This Article Exposes a Problem with Tech Blogs

Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

This website is, first and foremost, a social media blogging site…it is easy to forget that, thanks to the WYSIWYG editor, or how adding pictures, quotes, and hyperlinks to a post makes it seem less like a blog post and more like an article. I wish I could call myself a journalist for having a blog. Has a nice ring to it, right? Evan the TECH JOURNALIST? :)

Here is a tech article called “6 Programming Languages You Should Not Learn.” It is very popular. Check out this excerpt:

HTML and CSS are very popular languages. Most new programmers blindly dive into these languages. Below is a screenshot from Stack Overflow showing the popularity of these two languages.

HTML and CSS are front-end languages. Going deep and investing huge amounts of time in them doesn’t give you maximum leverage for your time.

Going deep into HTML and CSS isn’t likely to be of many benefits to a newbie or novice compared to going straight to Javascript.

First of all, HTML is not a programming language. A commenter wrote this.

“HTML5 + CSS3 is turing complete”

A commenter provided two points, both of them legitimate: JavaScript is not a substitute for HTML/CSS, and HTML is not a programming language. The author doubled down with the response that HTML5 + CSS3 are Turing-complete.

HTML is not Turing-Complete. Perhaps Clement was referring to a google result about the two being Turing-Complete together? But that is not even the main issue. The main issue is that websites require HTML. To tell thousands of readers that they should learn JavaScript instead of HTML is misleading at best.

From what I have seen, Clement Brian is a good writer. GitConnected is a good publication. So what the **** happened here?

I suspect that there were a few things at play:

  • The article was met with rage, and Medium made sure to push it because it was getting so much engagement
  • The editor of GitConnected noticed the attention and wanted to accept the article. What he did not do was read it
  • Clement, a writer with a wide variety of extremely popular content, decided to research a field outside of his expertise. This worked one time before, but here he pieced facts together in a way that did not really make sense. For example, research told him that JavaScript can be used on the backend and the frontend. Research told him that HTML and CSS are for the frontend. He made the incorrect logical leap that JavaScript is therefore a good substitute for HTML and CSS because he did not know what these terms mean
  • This article is paywall-blocked. If the author gave into pressure and took it down, he would lose an income stream. If he acknowledged his mistakes, learned from the experience, and then improved the article, it would elicit less controversy and make him less money. The algorithm incentives controversy over quality and accuracy

The Dark Side of Blogging

“Looks like this dog makes a lot of bad posts online. Text to speech is on. Seems like the dog barks, and it translates to these bad posts.”

Anyone can create a blog. Even me. This fact is dangerous.

If a writer decides that quantity is more important than quality, you will get things like this: The backing of a tech publication, a good format, and enough screenshots and buzzwords to fake legitimacy. In truth, this article has more problems than just the one stated.

In spite of the comments, 320 people clapped for this article. Perhaps they were potential new people, fascinated by tech, who are now going to attempt to learn web development by skipping HTML and CSS so they can skip right to JavaScript.

Closing Thoughts

Social media incentivizes people to elicit controversy. Because of this, we face the same situation we face at parties: The loudest, most obnoxious people tend to get the most attention.

Except in the social media world, this also means that they make the most money.

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A software engineer who writes about software engineering. Shocking, I know.

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Evan SooHoo

Evan SooHoo

A software engineer who writes about software engineering. Shocking, I know.

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