Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Foreign Currency for Dummies

You'll never know who asked some of the stupid questions that get "answered" by freelancers at eHow.com, but (fortunately for us at the Antisocial Network) you usually know who answers them. You can even follow some of them around from the site's version of a profile page and see what other stupid things they've said. We did precisely that with Tom Lutzenberger, previously caught misinforming the public in Sewer Gas for Dumbasses. Well, Tom's back today, this time holding forth on another topic about which he apparently knew nothing: "How to Find the Value of Foreign Coins."¹

Let's say you found a Canadian quarter or an Australian dollar under the table in the break room. How much, you ask yourself, is this coin worth? Well, if you have any common sense (a trait so many eHow contributors seem to lack) you'd find a website to tell you the current rate of exchange for foreign currency. According to our favorite, a site called OANDA, at today's exchange rate that quarter's worth about 19¢ and the dollar is more like 70¢. No big deal...

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Wood, the Dummies Version

Sometimes the Associated Network's dumbass hunters catch their prey in huge mistakes, other times the fakes give themselves away through an accumulation of many small miscues -- sort of a "torture of a thousand cuts." Today's DotD nominee -- Jeffery Keilholtz, eHow contributor -- is a classic example of our Type II Dumbass.  For his HomeSteady.com post called "What Kind of Wood Makes the Best Table Legs," Jeff's little screwups add up to a convincing example of faking it. In other words, Keilhotz doesn't know jack about making furniture, and it shows.

The real answer to the question, as any 8th-grade shop teacher would tell you, is "It depends." It depends on whether you're making a reproduction of a 17th-century cherry piece, a Mission-style oak dining table, or a Shaker bedside stand. It depends on the intended finish and whether or not the legs will be turned or otherwise shaped. It also depends on what species of wood the top of the table will be made of. Keilholtz, however, doesn't say any of that. Instead, he uses lots of quotes from some other source, and suggests that

Monday, September 28, 2015

Useless Austin Info for the Dummy

The hallmark of freelance bullshit on the internet is half-assed information written by people who know jack shit about the topic. Would you ask your dentist about your pinky toe? hire a plumber to replace your cracked iPhone screen? get advice on Austin, Texas, neighborhoods from someone who lives in Connecticut? Of course not - except if you're dumb enough to trust serial dumbass Isabelle Esteves, caught writing about "Buying a New Home in Austin, Texas" at Writedge.com.

Sure, Austin is "hot" - especially among University of Texas students, many of whom would gladly donate a minor organ to remain in the town after graduation. In point of fact, our office was in Austin for almost a decade, so we have some familiarity with the place -- and with the ex-students known as "LTs" because they'd give their Left Testicles to stay in Austin. Not so our Izzy, who clearly knows nothing about the town except for something she scraped off the internet more than a decade ago. The article smells like content she originally published at Helium.com and then resubmitted to Writedge without an update. Why do we say that? Well, because of this asinine statement:

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Home Wiring, the Dummy Version

Wannabe do-it-yourself types have a lot of questions about their intended projects, but if they're searching the internet, eHow.com is definitely not the best place to look for that help. Why? Because they might run into half-baked advice from the likes of freelancer Elizabeth Knoll, as exemplified by her sterling post "How to Change a Wall Outlet to Double Outlets." As is so often the case, Elizabeth's instructions are incomplete, misleading, or just plain plain wrong. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Granite the Dummy Way (Geology Week 7)

Ahhh, research: once we've completed  formal schooling, it's the main way we learn and verify new knowledge. Of course, doing so works best when our sources are knowledgeable, right? That's why we at the Antisocial Network do our part to call bullshit on freelancer writers whose purpose is to make money, not to share knowledge. Their motto might be "Accuracy be damned!" while ours is "Accuracy rocks!" And speaking of rocks, that's our topic this week: we put the staff geologist to work slapping around freelancers who contribute to the stupidification of the internet by saying stupid stuff. So while we're on that subject, meet eHow.com's Claudia Newcorn, freelancer and owner of a marketing business. What Newcorn isn't, though, is scientifically literate - a deficit she proved by writing "How to Identify Granite Rocks" at GoneOutdoors.com.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Basins, the Dummy Version (Geology Week 6)

What would be worse: someone who doesn't know jack misinforming the public, or someone who should know the topic screwing up royally? Admittedly, we don't see the second very often (except perhaps coming from the mouths of presidential candidates), but we were astounded to come across a classic example in some recent research for Geology Week. You'd think that a writer who claims a PhD in geology would know simple stuff about the science, but apparently Alexandra Matiella Novak was playing hooky the day they discussed hydrocarbons in Geology 101. How else could she have written something as dumbass as her contribution to suite.io, "Major Oil and Gas Reserves in the United States"?

Novak's executive summary of her post says,
"The Unites States [sic] contains vast hydrocarbon reserves of oil, coal and natural gas. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve also maintains over 700 million barrels."

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Convection Currents, the Dummies Version (Geology Week 5)

It's hard to answer a stupid question, even if you know a lot about the subject. It's far more difficult to answer a stupid question if you don't know jack about the topic, though one well-known website built a veritable empire out of paying people to do precisely that. The website, of course, was eHow.com. Today we'll examine the contribution of Iris McCammon, who -- though she probably couldn't find a volcano if one were to start leaking lava in her closet -- still discussed (and we use the term loosely) the topic "Convection Currents in Volcanoes" for the nice people at eHow, who moved it to Sciencing.com,

The question is stupid to begin with, because convection currents aren't found "in" volcanoes; the relationship between the currents and volcanism is a great deal more complicated than that. That complexity, however, didn't keep Iris from spreading a little misinformation - beginning with her introduction:

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Glaciers and Granite, the Dummy Version (Geology Week 4)

Real glacial striations
Some freelancers have to work at saying dumbass shit, others come by it naturally. The first are those who perform their "research" with due diligence and then make a complete hash of the information they've found. The second are people who just write what they (think they) know. It's sort of the difference between being a dumbass on purpose and being a dumbass by accident. The first kind is probably worse, but anyone who contributes to the stupidification of the internet is fair game for the Antisocial Network. That's why today's contributor is a HubPages type who calls herself womannshadows (real name Susan Berger), here seen holding forth on "Why Rockport (and the rest of Cape Ann) is so Rocky."

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Pumice, the Version for Dummies (Geology Week 3)

What would geology week be without a whole lot of misinformation from the keyboards of familiar folks? We're well aware that we could probably mine that mother lode of dumbassery called eHow.com for decades, but you have to go afield every once in a while. That doesn't mean that we can't look in on some of our favorite serial dumbasses, though, and we happened to catch one of them dipping her toes into geology for this week. She's longtime contributor Joan Whetzel, caught holding forth on "What Is the Difference Between Pumice and Scoria?" at Sciencing.com.

Joanie, as usual, makes a pretty good mess out of her explanation. She starts off on the right track, telling us that pumice and scoria have vesicular texture, and that "vesicles are holes created by gas bubbles..." So far, so good -- though she might want to mention that a lot of that gas is actually water vapor. No harm, no foul though. Now, here's what Whetzel says about pumice:

Monday, September 21, 2015

Geomorphology, the Dummy Version (Geology Week 2)

No matter what your area of expertise, doesn't it just chap your hind end when some birdbrain starts blathering on about something you know, and getting it wrong? Like, say, for instance you're an MD and you overhear some bozo telling everyone that stupid fairy tale about vaccines and autism? Well, a couple of times a year the Antisocial Network's staff geologist crawls out from under the bed and harangues us about people getting geology wrong. Apparently, a lot of folks think this particular corner of science is so simple even they can understand it...

But they're often wrong, such as in the case of a guy name of Tom Wolsey at suite.io (what used to be suite100.com when it was just a content farm). Tom educated his readers bout his unfamiliarity with geomorphology - the study of landforms and their relation to geology - in a post he called "Galisteo--Artists, Landscape, and High Desert."

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Rocks, the Dummies Version (Geology Week 1)

It's time for another theme week here at the Antisocial Network, so we thought we'd put the staff geologist to work collating dumbassery. That's why all week he was heard muttering, "So many dumbasses, so few days!" So without further ado, here's his first nomination for Geology Week: he's Mike Gransbury of Infobarrel.com, caught here telling us his version of "Different rock types explained."

Now, let's be a little kind to start off the week: Mike doesn't actually say anything that's totally off the mark, it's just that his version of how rocks form is a bit on the... simplistic... side, not to mention at times somewhat misleading. But he obviously wrote this rubbish in hopes of getting real money, so it's our considered opinion that he should've gotten it right. Take, for instance, this description of igneous rock genesis:

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Residual Income, the Version for Dummies

We used to think that no content has a higher bullshit quotient than the rubbish posted by people telling you how to make millions posting your every moronic thought online. Entire sites -- such as Bubblews -- were built on the idea of sharing what you ate for breakfast, what your English as a Second Language teacher said in class, and how pretty today's sunset over Luzon was; all to collect a penny for every visit from other people sharing the exact same babble. Well, we were wrong - there are posts out there that have even higher bogosity quotient, and here's one of them: Saramarie (also known on other sites as Sadiemarie) sharing, on Personapaper.com, "How to make $10,000 a Month Online."

Her method? well, we don't know. We don't know because this is what Saramarie tells her readers:

Friday, September 18, 2015

Fossils, the Version for Dummies

Coccolith photomicrograph
Ever ask a general question and get an answer that's strangely specific? We've run across that one before, in an eHow answer about pine tree identification. Today's dumbass, overly-specific answer to a simple question comes courtesy of eHow.com (surprised? we're not) and Yasmin Zinni. Oddly, Yasmin claims to have been a teacher -- a biology teacher, yet -- before becoming a "journalist," and before telling us all about "Fossils That Are Most Useful for Correlation" at Sciencing.com.

Yasmin starts off with a definition more or less cribbed from every beginning geology text:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Radon, the Dummies Version

When it comes to your family's health, the Antisocial Network strongly suggests that you avoid getting advice from freelance bloggers and the sort of people who write for content farms. In some unrelated research, we came across a post by serial dumbass Nicole Papagiorgio that borders on dangerous. The site is (as you might have guessed) eHow.com, the topic is "Will Leaving the Window Open Get out the Radon Gas?" (now at Hunker.com), and the answer is... dumbass.

Radon, if you're unfamiliar with it, is a naturally-occurring gas (a byproduct of the decay of uranium in soil and rocks) that can seep into buildings through a wall or floor that's in contact with the ground. Unfortunately, radon exposure over the long term can cause lung cancer. Consequently, preventing radon penetration and removing existing radon from a building are critical to long-term health. Nicole gets that much right - hell, anyone can get that right just by reading radon's wikipedia page.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Frequency, the Dummy Version

Some of the misinformation you find on the internet would be riotously funny of there weren't people stumbling across it searching for real information. For what little it's worth, here at the Antisocial Network, we identify these little nests of bull when we find them and explain the errors. Hope that helps... but it's a thankless task, and one will never end as long as sites like HubPages and eHow keep publishing. Ah, well...

Today's dumbass has graced these pages before, usually spreading the kind of scientific illiteracy shown in this post on sound. Well, Joan Whetzel is back on a closely-related topic: we already know she doesn't understand wavelengths, so who would ever assume she can explain "How to Calculate Frequency in Hertz" for Sciencing.com? It's pretty clear she can't.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Bullnose Trim, the Dummy Version

Sometimes it only takes is a single sentence, even a single phrase, to realize that the online advice you're getting isn't coming from a professional. In more than a few cases, this so-called "advice" was written by someone who knows even less about the topic than whoever asked the question in the first place! That has long been the general complaint concerning How-To advice written by the many journalism majors at eHow.com -- like the time Shala Munroe, with that shiny communications degree from Jacksonville University, tried to tell us "How to Install Wood Bullnose Trim."¹

Shala almost immediately put the bull in bullnose with her introduction:

Monday, September 14, 2015

OTC Medications, the Dummy Version

We don't wander into medicine often here at the Antisocial Network, but that's because we're not particularly qualified to dispense advice. Band-Aids on your boo-boos, maybe, but not medical advice. Of course, lack of qualification never stopped any freelancer from blathering on about any topic, and serial dummy Isabelle Esteves (of Writedge.com) is no exception. Today, Iz (as she apparently likes to be called) put aside those faux travel reviews long enough to expound on the "Risk Of Too Much Acetaminophen." Shouldn't that be "risks"? we wondered... never mind.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Marketing, the Dummy Version

The people at google get lots of questions about "what's the difference..." All over the world, folks want to differentiate meerkats from muskrats or learn the difference between Qatar and catarrh; so they google it - wouldn't you? Well someone once wanted to know "What Is the Difference Between Craftsman and Craftsman Professional Tools?" and Nicole Papagiorgio of eHow was there to answer -- in her dumbass way. Our friend Nicki starts out by informing us that
"...Craftsman has different lines of tools geared for specific uses, most notably its Craftsman and Craftsman professional lines. Depending on your needs, you'll need to understand the difference between the tool lines to determine which is right for you..."
Yeah, really. Since the two differ in cost by about 50%, you'll probably already know which is "right for you."

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Plate Tectonics for Dummies

"Science am hard!" -- at least, that seems to be the opinion of the freelancer crowd. If it were easy, they'd get it right, right? It must be incredibly difficult, however, because so many of them are soooo confused. Take, or instance, Chris Burke of eHow.com who, though ignorant of any actual facts, still collected a fifteen-dollar stipend from Demand Media for "Description of Plate Tectonic Theory."¹

Chris apparently slept through the earth science section in fifth grade and didn't bother to take Rocks for Jocks while getting his BA in "international affairs." We can tell that from his introductory paragraph, which is written at the intellectual level of a fourth-grader:

Friday, September 11, 2015

Sewer Gas, the Dummy Version

When people start giving advice well outside their expertise - as often happens on sites that pay for content such as eHow.com - they usually start by finding an authoritative answer and then rewording it. Even when the facts aren't changed because of their ignorance, they still find themselves constrained by space limitations, forcing them to decide which information to include and which to decide. Sometimes, that means emphasizing trivial (but interesting-sounding) cases while ignoring much more likely scenarios. That's exactly what Tom Lutzenberger did for eHow when addressing "What Causes Gas Smell From the Sewer When It Rains?" (now at Hunker.com).

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Amish Furniture, the Dummy Version

Somehow over the past couple of decades, (allegedly) Amish-made furniture has become synonymous with "hand-made." Many people suppose that the plain folk build all that furniture and cabinetry using nineteenth-century tools and techniques. If you believe that, we have a bridge in Alaska for sale... the Antisocial Network's chief carpenter at one time worked for a cabinet company staffed in part (about 30%) by Amish workers, and they're perfectly fine with using someone else's modern tools. Apparently, however, InfoBarrel.com contributor Morgan bought into the hype in "Amish Style: How to Make Your Next Cabinet Project Look Professional." Morgan (no last [first?] name, no middle initial) "informs" us that:

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Timex Batteries: the Dummy Version

Back in olden days, people wore wrist watches instead of pulled out their smartphones whenever they wanted to know the current time. Some people still like to wear horribly expensive (and huge) watches for show, though, and there are still plenty of wrists in use for timing and stopwatches. They're inexpensive enough that they're almost disposable, but replacing a dead battery is still a good bargain - especially if you can figure out how to do it yourself. If, however, you want to replace the battery in a Timex watch, you can't use the instructions Lisa Miller posted at eHow.com (now on Leaf.tv) in "How to Change Timex Batteries," mainly 'cause they won't work.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Granite Countertops, the Dummy Version

Here at the Antisocial Network, it's long been our contributors' greatest wish for mankind -- except, perhaps, for peace on Earth -- that ignorant freelancers would stop writing internet content. Things have improved in the past few years; thanks mostly to Google Panda, which put the screws to some of the worst of the content farms (we remember, not so fondly, sites like Helium, AssociatedContent, and Lunch...). There are, however, still sites loaded with crapola out there, sites such as Seekyt.com. That's where today's garbage content can be found. The author -- and we use the term loosely -- of "How to Remodel Your Kitchen Counter Tops with Granite" is one of those morons who thinks she's a "web designer." Ptui! on Adrianne Winters (webdesignsbyapw) and all her ilk...

Monday, September 7, 2015

Earthquakes, the Dummy Version

The Antisocial Network's chief geologist, a one-time employee of Big Oil, usually finds the average person's complete lack of understanding of the oil business baffling as all getout. Many people think, for instance, that not buying gasoline from BP stations hurts BP (it doesn't) or that oil comes from dead dinosaurs (ditto). And then there's the significant number of dumbasses who think oil is found in underground caverns -- people like Vince Summers, last seen pedaling his bullshitcycle at PersonaPaper in "My Old Idea May Yet Prove True - Oil as Shock Absorber."

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Multimeters, the Dummy Version

Not that anyone sells them anymore, but there are still a lot of analog multimeters kicking around out there. If you bought one at a garage sale or on eBay, chances are your antique model came without an instruction manual. Naturally, you'd turn to the internet for help -- but it'd be a mistake to depend on an answer from eHow's Ashton Daigle, who we caught expounding on "How to Use a Sperry Analog Multimeter." If you did, you'd only get a partial answer, and part of it would be wrong.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Lines, the Dummy Version

In any field, there are some basic facts. Failure to know and understand those facts at an almost instinctive level is a dead giveaway that a freelancer's bullshitting instead of sharing knowledge. After all, anyone can look up factoids at wikipedia and reword them, but it takes a dumbass to get them wrong. It takes a dumbass like Colby Stream, explaining for eHow readers "How to Find the Slope of Perpendicular Lines."¹ You can find the answer to this simple little algebra problem at dozens of places around the internet, though most of them (by which we mean "the trustworthy ones") weren't written by a self-appointed freelancer with a BA in communication...

That communication degree is probably the reason why Colby forgot a basic math definition and passed off this misinformation in his introduction:

Friday, September 4, 2015

Septic Systems, the Dummy Version

Although the online encyclopedia Wikipedia is often lambasted for inaccuracy, there are worse sources of information out there. One of them is eHow.com, where self-described freelancers post content on a wide variety of topics, all within a set framework. The rub against eHow has long been that the parent company, Demand Media, is more interested in form than substance. In other words, the content looks pretty, but it isn't necessarily accurate. We know this because some of our staff has written for eHow (here's an example of their work). Now some eHow contributors know what they're talking about, but many don't - and with the worst of that bunch, the writer's ignorance of the subject at hand is obvious. Take, for instance, eHow freelancer Lacy Enderson, who has written hundreds of the site's more inaccurate how-to's (and that's saying a lot!), including "Septic System Roof Venting."¹ 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Simple Math: the Dummy Version

It's been a while since we checked in with some of the Antisocial Network's most dependable dumbasses. Take people like Lacy Enderson, who regularly holds forth on construction techniques yet never seems to realize she knows nothing at all about building. We've also missed Joan Whetzel -- capable of screwing up almost any information -- so we decided to visit Joanie again. This time around, she's displaying her innate dumbassery at HubPages, where she once addressed a topic so simple that we had a tough time figuring out how she managed to turn it into a post of almost 500 words: it's "How to Convert Miles Per Hour to Feet Per Second."

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Dope for Dummies

If you're reading this, chances are very good that you use the internet to research unfamiliar tasks, especially those once-in-a-lifetime DIY jobs that crop up on a homeowner's To Do list from time to time. One of the staff at the Antisocial Network recently researched whether it's possible to replace the handle on a shutoff valve in PVC pipe (it's not), and ran across this bit of typical freelancer dumbassery. It comes to you courtesy of -- where else? -- eHow.com, where a gentleman claiming the name Owen E. Richason IV shared his expertise in "How to Install a Shutoff Valve to a PVC Pipe," which Leaf Group has moved to Hunker.com. Maybe we should have said, "shared his lack of expertise"...

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Sloped Roofs, the Dummy Version

In case you haven't notices it, the problem with researching anything online is that you have a disturbingly large chance of finding information supplied by people who simply don't know what they're talking about. First-time builders who need help putting up a roof would be wise to steer clear of anything at eHow, because that's where you find multiple articles submitted by serial dumbass Lacy Enderson. Lacy wrote lots of half-assed construction articles for eHow, including the marvelous piece of bullshit titled "How to Build a Sloped Roof."

Lacy's ignorance of her topic is made obvious in many ways, including right from the get-go when she suggests why one would build a sloped roof: