Saturday, February 28, 2015

Bad Grammar Advice from Someone Who Failed ESL

Nothing chaps the buttocks of the Antisocial Network's staff grammar curmudgeon quite like the people who offer grammar advice chock full of grammatical mistakes, spelling the topic "grammer" and similar sins. Oh, sure, there are descriptivists and prescriptivists in the grammar game, but we're pretty certain both of them would head for the vomitorium upon reading the sort of crap someone calling himself (herself) Nitin Gupta penned for HubPages.com under the title "Tips on How to use good punctuation and grammar in essay or letter Writing." This may well be the worst grammar advice in the history of the internet - and that's saying a lot! 

Take, for instance, Gupta's first paragraph: 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Two-Dimensional Thinking in a Three-Dimensional World

Stabilizing a fence post before cementing it
Freelancers  on the prowl for pennies are renowned for their do-it-yourself advice. You could very likely build an entire house, foundation to roof, out of the "information" provided by freelancers on sites like eHow.com and HubPages.com. It wouldn't meet code and would probably fall over within a couple of years, but you could do it...

Here's an example of the kind of advice offered up by freelancers, as provided by someone calling himself Dr E at Infobarrel. While the good doctor doesn't provide any info about that degree, he did manage to churn out more than 1,300 articles on the website, including a choice piece of crap titled "Fence Post Installation." We'll give him props for not telling you to pour dry concrete mix into your holes, but that's about it when you read his instructions for leveling your fence posts:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dummies Who Fail Astronomy 101

Uranus through the Hubble
Telescope (NASA photo)
You gotta love it: A Demand Media dumbass for the second day in a row! Who ever thought that pretending you're not eHow.com could erase that well-deserved reputation as a galactic-class source of misinformation? Whoever it was deserves to be fired... Whatever the case, for today we visit the realm of astronomy, where DMS's Susan Sherwood "helped" some poor schmuck with his or her elementary-school science homework, specifically the question "How Does Uranus Revolve?"¹ Our research staffer found this freelancer's ill-researched answer in the Education (snicker) section of the Seattle P-I's website.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

This Dummy is a Glass-Half-Full Kind of Guy

Educators in the United States have been warning the public that we're becoming increasingly scientifically illiterate. Conspiracy theorists claim politicians beholden to conservative groups that champion junk science like creationism and climate-change skepticism are to blame. On the other hand, it might be that self-appointed "citizen journalists" heavily contribute to the problem.

Take for instance Eric Bank, who writes for Demand Media. Bank published a "science" (we use the term loosely) article for the Seattle P-I education site in which he answered the simple question "Temperature Needed to Turn Silicon Into Glass." Here's his introductory paragraph:

Monday, February 23, 2015

Dummies Who Confuse Plumbing with Beauty

Don’t you love it when self-appointed freelancing experts “step outside their comfort zone” to write about new and exciting topics? Doesn’t it send a shiver up your spine when one of them says something absolutely ridiculous in the desperate search for pennies? If you answer “Yes” to both of those questions, meet Tammy Poague, one of the expert crap-spinners from HubPages. Today’s example of astuteness comes from an article she spun entitled “Help! My Plumbing is Leaking and I Don't know why!” After you read through it, you’ll be pretty sure Tammy still doesn’t know. 

In her zeal to educate her readers about corroded pipe, Tammy waxes eloquent about electrolysis, including this bit of misinformation:

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Dummy Provides More Bad Automotive Advice

If you've never bought a used car, or - perhaps more likely - never felt comfortable buying a used car, there's a wealth of advice out there for doing so. Here at the Antisocial Network, we prefer to stick with professionals, places like Edmunds, TrueDelta.com, or Consumer Reports. So sue us: they're pros, people who know cars inside and out and have wide experience with many vehicles.

If you're not the sharpest knife in the drawer, however, maybe you want to take the advice of some random freelancer who just threw some words at the page and called it advice. If they're really bad (and some are), they might even think their advice is "good." Apparently, that's the case with Margarita2014 over at InfoBarrel, who provided advice for the distaff citizens in an article she called "A Simple Checklist for Ladies Buying a Used Car."

Friday, February 20, 2015

When Dummies Give Gardening Advice

An "apple garden," according to mr
Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! We just ran across another pay-per-view website to mine for dumbasses. It's called Elite Visitors, and seems to be where all the bubblers have gone now that Bubblews.com has throttled their payments [Editor's note: EliteVisitors is just as gone as Bubblews now]. And just like Bubblews, it's an absolute treasure trove of Dumbasses. The only problem is finding anything that has enough information in it to be wrong - most of what's posted there is, like Bubblews, just random crap. We did find this little morsel, however, kindly provided by an elitist who simply calls himself (herself?) "mr" - a piece of dreck writing entitled "Choosing a Garden That is Perfect for You."

mr tells us there are three types of gardens: flower, vegetable, and fruit. Huh? There's such a thing as a "fruit garden"? Lemme see: 14 million google hits on "flower garden," 10 million on "vegetable garden," and only about half a million on "fruit garden." There must be a gazillion on "orchard," though...

So here's what mr says about these fruit gardens:

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Table Saws for Dummies

Look, dummy: two wrenches!
In case you hadn't figured it out, eHow must be the source of some of the most ridiculous, useless and downright idiotic misinformation on the face of the Earth. The site's system is simple: they use software to capture search queries containing the phrases "how do I..." and "what is a..." Freelancers (them again!) categorize those "titles," sometimes hilariously, and then other freelancers "research" the topics and put them in a standardized format. eHow employs "editors" to make certain that the answers fit the format, though said editors aren't necessarily very good at being certain the answers are.... for want of a better word, "right."

A case in point: someone lost his owner's manual or bought a table saw at a garage sale and didn't know how to change blades. S/he googled for the info, eHow captured the query, and Larry Parr "answered" it in "How to Change the Blade on a Craftsman Table Saw." According to Larry's bio, he's a "full-time professional freelance writer." Apparently, he's not a woodworker...

Larry tells us to:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dummy Builds Collapsing Roofs

We don't know, but there may not be a better way to court disaster than to take the advice of someone writing for pay at a site like Helium (now, mercifully, gone), Associated Content (ditto), or HubPages. The worst advice, though, seemed to come from the stable of dumbasses over at eHow. Frankly, anyone who goes to eHow for advice is getting just what they deserve. Let's have a look at what Lacy Enderson tells us about building roof trusses. 

Ms Enderson, whose bio tells us she's a counselor with a "Masters in Biblical counseling" (we mean, really: is there such a thing?) wrote hundreds of articles for eHow, including a whole series on carpentry. We guess because Jesus was a carpenter, this good Christian assumed He would speak through her. He didn't, as one might tell from an article entitled "How to Build a Wooden Roof Truss." 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Dummy Throws In the Kitchen Sink

What is it with freelance writers and do-it-yourself plumbing instructions? Is it that they think they're experts just because they've dialed for a plumber and watched Sir Cracksalot while he unstopped their drain? Apparently so, as is evidenced by Dr. Eugenia Orr, writing at Dumbass Central (better known as eHow.com). Eugenia (whose doctorate is an EdD -- it sure as heck ain't in plumbing) educated her readers on the topic of "How to Unhook Kitchen Sink Plumbing" a while back -- or at least she (and eHow's content editor) thought she was educating her readers.... but she was merely showing her ignorance of the subject. Those who've written for eHow in the past know that the site's motto has long been, apparently, ignorantia reddit - "ignorance pays." 

Here's some of Eugenia's fine advice on the subject of plumbing:

Friday, February 13, 2015

Dummy Condenses the Value out of Information

We sure hope it doesn’t look as though we're picking on eHow.com when it comes to dumbasses of the day. Aww, hell, who cares – eHow is what the wonks call a “target-rich environment,” seeing as hundreds of dumbasses made millions of dollars passing out “information” that was useless or, in some cases, worse than useless. One such example is Jorina Fontelera, in a lovely little article entitled “How to Build a Homemade Electric Go Cart.”¹ We suspect the term “go-kart” is copyrighted or something.

Anyway, Ms. (Mr? let's go with female...) Fontelera rewards readers with such detailed instructions as 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Internal Combustion Engines for Dummies

We're back mining the mother lode of good ol' eHow today in search of yet another Dumbass of the Day. In this case, we've found a repeat offender. Not only is today's freelancer a Dumbass, the site itself is a paragon of dumbassery. The topic on which Jennifer Fleming held forth is "How to Calculate Compression Ratio and PSI," but the jackasses of Demand Media file this misinformation under - get this - "Business." Given that misclassification, it's no wonder the topic ended up addressed by someone who wouldn't know an internal combustion engine if it hit her in the butt. Look at what she said to her wide world of readers:

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Demystifing" Drilling for Oil, the Dummies Way

Our staff geologist started in the oil industry in 1980: meaning more than thirty-five years’ experience in a field that pretty much mystifies a lot of people. Thankfully, there are citizen journalists out there to “demystify” the oil and gas industry, learned folk like Melvin Porter, who hung his hat over at HubPages – or maybe it’s Squidoo; we always get the two confused. 

Anyway, Mel took it upon himself once upon a time to educate the public on an industry where our guy's spent more than half his life, posting something he called “Oil Well Drilling: Explained.” Thanks ever so much, Mel -- for all the laughs, that is. Why don't we start with your concluding paragraph, in which you explain the process known as completion (follow the link to the Schlumberger Oilfield glossary entry on the topic)? Mel says, 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Serial Dummy Expounds on Zymurgy

There’s a possiblity that no branch of science suffers more at the hands of self-appointed freelancers than nutrition. Every damned fad diet that comes down the pike is the subject of thousands of glowing blog posts, each carefully tailored to suck in eyeballs. Never mind that three months later, the same "nutrition" or "fitness" blogger will be posting another glowing review of a different fad diet…

Those freelancers also hit the pay-for-hits sites, too. Here’s a little piece of rubbish published by someone who calls himself Emge over at DailyTwoCents, an article on “Benefits of Drinking Beer.” We’ll forgive the writer for the spelling and grammatical mistakes since English is not his first language, but we won't forgive the misinformation:

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Political Blindness and Scientific Illiteracy

You probably already knew this, but for those who didn't here's a truism we've noticed here at the Antisocial Network: whether the topic is climate change, vaccines, pollution, or any other complex question; pretty soon some politician is going to utter that now-infamous phrase, "I'm not a scientist but..." When you hear those words, you can be fairly certain you're about to be transported to the Scientific Illiteracy Zone. What's perhaps saddest is that a lot of people live there 24/7/365.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Dummy Educates Us on Rocks

If you've been paying attention, you may have noticed that the average American is damned near scientifically illiterate. Put the blame wherever you want -- we're not here to discuss politics. Our problem is that, even though they don't know jack, these people try to pass along their "knowledge" through sites like InfoBarrel and eHow. Today's villain is one Joannie Ham of InfoBarrel, whose bio claims she has not one but two science degrees. Unfortunately, she likes to write about stuff not germane to either; and worse, is one of those morons that homeschool their kids to make sure they pass down that scientific illiteracy. Here just read what Joannie says about pumice, in an InfoBarrel piece she calls "Facts About Igneous Rocks":

Friday, February 6, 2015

Bad Grammer Advise from Greedy Freelancers

Some people tend to get a little grumpy about the proper use of the English language. There are enough of us that damned near all word-processing software now includes not only spell-checking, but also real-time grammar-checking. Sadly, though, the spelling part's apparently a lost cause... Back to the topic of grammar: there's nothing that elicits an outpouring of schadenfruede in our house grammar curmudgeon quite like seeing purported grammar advice that itself violates grammatical rules. Take this, for instance, from someone calling herself Fiona Rey, "writing" about the perils of missing commas for the readers of DailyTwoCents.com:

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Running Amok in a Plumber's Crack

So-called "mommy bloggers" were all the rage there for a few months (a meme? a meme-let?). Now I'm never gonna claim to be qualified to give a mommy blogger shit about any of their stock topics like diapers, makeup, cheating husbands or fad diets - no, that would be hypocritical. On the other hand, when a mommy blogger starts trying to explain the visit from her plumber yesterday (desperate for something to write about? no products to write glowing reviews about?), she's on my turf - and she'd better not get all stupid.

Get all stupid is just someone who calls herself "Abby" did over at InfoBarrel in her article "How to Fix Your Basic Kitchen Plumbing Problems." It's pretty clear from the text that Abby had a leak under her sink and decided to "educate" her readers on plumbing basics. The problem being that she was saying things like

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Oil and Gas the Dummy Way

Today’s example of a woefully unqualified boob expounding on something about which he (or perhaps it’s a she?) knows squat comes from another paragon of quality, HubPages.com. The Dumbass of the Day goes by the pen name jmccas1, writing on the topic “Unconventional Resources.” With luck, J didn't make any money off this one, though in all probability s/he made more than we'll make by correcting him. Such is life.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Phucking Up Physics

Self-appointed “freelancers” who write for pay sites are a source of vast quantities of misinformation. In their zeal to earn pennies, they often write about topics for which they lack even the faintest educational background. One of the funniest (or saddest) I’ve seen in a long time has finally been taken down by eHow “science” and replaced by text that more closely approaches technically correct.

This one’s a case in which the "journalist" was tricked by the word moment in the phrase “moment of inertia” into thinking that the technical term has something to do with a point in time. The author (also known as my Dumbass of the Day) is Jennifer Fleming, an “eHow contributor” whose long list of articles on the site has the potential to create an extensive series of stupidities. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Automotive Maintenance Stupidity

We often wish the good Lord would deliver us from certain of those self-appointed "freelancers." You know the ones: they subscribe to services (free or pay) that tell them what search topics are "hot," and then immediately write something on that topic for their favorite pay-per-view site. It used to be assholiated... err, associatedcontent.com, but now that that one is gone, they write for other sites like WritEdge, InfoBarrel, HubPages or any of a dozen other sites that give them the occasional penny.

There are two hallmarks of the self-appointed freelancer:
  • lousy spelling, grammar and proofreading
  • lousy information
Today's freelancer writes for WritEdge, under the pen name Isabelle Esteves. Here's an example of her competence, written under the title "What Every Woman Needs to Know About Car Maintenance." Izzy clearly doesn't know jack about maintaining a car, as proven by this statement:

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Radiochemistry for Dummies

People bitch all the time about how “undependable” Wikipedia is. Bullshit. If you wanna see “undependable,” just look at the kind of rubbish published by people who are writing for “pay-per-view” websites. Yeah, you know the ones – sites like eHow that pay random people to write about things after performing perfunctory research at… you guessed it, Wikipedia. Way too many of these are college English and journalism majors who’ve been convinced by half-wit professors that they can become “experts” on anything. 

Well, some freelance writers do become very knowledgeable about their topics, but only after weeks or months of immersion and discussions with real experts. Some stay-at-home mom (or dad) who spends an hour browsing content written by other stay-at-home moms (and dads) doesn’t qualify as knowledgeable by any stretch of the imagination.