I have developed a system which seems to work well on equities. I would estimate it to be of medium complexity (uses three timeframes, 2 external or non-price/volume inputs, and will probably require 3 called sub-routines). I am interested in having someone program it and backtest it for all the stocks in the S&P 500. Does anyone have experience hiring programmers for system development? Here are my questions/concerns: (1) There are a lot of programmers out there. How can I choose a very good programmer who is very professional? (2) What is a typical or "fair" rate to pay? (3) How can I be sure my system won't be stolen or made public domain? (4) Will programmers do iterative backtesting to optimize the system? (5) What is the best data source to use (TradeStation, Wealth Lab, e-ignal, other?)? (6) I would prefer someone who has worked with institutions or hedge funds in the past. I am interested in any positive or negative experiences different people may have had along these lines.