People Who Create Tutorials Need to Try Harder

There are too many crappy demos out there. It just takes a little extra time and some empathy to tie your tutorial to a real problem.

Rob Conery
3 min readSep 19, 2022

A few weeks ago I asked a simple question on Twitter:

If you’ve been thinking about learning SQL but didn’t or haven’t, what’s stopping you? Would love to know more :) light me up!

The responses were mixed, but a friend of mine confided in me that SQL is just plain boring. The syntax is weird and they just couldn’t see why they would use it vs. an ORM.

This is a Real Problem

This is a real bug of mine: people who want to teach other people something seem content to use the most meaningless, ridiculous examples!

I remember trying to learn React from a popular paid tutorial site and the author completely phoned in the demo application, calling it exactly that! With super exciting component names like MyComponent that foo property and bar method.

If you’re a content producer: please take a little extra time to find something relevant and meaningful. Draw on your own experience and show how you solved something!

It’s Keeping People From Learning

This lack of effort when it comes to demo material is harmful to people who try to learn. Take SQL for instance — the most commonly used data set (that I’ve seen) is DVD Rental. This is crazy-making because:

  • Who rents DVDs anymore? I’m sure there are some people, sure, but come on! We can do better.
  • The schema is so completely unreal it boggles my mind. I could go off on everything wrong with it but please, trust me, it’s completely made up and ridiculous.
  • Did you even try to find something relevant and real?

That last one gets me and yes, I do realize it’s a peave I have that I should probably let go of.

But here, let’s try it together. Google “ Real World Datasets.” The results are pretty good:

One of the links you’ll end up at is Kaggle, one of my favorite data sites.

There Is a Wealth of Real World Stuff Out There In The Real World

OK, I’m done ranting! I have been meaning to create a SQL resource for people who want to get started with database “stuff”. As mentioned above, people just won’t care if they can’t see the value of a tool to the things they actually care about.

Given that it’s the start of the American football season and that I have quite a few friends trying to figure out who to start on their fantasy football team — I figured that this would make a pretty damn good SQL tutorial.

Turns out it did! I’ve had over 300 downloads in the last 24 hours, and that’s just announcing it on Twitter.

I found my data set on Kaggle, which I liked as it was concise and simple to work with. As you might imagine, this data can be intense! I just wanted something in summary for that could be used for a draft cheatsheet.

If you’re interested in SQL, go have a look! It’s 70 pages long and absolutely free.

Originally published at on September 19, 2022.



Rob Conery

Author of The Imposter’s Handbook, founder of, Cofounder of, creator of This Developer's Life, creator of lots of open source stuff.