How to Outsource Anything Using 6 Top Outsourcing Websites

ODesk, Elance, Vworker, Freelancer.com and Guru are freelancing sites that facilitate and streamline the process of hiring virtual (or remote workers).

Each of these sites have their own approach, but in essence, all of these companies allow you to do more or less the same thing. You can post a job description, have people bid on the work, negotiate on price, and look at previous ratings and work history before settling on either a contract rate, or a pay-per hour agreement.

Generally, money is escrowed (or held) by each of the websites and they release the payment to the worker when the work is complete (skimming a neat profit at the same time – typically 10-15% of money that changes hands).

So why outsource?

Vworker argues that outsourcing makes workers “More Accountable”. According to Gallup Research, 54% of traditional U.S. workers “sleepwalk through their day” and an additional 18% actively sabotage other workers. Ian Ippolito, founder of Vworker, believes that “in today’s competitive environment, that’s simply unacceptable”.

Odesk tows a similar line: “Guaranteed work. Guaranteed payment”.

In an interview, Ian Ippolito made the following comment: “When I hire a traditional employee, I can’t be sure they’ll do the job right, spending time at the water cooler or playing solitaire instead. But in our virtual environment, we’re proud to guarantee performance”. The added flexibility of having to hire staff only when you need them is another reason why many businesses are turning to outsourcing. You also can get access to top quality people at a much lower rate than if you were hiring in your own country and the cost savings can be very significant.

To hire a quality programmer in California is probably going to set you back $80-$120 per hour. Using outsourced web sites you can find quality programmers in the US for $30-$40 per hour, or in India, the Philippines or Russia for $10-$15 per hour.

TIP: For more tips on how to managing a  remote worker, take a look at these 7 useful strategies for managing virtual staff. See also the 8 best collaboration tools for virtual teams

Getting started

Outsourcing  can be overwhelming at first – each of these sites uses a different system, have a different layout, and in the case of Vworker, can take days to get used to (although they’ve recently improved their website usability). Deciding on which site to use while striking the balance between competitive rates and effective results can be like walking a virtual tight rope.

As mentioned above, all of these sites will require you to:

  1. Post your job.
  2. Start receiving proposals from candidates.
  3. Compare profiles, reviews, ratings, credentials, portfolios and price to select the best fit.  Methods of payment and working together generally vary from site to site (explained in more detail below).

We ourselves have outsourced work for over 10 years and our virtual team extends to several countries around the world. We’ve used these sites many times for many different projects (small and large).

Here’s what we know.

Based on Compete.com rankings these six sites are the top outsourcing sites on the Internet (at least in terms of traffic). From most to least popular:

1. Elance

How it works: You can hire by the hour or by the project and then track progress in your “Workroom” where you can “View and manage work-in-progress online instead of on-site. Messages, screenshots, files and completed work are automatically saved here”. One nifty feature is the ability to Invite co-workers to join your Workroom as needed.

Payments: Approve milestones or time sheets prior to making payment.

Fees: Elance deducts between 6.75% and 8.75% from each payment (depending on the project budget), transferring the remaining amount directly to the service provider’s Elance account.  In addition, there is a one-time $10 account activation fee to set up an Employer account.

Our experience: Generally higher quality providers that are bit more expensive. Probably the best option for larger jobs where you need to hire a team with strong technical skills, or if you don’t want to be bothered with mediocre providers.

2. Freelancer

How it works: When you hire a worker you need to create payment milestones, as milestones are completed, payment is released.

Payments: based on milestones, or completed work.

Fees: Here’s where it gets messy:

  • Posting a project – $5, refundable, fully refunded on selecting a Service Provider.
  • Selecting a Service Provider – $3 or 3%, whatever is higher
  • Posting a Featured Project – $19
  • Hide Project from Search Engines – $3
  • Optional Hide Bids from Other Users – $3
  • Gold Membership – $24.95/month, 0% project commissions
  • Posting a Full Time Project – $99.95

Our experience: Better for project based work (one off jobs). Easy to use, and suited to smaller jobs – “The average job is under US$200, making outsourcing for the first time extremely cost effective for small businesses.

3. oDesk

How it works: Pay only for verified time spent working for you – Odesk’s Team Room feature allows you to see each of team members activity levels (keyboard and mouse activity), and feedback (Work diary), as well as web cams and screenshots of their computer to make workers more accountable.

Payments: based on hours worked, or completed jobs.

Fees: The oDesk fee is 10% of the employer’s payment to oDesk which equates to 11.11% on top of the amount paid to the contractor.

Our experience: great for when you have a task where you’d prefer to pay by the hour.

4. Guru

how it works: Pay for completed work.

Fees: Memberships are available from $29.95 to $99.95 per quarter.
Project Fee – Either 5 or 10% of the Invoice or Escrow amount, depending on your membership level.
Escrow Fee – 2% of the escrowed amount. Only charged when SafePay Escrow is used.
Employer Payment Method Fees – Up to 4% for a credit card payment and 2.5% for  Withdraw Method Fees – $3 to receive funds by check and $9 to receive funds by wire transfer.

Our experience: caters more to US based freelancers (182,000 workers in the US vs 51,242 in India, and only 1,887 in the Russian Federation). Working with a native English speaker is sometimes a good option when you need to be able to verbally communicate project requirements. Guru is also a good option if you are looking to work with a US based provider.

Which site is best?

In short, it depends on the type of work that you are doing. For hourly work, oDesk is possibly the best option. For one off project based work Guru and freelancer.com are great options as they have a process where you upload funds into escrow (giving the provider and reassurance). Disputes over completed work are usually handled swiftly – although it’s important to have a clear job description (see below – Tips for posting jobs). In our experience vWorker is best for getting project based work completed.

Guru is great if you are looking for a US based provider. With Elance the providers need to pay to be listed. This provides a bar that eliminates some of the lower quality providers. The result is that you are more likely to pay a little more, but you are also more likely to get a good end result. Scriptlance is not really recommended unless you have a small budget.

Another outsourcing site that is worth mentioning is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Strange name, but it has some great funcionality. MTurk is based on the idea of taking a job and separating it out for many different people to work on (in pieces). An interesting approach and worth checking it out if that approach fits your project requirements.

Staff.com for hiring long term full time workers

Staff.com is a new site with the same owners as Time Doctor. We launched in early 2012 and are focused on finding top quality talented people at reasonable salaries, and only for long term work (not for projects or short term work). Check us out and send any feedback you have!

 

Comparing the software used to monitor paid by the hour work

If you are hiring on an hourly basis you’ll want to monitor how many hours are worked (and confirm they were actually worked). If you develop trust in someone you might not need to do this, but generally it’s hard to trust a new person that you are paying on a hourly basis that they will deliver the results you want (and /or that they aren’t just sitting around fiddling with their mouse).

oDesk has the “oDesk Team Tool” which takes screenshots of the person’s computer at regular intervals. vWorker has similar software (AccuTime Card) which records hours, screen images and takes a camera image at regular intervals using their web cam.  Both systems work well.

Time Doctor software (that’s us!) is another alternative which can be used to monitor paid by the hour workers. It’s a much more comprehensive and a more effective tool for working with remote teams and has many advantages including automated reports, time usage reports (for application and internet usage) and it doesn’t attract an ongoing fee (as the Team Tool and AccueTime Card would).

Project based work versus paying an hourly rate

Generally, you can hire either on a project basis, paying for a completed project, or on an hourly basis. Project work is generally safer for you as there is a fixed amount you need to pay to get the task complete. When you hire on an hourly rate you don’t have any reassurance of the maximum amount that you will spend. An hourly rate is more appropriate for longer term work or where you have a variety of different tasks for the person.

Tips for project based work

If you hire on a project basis make sure that you do complete and detailed specifications of the project. Exactly what do you want to happen, how will you know when it is complete. List the requirements in detail. Be careful that you select someone who has experience doing projects of a similar level of complexity. It is easy for freelancers to say yes to a project without thinking through how difficult it might be to complete (particularly if they are desperate for work).

Having someone quit halfway through a project is the worst possible outcome (and an experience we’ve have had many times). Having to start over means you lose time and money. Learn from our mistakes – see below.

Hiring an individual versus a team

On all of these sites, there are generally 2 types of workers – individuals and teams. The advantage of hiring an individual is that you know exactly who you are working with and you can get familiar with the working style of that person. If you are working long term on an hourly rate, you can negotiate lower rates if you are working directly.

You will also have more control if you are hiring a person rather than you hiring a company which has a number of employees. On the other hand a company might bring more training, synergy and an environment where people can ask for advice and direction. In our experience working with an individual is a better move especially if you are working together in the long term.

Which country should you hire in?

About 5 years ago, we worked with an online researcher and programmer based in Mumbai. Things were going so well that we asked him to set up an office for us. We paid for computers, office space, etc and wrote up some contracts for 2-3 new staff who would work under his supervision. 5 weeks later we received an email that went something like this “Hi, I am the younger cousin of ________ and he is forcing me to do work and doesn’t pay me. He threatened to stab me with a knife if I talk to you”.

Our Mumbai contact had forged receipts for office equipment, falsified personal documentation and was sitting between 2 computers pretending to be 3 different people.

In general most of our experiences with workers from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan have been negative. In our experience, it’s common for freelancers to ask for bonuses before work is completed, complain that the work is taking longer than expected, ask for money, and will often create really poor excuses for not reaching milestones: rare diseases, non-existent floods, house fires and everything in between have been used to excuse under-performance.

As always, it really depends on the person. There are extremely talented people in India, however it is sometimes difficult for you to get access to them on freelance sites. We work with a designer who is Indian – he’s an illustrator and does great work and has never missed a deadline.

It’s important to look at work history carefully to make sure that past performances matches would you’d expect from a worker (and make sure their experience is in the right area). If they have multiple very high ratings on the freelance site you are more likely to be pleasantly surprised rather than disappointed.

Other Locations

Former Soviet Union (Russia, Belarus, Ukraine etc) – a good place to find low cost, technically superb coders. Usually not the clearest communicators (or the best designers), and you’ll have more luck if you have a detailed blueprint at the beginning of a project – However,  they are generally hard workers and honest in answers to any questions you have.

Philippines – incredibily diligent workers in all areas. It’s possible to find good writers, marketers, researchers and programmers. One of the cheaper places to hire great staff.

USA / Canada / UK – excellent if you are looking for skills in a particular area, but it’s important to look at work history. We’ve had bad experiences hiring people who are new to freelancing. In general hiring someone in these places is more likely to get you a better result but is also more likely to be 2-10 times more expensive.

Graphic / Web design – don’t hire designers from South East Asia if you expect a western looking result.  South America seems to have good illustrators and Flash programmers.

Expats – hiring someone from the US or UK living in Thailand for example can be a great way to get very talented people at a lower hourly rate. Their living costs are lower and they might not find it easy to get a high paying job in their place of residence – freelancing might be an extremely appealing option. Try advertising on expat forums.

Note: In each country be aware of natural disasters, for example Typhoons can wipe out power to entire cities for a number of days in the Philippines. Political turmoil or severe heat waves can also create problems in some countries.

Tips for selecting the right worker

A common struggle with outsourcing is ending up with people that can’t get the job done or leave half way through a project. One way to overcome this problem is to hire people that have good feedback and ratings. If we are posting a complex job, we never hire anyone with less than 30 completed jobs and they must have ratings of higher than 90% (or 9 out of 10).

Another way to dissect your applicants is to avoid any generic responses. If someone hasn’t addressed your criteria in a clear and simple way, it’s probably not worth looking at their work history. You can even put a simple test in your job description like “mention the word elephant when you are replying so that I know you’ve read our job description in full”.

Kick the Tires

Although it takes a little longer, if the job is important, you should create a small test that can evaluate a person’s skills. For example when hiring a writer for my web site, I asked them to write 3 sentences for a specific page on my site. “Please look at this web page, evaluate the current content and then add another paragraph of 3-5 sentences that you think are missing on the page, and that fits with the current style of the content”.

Here’s a very good example of a short job advertisement / test by Jason Fried from 37 Signals they used to hire customer support representatives for their business.

Alternatively (especially for larger projects), hiring someone for a small-project they can do in their spare time is a lot easier for both sides to swallow. “Kick the Tires” in Getting Real talks about this:
Before we hire anyone we give them a small project to chew on first. We see how they handle the project, how they communicate, how they work, etc. Working with someone as they design or code a few screens will give you a ton of insight. You’ll learn pretty quickly whether or not the right vibe is there. Scheduling can be tough for this sort of thing but even if it’s for just 20 or 40 hours, it’s better than nothing. If it’s a good or bad fit, it will be obvious.

It’s also a good idea to think hard about what you’re offering and how you can make your situation as attractive as possible – Flexible hours, bonuses for work complete before deadlines and any other sweeteners will help attract a great pool of workers to select from.

The most common frustration is in not getting the output that you desire out of the contractor. Another potential problem is needing to spend a lot of time back and forth training the person or fixing issues with their work. Here are a few pointers for overcoming these and other challenges:

  • Hire people with a lot of great feedback.
  • Test many different people, possibly using several different outsourcing sites.
  • After testing, select the best few people and hire all of them. Then start working with these few different people on test projects and continue working long term with the ones that produce the best results.

Really it’s a matter of trial and error to a large degree, and once you work with dozens of people you will find a few who always come through for you and whom you can depend on. Over time you’ll develop a list of preferred contractors that you can contact for work that you know they can deliver.

What can you outsource with these sites?

Theoretically you can outsource anything. Looking at the types of work listed in Odesk for example there is: programming, web design, writing, sales, customer support even legal work or accounting. In practice the more specialized and complex the task, the more difficult it is to find the right person on one of these sites.

Hiring staff directly vs Using an outsourcing site

Outsourcing sites are best for finding people to do project based work. If you want a longer term full time person you might want to try hiring them directly. Target the country or area where you are most likely to find the right staff. Then use a multi-pronged recruitment method including: posting in job sites, linked in, posting in relevant forums and referrals from people in your network.

Recruiting remote staff (in your own country or abroad) is really no different to recruiting locally. All of the same hiring and firing principles apply.

In the US, Craigslist, Linkedin, Monster are good ways to advertise for people. Sometimes you can get better results from word of month, from advertising on Facebook or from advertising or relevant forums or industry specific web sites. For example if you are recruiting Java programmers, there are a number of Java forum web sites where you can advertise for free or for a small fee. This helps you to go direct to the place where your target employees are hanging out. You can do the same thing with Linked in.

Recruiting overseas in the Philippines, Russia, India etc is similar. You can use Facebook, Linked in or local job websites to recruit in all of these places. For example to recruit in the Philippines you can use: http://www.gopinoy.com, http://www.bestjobs.ph – in Romania, there are English language job websites like http://www.bestjobs.ro. In general it’s not hard to find popular job sites any country and posting a job add is usually $50 to $100.

In other developed countries you will find sites like http://www.gumtree.com.au (Australia) where you can advertise jobs for free (or find people looking for work). Similarly, in the U.K. Where the job market is tight you can find highly skilled travelers who might be interested in any sort of work (try the jobs section in http://www.tntmagazine.com/).

10 Tips for posting projects requirements

  1. Write your description as if you are explaining them to a 10 year old child
  2. Set clear milestones if you want use them for payments
  3. Ask someone else to read your project description before uploading it – sometimes things that make sense to you will make no sense at all to someone who has no involvement with your project or company
  4. Invite workers who have matching experience. For instance, if you are looking for Joomla help, search for workers with Joomla experience and good ratings. Sort them by the by the last sign in date and then invite them to your project.
  5. If you are worried about protecting your intellectual property or idea, create an NDA and make sure you are exchanging it with a real entity. Make your terms and conditions reasonable (most of these sites have a standard NDA you can modify).
  6. If you don’t want to draw attention to what you are doing, keep your job description vague and discuss details only with parties you are interested in working with.
  7. Post the majority of your job description in an attachment and leave a small “test” to make sure the person has read the description (for example, mentioning a particular word or asking them to address 2-3 key criteria).
  8. Use a service like gomockingbird.com to clearly outline your ideas in a visual medium
  9. Make your project sound exciting and include that it will look good in any portfolio
  10. Post your job to specific geographic regions depending upon the sort of worker you are looking for.

 

Rob Rawson is a co-founder of Staff.com, a global recruitment platform where you can access very talented staff at affordable rates. They also have a technology called Time Doctor a productivity software that helps keep track of your team, even when working from home.

Rob resides in Sydney, Australia but can also be found in major cities around the globe, like Paris, Kiev or San Francisco.

Find Rob on Google Plus

82 Comments

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  2. Jennifer December 19, 2013

    Hey Rob,

    not bad because I am trying get a simple job to expand my graphics designing talents to the Odesk clients, but am getting no where. Hopefully this method will work, thanks for the advice. I also need to update my portfolio, but for the most part I just need ratings.

    Jennifer
    SuperGraphicPear Ltd
    Logo Design at her best

    • Shafeer December 23, 2013

      Yes…exactly

  3. Claire October 22, 2013

    wow! Very informative. My experiences on Big 4 crowd sourcing websites have been horrible. We lost a lot of clients and of inferior quality.

    I went to an IT seminar in Portugal 3 years ago and met some great companies and have been working with them without any issues. They’re a tad bit expensive as compared to what you get on crowd sourcing websites but hey you cant compares apples to oranges.

    These are large companies employing a massive workforce.

    http://www.kalsoft.com – Highly Recommended for Microsoft Technologies. Large enterprise. Things go slow but fix and firm. Very professional but bureaucratic.

    http://www.midgr.com – Recommended for Web based applications & Mobile Application development. Also good with mid-large sized applications. Very diverse teams & seasoned on a wide range of technologies. Rapid turnarounds, good CRM. Some project managers can be snotty nerds but are very good with their work.

    http://www.salsoft.com – Recommended for web development and corporate branding. Designers are very creative however some issues with plagiarism which can be ironed out without issues. Cool people.

    We also worked with some Indian & Bangladeshi companies but the quality of work is inferior as compared to the Pakis. Moreover Pakis communicate better in English and don’t come up with ridiculous excuses as compared to the Indians.

    Hope that helps.

    • Rog November 27, 2013

      @ Claire October 22, 2013

      You are obviously a PAKI, please stop commenting as CLAIRE. We can pick that up from a mile away.

      Congrats on getting links from a Pr5 site through the comments. Fyi, they don’t get the same priority.

      I’d also have loved to read the older 70 comments, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to do that. Too bad for time doctor is supposed to be a leading IT company..

      • L. Syed December 19, 2013

        Paki or no Paki the last thing these companies need is a link on a blog. The first two companies are too huge to be doing SEO to acquire business. Huge human resource, multi million dollar govt and fortune 500 contracts under the belt, CMMI certified etc. they dont look for business it just comes to them.

        Rog, stop hating buddy. Life’s too short.

        Claire, its ekalsoft.com not kalsoft

    • Alexander December 23, 2013

      You should have tried outsourcing to Russia. Very skilled coders.

  4. Anonymous October 15, 2013

    Wow. As someone who is looking to start freelancing (writing, software development, whatever I can get), I find your attitude toward the people you intend to hire to be fairly, well, demoralizing. It’s exactly this sort of thing that drove me to leave the corporate world. I really hope the other freelancers out there in cyberspace are right when they keep assuring me that there really are great clients out there and it’s not just jackasses with attitudes like this.

    Good luck finding your highly talented people (who obviously still need requirements dumbed down for a 10 year old) willing to work for slave wages while you spy on their displays.

    Oh, and lest I forget… “elephant.”

  5. Mandeep August 31, 2013

    I think Odesk is the best outsourcing platform available there. However they may get in trouble finding new clients and workers in future if they didnt stop doing changes every week on their layout, navigation or financial system.

  6. Luke Young August 13, 2013

    Great articles and useful tips provided in there. You can also check out my review about virtual staff finder at : http://virtualstafffinderacademyreviews.com/

  7. Roger August 8, 2013

    I’d have loved to read the other 67 comments but can’t read the comments, how do I expand the comments thread, it is not clickable?

  8. Sam August 1, 2013

    I am going to voice my opinion on neutral grounds.

    There are varied experience posted here. I had hired various talents over Odesk from different geographic regions. Well, the experiences were mostly pleasant, however, I have always hired talents who have a very high customer satisfaction rating (min of 4-4.5/5) and at least 100-500+ hours of work already completed with other test and sample portfolio provided. If clients choose these criteria in selecting talents they will most definitely get a right person regardless of the region they choose from. Yes, quality and professionalism do come with a price, which always can be negotiated before a work can begin. Talented people thrive on good ratings which gets them more work. If clients make mistake in picking the cheapest option or low cost option, then yes they will get what they pay for and may not still get the right output even after incurring cost. Similarly, talented candidates also look for clients who delivery payments on time and would always want to work with those clients. Clients also gets rated by talents and based on those ratings, other professional talents would also feel safe to apply or bid. So bottom line, it goes both way in choosing right client – candidate relationship regardless of their regional restrictions. Whatever online freelancing website one chooses, if you follow these few guidelines, you can never go wrong. Also, because interaction is mostly through emails & chats, it becomes more important for clients to properly set requirements and deadlines. No one really wants to spend time going back and forth in clarification and making task difficult and lengthier. Talents are everywhere, you just know how to select them.

    Happy Working together!!!

  9. angie July 1, 2013

    Any Opinions about working with Indian Big Companies such as:
    - ca infotech
    - Infosys
    - Wipro

    Share experiences with us! Thanks :)

    • angie July 1, 2013

      All Indian companies.

    • van August 3, 2013

      Most of them are very good but expensive.

  10. Frank Cerami March 19, 2013

    When outsourcing to other countries how are copyright laws and intellectual property protected? Are there any instances of individuals from these companies stealing a new concept (such as a custom app) and selling it to an industry or company on their own?

  11. Sergio Samayoa March 13, 2013

    Let me tell you my experience:

    VWorker (now freelancer) 2-3 years ago:
    I spend months looking there without getting any project. Common denominator: They want superb results at very cheap. At last I got one with very strange combination: Cobol + Named Pipes and Java. And I got the project because I did a proof of concept programs in advance. I worked with this client for several months until he didn’t need me anymore. After that client I got nothing until I surrender and left VWorker.

    ODesk, since Dec 2012:
    I decided that I have too much spare time and doing nothing good of it so I decided to try again and opened an account at odesk. Again a lot of projects with high requirements at cheap. Finally someone with very specific problem: Extraction of data from flat Cobol files. Again I have to do some proof of concept before the I got the project. Small one by the way but thanks to that project (I got a 5.0 review) I get a good one but, again, with some estrange requirements. Because this victories I decided to reopen account in Freelancer and register at Elance and Guru.

    Elance:
    I didn’t get anything for this site. I feel that the odesk’s UI is better. I will continue to try to get there. What I noticed is that US companies there are looking for permanent positions and the other employers are from Europe and Eastern countries.

    Freelancer:
    UI is little confused but haves its pros like clarification requests (odesk doesn’t have that). Most projects are fixed ones and, again, I feel that the clients are looking for cheap developers. I already bid some projects but I have no much hope since I always bid higher than other developers.

    Guru:
    Just register there but most of the time I get page errors. I start to think on throwing away because the errors and the slowness of the site.

    Bottom line:
    1. It seems that is easier (or less difficult) to get first project on odesk.
    2. I have the sensation that most people think that contracting a non US freelancer will be VERY CHEAP.
    3. Three clients I got in my “freelancer career” are from developed countries: US and UK. Seems that they look for quality over price. I still bid on any project I found interesting (challenge or money) but prefer US and UK customers.

  12. Neo March 3, 2013

    Thanks for the knowledgeable post.

    Am currently having all the issues which are mentioned here.

    I have a very big project which has more than 18 phases. I only posted for phase one.

    I posted my work on Freelancer then alot of bidders.
    I chose the best I thought who had a wonderful website with alot of portfolio.
    I did talk through all the things I need for the project to the Managing Director.

    He agreed we will finish the work in 4 weeks. now we are in 12 weeks and trust me if I say that they have only done the homepage and its not even complete.

    I am having bad experience with indians.

    I don’t know who to turn to now… so confused.
    I have already spent alot of money

    • Ankit March 28, 2014

      Hello Neo,

      I do agree with you and providers like these are used to spoil the image and then a good or serious provider used to suffer. You have a bad experience with the coder from India and now I am sure you will never ever trust on any of the coders that belongs from India but what if they are serious providers?

      Nothing can be said, fingers are crossed.

  13. Jamie February 9, 2013

    It may be tempting to bypass sites like ODesk and Elance, given the problems people mention, and hire a freelancer directly. The issue here is that without a 3rd party supervising the project and holding onto money, you could end up with a dodgy freelancer that will take you for a ride. Check out our blog posting on the pitfalls of hiring a freelancer directly: http://blog.travelvictoria.com.au/2013/02/08/beware-of-freelance-web-designers-or-developers/

  14. fp January 15, 2013

    I too had a bad experience from India. I posted my project on Guru for a web graphic designer. After going through dozens of bids, I finally chose what seemed to be a good designer. Before getting started, we agreed on milestones and deliverables.

    However, as the project started, things changed. I was constantly given excuses for missed deliverables. After multiple requests for updates, I did manage to get one deliverable that was not very good quality. The contractor eventually stopped responding to my emails and calls. I was lucky in that I tied to release of payments to milestones, so the financial loss was minimal.

    This was my first experience with Guru. And unfortunately, was not a very good experience with Indian contractors.

  15. Darcy November 20, 2012

    I understand the comments about their experience in India is upsetting for those reputable worker from India, but…

    I had the exact same experience. I released payments on a timely basis and then when it was time for my site to go live I realized the short cuts they had taken, that I would not be aware of until I took ownership of the site ! It was really aggravating and quite frankly reflected stories we’d heard by other employers that had come to us after getting burned.

    And I did NOT pick the lowest bid.

  16. Crajashaker November 12, 2012

    Indian freelancers, you can also use OpinionValue.in to earn. I have worked using that site and earn a small but decent amount from them. It’s better than working using unknown methods and finding out the hard way that it is a scam.

    • justin naresh December 14, 2012

      I know what you mean. I also use OpinionValue.in. I tried other sites too before and I have found mostly scams. I have even tried oDesk and eLance and I have had no luck with them. OpinionValue.in, however, has provided me with small but steady earnings.

  17. Chaim S. November 1, 2012

    Freelancer.com abused my privacy by revealing my name and surname to the general public. Just imagine a bank or hotel doing something like this!

  18. Daniel F October 16, 2012

    BEWARE! BEWARE! oDesk is a swamp of fraud.
    I had no experience with WordPress so thought some help would be useful. Posted a job on oDesk for a blog with mapping and calendar plugins. The initial estimate was 40 to 50 hours. This promptly changed when the contract was let to 80 to 90 hours. 90 hours later, no blog. When I complained, three days later a minimal blog was offered that met none of my requirements and had no plugins. As a test the spend one hour–one hour–creating my own blog with calendar and mapping plugins. The result had about 100 times the functionality of the blog I paid for. The whole thing was a complete fraud.
    oDesk is a systematic party to this fraud. They have very limited dispute capacities and these are highly biased against customers. For example, on their site it is very easy to give a contractor a bonus but practically impossible to find how to dispute a bill. Negative contractor comments are not posted for at least 14 days, allowing known fraudsters to continue. Then, they can come back under new names. In any case oDesk gets their cut.

  19. Renbue September 28, 2012

    We are wrapping up a large project that relied much on freelance talent. It took nine months with us acting as the project managers and using freelance sites to reach the skills and talents that we needed. The project consisted of developing two software programs, a website, marketing support, writing, voice overs and illustrations. We hired over twenty contractors from around the world and spent several thousand to accomplish our goals. Here is our feedback –

    Guru and Elance proved to be the best. We had excellent results. There are times that you get a contractor who either doesn’t match well or overestimates the skill required. Our best solution is to test your contractor before hiring them. Provide as specific instructions as possible with timelines and try to build an early exercise where if you have to cut ties with the contractor then you can do it early and at a cost that is minimal. We had very problems.

    Odesk didn’t work for us. We posted one project and had two contractors who accepted the work but then never delivered. Oddly enough, however, neither one ever requested any payment so we didn’t lose money but we did lose TIME and time is money. Odesk never responded to our emails for assistance so I don’t give good remarks to their customer service.

    Freelancer…..well I wish I had found this site before we started. We HIGHLY recommend that you stay away from Freelancer. We had a good contractor who performed very well but in the meantime, Freelancer was in our back pocket taking $3.00 here, $1.00 here, $2.00 here. We were nickel and dimed everywhere. The website was hard to use and full of promotions that probably would have cost us more money. We never returned and never will use Freelancer again.

    Hope this is helpful!

  20. Review Affiliate Program September 18, 2012

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  21. Aftab Alam Siddiqui September 9, 2012

    Great post and great site i always refer other to visit this excellent informative site.

  22. crack seo tools September 6, 2012

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  23. Alexander August 24, 2012

    I’m very impressed with this article:) What do you think about getting projects from those sites, dividing them onto small parts and distributing between freelancers? Than making final assembly by full time persons.

  24. Rene August 23, 2012

    I have had some strong results from Moldova & India. Still waiting to see if Philippine contractors are as technically capable as the workers from Eastern nations or some from India.

    One item missing from article that wish was addressed: How does an employer manage security with outsourced contractors? (i.e. Hire a coder to build website. He gains access to the ftp of your site, and decides to use the wrong way. (concerns about osama bin laden type fellows in Pakistan or other muslim allied contractors abusing a contract)). Or hire a bookkeeper from Bangladesh, or even another State in the US and have financial info. exposed to fraud or worst problems.

    Thoughts much appreciated.

    • Vijay December 18, 2013

      Hi Rene

      Why dont you hire professional company from India. If you do business with IT company in india then surely you will get good result. I am also representing IT company from Noida

  25. Shawn Walsh July 6, 2012

    Outsourcing will change the way we think about the office. Looking at those pictures from the 60′s and 70′s, with rows and rows of desks, it’s clear that not only those tasks, but the more mundane everyday office jobs will be pushed out to the marginal producer. This is a tremendous force for good – it will shift the US productivity curve further up and to the right, allowing for greater efficiency, and driving the next generation of economic growth. People will work less, and focus on things that matter, and where they really add value. In a global, digital world, we all share the same desktop. We at http://www.ziptask.com are deeply committed to facilitating that experience and furthering that vision.

    Bite-sized, digital work should be outsourced.

  26. Wirelessradio July 2, 2012

    I Just had a POOR experience with ELANCE.

    I was gamed by the developer who apparently knows ELANCE’s timing policies for automatic payment and how to avoid negative reviews.

    Elance releases escrowed payment at 30 days from the developer claim for payment at job end without any checking with CLIENT that the job is complete or work is performed. It’s automatic.

    They also don’t allow – actually lockout FEEDBACK after sixty days from completion. But they don’t post when “COMPLETION” was or notify you. Their customer support responses are quoting legalese from the TERMS OF USE.
    I am very disappointed in ELANCE and a broken project I am left with.

  27. Dennis June 28, 2012

    I want to start an online beisnuss and I am not sure what is the difference between a wholesale supplier and affiliate marketing. I understand that wholesale companies will dropship for you and affiliate marketing is based on sales. Which one should I do? Should I do a combination of both? Also, do you need a shopping cart for an affiliate marketing beisnuss?? Thanks!

  28. Nandita May 23, 2012

    You can add following sites too –

    1. PeoplePerHour (http://peopleperhour.com) – Specially for UK
    2. WorkMonk (http://workmonk.com) – Project Management and Quality Control platform along with freelancing

  29. jonathan May 22, 2012

    An interesting range of views with differing perspectives.

    From a providers perspective it highlights just how much of a lottery it is when trying to recruit professional,quality staff.

    There are a number of adverse comments here about Indian / Asian freelancers, and we are no exception to having been on the receiving end of some howlers, but, to put this into perspective we have had just the same experience of American and UK based freelancers, so, in conclusion,we see no distinction between gender,race, colour, religion or location of potential and actual freelancers.

    We simply want to employ the best freelancers we can afford, no other criteria applies. But, the main problem is, where do you find them?

    The following is an alternative view from the providers perspective; as a provider we have used O Desk for a number of years for our project and have always paid good rates in the belief that we will engage the more able contractor. We have spent many thousands of £ on various projects.

    The major complaint we have is that there is NO protection for the provider for mistakes / damage a contractor inflicts on your project. Their dispute system is heavily weighted in favour of the contractor. We experienced a number of contractor incidents of incompetance; but the most recent destroyed our db and took our site off line for 4 days and cost us a lot of money to have the db reconstructed.

    O Desk simply state that they don’t care about the circumstances, and the contractors hours must be paid as they have been tracked. So to add insult to injury, not only did we have to pay to have the db reconstructed and any bugs resolve, but we had to pay the contractor for the hours she spent destroying the db.

    So, providers beware of O’Desk.

    We have terminated our account with O’Desk.

    We are about to try Elance.

  30. Venkat May 9, 2012

    Generalization by community or country is in bad taste. There are good and bad people all around the globe.

    I have been on freelancer.com as an SEO writer for the past 4 years, and never had a problem with any of my clients. Working with just a handful of clients I have produced in excess of 5,000 articles, with zero complaints. It is a myth that every ‘native’ can produce the best writing and some of the article directories bear eloquent testimony to this.

    I am picky about who I choose to work with and the initial communication starting with the job post sets the tone to move forward. All through it has been a wonderful experience and I am proud that to date, I have no bad debts account.

    Freelancing is good for the service buyer and service provider when both parties are able to strike the right note. Shall we say, it works like a successful marriage?

    • 99guspuppet February 26, 2013

      Generalizations of country or community are worse than bad taste… they are erroneous and misleading……

  31. Freelance Staff April 3, 2012

    New Freelance Website http://www.hirefreelancers.net NO COMMISSIONS That is What freelancers like unlimited jobs bidding choose a subscription monthly quarterly yearly also our partner new website find tradesman jobs and services jobs also no commissions http://www.jobsbidder.com finding freelance jobs hundreds of categories to find jobs and post jobs free top freelance site 2012 flexible easy to use.

  32. Hugh April 2, 2012

    I have just had a poor experience with a Chinese contractor on Elance. He bid for the work and then repeatedly lied about progress before going silent. I cancelled the contract but after wasting a month on a job which he said would take a week.

    Elance does not allow you to leave feedback unless payment is made so behaviour like this has no ratings impact for a contractor. It’s worth bearing in mind when assessing who to hire.

  33. Soshal March 31, 2012

    freelancing websites like elance.com, guru.com, odesk.com, freelancer.com, etc are interesting as using “crowdsourcing” to get unemployed and high-school students to compete with workers in India and other undeveloped countries… the pitch is “GET GREAT DESIGN DONE REALLY CHEAP!!”, and that’s exactly what it does, and it does state clearly that even the best designers are doing 500+ designs for perhaps 1-2 jobs (earning then $200-400). It really does take advantage of plethora of unemployed designers, so that when they do become good they can go out there and get a proper job. It’s like getting some work experience, and learning that in design everyone wants your creativity for almost free, because if you actually did have skills you’d probably be able to get a job… :)

  34. Paul March 30, 2012

    I’m concerned. The top candidates on my relatively major project are Indian companies, with high ratings.

    Are you saying that even the high-rated Indian companies haven’t worked out for you?

    • admin April 3, 2012

      In my experience there are definitely some very good Indian companies, but there are also a lot of very poor quality companies. Companies in India or anywhere with a lot of high ratings are unlikely to be terrible. Often not as amazing as the ratings would seem, but usually they are at least ok or good.

  35. Milton Lowden March 23, 2012

    This person did not understand instructions and wanted to go on his own way with php and . when I hired him to do html. He charged me $89.91 to do my drop down work and put a picture in my header. He was great on the php but I won’t hire him for any html. This place Odesk will not return any money either when your person over charges you for hours. It cost me over 65 dollars just to get a picture put in a banner and faded. I could have done the job myself in an hour but didn’t have time, I do now. I would not hire this person again and I would not hire Odesk again unless it is by the job and that is a maybe after this experience. I am looking other places for a secure job and my money working for me not some person working for Odesk.

  36. Mark Jacobson March 13, 2012

    Thanks for the great article. It was helpful to get such a good overview and especially advice from your own experience.

    Would you know of any sites that bring together investors who want to invest/ create website businesses, with website developers and/ or managers who would be willing to be the working partner in this arrangement?
    Ie that facilitates creating joint ventures between webbies and investors?

    Any help much appreciated!
    (ps if can send to email would be doubly appreciated!)

    • Edward February 19, 2013

      Try http://www.worklist.net. This is a site dedicated to investors and programmers. As such, its very efficient for getting software projects done. You can actually analyze the work of different developers in detail and choose who you want to work on your project. There are also project managers as well that can handle the different aspects of running the project for you. I actually do development work there under the handle Teddy. Have a look and see if it can be a fit for you.

  37. Balaji Viswanathan February 19, 2012

    Hi,
    While not denying that there are lot of Indian spammers out there in these freelance sites, I think there are couple of issues with your analysis:
    1. Grouping India, Pakistan and Bangladesh together. India is the world’s biggest back office and everything from high level laboratory work and Elseiver publishing all the way to low level grunt work is sent here. The other two nations are not even comparable and have miniscule outsourcing industry. It is like comparing US with Mexico and Cuba, just because all the three are neighbors.

    2. Steve Jobs, Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma Bomber), George Bush and Teddy Roosevelt are all American caucasian males. Do they have anything else in common? If none, how can you generalize about a nation that is infinitely more heterogeneous than that demographic?

    3. The employers take it for granted that India is cheap and expect to get a Macbeth quality writing when they are paying $5 or a Google like tool for ten bucks. If the expectations are set right and the fact that you get what you pay is understood, a lot of such heartaches are avoided. I went to school at University of Maryland and and worked at Microsoft. But, when I’m applying in oDesk jobs some clients try to lowball me, just because I’m an Indian. Obviously I will not be taking of the $1 per post jobs. You get what you pay.

    There are millions of Indians in service business helping world’s backoffices, from the books you read to software you use to products you buy there is a backend engine going on doing the research, writing the reports and building the customer support tools.

    Hiring freelancers require patience, planning and time, whether hiring in US, India or Timbuktu. If you can do that you can hire great freelancers anywhere. If not, nothing will help (even hiring your neighbor won’t work)

  38. Karlita February 9, 2012

    Thank you for this article/review. Been thinking about signing up with a few sites as a US Based customer service freelancer. Been looking for all the helpful information I can find, trying to avoid SCAMS!

  39. Eric February 8, 2012

    After working over Scriptlance for over 2 years now, I find that its best to avoid it for reasons below -

    (i) Extremely poor support. You will have to wait days before resolving an issue. They are just bunch of few people doing all sundries.

    (ii) Disputes are always resolved in favor of buyer, no matter what’s the truth. So if you are an buyer, you can leverage this philosophy of theirs to arm-twist your programmer.

    (iii) Don’t escrow. If projects get completed successfully, that’s good. But if you run into a dispute with your programmer, ScriptLance will do their best to keep the matter suspended. After all, the ‘Escrow’ is their account.

    (iv) If you are a programmer, you will have hard time withdrawing your own money. They have plenty of excuses for not doing so. And in any case, you will have to wait not less than 5 days to get your withdrawal request processed. And there is high chance that the amount is debited from your Scriptlance account but doesn’t get credited into PayPal/Bank account.

    (v) Its a launching pad for freelancers from South East Asia. Be prepared for shoddy job.

    I suggest either to be liberal with you purse for a good job or try Elance.

  40. Lxwebsolutions January 31, 2012

    Information that you have given in this article is priceless

  41. Vish January 4, 2012

    I found the article well written but really felt the article is biased and little overt while mentioning Indian providers. I am a provider myself and have never did something that you have mentioned in your article. There might have been instances where you might have had bad experiences but it happens elsewhere as well.I really do not know why you typecast just because you faced something terribly wrong. There is no authentic reason that you have stated here. There are several providers in India who are diligent and perform outstandingly with the work assigned. I am not against any country but I really feel this isn’t correct naming or distinguishing people based on where they live or where they are from.

    • Arseni February 10, 2012

      We did about 30 projects on Vworker website and were always disappointed with workers from India when it come to coding interfaces or solving more than average, not mundane tasks. They do not see what they are doing, do not measure element positions in pixels, do not aesthetically evaluate the results. Having English as their second language, I am surprised how they can write like this :


      Hello

      I complite the total site and now only thing left that is first page scroll and i should complite it by tomorrow. Regarding costing i did not get paid anything for html site and also i dont remember what was the costing pleas find ur mail and let me know if possiable

      Thanks

      Satinath

      I am surprised by lack of attention when it comes to language, grammar, fonts, pixels, positioning of elements, testing work in different browsers and not just the one they happened to have open. Lack of initiative when they could say “we could do it this way or this way and I think this is better”

      but if you need to have some simple backend scripts developed, without a a visual interface, then working with Indian developers could be ok.

      We tired not to discriminate anybody and tried more and more and more Indian developers, hoping to find “the one” but in the end we gave up on India, sorry.

      • Arseni February 10, 2012

        To be more specific, we lost months and months and moths trying to program this desktop website with Indian developers but they could never match or design. I do not believe this “precise” and minimalist desktop website can be done in India at all http://www.youhideit.com/22149700127817851

        the mobile version of this site was done in India but it took 1 year to complete and hundreds of emails with visual corrections.

        • Kristian Pura December 17, 2012

          Dear Arseni,

          I understand your concern.

          In case you have development work that you want to outsource, you can consider Manila, Philippines as your offshore partner. I am a senior team leader of listed firm Information Capital Technology Ventures, Inc. (www.ictvglobal.com) based in Manila.

          My email is kristian.pura@ictv.ph. Keep in touch.

          Best regards,
          Kristian

  42. Freddie Cornella December 25, 2011

    I’m over a year now in oDesk and going strong as a designer/brand developer. The continues flow of project allowed me to go fulltime in this site and have a good position with foreign clients.. The work is very systematized and the interface if very user friendly. It’s quite easy to find the right job there if you are a very skilled.

  43. Bethor December 20, 2011

    Hello

    Just wanted to thank you for your very informative article on outsourcing and to ask your opinion. I have an idea for an app (who doesn’t), but wanted to know which would be best, hiring by the hour or by the project?

    Thank you very much for your help in this matter.

  44. John Anderson December 12, 2011

    I’ve been using Odesk now for 5 months and it gave me a positive result. I had also a remote working group in Philippines that really satisfied my business needs. They assist me well. Thank you so much for this tips. I think that in hiring a staff for your project, you must first make sure that each staff are reliable and has a good work background.

    Thanks again for the nice post.

  45. reviewbible December 7, 2011

    You made some decent points there. I looked on the internet for the issue and found most individuals will go along with with your opinion. Thanks!

  46. steve December 4, 2011

    Nice review.. I’m just a little put off by all the hidden affiliate links.

    Is vWorker really your first choice.. or do they just offer the best affiliate commission? (they say they do).

    An honest review would point out that you are making money of clicks on this page.

    • admin December 7, 2011

      Hi, yes I think we should have pointed out that it is an affiliate link. Don’t think we made any money from these links (or very little anyway).

      We don’t think Rentacoder (now vworker) is the best option, probably the best option for project based work but not for other hourly based work. Odesk is a great option for hourly work. Elance is better in many respects as well.

      So no there was no favoring of one or the other because of affiliate links.

  47. Cathy Estayo December 2, 2011

    Nowadays because of technology and because more companies are hiring employees virtually they are using clouds or software to monitor their employees worldwide. This is one way to check if the employees are working effectively and doing their job even no one is looking after them.

    • admin December 13, 2011

      And of course you can always check out Time Doctor :)

  48. othman November 17, 2011

    I had a good experience as a Java freelance developer at vworker Guru and odesk.
    I tried sometimes to hire other virtual developers to help in some projects when i’m overloaded with work . but my experience as an employer was disapointing. Hiring programmers from India was a disaster for me. i never was lucky to work with a Good developer from India: Bad work quality , uprofessionalism and poor communication.
    I will take in consideration your remarks in this article and try in future to hire people from Russia and US/UK .
    thanks

  49. NicolePhenix November 14, 2011

    Thanks! This is article as just as good as many of the ebooks out there.

  50. Kalpit Bansal November 12, 2011

    It is a great article you wrote. It contains all the information but from my point of view odesk is great to work on hourly basis as contractors are guaranteed payments.
    Thanks for your effort again.

  51. Oli October 20, 2011

    I used some Indian company from Elance. Though their review rating is 4.9 but they did a lousy job for me. I haven’t hired contractors from Philippine yet. Will give it a try. Thanks for sharing!

    • Deepak Eapen February 4, 2012

      Is it a deliberate attempt to malign Indians through this article? Do you have any damn idea what India’s role in software development is? Have you heard Infosys, Wipro, TCS etc etc – all are great Indian Software Giants? If all Indians were the way you have mentioned then do you think that country would have grown leaps and bounds in IT or any other field for that matter? India is an emerging super power and hot market. I really don’t think India could achieve that if they had such a lousy work culture. Sad to read this article and comments maligning Indians. REal Sad.

      • admin February 6, 2012

        HI Deepak,

        The article is not meant to malign Indians at all. It’s designed to focus on how to hire people effectively. The problem that the average company faces when trying to hire someone in India is that they do not get access to the great people. Great people in India are as good as or better than any developer in the US, and you will note that several of the top Internet companies are started by Indian people.

        However to access these great people you need a recruitment network or need to be IBM, Accenture or Amazon. Ordinary companies have a hard time recruiting great people. If you hire a random person you are probably going to be disappointed.

        I am sorry for any offense taken

      • Sam June 3, 2013

        I don’t think the writer of this article needs to “malign Indians”. A lot of the not-so-professional people have done it already.

        A couple of colleagues who outsource IT work have warned me to stay away from India based on their experiences with outsourcing there.

        I’m sure there are good people there, but somehow, perhaps these outsourcing sites have attracted some fly-by-nighters so blame them for the “maligning”.

      • James July 9, 2013

        Stay away from Indian programmers…I have used big Indian companies….indianic, hidden brains, and cat tech..poor quality, sloppy code and poor or little commenting! Want to work with Indian programmers for complex work?….Run the other way. I have wasted many $k using them. I think 3 times is enough!

  52. Saif October 11, 2011

    Check out Freelancer.com they just changed the game with their hourly projects, they only charge 3% commissions! Now you can make so much money than the other freelancing sites. I have already start using it! http://www.freelancer.com/

  53. JJ October 3, 2011

    I tried for several weeks to get my account set up with Odesk. I submitted all the information the needed for their payroll, personal verification, etc. They kept telling me my account was suspended “for non-response to phone verification”. They claim they sent an email to me that I needed to respond to, but I never received it. I checked my spam mail, inbox, etc., but they never sent it. They agreed to resend another verification to me, which again, I did not receive so clearly they were not sending it to my listed email address. You can never speak directly to anyone. All communication is done by email only and it takes a day to get them to respond. I asked twice for them to verify where they are sending the emails but I cannot even get a response from them. A pure waste of time and extremely poor customer support.

  54. shariful islam August 16, 2011

    Thanks for your effort again. I appreciate your angle.

    There is something more to share on from my point of view, I saw your suggestion about hiring people seeing work histories….etc. As you are also writing for newbies, it made me thinking… when a newbie bids for a project with confidence, will you deny his ability or what? Isn’t it true that we have start from somewhere? Where is that somewhere in your suggestions?

    • admin August 24, 2011

      It depends where they are from and what sort of work history they have. If they can demonstrate that they’ve done similar work before and they communicate well, I wouldn’t rule any one out completely. It’s probably better to start with a smaller job though.

  55. Shozeb Sharif August 15, 2011

    My experience with oDesk is great. Hourly jobs is an amazing feature by oDesk where it safeguards contractors against any such cases where they were not paid by the employers even after successful completion of the projects. It guarantees that every hour worked is also the hour paid for the contractors. At the same time it puts an extra responsibility on employers to regularly check their work diaries and progress of their projects to make sure that every hour paid is also the hour contributing to their overall success. There is a great analysis available here http://shozeb.blogspot.com/2011/08/career-resource-odesk.html but overall it’s hourly jobs feature is amazing for contractors.

  56. Marcin July 18, 2011

    Great article, thanks for sharing all that 10 years experience in outsourcing.

  57. Elaine July 7, 2011

    You might want to let your readers know that if you post a project on Freelancers, and if that service provider defaults and does not come through with the work as promised, that it is Freelancers policy to keep the project fees you handed over at selection. This is a new policy and holds true even if you were completely duped by a service provider. I’ve used Freelancers before many times but will not use them any longer thanks to having just paid for nothing.

  58. Adam May 30, 2011

    My experiance of ODesk has been terrible. They terminate your account without notice or warning in the middle of projects. I opened an account happily hiring two providers on an hourly basis. They suddenly close my account without reason. After numerous emails they responded after several days to tell me that I was linked to another user that was as abusive!!!! No further discussion or communication. They are a terrble outfit. Avoid at all costs.

    • Prashant Mukesh June 29, 2012

      Adam, I totally agree with you. Even Elance for that matter, account suspension system in these sites is so random that they wont even listen to what you have to say. In India we have a freelance marketplace(http://worknhire.com) which doesnt have any of these problems. Don’t know why global marketplaces tend to be so terrible.

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