Turdy Tutorials and InstantRock.com

 |  Interwebs, Review

I first discovered InstantRock.com through a thread over at Cynosure MB (yay, go referrals!) Apparently I’m really mean, and I know everything. Actually, I’m not sure that’s what they meant, but that’s how I like to read it :) Consider this a continuation of everything I said about xoxmariah.com (now closed, harhar).

In the grand scheme of things, InstantRock.com is a far cry from some of the teenage tutorial sites I have highlighted in the past. The site text is not eye-wretchingly small, and the line-height isn’t in minus figures. The links are even clearly differentiated from normal text (although unfortunately not from the very trendily styled italic text). For someone based in Norway, the standard of English is on a par with some of my very own fellow citizens. Despite all this, the tutorials are shit. They are turdy, in fact, and thus the next Turdy Tutorials post was born.

Firstly, the Advanced Layout tutorial, of which there is apparently (1), returns “No input file specified.” (which is PHPs equivalent of a 404, generally). Broken links are bad, children, very bad. Since I started this post the Advanced Layout “tutorial” has been fixed. Now it features a guide on “how I slapped a load of shit on a page and called it a design”. Actually, I think that about sums up most of the websites I see these days…

Under Business Applications, we’re instructed how to make a “tabel”. Now, I could forgive this if it were a typo — we all have moments where our fingers and our brain aren’t working in unison — but this is repeated several times above and below a screenshot that clearly says “table” 6 times. These tutorials need to be labeled with the version of the software being used.

The CSS -> Background Image tutorial has an unnecessary { at the start of the code block, which is (no surprise) being displayed in a textarea. I’m thinking I should come up with some sort of catchy motto reminding people to use <code>, not <textarea> but I’m rubbish at that sort of thing.

Apparently, according to the CSS Stylesheet tutorial, CSS stands for ‘Cascadin Style Sheets’. That’s a new one on me; personally I was under the impression that the word cascading should be spelt with a ‘g’ on the end. Incidentally, I’ve always thought the term “CSS Stylesheet” was somewhat redundant, a bit like “ATM machine” and “PIN number”. I’m sure there’s a posh name for those sort of abbreviations… it’ll come to me, no doubt. Anyway, on the same page we’re given 53 lines of dodgy-at-best CSS that starts with <style> and ends with </style>, with instructions to paste this into a file called “style.css”… someone forgot to tell this kid that HTML doesn’t belong in a stylesheet?

Custom Textareas again features a superfluous } as well as an unnecessary font-weight property and “text-align: center;”! Who on this planet ‘center’s their text in textareas?

Navigation Blocks 1 & 2 are rip-offs of an old tutorial that was on swimchick.net (possibly still is?) and I’ve no idea where it originates from. It’s badly coded, of course: the pseudo-classes are the wrong way round and it completely deviates from any hint at semantics.

Tabel effect 1 [sic] tells us to “Copy this table code and add it to your css where your old tables are” which is fine, in theory, but delivers us some customised h1/h2 tags. I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around this coding concept, and the next tutorial in the list (“Tabels – Learn about h1 and h2”) only exacerbates my confusion.

Apparently to save a page as a .php file (as per Saving pages as .php) we need to use:

< ?include("header.php");? >
Content here!
< ?include("footer.php");? >

…except that without header.php/footer.php files, all the user is going to get is “failed to open stream” errors.

As if we hadn’t already had enough shoddy code, there’s more. Adding a bullet using <img /> instead of list-style-url, customising cutenews (the very mention of the word cutenews aside from to warn of its insecurities is insane) and a content-type meta tag gets you listed on google.com?!

Don’t get me wrong here, I have absolute respect for someone who can speak more than one language. Aside from counting to 10 in Spanish and GCSE level French — most of which I forgot the day after the exam — I don’t have that ability. However, when the very words you’re misspelling are right in front of your eyes, there is no excuse not to correct the typos. When you could feasibly write tutorials in your native tongue and hit an audience that others might not be capitalising? There is no excuse. Turd is turd, and InstantRock tutorials are turd.

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

60 comments so far

  1. Carly said:

    It makes me laugh that people will be reading this, and taking the advice on board. Glad I learnt everything from you, YOU BEST NOT BE WRONG THOUGH.

  2. Hannah said:

    It annoys me when people write tutorials on something they’re shit at, especially when every other graphics site has the same old turdy tutorials.


  3. ben said:

    I’m sorry and I hope I don’t start a riot with thise but what are you doing? I’ve read your reviews and if you read them youself you’d see that your being really mean to these site owners and when they didn’t even ask for it. I know you say you have freedom of speech but doesn’t that stop when your mean to other people? Okay, I’m sorry I left this response which you’re probably laughing at, or deleting but I just had to tell you.

  4. Laurra said:

    Thanks for making me laugh! This is so stupid, it’s so funny!
    You should really be learning German, there are even way worse tutorial-sites.

  5. Jem said:

    You would say that Ben, because you’re yet another one of these people that thinks distributing half-arsed knowledge by way of “tutorials” is the best way to make your website more popular. In reality you’re going to stay in the same little hole you’re in, until you pull your head from your rear and realise that your tutorials suck, InstantRock’s tutorials suck, and most of your friend’s tutorials suck.

    This, btw, is a tiny violin: https://www.jemjabella.co.uk/junk/tinyviolin.jpg

    You might want to look that one up.

  6. Vanesa said:

    Wow, I can’t believe ever since you mentioned that you say the word “superfluous” in every review, I just skim the review until I see the word. But of course, I read the review whole afterwards. xD

    (Yay! It’s in the 7th paragraph! LOL.)

  7. ben said:

    Ouch, Jem. I take back the stuff about being sorry about what I said. I just wish you would learn to be nicer, at least online. That’s all.

  8. Stephanie said:

    I have to admit that I’d like to try out some of those image effect tutorials on the site when I have time, but it’s true that someone should not write HTML/CSS/PHP tutorials when they’re clearly not knowledgeable in the subjects.

  9. Vasili said:

    Ben’s one PHP tutorial is another PHP includes! What a shocker. And the last bit of code isn’t even right, it has part of your skinning tutorial CSS in it :P

  10. Nyx said:

    @ Ben:

    1. When you put something on the internet, that is IN PUBLIC VIEW, you are opening yourself to criticism. If the instant Rock owner didn’t want to have his work commented on, he shouldn’t have let it leave his hard drive. Plain and simple.

    2. What Jem did was hardly mean. She didn’t attacked him personally. She said, with reason backing up her arguments, that his work was spreading wrong and potentially dangerous knowledge (Cutenews is so easily hacked it’s a freakin’ joke. On the Cutenews users).

    3. More people, especially beginners looking for tutorials, should be warned of the utter shit that is out there so they don’t learn it wrong over and over again, or worse, put their site(s)/domain/server at risk. In fact, I believe Jem is doing a service to the community at large. Before using the online services of an enterprise/store, you want to know if they’re actually good, don’t you? So do I. And I have the same expectations of tutorial sites. I want to be sure that what I am using is actually good and safe. So making sites is free, unlike buying stuff online, you’ll say. Personally, I think the countless hours I spent working on my sites are like money: I don’t want to waste them or end up having to spend more because what I got the first time was bad or useless.

  11. Shao said:

    “Put the code back in and the text back in , not the other way around" This motto sounds lame now that I've spoken it back to myself several times, but it works I guess :/
    Just a quick question, are there ever going to be Turdy Tutorial awards, just like there are Pants awards?

  12. Shao said:

    Oops for the last comment, sorry for making it look so retarded. :/ What I meant to say was “Put the code back in <code> and the text back in <textarea>, not the other way around.”

  13. Louise said:

    Nyx is absolutely right. If it’s so wrong to make comments/corrections on a website, then no one should be allowed to make comments/criticisms on movies, books, a celebrity’s fashion sense, newspaper articles, etc.

  14. Veronique said:

    Everything Nyx said and:

    I know you say you have freedom of speech but doesn’t that stop when your mean to other people?

    What? So you say I can’t tell that rapist that he is an ass**** because that would be mean, you know? Or I can’t talk against the KKK or Hitler? Thanks for the enlightement!

    The reason people get so frustated when they get a ‘review’ here is because the arguments are so true, about real possible threat and always say what should be, not just what is wrong that people can’t face it. Their website truly suck and they can’t accept that idea! People are so pedictable and full of themselves it’s pathetic!

  15. Vera said:

    Last time I checked, the only thing needed to make a fixed background was background-attachment: fixed… not to mention that the background-position is incomplete (you can specify and x value and y value in px or percents).

    Also, why are those textareas so disgustingly tiny? Aren’t we (the visitors) supposed to be able to look at the code on the site before? Is it really necessary to copy it?

    About the thread, I didn’t see the last few ones… but LOL @ “chucking out my computer”. I liked the “you know who” part as well, most especially since it was not in fact “you know who” lmao.

  16. Enzo said:

    And just when I thought you covered all of them, here you are covering yet another one!

    *points at Ben’s comment* Ooh look! Another person to add to the many ones that hate Jem! :lol: They should all go together and build a Jem hatelisting.

  17. Kristin said:

    I`m 15, norwegian and I bought my frist domain 9 months ago (used piczo, but it does not count). And you, how long have you been doing coding?
    You are way too mean. And next time, please let me know that you wrote a blog about me? Or my tutorials…

  18. Annie said:

    No wonder why…she uses tutorial sites which aren’t the best. Hopefully she’ll learn of the better tutorials site out in the WWW and improve. We all have to start somewhere.

    You are mean. :P However that’s only because you don’t sugar-coat things, which is good. It’s better to get straight to the point.

  19. Jem said:

    I`m 15, norwegian and I bought my frist domain 9 months ago (used piczo, but it does not count).

    So WHY oh WHY are you publishing tutorials?

    Don’t make excuses for it, just don’t do it. Simple as that.

  20. Sarah said:

    @Ben – Why should Jem have to be nice to everybody for the sake of it? She’s an honest person and what you see is what you get. If you can’t take the heat, step away from the stove. In other terms, if you can’t take criticism, then I suggest you stay away from creating tutorial websites.

  21. Vera said:

    Kristin: you’re missing the point here.
    The problem is not that your code’s bad, we’ve all started out somewhere. The problem is that you teach people bad coding. If you can’t do it well don’t sodding teach it. Easy as that.

  22. Catherine said:

    I still don’t get the whole “Jem is a dude” thing. When I hear the name “Bella” I think of a girl. When I hear “Jem” I think of the cartoon character/series. Which means a whole lot of pink and glitter and music sequences (yes, I do have my pretend-Jem mental image as being not unlike Jem of Jem and the Holograms… both show and our Jem is awesome…)

    Excuse my ramblings. More and more people these days are thinking that knowing what “those triangle brackety things do” is enough to start passing information around. I remember on a forum (which I have left because of drama and general suck) someone wrote up an HTML tutorial, which included some real gems which several people corrected in replies. OPs response was, “I don’t know what you mean [by correction]. How do I do it?”

    There needs to be a test or measurement thing for the Internet. “Must be this smart to surf.” Or at least “write tutorials”.

  23. Rich said:

    I can see why it’s tempting to mock what are ultimately useless coding tutorials, but look at it from the authors perspective: the “article” about “Saving a PHP file”, technically there is nothing wrong with the code. Yes it is misleading, and yes it’s useless without an explanation to back it up, but it’s not actually *wrong*.

    The code obviously works for the author, so they posted it as a tutorial, and because of their inexperience they cannot see the flaws in it. I.e. they believe they have posted something useful. That is why sites like InstantRock will always exist. They are like a experience barometers for the web! My only hope is that Kristin isn’t now discouraged from continuing to learn, although hopefully she’ll be more careful about releasing tutorials in the future.

  24. Jem said:

    @Stephanie: Actually, in England – where we use British English :p – full stops go outside the quotation marks.

    You’re right about the “there’s” though – changed the sentence structure at the last minute. I’ll shoot my proof-reader ;) Thanks for the heads up!

  25. fran said:

    Since you mention it, “CSS Stylesheet” is a rhetorical tautology and perhaps a pleonasm as well. There is a whisper of difference between the two which I forget. However my favourite term for this is RAS (Redundant Acronym Syndrome) which is often called RAS syndrome as a witty way of committing the very crime it defines.

  26. Han said:

    review aside
    “I know (btw I think its a boy) He emailed me about my comment saying yes it is childish but Mara had not right to say that on his site. He also said other stuff about how Mara was thick or something.
    I emailed back saying ‘well thanks for argueing back – always appreciated! ‘. Then he said ‘Always a pleasure!’

    Whats that about? Its his pleasure to slate other sites? God its so annoying! ”

    funniest comment ever – since when was Jem a guys name!?

    I can’t comment on kiddie tutorial sites, I used to have em on my site. I still kind of do! :P

  27. Lydia said:

    The tutorials the girl posted are pretty generic, I’ll admit–not to mention sub-par. I think we can all agree on that, with the exception of a few teenyboppers here and there who think think that “quantity over quality” isn’t a bad thing and that customized scrollbars are must-haves.

    While I do agree with you in that the tutorials themselves are crap, I still question your judgment in making fun of her in particular. Making fun of Outspoken-Kate and Swimchick is absolutely fine, because they’re huge websites that have a large following (and I do believe you’ve given both of them pants awards). However, I don’t think that attacking small personal webpages would be in your best interest, because

    1. When you sharply criticize a small webpage, you end up looking like a “big meanie”. Less people are inclined to take your actual advice seriously, and the owner of the webpage is more likely to act weak and defenseless, as though she’s being bullied.

    2. Criticizing and pointing out the flaws in larger webpages is more effective. When you criticize a website that’s crappy and popular, more people are likely to find you review and, as a result, more people might take your advice.

    I’m not questioning your motive here. I love your reviews and think that you’re helping more than you’re hurting (although some might not perceive it that way), and you also have every right to do what you do.

    However, I just feel that your advice might be accepted by more people if you become more careful in choosing the websites you critique. That’s all.

  28. Cel said:

    Jem can sometimes be harsh, but she never (in my opinion) goes over the line in terms of criticism. =/ But I don’t understand really how making fun of larger sites is eminently preferable to smaller sites…unless the argument is that smaller sites have owners that are still on the learning curve? Then the advice would probably be more helpful to them.

    It seems hypocritical to me, Lydia, but I can kind of see where you’re coming from.

    Anyways, thank you Jem, for reminding me once again that code is put into eponymous code tags. ^^

  29. Enzo said:

    @Ben: Your point is? I’m fourteen and I’m from the Philippines but I follow standards and I don’t publish turdy tutorials in my website.

  30. Vera said:

    Gotta love your logic Lydia: it’s alright to make fun of “celebrities”, but small personal website owners are (for some unexplained reason) much more fragile.

    Let me make this clear: if you don’t want people to express opinion about your website, don’t sodding own one! It’s a full-proof method.

  31. Cine said:

    Eh, she’s allowed to make mistakes – people do when first learning a language. If she simply had her webpage in Norwegian instead, perhaps she’d never learn English properly. I know I made a ton of grammatical errors when writing English between the ages 8 and 14. It’s embarrassing to read my old blog entries, but at least I learnt eventually, didn’t I?

    A fellow Norwegian+English bilingual ;)

  32. Jabed said:

    @ Kycoo: OMFG
    To Kill A Mocking Bird
    Don’t even mention that novel X_X
    I hated it so much in English lol
    I have to admit Jem, I thought you were a boy at first. But I realised ater visiting your site a few times that you are indeed a woman :)

    I wish you didn’t right these kind of blog’s where you scrutinize other websites that have less ‘power’ and experise than you.

    Her tutorials may be turd in your view but they will be helpful for smaller rookie websites. Sure the rookie websites might get pointed in the wrong direction a little, by following quantity over quality, but as they get more experienced they learn about making there own tutorials more valid.

  33. Alice said:

    i belive in freedom of speech, but this is really mean. Shouldnt you have told kirsten @ instantrock.com that you were reviewing her, or have asked her if you could?

  34. Jessica said:

    Making fun of Outspoken-Kate and Swimchick is absolutely fine, because they’re huge websites that have a large following (and I do believe you’ve given both of them pants awards).

    Ah yes, poke fun at the bigger sites because apparently all that traffic replaces the fact that they’re human and have some kind of feelings. Nice logic!

  35. Cine said:

    @Vera: I was referring to this part:

    Don’t get me wrong here, I have absolute respect for someone who can speak more than one language. Aside from counting to 10 in Spanish and GCSE level French — most of which I forgot the day after the exam — I don’t have that ability. However, when the very words you’re misspelling are right in front of your eyes, there is no excuse not to correct the typos. When you could feasibly write tutorials in your native tongue and hit an audience that others might not be capitalising? There is no excuse. Turd is turd, and InstantRock tutorials are turd.

  36. Chelsea said:

    Jessica, you mentioned in one of your blogs about coding a new look for Swimchick? You then said something along the lines of ‘does anyone have EXPERT coding skills, like Jem ninja skillz’. Just thought that was pretty weird for starters.

    And yeah, really, because your tutorials all feature celebrity images and encourage teenyboppers to follow your excuses for ‘graphics’ … Which brings more little Piczo people to your weird little site. And I think you try a bit too hard to be funny.

    LOL, Jem. Turdy Tutorials makes me laugh a little immaturely.

  37. Melissa said:

    Ugh. Just ugh.

    But actually some of the comments that you’ve gotten in response are pissing me off more than the atrocities you described in this post. The misuse of the word “blog” is MAKING ME ANGRY to no end. XD So much so that I began writing a blog…ENTRY…about the abuse before my site went down and now I have to wait.

    GOOD GOD. Maybe I’m weird…but I can’t handle misuse of terms like that. I think that obsession started when you (I think it was you, LOL) corrected me on my slip up of calling an attribute a tag…or maybe that was vice versa. Either way, I’m tainted now.

    You’re so MEAN, Jem. I mean, OMG, you make me cry!!!! Why are you so mean on the internet!! *runs away sobbing*

  38. Vicki said:

    Okay, you have really no right to stab a fifteen year old girl. She has every right to post all the tutorials she wants, because if they’re problematic, all one needs to do is drop her an email and say “Hey, I’m confused.”

    In addition, dear Jem, she did not ask for this hate or this review. Read her comment. And in response to your comment on her comment, the internet is a learning place. Instead of approaching your dislike of her site in this cruel way, you can constructively drop her an email. Tell her what’s up, tell her what you think she should fix! But she didn’t ask for this, alright? If you care about the crappy tutorials of other sites, please just drop them a note saying what you think they should fix. That way, the problem is solved and no big mess is created.

    In addition, your layout is merely some dodgy pattern with a pretty looking font. Jess @ Swimchick puts a lot of effort into her layouts. People who use celebrity images, putting aside “copyright infringement” as you call it, work very hard to achieve the effects they have in their site. Now tell me, what’s so insanely good about your site? Some bland colors? Reviews victimizing young talent which is growing? Oh, yeah- that’s another thing. Kristin is talented, period. And she’s learning, as am I. Many young people on the web are learning. So don’t victimize and butcher them on a review they didn’t ask for.

    I realize I was redundant at times in this comment, but I hope it is understood that it was merely to get my point across. I hope you read my comment, Jem, and take it to heart. Despite the fact that you’ve been a supposed “sensation” since 2000, you can’t just get away with things like this. Start thinking that other people on the web do have feelings, they’re not just a keyboard and a mouse. There’s a face looking at that screen, and that face is linked to a heart. Thank you.

  39. Vicki said:

    If that was directed at me, I am flattered.
    Did you not have a strong reply to that message, or were you just venting your manner in a virtually violent way?

  40. Jem said:

    I was taking the piss out of you accusing me of stabbing someone, my actual response is in your email inbox; although I can paste it here if you’d rather.

  41. Ben said:

    Enzo has a good point, lol! And hmmmm… I woner why so many people hate Jem. Not trying to point anything out here. I agree with Vicky, lol. And some of the other haters on this page. Jem you’re so mean to these people, gosh. If you don’t like their sites then just leave it.

  42. Joe said:

    I completely agree with Vicki.
    If someone wrote a review about your site, in a way you wrote about Kirstens, how would you feel? You wouldn’t exactly be jumping for joy.
    Kirsten has only had her domain for a few months, not even a year yet and look how its growing, she’s still learning and many people have found her content useful. You may have learnt what you need to know but others haven’t and its really unfair to post an entry about someone else’s site without informing them first. Think before you write something like this,it could easily affect the owner of the site so much that it forces them to close their site. Whats your problem whats on their site anyway, is it going to kill you if you see an apostrophe out of place? Its just an internet form or back-biting and then throwing it in their face. Maybe you should stop thinking you’re such a ‘PHP Guru’ and you may start to empathise with other people and how they feel after reading a review of their site. We’re not all perfect, even if you think you are.

  43. Jem said:

    @Joe: if someone were to write a detailed review or critique of my site, I’d be honoured. Do you *know* how difficult it is to find a good, impartial reviewer these days?

    If Kristin is, as you say, so new to the web.. what is she doing giving out shitty advice to people who don’t know any better? She should be busy fixing her own mistakes instead of creating more for others.