Thursday, January 18, 2018

Floods for Dummies - The Freelance Files MLXXXIII

wetlands and flooding
Our research team here at the Antisocial Network pores over dozens of potential DotD nominees every day. One of the first steps in the nomination process is to categorize the particular form of dumbassery the writer expresses in the content, forms such as "failure to understand the damned question in the first pace." Well, at least that's reason we picked out Andrea Helaine and the piece at titled "How to Prevent Floods of Rivers."

Yes, that's really the title, though it's not Helaine's fault: eHow just scraped search terms and "dropped" the titles unchanged. On the other hand, Andrea should have realized that her approach to the question was pretty darned stupid. You see, although Helaine started out by telling her readers that,
"Floods can be caused by a number of factors, like heavy rainfall, runoff, over-saturated soil, frozen soil, high river levels, ice jams and even urbanization..."
...she then spent the entire remainder of her post explaining how to sandbag a river bank. We submit that, to be honest, Andrea answered the unasked question, "How to prevent a flood from destroying our town." For that question, she provided a reasonably good answer, most of which is gilding the lily because the local authorities already know how to do that.
No, Helaine's real answer was even covered in her sole reference, but she ignored it. Her answer should have addressed flood prevention: you know, topics such as preservation of wetlands, soil conservation practices, and proper balance of permeable and impermeable surfaces in urban areas. All that's hydrology, watershed management, and urban planning – topics her reference touched upon.

But all Andrea seemed to have read from her reference was a short list of possible causes of floods. Heleaine didn't address those and the steps we can take to prevent floods or at least mitigate their potential damage. Instead, she gave us a half-assed civil defense lesson. Small wonder she's today's Dumbass of the Day, eh?     


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Changing a Bicycle Tire for the Complete Dummy - The Freelance Files MLXXXII

Tire Lever
Spoons seem a little... flimsy for this maneuver
We like the old adage that "Sometimes, even a blind pig finds an acorn"; like it enough that we had a sign made up and posted in the break room. It's right next to the Ben Franklin quotation, "We are all born ignorant but one must work hard to remain stupid." When it comes to websites, eHow must have been one of those hard workers, which is why it (and the niche sites Leaf Group has moved eHow content to) remains a rich vein of dumbassery. Take, for instance, Janos Gal, who visited "How to Remove a Schwinn Bicycle Tire" upon the site, which promptly moved it to

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Platform Beds for Dummies - The Freelance Files MLXXXI

platform bed frame showing cross braces
In the old days every carpenter or woodworker was taught a simple maxim: "Measure twice, cut once. We've even seen eHowians who think it's, "Measure three times..." (most eHowians aren't familiar with the word "thrice"). Be that as it may, one of the most important aspects of measurement is getting the measurements right in the first place. A second such aspect is knowing the real-world dimensions of lumber. Hint: a 2-by-4 does not actually measure two inches by four inches... Returning DotD Ruth de Jauregui (aka razzberry jam) failed both counts in "How to Make an Easy 2x6 Platform Bed" at

Monday, January 15, 2018

Coefficients and Subscripts for Dummies - The Freelance Files MLXXX

water coefficient subscript formula
Anyone out there remember The Car Guys? Tom and Ray Magliozzi? For a couple of decades, the Boston-based brothers had a weekly talk show on public radio called "Car Talk." The two (both of whom had BS degrees from M.I.T.) often poked fun at art history majors... and guess what? Today's DotD candidate actually has a PhD in art history (or so she claims: it's eHow, so who knows?)! We kinda wondered, though, just what Teresa J. Siskin was doing attempting to explain the "Difference Between a Coefficient and a Subscript" at

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Troubleshooting Maytag Washers for Dummies - The Freelance Files MLXXIX

washing machine leaks
When it comes to doing research, our staffers tell us that citing oneself as an authority on a topic doesn't always fly. Just because a freelancer has already published on a topic – especially wihtout benefit of peer review – doesn't mean that the previous work is worth reading. Take, for instance, eHowian freelancer Jennifer Blair: that BA in "Writing Seminars" and those prior publications at other content farms don't mean she knows jack about "Problems With a Maytag Top-Loading Washing Machine" (now at

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Adding Machine? Calculator? Dummy! - The Freelance Files MLXXVIII

HP scientific calculator
We complain a lot about freelancers who pluck topics out of midair and "write" about them without proper background. Heck, that's what almost all our 1072 DotD awards to date have been for, when you come to it. But the internet is big, and people will always be greedy – so there are plenty more where those came from! Including, for what it's worth, "Difference Between Adding Machine & Calculator," which eHowian Keith Evans has up at (shouldn't that be at Techwalla?).

Friday, January 12, 2018

Linear Equations for Dummies - The Freelance Files MLXXVII

In case you haven't been paying attention for the past twenty years or so, the U. S. education system is under fire for producing graduates who are too often innumerate¹ and/or sciencifically illiterate. Based on some of the freelance rubbish published by their teachers, however, it seems that it isn't the kids' fault. Take a gander, for example, at the dumbassery in "How Are Linear Equations Used In Real Life?" We found it at, where author Jessica Smith claims to have both an M. Ed. and certification in mathematics. We wonder if her résumé might be a bit inflated...