Udemy is a very well known online course marketplace. I use the term "well known" instead of popular because many people hate Udemy and what it stands for, myself included.
Udemy offers courses from photography, art, game development, and machine learning. They are typically priced in a few hundred dollar ranges but are almost always on sale for $10-$20. As you can see above, this $199.99 course is on sale for $9.99, for only 5 more days! That's because in 5 days it will be on another sale for $9.99 or $11.99. If you pay more than $15 for a course on Udemy, you likely got ripped off. At least in terms of what the normal price of the course is.
What's the problem?
The first problem with Udemy is this perpetual sale, it is virtually forced on all instructors on the site to offer a $9.99-$15 price tag during these "site-wide" sales. This means if you want to get $9.99 for your course, you need to charge $199. If you want more than $9.99, well tough luck because you will lose the race to the bottom.
You can see from their banner above they are promoting the price for courses even though the courses are created and priced by individual instructors who act as subcontractors for the site.
Racing to the bottom
This is just the same race to the bottom mentality that plagues most app stores like the Apple App Store. The difference is it isn't driven by consumer demands, it is driven by platform (Udemy) and their marketing practices.
$9.99 is a fantastic price for a course, even if you learn just one thing you typically come out ahead. The problem is most courses on Udemy are 5-40 hours and are absolute shit. That's a lot of time to invest in anything, especially something that isn't the best resource available. Most users go to Udemy for programming courses (I'm guessing, I could be wrong) and there are some amazing free YouTube videos that do a better job at explaining these topics. In fact, that's a big part of why I wrote this post. Not because I want to suggest using free courses on YouTube instead of Udemy, but to share something from a content producer I have a lot of respect for.
If you program in python or do machine learning, you have likely run into SentDex. He creates a mind-boggling amount of free content on YouTube on both topics that are better than most paid courses. He is happy offering that content for free and monetizing it using other methods.
Here's the rub
His free courses are frequently uploaded to Udemy by third parties and offered for free for a short period of time. They are then converted to a paid course once they have acquired enough reviews and students for the course.
This happens often to content creators who publish a lot of great content on YouTube for free. A typical course has about 30-60 videos, and each video has to be DMCA'd individually before you can get them removed. You cannot do a DMCA on an entire course, but you can only see the first 1-2 videos for free. So a content developer like Sentdex has to purchase the course from his thief, and manual DMCA all 30-60+ videos one at a time. When filing a DMCA, all the content creators private information is included in the report, but nothing is known of the user who stole the content.
If Sentdex wanted to go ahead and sue, he would have to subpoena Udemy and hope their information will be released. Then go through the long and expensive process of receiving justice (not likely successfully). If all he wants to do is remove the course so no one else financially benefits from his work or gets fooled into thinking it is Sentdex, he has to purchase the course and manually review and report all the individual videos.
Sentdex released a good video that describes a lot of what is going on. The problem is Udemy encourages this practice with how they handle their marketing and instructor payment program. Even if Udemy takes the course down in the end, they have received lots of marketing and users funded by the instructor (or in this case the thief) of the course and come out positive regardless as a result of the 97% instructor coupon code reward program.
Great video about the problems from a content creators perspective
I have about 20-30 courses on Udemy until I realized most of the courses are shit and not worth the time involved. Even if none of this was a problem, the practice of site-wide race to the bottom forced by the platform encourages low effort shit content, a problem we know too well on Steemit.
Online training is a YUUGE industry
Selling courses (especially third-party developed courses) is a very big business. There are tons of sites offering paid courses of varying quality. Those of you in the United States will understand when I say Udemy is the Walmart of this industry.
I highly recommend you watch the above video (20 minutes) to fully understand much more of the problem from a content producers point of view. I have considered creating courses on Udemy for a long time, but I really want no part of their ecosystem.
There are some great instructors on Udemy, and it is frustrating to have to get to them via Udemy and support their shit show.
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