Starting to Think FreeCodeCamp Doesn't Actually Teach

I feel like Free Code Camp isn’t actually teaching me anything. After going over a billion things once I come to the Basic Algorithm challenges and am left just sitting there with derp face. I either know what I need to do but can’t remember the specific commands or formatting I need to do it, or I overthink the problem because I don’t know certain commands even exist in the first place.

Does anyone else have this issue?


I just finished advanced algorithm scripting a few hours ago(I had already done basic and intermediate), and in my opinion it’s the best learning experience.
You’re supposed to get stuck, read and find solutions, that is real learning. When I started there were times it took one week to find a solution, and every solution had a profound change on my thinking.
So my advice is make it your mission to finish one algorithm and go to the next one without skipping the hard ones.
By the time you are finished, you’ll see the difference and realize FCC is the best teacher you’ve ever had.


I’ve been coding off and on all my life, and have even built entire websites for clients before from my limited understanding and a bit of Google-fu. I know how to read code. I just want to be able to write it without having to look everything up.

It’s like being able to understand everything someone is saying in a foreign language but not having the first clue as to how to respond back to them without using Google translator. Frustrating.


This is life. As you gain more experience, you start to expect certain features in languages and this cuts learning time down significantly. In the beginning, you’re not expected to retain every detail in the lessons. Instead, try to understand the point of what’s being demonstrated and know that you can reference it later. Use the map to quickly find lessons you’ve already done to reference material.

The algorithms aren’t necessarily meant for you to use the whiz-bang higher level features of JavaScript, but are for you to practice problem solving. It may take you a day to implement something that there’s already an object method available for, but you’ll be far better off having tried to make it yourself that one time than just memorizing the browser API.


I remember once I was solving one of the challenges with a guy who had done javascript for years, and guess what, he still had to search through some stuff too.
There are also algorithm challenges I pretty much copied in full, but whenever that happened I ended up learning so much that I hacked the next 5 or so on my own.
When you look up for clues and help, you learn something you never would have learned. So just learn and have fun!


Yeah, I know I’m expecting a lot for only having been in it for 3 days. Voicing frustration helps dissipate it though. I appreciate the kind words of encouragement.


keep it up bud, you will get it. :slight_smile: all the hard work, researching and dedication makes the reward better :slight_smile:


I don’t think that you should use free code camp as your sole teaching method…you learn by researching on your own as well and you will have to do that using free code camp.


this is very true. I agree 100%

I feel like FCC is more difficult than CS50x especially for newbies like me. I think FCC is for those experienced programmers who would like to venture into web development. That’s just my opinion.

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To be clear, I do think FCC is the best self-teaching source I’ve seen for coding. I like how it focuses on teaching the job in a practical manner instead of a single language and actively helps users put together a portfolio as well as networking opportunities. It feels like the system was built with the idea of ascertaining an actual job in programming in mind. I look forward to seeing FCC expand with more modules.

As I said before, this post was more a ventilation of frustration than anything else. I actually solved a couple of the challenges without having to look anything up shortly after posting it, but I also think it helps people to know they’re not the only ones who struggle or get frustrated from time to time.


You kinda aren’t supposed to solve challenges immediately just coding on the fly. It’s advised to search and ask questions if you don’t understand something. And it really makes FCC an excellent teaching resource. Read suggested mdn articles, then google, ask questions. Read books (You dont know JS is a good choice), do courses at codecademy or elsewhere, watch some youtube tutorials. You shouldn’t limit yourself only to information, explained at FCC (and yeah, it’s explained pretty briefly, you’ll need more theory to move on).


You are totally not alone! I still feel this way sometimes, but I also agree 100% that it’s the best out there. I think a lot of people (myself included) who find out coding is really rad, but have no background in it need more than just FCC. I did some research and read on FCC, reddit, etc. and ended up making what (I think?) is a more well rounded teaching to supplement that meets my needs as a newbie. I’m drawing on recommendations from FCC writers, edEx courses, Codecademy, Odin, books, etc., but I’d sit down, figure out what you need to improve your skills and then make a plan.
(link to my plan that I posted on reddit and the feedback that I received:


Even the 1% of web developer / software engineers spend many hours googling / reading documentation / stack overflow in order to solve a problem They don’t have all the answers in their head for every problem they come across. Programming, to me, is first and foremost about “understanding” the problem. These algorithms are meant to make you feel uncomfortable. They are a wall. You must find your own ladder. I think of FCC as more of a resource to help you get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Anyways, you’re not alone :slight_smile: Keep at it!


You cannot expect to understand how and why things work from FCC, i don’t think it’s their intention at all. You are expected to study outside of what FCC offers if you want to learn these things in more depth.

FCC is a great source of challenge, a way to practice your knowledge, but it’s not an ideal way to obtain this knowledge in the first place. You can learn javascript syntax on FCC, but you cannot learn the javascript language on FCC, it’s just out of their scope.

The idea that “even the best programmers google” is valid, but not in the sense that i often see used in here and in other beginner-friendly communities. Of course you should google if you don’t know something, but if you don’t know how the tools you are using work, you can’t really expect to be very productive. That’s something no college, course or book can teach you by itself, you have to actively pursue understanding of what you don’t understand. Not only for programming but any skill in life requires that.


Not related entirely to coding… but my whole lie has been like this… I started my life in electronics, and was always figuring out what a chip or component could do by what they used to call cookbooks… or the companies own spec sheet…

But this is the nature of being in any field. My friend is a Doctor and the number of times she says she goes to her reference docs to look at possible symptom/diagnosis/outcome type stuff amazed me… It seemed like House… except instead of doing the whiteboard of possible diseases for symptoms, it’s confirmed via a bit of research…

Of course if you have a Phd in something you might just be the only expert in that obscure Phylum-Genus of rainforest insect. Or if you create a technology and work in it exclusively your whole life… But that’s not likely the future working state of the majority of people. You have to be a bit of generalist who is a quick learn and knows how to figure stuff out or research it nowadays.

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Completely unrelated to coding, but more conceptual to the idea of learning itself…

And to my time as a trainer… there’s learning models that include long plateaus and frustration before breakthroughs to the next level… see the unconscious competence diagram about halfway down the page at

Mastery comes with practice and frustration can drive someone to the next level. the id gives a good 10,000 foot view of staying in the ‘zone’.

What Should You Learn Next? – The Challenge Graph, a framework for understanding growth

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This is true. I have had two senior developers tell me the same thing. If someone tells you that they never have to reference back to anything when coding and working commands on a server , they either are not doing much at all or they are lieing.

I’m trying to start Back-End and feel utterly lost, actually panicking. But then I remind myself I’m not the first one doing it and try to suck it up. I’ve got a feeling it will be a lot harder than Front-End though.


If its the algorithms that you are having problems with try this:
Write the problem out, in English, step by step, on paper first, and organize your thoughts. Implement your code step by step and check it one step at a time. Sometimes we write code and think its doing something when it is actually doing something else. Check it, how ? Print out the step your are trying to achieve with ‘console.log(“stuff”)’ which obviously shows up in your console which is usually accessed by hitting f12. For example, you receive some array and you need to pick out some element. I would print out the array to see if I’m receiving it. Then print out the element I’m supposed to be choosing. If its correct, I move on to the next step if not, I check for missing columns, semi-columns, misspelled words, capitalization ect. if is correct maybe there might be a misinterpretation on how something works. Go to the Map and ctrl+f whatever it is you are working on. Re-read and rework out the function or whatever it is that is not working then retry the algorithm.
I’m a math and cs major and have done lots of these challenges on c++, some of the challenges are still hard for me, It is supposed to be hard i think. So don’t feel bad and keep at it.

Best of Luck Sir.