Need to find a "personable" web developer who won't steal my ideas.
May 23, 2007 6:37 PM   Subscribe

How do I find the web developer/programmer of my dreams? And in the process, how do I not get my ideas stolen?

This is really a two part question, so I'll go one at a time.

First, how do I find the web developer and/or programmer of my dreams? I'm still not sure what the difference is between the two, but I know I need at least one of them. Someone with knowledge and experience with PHP, MySQL, AJAX and other such things.

I'm not looking to hire someone as an employee or anything like that, I'm just looking for someone to whom I can say "I am making a web site that would require me to do X. I lack the skills required for me to do X myself, so I need you to do it." And they'll reply "Sure. I can do X. It will cost you Y and probably take around Z amount of time."

These requirements have lead me to a bunch of those freelance type sites where you post your job and people bid. I don't like those places. Nothing personal, and I'm sure each one of these people are highly skilled and capable, but when I get a reply in broken English, it lessens my confidence in our ability to accurately communicate with each other.

Not to mention, it's too business-y for me around those sites.

See, when I say "web developer/programmer of my dreams," here's what I mean. If the number 1 most important trait is skill and knowledge, and number 2 is a fair price, then number 1A would be personality.

I want someone with a sense of humor. Someone fun to work with. Someone who will do their job and do it right, but doesn't mind joking around and communicating like regular friendly people do. I keep saying "someone" because I'd much rather just work with one person than a company.

Does this person even exist? If so, how do I find this person? Where do I find this person? I'm honestly sitting here completely out of ideas on how to even begin to find such a person.

My second question is, assuming it is possible to find the above person, how do I do it without my ideas getting stolen in the process? For example, let's say I come across someone I'd like to hire. I send them an email and we start talking. At some point I have to go into detail about what it is that I need them to do. As far as I can tell, there is absolutely nothing I can do that would prevent this person from thinking "Hmmm. Screw this guy, I'll do this for myself."

It's not like these are huge million dollar ideas or anything even close to that. It's just little stuff that certainly does not warrant me copyrighting/trademarking anything.

But still, is there any way around this, or am I just supposed to contact these complete strangers on blind faith alone?

Thanks in advance for any help.
posted by creative to Computers & Internet (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
have you considered posting it as a Metafilter Job?
posted by Megafly at 6:43 PM on May 23, 2007

Sorry Link
posted by Megafly at 6:43 PM on May 23, 2007

The answer to question number 2 is an NDA. You would either need to hire a lawyer to draw one up for you or use a form from a do-it-yourself legal guide.
posted by cerebus19 at 6:59 PM on May 23, 2007

Yeah mefi jobs would be a good bet. Also, I bet lots of people here will chime in with offers as well.

As for your ideas, any smart person will be brimming over with ideas anyway, and if does get stolen it means it's good (and, I would bet that you're ideas probably already exist anyway). A lot of times on the web, the first mover ends up dying anyway. Look at friendster or lycos. Look at Slashdot vs. Digg: a site that came out years later beat Slashdot within a few months simply because it was a better implementation of the same idea.

Nobody serious worries about their ideas being stolen.
posted by delmoi at 6:59 PM on May 23, 2007

As for #2, you want a non-compete / non-disclosure agreement signed by them before you share your idea with them.

As for #1, good geeks are hard to find. Good luck.
posted by AaRdVarK at 7:03 PM on May 23, 2007

I would suggest you look at your programmers' work and see if they have demonstrated the skills to create what you want. You may not necessarily need PHP or ASP.Net or anything else specifically -- you need someone who knows how to make sweet websites.

Also, if you want someone awesome, try putting an ad at your local university's job board.

Also, when you contact a programmer, they should see what it is you want them to do, and then go through, asking smart questions, proposing ideas, etc. During this process, you should be able to tell how hard they rock, personality wise.

E-mail me if you want more info.
posted by !Jim at 7:17 PM on May 23, 2007

You can do an NDA, but depending on the caliber for the job may be declined by qualified people. That said, ideas tend to be the easy part, implementation and exposure being the hard. Judging by your questions, I wouldn't be so sure of my originality and make a big deal about protection.
posted by rhizome at 7:29 PM on May 23, 2007

You can ask candidates to sign an NDA if you want -- its no big deal, and you can probably get the basic text for free with a certain amount of Googling. Or just email me and I'll send you the boilerplate. From there, just talk to candidates about your idea in very general terms until such time that you are comfortable enough with one particular person to take it further. If someone can steal your idea and beat you to the gazillion bucks based on your most general of descriptions, well then your idea wasn't very original in the first place. But even still, you'll be able to sue 'em and they'll be so rich that they'll be happy to throw a few bags of gold at you just to make you go away!

But back to reality -- in my experience, overly paranoid, delusional nutjobs are a dime a dozen, and not worth working for -- you don't want people to think you're one of them. People with really good, original ideas? They are a lot harder to come by than good programmers are.

Now, how do you find a good and talented person that you can work with constructively? That's really the hard part, and it is different for every person. Just keep stirring the pot.... eventually something will bubble to the surface. In the meantime, go buy some books and learn as much on your own as you can.

Good luck!
posted by spilon at 8:54 PM on May 23, 2007

posted by acro at 9:11 PM on May 23, 2007

Yep, concurring with the opinion that ideas are a dime a dozen, even good ones; execution is the important part.

I can think of a lot more "really good ideas that people wouldn't have stolen, because nobody else believed in them until the guy who thought it was a good idea did it" stories (Like Fedex,) than "Ideas that were obviously really good, but somehow, only one person came up with them, but then everyone else stole them and made a ton of money" stories.

In fact, I bet a lot of other people have your idea right now, since they've been exposed to the same media/web sites/books/whatever as you.

Of course, business details (e.g., client lists) may be legitimately worth protecting. And, of course, implementation research is worth protecting (and is protectable by patents, like, say, Xerox did with Xenography.)

But, yeah, ideas are cheap.
posted by blenderfish at 9:47 PM on May 23, 2007

Gah. Xerography
posted by blenderfish at 10:20 PM on May 23, 2007

One thing to bear in mind is that unless you have experience of planning/analysing web projects, you need someone who's more than a programmer. Any half-decent consultant/developer will, within seconds of hearing your ideas, have a barrage of probing questions covering circumstances and possibilities you won't have considered.

Have you tried searching for web developer bloggers in your area? Someone who's able to write coherently about their profession is more likely to be able to share their expertise with you.

By all means use an NDA to protect your ideas but, to be blunt, they're probably not valuable to anyone else. As others have said, ideas are so cheap they're almost worthless.
posted by malevolent at 11:58 PM on May 23, 2007

You can sign a million NDAs but still can get your ideas stolen. The best rule of thumb is contact their earlier references and also see how long they have been in the web development business etc.
posted by at 4:21 AM on May 24, 2007

Whatever you do *don't* go looking for a cheap college student with no practical experience.

We are consulting on a project now where the customer did just that and every piece of code the kid did is right out of the dailyWTF.

To second everyone, get an NDA but don't worry about them stealing your idea: you aren't the only one who has it. It is all about execution. And don't choose your technology before your solution, if you can help it.
posted by mrbugsentry at 6:01 AM on May 24, 2007

Try programmer meet designer (dot com) It seems like just what you need.
Of course, the page doesn't want to open right now.
posted by idiotfactory at 6:10 AM on May 24, 2007

As a freelance web developer my advice on #2 is pay them enough that its not worth it to them to steal your ideas ;)
Having an idea is one thing, having the skills to implement the idea is another thing but the most important part of sucess on the web is the money and the marketting know-how to make your idea a sucess - most freelance developers dont have the time, money or the financial security to steal your idea and try to make it their own.

For example. say its a fairly large job (maybe 20 hours a week for a month) - my quote would be probably in the region of a few thousand pounds, given that I'm a web developer not a entrepeneur am I likely to risk taking a month of no income and fronting up a big load of my own cash to market this idea (particularly since it likely not my passion it yours) on the offchance it will be a sucess?

Dont be paranoid about people stealing your idea - its *very* unlikely to happen. Risks are for other people to take. Most freelancers arent big risk takers - unless they have an alternative source of income they can rely on. Someone doing it on the cheap is usually doing it part-time and therefore more likely to be able to take a risk on someone else idea since its not their sole source of income.

Dont judge someone on their hourly rate though, someone charging $100 an hour might be a lot faster and probably more experienced than someone charging $20 an hour. Get a quote for the whole project.

If you want to make sure you like the person, ask if they have msn or similar so you can have a chat about the project on an informal level. Never give away all the details in your initial consultation - as people have said there are very few 'new' ideas but if you have an USP (unique selling point) dont give that away when you're just getting a quote.
posted by missmagenta at 6:27 AM on May 24, 2007

seconding as a great site (I'm a member :D ) but to get a good response you might have to give more details than you're comfortable with on a publicly available site.
posted by missmagenta at 6:31 AM on May 24, 2007

I'm a web developer. I'd be pretty cautious about signing a NDA/Noncompete agreement for someone I'd just met. Although your ideas may be unique, I wouldn't know that without getting to know you quite a bit. Before I got to know you, I'd worry that your idea would be something that some of my existing clients, or my next clients, might have also, or that I might be working out simultaneously in my own mind - and just talking with you about potential work might not be worth risking those future opportunities and ideas.

Anyway, about finding the right person -- you need to _meet_ the person somehow. Maybe the traditional approach -- post an ad, interview several people, hire one person -- would be good, if you have an interesting enough opportunity that several of the almost-right sort of person would contact you.
posted by amtho at 6:51 AM on May 24, 2007

Contact me (e-mail in profile) and we can chat! :) That's exactly the type of working relationship I enjoy.
posted by iguanapolitico at 9:33 AM on May 24, 2007

amtho and others: some of you seem to be confusing an non-disclosure agreement with a non-complete agreement. They're very different. An NDA is just a contract that the developer you hire won't use any of the information you provide them or give them access to outside of the business relationship. It's totally standard. As a sometimes-freelance programmer, I'd actually be concerned if a potential client *didn't* want me to sign one, because it would indicate they are amateurs. However, an NDA isn't really going to prevent someone from making their own implementation of your general idea (although it will prevent them from using your information directly).

A non-compete agreement basically means that whomever you hire can't do anything related to the field your idea is in for a certain period of time (2 years is normal). This would prevent someone from stealing your ideas. The problem is that no developer in their right mind would sign one for freelance work, unless it was VERY lucrative and long term (also they are are un-enforcable in some jurisdictions).
posted by Emanuel at 4:07 PM on May 24, 2007

« Older Help Me Fill in My Blanks   |   A burning bacon question. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.