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Student or on-seller - How do you spot the difference?


desmond_aubery

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I had a case recently and I'd like to ask for applied wisdom.

Situation:

  • Project 1:
    • A 'third-year student' approaches me for analysis and coaching for a complex Computational Fluid Dynamics model he was working on.
    • My support Gig makes very clear that I can only analyse, advise and guide.
    • I worked through the model, parametric slices until we solved the dilemma - he rebuilds his CFD model.
    • 'Student' very happy - glowing recommendation.
    • I feel I've done something good for humankind.
    • Oh, by the way, since he is a 'struggling student' with a limited project budget, I offered a special Gig at affordable price.
    • Also, this 'student' is from the US, based on Fiverr's information.
    • 'Student' assumed to have gone on holiday.
  • Project 2:
    • 'Student' from the US approaches me for a more complex analysis.
    • He is working through his Summer break.
    • Since he is a 'struggling student' on a budget, I give him another special offer, but slightly higher this time - inflation, you know.
    • Focus this time on what can only be called an 'extremely difficult case' for even battle-hardened CFD specialists.
    • We work at it - I pull out a menagerie of reading links from my extensive library, and advise him to read.
    • During discussions, I see the time, one evening - and wonder that he is up at 3-4am US time.
    • No, apparently he is in the UK - morning time.
    • I begin to feel that his head is not keeping up with where we are going - this is tough stuff.
    • I explore further and try to guide him.
    • At some point, he seems to begin doubting whether he is doing the right thing and goes totally silent.
    • I deliver a solid review of the project and advise accordingly - more than sufficient for the amount charged - over-delivered by a factor of 10 - struggling student, you know.
    • Out of the goodness of my heart - being kind to the client - I provide further links on/off over two days - I love helping the technically hungry.
    • Job auto-closes.
    • Despite ongoing - be nice to client - follow-up - I never heard from the 'struggling student' again.

My question:  Was this a 'struggling student' or an 'on-seller'/middleman?

Edited by desmond_aubery
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1 hour ago, desmond_aubery said:
  • 'Student' from the US approaches me for a more complex analysis.
  • He is working through his Summer break.
  • Since he is a 'struggling student' on a budget, I give him another special offer, but slightly higher this time - inflation, you know.
  • Focus this time on what can only be called an 'extremely difficult case' for even battle-hardened CFD specialists.
  • We work at it - I pull out a menagerie of reading links from my extensive library, and advise him to read.
  • During discussions, I see the time, one evening - and wonder that he is up at 3-4am US time.
  • No, apparently he is in the UK - morning time.
  • I begin to feel that his head is not keeping up with where we are going - this is tough stuff.
  • I explore further and try to guide him.
  • At some point, he seems to begin doubting whether he is doing the right thing and goes totally silent.
  • I deliver a solid review of the project and advise accordingly - more than sufficient for the amount charged - over-delivered by a factor of 10 - struggling student, you know.
Quote

My question:  Was this a 'struggling student' or an 'on-seller'/middleman?

It would be safer if it's not a student since if he's working on something for college it might be classed as "helping with academic work" where you'd be helping them with their specific coursework, not teaching generally.

https://help.fiverr.com/hc/en-us/articles/360020869658-Academic-and-workplace-dishonesty-on-Fiverr

Maybe say in the gig that the gig isn't for helping with coursework.

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2 hours ago, desmond_aubery said:

Was this a 'struggling student' or an 'on-seller'/middleman?

I didn't get a major 'middleman' impression based on what you provided. Slight with the vanishing act, but nothing else really raised a flag other than the location inconsistency, which I'd blame more on Fiverr's... inconsistencies. 

Were there any problems in communications? That'd be a bigger tell, imho.

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Posted (edited)

I've always made a firm point of only coaching, guiding, directing - if it turns out to be a student. This has to be the case when complying with academic ethics. I state firmly that I don't do homework.

A fair amount of trouble-shooting comes into this until you find the pain point/s. Thereafter the student is guided towards suitable reading material, relevant academic equations and exhorted to read and read.

If it turns out to be a final year student wanting assistance on their Thesis, I demand a signed letter from their Thesis supervisor providing guidance on the allowable limits. Without this, I will not assist further.

At the time, something made me suspect that, given the level of academic difficulty, that this may have been a post-graduate student. Some of this is actually way above their Professors, believe it or not. The students then head off for advice on select public forums, anyway.

Edited by desmond_aubery
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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, imagination7413 said:

I didn't get a major 'middleman' impression based on what you provided. Slight with the vanishing act, but nothing else really raised a flag other than the location inconsistency, which I'd blame more on Fiverr's... inconsistencies. 

Were there any problems in communications? That'd be a bigger tell, imho.

Thank you very much for weighing in. 

The communications were absolutely wonderful and I enjoyed every moment of it until he suddenly disappeared from the radar. I suspected, at the time, that the level of complexity had gone way above his head and he realized that he had perhaps bitten off way more than he had initially anticipated.

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is arguably one of the most challenging scientific disciplines. It defeats many. I've been in this game as well as advanced heat-transfer applications for a long, long time. It may have been the blending of these two disciplines that went over his head.

I was really very sad at the final vacant exit.  😔

Edited by desmond_aubery
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1 minute ago, desmond_aubery said:

the level of complexity had gone way above his head and he realized that he had perhaps bitten off way more than he had initially anticipated.

That's what I got from it too.

The vanishing act is indeed sad. It was actually one of the hardest things I had to learn to deal with as a freelancer, the emotional cliffhanger that you'll usually never know how the story ends. 

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9 minutes ago, imagination7413 said:

The vanishing act is indeed sad. It was actually one of the hardest things I had to learn to deal with as a freelancer, the emotional cliffhanger that you'll usually never know how the story ends. 

Thank you very much for your understanding.

It really worried me for a few days. I really wanted him to learn something and succeed on his learning path. My inner marshmallow, I guess. ☺️

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  • 4 weeks later...

Feedback on my post:

Eventually the young man replied. What had happened was that he had lost a family member very suddenly (his brother) and this froze everything in his life for a while.

He has handed over continuity for the project to a team mate - should he decide to continue.

I shared the young man's sorrow and comforted him - wishing him the very best going forward. I also offered to be a sounding board should he ever need someone to talk to. Grief can be a tremendous life event. 

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