Ask your WordPress questions! Pay money and get answers fast! (more info)

Is this site exploitive of the WP community?

  • SOLVED

Hello guys, nice site, this seems similar to crowdsourcing/crowdspring type sites that designers are getting exploited by soliciting them to do spec work without the guarantee of getting paid for their time. There is a bit of a distinction because with design being more of a "soft" asset while code answers (Which so far the questions seem to be) are more of a hard asset, nevertheless, many developers can invest time (whether it be 5 minutes to 20 minutes or more) for a question, and only one gets paid, so you have 10 devs take a whack at a question each taking 20 minutes, the question is estimated at 30 minutes and at average developer rate of $60/hr the poser puts the bounty at $30, you just have 200 minutes total community developer time spent, $198 worth of effort consumed for $30. Assuming mostly all those devs are pros, that all their answers were reasonably correct, 9 devs don't get squat for their professional and well intentioned efforts. Then, a plugin dev who did nothing but release a plugin that required support but didn't provide it himself, gets rewarded as well. All this on the backs of the question answerers. I find it a little bit too close for comfort to On Spec exploitation that AIGA and others are seriously trying to stamp out within our community. I hope you can see the issues I laid out here and find some way to make this site which could be very valuable to the WP community, less exploitative overall.

Answers (16)

2010-05-18

Michael Fields answers:

I have never felt exploited by this site. Quite honestly, I think it's a great resource for the WordPress community and I am really glad to be a part of it as someone who offers support. I will give you my personal opinion of the questions that you have asked...

<blockquote>this seems similar to croudsourcing/crowdspring type sits that designers are getting exploited by soliciting them to do spec work without the guarantee of getting paid for their time.</blockquote>

I was never solicited by wp/Questions to do anything. I found the site through my Twitter Network and joined voluntarily. I help out when I can in the WordPress support forums and thought that the prospect of getting paid to help people out was something that was worth looking into. I think that the competitive nature of this site really brings out the best in the people who attempt to solve people's problems. I have written some really great code for people who have asked questions here. I have 'won' some of the questions and 'lost' others. But at the end of the day, I still walk away with some really good code that I didn't have the day before.

<blockquote>so you have 10 devs take a whack at a question each taking 20 minutes... ...Assuming mostly all those devs are pros, that all their answers were reasonably correct, 9 devs don't get squat for their professional and well intentioned efforts.</blockquote>

This is <em>(or really should be)</em> a known outcome for all participating here answering questions. "Reasonably Correct" is a rather loose term... while it's true that there is more than one way to skin a cat, one way is most likely going to be faster, better or easier. And there is only one judge that matters on this site: the person who asked the question. That's what I really like about wp/Questions... it's all about the Asker - they set the price, they choose the answer that works the best for them.

To address the second part of this quote: It seems to me that you are making the assumption that only one person gets chosen as the winner - this is not always the case. The Asker has the option to choose as many winners as they want to. I have been involved in two questions thus far where the total fee was split between me and another person. It's quite possible that there have been question where more than two people have won, but I am not sure.

<blockquote>Then, a plugin dev who did nothing but release a plugin that required support but didn't provide it himself, gets rewarded as well. All this on the backs of the question answerers.</blockquote>

I'm not exactly clear on what you are implying here. Would you please elaborate?

<blockquote>I find it a little bit too close for comfort to On Spec exploitation that AIGA and others are seriously trying to stamp out within our community. I hope you can see the issues I laid out here and find some way to make this site which could be very valuable to the WP community, less exploitative overall. </blockquote>

While I am not very familiar with the AIGA or Spec work, I do know what they are. All I can say is that I do not feel exploited by this site at all. I don't view this as spec work. It's a question and answer site. If I do not know that answer to a question, I do not try to answer it. If it references a plugin that I am not familiar with, I leave it alone. Simple as that. If it's going to take me 20 minutes to answer a question, I shouldn't be answering it.

In conclusion, I have a question for you: "What can be done differently here?"

2010-05-18

WordPress Security answers:

I'm a professional who provides WordPress security services to website owners for a fee. We set prices so that our team gets paid fair hourly wages; with money left over for advertising, re-investment, and hopefully a profit by the end of the year.

We work, and we expect to get paid for it, as do most professionals.

That said, IMHO; this is neither a crowdsourcing site, nor does it promote spec work. Lawrence is on target when he said:
<blockquote>StackOverflow exploits the people who answer questions - they are never paid. Wordpress.org exploits the people who answer questions - they are never paid. Experts Exchange exploits the people who answer questions - only a few of them get trivial benefits, and the rest are never paid.

This site is different - money gets paid to the people who answer questions.</blockquote>
Wish I had just one dollar for every forum post and WordPress question I've answered on scores of sites over the years. I do it because what goes around comes around <em>(no sig line promoting my company, no requests to check out our site).</em>

No one here is being forced to answer questions. If I may speak for the owners, this site was not created to provide income, but to provide a bit of extra incentive for helping out. And it does a job great with that.

What an excellent idea, only wish I'd thought of it first. Lawrence, please keep up the good work.

Regards,

Tambra

2010-05-18

Mathieu Hallé answers:

i stop answering on this site because by the time i finish writing my answer, 8 other dev answer about that same response i did.

then i waisted 5-30 minutes of my life (and 6 other dev too.)

i think that the principal behind the site is good. but a few change should be made.

1- Submit question and how much your willing to pay.
2- Dev reply saying i'll do it and for how much.
3- The person who asked can chose who he want to solve the problem.
4- if the problem is solved, Dev get paid.

I seen in the past question that would require to rewrite complete theme for 40$... we are all pros here and we all got bills to pay...



2010-05-18

Olivia answers:

Hi everybody,

I love the idea begin this site. I really like that is a place where I can go to ask for pieces of code that are beyond my knowledge of programming languages.

Being in the side of the people who write questions and not answers I would suggest some small changes:

-Wp Questions needs a reference guide of industry "standards" of what's the prize for some generic jobs that can be adapted later on one on one basis. I just don't know how much it cost to write a piece of jquery code or php or javascript or how much it takes to adapt a plugin. A frame of reference would be great for that. The magic of wordpress is that many people like me are starting to be able of making their sites. You as the professionals should be who set the tone of the negotiations not assuming that people are trying to exploit you but that you have to educate people about what it takes to make the things that you do.

-When you subscribe a question to the customer service of godaddy they ask you how much do you know about technical stuffs: nothing, something, more than Steven Jobs, etc. I think that that could be a check list when a user subscribe a question. This way the programmer that is writing the answer won't have to waist his time writing more than the necessary if he is dealing with a pro or having to write everything again to explain basic stuffs because the user don't know how to use the answer that he got. I think that this could even affect the prize of the bid. I'll pay more for a more in depth answer that gives me all the steps to execute and idea.

-I also think that the general rule should be: If you don't agree with the prize of the bid say so and don't start giving partial answers and leave the clients in the middle of the road, if they didn't know that you were working thinking that it's an unfair deal.

-I don't know if there is a possible way to avoid having many people working simultaneously at the same moment but I agree with @Mathieu Hallé. His steps seams reasonably for me.

Take care,

Olivia

2010-05-18

Ehthisham tk answers:

you are right

2010-05-18

Edouard Duplessis answers:

I don't know if you know the site Stack overflow... its the same kind of site but instead of being paid ... you got kudos...

if i can make a little 5$ or 10$ for helping somebody... it's ok

its just a little reward for something i'll do all day long for nothing...

[[LINK href="http://www.readwriteweb.com/start/2010/05/weekend-reading-drive-by-daniel-pink.php"]]read this article and this video you gonna understand waht i mean[[/LINK]]

2010-05-18

Monit Jadhav answers:

I agree with you on the crowdsourcing stuff, even as a designer I have felt cheated in the past when someone rejects your design and picks the one which is way off the design brief.
That can be frustrating. This site is different though.

We get to solve peoples problems which is good in terms of getting some popularity as an expert.

Also we get know new problems that people are facing that we also have had in past and can get those answered as well from other experts.

So all in all this looks a different site and can help coders and newbie coders. Whole purpose of site is to get problems solved when people are under pressure of a deadline.

Nothing like Expertise it goes long long way.

2010-05-18

Lawrence Krubner answers:

rspindel, those are fair questions. I do think the issue is an important one. We want to see the answerers get paid fairly for the time they put in answering questions, and it is worthwhile to talk about this issue and ask whether the prices are high enough. I am not sure of the final answer to this problem, perhaps there is none, but I do think that one way forward is for the answerers to remember that they can encourage askers to raise the prize offered, if the answerers feel the prize is too low.

[[LINK href="http://www.wpquestions.com/page/static/name/HowToAssignPrizeMoney"]]The money for a question can be split among all of the answerers[[/LINK]], and we encourage the askers to do so where appropriate.

Last time I checked the stats, about 20% of all the questions ended with the money being split among multiple answerers. I think the splits are often the most fair way of rewarding all the people who contribute to a solution.

If the people who are ready to answer a question feel the price is too low, we encourage them to say so. They can either email the asker, or state their complaint in the thread beneath the question. The askers have an easy way of increasing the prize money, and they should be encouraged to do so if their question is more ambitious than the prize they offer.

Last time I checked the stats, about 8% or 9% of the questions had their prize money boosted above the original offer. Sometimes an asker wants to tip an answerer for a job well done, or sometimes the various people responding have suggested to the asker that the prize money needs to be increased, and the asker heeds those requests.

In terms of what is exploitive, I think each person is going to come to their own conclusions about that. Personally, I think the support forums at WordPress.org are exploitive, because the people asking questions never get paid for the time they put in. The internet is full of free forums where the expertise of the answerers is ripped off, without pay, so that the owner of the site can make some money through advertising. By contrast, on this site, 89% of the money goes to the people who actually answer the questions (almost 5% goes to PayPal, and the remaining 7% goes to Darren and I).

StackOverflow exploits the people who answer questions - they are never paid. Wordpress.org exploits the people who answer questions - they are never paid. Experts Exchange exploits the people who answer questions - only a few of them get trivial benefits, and the rest are never paid.

This site is different - money gets paid to the people who answer questions.

I have some other thoughts about this site which I wrote last year, in the post "[[LINK href="http://codewi.se/2009/11/26/history-incubation-and-inspirations/"]]History, incubation and inspirations[[/LINK]]". If you have the time, you may wish to give that a look, to see some of the reasoning that lead to this site.

Again, thanks for raising this issue. It is worth talking about.

--------

Hmm, one final thought. I do not think this is fair to plugin developers:

<blockquote>Then, a plugin dev who did nothing but release a plugin that required support but didn't provide it himself, gets rewarded as well.</blockquote>

A lot of developers put a lot of time into plugins that get released for free, and which thousands, or tens of thousands, of people use. Most of the time, the developers never get any money for all of the hard work that they put into their plugins. Lots of people enjoy the benefits of that plugin, and yet few of them ever think to make a donation back to the developer. This is unfair. That is why [[LINK href="http://wpquestions.com/support_open_source/index"]]we give 25% of our profits to the plugin developers[[/LINK]] when a question is about their plugin. We believe that a site like WP Questions can function, in part, as a fund raiser for open source software development. And we believe it is time to funnel more money back to the developers who work so hard to provide the community with the plugins which we all rely on.


Lawrence Krubner comments:

[[LINK href="http://codewi.se/2010/05/19/codewise-exploitive/"]]I have reposted my thoughts to our blog[[/LINK]], and added a few additional thoughts.

There are many good ideas being discussed in this thread, some of which we will surely implement. On Friday, I will do a roundup of the good ideas on [[LINK href="http://codewi.se/"]]our blog[[/LINK]].

2010-05-18

Jarret Minkler answers:

Sort of ... here you can tell if somebody is already on the right track. If they are, you can choose not to waste your time.

2010-05-18

Oleg Butuzov answers:

Exploited? no way...

I am learning... (from Utkarsh mostly =)) I am working (found a good client here)... I am playing with my ego (to be on the TOP - hope to get there next few weeks =))... I am just doing that as i doing that on Google Questions and Answers or livejournal comm ru_wordpress, but i am getting some money if my answer help... and thats a good motivation. even if its only 4 bucks =)

2010-05-18

Chris Lee answers:



Chris Lee comments:

I think it's only exploits people if the question presenter expects them to do the whole project for a small amount of money.

On the other hand, I think this is a good place to find experienced people for help. Just don't expect full service.

In a forum like wordpress.org you may not even find someone that'll commit an answer. At least here if it's a small enough question you can get help. If you're stuck on a small hump. You know we've all been there.


Chris Lee comments:

There any way you can make askers "up the tip" as the discussion between wordpress developers continue?

I feel like some of these people are asking even more questions as the conversation progresses and holding the reward hostage.

Obviously, i don't care about 10-20 bucks. I'm doing it to help people. But i just want to answer a question and move on. I'm not looking to become godaddy tech support.

I also would like some type of participation from the askers. Some askers give very minimal effort trying to solve their own problem. Some of the askers are just looking to copy and paste your work without thinking about what they're doing or should just hire someone for help.

2010-05-18

Merne Asplund answers:

When I first discovered this site, it seemed that each developer had a respect for each others work. What I mean is, if someone had answered correctly and it was down to a few installation issues, no other developer would chime in to try to steal the bounty. Unfortunately, capitalism strikes.

Opportunists, not really developers, are winning most of the bounties now. All that is happening is copy and paste of the same exact answer, and nothing is done to stop it. For whatever reason, those posting the bounties don't see this and seem to pick the answer closest the bottom of the page.

What is this doing? Well I, for one, have stopped trying to answer these questions because I am not going to win the bounty even if I am the first to get it right. This only kills the community that was seemingly starting to form around this tool. I would be more apt to answer if there wasn't a bounty and the community of honest people returned.

2010-05-18

Buzu B answers:

Well, the question really becomes, is it worth to spend time answering a question whose prize money is 4 bucks? I think it is. Not for the money, but for the question itself and the assumptions it makes.

I have never felt I've been exploited here. I have asked for the prize money to be rose more than once and always got a positive response. Also, it is not just about questions, answers and prize money. It's about the community more than anything else. We grow all together, and honestly I think I've gained more on those questions I haven't won, because I was able to see how other people solved a problem that for some reason I couldn't or for which my solution wasn't the best in the jar.

Answering questions is something that comes naturally from me. I used to do it at forums for free. Here I get money for doing something I would be still be doing but without any payment if the site didn't exist.

Now, I do agree with those saying that the competence is very high, but that is how the real world is. You cannot expect a guy who, like you, has bills to pay to just do nothing because you posted a response before he did. I'm sorry people, but that is unfair. When you go out to freelance you know that there are lots of people after the same jobs you are, yet you put not 30 minutes, but even hours creating a business proposal. How many times you really get the project?

You might thing for Michael Fields, or me, or one of the other guys on the top experts list it is easy to say the site is all cool because we've made a fair amount of money, but I think it is the same for everybody. Regardless of how much you've made or paid, the site is still cool because it gathers more information about wordpress than any other site I know. Moreover, the information here is all real and usually not addressed anywhere else.

Something we seem to have left out so far is the fact that you also get clients here. I've worked with people I met answering a question. We build a working relationship and continue working outside the boundaries of wpquestions.com. Wpquestions.com is a great site with a great community and a handful of wordpress experts hard to find anywhere else. If you have stopped answering because you feel you can never win, then it is your own decision. You cannot blame no one for your lack of confidence on your own self.

2010-05-18

Steve Lambert answers:

<blockquote>Wordpress.org exploits the people who answer questions - they are never paid.</blockquote>

I have to politely and strongly disagree with this sentiment. Just because people don't get paid, doesn't mean it's exploitative. Reducing all our exchanges to only cash value is at best a major oversight, at worst, denies our humanity. (granted, that might be overstating things)

I ask questions on the WP Forums and answer them. It's an exchange. I give and I get. I give because I want to help, I want to give back for what I have received from the forums in the past. Sometimes I ask a question, and while I'm waiting, I will answer a couple that are at or below my skill level. This isn't exploitation, it's an exchange of gifts in a community.

I see the point about sites making revenue off the goodwill of this exchange - that certainly has ethical problems. But I don't see this as the case on the WP Forums.

I also want to add, I think this site is a good thing. The questions are of a higher caliber and deserve payment. The payment doesn't seem to be high enough to be sustainable, and there are problems in that too many smart folks are wasting their time answering the same question. But it sounds like these inefficiencies are being addressed I hope.

Great question though.

And I don't want the $4.

2010-05-18

Ryan McCue answers:

I absolutely agree with Steve Lambert. The people who help on the WordPress forums (or via other methods, like IRC) do it because they want to give something back to the community. The WordPress core developers do development work for free for the same reason.

Neither of those are exploitive of the community, nor do I feel this site is. I personally prefer helping people for free. In my opinion, we should send all the money to the WordPress core developers, who work tirelessly (for free) on the project.

2010-05-18

Sjoerd Groos answers:

If you need money, get a job. If you like to get tips for good answers, enjoy the ride.