Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Ring of Fire, the Dummies Version (Tectonics Week 3) - The Freelance Files CXXV

Day three of Tectonics Week, and the Antisocial Network's staff geologist is happy as a pig in poop with all the material. He's already begging to turn this into Tectonics Month (or maybe year...), but a week's all he's getting. There's just too much other material out there.


Speaking of material, today's Dumbass of the Day hails from a new site (at least one that's new to these pages) suite.io - the one-time Suite101, supposedly with the dreck trimmed out (we'll see about that). She's Linda Sue Meagher, aka Lindasue M, writing on the topic "Increased Earthquake Activity in the Pacific Rim." Linda Sue got her geography kinda mixed up in that first paragraph, where she says,

Monday, June 29, 2015

Subduction For Dummies (Tectonics Week 2) - The Freelance Files CXXIV

It's hard for us to determine whether the Antisocial Network's staff geologist is having fun this week or is gradually becoming a little more depressed each day. All he did for Tectonics Week was run a web search on the word "tectonic" to learn how the term's been used by dumbasses writing for money, and he was simply flabbergasted just to see the level of scientific illiteracy out there. Today's example comes, once again, from good old eHow.com, where Andrea Stein leveraged a B.A. in English to "answer" for readers the question "What Is Slab Rollback?"

The correct answer is a bit esoteric, i.e., it requires at least a little knowledge of plate tectonic theory to understand: in a subduction zone characterized by rollback, the trench, or site of subduction, migrates toward the younger oceanic crust. This often causes back-arc spreading. The other style of subduction, "simple" sliding, results in a trench that stays in the same relative position as the subducting crust slips under the other plate. But that's not what Andrea says...

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Seafloor Spreading, the Dummy Version (Tectonics Week 1) - The Freelance Files CXXIII

Our staff geologist wanted a theme week, so we assigned him to find as many possible dumbass statements by a google search on a single word. He tried coprolite and geopetal, but quickly realized that it would take a word in semi-common use: that word turned out to be "tectonic." The first dumbass he spotted for this week is eHow.com's Scott Thompson, holding forth on "What Is the Primary Force That Causes the Seafloor to Spread?" Unfortunately, Scott -- par for the eHow course -- pretty much screwed the pooch with his answer.

We know: we read that answer and referred it to the staff geologist, who told us so (note that Thompson's eHow bio says nothing about a geology degree).

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Oil and Gas, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files CXXII

The self-proclaimed category experts at eHow.com are a source of endless amusement (and disgust) for our staff here at the Antisocial Network. One of their specializations seems to be the reduction of complex processes to simple lists of steps, usually by omitting 99.99% of the detail. Take, for instance, the eHow Personal Finance Editor, the anonymous dumbass who was paid something like fifteen simoleons to write "How to Drill for Oil (6 Steps)"...

We say "dumbass" because... well, because he (or she) is a dumbass. The six steps, according to this moron, are:

Friday, June 26, 2015

Geometry for Dummies - The Freelance Files CXXI

The late Emily Litella (aka Gilda Radner) was often forced to say, "Never mind!" when she had a particularly dumbass moment. You know, such as thinking people were talking about necklaces and brooches when she heard them say "Save Soviet Jewry." Online freelancers rarely if ever do so, leaving the evidence of their obtuseness for all to see -- and worse, for the uninitiated to take at face value. For an example, take eHow.com's (yes, them again!) Matthew Anderson writing on "How to Convert Oil Drums to Volume."

Matt's problem? He didn't read the question! Matt goes completely off the rails in his very first sentence:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Power Tools for Dummies, Part II - The Freelance Files CXX

It's been said that "Those of you who think you know everything are annoying to those of us who do." Think how annoying it must be to those who know everything to read some of the utter rubbish published by freelancers lusting after pennies. Take, for example, InfoBarrel's 44tracyann44, who pretended to know a power tool from her rear in "Portable Saber Saw Facts and Safety Tips." Those of us at the Antisocial Network who do know power tools from our hind ends were not amused...

Tracy Ann reveals her level of power-tool dumbassery right from the get-go, telling her readers in paragraph one:  

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Power Tools, the Dummies Version - The Freelance Files CXIX

Online reviews are a pet peeve of ours, especially reviews written for money, probably because so many of them are either fake or based entirely on one minute's exposure to the product. The popular wisdom is that reviews of "anything with a cord" are more likely to earn, so total dumbasses desperately seeking pennies have been prone to writing reviews of electronics, vacuum cleaners and power tools about which they know next to nothing - or nothing at all. A dead giveaway is a review that opens with the writer claiming he or she is a total beginner in the field - like the Powerbase Xtreme Hammer Drill review written by Laura Gabrielle at Recommender.com. 

Now Laura's written over 600 reviews for the site, the majority of them reviews of various cosmetics. That probably explains why her opening paragraph reads,

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Photography, the Kind by Dummies - The Freelance Files CXVIII

Who doesn't like to get advice from an expert? Publishing company lists are chock full of books about how to get rich, written by people who got lucky and got rich and decided to get richer by telling other people their "secrets." The annals of freelance dumbassery are even fuller... Here's a bit of advice from a self-proclaimed expert in web design (ever notice how many freelancers claim to be web designers? we have) at WritEdge.com, one Redelyn Juan, who shared her vast photographic expertise with us in "How to Get that Nice Shot." Wow, thanks, Redelyn...

Just in case you missed that one, here are her tips:

Monday, June 22, 2015

Fiberglass Chemistry for Dummies - The Freelance Files CXVII

You gotta love eHow -- assuming, of course, that you also love misinformation and half-baked kludges of other peoples' knowledge. Take, for instance, an article entitled "What Dissolves Fiberglass Resin?" by the site's Matthew Anderson, a musician who claims to have majored in chemical engineering (but seems far more at home with video games). 

Back when gold was closing in on $2000 per ounce, lots of people wanted to dissolve printed circuit boards to extract tiny amounts of gold - but they didn't know how to dissolve the resin holding the minuscule glass fibers together. Well, according to Matt, it's so easy a child could do it with chemicals found under the bathroom sink. Yep, Matt tells us...

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Granite, the Dummies Version - The Freelance Files CXVI

Vermont Granite Quarry
If someone were to ask you, "How do they make 2-by-4 boards?" we're pretty sure most people's answers would start out with something to the effect of "Cut down a tree." That's because most people know a 2-by-4 from a hole in the ground, as the saying goes. Apparently not so much with eHow's Naima Manal, who fumbled the opening snap on the quite similar question "How is Granite Mined?" 

According to Naima (one of our favorite serial dumbasses, having been spotted plying her trade at HubPages as well), 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Metamorphosis, Dummies Style - The Freelance Files CXV

Have you ever noticed that freelancers are like politicians, at least in one way: if they don't know the answer to the question, they'll just answer one they do know - or in some cases, a different one they don't know... In the case of eHow.com's Bryan C. Booth, it appears to be the latter as he addresses the question, "What Type of Rock Does Slate Change Into?"

For those of you who haven't ever taken the course "Rocks for Jocks" (also known in your college's official catalog as Physical Geology G101), the answer some fifth-grader was surfing the internet to find is probably "schist." That's basically all you need to know, but Bryan was forced to expand his answer to eHow's 300-word minimum, which meant he needed padding. Padding is what he supplied, though not necessarily factual. For instance:

Friday, June 19, 2015

Milk for Dummies - The Freelance Files CXIV

We think that there's almost nothing more irritating online that the bait and switch. Heck, it's irritating everywhere! But when you click on the link that promises you information, whether it's "Nude Natalie Portman Pics!" or "Secrets of Anti-Aging Serums," we think you should get what you're looking for. Not according to some money-hungry freelancers, though they're perfectly happy to slap on a title that's only tangentially-related to their content. You know, people like gardens14 over at InfoBarrel.com, who claimed he was going to tell us "What Is Milk" -- but didn't...

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ceiling Lights, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files CXIII

No matter what task we're tackling for the first time, we can find detailed instructions on how to carry it out by searching the internet. The problem, too often, is that we sometimes find instructions written by someone who's done the job exactly the same number of times as we have: none. Here's a classic example of detailed instructions written by someone who simply "researched" the question online and then got paid twenty-five bucks for her trouble: Demand Media's Amy Kingston tells us "How to Hang a Rod Chandelier Pendant on a Vaulted Ceiling."

The first giveaway is that Amy draws heavily on a blog about putting in a heavy chandelier, so she goes into great detail about how we have to swap out electrical boxes, including telling us to

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Plumbing for Dummies, eHow Style - The Freelance Files CXII

Everyone searches for help on the internet. Even our staff has been known to Google (or occasionally Bing) for the solution to a knotty problem or new conundrum. We just hope we find useful information. By useful, we mean informative and on point instead of general and filled with misinformation and/or useless information. Let's say you want to install a new water supply line for a sink, toilet, or other fixture. Would you trust eHow's Giselle Diamond to provide that information? Probably not, once you'd read "How to Replace a Water Supply Valve"... 

We've replaced a valve or two at the Antisocial Network world headquarters building, and we know that Giselle makes no sense at all when she starts out by telling her readers in her Step 1,

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Fossil Fuels, the Dummies Version - The Freelance Files CXI

As Dire Straits once said, "sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug." Around the Antisocial Network, we have a corollary: sometimes the dumbass is the freelancer and sometimes the dumbass asked the question. If you're greedy enough, though, you could always pick up fifteen bucks or so from Demand Media for writing stupid answers to stupid questions. That's what J. T. Barrett did for the Seattle PI "education" section by informing us "What Do Fossil Fuels Look Like?"

Yeah, a truly stupid question - but hey, for a few dollars, some people will "answer" anything. You'd hope that the answer would be accurate, but Barrett's answer is... well, it's half-assed (the question probably deserved a half-assed answer, though). Here's why we think so:

Monday, June 15, 2015

Swimming Pools, the Dummies Version - The Freelance Files CX

Ahhh, eHow, how do you fail us: let us count the ways... there are too many to count, if you must know. One, however, is to fail to actually answer the question, the way eHow freelancer Megan Smith did in the post "How Long Does it Take to Drain a Pool?"

As far as we know, a normal person would answer this by saying that you can estimate the necessary time by dividing the volume of the pool in gallons by the pump's capacity in gallons per minute. Further, if you don't know the volume of your pool, it's length x width x average depth x 7.5, the approximate number of gallons per cubic foot. This ain't rocket science... 

...unless maybe you're an innumerate eHow freelancer, that is. Megan's answer?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Volcanoes, the Dummies Version - The Freelance Files CIX

The folks over at Demand Media pride themselves on the "quality" of their products, of which the flagship (in science, at least) is eHow. Coffee just came out your nose, didn't it... As noted before in this forum, the site owners seem less interested in the quality of the information than in its presentation. Take for instance a little piece posted by eHowian Giselle Diamond, a freelance writer since 1999, entitled "How Are Volcanoes' Eruptions Measured?"

Giselle's MA in English was apparently not up to the task of writing about something so science-y that fifth graders make models of them for science fairs, volcanoes - which Giselle says are

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Clean Energy, the Dummy Version (InfoBarrel Week) - The Freelance Files CVIII

We like the word "conflate" here at the Antisocial Network, not least of all because so many dumbass things written by penny-seeking freelancers are a product of conflation run amok. So it's fitting that we close out our week of InfoBarrel honorees with member smcopywrite (Sharon Martinez), a master of conflation who also plies her trade at HubPages and in a plethora of blogs. Today's sample of her dumbassery is a post called "What Clean Energy Can Do for You as an American" (apparently the search terms "clean energy" and "American" ranked high on SEO that day...)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Batteries, the Dummy Version (InfoBarrel Week) - The Freelance Files CVII

Could there be anything more ridiculous than wasting a reader's time imparting information the average twelve-year-old should know? We've already seen instructions, and not very good ones, at that, about how to change light bulbs (information also made available by member aronnax at InfoBarrel.com). But we're done with dumbasses and light bulbs, at least for right now. Today's recipient of the Dumbass of the Day, InfoBarrel class, is Poster: good old Poster, who -- for reasons of greed, we must assume -- found it necessary to explain "Where to Buy a CR2032 Battery."

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Basement Bedrooms the Dummies Way (InfoBarrel Week) - The Freelance Files CVI

This basement needs more than a bigger
window if you''re building a bedroom!
Maybe other netizens shrug it off, but we're awfully tired of the huge stream of content -- much of it bad -- that starts out with the phrases "10 tips for..." and "The 10 best..." Although Google's updates truly piss us off sometimes, we sure wish they'd lower the page ranking of such crap in their next update. Anyhow, that brings us to our Dumbass of the Day, InfoBarrel style. He (she?) calls himself EnterprisingInvestor and specializes in two things: rental property and bait-and-switch. He showed his skill at both in "7 Tips for Adding a Basement Bedroom." At least it's seven instead of ten...

If you're like us, you probably expect Enterprising to address topics like HVAC, moisture control, soundproofing, decorating, and other important points. Enterprising's seven tips? Here you go:

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Gulf Oil Spill, the Dummies Version

According to popular fiction, the stereotypical artist is willing to starve for his art. On the other hand, more than one "freelancer" writing for content farms (e.g., InfoBarrel,com) isn't even willing to check his or her "facts," much less miss a meal at Mickey-D's drive-through. Today's example is someone who called himself gardens14, a southern gentleman who treated readers to his own peculiar version of the truth in "20 Facts About the BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill." We won't list all twenty, just enough of them to show what a dumbass gardens14 is...

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Power Tools, the Dummies Version

We find little or nothing on the internet more vexing than "content" that's just thinly-disguised advertising. Sometimes it's not even disguised... such as the InfoBarrel.com content posted by Braxton Bragg, cleverly titled "How to Properly Care for Your Power Tools."

Wouldn't you expect to find some sort of instructions - however ill-written and incomplete - about cleaning, maintaining and repairing power tools if you were to come across this in your search? Sure you would. Instead, you're the victim of a bait-and-switch. Instead of how to care for power drills, circular saws, and other common items found under a DIYer's workbench; Bragg's little ditty is all about the diamond blades used for cutting granite for floors. Guess what: "Braxton Bragg" is actually a Tennessee-based company that sells tools for cutting and polishing concrete and stone. That's why "Braxton" informs his readers,

Monday, June 8, 2015

Early Retirement, the Dummy Version

If you were to believe the dumbass who calls himself (herself?) arvaldeco at Infobarrel.com, anyone can retire early: all it takes is some self-discipline. To prove it's possible, because (according to Arvald in his post "How to Retire at 40"), 
"Retiring at 40 is the dream for many. You have spent a good twenty years working to achieve your retirement but still have long life ahead of you and are young enough to enjoy it in a very active way..."
The guy lays out what he claims is the simple math. If you believe this dumbass (and you dream of retiring at age forty like so "many"), all you need to do is use a simple formula

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Remodeling the Dummy Way

While eHow and HubPages are responsible for enormous portions of the online dumbassery we find, there certainly have been other outlets for greedy freelancers to ply their trade without pesky fact-checking. A small but not insignificant site is Vancouver, BC-based InfoBarrel.com. We spent an evening not long ago wandering though that site's archives and came up with some winners for our readers. InfoBarrel week's first dumbass is 44tracyann44, who treated readers to some monumental stupidity in "Suspended Ceiling Reducing Heating and Cooling Costs." 

We're not sure what psychedelic substance Tracy Ann had been taking when she told us, 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Minerals: the Dummy Version

According to one talking Barbie doll, "Math is hard!" So, apparently, is science: why else would so many freelance writers at sites like eHow and HubPages do such a lousy job of communicating even the most basic facts? Let's see what Cynthia Gomez, one of eHow's stable of "professional journalists," has to say about some fairly basic science in her post titled "What Are the Properties of Smoky Topaz?"

Cindy starts her content off with a dull thud by saying, "Smoky topaz is another name given to smoky quartz, a gemstone similar to the familiar clear quartz." While not necessarily wrong, the whole truth would better have been expressed as "There is no such gemstone as smoky topaz, though the name is sometimes misapplied to smoky quartz." But let's move on from here...

Friday, June 5, 2015

Natural Gas, the Dummy Version

For the 100th edition of the Freelance File, the Antisocial Network falls back on two perennial favorites: the oil and gas industry and the target-rich mass of dumbasses over at eHow.com. Today's awardee is David Barber, yet another "journalist" freelancing far, far outside his area of expertise. His topic? "The Life of the Average Natural Gas Well"¹ at, of course, eHow.com

Now a normal person might assume that some internet dumbass wanted to know how long an "average" natural gas well produces. The real answer is "it depends": it depends on a lot of things. After some pussyfoooting around in pseudoscience and a mishmash of misinformation, Barber (finally) got to the statement, "...some gas wells can remain in operation for up to 50 years." How he got there though was, at least to our staff petroleum geologist, a matter of true hilarity. Some of Barber's dumbassery:

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Miter Joints, the Dummy Version

Once again - no surprise here, is there? - today's Dumbass of the Day is someone caught imparting "wisdom" via eHow.com. Some eHow articles are just plain wrong, some are right but just plain stupid, and some are overwritten to the point of being ridiculous. The post by this particular dumbass, Henri Bauholz, falls somewhere in between the last two categories, or perhaps in both. Take a look at "How to Make a Miter Joint"¹...

It's one of those times an eHow article isn't plain wrong, but it is still stupid (partially because Henri had to pad it so much to meet the minimum word count). Here's some of the essential dumbassery he included in his heartfelt desire to pick up his twenty-five bucks:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Hard Drives, the Dummy Version

There are bazillions of people out there who think they're "computer-literate" because they know how to run office productivity software and Facebook plus surf the web a bit. They're no more "computer-literate" than the driver who's never bothered to learn where his/her spare tire is stored is allowed to claim he's a "car guy." On the computer-illiteracy front, take eHowian G. K. Bayne, who demonstrated her tenuous grip on true computer literacy in the article, "How to Use two Hard Drives on the Same Computer" at Techwalla.com. We'll ignore for now just how stupid the question actually is at its core...

Bayne tells us not how to use two drives, but how to install a second drive - and, despite her first instruction:

Monday, June 1, 2015

Birefringence, the Dummy Version

calcite crystal displaying
birefringence
We've heard it said that people who think they know everything are especially irritating to those of us who do. Ba-dump-bump. On that note, we should note that it royally pisses off many people to see the sort of bullshit published by some freelancers grubbing for money out there especially when they demonstrate total ignorance of a topic about which we happen to know something. Today's example is serial dumbass Jennifer Fleming from the website eHow.com (perhaps better known around our office as SerialDumbass.com), who once explained (and we use that word loosely) "How to Calculate Birefringence." 

Fleming starts out stupid and only gets worse as she continues. One need only read her introduction to the subject of birefringence to have no doubt that she has absolutely no concept of what she's talking about: