Sunday, January 31, 2016

Laying Tile for Dummies

In the silver age of television (even before the "golden age"), Art Linkletter¹ hosted a show titled "Kids Say the Darnedest Things." You know, ask a kid a question some adults might find difficult to answer and listen to them fabricate an answer that's so off-the-wall that it might be considered "funny." Well, kids do say the darnedest things and it's cute in a seven-year-old. The problem is that some of those kids grow up and keep on saying stupid things when asked a question on a topic about which they know jack. That'd be no problem if they weren't pretending to be knowledgeable; and worse -- pretending for cash. Pretending like eHow.com's Dannah Swift, who figured it was no problem to leverage her MA in English Literature to take on the question "How to Tile a Floor Over Plywood."² 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Clinometers for Dummies

It's said that the truly wise person is not the one who knows everything, it's the one who knows how to find out everything. Well, that was true in the age when researching a question involved a trip to the library or, at the very least, to one's shelf of reference books. In the age of the internet, however, anyone can find out anything -- or so we've been told. The problem, of course, is that the information that comes may end up being, shall we say, substandard. By "substandard," we mean "wrong"; on a bad day, we mean "utter bull." We weren't initially sure whether today's a bad day or not -- let's let you decide whether Catalina Bixler was wrong or spreading bullshit in her eHow post, "Uses of a Clinometer," now appearing at Leaf Group niche site CareerTrend.com.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Cyclocomputers for Dummies

cycle computer
In the days before every vendor let let every customer (and, for that matter, non-customer) post product reviews at the point of purchase, there were sites where a prolific product reviewer could bring in a few dollars a month by posting reviews of whatever product they happened to have used lately. There were sites like Viewpoints, Epinions, Ciao, and others. These days, most of the sites are dead or dying, having been slammed by Google's anti-content farm Panda update several years ago. That news hasn't reached some folks, yet; so they're still merrily plugging away. Sadly, the ones who haven't gotten the message are often the ones who drove review sites into the ground with poor-quality and even faked reviews – content like "Pedometer for Bike Riding" posted to DailyTwoCents.com by someone claiming to be Wwkeen.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Vacuum Leaks for Dummies

Those of you who used to be so-called shadetree mechanics know well that a normal human being (lacking triple-jointed arms, that is) can no longer work on their own cars -- unless, of course, the vehicle in question predates the Clean Air Act and emission controls. Still, what's underneath all those hoses, valves, sensors and such -- the internal combustion engine -- actually hasn't changed in principle in the past hundred years or so. It should be not surprise, then, that people have questions about their cars, and that freelancers are out there to give them "the answers." Well, sort of, as is ably demonstrated by eHow's Steven Symes in a post titled "The Ford Taurus Vacuum Leak Symptoms" at ItStillRuns.com.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bookcases for Dummies

In a brief survey of our awardees here at the Antisocial Network, we've noticed that some dumbasses spread their misinformation across a wide array of topics, while others are more... shall we say "specialized" (of course, it might just be that we just haven't tracked the latter across the internet to find their entire body of work).  One example of the latter is a character who's posted under variations on her name, though her work is rather distinctive. We're talking about eHow's Amanda Fetherlin , who also posts as A. L. Fetherlin at Suite.io. Whatever the site, A. L./Amy/Amanda's work typically displays a less-than-deep understanding of her topic, which is usually remodeling- or carpentry-related. For today's entry, Amanda misled her eHow audience about "How to Make a Bifold Bookcase."

Fetherlin immediately launches into how one might use a bifold bookcase:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Chair Rails for Dummies

We have a handful of pretty dedicated do-it-yourselfers here on the staff of the Antisocial Network. Among them, they've tackled pretty much every interior project in the average home and quite a bit of the outside stuff -- no siding or chimneys, but that's most likely because they all suffer from a touch of acrophobia. All that experience, however, does grant them their own "superpower," by which we mean the ability to spot it when a freelancer is bullshitting about project work; whether it's carpentry, plumbing, electrical or any of a dozen other fields. So yes, that means that today the staff has caught yet another eHowian blathering through her DIYer hat. This time it's a photographer and writer named Emma Lee (yeah, sure, Emily Whatever), pretending to have the chops to inform her readers about "How to Cut the Corners of a Chair Rail."

Monday, January 25, 2016

Geolocation for Dummies

It's odd, isn't it, how often our candidates for the Dumbass of the Day award trip themselves up through small errors. We don't have a particular problem with inconsequential errors such as typos or rounding errors -- have you ever seen us bitch-slap some freelancer for saying that pi is 3.14 instead of carrying it out to seven decimal places (which, for some reason, seems to be the eHow standard)? No, you haven't. But when someone makes a substantive error, it's "Johnny bar the door!" Today's candidate (a repeater, by the way) is an arrogant twit who calls himself a "thinker"; though what he actually is seems to be a "reworder." He claims his name is Serm Murmson, and today he's getting the facts wrong about "What Does 'Geographic Location' Mean?" for Sciencing.com, one of the Demand Media (now Leaf Group) satellite niches.

Good old Serm knows how to reword someone else's verbiage, which we are sure made him a highly successful eHowian. His problem, of source, is that he doesn't really know what he's talking about. Take, for instance, his introduction:

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Velocity for Dummies

Have you ever run across someone who has clearly pulled an answer out of thin air? Who doesn't have the foggiest notion what he or she is talking about? A classic example for you: an adolescent showing off his vocabulary pronounces the word "epitome" with only three syllables -- rhyming it with "home" -- because he's only seen it in print, not heard it used (for the record, it has four syllables and rhymes with "he bit a bee"). Well, freelancers pull that particular shit a lot, and the freelancer we've caught pulling it most often, at least so far, is the one and only Joan Whetzel. We found Joanie over at Hubpages (she's either there or eHow most of the time), where she misinformed her readers over the course of 661 words in a piece she called "What is Velocity."

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Fuel Economy for Dummies

Our research team at the Antisocial Network absolutely loves to catch people repurposing the rubbish they published at long-dead content farms for their current freelancing gigs. The team's learned how to recognize the half-assed updating job that so often marks old content from places like Helium.com and AssociatedContent, both of which have gone to the web graveyard in the sky¹. Take, for instance, the scribblings of one Isabelle Esteves at WritEdge.com; most of which were originally published at Helium. Izzy republished an article she called "How To Save Money At The Gas Pump" not long ago, changing the first line to update something she'd originally published in a significantly different economic environment. 

Here's what she said in that first line...

Friday, January 22, 2016

Brick Walls for Dummies

There's an old saying, "Never send a boy to do a man's job." Though the average age of our staff here at the Antisocial Network is well beyond the teens, we still think this particular saying is somewhat ageist. We think the saying would be better if it were more along the lines of "Never send a dumbass to do a competent person's job." Sadly, that's never been the motto of the internet content farms -- around their offices, too often the motto seems to be "all dumbass every day: competence be damned!" How else would you get people like Shala Munroe of TheNest.com (another Leaf Group niche) who clearly demonstrated her incompetence in "How to Estimate the Cost of a Brick Fence." Shala has parlayed her "communications degree" into owning a flower shop, but her resume doesn't mention masonry work at all -- and it definitely shows!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Metric Conversion for Dummies (Math Week 7)

While scouring the internet in their never-ending hunt for dumbass freelancers, it's not unusual for the Antisocial Network's research team to stumble across questions that were apparently themselves asked by dumbasses. Since, however, we firmly believe that asking a stupid question is in no sense as great a sin as providing a stupid answer to that question, we're in the habit of giving the knowledge-seeker some slack. That's not so, however, for the person who mungs up the answer. In today's case, said sinner is a repeat offender who has already demonstrated his ignorance on exactly the same topic! He's eHow's Chance E. Gartneer, who was spotted giving the wrong answer to "How to Convert Linear Yards to Meters"¹ after already having screwed up with a similar question involving "lineal metres to square metres."

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Graphing Equations for Dummies (Math Week 6)

The hallmark of the internet freelancer who's producing utter bullshit is the inability to answer simple questions. We see it all the time, especially on websites where people are paid for their "answers" -- and yes, we mean eHow.com and, to a lesser extent, sites like Hubpages. This inability stems from ignorance of the topic at hand, and is often evident from almost the first words written -- say, for instance, a writer's inability to define the terminology or introduce the most basic concepts. One of our favorite (NOT!) writers when it comes to faking knowledge is Naima Manal (ten-time recipient of the Dumbass of the Day award), whom we found attempting to explain a simple mathematical concept -- and doing a lousy job of it -- in "Definition of Table of Values" at Sciencing.com. Feh.

Naima says that a table of values is...

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Swimming Pool Chemistry for Dummies (Math Week 5)

The next time you see an episode of "The Big Bang Theory," look at the whiteboards in the apartment shared by Leonard Hofstadter and Sheldon Cooper. They aren't covered by diagrams and cartoons (except when Sheldon's making an episode of  "Fun with Flags"); they're filled with equations from top to bottom. As any scientist will tell you, math is the common language of all sciences. That's why it sneaks up on people all the time, even when they think they're just they're talking about landscaping or the environment. This time out, we spotted a case of innumeracy in SFGate.com's Ruth de Jauregui (affectionately known as razzberry-jam), who got confused, at best, while trying to explain the "Amount of Chlorine to Use Per Gallon of Pool Water."

Monday, January 18, 2016

Negative Exponents for Dummies (Math Week 4)

One thing we've realized here at the Antisocial Network is that you can always tell when a freelancer is just rewording material from an authoritative (or somewhat authoritative) source is that key concepts are left out. Perhaps the freelancer didn't look beyond one source; perhaps the source didn't mention the concept. Around here, though, we think that someone who is "informing" his or her reader should be doing so from expertise -- not from having been taught how to reword someone else's thoughts. Unfortunately, the latter is often the case with the contributors at eHow... Take, for instance, Charlotte Johnson (again!), whose Masters in Education apparently wasn't for math, as she amply demonstrates when writing "How to Raise a Number to a Negative Power" for the good folks at Demand Media (home of questionable information).

As Char (may we call you "Char," Char?) explains -- sort of -- 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Area and Perimeter for Dummies (Math Week 3)

The research staff at the Antisocial Network have noticed that some of the freelance writers searching for pennies aren't particularly... perhaps we should say "intellectually honest." Well, it's either that or they're total dumbasses -- we're not certain which is more likely. Today we're thinking, in particular, of the stable of contributors to eHow; many of whom have no objection to telling someone how to do something that's impossible or expanding a bad answer from one word to 500 in order to collect their ten or fifteen bucks. And then there are the ones who provide half-assed "answers."Take, for instance, Charlotte Johnson: Char's a typical eHowian, meaning someone who happily writes about STEM topics even though s/he lacks any pertinent background. Let's have a look at a Johnson post, one that purports to explain "How to Calculate Square Feet From the Perimeter" at niche site Sciencing.com.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Formulas for Dummies (Math Week 2)

It's a central tenet of the teaching process that part of explaining a new process is providing an example. Heaven knows we've seen a slew of such examples as we wander the internet looking for more dumbassery. Naturally, the careful teacher makes certain that the path through the example is straightforward and, perhaps most importantly, that the example is actually correct. Just as importantly, the examples should be easy to visualize and all of the steps and operations clear to the student.  It appears that eHow's Marie Mulrooney (supposedly a former math tutor) forgot how to create usable examples in the post titled "How to Calculate Volume in Cubic Centimeters" at Sciencing.com. Duh.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Metric Conversions for Dummies (Math Week 1)

Everybody's lazy sometimes which is why, from time to time, the staff of the Antisocial Network will wander the internet looking for repeat stupidity from prior DotD recipients. How else do you think we've nailed people like Naima Manal ten times on two different websites? Our most frequent contributor, however, is Joan Whetzel: eleven times (so far) on two different websites with potential contributions on three more. What makes Joan so special is that she just doesn't seem to get it, especially when not being edited by the eHow content editors (many of whom have... "questionable"... skills themselves). So we thought it might be interesting to look through our to-be-skewered list for more contributions from Ms. Whetzel -- and she didn't disappoint. Well, actually, she did disappoint, as usual, in the HubPages.com post she titled "How to Convert Height in Centimeters to Feet."

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Overburden Pressure for Dummies

Density tool sonde (Schlumberger)
If you are looking for a reasonable explanation of a concept that is fairly esoteric, you don't go to eHow.com in your search. If you need a solution to a highly technical problem, you aren't going to find it at anywhere at Leaf Group, including their flagship of all misinformation, eHow. That doesn't mean someone on their crack(ed) staff of freelancers hasn't tried to answer your question at one time or another; in fact, it's a safe bet that someone with absolutely no background in the subject has done just that. Someone like Darby Stevenson, who parlayed a double BA in religion and international studies into an article that allegedly explains "How to Calculate Overburden Pressure" at CareerTrend.com (anpther  Leaf Group niche site). To say his reply is half-assed is an insult to half-assed answers everywhere...

Darby more or less gets the definition right in his introduction:

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Overengineering for Dummies

Among the many clues that a freelancer is writing utter bull is one of our favorites: the instructions that make absolutely zero sense. This is a hallmark of the "early adopters" at eHow.com, where an urban apartment dweller could collect cash for writing about farming or a sedentary man could expound on dysmenorrhea among female endurance athletes -- in other words, get paid for writing utter bull. Today, we visit the work of one such contributor, Giselle Diamond, as she explains to the best of her (clearly, quite limited) ability, "How to Build Pole Barn Doors." How she gleaned this information from her work while collecting a MFA in English from NYU remains a mystery... oh, wait: she didn't learn it!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Rock Climbing, the Dummy Version

Our Chairperson and CEO (yes, we have one -- sometimes known as the chief cook and bottle washer) admits to occasionally wondering what it would be like to go through life as... as what? disconnected from reality? as the freelancers he sees plying their trade on the net. Never mind the incessant "sharing" of every thought, inspiration, or bowel movement on sites like Facebook, these folks are hell-bent on harvesting pennies on sites like the late, unlamented Bubblews, EliteVisitor or PersonaPaper. Our research team browsed some of the content at PP not long ago and came across a wealth of inanity. Not least among the dumbasses they discovered on their tour of the site was one CountryWine (real name Libby Baez), who shared her thoughts -- such as they are -- in articles like "Aspiring to Rock Climbing." 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Freezers and Refrigerators for Dummies

In our day-to-day searches of the internet (which mainly consists of following links within eHow.com, we'll admit if pressed) we often run across excellent examples of the syndrome we like to call "Type 2: expanding a valid answer into the realm of dumbassery."  By that, we mean answering a question correctly, then veering into an explanation that makes it obvious that you know jack shit about the topic. Few online purveyors of "answers" are better for finding Type 2 answers than eHow.com (which is why we spend a lot of time there) and few of eHow's contributors are better at spreading the bullshit around than the one and only Naima Manal. Here, our good friend Naima (six-time winner of the Dumbass of the Day) pulled off a classic Type 2 in the post "Can You Use an Upright Freezer as a Refrigerator?" at Hunker.com.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Oil Business for Dummies

We often wonder why so many people are totally ignorant about the oil industry. Even among literate, educated adults the science and economics of petroleum exploration and production seem to be mysterious black boxes filled with vast conspiracies. Perhaps it's because gasoline (which, to most, is the same thing as "the oil business") is the only consumer product whose prices are visible from the street. Failure to comprehend how and why those retail prices are set is rampant. Much of that failure may result from the misinformation that shows up around the internet, misinformation along the lines of that published to eHow.com by Frederick S. Blackmon (screenwriter and parkour instructor) in the post "Facts About Oil Drilling."

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Conspiracy for Dummies

European Bronze Age civilizations
Dumbassery takes many forms. Some of the recipients of the Antisocial Network's Dumbass of the Day award are incautious in their "research" and some are simply ignorant of the topic. The worst of all, in our decided opinion, are those who are willfully ignorant -- the ones who believe in conspiracies to "hide truth from the common man" and other bafflingly stupid ideas. Some listen to too many episodes of the Alex Jones show, some are too deeply embedded in their political echo chambers. Some even claim that they're "open-minded" and "well-educated" -- people like Vince Summers, spotted blathering about conspiracy theories in an article at PersonaPaper.com he called "Are Scientists Quick to Cover Their Tracks?"  

Friday, January 8, 2016

Transposing Music for Dummies

We'll be honest here: nobody on staff here at the Antisocial Network has had any music lessons in longer than we'd like to think about (and none have had any composing or theory classes). Oh, sure, several of us played in high-school bands and a couple tried desperately to learn the guitar (several times), but the truth is most of our musical expertise plays out in the car or the shower these days. So it goes. But that doesn't mean that we're so completely out of it that the instructions by eHow's Cleveland van Cecil (yet another freelancer nom de plume intended, we suspect to protect the guilty) didn't strike a sour note. Get it? a music joke? Whatever... anyway Cleveland is definitely not the person we would ask to explain "How to Change Trumpet Notes to Match Guitar Chords," nosiree, Bob...

Though we can pretty much be certain Cleve took a music appreciation class to get that BA in Liberal Arts of his, apparently he didn't ever actually take a music class. That's why, when performing a copy-reword-paste job on his question, he got something wrong. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Texas Hill Country for Dummies

Do you like to travel? So do many of the staffers at the Antisocial Network, though some are more content to curl up in a comfy armchair with a good book. Whichever you prefer, you probably know that every nook and cranny of North America -- and probably the world -- is described somewhere online in stunning verbiage by the local tourist council. Of course, that's not nearly enough for you if you're in the mood for visiting some out-of-the-way places or sampling something beyond the usual tourist digs. If you're not the kind of person who vacations in Acapulco yet still eats at Tony Roma's and TGI Friday, you probably do your research online. Let's just hope you don't find too much information like the twaddle published at InfoBarrel.com by InfoJunkie in "Texas Hill Country: Relax, Shop, Play, Unwind in Hill Country."

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Parking for Our Dummy Friends

Ever heard the adage "Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer"? Few displays of internet dumbassery are more fascinating than seeing a penny-starved freelance "journalist" from some content farm attempting to answer a question that was itself apparently posed by a dumbass. Take, for instance, questions so broad as to be unanswerable, though the freelancer tries anyway; or questions whose answers require so many qualifiers that they expand to fill all available space (sort of like Carrie Bradshaw's shoe collection). Here's an example: eHow.com contributor Rebekah Richards attempts, and fails, to answer the stupid question, "Illegal Places to Park a Car" at ItStillRuns.com.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Saws for Our Dummy Friends

You can almost always tell when a self-appointed freelancer is talking through his or her hat (and old-fashioned way to say "bullshitting you"). Some of the giveaways are
  • overemphasis of trivia while omitting important details
  • mistakes in stating the basics
  • lack of familiarity with common knowledge
While we know several women who are quite knowledgeable about woodworking and tools, we have noticed that none of them seem to express their creativity through freelance writing. No, it appears that when you find a woman's byline on a content-farm article about tools, it's often one of "them." Take, for instance, eHow,com contributor Josie Myers, who we found pretending to know her way around "Types of Electric Saws."

Monday, January 4, 2016

Roofs, the Version for Dummies

We've seen some pretty interesting do-it-yourself projects featured on the internet over the years we've been harpooning freelancing fools. We've found carpentry projects where the instructions don't match the parts list, building projects that don't build what they say they will, even instructions that are just plain wrong. It's fairly rare that we find a writeup on a DIY project that is, to be frank, dangerously stupid -- but they're out there, just like that free-flowing river of candidates for the Darwin Award. As evidence, submitted for your consideration is Pedro de Almedia of InfoBarrel.com, who shares with the world his instructions for "How to Install Paving Stones on the Roof of Your House."

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Gold Mining, the Dummies Version

Someone dug this with a
shovel? R-i-i-ight, Tom...
You know about illiteracy and innumeracy, right? and the subcategories of scientific and geographic illiteracy, as well? We haven't looked, but there are probably historical and medical and culinary illiteracy, too; though the number of people addicted to cooking shows suggests that most of the usual suspects are familiar with the difference between baste and braise... Well, there seem to be quite a few freelancers out there who are "hardware illiterate" and their home, it seems, is that paragon of content farms, eHow.com. Over the past year or so we've seen freelancers misuse power tools and murder cutting tools, but some of the most astounding dumbassery arises from folks who are just talking through their hats -- folks like Tom Lutzenberger (him again!), caught pretending he's ever visited a hardware store in "Digging Tools for Gold Miners."

Tom's introduction (the eHow-required 75-100 words) sets the stage:

Saturday, January 2, 2016

CD Storage, the Dummies Version

In the old days -- back before people just bought music in digital form and stored it on the cloud -- bits and pieces of plastic littered the world. We're talking about compact discs (which you may remember, we called "CDs") and their protective jewel cases. Heck, some on our staff are old enough to remember those 12-inch LP records, even 45s! but we digress. Storage of CDs has always been easy to come by and fairly inexpensive, but that didn't stop Seekyt.com's Dianne Christensen-Hermance from insulting the carpenters of the world with the "instructions" she published in "How to Build a CD Tower." If her name rings a bell, perhaps it's because Dianne's been here before with another set of mangled carpentry instructions. 

Careful reading of the instructions suggests that Dianne wants you to make a box about six feet tall for storage. The idea (we think) is to store the CDs in their jewel cases, lying flat, with the label sides out. So far, so good. Both the instructions for constructing this edifice and its overall design are, shall we say, "deficient." 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Alaska, the Version for Dummies

Climbing a glacier on Mt. Rainier, Washington
We've heard it said that travel research is one of the most common reasons for web searches, which is probably why every content farm has had a travel section with a slew of self-appointed travel mavens. The biggest problem with the information these people provide seems to be that, for a certain subset, their only traveling is on the internet itself and through the contents of outdated guidebooks. These people are perfectly willing to write about the "best restaurants" in Tashkent or the "finest accommodations for families" in Katmandu even though they've never even been on the same continent. The 'net is the great travel agent, we guess. On WritEdge.com, we found an article penned by New Englander Isabel Esteves, a little piece she titled "Alaska Adventure Vacation Destination." Izzy likes to republish her articles from the late, unlamented Helium.com, where she was chief travel maven. Most are already bad enough, but when she doesn't even bother to update her "information"? Oops...

Here: have a look at one of Esteves' more... inane statements about Alaska: