These Are a Self-Taught Programmer’s Tips for Learning Quickly: Avoid Using Google and Don't Watch YouTube Tutorials

  • Looking up the solution to a problem on Google and YouTube may get you out of a jam, but it’s not a learning system.

  • A self-taught programmer shares techniques that worked for him on Reddit.

A self-taught programmer's tips for learning quickly: Avoid Google and YouTube tutorials
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If something isn’t on Google and no one’s made a tutorial on YouTube, it probably doesn’t exist. We’ve all searched for a way to do something and found it on one of Google's services. Whatever question you might have, you'll find answer there.

However, as one self-taught programmer explains on Reddit, even if Google and YouTube give you an answer, it may not be the right one—or at least not the most reliable one.

I Learned It on YouTube

This is an increasingly common expression among young—and not so young—people. YouTube has become a kind of visual Wikipedia for learning how to solve specific problems, whether for professional, personal, or educational purposes.

The enormous variety of answers to the most unusual questions creates a certain dependency on knowledge uploaded to YouTube in the form of videos or tutorials that then appear in searches. The problem is that these tutorials may have been created by students, people with limited knowledge of the subject, and they may be outright fake.

The power of the Internet is that anyone can share their knowledge from the comfort of their home. This is also its main drawback: Anyone can write a tutorial, and, as the programmer on Reddit points out, in many cases, apprentices or students are the ones maing this content without deep knowledge of the subject.

In addition, Google and YouTube’s search algorithms don’t reward the most complete content or the content that offers the best solution, but rather focus on the content that's the most optimized. As a result, the most educational and valuable content only appears sometimes in search results.

The immediacy with which anyone can access the content means that those who need to learn to solve a problem obtain the superficial solution and don’t delve deeper into the necessary knowledge. In other words, it focuses only on the solution or how to do something without considering the implications of why the problem occurred, how to avoid it in the future, or how to apply the solution to other cases.

Advantages of Learning From a Solid Source

The self-taught programmer claims that, in his experience, official documentation is the most reliable source of information for learning a programming language or subject.

As he argued, official information comes directly from the program or language’s creator, ensuring that it’s always up to date with the latest features and doesn’t contain misinformation.

In addition, the official documentation provides a global vision of the technology, allowing people to scale their elementary knowledge to eventually solve more complex problems.

This more complete information allows access to knowledge from a broader perspective, not just focused on how to do a particular thing, enabling a more complete learning and problem-solving process. On a professional level, this type of learning makes it easier for people to apply previously learned solutions to other problems in the future. This problem-solving process has helped Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos succeed in their careers.

Learning Strategies

Of course, this doesn’t disqualify Google searches or YouTube as sources of information for learning new skills. Watching YouTube videos can familiarize you with the problem and work as a starting point.

However, the programmer, known on Reddit as RockyBass, recommends that you not stop at what you learn from these videos or tutorials and advises you to deepen this knowledge by going to the official documentation to find out why this solution worked, if there’s a faster or better alternative, and, most importantly, what caused the problem.

The Feynman learning method suggests that in addition to learning how to do something, it’s advisable to practice it in different scenarios to approach the solution from various angles. This practice will strengthen your knowledge of the subject and reduce your dependence on Google and YouTube tutorials by enabling you to find solutions yourself in the future.

Image | Usplash (rivage, Christian Wiediger)

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