Thursday, December 31, 2015

Irregular Shapes for Dummies

Try your method on this polygon, Charlotte!
Whether it's for a coding class assignment, for a homeowner estimating carpet or flooring before a DIY project, or for another topic altogether; it seems that a great number of people are interested in how to calculate the area of irregular polygonal shapes. As you probably expected, a boatload of self-appointed freelance experts have already shared their methodology at eHow.com. As you probably also expected, several of the answers are in serious need of clarification and/or correction (though we did find one version written by a guy who appeared to know what he was talking about). Most, however, needed help -- like the instructions penned by musician, teacher and writer (in her words) Charlotte Johnson. Charlotte's entry in the dumbass sweepstakes is titled "How to Calculate the Square Feet of Odd Shapes," now living at Hunker.com (for unknown reasons).

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Drop-In Ranges, the Dummies Version

Everywhere you look you find misleading terms and descriptions. Take the word "minerality," beloved (for a few months not that long ago) by wine snobs everywhere: it doesn't mean that the insouciant little wine you'd just spit into your bucket was – literally – on the rocks, it means that it had an earthy character. That's probably in hopes of getting the taster to wax elegant on terroir... Well, appliances also have misleading terminology, and eHow.com's Owen E. Richason IV (previously featured in these pages) fell victim to one of those misleading terms when he informed (and we use that word loosely) his readers in a post called "How to Remove a Drop-in Range" (now appearing at Hunker.com).

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pavers for Dummies

Sometimes we read a blog post or a snippet at a content farm and the writer's complete lack of knowledge on the topic is crystal clear. Often, this is because the content has simply been spun from a more authoritative site -- content at Seekyt.com is notorious for this -- but other times it seems that the writer simply looked at some topic and thought to himself or herself, "Heck, I could do that -- anybody could!" The obvious problem is that the writer's never performed this task and just plain doesn't realize how stupid the idea is. We found one today that definitely fits into that category: "How to Calculate the Cost of a Brick Paver Patio,"¹ which appears at eHow.com (where else?), courtesy of Yelena Johnson. Yelena's by trade a wedding planner, which might account for her lack of expertise in the field of patio construction (we haven't seen many gardeners writing about wedding dresses lately, though...)

Monday, December 28, 2015

Radians for Dummies

As one of Mattel's more ill-conceived Barbie dolls, a talking model, once said, "Math class is tough!" It's apparent that mathematics is pretty much a black box for many of the Barbies of the literary world, those self-appointed freelancers who contribute to content farms on the internet. Take, for example, eHow.com's Chance E. Gartneer, already caught practicing his own rather strange version of arithmetic on another occasion. Today, we find Chance holding forth on a second topic with which he apparently has limited familiarity, in which he instructs his readers "How to Calculate Radians From a Slope" (now at Sciencing.com).

Chance immediately displays his ignorance of his topic in eHow's required "introduction" (75-100 words):

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Dishwasher Troubleshoooting the Dummies Way

Don't you just love it when someone pretends to be giving valuable advice, but they're really just rewording another person's work? Well, here at the Antisocial Network, we sure love it -- NOT! -- which is why we point out the screwups freelancing fools make while trying to line their pockets. Too often the problem with their "work" (if you can call a copy-reword-paste job "work") is that the freelancers don't know enough about the topic to get it right. Sometimes, they even make it worse -- not only do they mess up the reword to mangle or omit important information, they add their own thoughts. In the worst examples, their thoughts are so ill-informed as to be dangerous. That's the case with today's dumbass, a repeater named Nicole Papagiorgio, who plies her trade at eHow.com (where else?). Try this bit of dangerous stupidity on for size: Papagiorgio's advice for someone complaining that "The On-Off Button Will Not Work on My Bosch Dishwasher," now at Hunker.com.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Cooktop Installation, the Dummy Version

We have wondered many times whether some of our serial dumbasses are even aware that they're misinforming their readers. After all, does your average fool even know that he or she is a fool? Do these people realize it when they leave out important information, miss critical steps in a process, or conflate two entirely different answers into one? Take, for instance, eHow.com's Naima Manal (who also plies her trade at HubPages and Seekyt): was she aware that her "research" was insufficient before she penned "How to Install a Countertop Cooktop" for HomeSteady.com? Up front, we'll admit that the redundant title isn't Naima's, it's eHow's -- but that's all the slack we're going to cut this serial dumbass.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Torture, the Dummy Version

People search for the weirdest things on the internet, and the website we here at the Antisocial Network call the "mother lode of misinformation" stands ever at the ready to help them find that information. Sort of. We are, of course, talking about eHow.com and its stable of freelancers, many of whom are ill-equipped indeed to answer a question that involves technology, science, or anything more complicated than the voting rules for American Idol. Take repeat offender Baptist Johnson, recently found attempting to answer what we found a quite bizarre request, "How to Cut off the Tail of a Scorpion." 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Trapdoors, the Dummy Version

This is a laundry chute, dumbass!
Laundry chutes were a common feature of classic houses, especially ones built in the late 19th and early twentieth centuries. The concept was surprisingly simple: instead of schlepping your dirty clothing from the second (or third) floor of the house down to a laundry room in the basement, builders installed a slick-sided chute inside the walls and let gravity work its magic on the soiled clothing. Why modern houses don't have these conveniences any more comes as a mystery to our staff (and to many others, we note). Well, Novel Treasure over at HubPages.com decided she and hubby needed one,  so they proceeded to create their own – and then she wrote a-a-a-all about it in "How to Install a Laundry Chute in the Floor." That seems to be par for the course for the women of HubPages when it comes to DIY: perform a little household project (or watch someone else do it) and then write a "how-to."

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Gutters for Dummies

One of the common errors of the freelancing fool -- the kind of writer who "researches" questions and "answers" them at content farms or a blog -- is failure to comprehend the point of the question. Take, for instance, the question "What is ethanol?": a freelance fool would "inform" you that ethanol is a mixture of gasoline and alcohol, while failing to mention that the word is more specifically used for ethyl alcohol. eHow.com's Chasity Goddard, freelance "writer" by virtue of a BA in creative writing, demonstrates this class of error by completely missing the point when writing about an unfamiliar topic: "What Are Ogee Gutters?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Diatoms for Dummies

Here at the Antisocial Network, we get butterflies in our collective gut when we run across someone pretending to be knowledgeable and authoritative, but failing because they've said something just plain stupid. We don't mean sticking your foot in your mouth up to the ankle; anyone can undergo a brain fart and say something dumb out loud. No, we're talking about the kind of rookie mistake that comes from bad research or, as in the case of Alisha Vargas at HubPages.com, from cribbing information from multiple sites but not bothering to proofread the resulting "information" for conflicts. Alisha pulled off this stunt in the article she called "The Wonderful World of Diatoms," which – unless you read it closely – actually made her look kinda smart-like.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Gold Prospecting, the Dummy Version

Gold fever: it seizes its victims by their wallets and almost never lets go. It can be so powerful that places like Sutter's Mill and the Yukon Territory are forever linked in popular lore with the yellow stuff; so popular that one NFL football team¹ owes its name to the precious metal. And yes, whenever the price of gold rises, people start searching the internet for how to get rich quick. And yes, freelancing bozos such as eHow's Tom Lutzenberger stand at the ready to underinform, misinform, and just plain bullshit whoever find their content via an ill-considered click on a search result. Under-information (mixed with a plenty of misinformation) can be found at the center of a mother lode site post that Tom and eHow titled "Gold Nuggets Found in Arizona."² The title itself doesn't make much sense, but Lutzenberger's text is even less useful

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Painting Ikea Furniture for Dummies

We're not big fans of Ikea at Antisocial Network headquarters. Oh, sure, we appreciate their reduced carbon footprint and the fact that just about everything can be recycled. It isn't the unpronounceable names (they're fun, in fact). It is partially because we're convinced that Ikea is Swedish for "Walmart" and partially because of their incomprehensible instructions; but mainly it's because we just don't like MDF. You know, medium-density fiberboard? the stuff all their furniture is made from? They coat it with plastic (technically, melamine) and you're stuck with the finish for life -- or you would be if you didn't search the internet for instructions on how to paint over the original finish. Unless, that is, you accidentally found uk_american's HubPages content he (she?) called "How to paint Ikea furniture."

There are a bazillion places on the internet that purport to explain how to paint furniture and the like with this sort of finish, which is actually known in the trade as "laminated." Oddly, that's a word the author of the post never uses – every reference is to "melamine," which the author seems to confuse with MDF from time to time:

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Radioactive Isotopes, According to Dummies - The Freelance Files CCCXXXVI

In the process of transmitting information, something a lot of them pretend is "informing their readers," the many self-appointed freelance "journalists" of the internet are somewhat prone to mistakes. We know, we know, what a surprise! The sad fact is that unless you already know something, the unfortunate combination of dumbass and freelancer often results in misinformation and downright stupidity. Take, for instance, a bozo who pounded out more than 500 "stories" – that's the local term for what we politely consider bullbleep – at Seekyt.com. The yutz who calls himself WiseGuy, who we're almost certain isn't Ken Wahl, posted something he called "Radioactive Isotopes." After reading it, we had to wonder whether he actually intended that the "wise" part of his name be ironic. Sadly, we rather doubt it...

Friday, December 18, 2015

Glaciers: the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files CCCXXXV

The world is full of people who realize they don't know everything, and aren't too proud -- or too stupid -- to admit their lack of knowledge. Heck, we don't have any experts on plenty of topics (think tattooing, makeup and British sitcoms) on our staff here at the Antisocial Network. Yet we don't have any problem admitting our deficiency (though lack of detailed knowledge about BBC sitcoms doesn't necessarily strike us as a "deficiency"), and we know that if we actually needed help with those topics there are experts out there ready and willing to fill in the holes in our knowledge. And then there are our favorite freelancing dumbasses, who don't know anything but pretend they do anyway -- all in the desperate search for cash. Take eHow.com contributor Rose Guastella, who once filled in the reading public on the topic, "What is Glacial Till (with pictures), now moved to Sciencing.com?"

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Sandpoint Wells, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files CCCXXXIV

Ahhh, the pastoral life: living off the grid and not depending on any gummint or corporation to provide your necessities. You can shoot your own meat, generate your own power, and grow your own 'taters. What else do you need, huh? Oh, yeah -- you need water. So let's skip on over to that font of all human knowledge, eHow.com, to figure out how to get water. We've heard that the easiest way is to use a sandpoint or driven point well. But how to dig one? Let's let one of the anonymous morons of eHow's early days "inform" us on "How to Drill a Driven Point Well" (now at Hunker.com).

Of course, this being eHow, said moron must first tell us what a driven point well is and why they work (as far as he or she knows, that is):

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Earth's Mantle, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files CCCXXXIII

Ever see a blog post or other content in which the whole doesn't equal the sum of the parts? You know, an explanation that leaves out critical facts or directions that omit important steps? Well, we see them all the time: and these deficiencies, at least to us here at the Antisocial Network, say we've found another writer who is talking through his or her metaphorical hat. Such a writer is eHow.com contributor Kelsey Childress, and for a sample of this style of "writing" -- in reality, simple transcription of random factoids -- we submit the following article she posted to the mother site (since moved to Sciencing.com) that supposedly explains "What Does the Mantle of Earth Consist Of?" Well, it kind of does; but it mostly doesn't.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Big Rigs, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files CCCXXXII

The respectable (and respectful) freelancer knows that to write knowledgeably about a topic, one must immerse him- or her-self in the topic and learn the basics from a professional or two. That's why you can trust the words of a well-known freelance journalist like Mary Roach: she's done her homework, talked to experts and given it her best. The self-described freelancers of the internet, however, are a lot more likely to just do a quick read of wikipedia and simply reword an article they found there or somewhere else. That's probably why you find "advice" from people on topics about which they knew nothing before starting their "research," articles that leave their readers knowing worse than nothing after reading them. Sometimes they get it more or less right -- common sense dictates that you can't get some topics completely wrong -- but you can tell they're just guessing because of some of the stupid things they say. Take, for instance, the advice of Amie Taylor, caught by our staff explaining to the world, "How to Start a Frozen Big Rig"¹ -- sort of...

Monday, December 14, 2015

Conspiracies: the Dummy Obsession - The Freelance Files CCCXXXI

Of all the dummies on the planet, we're pretty sure the dumbest of them are the conspiracy theorists – the tinfoil-hat types, the black-helicopter spotters, the fake-moon-landing folks. No fact too damning to their theory can survive their peculiar, circular logic; and no tangentially related factoid is too trivial to be woven into their narrative of "truth." With that in mind, take a look at "The Science Behind the Bermuda Triangle" as presented by zig25 (Paul? Paula?) on InfoBarrel.com. Bear in mind, of course, that this is a freelancer who has also turned his/her finely-honed intellect on topics such as Jack the Ripper, the Biblical flood, the Hope diamond, crop circles, the "truth" of the Kennedy assassination, the "truth" of Tupac Shakur's death, Atlantis, the Loch Ness monster and others... all in prose badly in need of a grammar-checker.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Tire Changes, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files CCCXXX

The word for the day is "avoidance." The Antisocial Network's staff Labrador retriever is expert at this maneuver: put a treat in front of her, tell her to "leave it," and she'll look everywhere but at her treat. Tell her to take it and it's gone in an instant. With apologies to bumper-sticker writers everywhere, it's pretty clear that "Our Labrador retriever is smarter than your freelancer" -- especially if that freelancer happens to be eHow.com contributor Owen E. Richason IV, back for the second time this week alone. We caught Owen demonstrating avoidance in a post he called  (or perhaps more accurately, eHow called) "How to Change a Simplicity Mower Tire," now at GardenGuides.com.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Identifying Oak Trees the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files CCCXXIX

Let's face it: there are some questions that can't be answered in a simple narrative format, such as that used by content farms like eHow.com. Unfortunately, that never stopped the voracious, cash-hungry contributors to the sites; self-described "journalists" who poured forth half-assed explanations of everything from aardvark "facts" to zymurgy "how-tos" -- and in the process, often getting it wrong.  Today the topic at hand is Hunker.com's  "How to Identify an Oak Tree by a Leaf," and eHow contributor Elizabeth Knoll (already on the Antisocial Network's short list of prize-winning eHow dumbasses) was perfectly happy to demonstrate just how poorly prepared she was to answer this question.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Fences for Our Dummy Friends - The Freelance Files CCCXXIII

Ever ask someone a question and get the feeling that he or she just wasn't listening? You know that we mean: you ask, "What's the capital of Illinois?" and end up getting a half-hour dissertation on the use of the color blue in "The Simpsons" (probably because the capital of Illinois is Springfield...). This may happen because the person got distracted and went off on a tangent. We used to have a boss like that, a guy who would change subjects in the middle of a sentence and... sorry... Sometimes it's because the person trying to answer the question is a dumbass -- we're pretty sure that's what's going on in "How to Brace Fences,"¹ posted to eHow by frequent contributor (and DotD recipient) Owen E. Richason IV.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Central Air, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files CCCXXII

You've probably heard it said that "There's no such thing as a stupid question," but we beg to differ. Around the Antisocial Network, we prefer the alternate saying, "Ask a stupid question and you'll get a stupid answer," though we've also noticed that you can get that stupid answer by asking a smart(ish) question of the wrong person -- and a lot of the wrong people have written for eHow.com over the years! People like Tom Lutzenberger, whose BA in political science failed to protect him from looking the fool when he answered the (admittedly) stupid question, "Can You Run Central Air If Your Gas Is Cut Off?" for Hunker.com.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Rock Types, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files CCCXXI

Some people just don't know when to quit, do they... well, we suppose that in their defense, sometimes they're not allowed to quit when they should. We're not talking about Peyton Manning here, we're talking about eHow contributors under the lash of their site's minimum word-count rule. That's why some of the articles on the site say so many stupid things: trying to pad the content out to meet the minimum. Today's example is repeater Elyse James, with her Journalism BA, trying (and failing) to answer a question that should have taken fewer than ten words. The question? "In What Type of Rocks Are Fossil Fuels Found?" (now hiding at OurPastimes.com). Elyse's word count? About three hundred... a lot of them wrong.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Humidity for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCCXX

There must be some sort of dysfunction that attacks the brains of internet freelancers when they sit down to write a "simple" post – here at the Antisocial Network, we see the results of this condition every day. Perhaps the most striking symptom is the inability for a writer to come up with a simple, straightforward solution to a problem. eHow.com is a vector for the disease – mainly because of its minimum word count – but it crops up elsewhere as well. Today, for instance, we found it at Seekyt.com (not exactly a paragon of quality writing) in the person of "webforjason" (a.k.a. Jason Knapfel). Jason's symptoms appear in something he called "How to Lower Humidity in Your Home."

Monday, December 7, 2015

Sewer Vents, the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files CCCXIX

The big data lovers are always babbling  about "drilling down" in gigantic datasets to find some great insight (we're sure there are lots of TED talks about precisely that somewhere). Here at the Antisocial Network, we occasionally employ a sort of drill-down technique ourselves: we start at known content farms, find a likely website, and zero in on a well-known freelancing fool. Today's one of those days (perhaps because it's Monday? who knows?): we went straight to the mother lode of internet dumbassery, eHow.com, and found one of the site's most dependably dumb contributors: Joan Whetzel. Without further ado, Joan's here to edify her readership on the topic, "What Are Sewer Vent Pipes For?

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Foundations for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCCXVIII

Recently we've been seeing way more television advertisements for foundation repair than we think necessary (one company, to be precise) -- but we suppose that any homeowner who has foundation problems would be happy to to find a company to help him. We imagine that there's useful information available on the internet to a homeowner in need, but we certainly hope that anyone whose foundation is decrepitating will take a pass on the advice (and we use that term extremely loosely) that Seekyt.com author (ditto the loosely thing) lucy_hale posted in "Rebuilding Your Home's Foundation." An aside here: we're pretty certain that the author of this rubbish is not the singer whose name he or she appropriated, probably in hopes of garnering more hits...

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Light Years for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCCXVII

Way back in 2011, the search-engine gurus at Google decided that enough is enough: crappy websites filled with poorly-written garbage were getting what they felt was excessively high placement in search results. Consequently, the company released their Panda update to demote the content farms. Facebook and Twitter were given prominence in the algorithm, and the baby was thrown out with the Suite.com, AssociatedContent and Helium bathwater. Unfortunately, eHow managed to survive -- as did some of the content responsible for the Panda update. Content that we at the Antisocial Network mock on a daily basis; content like "What is the Distance of One Light Year?"¹ covered in the grand old tradition of eHow by Jennifer Oster.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Sedimentary Minerals for Dummies

It's bad enough to our staff here at the Antisocial Network when a bumbling freelancer does a halfwit job in the alleged "research" and transfer of information, but they're even more disgusted when they run across people who are supposed to know better doing a crappy job. A case in point: our staff geologist turned up a contributor to suite.io, Alexandra Matiella Novak, who pretty much undermined the validity of the PhD she claims to have in geology with her poor research. Well, it seems Alexandra's back again, and this time she's giving short shrift to "Minerals in Sedimentary Rocks."

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Minerals for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCCXV

Q: You know how to tell a lawyer is lying?
A: His lips are moving.

Other than being somewhat sexist (the American Bar Association says its membership is about a third female) and a bit of a generalization, that's probably accurate. Here at the Antisocial Network, we have a corollary of sorts:

Q: How can you tell an eHow contributor is bullshitting?
A: There are words on the screen.

OK, perhaps a little harsh - but true too often to be ignored. Let's take a f'rinstance, that of eHowian Max Roman Dilthey, expounding on "How Minerals are Formed" at Sciencing.com. Is Max bullshitting or not bullshitting? We think the former...

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Slope Calculations for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCCXIV

In the bad old days before Google's Panda update made it impossible for people writing quality online content to make any money from their efforts, the internet was awash in people writing crap content at sites like Helium, AssociatedContent, Lunch, and eHow -- all reasons Google installed the update in the first place. Although eHow was the poster child for the content Panda was intended to kill, it's one of the few such sites still functioning. If, however, you want to see the sort of rubbish that made the site a laughingstock, the managers have left much of it in place. We're talking about content such as that written by contributor Jennifer Fleming, who's visited some pretty awful content on the 'net -- including today's award winner, "How to Calculate Channel Slope" (now residing at BizFluent.com).

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Wiring for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCCXIII

An adage from grandpa's time tells us, "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach." Here at the Antisocial Network, we've decided to update that old saw for the information age: "Those who can, do; those who can't, freelance by copying off of those who can." There's little more irritating to the knowledgeable than finding that some idiot is making good money off of faking experience and knowledge. You know, people like so many of eHow.com's "contributors"? In specific, like repeat offender Elizabeth Knoll, caught this time pretending to know her rear end from a hole in the ground (and failing... abjectly... as usual) in "How to Wire an Additional Light to an Existing Light and Switch"? [now at Hunker.com]

Monday, November 30, 2015

Pyrite for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCCXII

As they wander the back roads of the internet, the Antisocial Network staffers are often amazed -- though not necessarily amused -- by some of the ridiculous rubbish people spew. We're not even talking about the unceasing river of stupidity flowing through social media sites; we rarely bother with them. No, we generally confine our search for dummies to those places where hack writers try to make money off advertising and referrals (an increasingly difficult task as google gets wise to content farms and keyword stuffing). Once in a while, we come across a veritable jewel in the rough... or, to be more precise, a bit of extra rough in the rough; where someone says something really, really stupid while trying to be "smart." Today's example is a veritable fount of misinformation whose scribblings can be found at PersonaPaper.com, Vince Summers; here caught in the midst of misinforming his readership in a post he called "My Virginia Find - Devil's Dice."¹

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Attic Fans for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCCXI

It may be the wrong season, but seasonal dissonance never stopped the fabulous faking freelancers of eHow from sharing misinformation; so we don't have any qualms about making the same apparent faux pas here at the Antisocial Network. That's why we rummaged around in among the candidates we unearthed last summer to find a post by the one and only Homeschool Mama, Naima Manal, returning here to tell us her version (which, given that its Naima, is likely wrong) of "What is the Purpose of an Attic Fan?" at HomeSteady.com.

It's not so much that Ms Manal gets it wrong in this case, but that she works so hard to meet the eHow minimum word count. For instance, read this, from her introduction:

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Mineral Leases for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCCX

When commodity prices are high, people crawl out of the woodwork looking for ways to strike it rich without working hard -- and freelancers come out of the woodwork ready to advise them on how to do so. When gold was $1800/ounce, there were the freelancers with gold-recovery instructions. When oil was $145/barrel, there were the freelancers with typical bogus advice on how to get rich wildcatting or drilling for oil in your own back yard. Not to be left out, serial dumbass, eHow-style, Larry Parr tried to get in on the act with a little scrap of content he called "How to Buy Oil Leases."¹

Friday, November 27, 2015

Windows Drives for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCCIX

If you've ever tried to teach Grandma (or Grandpa) how to use that computer they bought so they could keep in touch with the grandkids, you've probably been asked at least a couple of questions about some of the most basic functions of a computer, questions such as "How do you turn this thing on?" and "How do I get that cup-holder shelf thingy to slide out again?" The Antisocial Network's staff all certainly hope that when you couldn't answer one of those questions, you admitted  your ignorance and then looked it up instead of bullshitting like you usually do. You wanna be truthful with Gram and Gramp, after all. Unfortunately, when you look it up on the internet, you run a chance of finding the kind of answer written by someone who was just pretending to know something about the topic, like eHow contributor Baptist Johnson pretending to know "How to Use the F: Drive on a Computer" at Techwalla.com.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Faucet Repairs for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCCVIII

For unknown reasons, some freelancers seem to find it necessary to share their latest home repair "triumphs" with the world (in hopes of getting eyeballs from others who are likewise handyperson-challenged). This is especially common with smaller do-it-yourself jobs, although some of the more brazen try to pass along whatever tiny bits of knowledge they've accumulated while watching someone competent -- or for that matter, incompetent -- tackle a complex task. What we have found, however, is that much of the help these money-grubbers is basically useless if for only one reason: the author has only performed the task once, and has no idea how to compose a set of generalized instructions. Take, for instance, the so-called "story" "Repair a Leaky Bathroom Faucet" scribbled down for suite.io (back in the suite100.com days) by one S. Elliott

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The New Toothpaste Solution - The Freelance Files CCCVII

One bit of advice well-known to college students everywhere (and, apparently, everywhen) is the "toothpaste solution": when you move out of the dorm at the end of the year, use plain white toothpaste to fill any nail holes in the walls. By our conservative estimate, older dorm rooms at some of the large colleges (we're thinking of Foster and McNutt quads at IU Bloomington, for instance) probably have better "dental health" than some of the students living there... Nowadays, of course, one of the biggest problems with this solution is finding white toothpaste... but we digress. Whatever the case, Crystal Ray (real name Kim Dalessandro, we believe) of DailyTwoCents.com has the "real" solution for the problem: you use baking soda! No kidding: in her post "An Easy Way to Hide a Ceiling Crack," Crystal / Kim informs us that, if you have a crack in a drywall ceiling, 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Roofs for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCCVI

Ever ask a question and get an answer that was completely incorrect, as though the other person had totally misunderstood you? Here at the Antisocial Network, we call that the "Emily Litella effect." We named it after a Gilda Radner character from the original Saturday Night Live who just never quite got things. We have seen the same symptoms in the content created by some of eHow's stable of freelancers, more than one of whom has proven prone to completely misunderstanding the questions they were allegedly answering. In the process, they supply responses that would be laughable had the reader not wasted several minutes of his or her life reading through useless babble. Take, for instance, eHow's Elizabeth Knoll and the post she created called "How to Connect a New Roof to an Existing Roof" at HomeSteady.com.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Pocket Doors for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCCV

Around the Antisocial Network we ago realized that people are prone to saying just the most idiotic crap when pretending to be more knowledgeable than they really are, you know what we mean? If that weren't the case, then babbling nonsense around smarter -- or more accurately, better-prepared -- people wouldn't be a go-to plot point for just about every situation comedy episode ever written. Babbling incomprehensibly (while looking pretty) was Penny's sole schtick for the first season or two of "Big Bang Theory," right? Well, freelancers out there pumping and dumping their copy-rewrite-paste bullshit onto write-for-cash sites are every bit as prone as sitcom characters to saying stupid things while pretending to be knowledgeable. Take Seekyt.com's Ellina James, who was already in a hole when she chose the title "Advantages and drawbacks of Closet Doors."

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Solar Power for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCCIV

In the bad old days just about anyone writing for eHow pulled their so-called answers out of thin air -- apparently it's a little different these days, since many contributors are now self-described experts. Once in a while, you run across older content from an eHowian who tried to claim expertise... though as often as not the expertise wasn't readily apparent. Take, for instance, the self-described "certified energy professional" Diane Bacher, who we found trying to explain "How to Install a Power Inverter and Solar Panel to an Electrical Panel" for HomeSteady.com  

If you asked the staff of the Antisocial Network for help connecting your solar array, we'd like to think that you'd find some instructions for wiring the various pieces-parts instead of a boatload of semi-nonsensical babble along the lines of

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Bookshelves for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCIII

It used to be that if we wanted to undertake a new project, we'd start with our bookshelves or maybe head over to the local bookstore to pick up a new glossy book with a few plans and lots of suggestions. In the age of the internet, though, we just google the project and hope we find something useful in all the millions of hits. Well, we're here to remind you that a good portion of the instructions out there on the internet -- especially after the first page of results -- may well be suspect. Let's say you want to build a bookcase: let's hope that you don't try to follow instructions like those posted to Suite.io (formerly suite.com, if anyone cares) by A. L. (Amy) Fetherlin in a "story" (that's what they call them at Suite -- we kid you not) she titled "How to Make an Adjustable Shelf Bookcase.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Post Holes for Dummies Part 2 - The Freelance Files CCCII

We aren't kidding when we suggest that, some days, this blog darned near writes itself. Take this coincidence, for example: just yesterday, we were exposing one eHowian for telling us how to calculate the volume of cement needed for post holes -- and getting it wrong -- when what to our wondering eyes should appear but another eHowian expounding on precisely the same subject, and getting it wrong, too. What makes this episode of serendipity particularly juicy is that it was eHow.com themselves who provided us the link to the new content, smack-dab in the middle of the page under the bold heading "Other People Are Reading..." Sadly, however, their second contributor, a self-described "professional writer" named Bryant Harland, proved no more competent to explain the procedure than was the guy we featured yesterday. For proof, read what Harland has to say in the piece titled "How to Calculate Concrete for Fence Posts."¹

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Post Holes for Dummies, Part 1 - The Freelance Files CCCI

Sometimes our research here at the Antisocial Network uncovers mistakes so obvious that even the iconic fifth-grader (the one a lot of people aren't smarter than) could tumble to it. Other times, the errors are more... subtle. We're not all that sure which category today's entry in the dumbass stakes should fall into - we'll let you know. So without further ado, here's eHow.com's Larry Simmons, caught holding forth (without benefit of first-hand knowledge) on the topic of "How to Calculate Concrete for Post Holes."¹

Here's our suggestion: if we were assigned this particular problem, we'd probably start with the dimensions of a standard post hole, calculate the cubic footage of concrete needed for each hole, and multiply by the number of holes we'd need to fill... wait... we seem to be forgetting something, though...

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Bicycle Pumps for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCC

Beginning fiction writers are often told to "write what you know," which may be why so many self-published novels are downright boring (not to mention badly written). Of course, making money off of topics about which you know practically nothing is a time-honored practice at content farms and on blogs, a practice that keeps us in business (so to speak) here at the Antisocial Network, if you can call it that -- making fun of dumbasses is more a labor of love, actually. So with that in mind, we say "Thanks" to eHow's Rocco Pendola, who we caught holding forth on a topic about which we had no difficulty telling that he knows nothing: "My Bicycle Pump Won't Work" in a Healthfully.com post.

We say he obviously knows nothing because first, he found it necessary to quote the late Sheldon Brown when describing the difference between Schrader and Presta valves (he had to look it up? you're kidding, right?) and second, because of a rather embarrassing  faux pas Rocco (and an incompetent content editor at eHow) left embedded in his (mis)information:

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Volcanoes for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCIC

It's been more than six months since the Antisocial Network hosted tectonics week, and we're happy to announce that our staff geologist has returned from the "spa" where he'd been "vacationing." It took quite a while for him to recover from the effects of the avalanche of idiocy he uncovered during his research, but he's tells us he's ready to get back in the saddle again -- what a brave guy, eh? So without further ado, let's see what utter bull Suite.io's Angela Schnaubelt scribbled down to "inform" her readers about "Understanding Mountains and Volcanoes." Let's hope the poor guy survives the new shock...

Monday, November 16, 2015

Boot-Up for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCXCVIII

If google's so-called Panda update (we know, we know -- it wasn't named for the bamboo-eating mammal, "Panda" is a google employee's surname) hadn't washed away the dross from some of the worst content farms, today's internet would be awash in crap content (not that it isn't, what with endless Kardashian bullshit and countless YouTube cat videos -- say, have you seen the one of the Antisocial Network's office cat? she's so cute!). As it is, there's still plenty of the rubbish left to go around for an unwary searcher who wanders into the wrong website. Take, for instance, the poor sap who happens to run across the eHow post by Dianne Christensen-Hermance (sometimes known as Dianne Christensen-Herman) while desperately seeking help because, he or she complains, "My Laptop Computer Won't Boot Up" at ItStillWorks.com. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Mean and Median for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCXCVII

Here at the Antisocial Network, we're in the habit of calling out people for exposing a lack of experience, knowledge or common sense in hopes of making money, often while answering (or pretending to answer) questions or providing how-to "instructions." Every once in a while, however, we run across a bit of dumbassery that wasn't published  at a content farm. Today is one of those times: our Dumbass of the Day awardee is Keryn Newman, a NIMBY blogger trying to stop a power line in West Virginia. No matter how honorable -- or self-serving, we didn't read through the entire blog -- Keryn's cause may have been, it's pretty clear that she never took a class in statistics (she must've been one of those damned journalism majors...). All you need do to figure out that deficiency is to take the time to read her post "Median vs. Midpoint" carefully.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Staining Plywood for Dummies (Carpentry Week 7) - The Freelance Files CCXCVI

The last step in a woodworking or carpentry project is (usually) applying a finish, so it's fitting that the last dumbass of carpentry week is exposed for his lousy advice concerning the finishing step. This time, we caught Edwin Thomas exposing his incompetence on a Demand Media (aka eHow) website, SFGate Homeguides. Ed's chosen topic is "How to Stain and Finish Plywood," a subject about which he apparently knows nothing (we guess they don't teach woodworking at American University).

Friday, November 13, 2015

Veneer for Dummies (Carpentry Week 6) - The Freelance Files CCXCV

Resawing wood veneer
The first step in getting the right answer to a question is understanding the question itself. You aren't likely to be able to truly address a question like, "Why did Roger Maris have an asterisk next to his 61?" if you don't know who Roger Maris was, what an asterisk is, the significance of the number 61 to Maris or -- for that matter -- why the numbers 154 and 162 are significant. Deficiencies in basic knowledge like that are a consistent problem with eHow's "answers": too often they've been written, or more likely reworded, by someone who didn't understand the original question -- not that the questions scraped off search engines by the eHow bot always made sense in the first place. Perhaps even worse, eHow contributors like Larry Parr (already featured once this week...) are expected to decide what the original questioner meant when searching, which isn't necessarily conducive to an accurate answer. Here's an example, Larry's take on "How to Cut Wood Veneer."¹

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Parquet Floors for Dummies (Carpentry Week 5) - The Freelance Files CCXCIV

Here at the Antisocial Network, we absolutely love it when we can catch someone who doesn't know anything about a topic holding forth about it at some length. The content is often full of clues that they're talking through the proverbial hat -- all the little miscues and bits of misinformation; sometimes augmented by a big boo-boo or two. We recently caught up with Seekyt.com's Melissa Hamler (the Melissa Hamler from Australia, not the Melissa Hamler from Indianapolis) who was doing exactly that in a post she entitled "Additions of Parquet Floors."