Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is it?

OnScreenExpert is a videochat based hotline for getting one-on-one advice from experienced developers. Whether you are a beginner installing your development environment or designing a complex system, we have an expert for you. During the sessions, you can videochat and also use tools like screenshare and remote desktop to make the most of your session.

Why would I use it?

We highly encourage trying to figure out problems on your own first (Googling, using Stackoverflow), but sometimes that isn't enough. When you're stuck and don't want to waste your valuable time learning something from the ground up, you can work with one of our experts to accelerate your progress and solve your problems with someone who's been there before.

How long is a typical session?

A typical session lasts about an hour. But some are much shorter (15 minutes), and others are more involved (2-3 hours).

Where do I submit suggestions?

Email us! We're still in Beta, so the product is always evolving based on your recommendations.

Are there any rules during a session?

There aren't many rules, but 1) Show up on time, 2) Be prepared with your questions and goals for the session, 3) Be friendly and polite, 4) Provide feedback after the fact so everybody learns and improves!

User Questions

How do I book a session with an expert?

In the search results, click 'Start Session Now' or 'Schedule Session' next to an expert's name. You'll be able to choose a time that works for you or request an immediate session. As soon as the expert confirms your time you're all set.

How much does it cost?

Signing up as a user or expert is completely free. Experts choose their own rates and we charge a 20% service fee that's taken out of the expert's hourly rate.

When am I charged?

You're charged after your session is over, but only if it's longer than 10 minutes. That's our threshold for whether an expert was able to help a user, but it may change based on what we see in future sessions.

Am I charged if the expert can't help me?

We have a 100% money back guarantee. So if you're not happy with the advice you received, you won't pay a dime. That being said, our experts are generally very helpful.

What do you use to conduct the session?

We use Google+ Hangouts to run our sessions. They are great because you have a lot of built-in functionality - videochat, text chat, screensharing, remote desktop, and taking notes/scribbling ideas among others!

Will the expert sign an NDA?

We don't require experts to sign NDAs. We don't think we need to get lawyers involved when getting programming advice - it's generally somewhat informal and non-binding. However, if you think you need one, contact us and we'll try to figure something out.

How do I provide feedback for an expert?

After the session, you'll be asked to provide feedback on your session, both in terms of "stars" and qualitative feedback. Feedback is two-way, so keep that in mind and don't burn any bridges. We have a 100% money-back guarantee, so it can't be that bad :)

Can I bring friends or colleagues to join a session?

Absolutely! Once you're in the hangout, you can invite others to your session if they are not in the same place as you. They can also just sit next to you and participate the old fashioned way.

What if I can't find an expert for my needs?

Let us know! We're always recruiting new experts, so if you give us some criteria we'll search high and low until you're happy.

How do I prepare for my session?

Know your goals for the session and communicate them up front. If you have specific questions, have them ready along with the research you've already done. Other than that, arrive 5 minutes early, clear your head and just be yourself.

Expert Questions

How do I become an expert?

Currently anyone can apply to become an expert, and you will hear back within 24 hours (usually less). We ask for basic contact information as well as a short bio, your rate, technical skills, and coding/social links. Part of the approval process is ensuring you know what you're talking about by reviewing work experience and public code, the other part is making sure you have a complete profile so that users have something to judge on when they try to find experts.

How should I determine my rate?

Your rate is really up to you. If you do freelance work, it should probably be a bit more than you charge for longer-term work. We want you to choose something that is fair for users, but that will get you excited when you see a request for a session in your inbox.

How and when do I get paid?

We're currently paying experts via PayPal on a monthly basis.

How much does OnScreenExpert charges?

We charge 20% of the expert's rate. Users are charged in 15 minute increments. The session is free if the user terminates the session within the first 10 minutes.

How do I get more requests from users?

The number one thing is to create a great profile (see below). According to Economics 101, lowering your rate may help as well. You can also link to your OnScreenExpert profile from your e-mail signature, website and social profiles to provide an incredibly low-friction way for potential clients to reach out to you for help. We're working on tools to make it easier for you to promote yourself to your existing network.

How do I create a great profile?

We recommend completing as much of the profile as possible, focusing on your relevant projects, work history and accomplishments, and including links to your code, portolfio/resume, and social profiles. Your profile is where you get to brag a little. Are you a CTO at a startup, maintainer of an open-source project, a highly sought after freelancer? Include relevant coding languages, frameworks, and skills so that users will find you when they're searching. And don't forget to include a nice photo of yourself - that's what people like to look at, after all.

How do I prepare for a session?

Make sure to review the user's questions beforehand so you have some idea in your head of what to expect. Other than that, show up 5 minutes early and be yourself, since yourself is a smart, nice, helpful person.

How do I become a featured expert?

If we tell you, we'd have to kill you. It helps to have a nice photo, a complete profile, and an impressive background. Other than that, we try to rotate our featured experts, and of course A/B test them :)


Is my contact information kept private?

Absolutely. We don't share your email with anyone. If you're signed up as an expert, your social links will be public. So, if you have your contact information in your Twitter, LinkedIn, Github profiles or on your website, they won't be so private. Then again, they never were.

Are sessions kept private?

Yes. For now all sessions are private. We are considering the option of making them public so others can learn from your sessions, but only if you choose to make them public.