Saturday, October 31, 2015

Oil Patch Money for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCLXXXII

Where's the crane? the mudroom?
the medic's office? the radio...
From about 2007 to 2014, the US "oil patch" experienced a huge boom. At the same time, the rest of the economy languished in the doldrums, a differential that meant that a lot of people were eager to find a job in that industry. Naturally, job-seekers wanted to know the potential for earnings, and eHow's Denise Brandenberg (a self-appointed "expert" on salaries) was there to tell them a-a-all about it in "The Average Salary for an Oil Rig" (ob. hack: we wonder whether that rig is eligible for dental and vision insurance...).

Friday, October 30, 2015

Phillips Screwdrivers for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCLXXXI

Phillips screw and screwdriver
One of the hallmarks of the dumbass freelancer is the ability to take any formation, no matter how small, and screw up rewriting it. An expert dumbass can take a topic about which he or she knows nothing and make a mess of even the most basic information -- especially when writing for site with a minimum word count. Take today's dumbass, eHow's Joan Whetzel (making, according to our count, her eleventh appearance here): it takes real "skill" to foul up an answer to the simple question "How Many Types and Sizes of Phillips Screwdrivers Are There?"

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Poverty for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCLXXX

Based on the self-help section at the local (or online) bookstore, one surefire way to get rich is to tell people how to get rich. Some freelancers have taken this idea to heart, preying on the less fortunate among us in the desperate search for residual income (i.e., riches). Today's dumbass, caught trying to do just that, is InfoBarrel's Shay Carmack, aka MsShay. Shay called her foray into the get-rich arena "How to Afford Presents During the Holidays." 

Carmack's four-step instructions are followed by a blank "Tips and Warnings" section -- maybe she tried to publish it at eHow first? Regardless, however, her advice is simple -- and mostly stupid:

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Secret Compartments for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCLXXIX

Every spooky old house has a secret compartment -- perhaps even a hidden staircase or a whole secret room where the robber baron who built it hid tons of gold and all his blackmail photos... yeah, sure. Modern houses don't have handy hidey-holes where you can stash your AR-15 and live grenades to keep 'em out of the gummint's hands, but if you're fairly good with tools you can probably build one. Just don't follow the directions of multiple-award dumbass Naima Manal, instructions she published in "How to Build a Secret Compartment or Closet."

The whole idea of a secret compartment, after all, is that only people in on the secret know it's there. Naima starts out OK by suggesting that your hiding place be concealed "behind a mobile bookshelf, a large mirror or furniture piece..." We don't know about the Manal house, but none of our bookcases are "mobile" -- none are even movable. Never mind that, though... 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Decks for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCLXXVIII

The most common do-it-yourself backyard project for homeowners has got to be building a deck. Since a lot of the homeowners barely know a hammer from a screwdriver, many turn to the internet for help in completing their project. Heaven help 'em, however, if they turn to the likes of eHow's Owen Pearson when they want to know "How to Attach a Deck to a House with Vinyl Siding." Why? because Owen's an idiot, that's why.

Why do we say that? Because of inane, moronic, stupid, and just plain dangerous instructions, instructions like these:

Monday, October 26, 2015

Miters for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCLXXVII

One of the chief problems with the internet is that no matter how stupid a question, there's someone out there ready to answer it. Want to know how many years Zbigniew Brzezinski served as Secretary of State? Someone will be happy to tell you, "Four." That's even though Brzezinski was Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor, not the Secretary of State. This syndrome is widely observed at eHow.com, where freelancers answer questions harvested from internet searches -- and we all know that "if it's on the internet, it must be true"! That's probably why serial eHow dumbass Elizabeth Knoll somehow managed to tell the world "An Easy Way to Miter a Hinge."

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Earthquakes for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCLXXVI

Read enough freelance articles on the internet, and you will soon come to the conclusion that "Science be hard." Makes no difference whether the topic's astronomy or zoology, your average freelancer can misinterpret or misstate any fact. Want an example? We at the Antisocial Network are happy to oblige: let's look at what HubPages.com's rickrideshorses; a Brit journalist who claims to be from Missouri. No matter where he lives, we suspect that Rick flunked Rockies for Jockeys, at least based on what he had to say in "What causes an earthquake?" We think that because Rick says -- not once, but (at least) twice:
"Tectonic plates are floating on a bed of soft magma and rock below the earth's crust."

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Shale Gas for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCLXXV

In the days before Google's Panda update knocked the legs from underneath content farms, self-described freelancers could be found all over the 'net rewording press releases and Encyclopedia Britannica articles in hopes of developing beaucoup bucks in residual income. Their mavens told them that the most money was to be made through the worship of the all-holy SEO and using lots of keywords. Well, Linda J. Baldridge (bizusaonline at InfoBarrel) guzzled that particular Kool-Aid®. To heck with accuracy and the usefulness of any "news" Linda might present, she just wanted to collect a few pennies. That's apparently why she found it necessary to post the ever-fascinating "Tapping Into the Biggest Resource in Natural Gas With Shale Rock" (never mind that "shale rock" is redundant...)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Balconies for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCLXXIV

We've said it before, but we'll say it again: anyone who depends on eHow.com to find instructions on anything more complicated than making toast is... well, toast. From the site's halcyon days (according to archive.org, originally posted in 2007), here's some instructions of the finest kind posted by the site's anonymous "home and garden editor" -- without further ado, we give you "How to Build a Balcony." If we wrote this kind of rubbish, we'd certainly want to remain anonymous, too!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Diameter for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCLXXIII

Some people may have gotten the impression that we here at the Antisocial Network are picking on eHow.com. Well, they're probably right -- but consider this: we wouldn't be able to "pick on" eHow if the site were not so target-rich! Combine eHow's vast stable of un- and under-informed writers with the management's picky rules about formatting and style, and you've created a nexus of dumbassery that HubPages and the others have no hope of attaining (besides which, HubPages hides its worst rubbish). But, any carping from our critics aside, we've come here today to pick on eHow yet some more: as usual, it's because they let their writers get away with some true bullshit. Take, for instance, Damon Koch, caught here telling his readers "How to Use a Measuring Tape for Diameter."

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Pedometers for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCLXXII

Pedometers are hot right now -- well, actually, "wearables" are hot -- so you can expect a lot of incompetents to come out of the woodwork and blather about step counters. We're talking folks like SuperJenny at Seekyt.com, a worthy who inflicted the rubbish called "A Pedometer Using for Weight Loss – How a Pedometer can help you to Lose Weight" on  unsuspecting readers. As a public service, Jenny's next post really should have been about "How to Relieve Headaches Brought on by Tortured Prose"...

If there was any question at all that Jenny (or should we call her[?] "Super"?) is another of those non-native English speakers who routinely spin the crap out of an article they found somewhere and post it at a content farm, that question disappeared in the first paragraph:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Rulers for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCLXXI

The late H. L. Mencken is supposed to have said, "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." He actually didn't say that, but going on a century later, freelancers desperate for pennies continue to test the supposed aphorism every day. Take, for instance, InfoBarrel's Howie Romans (x3xsoldierx3x), who had so little faith in the common man that he took it upon himself to teach the masses "How to Read a Ruler Measurement." Never mind that the title's redundant -- more importantly, it borders on insulting when Howie suggests that

Monday, October 19, 2015

Gutters for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCLXX

According to thousands of television courtroom dramas, witnesses should give only the most simple response to a question by opposing counsel, because overly eloquent answers may reveal too much information. At eHow.com, however, the site managers' insistence on a minimum word count can and does lead their stable of freelancers to get themselves in trouble by writing too much. Of course, some of them were in trouble to begin with! Take, for instance, Chasity Goddard, who had some problems spitting out the details of "Recommended Rain Gutter Slope."

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Retaining Walls for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCLXIX

The freelancers who provide content for eHow often "specialize" on a subject -- this doesn't necessarily mean they know lots about the topic, just that they've already "researched" it (in other words, found a reliable resource, preferaby offline, that they can mine for information). Contributor Aurora LaJambre is a classic example: this Brooklyn apartment-dweller has published, by our informal count, three thousand posts about working bricks. concrete, pavers and stone in your yard. We didn't read them all, but if they're as bad as "How to Install a Paver Stone Retaining Wall," there must be a lot of disintegrating walls, sidewalks, patios and driveways out there...

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Air Conditioning for Dummies - The Freelance FIles CCLXVIII

Next to misinformation, plain and simple, the second greatest sin of the money-hungry freelancer has to be spun content. Where the misinformers take on subjects outside their experience and make a mess of facts and figures, spinners just take the words of another and reword them. Spinners with good writing skills can carry this off as long as they don't mung up the facts. Spinners who lack the skills -- many of them, apparently, based in non-English-speaking countries -- just pump out pure drivel. Take, for instance, InfoBarrel's vilhuman1975, addressing the topic of "Considerations For Central Air Conditioning." 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Conventional Oil for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCLXVII

Around the Antisocial Network, one of our favorite adages is, "It is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." It's a crying shame that some freelancers have never learned this lesson, people like eHow.com's Tom Lutzenberger, for instance. Eager to collect his stipend from that font of misinformation, Tom seized upon the topic, "What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Conventional Oil?" As is so often the case with English majors freelancing in science, Tom wandered way, way outside his expertise to "answer" this question.

Now, we won't argue (much) with his list of advantages -- except for one. Tom finds it necessary to "inform" his readers that,

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Headers for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCLXVI

As we've often mentioned, it's not a good idea to take the advice of someone whose only experience with an important task is researching it at somewhere like wikipedia. Yet millions of people have clicked on links to eHow for "how-to" instruction written by the likes of journalism major Shelly Schumacher, who despite being woefully unqualified, still provided instructions such as "How to Make a Header for a Patio Door."

We're pretty sure Shelly had no idea that such a thing as a header exists before taking on this assignment and we're not sure she knew afterward what they are. Why else would she say something like, 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Car Batteries for Dummies

A fair number of people find it "interesting" to live on the edge. They like to be thought of as "risk-takers," though here at the Antisocial Network we call them Darwin Award candidates. If you're a self-described risk-taker, we suggest you might want to look to freelance writers for safety advice -- everyone else should avoid them like the plague. Wonder why we say that? Here's an example from one of the eHow stable of dumbasses, Mark Fitzpatrick, who posted something the site calls "Explosive Gases When Charging Batteries."

Unlike most eHow contributors, Mark has a degree in science -- unfortunately, it's political science. It's pretty clear that he didn't major in chemistry from misinformation like

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Doors for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCLXIV

Some people clearly don't care how stupid they look, as long as they collect their pennies -- assuming they even know how stupid they look, that is. We've long suspected that serial dumbass Naima Manal just plain has no idea how boneheaded some of her content appears (maybe all of her content, we haven't read everything), but she is an exceptionally rich source of dumbass posts. Today, she's here to share her vast expertise on the topic of doors, caught in an eHow (now Hunker.com) post titled "How to Make a Bathroom Door Swing Out."

We doubt that, before her cursory research, Manal had any knowledge on the topic and we're pretty sure that after finishing, she had about the same: she wouldn't know an inswing if it hit her in the butt. Basically, Naima's solution is to pull all the hardware and remount it, reversed (though she doesn't actually mentioning the reversal part) on the opposite side of the stop molding (which she -- incorrectly -- calls a "doorstop").

Monday, October 12, 2015

Decks for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCLXIII

We're all familiar with the "Steves" and "Esthers" who answer the phone when we call customer service -- you know, the ones with the suspiciously thick accents and the endless apologies. Well, fake North Americans abound among freelancers, too. Take Infobarrel's noryanna, who claims to have grown up in the "rural American mid-west [sic]" and to have been a Peace Corps volunteer. Yeah, right: based on her content, it's readily apparent that this scammer is unlikely to have ever set foot in North America. Just take a look at "Adding A Deck To Your House"...

Riddle us this: would a native English speaker from the "American mid-west" (where the word is only hyphenated by new immigrants) introduce building a deck this way?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Compasses for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCLXII

At the content farm formerly known as eHow -- hell, still known as eHow -- it's amusing to watch the house dumbasses thrash about to find enough factoids to meet the site's minimum word count, especially for simple questions. Take, for example, "Why Do People Use the Compass?"; answered, sort of, by the one of our most prolific dumbasses, Naima Manal. Not only does Naima drag in all manner of semirelated factoids to address the topic, she gets several of them... stupid. Take, for instance, 
"[A compass] is an instrument composed of a suspended magnetic pointer that is attracted to the polarity of the North Pole."

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Auto Maintenance for Dummies (Seekyt Week 7) - The Freelance Files CCLXI

All good things must come to an end. Crappy things must come to an end, too; meaning that our staff here at the Antisocial Network are overjoyed that today is day seven of Seekyt week, and they no longer have to wade through that site, whose site performance is even worse than its content. Whew... To close out the week, we visit Dastan (dastanhomes), lecturing his readers about "Essential car maintenance tips and service." 

Besides the fact that Dastan (an Indo-Canadian handyman, we think) doesn't know how to use the return key, there are myriad other problems with this copy-spin-paste piece. One such problem is

Friday, October 9, 2015

Radon for Dummies (Seekyt Week 6) - The Freelance Files CCLX

Apparently, for a while the favored method of driving eyeballs to your freelance content (thereby increasing residual income) was to ask some ridiculous question, preferably scary-sounding. We suppose that beats the current favorite, the "one simple trick" method we've all come to hate... Whatever the case, the question posed by today's dumbass, Seekyt's TeenageGeek, sure sounds scary: "Are you exposing yourself to Radiation in your sleep?" According to the Geek, the answer is (always) "Yes"; of course, since he (or perhaps she) is here to inform us about radon. Or perhaps we should say "misinform" us about radon...

Let's begin where Geek began, with the introduction:

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Bay Windows for Dummies (Seekyt Week 5) - The Freelance Filex CCLIX

Among the many things we never intend to do is put a big-ass window in the bathroom. Oh, sure, if we lived alone in an isolated house that no one could approach because of the 12-foot wall around the property and the killer guard dogs that roam the grounds... but such delicacy is apparently not in the makeup of Seekyt's manojjh (Manoj Jha), apparently an employee of a large India-based window company. No, Manoj finds the idea completely acceptable, and even gives explicit... well, not really... instructions in "How To Install A Bay Window In Your Bathroom?" (the question mark is Jah's, not ours).

As is so often the case at Seekyt (and elsewhere), Manoj's "instructions" are rather inane. He begins by telling you to

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

English for Dummies (Seekyt Week 4) - The Freelance Files CCLVIII

"Physician heal thyself!" may have originally been a literal suggestion to Jesus Christ (Luke 4:23), but these days its use is snarkier. It means something along the lines of "don't criticize others for what you do yourself." Perhaps the more accurate Biblical quotation would be something about motes and beams... Today's dumbass, courtesy of the truly moronic site Seekyt.com, is Victoria Trix (real name Victoria Hounsfield, publishing under the pseudonym "Trixxie," perhaps out of shame...) We caught the lovely Victoria lecturing her potential clients about whom they should hire for freelancing jobs (why, it's her of course!) in "Benefits of an English Speaking Writer vs. Non-English Speaking Writers."

Of course, according to Trixxie, English-speaking writers are better than non-English-speaking writers -- that makes sense, since anything you write in a language you don't speak at all will probably end up total gibberish. So what Trixxie probably means is "non-native English speakers" -- though we can't be sure. But let's face it: Trixxie is definitely a dumbass for having written this balderdash:

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Gibberish for Dummies (Seekyt Week 3) - The Freelance Files CCLVII

William Crochot - US PD picture.. Licensed under Public Domain via CommonsWhat kind of internet content would be worse than advertising disguised as (bad) advice? We asked ourselves that question quite some time ago and weren't really sure there was something worse -- not until we ran into some Seekyt garbage called "How to get free motions? Some advice for staying fit and healthy," posted by a member calling himself rakhi143 (we call him Rakhi). After we read that one, we were pretty sure that gibberish written only for the purposes of self-promotion is just a little worse.

Why self-promotion? Because Rakhi has four links with his Seekyt referral code in the post, and a quick survey of his profile shows that he uses the same first paragraph - with three referral links - for every post. We might have let him get away with that sort of bullshit if his content were... coherent. But it's not. Take a gander at this hot mess:

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Band Saw for the Dummy (Seekyt Week 2) - The Freelance File CCLVI

An acquaintance tells us that at a well-known review site, now defunct, the best way to make money was to write about "anything with a cord." An unfortunate side effect was that this resulted in boatloads of fake reviews of appliances (especially vacuum cleaners), electronics and power tools. Today's dumbass is a Seekyt.com contributor who apparently figured out the same: meet Jennie Trotter (jennietrotters), seen here insulting the intelligence of the average tool user with a piece she called "Types and Uses of Band Saws."

In just a few days of looking through Seekyt's content, we determined that much of the site's content is thinly disguised advertisement for Australian or British companies, as is the case here. Why anyone would hire a total dumbass to write bad copy about his business is beyond our ken, however: if you sold band saws, would you want someone telling your potential customers bullshit like

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Car Maintenance for Dummies (Seekyt Week 1) - The Freelance Files CCLV

There are plenty of dummies out there who hope to cash in on the crap they post at content farms -- trust us, we know. Some content farms are... what, more dumbass? that others? while some sites make it easier to find the rubbish  their members write. Seekyt.com is a great place to catch dumbasses at work, except that it's slow and horribly indexed. Still, our crack research staff here at the Antisocial Network were able to turn up a few morons for Seekyt week. We'll start with Nora G. Hart (noraghart, very likely not her real name), seen here attempting to provide automotive maintenance tips in "Warning: Your Car is Trying to Tell You Something."

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Screwing, the Version for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCLIV

Did you take a shop class when you were a 7th-grader? The carpenter we keep on our staff here at the Antisocial Network did. That's where she learned about metal fasten-y things like nails, nuts and bolts, wood and screws. When she saw today's dumbass content, she said, "Thank heavens I took Shop from Mr. Heller, because otherwise I might have had to get that information from the likes of Joan Whetzel!" Yes indeed, Joanie is back on the pages of the Antisocial Network, here caught at eHow.com expounding on something she calls "Standard Screw Sizes."

In keeping with the standard eHow bullshit pattern, Joan begins with a nonsense introduction:

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Young Earth for Dummies - The Freelance Files CCLIII

Today we take a look at the phenomenon of selective blindness, the practice of ignoring anything that does not fit with your preconceived notions. Our dumbass of the day today uses the yahoo email address job41 to conceal his name, but - at least according to the scanned letter in the body of his post "The Bible and Radiometric dating," his name might be Hugh Miller. Of course, given the tendency of creationists to endlessly recycle the same bogus information, who knows whether that's his real name -- it might even be a pseudonym used to protect him from the well-deserved ridicule of others less blind to facts.

But let's take a look at a few examples of job41's bullshit, beginning with this claim:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Fracking, the Dummies Version (Again) - The Freelance Files CCLII

The more often a term shows up in search results, the more likely that freelancers seize on it in hopes of collecting a few hits - who knows, their junk might even go viral (though probably not...) A case in point, the term "fracking" generates more than thirteen million hits at google. Wanna bet that a substantial number of them link to content generated by freelancers? By that, we mean people like Sam Jones, who jumped on the SERP bandwagon with a piece at InfoBarrel.com he cleverly titled "Fracking: Putting the F-Word in the Energy Business."

Jones was all over InfoBarrel back before the Panda update killed content farms, pumping out trash on just about any topic that showed up near the top of google keyword results. Like many of his ilk, Sam mainly reworded other content (though to his credit, he at least didn't just run it through a spinning algorithm). Problem being, of course, that when you write about everything under the sun without sufficient background knowledge, you get shit wrong - and Jones gets shit wrong... like