Guru.com: Where the Free Agent Nation Lives

I'm sure I'm the last person online to explore these reverse-auctions for high tech help, but that can't be helped. Today's discovery is guru.com, “The world's largest online marketplace for freelance talent.” Like Elance Online, the site offers a multitude of project categories, from accounting to videography. The tech categories are numerous, but I'll focus on Web site development since that's what I looked at in the other sites.

Guru lets those searching for tech professionals look by geographic location, by technical expertise ranking and by a combination. Here's what the profile summary (typos left in place) is for the first listing of Web developers located anywhere on earth:

Infomist is a team of creative Webdesigners with experience of website designing of over 5 years. We have served and continue to serve the new companies building their comprehensive web presence.

We value our clients by provide them with series of skatches for their websites til the desired effect.

Strict timeline and quality output is our mission.

We are experts in Macromedia Dreamweaver/Flash/Freehand/Photoshop/Illustrator/Swift3d and at the same time are profficient in ASP (Access), PHP and Coldfusion.

Our Services is not only restricted to webdesigning. We offer Desktop Publishing/Corporate Identity design at very competitive rates.

“Talk to Us for the better VALUE of your money”

This team will work for $12 an hour, and they're based in Pakistan.

Here's the profile for the top-listed US guru:

PriyaSoftWeb Solutions is dedicated to make highly customizable, plug and play multimedia website accessible to the masses. Our goal is make the process of designing and building a website easy, fun and quick. Through different efforts of our researchers, imaginers, illustrators, graphics designers, programmers, webmasters and copywriters, we have realized this goal.

PriyaSoftWeb Solutions consists of exceptionally talented, fun-loving, creative and dedicated people. The work we do is not just work, its our passion. As painstaking as a creative process can be, we all endeavor we undertake. The common elements amongst us have created a positive chemistry around the workplace; we hope its shown in our work.

Further, we hope that you will take part in our good fortune of making your home on the world wide web at the prices that was, until now, unthinkable.

The price for PriyaSoftWeb Solutions is $26 an hour. The company is based in Carpentersville, IL.

I could have looked at 199 additional professionals that fit the specification, “Website design/Website marketing,” located in the US. Plus, I could check out Web sites worked on through the Portfolio/Solutions link, read how much money they've earned through guru.com, read reviews posted by customers, and get an overall feedback rating. Here's a typical review posted by a client for PriyaSoft:

Considering that a project like this would take place without any face-to-face meetings, we were very careful in selecting a designer. Not having the opportunity to address/discuss in person all of the project requirements and issues, we knew would present a unique challenge. One of the reasons we chose Ripal was because of a statement made in his bid — “Our designers/developers will do UNLIMITED modifications till we both are satisfied with our work.” Without question, he is committed to this. Ripal is extremely cooperative, responsive, and patient. Everything we asked of him, he did — and always in a very agreeable manner. As mentioned earlier, finding/selecting a reliable designer (through this type of process) is not easy. We are very pleased with the results and would certainly recommend Ripal. Thank you Ripal!

The site generates revenue by upgrading the types of listings its worker bee participants can avail themselves of. Basic membership is free; to become a “Guru” is $149.95 annually. The level you choose also determines what percentage of earnings you give up to Guru.com 10% (basic) or 5% (guru). Also, the site seems to limit what freebie participants can bid on, which means the ones who do bid have paid out a fee for the opportunity.

I'm beginning to think that for finite, non-mission-critical endeavors of a project nature, this mode of hiring talent makes sense.