Monday, August 31, 2015

Surveying, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files CCXVI

When someone who knows nothing about a subject has the gall to hold forth on that topic anyway, it's funny -- assuming you're watching a sitcom or film comedy. In real life, though, it's not funny: taking in the resulting misinformation wastes your time and could even be dangerous. That never stopped some eHow writers, the kind who simply reword the information from more authoritative sources and -- in the process -- royally screw it up. We're talking about freelance journalism majors like Elyse James, who we caught holding forth on a hitherto unfamiliar (to her) topic in "How to Use Surveying Equipment" (niched by Leaf Group at CareerTrend.com)

Elyse had a problem, though: she didn't know jack about surveying before taking on this "assignment"; but that clearly didn't stop her. Her instructions comprise four parts:

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Oil Exploration, The Dummy Version - The Freelance Files CCXV

Jim's apparently never heard of "maps"...
Although at $50 per barrel crude oil isn't a particularly hot commodity these days, the Beverly Hillbillies model for instant wealth remains part of the American Dream. Though Jed Clampett supposedly struck oil when he missed a rabbit with his long gun, finding oil on one's property really isn't that simple. That's why people ask questions like "How to Find Out If Your Land Has Oil," though if they're expecting eHow's Jim Franklin to be of any help they're sadly mistaken...

Jim found himself an elementary-school description of oil wildcatting and (as is usual at eHow) simply reworded it. In the process, though, he made some rather interesting statements:

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Bicycle Tires, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files CCXIV

We at the Antisocial Network just love the dumbasses at eHow.com; a site where dumbass freelancers answer dumbass questions. We mean, who's so out of touch with reality that he or she needs to ask "How to Determine Bicycle Tire Size"? Well, whoever it was, eHow's Shelly Schumacher was apparently just as dumb -- if not dumber. We kid you not.

Shelly, as eHow's journalism majors so often do, began with a scintillating introduction:
"As one of the most popular forms of exercise and sports on the plant [sic]..."
Presumably, Schumacher meant "planet," but we will never know for certain. So, anyway, to move on to the meat of the matter... Shelly presented five different ways to obtain this critical information, only one -- or perhaps two -- of which would be particularly useful. Any sensible cyclist (what Shelly calls a "bike rider") would use her solution number three:

Friday, August 28, 2015

Dumb Ideas for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCXIII

You know "bumper-sticker mentality," right? solutions for complex problems so simplistic they can fit on a 3" x 12" piece of paper in 40-point type? Almost invariably wrong, except maybe "My Labrador Retriever is Smarter than Your Honor Student"? Well, they're out there - everywhere. People come up with them all the time, but we found a particularly interesting set published at InfoBarrel.com by a member who calls himself Dalo. Yeah, if we were dumb enough to publish "The BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico," we wouldn't use our real names, either...

You'd think that after the so-called Deepwater Horizon spill had been pumping oil into the Gulf for sixty days, with wall-to-wall news coverage, Dalo would have known a little more than to offer up a couple of truly inane ideas. First up is this gem:

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Solar System for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCXII

Perhaps the most memorable character created by the late, great Gilda Radner was her bespectacled Emily Litella. Like Fort Lee's Roseann Rosannadanna, she was a Jersey girl with a bit of a comprehension problem. Gilda's Emily schtick was a failure to understand: upon spotting a bumper sticker saying "Save Soviet Jewry," she'd editorialize about why people were so concerned with Russian rings, brooches, necklaces and bracelets. Informed that the word was "Jewry" instead of "jewelry," she'd blithely chirp, "Never mind..."

eHow.com's stable of freelancers regularly go all Emily on their readers, a result of not understanding the questions posed by the site's webcrawlers. Take "How to Hang Planets From a Ceiling With Correct Orbits,"¹ as answered -- sort of -- by Robert Paxton. Coming from someone with even the barest of scientific backgrounds, a proper answer would remind us that the planetary diameters are way smaller than the diameters of their orbits and then suggest how to scale the diameters of the different planets' orbits down from millions and billions of miles to room-size. Not so with Robert...

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Fake Boobs for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCXI

A real freelance journalist's job is to inform the readers; but a common problem with the internet's self-appointed freelance "journalists" is, as we at the Antisocial Network have so often discovered, that taking the time to be accurate gets in the way of dashing off content and making more money. To paraphrase the Bible, the love of money is the root of lots of dumbassery -- dumbassery like the misinformation in "Interesting Facts About Silicon," published by Kevin D. Hinton on InfoBarrel.com.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Chemistry for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCX

Once in a while the Antisocial Network research team runs across a freelancer writer's statement of such astounding dumbassery that it renders everything else in the content useless. By way of analogy, consider a political pundit who suggests that all undocumented immigrants (illegals, illegal aliens, whatever you want to call them) be told that if they don't leave in the next 60 days, they will become government property (a real suggestion, FWIW). Suggesting enforced servitude, also known as "slavery," ought to be enough to make all your ideas suspect, no? Well, freelancers say things that are equally as stupid sometimes - like eHow's Larry Parr, who held forth (for about ten bucks) on the subject of "How to Make Phosphorus" (now living at Sciencing.com).

Monday, August 24, 2015

Insulation for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCIX

If there's anything the staff of the Antisocial Network find more irritating than freelance bullshit, it's spun freelance bullshit. It's bad enough when money-grubbing halfwits regurgitate randomly connected factoids, pretending to be knowledgeable; it's quite another to take someone else's words and spin them into unrecognizable twaddle. Take, for instance, the content posted by InfoBarrel.com's clickstop, allegedly a primer on "Types of Attic Insulation" (the Iowa company Clickstop.com sells insulation - you be the judge...). Clickstop tells us right up front that

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Meteorites for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCVIII

It isn't unusual for money-hungry freelancers to get it wrong when posting to content farms. Unfortunately, sometimes the erroneous information is subtle instead of a glaring error; misinterpretation due to the writer's unfamiliarity with basic premises of the topic. Take, for instance, Rebekah Richards, writing "Three Major Types of Meteorites" for eHow.com (now living over at sciencing.com). 

Rebekah gets most of it right -- after all, there are plenty of websites aimed at fourth-graders with that inform us that the three types of meteorites are stony, iron, and stony-iron. Duh. Where Richards gets it wrong is where she (mis)informs her readers that 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Math for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCVII

Got a few minutes? Wanna get rich? Just jot down your deepest thoughts and post them on an internet content farm somewhere, and you can be certain that millions will rush to their screens to click on your link. Here at the Antisocial Network, we're living proof that ain't the case... but it doesn't stop the likes of Maribel over at DailyTwoCents.com. Oh, she posted all right - but we sincerely hope she didn't get rich off the kind of blather she fed her readers in "Mathematics in our life." Her having forgotten (if she ever knew) that "our" is a plural possessive should clue you in to the depth of her thought processes.

But wait, there's more! (there always is...) Maribel would like us to know that

Friday, August 21, 2015

Dirt for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCVI

Here at the Antisocial Network, we don't spend much time looking at content about subjects outside our so-called wheelhouse: very little if anything on business, marketing or makeup, for instance. Sadly, the freelancers out there aren't so constrained: some will hold forth on any topic, even if it was a complete mystery to them the day before - that's what they think wikipedia is for, we suppose. Take today's dumbass, Amy Rodriguez, who's one of the content farmers at Demand Studio. Unlike a real farmer, she clearly knew nothing about soil before explaining (sort of) "What Is the Difference Between Topsoil and Subsoil and Bedrock?" for SFGate.com.

As an aside, Demand Media claims (to its stable of freelancers, at least) to have high standards in grammar and style - Rodriguez's writing certainly gives lie to their claim... but back to garden-variety dumbassery... We snickered loudly at some of Amy's statements, such as the caption she wrote for her DMS-required image:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Windows 10 for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCV

Got that free upgrade to Windows 10 yet? Pulled the trigger on the process? Here at the Antisocial Network, we registered for the upgrade, but didn't install the new OS. We had questions, mostly about performance: Is the 2.50GHz/3.50GHz Intel core duo in the office laptop fast enough? Is the on-board 6 GB of RAM sufficient? Would this be an improvement over the current 64-bit copy of Windows 7 Home? Well, asking Alexandria Ingham at WritEdge sure wasn't much help: her "Windows 10 Review: My First Thoughts After Upgrading" just... didn't work for us. 

Ingham, who's everywhere telling you how to make money on the internet, kicks into stream-of-consciousness mode for her "review." We learn all about her computing habits, but don't get jack shit about the computer she upgraded - except that it's "a laptop." Oh, as is par for the course for people faking tech-savvy, there's plenty of suspect information, such as

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bicycle Trainers for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCIV

Here at the Antisocial Network, one of our more commonly-cited definitions of a dumbass is one of the people who tell themselves, "I did this once, I'll publish how to do it and make money..." The subtext, apparently, is "...from people who are dumber than me." We're not so sure; but lots of people seemed to think so, at least during the days of content farms. Sometimes, the one-off experience is remarkably obvious, as in the case of InfoBarrel.com's Maxwell Payne, found here sharing his (limited) experience in "How to Hook Up a Bike to Exercise Indoors."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Doorbells for Dummies - The Freelance Files CXCIII

Though eHow's contributors are infamous for their insufficient detail (and/or insufficient accuracy), you can also tell when one is talking through his hat because of overly-detailed instructions for simple tasks. According to the site's L. P. Klages, for instance, "How to Wire a Doorbell" takes a whoppin' eleven steps. Hell, we could've told you how in one step: "Buy a wireless doorbell"! That's because unless your home's walls are bare studs, it's damned near impossible to run those wimpy low-voltage wires to the front door. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Building a Deck for Dummies - The Freelance Files CXCII

Remember the TV show "That's So Raven"? Neither do we, except for the title. We do, however, have a plaque on our office wall that says. "That's so eHow," by which we mean typical dumbassery. Take, for example, eHow contributor William Jackson (we wonder if he's been nicknamed Billy Jack), one of whose "so eHow" moments came when he published "How to Build a Round Deck." We're not so sure where he got his plans, but we did find them rather... amusing.

Jackson's central thesis is that your round deck will be supported by a central pillar:
"The most important thing to understand in building a round deck is that the central supporting pillar needs to be extremely strong, since it will support almost all the deck's weight."

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Ethanol for Dummies - The Freelance Files CXCII

Not even the most demanding staff member of the Antisocial Network expects freelance writers and bloggers to have encyclopedic knowledge, but we certainly wish that they could cover the basics of whatever topic they choose to address. Not so, with eHow's Lexa W. Lee (back again), who gave her readers short shrift in "What Is E85 Octane Fuel?" (now at ItStillRuns.com). Never mind that the question is itself misleading, even nonsensical -- the "85" refers not to the mix's octane, but to the percentage of ethanol -- Lexa was happy to collect her ten bucks for cutting-rewording-pasting a few incomplete bits of information.

Lexa says that Ethanol has "advantages":

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Rock Cycle for Dummies - The Freelance Files CXCI

In olden days, when a middle-schooler was doing research for that first term paper, the school library and the family set of encyclopedias got a workout. That's not the case anymore, not in the age of the internet. The problem, of course is that way back when, you could pretty much count on the source material having been written by someone who - to put it bluntly - knows the difference between his ass and a hole in the ground (and was fact-checked by an editor). In the age of the internet, however, that's no longer the case: instead, it's written by freelance writers at content farms and toiling away on their blogs, unedited and often bereft of facts. Take, for instance, Bailey Shoemaker Richards and the suite.io post she titled "What is the Rock Cycle?"

Friday, August 14, 2015

Gold for Dummies - The Freelance Files CXC

Gold fever: yeeehah! when the price of gold topped $1800/ounce a couple of years ago, people everywhere went crazy figuring out how to strike it rich overnight (without hard work, of course), and the denizens of eHow.com were happy to... let's be nice and say "help." Well, as much help as eHow usually provides, anyway, given that their stable of journalism and English majors aren't particularly good at getting across any information that might be considered science-y a wannabe prospectors might need. A case in point? have a look at eHowian Diane Bacher (a "certified business energy professional," whatever that is) as she mangles the contents of "Geological and Geographical Characteristics of Gold Mines."

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Cabinet Doors for Dummies - The Freelance Files CLXXXIX

Woodworking and carpentry newbies are often dumbfounded by the broad array of tools and the specialized lingo. The measurements of lumber are particularly confusing: finished lumber has a nominal size that's bigger than the actual size. In other words, the board called a 1 x 4 isn't one inch by four inches, it's 3/4 inch by 3-1/2 inches. You get used to it... unless you're suite.io's A. L. Fetherlin, who never quite got the hang of nominal measurements and also ain't so sure of the terminology. Even inexperienced carpenters will see A's ignorance shining through in "Do-It-Yourself Shaker Kitchen Cabinet Frosted-Glassed Doors.

Hey, even that title's off-putting: "frosted-glassed" doors? doesn't she mean "frosted-glass" doors? But we merely quibble... where Ms Fetherlin starts getting it all wrong is in her materials list for building a door:

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Seismic Waves for Dummies - The Freelance Files CLXXXVIII

Mistakes happen. Here at the Antisocial Network, we know that's true - why, one of us made a mistake a couple of months ago! We understand that. What we don't understand is sharing your mistakes because you're too eager to pick up a few more pennies, and doing the research would slow you down: that's the mark of a dumbass. Take Daniel, who calls himself ColonelID at InfoBarrel.com: he laid out his laziness for all the world do see in "Seismic Wave Types."

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Table Saws for Dummies - The Freelance Files CLXXXVII

Back in the bad old days, just about anyone could contribute the fruits of his (or her) "expertise" to eHow.com and collect anywhere from three to fifteen bucks for all that hard work. There's little doubt now that the principals at eHow were more concerned with advertising  revenue than with accuracy, especially in those early days. That's why whenever you run across content penned by "eHow Contributor" on the site, there's a strong possibility it's... wrong. Wrong, like "How to Make a Dado Cut with a Table Saw."

Monday, August 10, 2015

Grammar for Dummies - The Freelance Files CLXXXVI

Ever heard the expression "Physician, heal thyself"? The general meaning is, "get it right yourself before telling others how to do it." When the house grammar curmudgeon at the Antisocial Network happened upon  "Common Grammar Misconceptions" over at InfoBarrel.com, he was tempted to mutter, "morales, edit thyself!" Is there nothing so pathetic as supposed grammar advice that's full of grammatical errors? We don't think so...

For the most part, morales (no first name, no middle initial) gets the gist of what he calls "misconceptions" correct, although we think "misconceptions" is the wrong word. After all, there are billions of bytes written about the difference between "your" and "you're" or "whose" and "who's," so it's not difficult to find something to copy, rewrite, and paste with the help of your favorite search engine. Where morales goes off the rails is his (her? who knows) delivery, such as this tasty bit:

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Tuneups for Dummies - The Freelance Files CLXXXV

Performed a tune-up on your car lately? Neither has anyone around the Antisocial Network, at least not since the early 1980s. That's about the last time anyone with an arm that only bends one way could reach the spark plugs on most engines. It's pretty clear that eHow's Lina Schofield hasn't done a tune-up since then, either - or more likely has never tuned up an engine. If you were to read her instructions in "How to Tune Up a Dodge 3.3 Liter Engine,"¹ you'd figure it out pretty quickly, just like we did. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Fences for Dummies - The Freelance Files CLXXXIV

In theory, we could start every entry on this blog with essentially the same statement: "You can't cure stupid." But we don't... We do, however, start many of them by comparing the writing of money-hungry freelancers to that of people with actual experience and/or knowledge. take, for instance, today's candidate for dumbass of the day: she's G. K. Bayne (sometimes known as Kat Yares) from your friendly neighborhood eHow, who we caught holding forth on "How to Install Wood Fences."

If you've ever put up a fence, say your typical 6-foot privacy fence, you know the drill: lay it out, set the posts, install the stringers, put on the pickets, install the gate, clean up your mess. G. K., having obviously neither built a fence nor watched one being built, has a different idea. Let's see some of G.K.'s dumbassery in action:

Friday, August 7, 2015

Flat Tires for Dummies - The Freelance Files CLXXXIII

Here at the Antisocial Network, we can tell when a freelancer is faking it just from our own experience. A writer faking similar experience leaves out a critical step, doesn't address a common problem, or simply demonstrates ignorance. In the case of Kenneth Crawford of eHow, it's clear he faked it as he wrote "How to Fix a Flat Tire on Your Riding Lawn Mower" because... well, because if he'd ever actually fixed a flat on a mower he'd have known better.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Topographic Maps for Dummies - The Freelance Files CLXXXII

Map legend showing contour interval
(Elton, LA, 7.5-minute quadrangle)
Just about every day, we at the Antisocial Network run across yet another freelancer holding forth on a topic about which he or she knows nothing -- and getting paid fairly well for doing so (otherwise they probably wouldn't). The most frequent offenders are the hacks over at eHow.com, a cornucopia of misinformation that somehow managed to stay solvent through the Panda update. Don't ask us how... Today's example of rampant incompetence is the site's Lillian Teague, here misinforming her readers on the topic of "How to Determine Vertical Scale."¹

Lillian, like most eHow-style dumbasses, begins revealing her lack of knowledge on the topic in the introductory paragraph:

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Gaskets for Dummies - The Freelance Files CLXXXI

Even a fifth-grader is familiar with the bullshit test, although pre-teens are supposed to call it the "reasonableness test." Basically, it means, "Does this statement make sense?" Unfortunately, far too many freelancers writing for pennies on blogs and at content farms fail to apply the bullshit test to their own writing. As a result, the stupidification of the internet takes one more incremental step toward complete dumbassery. An example of that incremental step came courtesy of Lexa W. Lee of eHow when she published "What Are O Rings Used For?"¹

What's an O-ring, you ask? Lexa didn't bother to say, so we will:

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Car Batteries for Dummies - The Freelance Files CLXXX

Here at the Antisocial Network, we've noticed that few topics are more mysterious to the average money-hungry freelancer than electricity. The advice some of these buffoons give at sites like HubPages.com and eHow.com is chock full of misinformation and misinterpretation. Today's Dumbass, whom we found while scrolling through articles about cars at eHow is Victoria Ries. Vicki collected fifteen bucks for telling the world "How to Disconnect a Car Battery," which can now be found at Leaf Groups ItStillRuns niche site.

Ms. Ries' obvious unfamiliarity with automotive batteries is easiest to recognize in the text of her second step:

Monday, August 3, 2015

General Plumbing for Dummies - The Freelance Files CLXXIX

Perhaps the only thing worse than a freelancer writing for pennies is a fake freelancer pretending to give advice while shilling for his or her company. We're thinking of someone like Brianna W over at seekyt.com, whose entire portfolio consists of one badly-written article she called "Get to Know the Basics of Home Plumbing Systems." Turns out Brianna only presented all this pseudo-knowledgeable faux-factation to advertise for her favorite plumbing company in Melbourne. 

Of course, we here at the Antisocial Network couldn't let her get away with bullshit like that, especially when her concept of the "basics of home plumbing systems" is written at the level of a preschooler's board book - and we're not only talking knowledge, we're talking writing. Oz is an English-speaking country, so Bri deserves our scorn for crap like this:

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Troubleshooting Your Car for Dummies - The Freelance Files CLXXVIII

Got a problem with your car? Won't start? Never fear, Amelia Allonsy of eHow.com is here to tell you all about how to diagnose your problem. Assuming, of course, you can manage to gloss over the misinformation and downright stupidity characteristic of "help" from the crew at eHow. Let's troubleshoot Amelia's expertise as is displayed in her piece "My Chevy Suburban Won't Start."¹ Don't worry if your ride's not a Cowboy Cadillac, Amelia reprised her advice for several other makes and models (always, of course, rewording everything to avoid getting nailed for "plagiarizing" herself)... here's what Amelia says to do if your Suburban (FourRunner, Miata, Silverado, Starion, Millennia, Integra, Maxima, Spectra...) won't start.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Copper Chemistry for Dummies - The Freelance Files CLXXVII

Ever wondered why the Google Panda update in 2011 sent sites like AssociatedContent.com to their graves? Technically, it was because the sites were, essentially, cheating in the way they were structured to take advantage of SEO. Some people, though, were happy to see them go because of the quality, or lack thereof, of the content. We're talking content written by eHowians such as three-time DOTD Joan Whetzel, seen here holding forth on "The Effects of Oxidation on Copper" (now appearing at Sciencing.com). As is so often the case, Ms Whetzel's innate dumbassery first appears with her introduction: