I'm trying to decide whether to bother spending anymore time here.

I understand that we're in beta and that we need to put together a good amount of pertinent questions. So I'm trying to think of questions that people might have.

The answers I'm getting are a bunch of opinion about how someone doesn't like the situation described in the question or about someone's experience being different than the situation in the question.

How about having the answers be answers to the question asked rather than people trying to make themselves feel important? It seems like the type of discussion that you see in a forum, not a question and answer site in the tradition of Stack Overflow.

You tell me if I'm off base here, down vote this question and I'll move on. Here are the questions I posted:
When is it safe to give Tax ID to Remote Employer
Clients want to track the hours I work for them

  • Hi codewaggle, I didn't get to address the other question in my answer, freelancing.stackexchange.com/questions/295/…, but the short answer is that questions asking for lists of apps tend not to do so well in Q&A. That's why many SE sites have simply outright banned them. There's even a Stack Exchange blog post on the subject, Q&A is Hard, Let's Go Shopping. It does show an example question that suggests how posts like that might be reworded so they attract better answers.
    – jmort253
    Jun 1, 2013 at 2:24
  • But the answer to that question would be the single app, that fits the best the given criteria. Jun 1, 2013 at 21:22

4 Answers 4


I agree with your point of view!

The sole reason I keep coming back is to see if there is any new direction to this site!

As far as I can see, no matter how many people join in, there is only a finite set of questions that one can ask about freelancing without triggering the Off-topic or Too-Localised alarms!!

Add to that the complexity of how contexts, especially Locations, reduce the possibility of a question ever having an answer, and you are back to wondering about the whole Q&A feasibility of this site!

This is a good topic for a forum style system, and not for the Stack Exchange family in its current state.

Having said that, I dearly hope for this site to stay on for as long as possible so that a wealth of information can be collated that could be handy as a quality reference for the future!

  • The idea is that people should ask questions about real, actual problems faced as a freelancer. Real problems contain the right amount of balance when it comes to details so that they're unique problems that are still applicable to the worldwide audience of the Internet. I'm still positive. This site could be successful, and it's discussions like this that are extremely helpful.
    – jmort253
    Jun 1, 2013 at 3:32
  • The takeaway for me is that codewaggle posted a good question, but we had a simple communications issue, which can be resolved going forward with answerers reading the questions clearly and askers writing them clearly. By clearly, I mean posting the questions at the bottom of the post in a bulleted list, if there are more than one, and trying one's best to focus only on one question, if possible. Hope this helps!
    – jmort253
    Jun 1, 2013 at 3:33

Part of good Q&A is focusing on a single question, so that when potential answerers look at your question, they don't get confused and give you an answer to the question that you weren't expecting. It also ensures that good content can be voted to the top, since all answerers would be answering the same question.

With that said, here is the part of your question that I read in the body of your post, the part that I specifically addressed:

how do you go about minimizing the risks of giving out your tax ID?

My answer to this question was:

Now, if you're doing work for a larger client, they may very well want your tax id in advance. In the United States, you can go to the IRS Website and apply for an EIN Federal Tax ID, which means you don't have to give your personal social security number to clients who contract with you.

If that's not an option, just do some basic research on the client. If they're well-established, they likely have a website, some reviews, public artifacts on the Internet that verify that they exist and are indeed legitimate. If something doesn't feel right, move on and find another client.

Perhaps I could have made it more clear that using an EIN is safer than using an SSN, and this is how I get around this issue. I'm just not as protective of my EIN as I am my SSN. I suspect there was some confusion on your part, as well as mine, by assuming that you're in the United States and that by "tax id" you meant "social security number".

In my defense, you did make significant changes to your question after the fact, and then you left a comment under my post, in which I responded that I'd take a look when I got time, which hopefully will be this weekend. :)

In your defense, I did miss the title of your question, which just happens to be different than the question you posted at the end of the post body. Hence, I hope you understand my confusion. The post title is meant to draw in the reader, and as a fallable human, I tend to focus on the nitty gritty post body, and the questions it contains, when addressing an asker. This is why I usually suggest that askers put the question in both the title as well as the post body -- so it's clear.

In conclusion, I don't think you're totally off base here in your question. We don't want this to become a discussion forum, and we want people to be satisfied with the answers they get. But we also must realize that for that to happen, questions must be focused, definitive, and crystal clear. Hope this helps! :)

  • 1
    My reading of the reaction to your answer was that a misunderstanding included the idea that an FEIN took a significant amount of time to get (which was not my experience). When I got mine, not only could I apply online but I got it on submitting the form. This might be good to clarify when you edit the question. Obviously if you can get it right when requested with no delay that's a very different thing from waiting for 4-6 weeks if payments won't be made before. Some older documentation speaks of a delay which might be the problem. Jun 1, 2013 at 2:42

Two points here.

The first is that warnings are appropriate in many cases. "If a customer wants you to do that, this is a HUGE red flag and you are probably better off to get another customer" is really no different than "so you want a stored procedure which accepts a string and runs it as an SQL expression? This is an API then that only exists for SQL injection purposes, and you should consider the following alternatives instead...."

Secondly, I will be getting to revising my answer to the other question this weekend probably with a discussion of screencasting software (really, if a customer wants to watch you work, that is a really bad sign but I should have included in it in a discussion for what to do. Unfortunately unlike the SQL evaluation function I don't really know of a way to mitigate the inherent risks that come with such a request so whether you like it or not, that warning will remain part of my answer (I have experience with this to some extent as an employee).

It is important to note that warnings of risk are not just there for you. Someone else will read the question next month, next year, etc. so if I have reasons to say "don't do this" they need to be a part of may answer. Some may need to be clarified, but it isn't just whining or complaining. It is intended to provide a warning for anyone else who may read the question.


It's a good question actually, but it should be extended on what kind of questions are on-topic here.

Your questions on monitoring applications would be more focused and precise if you would only write that you want an application that could be used to precisely analyse the time you have worked. However, it could be then closed as too localized, as my question about hourly rates in Germany.

So, if too precise questions are considered too localized, the community is more welcoming the more chatty questions, which would provide the wider context. And once the wider context is provided, there's a possibility that someone would say "Hey, you are in situation X and want to solve it with Y, but actually it would be better to Z".

In my opinion:

1) Precise questions should be allowed. You should be able to ask about such software, without any word why. But it may be so, that I'm alone with that opinion.

2) All answers addressing the issue should be allowed. Even if they don't address it directly but suggest to change the approach. If it is not possible or not welcomed by you, you should't downvote them (not upvoting is enough) because they may be helpful for someone else having similar problem.

3) As on programmers, workplace etc., questions should be based on knowledge or personal experience. So if someone writes that he was in similar situation, and has used Y or proposed Z, it should be allowed. But if someone says that he was never in such situation, but would never do Y, without any reference to facts that would motivate such options or personal experience, it's a comment not answer, and there's an appropriate flag for such case.

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