Turdy Tutorials and XOXMARIAH.COM

 |  Review

When I posted my somewhat whimsical entry “Not The X!” on Monday I was under the impression that teenybopper tutorial sites were becoming less common. I figured there was a new trend out, maybe these wannabe geeks had all gained new hobbies or something. Of course, this is the part where I admit grand naivety on my part: they are there, I’m just looking in the wrong places.

The problem is that long established sites are still giving these young impressionables the wrong ideas. I’m all for a bit of competition in the tutorial world (that sounds so lame) but some of these sites are doomed before they start because they’re drawing inspiration from the likes of Pixelfx. And we all know what I think of that site.

While it would be LOLicious fun on my part to point out to all of the newbie tutorial writers where they’re going wrong, it would make more sense to go to the root of the problem. Today I’m covering XOXMARIAH.COM. I think this is the site I said I’d never review because it seems at first glance fairly useful, but.. well, I lied.

Turns out, “xoxmariah” isn’t as good as its cracked up to be (mm, tasty lime green transparent iframe). It’s one of those sites that pretends to be font of all knowledge but doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface in terms of quality. I’m not talking about the layout (which seems to be randomly broken in Firefox), the three random <body> tags in the HTML, the superfluous CSS properties, or even the boring updates blog that serves as nothing more than a narcissistic outlet for the site maintainers (oh wait, isn’t that the epitome of a blog?)… it’s those damned tutorials again.

Ignoring the Perl script/tutorials à la pixelfx (I hate that site more and more every day) and the crappy, insecure mail form (courtesy of Dodo) being distributed — no doubt without permission — we have unsanitised data being echoed in PHP Browser Info/PHP Show IP, and a dodgy snippet of code in PHP Random Images that assumes the extension of a file is legitimate. (Remember point 5 in my Become a PHP Security Master post? Files can be renamed as easy as 1 2 3.)

Greymatter is still being given away despite repeated mentions of how shit it is, but I guess that’s OK because the “tutorial” is unreadable thanks to whichever prat can’t close their link tags. I mean, come on, that’s one of the simplest things to do in HTML. You think it’s a typo? Check the site out, it’s all over the place.

I’m somewhat sceptical as to why a tutorial is needed to tell someone to copy < ?php get_calendar(); ? > into their sidebar, and I don’t understand the fascination with breaking code snippets with spaces (simply to display them in <textarea>s) when it’d be much simpler and more presentable to convert the code, but who am I to complain about standards and semantics?

I found myself groaning at the screen in despair when a tutorial labelled “new” recommended <div align="right"><font face="tahoma" size="3">SIGNATURE HERE</font></div> as an accurate way to include a signature at the end of blog posts. I don’t see how a tag that has been deprecated for longer than I’ve been using the Internet can possibly be described as a new method? I must have missed something.

The Adding To Favourites tutorial doesn’t work in Firefox (and what kind of simpleton needs telling how to add a website to their favourites?), the Ad Killer code advocates breaking the Terms and Conditions/Usage Policy of 3 major free hosts (mm, illegal goodness) and the Airborne Text tutorial uses stolen code to produce a text effect that should have stayed back where it belongs: 1996. Likewise the blinking text.. can somebody lend me a bucket, I think I need to puke.

On the Drag N Drop page I viewed the source to see if, by miracle of miracles, someone had adopted <code>. The answer’s no. I don’t know why I even considered it a viable option. That aside, it did give me the opportunity to witness this marvel:


Apart from the obvious — not wanting to steal code that isn’t working properly because of cascade issues; the code being based on one of my own tutorials anyway — I find it incredibly hypocritical that this person has the nerve to deliver such a strong warning on a website made up of other people’s code and content. Nonetheless, I will heed the warning. Here I am, not stealing her menu code.

I think the HTML Help (“some codes”) tutorial must have been prepared by my niece. There doesn’t seem to be any other logical explanation for the total mess of randomly closed tags and internal styles dressed up as HTML. For example, this is apparently how one creates a Text Html Area:

<div id="scroll3" style="width:269;height:120; background-color:color; border:1 solid color; overflow:auto">
<font color="color">
This is where you can put codes, updates etc.

I guess I’d be able to correct the jumbled mess if I knew what a “Text Html Area” was supposed to be.

Of course, as much as it would please me to sit here criticising all 211 tutorials, I’ve got things to do… anything but subjecting myself to the “How To Write Tutorials” tutorial (because why improve your own when you could encourage other people to write shit). So consider this my plea: if you don’t know what you’re doing or if you have to steal to support your content, go find a new hobby. Write a personal blog, make some fanlistings, anything but adding yet more turd to the pile of turdiness that is turdy tutorial sites. Please.

Jem Turner jem@jemjabella.co.uk +44(0)7521056376

45 comments so far

  1. Lene said:

    I have to admit that I did an immature giggle when I read “turdy tutorials” XD Seems like you are uncovering the roots of the problem, that site is so horrible. I can’t believe how many people list that website as their “inspiration”, “idol” , “god” and other similar terms. If you follow her links you’ll find pools of other crappy, similar site :P

  2. Vera said:

    *eyes light up* She has a “how to write tutorials?” … tutorial? I’ve always wanted to read one of those. It’s times like these that I wonder why I feel insecure about my coding abilities due to not knowing enough about how to hack a script (so I can add security fixes to it). Someone should hack them: repeatedly. Then again, I suppose any ‘decent’ hacker would be sick on seeing these tutorials so… You know, I always wondered: why lime green or hot pink? Why not white? If it’s transparent, it won’t show up anyway…

  3. Vera said:

    Well… that was short… See? I’m nice. But for the life of me, I can’t figure the following out: 5. Make the page neat, no messyness. Eg. The writings and images should be centered or somewhat organized. WHY exactly do I have to center the “writings”?

  4. Emsz said:

    You know, I always wondered: why lime green or hot pink? Why not white? If it’s transparent, it won’t show up anyway… I vaguely remember from my teenybopper days that when you use white it might affect some images that you put in your Iframe.

  5. Amelie said:

    ^ Yeah, you have to use some obscure colour that you wouldn’t ever be using normally so it doesn’t affect the rest of your site. Complete idiocy. Jem, why no pants for this? I WANT PANTS! I WANT PANTS! (the award, not the item of underwear)

  6. Hannah said:

    On her tutorial tutorial it says “You should have knowledge of [the subject].” Haha, she probably doesn’t know shit about half of the things she writes tutorials on…

  7. Annie said:

    I like the funky effect which appears on some of the body text, when hovered :P. Someone really needs to check their coding/tutorials before they start publishing them.

  8. Vera said:

    that when you use white it might affect some images that you put in your Iframe. Yeah… just like x is the root of all evil. I get it now, thanks.

  9. Carly said:

    One look at the messed up, crappy and none matching (hawiian flower, vintage wallpaper and graffiti style writing – what?) layout and I closed the tab. I could not be bothered to even start looking at the tutorials. What a loada crap.

  10. Jem said:

    Do you think that the following tutorial is crap? No, I think ripping off my layout is though. You are aware that the bullet which you’ve nicked from my sidebar and recoloured is actually part of a paid set, aren’t you? That means you’re breaking the license agreement by using it without paying. You can purchase it here: http://www.ndesign-studio.com/stock-icons/ And I finally took a look at your script? Yes, it is insecure. There’s unsanitised POST data being sent back to the textarea and you’ve not checked the style data against anything either. I’d fix those before you release it if I were you.

  11. Louise said:

    the original owners should have been credited, if I did not credit you anyhow please email me Well, you are the one taking the images, it’s your responsibility to ask for them. It’s like walking out of a shop without paying. Sites like these are all the more reason to get sites like Tutorialtastic promoted out there!

  12. Xuan said:

    Jem, you can’t possibly question that girl, her internal styling and lack of a doctype makes her a coding goddess!!1!!oneone! That site is TOO much. I don’t know whether to laugh or projectile-vomit … *goes slightly green*

  13. Niki said:

    I’ve always thought of Mariah as my idol and a really good friend. But after taking those web developer lessons and tips from those Dummy books (heh), I realised she doesn’t have any knowledge of proper nested code and PHP. Plus, she still has that Greymatter tutorial. Isn’t Greymatter banned?

  14. Brigitte said:

    The background is all wonky in my Firefox, too. Pants alert! Also, LOL at … “anything but adding yet more turd to the pile of turdiness that is turdy tutorial sites” – that’s our Jem! Your Jem-burns make me smile, one good thing about these sites, they give you a good outlet for venting!

  15. Anna said:

    Wow. I’ve been coding sites for maybe…half a year? and am surprised at her tags. She also sliced her layout image and is using tables to display them…tables are for displaying data, not layouts, I thought.

  16. Sarah said:

    I’m still reading through the entry, but I have two comments so far and I’ll forget them if I read through entirely and *then* comment: 1) I’m all the time thinking you can’t spell, but really it’s just those British variants cropping up. I’m used to seeing ‘naivete’, or the same with an acute accent on the last e, so your ‘naivety’ threw me off. Thank you, OS X dictionary, for clearing that up. 2) What *do* you think of Pixelfx? I take it nothing good, based on the various comments I’ve seen you make and Tutorialtastic’s slogan. I’ve never actually visited the site. Do you have some Pants article on Pixelfx or anything like that?

  17. Sarah said:

    Lmao @ The Last Code. I’ve Never Came Across The ‘How To Write Tutorials’ Tutorial Before. I Must See. (That Wasn’t Sarcasm By The Way. I Just Really Want To Know What Idiot Would Create A Tutorial On Writing Tutorials…) I’ve Only Ever Seen The Pixelfx Site Once. I Don’t Get Why She Uses Iframes If She Can Clearly Use PHP… Wait, DOES She Use An Iframe? I Can’t Really Tell… All I Know Is It Loads Like An Iframe. Her Tutorials Are Really Hard To Understand Too. Or Is That Just Me? :s Meh. I Must Read The Review :]

  18. Amy said:

    OMFG YOU GUYS. Way to just bash mariah… She’s just trying to teach us stuff. I don’t even know what to say, cuz you guys are so mean.

  19. Mara said:

    ^^I agree with Amy above. I just got into the whole Wp business (hince the default on MY site) and learning this crap of coding is so beyond the usual Myspace humbrum that I am used to dealing with on my own. Big deal? So she’s not a certified professional with a B.A. degree on the crap. She’s just trying to break it down for the simple folks-unlike you high tech nerds riding the keyboards like a prized race horse. Give the girl a break! She probably decided to let go the site after figuring out there was such ungrateful ‘tards like yourselves bashing her site every time she tried to help someone.

  20. Jem said:

    @Mara: Wha wha wha. It’s not hard to “break it down for the simple folks” AND code correctly. If you pulled your head out of your ass for just one second, you’d realise that there are plenty of sites out there that can/will help beginners that don’t rely on the outdated techniques idiots that Mariah distributed. So she’s finally kept her word and got rid of her site.. good riddance to bad rubbish.

  21. Hayley said:

    Ha @Mara: You haven’t got a clue you moreon, I mean on your post, you refer to Jem as ‘He’ who’s he? The cats father, and not only would a name be nice but also the correct sex, you idiot!
    Don’t come here calling people like Jem who know there stuff, ‘nerds’ and ‘like price horses at the keyboard’ it’s her flamin’ job to know it.
    Learn to spell, learn how to make DECENT looking fixed backgrounds and stop over-doing it with the ‘well-good-splatter-brushes-from-dolliecrave-full-of-viruses-what-were-were-so-cool-in-piczo-days’ and then say what you please.

  22. Miriam said:

    Wha wha wha? Now don’t you think thats a bit childish. She has every right to defend a site she likes- why not – like you have every right to bash sites you dislike. I can see you look at yourself as a comedian – some of your writing did make me laugh – but I just don’t see the point in it!
    And Hayley – before you laugh your head off at Mara for writng He instead of She maybe you should think about how it could have been perhaps a small typing error? And because you have bashed her, you felt like taking the mess out of her layout as well? Yawn – use some other way of getting your message across!
    Anyway – you will probabley shout at me now and do whatever you please – but never mind. Just try and remember – these people you ‘review’ do have feelings too you know!

  23. Jack said:

    I’m sorry, but, before you dare critise that popular website, take a look at this site. Orange and Dark Blue don’t go – did you do ICT when you where at school?
    You have a stupid little website and a horrible personality. grow up.

  24. Alexandra said:


    @Jack: Wow, ever heard of complimentary colours? Go take a fifth grade art class. Her “stupid little website” has more visitors than you can imagine, and has been copied by more people than you can count. She does have one of the most popular sites on the web and many people who are smart enough to better themselves at coding constantly use her scripts and tutorials.


  25. Fran said:

    Bless Jem she’s not quite young enough to know everything but she’s still sharp and funny, if occasionally a smidgen self-righteous. I’m a guy in my mid-thirties retraining as a web developer and have found much of use here; not only several slices of elegant code but also a real insight into how you young blades like to network. Though I don’t understand the urge that compels so many to blog I am glad when people deliver useful information to an unknown audience for free. Keep it up Jem. I bet this site will be running Ajax on Rails before long.

  26. Nicole said:

    Jem, I heart you! I love your sharp wit and your fearlessness! I hate sites like that, it seems to be non-existent now which makes me sad because I would have loved to bash it as well. I am not a CSS expert by any means but from what I read here I would get a major ego boost from viewing this site. Oh well, your entry makes me smile and makes me ever more happy you are the queen bee at the QBee :)