Don't Get Fooled by the IT Gold Rush

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Don't Get Fooled by the IT Gold Rush


To me, the nicest part about tech-related fields is that they are probably simpler to master online than any other. That's exactly how I established the computer science basis that underpins my job. I would not be where I am now without the internet's wealth of resources.

Like many others on my road, I consumed any internet resource I could get my hands on at first. However, as I progressed in my work, I became increasingly aware of the flaws in the content that one is most likely to encounter.

I had to relearn several topics that I thought I understood at first. Then, when it crystallised, I realised that my self-taught friends had also been led wrong at times.

This prompted me to investigate how misinformation spread. Of course, not everyone is perfect all of the time. After all, it is human to make mistakes. However, with such a plethora of information available online, erroneous information should not spread widely.

So, how did it get there? In summary, the same business factors that make computer science-powered disciplines profitable also produce fertile ground for questionable instructional material.

To contribute in some little way to computer science education, I'd want to offer my findings on judging the quality of educational tools. Those of you on a similar route will hopefully learn the simple way what I learnt the hard way.

Setting Up Our Self-Development Environment

Before I begin, I want to state that I appreciate that no one enjoys being informed that their work is subpar. I'm not going to mention any names. For one thing, there are so many to mention that a heuristic is the only practical solution

More significantly, I would rather provide you the skills to make your own assessments than just tell you where not to go.

Additionally, heuristics are more likely to point in the proper path. Nobody benefits if I assert that website X has poor content and then turn out to be false. Worse, you may have missed out on an enlightening source of information.

However, if I emphasise the signals that imply a certain website may be inaccurate, while they may still lead you to mistakenly dismiss a reliable resource, they should still generate solid findings in most circumstances.

The Market's Invisible Hand Provides a Firm Handshake

We'll have to dust up our Econ 101 notes to understand where information of doubtful quality is coming from.

Why do IT occupations pay so well? High demand meets limited supply. Because there is such a high need for software engineers, and because software development trends change so quickly, thousands of resources have been created to teach the next generation.

But market forces aren't finished yet. When demand exceeds supply, manufacturing is put under strain. When manufacturing speeds up while the price remains constant, quality suffers. Sure, pricing might just rise, but one of the most appealing aspects of tech training is that most of it is free.

So, if a site can avoid the steep decline in users that occurs with transitioning from free to paid, can you blame it for remaining free? When you multiply this by even a small percentage of all the free training sites, the overall quality of instruction suffers.

Furthermore, because software development techniques repeat as a result of innovation, so does this downward spiral in educational quality. What happens once the hurriedly created training material has been consumed? Workers who drank it eventually became the new "experts." In a short period of time, these "experts" generate yet another generation of resources, and so on.

Make Your Own Bootstraps for Learning

Obviously, I'm not going to tell you to regulate the market. You may, however, learn to recognise reputable sources on your own. As promised, here are some heuristics I use to make a preliminary assessment of the worth of a certain resource.

Is the website operated for profit? It's probably not as solid, or at least not as applicable to your unique use case.

These sites frequently sell goods to people that are technologically unskilled. The content is streamlined in order to appeal to non-technical firm executives, rather than being comprehensive in order to target technical grunts. Even if the site is aimed towards people in your situation, for-profit organisations attempt to avoid giving away tradecraft for free.

If the site is geared for the technically savvy and readily disseminates company practises, their usage of a specific programme, tool, or language may differ significantly from how you do, will, or should.

Was the website created by a charitable organisation? Their substance may be really lucrative if you choose the proper sort.

Check the nonprofit's reputation before you believe anything you read. Then, confirm how closely linked the site is to anything you're attempting to study. For example,, which is run by the same folks that create Python, would be a fantastic place to start learning Python.

Is the site mostly for training? Be wary if it's also for profit.

This type of organisation frequently prioritises quickly placing trainees in positions. Trainee quality comes at second place. Unfortunately, for most companies, good enough is, well, good enough, especially if it means saving money on wages.

If the site, on the other hand, is a significant nonprofit, you may typically give it greater weight. Often, training-driven NGOs have the aim of growing up the field and supporting its employees, which is strongly reliant on individuals being properly taught.


There are also more elements to consider before considering how seriously to take a resource.

When evaluating a forum, consider its relevancy and repute.

General purpose software development forums are frequently incorrect because lack of specialisation implies specialised specialists are less likely to be there.

If the forum is particularly intended to service a specific work position or software user base, you'll get greater mileage because you're more likely to locate an expert there.

It all relies on the author's background for stuff like blogs and their articles.

Authors who create or utilise what you're studying are unlikely to mislead you. You're also definitely in excellent condition if you work as a developer for a large tech business, as these organisations can generally get top-tier talent.

Be wary of authors who write for a for-profit firm yet aren't developers.

Summative Evaluation

If you were to boil this strategy down to a motto, it would be: always consider who is writing the advice and why.

Obviously, no one ever tries to be incorrect. However, they can only go on what they know, and there are other goals that an information sharer might have other from being as accurate as feasible.

If you can identify reasons why a provider of information might not prioritise textbook correctness, you'll be less likely to naively accept their work.

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