loading...
Cover image for Udemy Needs to Review Courses and Vet Instructors

Udemy Needs to Review Courses and Vet Instructors

ashleemboyer profile image Ashlee Boyer Updated on ・5 min read

Cover image alt: Header reading the this blog post's title. The background is a large lecture hall with light brown, wooden chairs and white walls.

This was originally posted on my personal blog site.


Trigger Warning: violence against women


My Twitter mentions exploded today over tweets I made about misogynistic Udemy course that has (thankfully) been removed from the site. This post is about the course of events from the first tweet I saw, to the end of a day full of problematic replies and discoveries of even more courses that should be removed. I'll break the content up as much as possible.

Table of Contents

  1. The First Tweet
  2. The Course & Its Issues
  3. Problematic Replies and Retweets
  4. More Courses To Remove
  5. What You Can Do

The First Tweet

I saw the first tweet about this course from Twitter user @ryzokuken. The course is titled: "How to Hack a Girl: The Real Life Version." The link preview description says, "Make Her A Woman Be Attracted to You By Hacking Her Brain!" (ow, the grammar.)

I tweeted about it around midnight and included a screenshot of the course's basic information. Aside from the title and description mentioned above, it also showed:

  • A 2.9 / 5 star rating from 36 reviews
  • Quantity of 3,231 students enrolled since May 2019
  • The instructor's name: Pedro Planas
  • A 45% off price of \$10.99, and 5 hours remaining at that price

My tweet has been seen tens of thousands of times. Hundreds liked it. Obviously I'm not the only person who finds it problematic.

The Course & Its Issues

First of all, women are not hardware or software and therefore cannot be hacked. We are human beings. Second of all, you can't make women be attracted to you if they don't want to be. That's called entitlement and women are disproportionately harassed, assaulted, and even murdered because they reject men who think they're entitled to our bodies and attention. Before you try to debate this statement with me, here's JUST FIVE articles you should read:

The original thread from that last bullet point is no longer up, but you can take a look at these quote tweets from the first tweet in the thread.

Let's also take a look at the course description:

"Have you ever felt like she doesn't pay attention to you and she ends up being with the bad guy while you are left behind hopeless? If this is your case, you are just some clicks away to make her be attracted to you and so you end up being the one who ends up with her. This is a videocourse on how to hack a girl's brain by understanding how a woman thinks, how to improve your overall appealing and science-based pshycological tricks that will make you be awesome at getting her to like you!"

All emphasis, gross misspellings, and horrid grammar are by the author of the description.

Sigh. There's so much to unpack.

  1. Women don't owe anyone their attention
  2. Women are not girls
  3. The "Nice Guy" Trope is hella old

Problematic Replies and Retweets

Here's a bunch of awful replies and retweets sorted into fun little categories.

Whataboutism

Annoying, non-jokes

Mansplaining

Just... no

Freedom of Speech

More Courses To Remove

This isn't the first time Udemy has had to remove courses. Twitter user @ohdaeni tweeted out a series of problematic courses 10 months ago:

  • "How to Exit the Friendzone (Or Avoid Falling into it)"
  • "Dating For Men - How to Escape The Friendzone!"
  • "Crucial Dating Advice For Lovable Guys" (also mentions the friendzone)
  • "How To Get The Girl - Dating For Men" (MORE FRIENDZONE GARBAGE)

Luckily, Udemy removed them and others by the same instructors. But why do they keep letting this happen? Why don't they have a review and approval process for all courses attempting to be added?

Below are some courses I found today with just minutes of searching, also sorted into fun categories.

Ableism

Sexism

Just go read the descriptions. Have a bucket nearby you can vomit into.

What You Can Do

Udemy wants you to send them an email.

I want you to flood their mentions.

Pressure them into making change. Report awful courses. It's 2019, we have lots of people wanting to write software to filter this kind of crap, and there's no excuse for exposing paying customers to danger. Notice how Udemy never made a public tweet about this? They want to keep it quiet. Don't let them.


Did you know I have a newsletter? 📬

If you want to get notified when I publish new blog posts or make major project announcements, head over to https://ashleemboyer.com/newsletter.


Image by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Posted on Jun 7 '19 by:

ashleemboyer profile

Ashlee Boyer

@ashleemboyer

Dog mom to Trooper & Tango | Engineer of software | Lover of learning | Partner of Zach | She/her | HOH | #SpooniesWhoCode

Discussion

markdown guide
 

I bought many Udemy courses. I even shared my experience with them so they can use it as a real-case of freelance success, and it's a shame that they are allowing this kind of content. I won't blame the platform itself since everyone can upload a course, but I really hope they start reviewing it, as Fiverr and many other started doing... Thank you for sharing!

 

Udemy does not even do some sort of vetting process to see if the video uploader is genuine. I see a lot of videos being copied from youtube. Which is so wrong for those channel creators.

 

It's sad! Udemy needs to do WAY better.

 

One thing I'd love to see Udemy get better at is checking the quality of the captioning their instructors slap on their courses. Some of it is so, so awful. I've complained to Udemy about it but the general gist of their response was, 'hey at least it's captioned!'. Well ... it kinda defeats the point if you can't understand the captioning in the first place!

So, yeah this doesn't surprise me in the least.

 

Yes it is clear that udemy does not do proper house keeping. I had this few days before. twitter.com/baskarmib/status/11726...

 

I guess I don't see how this is relevant to development or software.

 

Ryan, we are a community of people. We centralize around code, but we talk about all aspects of the ecosystem (and sometimes we go totally offtopic).

Mods will play with tags if we feel like something doesn't fit a certain discussion area, but this is perfectly acceptable.

And in general, discussing Udemy's policies and practices is pretty code-related given the role they play, especially with newer developers.

 
 

A lot of developers also post their own courses there. This series of events has led to some changing their minds. There's nothing wrong with exposing faults in the platforms we use to learn or make money from.

 

Talking about better options to create courses or why this is a development related thing would be valuable for a lot of us.

You can't talk about better options without explaining why better options are needed. If you would like to research alternatives to Udemy and write your own post, I encourage you to do so.

Better options wasn't your point. You weren't offering a better way. You were pointing out an irrelevant issue to development. I think your point was well made, but I'm not more inclined to visit dev.to to read this kind of thing because it is noise not signal.

It's not an irrelevant issue to development. Development is about more than "technical" things. It's about people. Udemy is used by a lot of people in the tech community. We need to take care of our community and make sure that everyone feels welcome. This post is about pointing out safety concerns for women in our community.

And no one makes you read every single post on this site. You have the freedom to read and follow whoever you want.

@rnctr While I think I understand your argument, I feel that it is not mature enough. As programmer we use tools to answer problem and needs of society, companies, clients or even for the sole sake of joy. That means that a lot is directly conditioned by the environment we are working in. Udemy is a platform which propose a lot of courses, mainly aiming at IT people. Which means that a lot of person you may work with in the future, currently or in the past may have used or will use or may using it. As such the kind of course you can find on it will have an impact. As such they have a responsibility to be careful of their content. Ashlee just point out some course that need to be carefully review in accordance to the responsibility they hold. I agree that creating something new is a great critic of what already exist. But I believe that I nor Ashlee and neither you have the power to replace Udemy, while it is possible to motivate the community to pressure a little udemy to make some house keeping.
Just to the nail a little further, you spoke about noise and signal. Our job (and even more yours I believe, since you are a webdev) is surrounded by a lot of noise. Being able to bear it, understand it and grasp how it affects our creations is part of the job.

It's only my point of view and I may be wrong. I will be more than happy to revise any of those points with any compelling pieces that you could produce.

Thanks for reading.

Sloan, the sloth mascot Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community View code of conduct

Again I'm not even talking about the issue raised in this article. I happen to agree that the content in question is trash, obviously. That isn't my point at all. My point is that this is a misnomer. It is a systemic problem with there being flawed people on the internet (we all are if you haven't noticed). It isn't Udemy specific. What about YouTube? Facebook? 4chan? The Dark Web? Sites devoted to misogyny? Udemy is comparatively a children's toy compared to those things that influence new developers. That's why I don't see the value in this. It is a bigger issue with the world that isn't isolated to one culture or society. It is a fundamental bug in the human code.

I've been doing this a long time. I've been in software for 20 years. I've seen it all, I've heard it all, and this doesn't help much. It may seem like getting one platform to change their tune -- if that is even possible -- will make things better. In the grand scheme, it doesn't really matter much. The only thing that does is you being the best you and influencing those around you in your daily work and being a point of light yourself. That is where the real impact is. When people who wondered about this issue encounter you or me, they will understand the best practice here, i.e. not being terrible. Bad apples always exist somewhere and you won't defeat them en masse. New ones are born every day. It is a losing battle. Thus my comment about signal to noise.

Maybe I have a different perspective, but this is my experience. It may not be yours. That's totally fine of course. I don't usually take stuff at face value too much, because I have learned that there is always something deeper going on that people haven't probed yet. If I'm alone in this view, that's fine. I'm used to it. I just thought you all would be a bit more accepting of a differing viewpoint, even though it seems to be in opposition to your own. I don't think so.

In any case, I don't agree that Udemy having this kind of terrible content says anything about the quality of their IT and programming content. One thing does not mean the other (as some have mentioned in this thread). They do have some really good courses (I might even say some of the best in certain areas) that SHOULD be taken by new and seasoned devs alike in my opinion, if you have interest in that subject. I've learned a lot from the cream of the crop there, and I don't think it is worth ignoring that fact. As I said, all the other platforms I use are the same way. If we spend all our time arguing over these more political issues, I think it pollutes our development mental namespace, so to speak. Again, just my perspective. Feel free to disregard.

In any case, I don't agree that Udemy having this kind of terrible content says anything about the quality of their IT and programming content.

I don't see where anyone said it affects other content. I said that it threatens the safety of their users, who are largely a part of the tech community.

If I'm alone in this view, that's fine. I'm used to it. I just thought you all would be a bit more accepting of a differing viewpoint, even though it seems to be in opposition to your own. I don't think so.

No one is attacking you here. You said this community should only have posts about tech. People have corrected you. That's it.

If we spend all our time arguing over these more political issues, I think it pollutes our development mental namespace, so to speak.

I don't know how long you've been on Twitter, since you blocked me and I can't actually see your profile, but there are unavoidable issues in the tech community for anyone who's not a white man. In the last month we have lost the engagement of some very valuable members of the community because of the racist systems that exist in the world.

Telling people they can't talk about the very things that gatekeep them from this community is absurd.

Please stop commenting on my post. If you don't like what I wrote, no one is making you read it or come back to this discussion. You are choosing to be here.

Ashlee really said it best in her response. I'll just add that as a white man, I've likely had a similar experience where this misogynistic culture doesn't affect me and therefore I could just dismiss it.

But I don't. I think a better option is listening with empathy, showing support, and believing others' lived experiences and concerns seriously without a) dismissing them below my own or b) making my own experiences the focus when at the time it should be on theirs.

So I'd recommend doing that. Until then, I'll take your advice and feel free to disregard your comments here.

Last comment I promise. Everyone should be allowed to be a part of the conversation. I was trying to be a part of it. I'm sorry you've lost people in the community, I don't know about what happened. I don't want anyone left out, especially because of who or what they are. I'm sorry that I upset everyone, that wasn't my intent. Goodbye.

 

You are aware there's categories on this site devoted to watercooler talk and jokes, right?

That and, even if things had to be within an overly-restrictive topic, that doesn't make the points made any less valid.

 

A lot of people in tech use Udemy courses. They need to know that this platform has a lot of issues so they can make a fully informed decision about whether or not they should give up their money.

 

I guess I don't see how content based in any kind of science, study or discipline is allowed in a platform that sells courses only related to science, study or discipline content.

 

That doesn't really answer the question at all. There are a lot of awful things out there, but this isn't the kind of thing that helps anyone develop.

I mean, there are things like "how to do public speaking for introverts", and "This is what I learned after applying to 100 jobs", even tools for being more productive with your time (wether you are a dev or not lol) here in my reading list, from this platform... And I'm seeing there's noone saying 'this isn't related to dev', which makes me... Understand this comment of yours.

Public speaking, applying to jobs, and daily productivity are all related to development, I'd say intrinsically. Why a platform sucks by offering "dating" courses is not at all relevant. Unless dating becomes something you do as part of the development lifecycle (you train an AI on your bad dates perhaps) then it doesn't make sense. I could talk about how YouTube sucks right now or how twitter is full of hate, and though I -- as a developer -- use them for development things, it isn't very helpful or useful for the majority of people here on a DEV site to talk about those platforms without at least mentioning that I am using them as a dev and why it matters to devs/designers. It just seems like pointing out that Udemy has quality issues and scumbag losers on it is suited more toward a more general audience.

So what you mean is: posts that don't talk at all about how to dev and may not even be related to devs (since I can do a magnifique speaking about how my fish soup is delicious) -> related; talking about a content that shouldn't be in a huge platform EVERYONE uses *specially in tech, and many other areas/specialists (not related to dev, such as designers, UXers, etc.), which is why this is posted in a dev community so all devs that use this platform can dennounce this -> doesn't make sense. Are you sure about your point, sir?

Do you want to see posts here about my medical issues? About my dogs and their latest antics? Would you like to hear about my approach to dating? Would you like to see photos of my kids latest Minecraft inventions? Absolutely not. Why? Because this site is for a specific type of person and specific types of content that benefit many (if not all) of us. All of these things have their place online but not here. I think this post would have been better on medium or similar site, because it actually would get noticed and help a lot of people there. It makes me not want to be a part of the community here if it is going to become all about things that don't relate to dev. It is right in the domain name.

You're comparing personal issues with this post? This is not a personal content, so there's no reason to compare it to your own medical issues, your own dogs, your own personality/opinion/wathever.
Udemy is where I put my money to learn, and honestly, clearly and out loud: I don't want lessons on how to get a girl at my online school. There was never a "how to get girls" lesson at my physical school neither.
So, as a dev, as a member of this community and as a dev who uses this platform (which is probably also more than the 85% of dev.to community), I don't want that content there and I'm so glad to know about this situation so I can dennounce this because I worked with them.
Moreover, why do you think they deleted those courses? Because they are selling an online school/university. You will even find official certificates there. They are advertising themselves as online teachers and giving you official titles, therefore: those 'courses' are the only thing NOT related to tech/studies/disciplines, which is why this must be exposed. So, even more, tell me: why would anyone want to post in their social media their official "How to get a girl course, 2.5h finished successfully" certificate? Just think about it.

This can't be simplified to some people being upset about dating courses. It's not a dating course. It's a course about how to manipulate women and perpetuates the mentality that men are entitled to women's bodies and attention. I've said multiple times: A LOT of devs use Udemy. But I'm done repeating myself just because you disagree about the need to alert folks to what kind of danger Udemy can be.

Do you want to see posts here about my medical issues?

Yeah, actually. People love that shit! Check out this post I wrote that has almost 100 reactions and over 1500 views:

Because this site is for a specific type of person and specific types of content that benefit many (if not all) of us. All of these things have their place online but not here.

You have been here for less than a month. I encourage you to explore this site a little bit more. The content goes far beyond technical topics.

So I should expect to be attacked every time for sharing an opinion on a post. New-comers it. Got it.

"Dating" is an over-simplification I suppose but it was in quotes (meaning that isn't really the true subject), but even that isn't the point. You still haven't answered my question. How is this related to developers/designers? How is this helpful? You offer no alternatives or ideas for bettering the situation. Just bashing a platform (for valid reasons, sure). I just don't see the value in it for a dev community. I don't come here to be an army to attack someone else doing terrible stuff. Why don't we attack YouTube because devs can no longer make money on there because of their weird new rules? This site isn't about that. It isn't useful or helpful.

I don't appreciate being attacked for my opinion as stated either.

Have you read the code of conduct here? "Gracefully accepting constructive criticism" and "Focusing on what is best for the community."

This kind of content valuable to me, it's valuable to Ashlee, it's valuable to a whole heck of a lot of women developers who learned things on Udemy. If they allow this sort of stuff onto the site, what's the quality of the tech courses I've taken?

And no one is attacking you.

So true, Ali.
Above all, I don't see how trying to make dev community better is not related in any way with the community. I just don't get how trying to get rid of inapropiate content for a large part of this dev community in a training/learning-platform which we all probably use is not related to the community. I guess the point is, that if he's not part of the half of the community that was the target of these 'courses', he doesn't feel related to it. I guess asking for empathy in dev community is not related to it?
I can't explain it in any other way.

As any dev and ops should now, housekeeping is needed. In our project, on our server, in our database etc... We track any code smell, any misuse of variable name, any bug, any old revision that should have been stopped long ago, we try to get rid as much useless data as possible. I see now reason why our community should not have any use of housekeeping. I do not wish to see any sexist thought or any racial division in tech community for a dev is a dev. As such, content promoting that you could "hack a woman brain" is first forbidden by alot of laws as manipulation is not really a legal thing, second why a woman brain? are they more easier? Those kind of idea are just brought by the title, I let you imagine the rest of the course. Honestly, I would agree with any course called "how to find your codemate, or how to find the best match for pair programming" but not how "I can with my super programming power hijack the brain of this girl". That reductive for the women and for us as developer.
At least I believe.

On a side note, this kind of content seems appropriate since dev.to put up "Yet she coded" (I believe it the name of the post series? I may have it wrong) and as such position itself on the non discrimination of gender in tech related topic.