Extremely discouraging experience

I understand that when one is put under pressure to stretch from what they are taught then they are better able to retain what they have learned. I totally get that and agree. But teaching some elementary HTML/CSS/jQuery then telling someone to build a tribute page with an unfamiliar CodePen which splits up the code we learned into three different editors, uses some different code, and then asks the student to follow uncertain rules to the satisfaction of an unknown authority is not teaching.

I can teach someone to hammer a nail and saw a board. But to then ask them to build an extension on to their house? That’s not teaching. Of course if the person builds on to the house they will have “learned” something. But the purpose of guidance is to accelerate that process. If they aren’t keeping students guided then it is quite clear that freeCodeCamp needs to learn how to do their job more effectively before someone else does.

My suggestions are:

  1. Provide students an opportunity to build on a foundation.
  2. Forget the cat app and teach a student to build a tribute page right off the bat.
  3. Have students build multiple tribute pages each with increasing complexity.
  4. Give students clear objectives for each assignment.
  5. Give students other functions with which to experiment and to try.

In short, this course has too little guidance, too much obscurity in assignment objectives, and too little practice. However, I do love being able to sequentially complete assignments. It does make me feel like I am accomplishing something…until I get to a poorly defined and designed project.


I kinda agree with your assessment.

But like in the real world, it’s like getting a client project where you need to know X and Y technologies to complete the project and you know nothing about it… it’s sink or swim. (I’ve been there… you’re caught between returning the money the client paid, and your family going hungry, or you go move forward and learn and do everything to complete the job and keep the money… I’m self-employed, so if I don’t work, I don’t get paid.)

A big aspect of being a developer is the ever continuing learning, using many different resources. Google and books are your friends. Don’t expect FCC to spoon feed you everything. Because it’s not like that.

That said, here are some free resources that will attempt to teach you more about HTML. These courses are free, so no excuse not to check some of them out.

Good luck!


For a free tutorial website, FreeCodeCamp provides quite usefull lessons. It may seems difficult at start but if you spent some time solving problems, dveloping projects and interacting with the community you will truly appreciate what FreeCodeCamp can offer.


The point is to do research yourself as well. Why are you so obsessed with making your first tribute page perfect? Make it imperfect and return to it when you learn more. FCC will not teach you EVERYTHING. They just lay the foundation and then you have to go out and read documentation for languages yourself. If you push through the frustration you will learn more, trust me. [quote=“earthpet, post:1, topic:121841”]
Give students clear objectives for each assignment.

It does, its called user stories. They won’t go out and say “Implement this feature using XYZ”, because you need to learn it… YOURSELF.

They also do.

Make ANOTHER tribute page when you learn more.

FCC gives you some knowledge and then you expand it on your own. Thats the whole point of coding/programming is to pretty much learn by yourself and practice.

Take a breath and do the work.


Just to be clear, you seem to be vigorously defending freeCodeCamp. Are you suggesting that they are perfect and need no improvement? I am suggesting that they do need improvement and am offering suggestions on what they need to focus on. Are you implying that I should not make suggestions for improvement?

Also, you clearly do not know me so your suggestions for me seem awkward and misplaced. I’m not sure why you are making them.

Never defended FCC, simply said that you need to relax and maybe work on your skills more before you point fingers. Its not a personal attack so you can relax on that front as well.

Like others have said FCC won’t spoon feed you things. If you don’t like me telling you that you actually need to do some work outside of the original curriculum then programming isn’t for you.

Again… relax I’m trying to tell you to take a step back and not complain about free knowledge that is given to you. Take it or leave it.


Why are you suggesting that I’m not relaxed or working on my skills more? How is that not a personal attack? I did not realize that criticism of the curriculum would open me up to personal attack.

Also, I don’t mind if you defend freeCodeCamp. What is confusing is why you would deny it when it is all completely available to verify above.

I understand where you’re coming from. But I would defend freecodecamp absolutely. It’s on the tin “read, search, ask”.

I also think the word ‘map’ is a good indicator. It has given me a guide to figure out what I need to learn, and provided a list of projects to work on without getting too grandiose and never finishing anything.

There’s always room for improvement. There are also a lot of resources readily available to supplement the curriculum here. Self learning is obviously very different from a classroom environment, and comes with its own set of challenges and expectations.

My experience of learning to program has been full of discouraging experiences.

I saw this nice quote earlier:

Programming isn’t about what you know. It’s about what you can figure out. – Chris Pine


Learning to code is and probably always will be (until it’s simply not necessary anymore) very frustrating; I totally get where you’re coming from.

Having said that, I’ve done two online ‘dev bootcamps’ complete with ‘mentors’ and ‘real projects’ and I can tell you that FreeCodeCamp gets it right in ways that others don’t. I think the real difference is that FCC has some foundations in educational theory & practice, hence the cat app that you have at the outset. If you’ve never coded before this is the right way to start. It’s also very right to take a step up and put that into practice with the tribute page. Also, you can build the tribute page without any jQuery – I suck at jQuery and all things JS, but I banged out the tribute page.

Further to this, you can and probably should create the tribute page in a code editor. It’s a great lesson in self-directed learning – think of it as buying your own hammer, to borrow your metaphor.

I copy and paste code from Brackets (my fav editor) into CodePen, then just delete the unnecessary code which CodePen flags.

Regarding objectives, I would approach it like a real class – look through the syllabus frequently to keep an understanding of where you’re heading in your mind. There’s nothing wrong with looking over the assignments and it’s not cheating to get started on them when you feel like you can; you can always revise and refine or even rebuild.

As for undefined objectives, well, believe it or not but the more loosely defined a project the better. Coding up a pixel perfect design is a huge investment of time and real test of your abilities. Again, I think these early assignments are t

Finally, let me re-iterate a point here – guidance is great, but it’s very difficult to pull it off. There are hundreds of thousands of excellent programmers but they are not great teachers. I’ve spent thousands to learn this lesson. Also, front-end web dev is still a bit of wild west – there are so many ways to approach a task and execute it and they’re all correct. Hence, the need to push yourself and find your way to do it. As you learn more you’ll get better.

FCC is certainly not the whole package and no web dev course ever can be. You’re going to need to supplement your learning. The good news is, there is a wealth of great knowledge shared by industry experts on the web and even in books – remember those?!


Definitely CodePen can be a bit of a leap from the cat app interface…

I think in the beta version they are moving to something more flexible, easy to use etc.

You should know though, that this is a mostly volunteer run community. So this:

If they aren’t keeping students guided then it is quite clear that freeCodeCamp needs to learn how to do their job more effectively before someone else does.

They is now you too. You are now freeCodeCamp. There’s tons of opportunities to contribute. Your suggestions are great. Feel free to join the discussions where they talk about improving curriculum and getting the beta up and running…

And you may want to explore other open source opportunities

Some more links cause who doesn’t love link?


Your hammer and nail analogy is cute, but it’s far from being the same.
The HTML/CSS/jQuery sections were more than enough by presenting you with all the tools and methods needed to build a nice shed in your backyard, kinda like the Tribute page. The first project isn’t exactly a complicated web application. Just a static page. Like others have mentioned, this is a “read, search and ask” website. There are countless others resources elsewhere that will spoonfeed you anything you need to know. FCC is different, and it seems to be working for thousands of people around the globe.

Having said that, a new and improved version of FCC is in the works.
Check it out. You can try all the challenges, but beware that nothing will be saved.



Not like I am saying anything that hasn’t already been said here. But I do feel @earthpet pain. That was my initial feeling when I first found FCC. I felt I had little direction and was just thrown into the mix with minimal practice which I didn’t even know how to apply to my first projects. I bounced around from website to website trying to learn how to code and found my way back to FCC again.
I’m almost done with my portfolio page and I sort of “get it” now. I’ve read many places that programming in general “teaches you how to learn” or “learn how to learn”. I’ve found now with what I still deem minimal practice, the lack of guidance has actually been beneficial? It’s forced me to figure things out on my own, and work my way through problems and road blocks. Which essentially is what programming is. And every problem I encounter that I figure out on my own is starting to ‘stick’. But hey, different strokes for different folks!


I guess the first projects after not the best detailed introduction to HTML/CSS it’s like a nature filter - are you ready to hard work or not ready.

Any way, you can fix it. Contribution to Open Source is good for your portfolio. You cannot ask for more from people without salary.

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I think what is missed by some new members is that FCC is a guide (or structured learning path) and not a stand alone training resource to build a website. FCC is best used in combination with external resources. It’s called Free Code Camp after all, not Free website Building Camp. It teaches you coding skills. And by “teaches you” I mean it shows you what you should be teaching yourself. It’s fairly obvious from the moment you start the JavaScript algorithms that it’s gonna take some reading and maybe video watching to get through them. It has never been easier to learn anything really. If you are on FCC then you are on a computer, which means you are a few keystrokes away from Google, MDN Network, Stack Overflow, YouTube, CSS Tricks, etc… Being resourceful is an important skill.


This is called enlightenment - you got it!


This does come up in the forums periodically, and I don’t disagree. I think the program would benefit greatly from a few short, guided video walkthroughs on creating very basic pages using just the information learned in the FCC lessons. I’ve had some ideas on how to do this myself, but for various reasons, haven’t gotten around to it. While it may not seem like it, the lessons up to the Tribute Page project do give you everything you need to know in order to build a page that meets all of the requirements. Problem is that most of the material isn’t retained by most students, and it’s not always obvious how to put these things together. The Cat App is great, though. Try doing it all a few more times to see if it helps things click.

If you have any questions, try searching the forums here, and ask your question if you don’t see an answer. I think that community involvement is the single greatest asset we have in FreeCodeCamp.


Quiixotiic! We meet again. I totally get earthpet experience, I can almost call it mine. Everything was kind of flying fast and furious until I got to the tribute page (and I have to add that I have plenty of IT background… or used to have it) then I crashed and burned.

After I read your reply something got moved away inside, I think it was the “perfectionist inside me” that wants to create the best opus magna at first attempt. That’s where I get stuck every time, in anything, since ever.

I get that FCC is a guidance and we have to do the heavy lifting, no spoon-feeding here and I agree to that. That is why this is a self paced, self taught, free-of-charge way to get to code. Kudos to that.

I want to thank @earthpet for bringing his/mine experience to the clear. I sympathize with him and all of us that feels the same.

I want to thank @Quiixotiic for his liberating words, you may have provided a way for me (us) to get back and keep moving forward. I am going to forget about the tribute page and make instead a MOCK page, imperfect mock page, that will do by now and continue with the FCC.

I want to thank every single one of you that reply to earthpet because you may not agree with him, but I haven’t seen any insult, degrading comment, name calling or plain stupidity, by the contrary, I see encouragement, advise and a constructive discussion.

You ALL are a unique and a true breed apart. Thank you all and regards.


How do you manage to do it? A freelancing website?

I don’t think I could agree with you more. This is very well said.

There are so many resources on the internet explaining how to do things, I would argue it’d be damaging if FCC was the basis of all new coder’s knowledge.

You wouldn’t look very pro if your documentation go-to was freeCodeCamp.com - not because there’s a stigma with this amazing group, but because documentation is not their objective.

You want to go to the resources all the OTHER pros are going to (MDN, StackOverflow, etc…) and you want to interact with other groups of people to develop a comprehensive understanding of the code.

There have been countless JavaScript challenges that I know FCC has taught me almost nothing about. But their tips for links in the description are a great head-start for exploring how to creatively solve problems for myself.

In the end, when I am done with a problem, I end up with a MUCH deeper understanding of how I did it than I would through other means.

I’ve taken many tutorials online and most of them are very shallow - such as teaching how to use a JavaScript forEach function, and then immediately test that you know how to use that syntax.

FCC on the other hand, challenges you to understand when to use that function in the first place, a vastly different and much more important skill to obtain


I’ll admit it’s daunting. Part of what you need to understand is not spoon-fed to you. This is most likely their way of teaching you how to research the missing pieces. Something that frustrated me as much as that did will likely never be forgotten. The strategies I employed (forums, friends and mdn.io) to accomplish the assignment will likely be built upon as I continue learning on this site. Hang in there, it’s not a misstep on their part.