they have 0 seller protection.

BTW, buyer had this[0] green icon next to his profile. Evidently, it doesn't work as you might expect.


Their web application isn't the canonical source of whether they owe you money or not, a court decides that. I don't know in which jurisdiction Freelancer are based, but if there is a low cost small claims procedure, sounds like that would be worth you time.

In the UK in a variety of circumstances you can petition a court to issue a wind up ("liquidation") order for a company if it refuses to service its debt to you.

Norwegian bankruptcy law also used to (probably still is, but I haven't worked in Norway for nearly 20 years) have a similar system where employees had that kind of protection at no cost for non-payment of wages.

All you need to do is to file and the company would need to show up in bankruptcy court and explain why they should be put under administration (and really the only valid reasons would be that they don't owe wages (any more)).

Very effective at ensuring companies protect wage payments - I repeatedly had it drilled into me from accountants when on the other side of the table how vital it was to ensure salaries payments went ahead no matter what other difficulties (the priority order was roughly taxes that it'd be an offense not to ring-fence, electricity/phone/internet because they could just shut down and wipe you out, and salaries - everything else was lower priority because it could be fought or negotiated over).

If you'd miss salary payments you had no recourse other than to beg and/or borrow or come to an understanding with employees.

The one thing giving you some flexibility was a government insurance pool for salary payments that'd cover up to 6 months, so if you treated people nice they'd be willing to give you some grace knowing their salaries would eventually get paid (though claiming back takes time).

It's a very useful way of leveling power in cases where managers might otherwise see employees as the easiest to push around.

the op isn't an "employee" in this case probably not even a "worker"

The point was not that it's exactly the same - I was responding to the comment above, not to the article.

But even so in many countries there is the concept of "deemed employment" that may or may not give rise to employment rights. Basically: if it quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, it may very well legally be a duck.

They presumably still have a contract where he does work for compensation.

I found their EULA, and it has some crazy stuff in it. For instance, they can terminate your account becase:

... 8) to manage any risk of loss to us, a User, or any other person; or

9) for other reasons.

And if they terminate the account they can keep all the money they owe you. Also, it claims contractor aren’t their employees. Instead they are “unsecured creditors”.

There’s also a bunch of stuff about how they can pass chargebacks through to sellers, and if you already withdrew the money, you have to deposit it back into your account.

It looks like the business model is to force skilled laborers to work under pseudonyms so that Freelancer has complete ownership of the contractor’s reputation and professional credentials. I’m shocked that this is a thing!

The Eula claims on one hand that they’re not a party to the contracts, but they go to great lengths to make sure the contractor and the employee don’t share their real world identities with each other (they even audit the contents of the files produced as part of the job, eavesdrop on audio/video/text chat/emails/etc).

I think this forces them to become a payment intermediary, which means they do have to deal with lots of thorny issues.

Welcome to the sharing economy, I guess.

Link: https://www.freelancer.com/info/plainterms.html

IANAL, but as far as I understand EULA don't have the last say on things like this. The courts decide if the terms are reasonable.

Apparently, there is no repercussion for putting non-enforcable conditions in an EULA, so companies are encouraged to throw as much self-serving protection language in there as possible in the off chance that it will stick.

I believe that is correct (I am also not a lawyer).

They are international, so I wonder if they can venue shop to some country where this is enforceable and first world courts don’t have much influence.

Freelancer is publicly listed on the Australian stock exhchange and they have a head office there. Hopefully the public attention this story is getting will push them to change and seek resolution with this person. But the Australian legal system would also be an option if the contract has been breached.

A friend of a friend got such an order for Tesco, our biggest supermarket chain, a few years ago. Needless to say, their invoice was paid very soon after that.

Can you share more? Sounds interesting, especially as I'm reading your comment inside a Tesco store.

In big companies there are often things like this, if you have 5K people working in finance or procurement and 1 in 100.. and you run it for 10 years... well you can see where this goes with the tail cases. Things like the person handling the case has a break down, or someone didn't put a transaction lock in the workflow, or two accounts got set up because there was a delay and someone helpfully restarted the set up process.

Not much, i'm afraid - i can't even remember who it was, it was a tale told in a pub, i think. They'd done some work for Tesco, sent an invoice, Tesco messed them around trying not to pay it, so they brought a case in court, Tesco didn't bother sending anyone to contest it, and this person got the winding-up order. When that is issued, official letters go to the directors, and apparently that got their attention.

I've twice been involved in sending winding-up orders, or at least sending a letter before action to say that a winding-up order comes next. They're an effective and cheap tool in the U.K. to shake dishonest companies looking to avoid/delay paying their bills.

I would love to know more details as well. I have a UK based client that has gone silent with significant unpaid invoices. Can you share details of how to file such an action?

Thanks for the reply.

They have a registered office located in Australia.

It was a relatively easy job (took me about an hour and a half) and I only charge $75. So, not sure if it'll be worth the hassle.

It may not be worth the hassle directly, but please consider the impact on the economy and society overall in your decision. Jerks like that do things like that because they get away with it.

From my experience: First, set a date by email when you expect payment, if that doesn't happen, send registered mail to their office demanding in no unclear terms that they pay what they owe you plus the postage for the registered mail. Payment was prompt.

Oh, and don't do business with them.

Thanks for the reply. I might give this a try.

You should sue them

They owe you money, they didn’t pay. A lawyer would love this case

Sorry to hear you worked for free; noone likes that. I feel for you and had much more problems with freelancer than with upwork.

Anyways, depending of how much money they kept from you, you might want to seek a lawyer help or see if Australian Division of preventing Cyber Fraud will be willing to look into it. Freelancer is trading on the Australian Securities and is not some pops&moms Nigerian LTD corp.

Good luck to you.

I think Upwork is a little more protective in that aspect. You can clearly see from the beginning whether the client has a verified payment method.

I didn't find Upwork's contract without signing up, but before Elance merged with oDesk to become Upwork they had pretty onerous terms in their services agreement⁰:

9.Indemnification Contractor will defend, indemnify, and hold harmless Client against any damage, cost, loss or expense arising from a claim, suit or proceeding brought against Client (i) alleging that any Work Product infringes upon any Intellectual Property Rights, (ii) alleging that any Work Product misappropriates any trade secrets, of any third party, or (iii) arising from Contractor's breach of the terms of this Agreement.

I read that to mean that if a client I did work for is sued for IP infringement, even if no IP infringement occurs, I need to pay for the client's defense out of my own pocket.

⓪ - https://www.elance.com/p/legal/independent-contractor-servic...

Not a lawyer, but I think you're correct. I wouldn't sign this.

(iii) puts the burden on the client to prove that you breached the contract. So, that clause is reasonable even if it is burdensome.

For, (i) and (ii) the word "alleging" is problematic for me. Anyone can sue you alleging anything. Yes, you can recover court costs and lawyer fees if you win, but most patent trolls try to out-expense you and figure you'll settle at some point.

Either way, always do work and sign contracts as a legal entity, not an individual. Much better to lose your company than lose your house.

More detail: https://www.shouldisign.com/what-is-indemnification

Thanks for this domain, very helpful.

UpWork is completely biased towards their work force. They treat freelancers like shit and the client is always right. The rating system makes it impossible to have any benefit from conflict resolution.

Then again some of the people hiring there are really professional.

I was scammed by some guy who gave me a 1 star for overworking me and exploiting me, in spite of showing evidence that his work was completed (and much more) his rating was not even exempted from my total.

Suffice to say it makes it hard to work. Luckily it was my 6th job and I had other 5 stars.....

So basically they are paypal and ebay combined in business model and should have equally crappy reputations?

And Amazon. And every other company that is dependent on the faith people put in their arbitrary ratings. I think we are near critical mass of people realizing that online reviews are bullshit.

Same with Freelancer.com, buyer had this[0] green icon next to his profile. Evidently, it doesn't work as you might expect.


Probably used fake credit card numbers or something. That's why these freelancing sites should always use cryptocurrency where the transaction can never be reversed.

Ismod, sorry to hear of your experience - but I have to say that your story is not the first I have heard.

Reading this thread and many others like it over the last years I have experienced the rise and decline of the marketplace platforms but I think I have the answer.

First I'll give you some background: I have been working with remote developers since before 2003 paying our first Russian developer using Western Union transfers via the post office. We have used and (mostly) enjoyed at different times freelancer sites like rent-a-coder, odesk, elance, over the years. Upwork upset a lot of people early last year when they killed off our beloved Elance and raised their fees, then started charging hirers as well. At this time I began to question what I was actually using these platforms for? I had over 20 developers all around the world, although I had originally sourced some developers on elance, I sourced most myself from AngelList jobs, LinkedIn, Facebook groups and other channels. I had been onboarding them on Upwork (and copping the increased rate!) so I could have all the jobs in one place and to simply pay them automatically. I liked the tracking features: as although I had huge chunks of money coming out my account each week, it gave peace of mind as at least my developers knew I could dispute charges if they spent too many hours on Facebook ;) Apart from fees I found the attempts to keep users on the platform annoying and childish. I just wanted to work with my devs on Skype, Slack, email not in their broken site (which was often down at in opportune times).

This got me thinking that the whole process around marketplaces was overdue for disruption. It served us well; however, as many of you pointed out you shouldn’t rely solely on these platforms.

So if you found a job yourself, you don’t need the marketplaces, plus you should be able to create the job yourself instead of waiting for your client.

And it came to me. Instead of marketplaces, we need a direct peer-to-peer platform to simply create a smart contact, with payment and send to the other party. Get all the security of a marketplace: i.e. escrow, tracking, proof of work but without the marketplace fees. This thread is timely as it explains the pain we are solving at http://payninja.co. We are in beta and rolling out new features over the coming weeks: cryptocurrency payments mean you will be able to pay or be paid anywhere in the world. Talking to developers in all counties we are getting excellent feedback, we are seeing that the unbundling of marketplaces back to realworld interactions is the way forward.

Just to clarify, in relation to your particular case, as we are not a marketplace the sources of trust are real, meaning: who referred the client to you, their LinkedIn profile or social network/community where you met them (as opposed to a subjective rating). You would be protected by secured funds in escrow managed for auto release by smart contract. The client would not be hidden behind an anonymous pseudonym that can vanish from the platform without warning and if they did vanish from the internet!.. the funds would be in your account. I hope this gives hope to anyone frustrated with the current state of the freelancing landscape.

this to mefeels like an unpaid advertisement from freelance.com

reason being that the report feels bogus, and is posted were lots of skilled labor can be found

This is a legitimate claim. You might wanna take a look at this[0]. I've blocked out the project title and the buyer's name, becasue i don't want my real name associate with my HN handle.

Dark Red: Buyer's Name

Turquoise: Project Title



Not sure how you got the "unpaid advertisement" idea from my original comment. That is a complete opposite of an advertisement. However, it advertises the fact that you can get work done for free. Maybe that's what you are trying to say :)

Well, first let me say that my experience as someone who has hired on freelancer has been very good. I have found some excellent developers there. But I'll also point out that (1) I spec my projects pretty carefully, almost to the point of 'hell I might as well build it myself'; and (2) I pay. And when the project is harder than I originally thought, I don't say "tough shit you signed a contract dumbass" but rather I pay more. I treat the contractors more or less as contract employees, and myself as a project manager.

Second, as others here have pointed out, there is a whole lotta "I'll just skip the details here" in this story.

But what strikes me most is that here is a guy who is raising a voice in the hacker internet community about a company with the intent of either warning us of a dangerous situation or hoping to get some community pressure on the site to get his money out of them, or perhaps both. I have no problem with either of those things, and actually appreciate the first.

What I do have a problem with is how little effort (apparently) went into the piece. It's like a stream-of-consciousness ramble about the bad things happening to him, including the piece about the issue leading him into depression. It's just not....professional. It makes my spidey sense tingle. I wish him the best but I'm a bit skeptical that we've got a balanced view here, and half of me is thinking that if this is how he approaches things then the complainants may have a point.

As I read through the comments I was composing in my head almost the identical response as yours. Thanks for saving me the time. My spidey sense started to tingle around "I'll spare you the details", then I was curious as to the other side of the story when I read "I must have stepped on a few toes". But once I got to the father dying and the bad car accident that caused all savings to be depleted by medical bills I suddenly felt like I was reading some phishing email scam, so I pretty much stopped there. I didn't get to anything regarding depression and I'm happy I didn't.

I agree, it's good to have experiences out there so that people can evaluate - it's just that this really poor execution.

Yep, he "will spare you the details" of the actual issue, and instead rants about his feelings, his irrelevant personal problems and life events. Then, when he attempts to explain what they said, he couches it with 'They didn't use these words, but it was the gest(??) of it". Lots of red flags.

He meant “gist”.

After this review you are going to have a tougher time finding skilled resources on freelancer.com

The protection afforded to you as the buyer does not extend to the seller. There are better places like upwork for additional protection for developers.

But yes he does seem a little depressed but that says more about the top 5% earners on a site like this. This is what it looks like after 5 years on freelancer.com

I've used upwork too and had no problems there (it used to be called something else- elance maybe?). I use the sites for more than coding. I also get copywriters there.

yes, it seems entirely likely that freelancer.com is awful and online marketplaces withholding payments for nebulous reasons is a real problem, but i have a hard time trusting this review. Specifically, this:

"The first time I asked for the reason I was told that there's no reason and that I should keep working, then I was told that because a client complained, and in another occasion, i was told something else that I can't quite remember"

Freelancer.com is "ruining your life", but when they explain their reasoning to you, you "can't remember". I call bullshit. In the scenario the author of this review is trying to paint, you don't just forget the rationale they give you.

As someone who has been bounced around customer support before I can testify that I have forgotten reasons they've given me for why they weren't able to help me.

when they don't want to refund me $50, sure. But if they're holding $3600, i think i could probably pay attention to what they're telling me.

I got Shingles because of stress caused by some arbitrary blockage of payments from one of my service providers. I'd say remembering bullshit excuses they gave me was quite difficult.

In the future when you find yourself in this situation, start a paper-trail immediately. Write down the results of communications; keep a folder; etc. If it gets truly ugly and you have been calmly but deliberately and thoroughly taking notes it can be quite intimidating. Think: Mueller investigation of Trump. With all the shit they were throwing at him, he just quietly went about his work in a very methodical, detailed way.

I tried Freelancer.com when I was starting out, I was really happy when I got my first gig, I did a good job, the client was pleased, I got paid an equivalent of £1 an hour but accepted that as my foot in the door... I tried to keep going down this route but quickly realised that this kind of competitive race to the bottom in terms of price is not just the the entry level experience, it's just generally expected.

This guy is in the top 0.5% and while i'm sure he's earning much more than I did on freelancer, I expect he would be far better off on his own or under full employment. Clients go to freelancer to get cheap labour, for workers I think that it's a great place for someone to go to dip their toes in the water for one of the types of work they advertise, but it's not a place to make a living.

Same here at vWorker. Did great work, ranked in the 100s, but it was not sustainable.

To top it off I got a job to implement a forex trading algorithm. He had a system to buy/sell on signals.

But when it came down to it, it didn't trade profitably. He wouldn't believe the code worked, and I couldn't convince him his scheme was flawed because it worked when he did it manually - and I've watched his youtube videos of him trading live. Obviously his scheme on paper didn't capture his feel for trading visually. (And I know now it is very challenging to make it work at all).

Went to arbitration and they decided I'd get 50% of the fee.

Sounds like the time I decided to try one of these sites and ended up with a client who wanted software written to pick winning lottery numbers based on some system he'd devised to analyze past winning lottery numbers. Of course such a thing will never work in a fair lottery.

Guy refused to pay the $10 price after the "work" was done. Validated my suspicions that those types of site are a total waste of time even if he had paid the fee.

Genuinely curious: why would you accept a job to do the impossible? Or perhaps I'm misunderstanding and his refusal to pay was totally separate from the fact his whole idea was flawed?

I'm glossing over the details. The actual description of the software the guy wanted written was very straight forward. That said something like, Python program that imports the historical pick-4 results from the North Carolina Lottery and allowed the user to look-up the last date those numbers were picked regardless of order. The job had a fixed price of $10.

This was a long time ago but I think my thought process was that doing the hourly rate jobs at $2.00 per hour would never be viable so I was trying to find fixed price jobs that were miss priced in the sense that I knew I could perhaps do them in 30 minutes but the purchaser assumed it would be several hours of work. This project fit the bill. The job description didn't actually explain that the guy wanted to use the software as part of his nutty system to game the lottery. That only came out later after the work was done.

That makes much more sense. Thanks for satisfying my curiosity.

Refusal to pay is directly related to the lottery "system". Buyer was an idiot.

One reason I never hire from freelancer sites. Every coder has been burned by some idiot and it affects my purchase ability.

Where do you go to hire freelancers then?

Local network, same advice others give. Don't need to pick one from 10k ransoms, pick 1 from 5 in extended network.

I dealt with a pair of founders that prided on having grown their company without needing funding.

Turned out they deliberately forced every freelancer and supplier into arbitration. Complained about the quality and just withheld payments. It always ended up in settling, which meant that in the end they paid less.

Of course they had to find new ones every time but hey, the market is huge.

Ended up settling too.

That's why I'm friends with lawyers. It is like using a nuclear weapon to kill mosquito -- mosquito dies.

The more they haggle the more unlikely it is for them to pay

$10 price?? Why did you even start the work?

Next time just tell the person "No problem. Keep the money. I will publish the software for free online since you believe it does not work, let's see what others think."

Am I the only one seeing the irony in this being posted on Trustpilot, a website letting contractors and other businesses pay hundreds of dollars not to destroy their reputation?

lol, I did not see that... does that mean the author would potentially get a cut of that? just thinking he sounds pretty desperate for cash.

Some of it may also depend on where you live. A pay rate people in Western countries would scoff at may be a perfectly comfortable living wage in less fortunate countries.

There's probably some dip in the quality of products you get, but sometimes clients view shoddy and affordable as good enough... If they are even aware of the difference.

Yes I totally get that, It's actually something I considered if I ever had an extended stay in a part of some part of south Asia or something... You would get to live in an interesting part of the world, you get paid crap, but relative to the local value of goods it would be fine.

I also get the "shoddy is good enough" thing, and while I hate to write junk code, I know it has it's places such as proof of concepts... that in fact is exactly the kind of work I did on freelancer.

I agree with the race to the bottom part.

Never.. ever.. catch yourself in a race to the bottom.

Like most marketplaces, they are only interested in making themselves profitable. Always remember that.

Working at freelancer.com or similar sites is saying:

"I should spend a large portion of my life to become an expert in my craft, and then I should agree to have my privacy stripped away from me while I race to the bottom and undercut my competition because I will actively place myself into situations where I have the highest competition to ensure I receive the lowest rates. Lastly, I will bust my butt and bend the world to satisfy clients who take advantage of me."

By the way, if anyone is interested in making $ on their own as a freelancer I wrote a mini-guide on how to get your first paying client by tomorrow at https://nickjanetakis.com/blog/how-to-start-a-successful-fre....

So after you take down the number on that ice cream truck you saw driving by, and get back home from your walk and decide to call them, what do you say? Just, "hi! Do you need any software developed"?

I've never tried, but it's a little hard for me to imagine ever getting a client this way.

I wouldn't go after the ice cream man, but here's a couple of people I would (and have) contacted: locksmiths, plumbers, lawn maintenance teams, roofing companies, solar panel companies and the list goes on and on.

Then I would either talk to a worker directly if it looks like a decent opportunity. I'm not going to wave down a guy off the roof, but if he happens to be fiddling with something near his van and I naturally walk past, then sure.

If not, then I just call the number they have later. I'm not pitching them right away with "do you need any software developed?". All I do is ask them about their business. My goal here is to get a feel for how they are doing financially without directly asking.

Then I'll guide the call into casually offering them services that could help them grow. Sometimes it's a new website or setting up a landing page. There's honestly a TON of things that almost every business could benefit from and you can comfortably charge $2,000 to $20,000 for these things with monthly retainers on top. That's not even counting custom software gigs that come later.

Pretty much this. Lot's of people dont believe this approach works and miss out.

Well you should try it next time because that's how I got one of my first clients on my own. A local food truck showed up to my uni quite often and I noticed their website wasn't great, so one day I walked up to them and asked if they were looking for a redesign. They eagerly said yes and I met with the whole family (it was a family business) 3 days later. It was a really unfulfilling contract but it illustrated to me how effective direct sales tactics can actually be.

Yeah, this is the type of stuff I'm talking about.

But you can take these things so much further if you branch away from "just development skills" too.

I never talked to a food truck person yet but I bet there's lots of ways you could have turned that unfulfilling contract into something more interesting.

No business owner really cares about a site redesign. They just care about "how do I get more customers?". If you shift your focus from website themes, to delivering business value then suddenly a $1,000 wordpress site turns into a $1,000/monthly retainer because you're creating funnels and pipelines to drive business to his truck.

Next thing you know, he's paying you $25,000 for some crazy custom food truck software that helps automate his business which he has no problem paying because he trusts you and everything you've done for him in the past was amazing.

Fast forward 2 years from now and you have a food truck SAAS that 12,000 other food truck owners are paying $79/month for. Your whole life is changed from 1 conversation and you get to write code (it just took a little exploring to get to that point).

I get what you're saying, but it's also clear that you haven't ever talked to a food truck person.

They're not paying you $1000 for a wordpress site, and they're never paying $1000 on retainer. The rest is also a total fantasy.

This is a misleading example because restaurants and food already operate on razor-thin margins; restaurant software is legendarily hard to break into and make money in.

Source: tried to start a "make websites for food trucks" business years and years ago, talked to hundreds of food truck owners, and learned that they're largely running food trucks because they like the hours, the freedom, the scale of the business. They can make decent cash without maintaining a space or even necessarily operating outside lunchtime. They don't really need to drive more business, and won't really anyway--their fortunes are tied to geography and the economy overall.

If you have an example from your own life, please use that instead of a fictitious one that is misleading and kinda wrong.

I hope it's clear I haven't talked to a food truck person because I lead off my reply literally saying I haven't heh. I used that as an example because the parent comment was talking about a food truck site he made for someone.

I can't force you into believing anything and that's fine but I don't think I need to defend myself here.

I have no agenda. I'm only bothering to share this stuff (along with the 100+ other posts on my blog) because I don't want to see other software developers go through the same mistakes I encountered along the way when freelancing for the last 20 years. I've been burned by marketplaces in the past.

Btw, what I described works (and has worked for me personally) with any of the niches I listed in my original comment and many more. No, I haven't created a super successful SAAS business from any of them but my idea wall has a dozen that could be made and would likely have some degree of success.

The problem is, I'd rather spend my limited time on creating software developer courses and building that up because unless you're passionate about what you do, you're very likely going to go no where in the long term and I'm not passionate about making SAAS apps related to industries I'm not personally involved with on a daily basis.

OK, but you're basically saying, "my techniques work, except the example I'm presenting is entirely fictitious" -- and I know that it is a totally nonsensical example that simply has nothing to do with reality.

My point is that, especially if you're offering courses or trying to teach people, stick to what you know about from experience, not what you imagine might work based on an extrapolation from first principles.

That thinking, that it works in theory and that's enough to sell, is dangerous, because it lets people go a long way down the wrong path, just trying to think things through.

OR, if that's not your intent, don't make up fake examples that are obvious nonsense to anyone who's tried it.

It sounds like your mind is made up.

Continue working on freelancer.com and I'll continue helping businesses grow while living my dream as a freelancer.

For reference I have been doing what I wrote for 2 decades and it certainly works. Good luck!

I think Frondo is saying you should just change your example niche from Food trucks to something like barber shops that are small businesses with the same problems but usually directly benefit more from software and internet presence. A website with booking calendar is a clearer benefit than "just" web presence.

That did sound weird to me too on the food truck side. Most of them seem to go from place to place almost on a whim, and the customers go to them because they're pretty good and right there. I don't think anything on the internet is ultimately going to do that much for them. Their customers either already see them because they see the truck, or they aren't going to bother travelling halfway across the city for it. I like food trucks all right, but I don't think anybody likes any particular food truck so much that they'd travel for 20 minutes to find a particular one.

Programmers are smart systems thinkers, or they can be.

And they (we) have a tendency to think, "here is a system that I have derived from first principles, and now I can apply it" ... which is, frustratingly, not how the world typically works.

No plan survives contact with the customer, but the kind of confidence that guy writes with can be dangerous because it can lead people down a long wrong path.

Frondo is 100% correct. No food truck is spending $1000 on a website to outsider and no food truck is spending $1000 a month on a retainer and no food truck is spending $25k/mo on a tracking software.

Watch the Great Food Truck race. Those are the margin. Those are the $$ amounts. It is hand to mouth.

The term is 'cold calling' and it's a pretty standard thing for most sales people to do. It sucks and it takes a lot of effort but it does pay off sometimes.

The tricky part for freelancers doing this is that most developers don't have that sales type mentality. It has worked for me in the past but it's definitely something I've recognized at not being good at

Thanks for the guide!


>As long as you have the technical skills to do the job, you can have your first client tomorrow. Heck, you don’t even need the technical skills, but that’s a story for another day.

I'm curious, did you ever write that story?

No problem.

I have not written that story but it's kind of hidden in the original article.

The short version is to broaden your network and find dependable people who you can really trust.

At the end of the day someone needs to do the work and have technical skills. Basically you can outsource that to people in your network.

For example I'm not an illustrator guru or especially good at hardcore graphic design but I know enough to be dangerous. I typically have a friend in my network make logos for me and I pay him.

My direct client doesn't know this, because it's an unimportant implementation detail. All he knows is he gets a badass logo in the end and it comes part of a package I presented to him.

You can do this for almost anything. I like meetups for this because it's the fastest way to determine if someone is legit or not. I only want to surround myself with highly dependable people who I trust.

Ultimately, underlying all this, is a broken financial setup. At least I suspect so.

Transaction fees, liability, and regulatory-ish obligations are very high. The last one has been getting worse as "anti money laundering" standards are being beefed up to make financing terrorism & tax evasion (also money laundering to an extent) more difficult. It all results in weird rules and policies followed without a good understanding of why they exist. It's even hard to tell who's policy they, regulators/legislature or the companies themselves.

The whole thing has choke points (eg CC transactions) controlled by tiny oligopolies.

Anyone handling money-in-money-out from lots of parties ends up bureaucratic and skittish. Fraud, chargebacks and such are generally a big problem. On top of that there is always an incentive to screw around. For example, the average number of days between payment and withdrawal multiplied by daily transactions is a sum of money sitting permanently in freelancer's vaults. That spread also reduces all sorts of chargeback and fraud risks.

Anyway, all this boils down to a reality where no one but financial institutions can do a decent job of handling other people's money. Freelancer is handling this guy's money. His "salary" goes into a freelancer account. We've seen this problem a lot in startupland. Paypal, even though they are financial institutions. Ironically, the bitcoin exchange world and the MtGox thing. The online poker crisis of 2006...

It's a problem.

There’s a suspicious amount of “I’ll just leave those details out” in this article. That aside, this just goes to show why it’s important to work toward controlling your own destiny. That seems to be a theme here at HN, and for good reason. Your services will likely always be resold to someone, regardless of how high up the chain you are. However, the less layers above you there are, the lower your risk in ending up in a situation such as this one.

The severity of this persons claims are why arbitration was invented. If he's right, complaining on the internet isn't enough of a remedy. And if he's wrong, there ought to be some attempt to hear the other side

How can trust that the arbitrator is neutral when they're hired by freelancer.com?

I once had a disagreement with Freelancer over a few hundred dollars. I was a buyer, rather than a seller, the job didn't get done, and I was trying to withdraw the funds I put in. So, although in the US, I filed a small claims case in New South Wales. This can be done entirely on line. It's possible to request court hearings by telephone. So you can do a small claims case remotely.

Within 8 hours after filing the case and sending the documents to Freelancer, I had been paid by wire transfer. I then withdrew the case.

The disturbing implication here is that Freelancer has little incentive not to push any given debtor to a legal process, given that this escapade cost them but a little personnel time to respond.

Good job!

People here are blaming this guy for not thinking Freelancer.com will take care of him like he is an employee. I think the platform, freelancer.com, is trying to play both sides of the issue.

Their advertising, marketing and brand are "we are here to help you!" and to take away the potential headaches and challenges that freelancers without the platform have.

Yet, really, they are not there to mitigate the risk they claim. They don't give a shit about you or your income. They only want people to use the platform.

It's a power imbalance. The company has thousands and thousands of people using their service, so one person is such a small % of their business, they don't give a shit.

For small businesses, in a small town or community, your reputation is what your business is, so you will work really hard to ensure it is good.

Large companies with a huge web presence and the resources to protect it, don't care about you. If you post a bad review, they will find a way to get 100 people to post positive ones.

It's largely about resources, the large company has WAY more than you as an individual.

They only care about their competition.

It's sad, but that's the state of our system, from health care companies to insurance companies to telecoms to banks, you are at the mercy of these large corporations as a customer.

Unless you have a personal networth large enough to fix these problems, it's a basically insolvable problem.

I recently had a disagreement with my car insurance company about an accident. They ruled against me, which I disagreed with. My only recourse would be to hire a lawyer and take them to court. They knew it would be WAY more effort than it was worth for me.

My only option was to switch companies, which I did, but it doesn't really matter since the new company could do the same to me just as easily.

This is exactly right, couldn’t agree more on every point. We live in a corporate world with companies large enough to not really give a shit about any one individual. It is only when we organize that they start paying attention.

I had a terrible experience of Hertz defrauding me with zero recourse. I searched on the issue and found that it had been rampant in the past and probably day to day. Hertz simply settled every time for some measly amount in the millions. To some large corporations going this route is cheaper than doing the right thing to begin with. Yet we have a government that oks mergers left and right. A win for consumers my ass.

Let’s face it, when it comes to options we are truly fucked.

Ever since Elance merged with ODesk to make Upwork getting online work has dried up, and so I have to rely on my personal network.

With Elance you'd get leads for jobs, and take them offsite. Its not that I wouldn't want to use the ecosystem provided its just that it suck and took too much.

Upwork takes more, and really locks you in. I refused to scan my license to become authorized. Even if I used the platform, taxes and their fees makes and the chances of them hanging payments makes it a death trap.

I would love to build a platform that actually is useful, though I think with these kinds of websites it's a hard market to penetrate because they're already on X platform.

I just want to remote from a small town and bank money, but I'm forced to live near large cities because companies that pay well want you in office.

The only way not to be poor is to be a two-person income of 100K and my gf never going to make that kind of money.

So my choice is be poor in a small town or be poor in large town.

There are remote jobs for 90k, its just they are far and few and interview processes can be very involved with lots of studying.

Toptal and Crossover might be an option. But I have no first hand experience with them to recommend.

toptal's screening process wants you to write a sample application. in my case the reviewer didn't actually want to look at it, and i was summarily failed. i feel pretty cheated.

Good to hear I'm not the only one who feels that leads from online marketplaces has dried up :/

I was a member of rentacoder, which was eventually acquired by freelancer.com. My account there dates back to 2002.

I haven't been active there in a couple of years. The signal to noise ratio makes the website useless. Not enough quality projects and not enough projects with realistic budgets.

But the problem with fraud is beyond serious. I am very careful with who I do business with, and screen customers as much as possible, but their platform really makes it easy for fraudsters to screw you over. I got a couple of issues there over the years. They both were very small amounts, like $200 or so. In one occasion the customer just reversed the payment, stole my code and freelancer.com did absolutely nothing to stop him. In another incident, the customer did not release the payment after completion of the project and I had to settle to accept only his initial deposit as payment, which was like 20% of the agreed price.

The company is also very fee hungry. There are hidden fees everywhere for everything you do in that website. The website itself is also terrible. Customer support is the worst I've ever dealt with.

There are much better ways to find customers than these kind of websites. On the other hand, if you are looking for developers there are plenty of good ones there, just avoid all the Asian body shops and your chances of successfully finding someone are actually not that bad.

Tried this for 2 small gigs. Terrible experience.

There definitely is something strangely odd about this site. They act as a currency exchange, pilfering huge amounts of money by converting slightly lesser than actual forex value. They apparently converted currency 9 times for 2 small gigs. And I just stopped using this site. They deserve this backlash. From what I can gather the developer is aghast with difficulties and is emotionally distraught to provide a compelling narrative. But the fact remains that sites like these, though they call themselves for freelancers, is purely hogwash about its business and is more than happy to shoot itself in the foot. The ideology of acting like a half-decent marketplace (at least what they purport to be) is somehow lost out on these guys. Shame.

Though the author might be right, as an outsider I have a hard time believing his words tell the only thruth. When you start the blame game like this you better include some actual conversations instead of telling the reader you did them a favor and rephrased them in your own words (state of mind!) for them. Anyone can write a piece like this. An honest victim or the neighbour's 13 yo spoiled script kiddo.

So word of advice. If you want to have true impact rewrite your piece to include conversations and other relevant discussion material that led to this exclamation of frustration; because you might be totally right.

It seems you have a good reasons to sue. You got perfect reviews. It shows your dedication to providing great customer service. Maybe you got carried away and said some things to the agent however the lockdown is unacceptable. She doesn't have the right to make these decisions. You should speak with senior management before to get your money out.

Suing probably won't help. The freelancer desperately needs money now. Suing requires you to spend money now in hopes of getting money down the road. Since Freelancer.com is based in Australia and the person they screwed probably isn't, suing would require sending spending a lot of money they don't have on an Australian lawyer, probably well more than the $3600 that's at stake. And if Freelancer.com is malicious or doesn't want to lose in public, they could drag this out a long time.

See this comment by someone who remotely sued Freelancer.com in small claims court with successful results:


Nice! That's impressive of Australia. In SF, I'm pretty sure that physical presence is required for small claims.

More than reason to, if they are holding money with no reason they would already received my Letter Before Action. It depends on what jurisdiction you are in of course

I always thought of freelancing websites like freelancer.com as being platforms to meet clients with the goal of removing them from the platform and establishing long term relationships. Basically, meeting clients and then quickly getting them to use a service where you and them work and manage payments directly.

There's no way I could consider freelancer.com to be a worthwhile long term investment, the fees they take are preposterous to say the least.

The smart thing to do although that’s breaking TOS.

Only for the currently active project, nothing stops you to not use their service for the next project with the same client.

It makes me wonder if there is space in the market for a freelancing website that has minimum rates and does some more vetting, or referencing as we might call it in the real world.

Ditch the credit card nonsense and make people pay by bank transfer, like real agencies would. It sounds like a product I would use. I have a need for Freelancer style services, but I don't need to have to vet people and read reviews, thats what agencies are for. I want the service that I get from my local contractor agency, but availability for small projects rather than long contracts.

There is one: https://www.toptal.com

Does anyone have experience of working with them as a contractor?

I've done a couple of contracts through them. For the most part it's beem a good experience.

They try to vet the clients as well as the coders / talent, but it's not perfect process so sometimes a dud falls through the cracks. They do have solid procedures for both the client and freelancer to follow if either party isn't happy, which includes the person who set up the engagement initially.

Much better than the other sites.

yeh its called a recruitment agency most oh whom do both perm and temp (contractor work)

It’s an emotional post and doesn’t really explain what happened.

But I’m sure all these freelance hub sites playing escrow etc there’s a lot of stuff going wrong.

Using these to get work would be really my plan-d.

I criticized one of these platforms on Twitter over policies & practices -- including horrendous treatment of freelancers -- and they locked my account.

I wasn't a freelancer - I was a paying client with a long and profitable history, good ratings, etc.

Never used them again.

The takeaway, summarized from all the negative experiences I've heard from these outsourcing platforms (Freelancer, upwork, etc):

SETUP AUTOMATIC WITHDRAWAL OF YOUR EARNINGS. Don't leave your money on the outsource platform. To do so invites unnecessary risk. Don't work if you can't withdraw your money.

You know what’s funny about that is though, even with auto payments set up, places like upwork keep some of your money for days even though it’s ready to cash out.

I have no experience with freelancer or any of the similar platforms. What precipitated the whole issue? That is glossed over completely, but it seems very material to the situation.

Posting from a new account since my old one identifies me by email address, and as you'll see below, Upwork has vindictive staff.

Upwork is better than Freelancer, at least on a UX level, Freelancer's site is a mess, I'll concede that. However, Upwork will arbitrarily lock your account and you will have no recourse, so don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Once, I asked Upwork technical support about an issue I had where they were showing the wrong hourly rate to clients (who asked me why I was changing my rate), and I asked Upwork whether it was possible to resolve, very politely. They told me no, that's just how it works, it won't be resolved. I was totally baffled, but what can you do? I would just continue to explain to clients the problem.

Upwork, after a support issue, gives you a little survey "did this resolve your problem / how satisfied are you" or whatever, so I put no, and unsatisfied, obviously.

Not 30 minutes later my account was locked, so I could not apply for new jobs, nor withdraw any money that already belonged to me. "It needs additional identity verification", despite having worked there for a long time, having 100% positive feedback, all jobs successful, my photograph on there, all forms of ID they initially required were provided, all payments successful, contracts ongoing, etc. I had to install some nonsensical app and have a webcam interview to prove I'm the guy in the photo, etc. It seems entirely too coincidental that I would give a support person a bad review and then be flagged immediately.

So, if Upwork asks you for a survey, beware, you are obligated to lie. I have been using Upwork since then, but at least now am aware of and prepared for it to be locked up or deleted at any time.

Upwork charges 10-20% of an enormous global tech labor market and there is no major competitor? Freelancer is garbage and I've heard horror stories about Toptal. I'm open to suggestions, and encouraging some enterprising reader to start a competitor; I'll use your site.

I have personally used Freelancer.com (I am a web dev) for about 10 projects and everything went great, never had issues with the clients or payment. I also managed to find several good business partners/long term clients through Freelancer. I understand that this is not always the case, but I guess saying that the platform is completely bad because one in 100k users has a issue is just an overstatement, we might not even know if he actually did something wrong that imposed that limitation (maybe because of his accident he couldn't complete the projects for which he was paid).

I am not trying to defend Freelancer.com in an way, just saying that for me personally it was a great platform and a good stepping stone in my developer career.

This guy was in the top 5% did many more projects than yourself for 5 years.

In the end all it takes is one help desk person to bring it all down.

The next project may be your last you never know.

My guess is that the guy is not completely honest that the "help desk" person blocked his account. Anyway, freelancer.com is just a platform, if you are a freelancer you shouldn't rely only on one specific platform. A freelancer by definition should not be dependent on anyone else, you are in charge.

I've heard of several people getting screwed over by Freelancer. I don't see them as being around too often. Maybe Upwork and others will displace them?

I recommend Open Door (https://opendoorconnect.com/) to market yourself as a consultant or contractor. It's appointment based so it's not a pure alternative to Freelancer but IMO task based sites aren't worth it for talented developers.

Upwork also had similar stories in the past. I doubt it's much different from Freelancer.

Upwork has one advantage if you go hourly with the screenshot program those hours always get paid. If you go per project then you are at the mercy of the client.

Yeah you see this kind of post about freelancer.com every now and then. Don't get how anyone can still consider using them. Some of the stories are scary as shit.

Situations like that are, to me, one of the greatest appeals to using cryptocurrencies and decentralized systems or websites. Unfortunately the ecosystem isn't quite there in some areas, so I don't expect these sites to go extinct just yet, but I'm hoping that they do some time in the future.

Freelance.com obviously isn't alone in the way it acts. Fiverr can easily be just as worse, on top of the huge cuts they take from payments (as well as applying their 20% cut to things such as 'tips' you give to workers), it's always clear who is in the position of power and authority on these platforms, and the answer is never the end-user. Go against them and you risk your money, your reputation, and your career. Paypal and other payment systems can be just as bad as well - you've likely read many horror stories about people losing access to 'their' money for months on end.

At some point it's just too much for users to deal with. When proper alternatives are available, hopefully users will move to them as a result of this.

I have heard a lot of bad things about freelancer.com from the users' perspectives like the one in the post - but also on both sides - those who do the work and those who post work.

I think Freelancer as a company though has somewhat of a positive feel here in Australia (correct my if I'm wrong fellow Aussies).

It's probably seen as one of the better tech products from Australia and its CEO Matt Barrie is at times outspoken about the aussie startup scene, lack of innovation in Australia etc [1][2].

[1] http://www.afr.com/technology/matt-barrie-says-doomed-austra...

[2] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/would-last-person-sydney-plea...

That's what happens when you entirely rely on one platform as your source of income, be it Freelancer, YouTube, Amazon, or anything else. You become de facto employed by the platform and can be let go in a similar way you can be fired from a regular job.

If OP had a normal salaried job and was let go for whatever reason, would it matter if he used to be a good employee before, or had a car accident, or was short on cash? No, I wouldn't matter; his employer would not keep paying him on the basis of "being fair" or "helping in a difficult life situation".

While I understand OP's frustration, his story is really nothing out of ordinary. I know many people who were, fairly or not, let go and subsequently got into financial trouble. Life's tough.

Full time jobs can't hold wages until other work is completed.

Single source of income is by definition at the mercy of the source. If one thinks that one could have had a disciplien to save, think again that savings has limitations. You can not save much as an employer and if you get screwed in your mid 30's, you don't have much savings to live off and also can not start over either. The only option is look for multiple incomes and if you are not capable, do not marry or take any personal commitments that affect other people. I know it sounds harsh but that's also make logical sense. Since you now have time, either save more or fight to change the situation so that the next generation of humans does not have to suffer this. Depressing but logical thought.

Inspired by this post, here is my Freelancer.com horror story: https://www.trustpilot.com/reviews/59fe2e9231302a07249de1a7

There is a lot of details missing in the write up like what exactly lead to the ordeal with freelancer.com customer service agent and subsequent account limitation. The usual process is quite seamless - you bid, get the contract, you get paid few days after you deliver the job . I also had a bad experience with the cs executive of a similar freelance site before. Most of them are quite insensitive and do exactly what they are said to do without even trying to understand the context of the issue. I believe this is such a case. It would have made much sense if the author could have explained the issue in detail so that readers can decide for themselves who is wrong here.

As a person who would love more freelancing opportunities, the market is littered with sketchy proposals, undercut / underpaid projects, and just a bad experience.

Software Engineering Daily had a episode[1] on Gigster that seems to be trying to solve this, but I have no experience with that. They also tout only hiring "1% of all developers who apply," which doesn't really solve the other 99% of freelancer's problems.

[1] https://softwareengineeringdaily.com/2017/10/13/gigster-with...

These types of platforms have one single function - to drive down the cost and quality of delivered software. I may end up inadvertently using a piece of software as a client of a company that cheaped out and purchased a deliverable from platforms like this and it will end up being a crap experience. If we had something like an engineering oath and certification that developers had to complete before they could work on any projects, we could make avoiding all these freelancer platforms part of that certification process. Would eventually kill these platforms off, and good riddance.

1. way too many details not revealed in this story, so difficult to make any kind of assessment of the review.

2. my freelancer experience dates back to the days of getafreelancer and I have way more reviews that the reviewer, so I think I can comment with my take on freelancer.

3. I have never had a issue with freelancer in regards to payment, either as a freelancer or as job poster. This is the one and only thing that they do well.(That said everything else is pretty poor)

4. I've had a couple of disputes there, mainly due to the ignorance of job poster on how payment is finally made, and this has always been settled in my favor.

Enough of the nice stuff.

Freelancer is a subscription site disguised as a job portal. IMO they don't give a shit about either the freelancers or the project owners, all they want to do is collect the subscriptions, which I think is not a bad business model. They have to go through the motions of giving a damn, but everything besides collection and disbursement is done on a shoestring and it shows.

Freelancer is the anti-pattern of how to do things online. They have earned a place as one of the classic a case studies on how not to do things on the web.

Their web site sucks in just about every respect, speed, not so much. Test environment = live site. so when they roll out changes, guess how that goes. Might have changed recently, I hope so, after all they have this wonderful pool of resources to draw on.

Their search engine is precious, search on "automate", fine, now search on "automated", and now on "automatic", and so on...

I estimate that less than 10% of job postings actually end up as actual projects. Now and then I tinker with the idea of monitoring their projects and collecting actual statistics, but then I realize that I have better things to do.

Job bids - fields are limited in to 200 character length, and then they have the cheek to send you an email saying basically, "hey, your bid sucks, you need to fix it"

You have no way to vet either bidders or job posters, used to be possible, but they took that feature away.

I'm receiving fake job offers which look like deliberate traps for ignorant subscribers. Can't prove that, but all the accounts are a day or so old for stupid amounts $10, or so. If you're desperate for any lead and click on Accept, hey look, Freelancer just deducted their $5 commission. This has been going on for a couple of months now.

I can go on, but that's enough. The fact is that the site is up and running and generating income. There must be thousands of subscribers hoping to find a career via the platform and freelancer is milking them.

TL/DR - Stay away, the site can be useful, but probably not for you unless you are v careful.

What this story and the comments here tell me is that the market for a developer focused contract<-->bid site is ripe for competition.

There are only a few well known branded marketplaces in the industry, and they all seem to be quite poor in the eyes of skilled developers.

Maybe there is a continuous decline towards the bottom after a marketplace becomes a certain size, but I wish that there were more options to find contracts as a developer without onerous contracts which strip skilled people of their rights.

I’m a designer and clients always ask me if I can recommend a developer. I can’t seem to network with any good developers who I can honestly recommend to my clients. I even started a freelance slack group in hopes of broadening my network but that hasn’t really done much.

Hi, I've tried to find some way of contacting you, looked though your post history but nothing came out.

I'm interested in joining your freelancer group, and see whether I could be useful to some of your customers. As others have mentioned, remote work from sites like Elance/Upwork and PeoplePerHour (I'm currently in both) has dwindled in the last years, and by now most of my work comes from repeat customers instead of new leads from there.

I guess your customers ask for web development: the last finished job that I can show you is a balloon sculpture design tool for a business in Australia: http://www.balloons.com.au/tools/design_tool.html#grid

The full source code can be seen right there: http://www.balloons.com.au/tools/index.js

You can find a couple other examples in my portfolio: https://sentido-labs.com/en/portfolio/

What are your details? As a developer I’d like to know more designers I can refer to!

I was a top provider on vWorker (back when it was still called RentACoder) from 2001-2010... consistently in the top 100 for pretty much the whole decade. Never had any trouble getting projects or getting paid. Stopped working on vWorker in 2010 when I decided to head back to school for my masters. So its been a while since I was on there.

It was a great place to start off my career, but sustaining it as a business was always a challenge. Sad to know that it has deteriorated to this point now.

Sites like Freelancer are another type of centralized platform that will probably eventually be replaced by decentralized peer-to-peer systems. This should result in more fairness and better pay since there won't be a middleman.

One way that could work would be to require payments at short intervals, allow people to optionally opt-in to an arbiter who is also rated or reviewed, and also to not have a facility for freezing funds, and using direct cryptocurrency payments.

I remember having an account with them. It had something like $900 sitting there just in case I wanted to hire someone to do something. I had not visited the site for an year or so and then once logged in to see what's going on.

Discovered that my account balance went down to $750 or so. They quietly introduced an Idle account fee of $10 per month with no email notice or anything.

If I did not log in they would completely wipe out my money.

I withdrew it all and never looked back since.

Freelancer.com seems like a bunch of assholes, but the guy made a big mistake also by only working for only one such site basically going all in and standing on one leg. The same applies here as many other investments in life; you don't put your money/work/whatever in only one place/thing. In this case, multiple platform, own network should have been build instead of relying one shady company.

My 30 second political action for the day:


If you want a startup idea, there you go.

Slightly off-topic but is Trustpilot trustworthy? As a company they've approached me before but from what I understand Freelancer.com pays trustpilot to maintain reviews, and from the looks of it they have a decent 4 star review there...

I wonder why nobody has filled the gap of a job-agency for smart people (10x developers if you will) that are looking for short-term jobs (e.g. when in between jobs/projects or when their current startup is not ramen-profitable yet).

Because 10x developers are probably in very high demand and are hardly out of work. I know one such person and he makes a pretty penny on contract work with nonstop offers he has to decline 99.9% of the time because he simply can’t handle more work.

But there must be 10x developers out there starting a business and who are not yet ramen-profitable?

I complained about Freelancer.com probably 5 years ago. The site is evil. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5177951

The CEO is an active member on a FB group called Sydney Startups. I suggest OP try to contact him publicly through that. I'd be curious to see what he says.

Might be relevant as an decentralized alternative https://ethlance.com/

Eth lance is garbage, tell me, what recourse do you have when someone decides to simply not pay for completed work?

You should release the name of that garbage agent at least. Such pathetic people lower the dignity of human beings.

Some people, freelancers as well as clients and those middlemen that are unfortunately very common in this market, seem to fundamentally misunderstand what a freelancer or contractor is.

Freelancing is not some alternative form of employment that allows you to conveniently dispense with social security costs.

A freelancer is a self-employed service provider. Like with any other kind of self-employment you’re responsible for your marketing, sales and for reasonably insuring yourself against calamities that might happen in life.

If you try to outsource those core responsibilities to another entity you only have yourself to blame. The same applies if you act irresponsibly in terms of finance, e.g. by spending all your income before costs and taxes are taken care of (if you have a problem with that Profit First is a great framework to help you).

That said it’s well-known that the software industry is overly dependent on mostly useless middlemen like Freelancer.com . So, perhaps it’s quite understandable if you turn to them when you start out.

You should always be aware however that they’re neither your insurance nor your employer. They don’t protect you. They just take a cut from your hard-earned money. They want you to commoditise yourself by solely defining yourself in terms of a bunch of TLAs because those ‘profiles’ are easier to sell.

The sooner you extricate yourself from that dependency the better. Putting all your eggs in one basket like the review suggests the author did is recklessly negligent.

Classic victim blaming. What you say is mostly true, but it completely glosses over the potential issues raised by this post. So what if the author made a mistake about using Freelancer.com? That doesn't change the fact that what Freelancer is _supposedly_ doing here is incredibly shady and they should be held accountable. The only real issue I have with the author's post is there are a lot of details missing. What did you do to step on the toes? Where are these chat logs? I can't assume that Freelancer is 100% in the wrong here without proper evidence and at least hearing their point of view. That being said, the author is using this as review a platform to raise attention to a potentially serious issue, and there should be no reason to immediately blame him with "sorry, it's your fault for using Freelancer to begin with... good luck."

The primary way HN audience can hold Freelancer accountable is not use their services. This is what a review is for -- so that other people can learn from OP's experience.

If OP wanted instead help with their particular situation, they would have to include the details you note are missing.

Does anybody have a theory as to why victim-blaming is such a popular response on HN? I don't see it nearly as much elsewhere.

I think that smarter people are more likely to victim-blame because it's harder to imagine themselves falling victim to whatever situation.

For most problems, they seem like they could have been easily prevented by either being more knowledgeable about the situation or thinking things through beforehand.

After reading a lot of the discussions here, and considering that most of us are here for the pursuit of knowledge, my guess is that the community here represents more of the right side of the bell curve.

I don't think inability to imagine bad luck or own mistake is proof of intelligence. It is proof of ego or arrogance or an attempt to mask I security.

Smart people made mistakes in the past, smart people can imagine situations where they become victims (whether by own fault or not). Some smart people do have inability to imagine themselves in other people's shoose - but dumb people are often similarly disabled

You're right, it's a one-sided kind of intelligence. Maybe what Casseres said would be better phrased "people who are proud of being smart".

The fact that it's one-sided smarts, the fact that one is probably not as smart as one thinks, and the ability to imagine another person's shoes, are all life lessons that may click into place at different times for different people.

This definitely seems like a major factor to me. If I'm proud of being smart, I'll be inclined to perform smartness. And one easy way to perform smartness is by making somebody else look dumb.

That's why I hate the word "smart" and probably shouldn't write comments first thing in the morning.

I believe "smart" and "intelligent" are two different things: one is having knowledge, and the other is being able to act wisely with that knowledge.

A person can memorize an encyclopedia, but if unable to do anything useful with that knowledge, can be smart but not intelligent.

No one is infallible; everyone makes mistakes. Being able to learn from them and not repeat them is what's harder for most people.

I disagree - I think it's about recognizing the realities of the situation and the best way to resolve it. The OP has learned that Freelancer.com is rather shady, and they essentially ripped him off of an amount of money that's rather modest by professional standards. The best way for OP to move forward is likely to learn how to do business as a freelancer without using these types of middlemen and write off the money lost to their mishaps. He could try suing for it, but my impression is that collecting an amount of money worth the time is unlikely. Better to spend the time establishing direct relationships with clients that need the work done and pay on time rather than trying to collect a pittance from Freelancer.com.

On the contrary, I find those who shout "Victim Blamer!" often ignore or discount the realities of the situation out of a quest for perceived justice. Getting such justice is often a long and expensive process that may actually leave the victim in an overall worse position, when it is possible at all. When there is a straightforward and practical plan that will put the victim back in a good situation without regard to causing any so-called "justice" to happen to the so-called "bad guy", well, sometimes it's best to just let it go. Karma will get them in the end.

That's not to say that there aren't situations where we do need some justice. I'm just saying pick your battles here. Not everything is worth fighting about, and things that are worth a fight are worth making sure you can win.

It's the Libertarian pro-market bend here, it's what you get when you replace the legal framework of the state with a market system. In a regular Western democracy if someone cheats you you can seek redress through the court system. You can't do that in the trust market, if you didn't do diligence on your opponent it's your own fault.

Kind of like in the Mafia, a war of all against all. Me against my brothers. Me and my brothers against my cousins. Me and my brothers and cousins against the world.

If the other party did something illegal or broke a contract you most certainly have legal recourse.

The problem with intermediaries like these is that there's an inherent power differential. So, while technically they might not be doing anything illegal they're able to squeeze you. The best way to deal with this - if possible - is to not get yourself into a situation like that in the first place.

Another way is to make new laws (or create common law precedents depending on the legal system) that address issues that arise with these models. After all, that's how labour laws came into being as there was a huge power differential between early industrial workers, specifically day labourers, and their employers.

It's probably simply to boost one's ego, every time one of these posts brings up how you should've been more 'responsible', it occurs to me that they're trying to shake their own failing of a similar nature from their past.

Maybe it's because, of course, not all those who pose as victims are actually victims.

It's very natural to side automatically with whover complains of an injustice; but people who strive to be rational are suspicious of this immediate emotional reaction, and want to be sure that they're not being tricked into showing an undeserved support.

Finally, the expression "victim blaming" subtly tries to shift the focus from the question "is this person really a victim" to the false question "should this victim be blamed".

Another possibility is simple contrarianism.

HN commenters tend to be cerebral know-it-all types who genuinely enjoy argumentation and like to pick things apart. They also tend to identify as independent thinkers and they like to demonstrate their intellect by taking unconventional positions.

If this is the case here, in what way is GP demonstrating their intellect with the position they're taking?

What's with this assumption that victims are always blameless? If I run around the street and get hit by a car, should I not share some blame?

It seems whenever someone points out risky behavior here, someone else calls "victim blaming".

Victim-blaming is rampant everywhere, first of all. And while those thoughts might not get typed in as much on Facebook where everything is happy-happy-happy and like-like-like, I bet they're being thought. Here on HN there's no such cultural slant toward positivity, but there is one toward intellectualism. And hey, whatever else victim-blaming is, it's sort of interesting as an intellectual idea.

Really? I find victim-blaming intellectually sterile. It can be done pretty much any time something bad happens, and it's not challenging to do. You just find the person who's most fucked and say it's all their fault.

I think it's much more interesting to understand the subtle dynamics that result in bad outcomes. As an example, Sidney Dekker's book, "The Field Guide to Understanding Human Error" [1] makes an excellent case that if you're going to do useful aviation accident investigation, you have to decline the simple-minded approach of blame, and instead look at the web of causes and experiences that lead to failure.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Field-Guide-Understanding-Human-Error...

In any set of events, the story is up to the interpreter. If you make your story that you were victimized, then you'll feel like there's little you can do yourself to change that. Claiming victimhood is not at all productive.

Instead, if you see those events as failings on your part, you are empowered to make the change required to have a better time in the future.

Victim mentality doesn't solve anything and goes further to make the interpreter of one's life a powerless pawn that will unavoidably be used in ways that person doesn't like.

Blame yourself and empower yourself.

Upwork is still awful. Avoid it.

Another one of those 'blame the victim' responses. I work in an SME with more than 100 employees and I outsource legal work, HR work, payroll, tax accounting, property maintenance, web design, recruitment, marketing and lots of IT. Outsourcing specialisms to third parties is as old a society. A fundamental feature of our western democracies is a secure legal framework that means that I can use an agent and I can hold them responsible. When people don't pay, you can take them to court and recover that money. For some reason there is this idea that it is OK for Valley tech companies to work around that and use their size to fleece customers. It isn't, and it's going to catch up with them.

Traditional contracting agencies do this for me at the moment. I call them up and I ask for x work to be done, they find people, reference their work (or know them already). I pay the agency, they pay the contractor. The contractor gets to concentrate on their day job rather than marketing and sales. Most of them seem to use a third-party to do their bookkeeping and tax too. This is how long term contracts work, why should it not be OK for short-term ones? Or projects?

If all a contractor focuses on is her day job how is that different from traditional employment? Being able to focus on your day job while leaving everything else to another party is what employment is for.

I'm all in favour of outsourcing the work that you're not good at or that's not part of your core business. However, in my opinion as a software development freelancer marketing and sales is a key part of your business. Nobody understands better what your services are or how exactly you can help your clients. It's ok to outsource some of that work like cold-calling (if that works for your business), newsletter management etc. but defining and communicating the core value you bring to the table should never be outsourced.

You specifically mentioned legal work and tax accounting. Those roles traditionally aren't marketed through middlemen simply because lawyers and tax accountants generally are considered to be independent professionals.

> However, in my opinion as a software development freelancer marketing and sales is a key part of your business.

That is 100% your opinion. It is far from a rule that you should expect others to adhere to, especially given that there are tons of services out there that promise to remove that need. It's almost as if different people design, build and execute their lives differently, using different values.

You're getting downvoted because you're asserting your opinion as a global truth. There is no universal law dictating how software freelancers should work.

In this one instance, your opinions are absolutely vindicated -- but what about the literal millions of successful freelancers where your opinions and advice mean bunk?

In what universe is marketing and sales not a key element of a business?

That's like saying Samsung doesn't have to put effort into marketing and sales just because it's important for Apple.

Sales and marketing IS a universal truth in business. Try telling shareholders/stakeholders that it's not.

That a business sells software is irrelevant. That a business is run by one person is irrelevant.

Outsourcing your marketing changes nothing. That should be one channel of many. There are no services which remove that need (though they may make that claim).

As others have mentioned, people seem to be getting freelancing and employment mixed up. The wording "freelancer" seems to be putting this through some sort of warp which changes the laws of physics.

Perhaps the issue is that this person is really an employee getting painted as a business as a target for getting screwed over. Perhaps this person wants to be an employee, but the harsh world is pushing this person to be a business. But if you are a business, you need to model your work as a business if you are going to survive.

You're right but just want to add, an employee is a business too, with sales/marketing duties. Not helping with the confusion perhaps.

(First, you should know I'm playing devil's advocate. I run a startup, and of course I agree with you about sales and marketing. See [1] for my thoughts on this)

> That a business is run by one person is irrelevant.

I disagree with you here. In your system, there is a binary designation for individuals: either you are an individual employee, you have given up a large part of your freedom in exchange for the security of being gainfully employed; or you are a freelancer, and therefore no different from a single-person software development business, and are 100% exposed, to the same degree corporations are held (or lesser, see 'bailouts'), to the conditions of free market economy.

But of course this isn't, shouldn't and can't be binary. There currently exists millions of people somewhere in the middle of this spectrum right now, millions of counterexamples to this story, of people who lived entire lives as freelancers working through an agency like upwork or freelancer. They're here, they exist, they're humans just like you and I.

Not wanting to be responsible for all aspects of business is exactly why they go to places like freelancer.com, upwork, Uber, taskrabbit, etc.

Victim blamers are basically telling that person that they didn't "do their life good enough" and they don't deserve a social safety net, and that somehow they "had it coming" and "deserved to get screwed" because they didn't share your definition of a what a freelancer should be. They behaved too much like an individual and not enough like a business, so they got what they deserved. Despite the millions of people who aren't economically efficient yet hoisted up by the social safety net, for instance any union member, anyone on social security or welfare, anyone on food stamps, in government housing, anyone who benefits from subsidies, etc.

But let's pick on this one particular guy who deserved to have his life ruined by a customer service rep with a grudge because he dared to think he could get away with being a simple person - an individual human, not a business - with the freedom to work 25 hours a week because he got sick a year prior. Fuck that guy.

I am taking this position to an absurd degree, but to illustrate my point, here's what's really at the core of the victim-blaming position: "You're a freelancer who didn't want to be responsible for sales and marketing, so that you could just lead a straightforward technical life without the rigid constraints of being a full time employeee? Fuck you, you deserved to get screwed over for not treating your life like a business, like the rest of us!"

I think this is one of those strange ways in which capitalism has affected our worldview. I do consider myself a capitalist, but I have to admit that the idea of expecting individuals to behave as businesses would doesn't sit right with me.

At the end of the day, a customer service representative with a grudge (allegedly) had the power to hold earnings back from the person who earned them. That would bankrupt a business too, if it happened at the wrong time or under the right circumstances. Your bank refusing to deposit your checks for 2 months would wreak havok on like 70% of Americans' lives! We are all dependent on others in so many ways that we can't pick on this guy for also being dependent.

Instead, let's call out the actual bad actor here. And since freelancer.com is the actual business in the story, shouldn't we expect them to be accountable to free market forces, ie a bunch of pissed off developers asking for more accountability?

[1] https://burakkanber.com/blog/startup-advice-dont-overinvest-...

ETA: I appreciate you taking the time to reply to my post. Thank you.

I think I had my lightbulb moment. People are comparing services like Upwork to a typical contracting arrangement in the U.S.

Amazon hires contract workers for their warehouses and perhaps they do this directly. Many other companies hire contracters through temp agencies.

Imagine walking through the door of Upwork as if it were some sort of temp agency. Imagine you meet with a rep who interviews you and goes over how the temp agency works, but it's actually the Upwork or Freelancer terms.

You would likely tell the rep that he/she is ing nuts and walk out the door. I can't imagine there are temp agencies which work like that. The closest I can think of is day labor, but I'm pretty sure those workers don't have to worry about getting paid at the end of their work day.

I guess I couldn't get this through my head because of how horrible of an idea it would be to me. On the other hand, I think playing slot machines is incredibly stupid, yet people love to do it.

People have a bit of a responsibility to understand the model of what they are dealing with. There are endless ways to make money, but not endless ways in which you will get protection. If you work for an employer, you get looked after and you're likely to get paid. If you try to make money trading, then you're likely to get chewed up and spit out. If you try to join an MLM scheme, then you better know how these things work or you won't get anywhere.

The model of running a business is that you better run your life properly. You better have your adult pants ready to go. Freelance software developers have it easy, most of the solo devs just lose their time when they get screwed. Back before the internet, an entrepeneur might lose everything (like my parents did).

I think there is a reality warp which people go through when they think of freelance software development. It's way too easy to shoot yourself in the foot by going this route and there is little to stop you. It's as easy as walking into a casino and walking out completely cleaned out. Perhaps the government should insist that Upwork places a warning label on its site, like a pack of cigarettes. It should put pictures of homeless people, just as an added scare tactic. Because it's a really bad idea to sign up with a service like this if you don't fully know what you are getting into.

You're right that a business can go bankrupt with one key missed payment or withheld check. But that's exactly why you need to be fully aware and ready for that to happen. You need to know what you are getting yourself into. If it happens, you brush yourself off and figure out what to do next. You don't expose yourself as the reviewer did. You keep it professional because it's going right into your history folder.

You're not going to get screwed like that working for a top 3 temp agency in the space.

NOTE: The above assumes U.S. or similar.

> You're getting downvoted because you're asserting your opinion as a global truth. There is no universal law dictating how software freelancers should work.

No, there isn't but my point is that in case

- you're not responsible for your own marketing and sales

- you don't differentiate yourself from other service providers

- you're marketed by a third party as an anonymous set of technical acronyms

how does that justify becoming a freelancer in the first place? Simply for the higher rate and so your employer can save social security costs? That's not how self-employment is intended by the law. In that case, you're more likely to be an employee. Some countries even try to recoup social security payments on that basis.

There are two things confused here. Lots of people go contracting in the UK because

1) You can earn more. A company will pay more as it can ditch the person at the end of the contract, when it is not a core competency of the firm.

2) There are tax benefits

3) When you contract is over you get a change of scenery

Many of those always contract through an agency

What you are describing is more like someone trying to start their own agency/practice. That is quite different and sales would be a big part of that.

> Those roles traditionally aren't marketed through middlemen simply because lawyers and tax accountants generally are considered to be independent professionals.

Your point that I was answering was that the contractor is outsourcing some services to the 'middlemen', not using a middleman to find those services

You are also not exactly right about accountants and lawyers. They join partnerships and associations exactly so they can get work from the practice and use their shared admin facilities. A barrister in the UK is a tenant of his chambers and the clerks get the work and the barrister has fees deducted for this service. This is exactly so they can concentrate on their day job.

'BjoernKW is describing freelancing. You're describing using it largely as a way to avoid employment laws.

This is exactly the set of issues around the gig economy. Corporations want to treat people as self-employed to save National Insurance, holiday pay, redundancy etc. Some people kind of enjoy moving around jobs a lot. The UK government has had a number of crack-downs on this resulting in

a) a reduction in ability to avoid employment laws and exploit workers or

b) a restriction on a contractors ability to work flexibly.

depending on your point of view. Probably some of each for different people. It is too big an issue for this comments thread.

> If you try to outsource those core responsibilities to another entity you only have yourself to blame.

This statement is objectively false. If you do you own marketing, sales, etc, then you have yourself to blame. If you outsource them, then you have the entity to blame. If a company claims to provide those things and fails, then harsh criticism is warranted. Maybe you meant that if you expect those responsibilities to be handled by a middleman than doesn't actually claim to offer them, then you have yourself to blame?

Some people, consumers as well as producers and those middlemen that are unfortunately very common in all markets, seem to fundamentally misunderstand what an individual's relationship to global society is.

Grocery shopping is not some alternative form of agriculture that allows you to conveniently dispense with food security costs.

Like with anything else, you're responsible for your own food sourcing, production, horticulture, security, and for reasonably insuring yourself against calamities that might happen in life.

If you try to outsource those core responsibilities to another entity you only have yourself to blame. The same applies if you act irresponsibly in terms of health, eg by getting sick right before harvest season.

That said, it's well-known that all humans are overly dependent on middlemen like big agriculture, farm subsidies, commodities traders, shipping and logistics providers, supermarket chains, etc. So perhaps it's understandable if you turn to them when you start out.

You should always be aware however that you're on your own. They don't protect you. They just take a cut from your hard earned money. The sooner you extricate yourself from that dependency the better. Putting all your eggs in one global society is recklessly negligent.


My point is, we have a social contract here. Don't victim blame. Some unforeseen circumstance, like food supply shortage, could turn something you never expected to be a problem into something that kills you.

Freelancer.com is a market maker. “Buyer beware” doesn’t apply.

Maybe the OP was expecting something else than a string of blames and moral lessons in his situation. You are definitively an asshole.

Personal attacks like this are not allowed on HN and will get your account banned, regardless of whether another comment was self-righteous or had other negative qualities.

Please read https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and don't post like this again.

You might not believe it - me being an asshole after all - but I do feel sorry for the author.

The best he probably can (and from his writing likely does) expect from this on a personal level is to have learned a valuable lesson and to serve as cautionary tale for others to not fall in the same trap.

He likely has little in the way of legal recourse but he'd have to consult with a lawyer for that anyway.

I'm also an asshole because I was downvoted heavy for the same sort of stand.

As with any business, he needs to realize this isn't working and move on to something else. If he's staring at the possibility of being homeless after 5 years on this platform, then something isn't working and he will need major change so that the next 5 years doesn't end with the same results.

Running a business requires a certain management capability. At #1 on the list of financial bullets which can take you down is medical expenses. If you're writing a to-do list and there's a pack of wolves ransacking your house, then that problem should be at the top of your list. This guy got cleaned out by medical expenses. He didn't mention anything beyond the money, so I assume that the injury wasn't a major barrier to work. He had savings, but he probably didn't have medical insurance. That's a major fail.

If you're going into business dressed up like an employee, then prepare to be a victim. If you go into business fully expecting to run a business, then your #1 priority is business survival. There are no victims in business survival stories, only funerals.

Is there anyway to donate to the reviewer?

Matt Barrie's collar and unbuttoned shirt should tell you everything you need to know about freelancer.com

Can someone with experience explain how freelancer.com works and how the account holds work?

It works in a way that’s built to maximize profits for Freelancer.com, and that’s about it.

You pay up front to cover fees on a project, and hold money for a period before you can transfer it out. So you can end up paying them a percentage of your pay without getting paid yourself if the transfer doesn’t happen.

I recall doing a small job and had a dispute opened after it was over. It was a relatively small sum of money so i didn’t even respond to the dispute (figured the person was running a scam and just told myself not to use the site again).

Almost 2 months later I get a message telling me the dispute fell in my favor... but then the transfer to my bank account blocked for weeks. Eventually I was told the account holder had been “hacked” sometime during the 2 months (I guess that’s one way to get out of paying for stuff), so the money probably sits in my account to this day. The only way to transfer it is to get the original account holder to reconfirm, but obviously they’re long gone.

The way I see it is you have to remember that Freelancer.com is out to make themselves money. At the start of a job charge for a small deliverable that covers the fees of the job so that you’re not losing time and money if a job falls through.

And although it’s against the rules, strive to get contracts out of Frelancer’s site.

Freelancer in theory has protections for you that you’re losing, but in reality those protections are almost always defaulted to not pay out a job to you.

And definitely don’t make a living out of the site. It’s like making a living on eBay, you don’t want to make a living on a site where a robot can end your access with little human recourse.

Account hold usually means that the person cannot withdraw their funds. According to this text, it looks like "on-hold" accounts cannot start new projects too. Effectively last step before the complete ban and a nice way to say GTFO.

Are they related to ODesk?

Is have to agree, I have had nothing but a spoiled exp with them

> You're here because we don't support your browser

Mobile safari.

Anyone interested in a free version of the platform?

Do you have one?

I worked for Freelancer.com briefly as a software engineer at their HQ in Sydney for about 1 month (that was in the year before their IPO) - I was fresh out of university. The culture within the company was toxic.

They treat developers like crap - Both those who use the platform and those who work at HQ. They fired me after 1 month during my probation because I was too slow to implement a feature because I was spending extra time writing tests. I remember the tech director telling me "That's not the kind of engineering we do here" after I tried to justify why tests were important. Several of these horrible people went on to work for Facebook later.

The CEO of Freelancer.com is a complete jerk. A few years after I had gone, I spoke with engineers who used to work there and there was gossip going round that the CEO had sex with a female employee and she got pregnant. He also hired his friends in top positions; some of which were utterly incompetent. Some of the CEO's favourite employees got drunk during work hours in front of the overworked engineers.

Employee retention was very low.

Taking to an internet forum to vent personal grievances is a shaky business. The audience is ever-eager for red meat, but that doesn't make it ok. There is also the question of how low you really want to go. And HN has rules that you need to abide by if you want to comment here.

Here you go below what's acceptable by HN's civility rule:

> The CEO of Freelancer.com is a complete jerk.

And here the bottom falls out altogether:

> gossip going round that the CEO had sex with a female employee and she got pregnant

Please don't sling mud like that here, regardless of how disgruntly you feel or how justified your grievances are.


> because I was too slow to implement a feature because I was spending extra time writing tests.

This. Just yesterday, I was asked by an interviewer at a Startup. "How do you test your code? Do you write tests? What's your familiarity with TDD."

My answer: "I prefer to do a test driven approach. However, none of the companies I worked for allocated time for writing tests in the sprint, so I have not been able to actually do this in practice. I usually debug my code and run it through all the happy path and edge cases."

Was bitten once very early in my career just like OP, and decided to only write tests after initial coding, if there was time left. Most (not all) Companies expect you to do TDD, but never allocate time for it in the estimation. So I've made it a point to ask the PM if there was time allowed for writing tests in the estimate, and if they say something like "Oh no we don't have time for that" I don't do it.

I couldn't imagine to work without writing tests and I firmly believe it actually makes me quicker than manual coding. Sure, if you aim for 100% code coverage it takes time, but instead of trying out my code a few times, I just write those try-outs as tests and am happy ever after.

I don't really mention tests to my management. To me, they are just part of coding. My coworkers don't mind, they are happy when maintaining or changing my code that they have tests for support.

This, exactly this. I've felt the same increase in development velocity; and an equal increase in confidence. I'm able to deliver systems and walk away with 99% confidence that no one is going to come back to me with a problem. And if they do, it's easy enough to write a regression test to prove the problem and then fix it.

I've adopted your same approach. I don't mention testing, but I'll be damned if I'll ever write a piece of code without it.

The light-bulb moment for me was when I realized that testing happens one way or another. Either you're in the console manually setting up and running everything... or you could just write a program (a test) to do the same thing for you. Once I realized that, I never looked back!

I just started learning how to write tests for my APIs. Changed my life! Now when I need to make broad changes I can easily tell what needs to be fixed because my tests cover each end point with multiple success and failure cases. Love it.

Maybe you can help me understand something because I hear this a lot. You manually debug and run your code through "the happy path and edge cases", if I'm understanding you correctly... so, does it really take that much longer to write an automated test that does the same thing?

What I'm saying is if we accept the company's viewpoint as truth -- I don't -- then you'd just be writing code and handing it over. No testing. No execution. No nothing. But if you have time to manually test the code, then it sounds like you have time to write automated tests.

Now, I'm with you, these tests aren't going to be beautiful or well-factored, but they'll be helpful to you, right? That way you don't have to manually test the code over and over again.

On the other side of the coin, I've taken on the practice of including time necessary for testing in my estimates (as an employee and contractor). If a manager doesn't want to accept that, then they can fire me, because that manager is fully incompetent -- no ifs ands or buts. As a professional, I need to operate with a test-driven approach. It's the only way to deliver complex systems with confidence.

Testing happens one way or another.

Having automated tests written mean that future changes that break the existing code will cause the test to fail - that's the advantage.

Having automated tests also means that future changes can break the existing tests and force you to rewrite them.

As the saying goes, you don't have to test all your code, only the code that's supposed to work. I don't give estimates that exclude tests for the same reason I don't give estimates for pseudocode that nearly compiles.

Sounds like you learned a valuable life lesson.

It's always been obvious that freelancer had no test platform and that they would simply push releases to production and wait for things to break, and then maybe fix them.

The most interesting lesson from this was that this attitude has no apparent downside. Users either don't care, don't even notice, or sadly, may have no choice given that there are not many sites that fill this niche.

The company went public a few years ago, investors have no clue as to what's under the hood, and tbh it doesn't seem to matter much.

It's interesting to see what freelancer is doing now that they are accountable. Me, I think it will be more of the same.

In their defense, the one thing that bothers me most is if I specifically tell someone to code something a certain way (for example, to skip tests on this project), and they don't listen and do it anyway because "it's the right way." I on the other hand know what is right for my project... not the person I'm hiring. That's why I asked X person to do it a specific way.

Btw Im not saying they arent toxic, they sound like pieces of shit. Just pointing it out more generally.

They didn't give me any instructions about how to implement the feature. I had just arrived 2 weeks earlier and there was a lot of code there so it would have been impossible for me to get it to work (without breaking existing stuff) if I did not write tests.

Also this is a company that handles business transactions; high-value stuff; there should have been more tests.

Fair enough, sounds like a horrible place to work. D:

>Several of these horrible people went on to work for Facebook later.

Seems like they're a better fit anyway for the company of "move fast and break things".

I'm a slightly longer term ex-Freelancer employee whose tenure overlapped with Jon's, and I feel like I should say that my experience wasn't that bad.

As I suspect afflicts many companies, when I joined it was struggling with the transition between "hack something together so that we make some money" and "we need to care about the long term". Not to mention the usual small-ish company disregard for HR niceties. It didn't finish that transition while I was there - and may still not have - but I mostly had a good time (worked on a huge variety of stuff, and even wrote a bunch of tests).

Also, though there were other factors, I think the primary reason retention was low is that Freelancer's hiring policy was geared towards 'cheap grads', so people tended to leave for better paying positions elsewhere.

PS Hi Jon - sorry you had that experience. I wasn't privy to exactly why you were let go.

PPS And yes, I think there were definitely parts of Freelancer which were (IMO) far too focused on making money without caring about the customer experience. On the other hand, capitalism (argh).

All of those "freelancer" websites are scams.

Freelancing is about not working for other men. It's about being your own boss. Those websites are not really freelancing, they're temp agencies hiring out short term contract work. That is not freelancing. Those websites all share specific qualities: The salaries are too low, the service quality is poor, and you'll be outbid by unskilled indian labor 90% of the time.

Put your portfolio online and find your customers through other methods. If you have to pay someone else even $1 to find customers you are being ripped off.

Your comment is unfair. These websites are not scams. A couple of years ago I was looking for 10-15h/week gigs and using one of competitors of freelancer.com proved to work for me. Was it annoying to bid for gigs? Yes. Was the quality of their service low? Yeah, I'd say so. Were salaries low? For someone coming from Eastern Europe - not at all. On top of that, I always got money on time, which is not always the case if you have a direct client.

Yes, you will be outbid by competitors from cheaper countries, but hey, welcome to reality where half of the stuff you buy is produced in China, because you compete with people and companies from all around the world.

And no, if you pay someone $10 to get a gig that'll bring you $100, you're not ripped off, this is how business works, people earn money by helping other people to make money.

> For someone coming from Eastern Europe - not at all.

> Yes, you will be outbid by competitors from cheaper countries, but hey, welcome to reality where half of the stuff you buy is produced in China, because you compete with people and companies from all around the world.

That's what a race to the bottom looks like, if this trend keeps on going it won't be long before everybody has the income of somebody working in India, without even living there.

This is not meant as an attack on the OP (or India), most people would act the same way if they'd be in that situation, just a somewhat scared observation where the future seems to be heading.

And it's not like we got any good solutions for any of this, bringing the living standards up for everybody won't work, due to resource and economic constraints, so down it is.

Why is a race to the bottom worse than getting paid 40 times more and spending 100 times more for housing and healthcare?

(Comparing Bangalore or Mumbai to San Francisco, since you mentioned India.)

I didn't even compare the two, obviously having insane high living costs is another issue, but it's not nearly as bad as this current race to the bottom of labor costs.

In Western Europe pretty much the whole low-income sector has been taken over by Eastern Europeans, working for weeks, sending home most of the money they make, working in conditions that nobody should have to work in (reversing labor rights progress) sleeping in their cars/group housing. I realize this sounds like some Brexit tale, but it is a very real thing that's been going on for quite a while and is one of the reasons for the stagnating real wages.

It's great for companies, cheap labor, it's not so great for the local populations who have to compete with foreign labor prices while having to come up with enough money to pay local living costs for their whole family.

Case in point: Try paying 100 times more for housing and healthcare in LA, once the vast majority of people are getting paid like call-center agents in India, won't work, can't work.

>Case in point: Try paying 100 times more for housing and healthcare in LA, once the vast majority of people are getting paid like call-center agents in India, won't work, can't work.

So, a bubble will burst and prices will decrease. You can already find cheap (as in cheaper than in India!) apartments some 30-40 mins away from Manhattan on the subway.

Even if poorer countries(and people) get the exact same opportunities for same money, they still have to compete.

no, because India's revenue is growing, that's how you get developing countries out of the mud. Look how China developed since they became the world's factory.

Revenue is of no use when nobody is being paid living wages anymore. As good as China is doing, it still hasn't solved the basic issues and a growing middle class in China (and India) is only gonna worsen the situation.

I don't believe this planet can sustain billions of people living with the same standards/ways like Northern American or Western European people do, that's a pipe dream equal to "Everybody can be a millionaire".

Sure, everybody could be a millionaire, but at that point nobody wants to a millionaire anymore but rather a billionaire, the same applies to living standards.

just because people get richer doesn't mean they will or even could make the same unhealthy lifestyle choices as americans. There will never be huge suburbs of mcmansions outside of every indian city - there's simply not enough room, even if everyone had the purchasing power of an american. (I say this as american who lives in the suburbs). Not saying that all the growth will be environmentally sound growth, but perhaps not as bad as it was in the past.

so we are selecting who is gonna die so everybody raise to our standard of living? Are we selecting some people who we will purposefully maintain in poverty so that we keep our standard of living? Or are we reducing our standard of living down to some sustainable world average?

Who's selecting? I'm merely stating the obvious: Depending on how you count, there are around 1 billion people living in the "developed world" and it's already wrecking havoc on the environment and even the human psyche.

Yet people think it's viable to extend that same kind of lifestyle to additional 6+ billion people? Let's not forget that a large part of these 6 billion people are not even close to a Chinese or Indian middle class, but are stuck way below the poverty line. And it's not like India or China have solved environmental issues, imho there is massive "environmental debt" building up in India and China, people merely tend to ignore those in light of high renewable adoption rates, but that's only one part of the issue, waste management is another one.

As much as I wish it'd be possible, I simply don't see how this is supposed to work out with constantly rising living standards for everybody. So the other outcome is most likely that standards won't rise for everybody, but rather that they equalize on a "middle level", which still means close to a billion people gonna have to "lower" their standards and a couple of billion have to rise theirs quite a bit.

Everybody's going to die. I'm not sure what you're talking about.

"I always got money on time, which is not always the case if you have a direct client."

This depends on how you charge your clients. If you charge them up-front, you will always get paid on time.

As another Eastern European, you might be doing it wrong. I no longer charge sums that would give me 10-20% more compared to the median programmer job around here. I charge 100% more.

The reason is: I value my skills and work. Confidence needs practice though; many people in our poorer regions never get any appreciation so their confidence is very low. Which is very good for the employers because they pay less.

Oh well. Not all employers. It all depends on the people of course but you should do your very best NOT to participate in the race to the bottom. Nobody wins there except the lowest scum of "employers" that would have you as a full-blown slave if they were legally allowed to do so.

Don't contribute to the problem. Resist. It's not so hard as many other fellow Eastern Europeans think. Confidence helps.

I think freelancer.com is probably one of the worst places because it affords no protection

they are money changers, and the last thing you want in a contract is someone in the middle making arbitrary decisions about when you get paid.

I was with you up until your $1 comment. There's a lot effective ways to "market" yourself that aren't free. Conferences, for example, are crazy expensive. Paid advertising, sponsored content etc.

If you market yourself by speaking at conferences you usually make money.

> It's about being your own boss.

Actually, being a freelancer is about multiplying the number of bosses you have. And reducing the number of rights you have to just one: the right to walk away.

Source: 26 years as a freelancer. One who would never get work through a rent-seeking, blood-sucking platform like Freelancer or Upwork.

Freelancing is about being able to work for whoever you want to. A temp can only work for one person at a time. Those websites allow you to work for more than one person at a time. So those people are, in fact, freelancers, not temps.

I hire people on upwork. My favorite person charges $40 an hour. His work is great and gets repeat business from me many times a year.

I'm not sure what you're referring to as a scam. These places are free markets and free markets have fees.

You're wrong in that temp contracts have different sorts of terms. Full term temps can usually only work with one hiring customer but that is not the only model. By taking a cut of the salary as a fee, websites like freelancer and upwork are temp agencies.

Also, upwork is a shithole. You should really not use them. I spent 2 months trying to set up an account there as a freelancer and they were complete dicks for 2 months straight. They refuse to adhere to the constitutional laws of the united states where they are based, and their support department is mockingly hostile to their freelancers.

I made a broad generalization in my first comment about all of those websites being the same. Obviously I haven't used every single one, there are hundreds of them. But the ones I have used have all been the same. It's obvious you want to use them, I strongly encourage you to stop using Upwork and look for one that treats it's contractors better.

You are clearly taking this very personally and not being realistic about this. You obviously have had a bad experience with them and now want all of us to stop using them too.

I also hire all sorts of people on upwork, both US and overseas, high-end and basic skills. Quality has been great, but as usual you need to pre-qualify.

please see my comment above regarding upwork.

free means no fees. free roads have no tolls. free concerts do not charge ticket prices. closed markets, toll roads, private venues all charge fees.

You're confusing libre and gratis.

Not necessarily everyone. I did a few and I am not part of any temp agencies.

It's lead generation, which freelancers can benefit from as much as agency employment (what you seem to be implying the Freelancer.com seller is current under).

"unskilled indian labour" huh? There are tens of Indian entrepreneurs who have set up Billion dollar companies in US. Don't forget that Microsoft and Google CEOs are Indian too!!

Were those successful entrepreneurs and CEO's taking $3/hr jobs on freelancer sites? I don't think the statement was coming from a place of racism. But rather an unfortunate fact that the people willing to try to do this work for these low wages are often overseas.

I've personally worked with many very talented people from India. None of them were taking work on freelancer sites.

Skilled Indian labour is also outbid by the unskilled Indian labour.


The only reason why its Indian right now is because British occupation taught them English. It also doesn't hurt that they have the second most populous country in the world.

And I know its anecdote, but I've met a number of fakers here in the US. Nothing special or "Indian-like" that makes lying about your abilities.

Then again around 08 I considered padding and lying about my resume. Nothing I couldnt do, but it does look more acceptable to put down a bankrupt business as a source. Hard to.. Check.

Who said anything about lying?

It's Indian because they speak English, they're rapidly getting more online, and they have low cost of living.

Skilled Indian tech workers can outbid skilled and unskilled Western workers, but unskilled Indian workers are abundant enough to outbid everyone else.

Well, I am doing a remote job since last two year in a UK based company, almost a year ago I was suddenly sacked due to a company policy change, asking why the response was in short, they wont allow any people from India..

Then as a proof I sent them my country Wikipedia link, letting them understand my small country is not a region of India, and India is our neighbouring country.

Then the company apologises by issuing an annual increment...

This thing still surprises me and also i had to face few worst days of my life -_- due to this fact ...

My guess is those aren't the ones outbidding you on freelancer websites...

let me piggyback on this thread. this is my freelancer.com experience as a hirer https://medium.com/@ss88/freelancer-com-my-horrible-experien...

Indian developers are know for poor quality and extremely low prices. You probably shouldn't hire the cheapest developers.

> Freelancer.com is a cesspool of low-level coders who says yes yes yes when you ask them of their skills and knowledge of frameworks.

Yes it is. And you should avoid them, especially if you know this. Fool me once and all that. I think this experience is as much your fault as it is theirs.

I didnt only hire Indians:

1 chinese, 1 indian, and 1 bangladeshi.

Don't the Chinese have a saying which means 'Pay low price, expect to get screwed over'? Bangladesh is even worse than India.

I've read an article about Chinese culture of "good enough". That many apartments fall apart right after they're built because if you do 80% of the job then that's pretty much considered "done".

Doing it correctly or completely isn't part of the contract.

That was a great article: https://aeon.co/essays/what-chinese-corner-cutting-reveals-a...

I don't know how true it is about China, but I certainly recognized that attitude.

A more apt idiom is "if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys." [0]

[0] https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/if+you+pay+peanuts%2C+y...

another is "you get what you pay for"


Another is "you don't get what you don't pay for."

There are two similar sayings that spring to mind:

一分钱,一分货 which means you get the equivalent in goods of what you pay in price, and

好货不便宜,便宜无好货 which means good products aren't cheap and cheap products aren't good.

He meant to say "cheap Asians".

Nothing against people from Asia, of course, it's just what happens when there's a billion people and people are cheap - the best leave, and the rest do whatever they have to.

People are exaggerating their skills because a job that you aren't qualified for is better than no job.


If you aren't going to comment civilly and substantively, please don't post at all. We ban accounts that continue to break the guidelines like this.


Your article doesn't mention how much you paid them. If you are paying someone 5$ per hour, you can't expect much.

edit: you mention the prices in the comments, so here they are for anyone curious:

Node.js port 155 USD, Android port 789 USD, Website theme 300 USD. It is not slave wages considering the living costs in the respective countries.(sic!)

>Node.js port 155 USD

This is good for what, 1 hour of work?

Pay peanuts, get monkeys.

> Pay peanuts, get monkeys.

This, this and this.

There's isn't a dearth of good talent out there. Please just be willing to pay a fair price (not just for the hours worked but for the fact that he's available to you on demand, cc Adam Smith).

As an aside, I do believe freelancer.com should do a better job filtering candidates (and gigs). Can maybe turn into a premium service like toptal.

>Can maybe turn into a premium service like toptal.

Yeah, no. They literally just ask you a random question from CTCI and call it a day if you can make it run in 20 minutes.

All of these "gig economy" websites are funny that way. Go over to the "I want to hire people" tab and they'll tell you all about having the best experts in the field.

Then you look at how they find those experts and it turns out that they make them do a fizzbuzz.

> This is good for what, 1 hour of work?

In India? No, will get you several hours of work from a decent dev and still be a great deal for the dev

But maybe if the other guy who's really an expert can give you a better code in a shorter time, even if it's more expensive per hour, it'll be cheaper in the long run

In which dreamland you get paid USD$155 per hour for Node.js work?

I regularly charge clients around $110. so $155 will get you just a bit over an hour of work from someone who knows what they're doing.

If you're not a freelancer, but rather a salaried person... take some times to calculate how much your employer is paying for your benefits, and all the costs associated with employing you. It's typically around 2x your "hourly" wage.

Nice. Where do you find clients? I live in Canada and work remote. Have a ton of experience (web dev since ‘98), but don’t have these kind of contracts. :/

In the UK I earned around $750 USD/day for node work as a contractor. A day was around 6 hours when you take the lunch break away so it's not far off.

I've worked (employee + freelancer) for multiple "agencies" in the USA. $150 is a more-or-less standard rate.

Contractors in the us will bill that much for developers.

Well, the hour rate in europe is much higher than in Asia because the living costs are much lower.

So if you follow that principle, how is 155 USD low for 3 days work? its 1000 CNY

Competent developers get 200+CNY an hour here in Beijing (so that would be pay for half a day of work) For this price you can only expect to find students to do the work.

Note: food might be cheaper, but consider housing is very expensive here... 0.5M+ USD for about 60m^2. If I take this pay and calculate it as a contracted worker, he would receive about 8000 CNY and this is considered a low pay.

Let us not pretend that the price is driven by living costs. It is driven by desperate people who will work below cost to get a foot in the door.

For me as a software engineer who could move anywhere in the world, relative living costs never mattered, only absolute savings, as I can use it in any country, which is salary minus living cost. Zurich gave me the best savings, but I think many people (including great software developers in China) think similarly.

Why should the number be based on living costs? For assembly line workers with no skill requirement, yes. For engineers? Definitely not.

>So if you follow that principle, how is 155 USD low for 3 days work? its 1000 CNY

Let's see: Bangalore is (only) 5 times cheaper than SF.[1] So it's hardly 3 days of work. Shanghai is 2.2 times cheaper.[2]

1 - https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?cou...

2 - https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?cou...

To be fair, bay area wages are not high because the people there are particularly special, they're high because there's no space and everyone wants to be there. So, yes, wages do reflect costs of living, to a certain extent.

> Why should the number be based on living costs?

Because that's basically the whole point of globalisation.

Both parties benefit, I don't see what the problem is.

> Both parties benefit, I don't see what the problem is.

The problem, as always in this kind of situation, is how unequally the benefits are distributed.

If the investor pays 4-5 times (and that's a low end) less for something, while the worker gets 10% more compared to doing the same locally then it's unfair, even if both sides "benefit".

It's also natural for investors to seek the lowest prices they can get. That's why there are laws like minimum wage and other protections of the workers. The globalization is not just a way of getting things for cheap, it also a workaround for laws which prohibit investors from paying too little.

It's unfair, in my opinion, even if the worker does benefit. It gets much worse when the workers don't benefit at all. For example, in EU, we currently have a heated debate about delegated workers - people employed in one country and working (and living) in another. Companies do this to dodge the laws - minimum wage, social benefits, and so on - of their own country, while the workers suffer the higher costs of living in the richer country. It also makes the richer country native workers screwed. It's probably going to become illegal in the next couple of years.

People working remotely are in a different situation, in that they indeed live in a cheaper place. They still get paid much less than the minimum wage of the richer country where the investor comes from, which I think is also unfair. Also, the "cheaper place" is often not really - the prices in these countries are getting ever closer to the richer countries, while the wages lag behind the prices significantly.

In other words, there should be - and is, in many places - a limit on how badly workers can be exploited. The globalization is a loophole which circumvents these laws. I hope it will get closed in the future.

EDIT: note that it's definitely not the only way globalization affects people and many effects of globalization are positive. Just not this one, in my opinion.

Regarding EU, there is a "Equal pay for equal work!" campaign. https://www.wageunion.eu/

Your observation only holds in the short term. Due to globalization, the avg wage of the "exploited" Chinese workers has grown from 1600 to 67000 CNY in the last 30 years. Even accounting for the higher inflation, the US/West wage gap has shrunk considerably within a generation.

India hasn't seen such growth exactly because they didn't embrace globalization to the same level China did. Indian policies are much more left leaning, market unfriendedly.

Geographic location is a rather arbitrary criteria for wage discrimination especially doing remote work [1]. I would not call the opportunity to be exploited a benefit exactly, even though I admit the alternatives can be worse.


There is nothing arbitrary about it - different geographical regions have different living costs and different market rates.

I've worked with many Indian devs over the past 10 years or so, and have become good friends with a few. One of those is freelancing for US and EU clients - he is earning far more than he would be paid by a local company, and gets to choose which jobs he takes on, as well as his working hours.

He is of course very happy with this, and very far from being 'exploited'.

Do you think the prices offered on freelancing sites are fair? Would you be willing to work for such prices? Why do you think freelancing is considered a race to the bottom?

Why do you care which ISP someone uses when committing to a repository or login to VM?

On the other end of things, would I move to a more expensive neighborhood if that meant I will get a bigger salary? While I don't know about you or your friend, my answer would be yes please.

Fair is when equal work is equally compensated. When you earn significantly less than others in roughly the same position you are being exploited and it does not matter whether you can make ends meet.

> would I move to a more expensive neighborhood if that meant I will get a bigger salary

We're talking about different countries here. It's not quite so simple to just move to another country.

> Fair is when equal work is equally compensated

So it's unfair that an Indian dev working in India for an Indian company earns less than a US dev working in the US for a US company? Different countries have very different economies.

I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on this one - local economy, market rates and living costs still seem extremely relevant to me.

You are dodging the questions.

You don't even have to move to another country, salaries vary wildly throughout a country and there are obvious outliers think NYC, SV or even London. And then we are talking about contracting/freelancing/remote work. If you want to have a job done, why do you care what is the purchasing power of the contract fee in a given country?

By the way, if dev A and dev B works for the same company on the same project in the same position one in location A and the other in location B, they should be equally compensated.

Sorry, I'll try and be more direct :)

> Do you think the prices offered on freelancing sites are fair?

Yes, I think they are 'fair'. This is how a free market works - clients are free to offer whatever price they like, devs are free to take on the jobs they feel make sense.

> Would you be willing to work for such prices?

It depends on the job but, taking $100 for 10 hours of work as an example - No. But just because such jobs don't make financial sense for me, doesn't mean the same for other economies.

> Why do you care which ISP someone uses when committing to a repository or login to VM?

I don't, nor did I claim to. What I care about is market rates.

Are you living in India and working for that money, by a chance?

No, I'm from the UK.

I have worked with many Indian and Chinese devs on the past, so I have some knowledge of the outsourcing industry.

iPhone or Macbook price is roughly the same everywhere. Cost of living is a tiny part of expenses for a competent worker.

Developers in the developing world typically don't use iPhones and Macbook pros. You can easily get a "good enough" machine for 10% of the price of a Macbook.

It won't be cheaper than in US either, more likely the opposite. My point wasn't specifically about Macbook, a lot of things are of the same price in every country. Buying home, local food or human services isn't one of them, but cars, electronics, branded food, clothes won't differ much.

If you use shitty tools, you get shitty results.

A developer's primary tool is their intellect. Using an expensive Macbook or a particular programming language won't magically make a lousy developer into a good developer.

Note that all the hardware and software that were used to create the original internet or Unix or Emacs (dumb 80x24 CRT terminals hooked up to mainframes or mini-computers running low-level languages) were shitty tools by today's standards, yet amazing things were done with them by smart people.

Try doing modern development with those old tools.Let's see if you are as productive as you think.

It's insane to think that modern tooling doesn't affect results at all.

What? For about $200 bucks you can buy an refurbished or pre-owned decent i5 desktop system. More than enough for JavaScript webdev. Heck, I guess I could use Raspberry PI and Vim for that

I get exactly the same results on an old thinkpad as on the newest macbook.

It is hard to understate just how totally wrong this statement is.

Perhaps you meant: "compared to cost of living MacBook is a tiny fraction of developer cost". That's true.

considering the living costs in the respective countries

Trying to shift the blame to the market is still discrimination in my book.

Market rates seem very relevant to me. People with the same skills but living in different geographical regions are of course willing to work for differing amounts.

Indeed they are, but it has very little to do with fairness.

Define 'fair'?

Equal work = equal pay. Don't you think this is reasonable?

For different parts of the world, with different economies: no, this is a utopian fantasy.

> It is not slave wages considering the living costs in the respective countries.

This pisses me off big time. It is more expensive to live in developing countries than in developed countries. Try to wrap your head around it. These countries are developing, so they don't have infrastructure to support their populace.

I don't think that's true. The cost of food, rent, transportation etc is far greater in the developed world. The cost of living an "expat lifestyle" in developing countries is higher though, but local people typically don't aspire to that.

Many things have globally fixed prices. A car costs the same. Gas is probably cheaper in a developed country especially in the USA. Food is probably on par or cheaper . A $1000 phone is the same in all countries. The PC someone works with costs the same. Software licenses, (e)books, productivity apps e.g. office365 and G suite cost the same or more. A hosting provider charges the same for servers and bandwidth etc.

local people typically don't aspire to that

Yes they do, of course it is not accessible to most.

For an ex-pat who wants to live in relative luxury, sure. Otherwise it is difficult to see how you can justify this claim?

Have you by chance never been to a developing country? Honestly, how cheap some things are would shock you; for example, you can eat like a king in the heart of any Indian city for 1-2 dollars!

The majority of my income goes to housing and transportation though. My impression is that the programmers that work for my company from India make 1/5th what I do, but an apartment is not much cheaper and a car is more expensive. For instance, I did a search for apartments in Noida and found 900 sq. ft apartments for about 45 lakh rupees which is around $70,000. Seven times annual income is very expensive compared to where I live.

At least for domestic cars (e.g. Tata), prices seem comparable to me. But if you mean as compared to wages, yes, they are more expensive. Most people use public transport though. TBH, if I lived in India, there isn't a snowball's chance in hell that I'd drive! (if you'v ever been, you'll know what I mean!)

Where I am in the UK, for a senior dev house prices are 5-7 times annual income.

~950 sq ft 2 bedroom apartments in Noida can be had for as little as £35k. This is actually large by UK standards, and is 3-5 times cheaper than where I am in the UK - I do however realise that property in much of the US (assuming that's where you're from) is relatively cheap.

There are ways these issues can be mitigated

Require that the bid contains a snippet on how they intend to solve the problem. Or if it's something obvious/non-explainable, require that the bidder put their favourite fruit on the bid. Something simple that lets you know they didn't just copy and paste the thing

Also pick the middle of the road proposal price-wise.

Last time I looked, unless this is an hourly rate job, this is not possible. (Hourly rate is free form) You have three or four fields, each 200 char max.

Can't really do much more than say "I can do this" and draw attention to your reviews if you have any.

For me this is one of the many red flags on this site. If you're very focused then you can make it work, but for common garden jobs, not so much.

It doesn't have to be a wall of text, just something like 'using library Blah should work' or something

Don't hire asians, hire from Eastern Europe instead. It might be more expensive, but not by a lot and the quality is exponentially better.

This is a horrible experience, but I must admit it's also a good laughing material.

Should've have accident insurance. Should have diversified his business and not relied on a garbage website. Especially after the first 2 months limitation. All these problems were completely avoidable. He might be a good engineer but he is not a good manager. Sorry, no pity from me.


Yeah, surprising! I would expect them to face homelessness with pure strength, joy and stability instead...

In other news, water is wet.

This review should get pulled. If the reviewer posted this under his real name, then he should remove it. This review will kill his reputation, which will cause more problems than anything mentioned in the review. If it's not a real name, then I imagine it's a violation. This is the only review under this user.

The review has a TLDR at the top, but my own TLDR for this review would be "I was desperate".

It's easy for me to armchair quarterback these situations, but this is the sort of reason why my parents along with most of middle-class America received medical insurance from their employers and paid into Social Security. Things happen. Most people won't set themselves up for dealing with those things. The government and employers then step in and set up a system in which hopefully will save people from not thinking ahead.

Today, more people than ever are freelancing, these safety nets are going away, people run on the edge and any bad turn is going to put them on the street. In developing nations, these safety nets may have never existed.

If employers were to Google this person, then this entire review comes up as a red flag. This is a person who is susceptible to disasters, being forced into the street and can't manage the basics of living in the modern world. When things go downhill, rational thinking goes along for the ride.

There are many reasons to avoid Freelancer and similar services. That subject has been well covered here. In this case, it's better to build networks of people who will help you out, knowing that you would do the same. Services which deal with money have to follow certain processes. If this were a smart contract, then the contract would be even less forgiving. If you want to deal with people who are going to be human and open to hearing your story and weighing your reputation, then build your community that you can reach out to. Don't put 5 years into being a drone profile on a service.

There is a pattern in the modern Internet economy, of large companies engaging in outright theft and fraud, with the legal system unwilling to take action.

How many stories of PayPal, Google, and others outright stealing money from their customers and users, with no explanation, and no recourse from the courts? Oh, I forgot, they “freeze their account”, which is totally different than just stealing, somehow.

So, yes, we should all try to avoid these services. But there is also a desperate need to reform our legal system to stop what our common sense tells us is simply theft.

I second my sibling poster.

"It's easy for me to armchair quarterback these situations"

You have the self-awareness to recognise that you are "armchair quarterbacking", then you decide to... blame the guy for his problems, judge him negatively for speaking out, and go off on some airy tangent about the history of social security.

"This is a person who is susceptible to disasters, being forced into the street and can't manage the basics of living in the modern world."

What the hell? Basing your career on one online platform is not the best life decision, true. There's lots of freelancers who do more stupid things. Yes, this guy could have done things differently, but he doesn't deserve this kind of treatment.

If you are based in a tech hub or major city you can build a freelancing career with numerous digital agencies and other professional firms, and learn to sell yourself, manage client relationships, build a specialised skillset, etc. If you do that you also deal with a much better class of clients (have money, know what they want, don't screw you around). That is the exception, though.

The average freelancer hustles for generic projects and deals with the shittier kind of clients. This guy sounds like he is one of the more competent individuals in that category. Then he had a key relationship (with freelancer.com) turn sour, and as a result he's been absolutely shafted.

"If the reviewer posted this under his real name, then he should remove it. This review will kill his reputation" He's fighting back with the one weapon he has, which is going public with his experiences. He knows he is a taking a big risk with this. He is courageous.

On a final note: Jesus F'ing Christ where do you people come from. I've seen comments like this on similar stories. The temptation to victim blame (under the pretence of dispensing helpful advice) seems irresistible for many. I've been on the receiving end of this, so it gets my goat. An experience like this doesn't just hurt you materially and financially, it also smashes your self-confidence. But people are very selective in the things they are sympathetic towards. With other things, they respond with scorn and condescension.

> judge him negatively for speaking out

Anything you put out on the internet can be a positive or a negative. This sort of post is not a positive.

Part of the reason software buyers pay good rates (those who do) is because they need to know they are dealing with competent service providers. If the provider is offering services for less than that which would sustain a business (which many cash-strapped freelancers do) then that's a red flag. If I have a critical, high profile project, then I want to know that the person I'm handing it off to is going to be relatively stable. Think about this from an investor perspective, the people involved in the project need to be able to recover financially from a trip to the hospital (as opposed to going homeless).

I need to know you can pay the rent and keep the lights on. If you are one step away from financial disaster, then you're too much of a risk to partner with on my project. That may sound bad, but that's reality.

His review will not look good for taking on better paying work. The people who will take a chance on him are likely the same sort of people who he feels has been screwing him over.

Bottom line, you might be one misstep away from the streets, but that's not information you want to include on a cover-letter.

OK, sure. Charging more gives you access to the better class of clients. At age 23 I started out doing shitty freelance PHP work, included a bunch of fixed-price projects. Later on, at age 26/27, (I worked full-time in-between), I spent a year contracting for digital agencies at twice my 23-year-old rate, and had a much smoother time.

So I know first-hand the benefits of "going up in the world" and getting into a higher-quality network of clients. I now look at websites like ClientsFromHell.com and see freelancers managing their careers really badly, not knowing they could be doing much better.

All that is true but it's not what came through in your original comment. You could have said "Ouch, poor guy, he got shafted, but all of this was avoidable. He should start acting like a business rather than a temp worker, and aim to build up his skills, learn to market himself, and find a better class of clients". Instead, you victim-blamed him, and poured scorn on him for speaking out.

Getting screwed occasionally is a cost of doing business. You price that in. If the business isn't worth it after pricing that in, then you look for another business. There are lots of businesses which have gone down from fraud and there are lots of businesses which eat those expenses and continue doing well. It's a fact of life as an entrepreneur and you deal with it.

That's not being a victim and certainly, you shouldn't play one on the internet in this type of case. If you are pitching a project or a service, you don't include as a footnote "I have been screwed over in the following cases". That's exactly what you are doing when your review comes up with the inevitable Google search (assuming he posted this under his real name).

We also don't know he really got shafted. If we were sitting in a court, there would be two sides presented. We are taking the reviewer's word and there are many details admittedly left out. The review would have been more effective if he were to zero in on one point and analyzed that point. We could then argue both sides of that point. Freelancer.com could potentially make changes on that one point. Then we could steer the conversation to one other point.

Instead, we have a blow-up with the passing of parents, a car wreck, stacked-up bills, depression, potential homelessness and all the times which customer service was "angry" with this person. If we're talking about potential issues, we could probably speculate about all the things which might happen to this person while living on the streets. Gosh, maybe he'll even get assaulted.

I feel for all the people in the world getting screwed over. But these sorts of blow-ups don't help. We should focus on ONE issue.

0.) What is "person is susceptible to disasters"? You seriously suggest there is something shameful about people who had parents die/car accidents and such people should keep it secret?

1.) Companies and services are open to criticism from their customers or providers.

2.) If you allow and accept positive subjective reviews, you should accept negative subjective reviews too. They are part of the system.

Free market requires access to full information, that means both good experiences with provider and bad ones.

Medical expenses are a top cause of bankruptcy in the United States (and many other countries). Dealing with this possibility should be a top priority. A person who is going to get wiped out financially by a car wreck is far more susceptible to disasters than someone who is covered by insurance. We don't know how severe the injuries were, but without insurance, even something relatively minor can wipe you out.

Back in the day, many employers provided insurance plans which would cover for things like this. The employee would miss some time for the injury, but the medical costs were largely covered. My parents were relatively poor and I had a life-threatening illness (months in the hospital) which was fully covered by insurance.

When you're working for yourself, you have to cover for these potential disasters. Money pending in your Freelancer account shouldn't be part of that planning.

Safety nets are good, but that review is about the abuse of power by a freelancer.com employee.

The person who posted the review is projecting this behavior on customer service. We don't know exactly what happened and we only have one side of the story.

> It became clear later on that this limitation was placed by a support agent which I apparently angered during the first issue...

Was it actually that clear? Did the customer service rep give an indication that he or she was "angry" with this person? No details were offered except for language which most likely wasn't being used.

> They didn't use these words, but it was the gest of it.

This was used liberally through the review. The reviewer posted the "gest" of the customer service replies which seemed to be filtered through the reviewer's perception of the mood of the person on the other end.

The reviewer is building a monument to their conflict with a previous employer.

Every future interview they have will be in the shadow of this monument.

What do they gain? The company they've focused their ire upon isn't going to fold because of these paragraphs. The person working there now has an opportunity to revel in their handiwork - they riled this guy up all the way to the top of Hacker News!

Best to relegate your emotional outbursts to your art instead of putting them into your business or relationships if you can't keep perspective of how they'll effect your future. I wish someone gave me this advice.

Thank you. Don't blow up in public. Go ahead and post a negative review, but keep it rational. That you ended up homeless is too much information.

Post details about the experience, not just your interpretation of the emotional state of customer service.

What's wrong with you?

No, you ruined your life. You joined a group of people that are not really freelancers but are effectively employees only without the associated perks and securities. Just like Uber drivers are not freelancers.

I don't understand why he would blame Freelancer and not himself. How do you even sleep at night if you rely completely on one platform? It's also widely known that all those sites suck and the same story happens over and over again.

If they are holding his money without good reason then he has reason to blame them. Regardless of other bad choices you think he may have made.

All of those platforms are designed to make developers platform-exclusive. The rating on a platform is extremely important to get new projects. You're shown higher, as more "relevant" offer and so on. At the same time, it's hard to have enough of good and recent feedback on multiple sites.

The market is so saturated that staying relevant (in platform's and clients' eyes) is getting hard. Even if you work on a single platform. One big project (e.g. building a nice app and then updates for it) and you're fucked. One review a year won't get you far. Especially if subsequent updates are handled off the platform.

I worked with repeated clients as well as on my own products for a few years. Working my way back up on those platforms is miserable to say the least.

So the harder, and more long term rewarding option, is to stay away from platforms.

The things is many of the clients are not really reachable without such platform. How would one advertise to a random mom&pop non-IT company on the other side of the globe? Personal site w/ portfolio would barely cut - they wouldn't even know what to google for. Arranging payment would be a huge hassle too. Working only locally is not a solution either.

I guess if one approaches this as an employee or entrepreneur.

My reply is as an employee. I'd prefer to not chase JavaScript frameworks.

I guess on the other side of the coin, one sort of has to these days if the entrepreneurial route is taken?

Did you reply to a wrong thread? I must be missing a link between the marketplaces and Javascript frameworks :(

Applications are open for YC Summer 2018

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact