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Special paid section for 'write me a program' posts

by FamousLongAgo (Friar)
on Jan 09, 2003 at 03:50 UTC ( #225425=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Fellow monks,

I have been mulling over the recent Loads of Nodes discussion on the perceived increase in "I want someone to write me X" posts, and I came up with this idea: Why not set up a special section in the site for just those kinds of requests, with the requirement that anyone posting make a PayPal donation to the Perl Foundation (or any other worthy cause we can decide on), and that the amount of the petitioner's contribution be displayed with the request?

For example, if a petitioner wants a script that will validate an email address and is too lazy (or too much a newbie) to even take a stab at it, he or she could make a payment and post the request. Then monks with time on their hands could decide whether the amount donated was worth doing the coding, and provide answers if they liked.

This way money would go (in small chunks) to a worthy cause, questions without even an attempt at cracking the problem would be put in their own part of the site, and users would quickly learn the difference between a real question (free) and a LazyWeb request.

What do other monks think?

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Re: Special paid section for 'write me a program' posts
by Zecho (Hermit) on Jan 09, 2003 at 04:55 UTC
    My thoughts.. (don't miss the MY there)

    PerlMonks is for learning, teaching, sharing. Not hiring. Not contracting.

    For one, the work around to get the proposed services for free is to simply throw together any code that resembles an attempt at solving the problem. As soon as most monks see any attempt, they're willing to help in any way possible. This is what makes PerlMonks what it is.

    For two, I think it's a great idea for a stand-alone site. Collaborative writers do it all the time. Perhaps "Ghost-Coding"? A site where coders of any language can come and get help with difficult situations, partial programs, and simple workarounds is something that I think would be highly beneficial to both the site/community and the customer.
    I dunno.. like I said... just My thoughts..

    Oh, and welcome back Zecho... ;)

Re: Special paid section for 'write me a program' posts
by pfaut (Priest) on Jan 09, 2003 at 03:56 UTC

    So when do these payments take place? If you had to make the donation up front, would anyone pay for a solution not knowing if they were going to get one? If you could wait until a solution had been developed before paying, would anyone develop a solution with only a promise of a donation?

    --- print map { my ($m)=1<<hex($_)&11?' ':''; $m.=substr('AHJPacehklnorstu',hex($_),1) } split //,'2fde0abe76c36c914586c';
Re: Special paid section for 'write me a program' posts
by sauoq (Abbot) on Jan 09, 2003 at 04:21 UTC

    I also like this idea but I agree it has problems. Some of its problems might be quite serious. Does it become a binding contract? Who is responsible if the code doesn't work? Who owns the code? What happens if more than one person implements a solution? How should large projects be handled? Etc. Etc. Etc.

    Really, someone could post a question like

    I need a small script that does such-and-such. If a suitable solution is freely available, please point me at it. If not, I promise to make a PayPal donation to the PerlFoundation in the amount of $XX.00 if someone writes one for me. Any takers?
    and they'd probably get help. The more I think about it, the more I think a separate section for this kind of thing might not really fit in here. Perhaps we could just let people know on a case by case basis that someone might help if they offered to make a donation...

    "My two cents aren't worth a dime.";
Re: Special paid section for 'write me a program' posts
by Zaxo (Archbishop) on Jan 09, 2003 at 04:04 UTC

    I think this is a good idea, but with problems. How do you verify payment? Is it a work for hire? If the code becomes collaborative, who puts together the final version?

    [Added] It's also somewhat opposed to the purpose of pm, which is education, IMO.

    After Compline,

Re: Special paid section for 'write me a program' posts
by ehdonhon (Curate) on Jan 09, 2003 at 04:50 UTC

    It sounds like a well intentioned idea. But it also seems like a slippery slope. Where do we draw the line between what is "free" knowledge, and what one must pay for? Besides, when theory becomes practice, I wonder how many people would actually use it.

      I think it would stand to reason that, over a period of time, payment for perl code would eventually merge into payment for help with already existing code (information that WAS readily available, and free to boot) and that would damage pm's reputation and eventually debilitate this site from what it is now, into somewhat of a bounty hunt, or a who can get to the answer first to say that they got the most donated to the fund, situtation.

      the XP system would have to be reconfigured to rate on the amount of money the programmer had raised for the charity.

      work it harder make it better do it faster makes us stronger more than ever hour after our work is never over.
Re: Special paid section for 'write me a program' posts
by FamousLongAgo (Friar) on Jan 09, 2003 at 05:25 UTC
    Two points to clarify:

    1- In my original scheme, payments would be made up front by the person asking the question, in the amount of their own choosing, with no guarantee of an answer. I am thinking of payments at the $1-$5 level, in the style of "Google experts".

    2 - Payments would never go to an individual monk, to avoid turning this site into something it shouldn't be.

    But as I read the thoughtful responses, I see that there are good objections to any kind of payment scheme. For those who are against setting up a donation system, what about the idea of a separate, free section, independent of SOPW, to at least separate out those requests that basically say "please write me a program to do X"?

      I assumed #2 but I'm glad you clarified #1. I'm beginning to like the idea again. So, the section would be full of messages like

      I'm hoping that someone will be able to write and post a script for me that foobies a wubber. I've just made a PayPal donation in the amount of $_.00 to the Perl Foundation. Will someone please help me?

      That sounds good to me as long as we can make it completely clear that their donation is just a donation, there is NO guarantee that they will get what they request, and anything they do get will simply be posted just like any other node.

      We could call it the "Wishing Well" then tell people that they can toss a couple bucks in and make a wish...

      "My two cents aren't worth a dime.";
        I like the wishing well idea. You have my vote.

        Edit.. removed a lil ignorance...

        ++ for the "Wishing Well" idea, sauoq...

        however, I have a problem with the "as long as we can make it completely clear that their donation is just a donation"... in my experience, and I gues that in pretty much everybody else's experience too, this is very hard to do. As has been said here, if the person is too lazy to do the job, probably they will be too lazy to read the conditions/disclaimer/other. And even if the community covers its behind with a disclaimer, some unhappy "customer" yelling all over the place how he got ripped off when he donated x amount of money and got nothing useful in return will be unpleasant for everybody.

        And then, there is the thing with the fact that the Monastery is not

        just some thoughts on the matter,

        I like the idea of the 'Wishing Well', but I'm not sure about anything to do with donations (for reasons others have enumerated). The main reason I like it is to remove the RFCs (requests for code) from SoPW.

        SoPW should be for seeking Perl WISDOM, not for getting someone to do something for you. Its like ringing someone who sells hundreds of different ploughs to ask him to plough your paddock.

        If you want someone to do it for you, you go to a place that exists for that purpose. I think we need a 'Wishing Well' here for that purpose. Several thoughts on the name:

        • The note at the top of the page suggests that people might be more inclined to write the code if a donation had been made. This fits with the traditional Wishing Well superstition: throw in money and your wish will come true.
        • Wishing Well, is also what the code writers do. They write the code and "Wish you well". In other words, once they're done with the writing there is no further obligations. (Not that there ever was any!)
        Anyways, that said, I'd love to see it here. Sometimes when I'm bored I'd love some snippet to sink my teeth into. (It should be a section where code blocks are hidden until you enter the actual post .. otherwise it all gets too long!)
      I think this idea may be a bit of overkill for the problem, but since it would be supporting PM I think it may be viable. To avoid any kind of legal problems / blame etc perhaps all of the responses could be from Anonymous Monk. That way payment to individual monks is avoided (although it would take away credit as well) and also responsibility will not be assigned if the code causes problems. I think it would be important to put a "You may have donated money for this, but use at your own risk" clause in there somewhere.
        also responsibility will not be assigned if the code causes problems

        Oh, it will be assigned. Trust me. Either Perl Monks itself will get hit, or someone will demand the identity of the person who posted the code.

        Also, if you haven't noticed, people like receiving credit for their work. A system where you aren't acknowledged for your charity work will not survive, guaranteed.

        I think it would be important to put a "You may have donated money for this, but use at your own risk" clause in there somewhere.

        Doesn't matter. Somebody's still going to have to pay legal bills. Many supposedly free societys still have this problem. It doesn't matter if you're right or wrong if you can't pay your lawyers.

Re: Special paid section for 'write me a program' posts
by Anonymous Monk on Jan 09, 2003 at 09:11 UTC

    I liked reading the name "Wishing Well", but anything where money is involved in any manner whatsoever just seems... wrong. This is a community where we learn from each other, not where we demand that people donate money to get answers. I can forsee disputes where monks are arguing over whether or not a post made to SoPW should stay in SoPW or be placed under this new section. Think about it. Couldn't every single question posted to SoPW be said to be worthy of a donation?

    My personal thoughts on this: why have a new section for donation-based posts at all? As it is with only SoPW, couldn't monks just donate right now if they feel that they have received a great deal of help? What's stopping you right now from making a donation. Why should you have to get something in return for your donation? The best definition of 'donation' I can find (found on

    a voluntary gift (as of money or service or ideas) made to some worthwhile cause

    I see the words 'voluntary gift' there. Why should a person have to receive code in order to donate? That sounds more like a contract to me than an act of kindness.

    I could perhaps see the addition of one more section: a section along the lines of "Perl Projects". Basically, this would be a section dedicated to large projects which would be a collabarative effort between members of the community. On the other hand, SourceForge exists with this exact goal in mind, so even this section is not really needed. Just start up a new project on SourceForge and announce it within one of the existing sections on the site.

    To sum it all up: Why create a new section? Just donate your time or money whenever you are able to: don't wait until you're given something that you deem as 'worthy' of a donation. Life is short, live it :)

Re: Special paid section for 'write me a program' posts
by AcidHawk (Vicar) on Jan 09, 2003 at 07:55 UTC

    I like this node and I'm glad the Loads of Nodes node sparked such interest.

    My only concern with this idea is that monks 'could' start spending more time coding programs for others for a good reason (ie that of getting donations for the Perl Foundation) and less time assisting users that are putting in the effort themselves..? and in turn educating fellow monks.

    On the other hand these programs, should they be made public, would definately encourage many many interesting new nodes.. (eg. why did you do it that way..have you tried this..?)

    Of all the things I've lost in my life, its my mind I miss the most.
Sounds like a deal to me.
by boo_radley (Parson) on Jan 09, 2003 at 04:23 UTC
    I think that's a fine idea.
    You need some scripting done, send me a /msg. We'll work out the details of payment privately, and at the end of every month, I'll give 20% to YAS in support of perlmonks.
    How's that?
Re: Special paid section for 'write me a program' posts
by Marza (Vicar) on Jan 09, 2003 at 08:16 UTC

    I don't know about basically having a contract section. People might think it was an attempt to drum up work

    Why not create some utils, put them in a code section titled donationware?

    It might interest "some" donations. Probably more then a supply an answer for a donation section.

    Just my .02

Re: Special paid section for 'write me a program' posts
by graff (Chancellor) on Jan 10, 2003 at 08:39 UTC
    I foresee a couple of dominant (or "prominent") modes of behavior/discussion in this sort of section:

    (1) A busy programmer would like to extend his/her toolkit/website in some particular way, knows it can be done and that others have probably done it or something similar, but he/she has never done anything like it before, and there's not enough time to search/learn/experiment and write from scratch or adapt someone else's code. It's worth a few bucks given to a good cause to plead for a "turn-key solution", and it all works out quickly. Everybody wins.

    (2) A PHB or deadbeat student (or a clueless volunteer a hears about a web site where people write Perl code for you -- all you have to do is donate a few bucks up front to some obscure "public-domain software foundation", and then tell'em what you want. Do they know the difference between a snippet, a subroutine and a whole app? Are their needs intrinsically bound to the contents of their HTML/Excel/Access/Word/whatever data files? What do they know about modules? Do they even have Perl installed, or are they looking for a precompiled executable? And how well can they articulate all this? Ultimately, nothing works out and everybody loses (but at least YAS gets the donation).

    The first group gets a great deal, because they have the right expectations, they know how to communicate what they want, and they know what to do with what they get; often, the successful answers just point to stuff that has already been done -- but it's still well worth the cost of the donation to have someone else do the search and assessment for you. (Of course, writing a spec for someone else to code can be no small feat, especially in an unfamiliar domain.)

    The latter group engenders mutual confusion, disappointment, frustration, and/or disgust. You see a lot of dialog cycles just trying to figure out what the seeker is really looking for; and/or just as many cycles trying to clarify how to use a proposed solution (or which of several solutions ought to be used, or why the request is nonsensical or impractical), and these cases all end (at varying temperatures) with "I give up -- this is really not helping".

    Naturally most cases would fall somewhere between the extremes, but no matter what the "median" performance really is, the failures will tend to consume (i.e. waste) the larger portion of resources, or will certainly be perceived as such. Frankly, that scares me a bit. (And God help us when folks start to add voting/XP issues into the fray...)

    It might work somewhere else; if it were here, I would probably wish it were somewhere else.

    I'd vote that we continue to encourage the first group to use SoPW, and continue to ask generally for donations as is done now -- maybe make the donation results a little more visible: more people should be shown (in some not-too-obnoxious manner) that donations do get made, and they might feel more inclined to mimic that behavior (or be shown that donations aren't being made, and feel a stronger sense of obligation to do so).

      Ultimately, nothing works out and everybody loses (but at least YAS gets the donation).

      You sound very pessimistic.

      It might work somewhere else; if it were here, I would probably wish it were somewhere else.

      Ah, so that's why you are pessimistic about the idea.

Re: Special paid section for 'write me a program' posts
by theorbtwo (Prior) on Jan 09, 2003 at 14:07 UTC

    I like the idea, generaly.

    However, I don't really see the point of a sepperate section. Instead, I wish people would simply post SoPWs that say "I know I havn't put the effort I should into this, but please help me anyway. To show I respect the perl community, and to help PM in leu of my time in learning, I've donated $1.4380 to YAS' PerlMonks fund." (BTW, I think that'd be a better place to donate to for this -- the money there is earmarked to help with PM's operating expenses.)

    Warning: Unless otherwise stated, code is untested. Do not use without understanding. Code is posted in the hopes it is useful, but without warranty. All copyrights are relinquished into the public domain unless otherwise stated. I am not an angel. I am capable of error, and err on a fairly regular basis. If I made a mistake, please let me know (such as by replying to this node).

      I agree with the sentiment, but the kinds of people who post effort-free requests aren't usually familiar with Perlmonks culture, and wouldn't know that that was the accepted practice. By and large, monks who have been here a while pick up on what is the right and wrong way to ask for help.

      I'm suggesting pretty much the converse of what you say - have the separate section regardless of whether or not there is some kind of donation system attached.

Re: Special paid section for 'write me a program' posts
by toadi (Chaplain) on Jan 09, 2003 at 16:26 UTC
Re: Special paid section for 'write me a program' posts
by Anonymous Monk on Jan 10, 2003 at 01:17 UTC
    Take a look at what google is doing:

    I think such a section here would be HUGELY popular. In fact, other sites, like JavaJunkies, might copy us. I see nothing wrong with us having such a section, if done right.

    Also I think people who think that such a section would not be in the "spirit" of PM are wrong. People will still ask questions and have them answered in other sections.

    Having a discussion about this is good, but let's not drop this idea because of "what if's". This is a damn good idea. If the gods don't have the time or the resources to implement it in the near future, perhaps they should at least put it on their to-do list for further consideration.

Re: Special paid section for 'write me a program' posts
by peregrine (Acolyte) on Jan 10, 2003 at 01:14 UTC
    It sounds interesting in theory, but I think that sort of thing is best suited to a dedicated site (someone else mentioned, if I remember right)

    This idea did trigger a thought of my own. I'm the sort of person who loves to code and solve problems, but I'm useless at thinking up ideas of my own. How about a section where people suggest ideas of things they would like to see coded? It might also help inspire people as they would see different ways people approach the same problem/goal.

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