What is the best way to hire an offshore personal assistant to catalog all my bookmarks?
September 27, 2008 10:57 AM   Subscribe

A few times I have heard about offshore (usually India-based) personal assistants who can handle specific tasks for you at a low rate. What is the best way to hire one, and how can I hire one to categorize my bookmarks across all my computers?

I've been adding bookmarks to my master Foxmarks-managed bookmark list for a while, and they have gotten a bit out of control. I want to hire someone to catalog them all for me. I think it's the kind of task that would take 5 hours or so. It's not hard work, but good knowledge of English and an ability to understand the site after navigating to it would be required. There are probably about 500 - 1000 bookmarks total.

Is this the kind of task I can hire an offshore personal assistant for? I'm happy to pay someone $30 or so to do this work. I've started doing it, but it's just a bit time-consuming and I go off and read the sites and get sidetracked. (I also decided that a lot of them are cool and I definitely want to keep them instead of just trashing 3 years' worth of bookmarks.) If I hire someone, how should I send him/her the bookmarks? Do I need to be concerned about security of my information? I assume that the bookmarks wouldn't include any saved logon information - that would be in the cookie or other file staying on my computer, right? And what are the best (or worst) sites to use? www.taskseveryday.com? www.va4u.com? And how well does doing this kind of outsourcing work? I've seen this and this (and read the articles linked in them), but I'm looking for something a little less anecdotal and more applicable to this kind of task and the current best way to get it done.
posted by iknowizbirfmark to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
i'm not sure that this is what VAs are for. why couldn't you pay a niece or nephew or friend to do it for you?
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:12 AM on September 27, 2008

You could try Elance.com.
posted by nitsuj at 11:16 AM on September 27, 2008

Best answer: Is this the kind of task I can hire an offshore personal assistant for?

You can do it, but it's not what they're for. This is the kind of task you get a college student to do. Forget outsourcing, put an ad on craigslist, put an ad on your local college campus, or try mechanical turk.

Or just buckle down for an hour and a half, take your computer off-line so you can't get side tracked, and do it yourself.
posted by Ookseer at 12:22 PM on September 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

We use off-shore resources often and this is exactly the type of task I don't send off-shore.

It's going to require good English language skills (which you can get off-shore), and very clear requirements. What does the person do if the site could fit into 5 categories? How are you going to handle questions the contractor has?

There's too much ambiguity to make this work off-shore unless you're willing to write endlessly detailed requirements, make the categories extremely broad, or accept a high error rate.
posted by 26.2 at 12:30 PM on September 27, 2008

Second vote for Mechanical Turk. It's perfect for this kind of task.
posted by O9scar at 1:25 PM on September 27, 2008

Best answer: Categorisation like this may require at least an overview of domain specific / culturally specific knowledge on the part of whoever you hire.
posted by atrazine at 1:13 AM on September 28, 2008

Response by poster: It looks like Mechanical Turk is just right for this. I'll have to check it out.

For those who do send work to offshore or onshore virtual assisants, what works well and what doesn't?
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 1:32 PM on September 28, 2008

Here's a blog post describing a task set similar to yours. It doesn't go into great detail, but it sounds like the results were very impressive. And economical.

You do have to break up your list into chunks so that it gets distributed among a lot of workers. I don't know that privacy is a major concern if you're just giving out urls and no one person sees them all.
posted by O9scar at 4:17 PM on October 1, 2008

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