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Why I Stopped Watching YouTube Tutorials

grantralls profile image Grant Ralls Updated on ・3 min read

TLDR: It's not that long but OK. I got tired of outdated information. Also, searching through docs is faster for me than watching a video.

Intro

I've been writing code for 8 years now. A solid 6 out of those 8 years, my primary form of learning anything new was YouTube tutorials. If there wasn't a tutorial on YouTube for a thing, I didn't learn it. I got my start making Minecraft mods with Java, video games with C# and Unity, iOS apps with Objective-C (Before Swift was released), Android apps with Java, and finally static websites. I've done a lot of things but the problem is I didn't actually learn anything. I just wasted a lot of time copying the code line for line from some random YouTube video.

What's the problem?

How do I determine whether something was a good use of my "learning" time or not? Back then, I would say that whenever I am "making" something, that is a productive use of time spent learning. I soon found out I was very wrong. I would copy and paste the code, then have no idea that the content creator was using an out of date method. Maybe the content creator didn't really explain the concept well enough. Worst of all, maybe the content creator was straight up wrong! What if I need to go back to reference something? What is faster, typing a keyword into the search bar of the documentation, or scrubbing through a 2-year-old YouTube video? Let's move on.

The realization

So there I am, bored out of my MIND with programming. I start to think to myself, "Maybe I am not cut out to be a developer. I should change degrees now while it's still early". I quickly realized that I am not bored with programming. I am bored with making boring static websites. I want to learn the epic voice BACK-END!!

The Journey

I know JavaScript, C#, Java, and Python. These are the well-known options for back-end development. I gave Python a go first, with Flask. I learned I hated everything about Flask. Django was a LOT more enjoyable but I still wanted something even better. I was quickly told that if I wanted to go into "enterprise-level" websites I need to learn ASP.NET with C#. So I did, the documentation and learning resources were pretty trash (for ASP.NET). I am reading through docs that have a lot of copying and pasting, which annoyed me. I know JavaScript is what the "hip kids" are using. If you read my last post you will know that I ABSOLUTELY
HATE... Love checking out the new tech.

"Grant, you shouldn't just hop on bandwagons. Learn tech that you believe in!"

I KNOW! It's just new tech is so cool and shiny! I install NPM (that looks odd in all caps) and "npm i express" and off I go! The docs, *sniff* beautiful. They are easy to use when I just need something to work. The docs also provide a deeper level of explanation when I want to understand something. The community of JavaScript Back-end developers is very active online. I love everything about it and NPM. Finally, my first success with using docs as my primary source of learning.

Conclusion

What did I learn and what do I want to tell you? I learned that docs are not any more help than a video if they are not made well. Two big requirements that I want from docs is a "getting started" section, a deeper explanation of what is happening, and what are the best practices. To the Developer that is just like me... Just give it a shot. You might end up liking it at the end! I hope I convinced y'all to try something new. Y'all take it easy out there! :D

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grantralls profile

Grant Ralls

@grantralls

I am a gamer who got lost while learning how to make mods. Now I make web apps.

Discussion

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Goes to show that reading (and writing) documentation is indeed one of the most important skills a developer can learn. Thanks for sharing.

Personally, I use YouTube as my primary source of learning material because I easily lose all of my attention when reading anything. I know it might not be the most efficient learning pattern, but it works. Reading feels too much like a chore for me, whereas watching YouTube videos caters for my short attention span (for reading) and my need for education and entertainment.

 

That brings an interesting thought to the table. When I was thinking about what point I wanted to get across for this, I was thinking about efficiency. I did not think about learning styles. Now I feel it's more of a balance. Part way efficiency, part way what's best for your learning style, and choosing a resource that fits in the middle. Do you agree? (Thank you so much for your kind and thought provoking comment! I love conversations like this!)

 

No problem, my friend. I enjoy these kinds of conversations as well.

Yes, I definitely agree with that sentiment. This reminds me of why some education systems in the world are inefficient. The fact that everything is paced and standardized makes it really difficult for some students to keep up. Not everyone learns in the same way, thus self-paced and personalized learning is always the best move forward.

Unfortunately, we just don't have the luxury of time for that. At the end of the day, a school year is a school year. There are schedules and deadlines to be met just like in the "real world".

As programmers and lifetime devotees of learning, this issue becomes more relevant than ever. Just like students, we have to meet our own deadlines. It's either we learn efficiently (and fast) or effectively (but slow). We have to compromise between them to make the most out of our time. And that is the true dilemma.

 

I don't watch much of YouTube videos since my internet speed is quite slow and it's not worth the waiting time. XD

I agree on the sentiment that docs are not much of help compared to video tutorials if they're not made well. Especially that video tutorials need more resources to produce just to update compared to docs.

Anyways, thanks for sharing your thoughts! It also occurred to me about how to document and read well similar to what @somedood said in his first part of the comment. Now that I think about it, it's also something that I stumble upon.

 

Resources and time needed to update isn't something I thought off! Great point! I also agree with @somedood saying that as developers we need to be comfortable with reading docs. The most basic "docs" being code comments.

@"internet speed is quite slow"

Oh no! My main form of entertainment is YouTube and online games. What is yours with slow internet?

 

I still have Youtube videos as one of my forms of entertainment through mobile data. If it's not available though, I just go with whatever I can do to entertain myself. XD

Aw man, is it just a bad area for internet?

Yeah. Fast (or even tolerable) and consistent internet speed is not widely reachable (or affordable for that matter) for the most part in the Philippines.

Wow, the Philippines! That's pretty cool! What's something that's the norm in the Philippines that you don't hear of happening in other countries that you enjoy?

Now that I think about it, idk, honestly. Pardon my ignorance there. 😅

 
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Very true, I think I mentioned in a draft version of this is that I feel YouTube is most helpful when I need a quick, broad overview of a topic. But then becomes a crapshoot of hit or miss when someone starts to desire the details. (Thanks for the comment I really appreciate it :D )

 

I get bored and easily distracted reading through the Documentation most of the time. This is something I hope to improve upon over time. A major percentage of my learning is through watching videos.

 

That was me for a long time. I think what helped me get better at reading docs with my full attention was reading more books and articles. I started on Medium, I found dev.to a year or two ago and didn't think much of it. Now here I am back again! (Thanks for your comment. It means a lot to me for people to see what I have to say and have something to add to the conversation! :D )

 

I'm with you, I prefer videos and books for concepts and docs/blogs for specifics.

 

Yep, I wonder if it's cause my brain can't handle trying to get the overall concept AND the details at the same time! (Thanks for the comment by the way :D )