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How to find a freelancer who sucks

If you are non-technical, hiring a programmer can be a bit daunting. How can you evaluate their technical skills when you don't know an IP address from your elbow?

Well, you can't actually. There is no way you can (on you own) evaluate someone else's technical expertise if you don't have any. Never fear, however. Instead, you can evaluate them on other criteria. Here are some ways of identifying someone who will do a crappy job of writing your software.

Is their written correspondence riddled with typos? If they aren't careful when communicating with you, a potential client, believe me, they won't be careful with your code, either. Poor communication is a great indicator of a sucky programmer.

Do they ask questions? Developers who don't care about your needs won't ask you any questions about them. They'll ask a few questions, and make a lot of assumptions. If they don't ask any question other than the billing rate, they will suck the most.

Do they have a plan for ensuring quality? A developer who sucks will look confused if you ask about their plan to make sure they develop quality software. Programmers who don't suck can tell you about the unit tests they will create, acceptance tests they will help create, or perhaps even a manual test plan they will provide to help verify some level of software quality.

Do they claim to be a guru at everything? Programmers who suck will often tell you they are experts at any and every technology you question them about. Good developers know that you can't be an expert at everything, and that claiming to be so is dishonest and foolish. If you really want someone who sucks to work on your project, liars are a great choice.

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What the critics are saying...

As someone with over 20 years of software development experience and currently a small business owner, it has been a pleasure working with Avonelle. In addition to being a talented developer, Avonelle also has database expertise and system design skills. Avonelle is open minded and willing to discuss various methodologies for achieving a project goal. She is also not afraid to ask questions which is vital in a software development project. Her up-front project cost (not estimate) is very helpful in budgeting for a project.

--Dwayne Wolterstorff, Owner @ Fair