Monday, February 29, 2016

Bullnose Trim for Dummies

One of our favorite sayings here at the Antisocial Network goes something like this: "It is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought an idiot than to open it and erase all doubt" (variously attributed to Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln). Whoever said it, we take that adage seriously -- you may have noticed that we rarely, if ever, expose freelancing bullshitters in areas like the law or beauty, mainly because we have no one on staff with sufficient expertise. Lack of expertise, however, never seemed to stop the greedy freelancers at sites like eHow.com and HubPages, where they gleefully exposed their stupidity for all to see. Take, for instance, eHow's Amanda Fetherlin seen here pretending knowledge in a post called "How to Cut Bullnose Trim for Stairs" at HomeSteady.com.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Indianapolis for Dummies

Children's Museum of Indianapolis
We have a staffer or two here at the Antisocial Network who've done some traveling over their real-life careers (one's been on six continents...) so we find it so-called "travel" reviews  simply harvested from chamber of commerce PR releases rather irritating -- especially those written by people who it's pretty obvious have never actually visited the featured destination. We also have a staffer who's lived in Indianapolis -- twice. So he was somewhat taken aback to find repeat offender Isabelle Esteves holding forth on "Three good reasons to visit Indianapolis, Ind." for the fake news site Examiner.com (which, we suspect, she repurposed from her account at the dead website Helium). We did wonder what other Indianapolis Izzy might have been thinking about....

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Compasses for Dummies

Remember that television commercial about "If it's on the internet, it must be true"? The one with the pretty blonde and the soi-disant French fashion model? Does "Bone jewer" ring a bell? Sure it does... so: ever wondered why the meme "if it's on the internet it must be true" is so powerful? Well, here at the Antisocial Network we have a theory: it's at least in part because of freelancers at content farms, folks who write utter bullshit about anything and everything whether they know anything about the topic at all. We like to expose them... and that's why today we're featuring one of those same freelancers already seen here twelve times. Today, the one and only Naima Manal explains (and we use that word loosely) "Why Do People Use the Compass?" for the good folks at eHow.com (now at Leaf Group's niche site Sciencing.com). Of course, she doesn't do it particularly well...

Friday, February 26, 2016

Ovals for Dummies

Ellipse (L), regular Oval (R)
The idea that "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them" is attributed to Shakespeare. Here at the Antisocial Network, we have our own version of that adage: "Some are born dumbasses, some achieve dumbassery, but no one is forced to be a dumbass." No kidding: no one ever makes our awardees be stupid in print, they all do it to themselves! We can forgive a foolish mistake or two (heck, our founder made one just a few years ago), but going back to that well of stupidity time and again really tends to piss us off. Speaking of serial stupidity, however, brings us to today's awardee, multiple repeater (and we do mean multipleJoan Whetzel found this time spreading her brand of misinformation at HubPages.com about "Determining an Oval's Perimeter Measurement."

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Window Frames for Dummies

At the Antisocial Network, we're often dismayed that anyone would ask a total amateur for advice about anything -- cars, appliances, science, you name it. After all, you probably wouldn't ask your dentist for advice on engine repair, or suggest that a bicycle mechanic perform your next rectal exam. We mean, what would he use for lube? Some of the worst advice our staff has found on the internet was posted by people pretending to be accomplished in the skilled trades, especially in home repair. That's exactly what we've found for today: eHow's Kevin McDermott, pretending he knows windows from holes in the ground in "How to Make Wood Framed Windows."¹

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Central Air for Dummies

Unless they learned the basics at Daddy's (or Mommy's) knee, Mr. or Ms. First-time Homeowner is going to spend more than one feverish moment looking up symptoms of potential problems on the internet. We all know that renters don't give a shit about repairs at houses and apartments; but when the place is yours, you suddenly care. Those who might be faced with the four-digit cost of replacing a central air conditioner might well find themselves googling the eternal question, "Why Is There Ice Around My Central Heat and Air Unit?"¹ Unfortunately, eHow.com let a contributor named Mark Fitzpatrick post his answer to the question -- and it turned out to be a really, really dumbass answer...

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Subduction For Dummies

The staffers at the Antisocial Network all try to be lifelong learners. We enjoy gleaning new bits of information and picking up bits of knowledge wherever they may appear. That may be why some fairly interesting content we've found floating around in cyberspace has turned out to be so disappointing. It's disappointing because it combines new and interesting information with old and irritating mistakes. A case in point is today's nominee for our infamous award, Moina Arcee (real name Mark Fellows?) of InfoBarrel.com. Moina combined fascinating facts with misinformation in "Life In The Mariana Trench" -- our problem is that given how badly she mangled what we already knew, we don't know what to trust in the rest of it...

Monday, February 22, 2016

Density and Pressure for Dummies (Metric System 7)

Our staff here at the Antisocial Network long ago realized that, among many others, one of the reasons why Google invented their Panda update (well, actually, Mr. Panda invented google's update) is that the overall "truthiness" of the internet had greatly suffered from the rubbish published at content farms. Bad actors could, without consequences, vomit out any kind of bull on these sites, and often make substantial money by doing so. One such site, often the target of our wrath, was eHow.com -- a site that became the poster child for bushwa because they'd let anyone publish almost anything about any topic. Take, for instance, the rubbish their "contributor" Charlotte Johnson had to say about "How to Convert Grams Per Meter Squared to Pounds Per Square Foot" (now "niche-ing" at Sciencing.com).

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Temperature Conversions for Dummies (Metric System 6)

Here at the Antisocial Network we just love it when we see self-appointed freelancers trying to collect those all-holy dollars by providing misinformation on topics an average sixth-grader handles with aplomb. Take, for instance, the thousands -- if not millions -- of badly-written, misguided, and just plain wrong articles about the metric system: just about any middle-schooler who's been paying attention in class (we know, we know: a small sample size) has a better handle on the topic than these greedy adults. Today's example comes from the depths of Suite (formerly Suite101) where James Hutchinson made a mess of "Celsius to Fahrenheit Temperature Conversion."

Oh, heck, even the most addle-brained person knows that there are simple formulas for going back and forth between the two temperature scales. James, however, decided that someone somewhere needed another version a few hundred words long. It's too bad that he also decided to include ambiguity and downright errors... like these

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Metrification for Dummies (Metric System 5)

It used to be that you could just pound out a few paragraphs of rubbish on your keyboard and rake in the cash at any content farm. The Google Panda update in 2011 changed all that; inserting some vague measurement of "quality" into the site's search algorithm. Immediately, wannabe freelancers began schooling themselves in SEO, branding, and a host of other buzzwords in an attempt to improve that "quality." What many of these freelancers failed to realize that the Panda update punished sites for bad content -- so why did the hangers-on continue to publish utter bull? Because they already had that arrow in their quiver and it takes considerably more work to write good material. That's why hacks like DailyTwoCents.com's Deborah-Diane (sometimes known as Deborah Dian or Deborah Diane Carr) keep churning out twaddle like "The U.S. Needs to Convert to the Metric System."

Friday, February 19, 2016

Milliliters for Dummies (Metric System 4)

Fans of the Antisocial Network (you know who you are, Mom) have probably realized that there are some pretty dependable candidates out there in the great internet flyover zone known as "content farmland." When our researchers are stumped for some stupidity or in seeking some comic relief, they have a couple of HubPages and eHow profiles bookmarked that are almost certain to generate the dumbassery necessary to win our award. Today's one of those days when we visit a previous winner, the one and only Joan Whetzel, to see what silly error(s) she managed to make for HubPages in "Converting Liters to Milliliters."

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Density for Dummies (Metric System 3)

Density in action...
One of our staff recalls, sometime in the '70s, seeing an order form for cabinets that warned the buyer to "Give units in inches because metrics is unamerican." As the French are wont to say, "Plus ça change, plus c'est la meme chose": the more things change, the more things stay the same. You do know it's an election year, right? Whether "unamerican" or not, the metric system is here to stay and if we patriotic Americans want to communicate with the rest of the world, we frequently need to convert units. Why anyone would need a "Gallons to Kilograms Conversion" isn't particularly clear (probably middle-school science), but Brenda Scottsdale of eHow (now Sciencing.com) tackled this one in typical freelance style.

As everyone knows by now, Demand Media (who have since changed their name to Leaf Group, presumably to protect the guilty) demands that Brenda begin with a 75-100 word introduction. Well, things start out more or less OK in her intro, but then quickly go downhill. Here. see what we mean:

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Light Years for Dummies (Metric System 2)

You readers out there who have taken science courses or higher mathematics (beyond simple arithmetic, in other words) have encountered the concept of "significant digits." You've probably been taught the basics of scientific notation and maybe even the difference between "accuracy" and "precision" (yes, there's a difference -- you can look it up). Most staffers here at the Antisocial Network have math and science backgrounds, so they're aware that when calculating the circumference of a bicycle wheel it's not necessary to use ten digits of pi; a mere 3.14 will probably suffice. The freelancers who come from English Lit and Journalism backgrounds (the ones who opted to take neither math nor science after 10th grade) often have no idea of "significance" when throwing around very large or very small numbers - take, for instance, eHow.com contributor Paul Ramone in his post "How to Convert Meters to Light Years."¹

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Square Yards for Dummies (Metric System 1)

It's said that a lot of Americans can't quite comprehend the metric system, though why a system of measures that leverages powers of ten -- as opposed to 12, 3, 4, 16, 36, 8 and the like -- confuses us. Many an American almost proudly wear a dunce cap when it comes to arithmetic. Like Barbie supposedly said, "Math is hard!" (she didn't, but that's another story). So when it comes to conversions between metric and imperial units, all bets are off. It becomes even worse when one of the units is "confusing,"as was apparently the case for eHow's Rose Kerr, seen holding forth on "How to Convert Square Meters to Linear Yards," now found at Sciencing.com (ptui!)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Overpressure for Dummies

In our search for freelancing fools here at the Antisocial Network, we've noticed that one of the easiest ways to spot a bullshitting writer is to see just how badly he or she reworded the definition of any unfamiliar terminology. Technical terms (what j-school grads like to call "jargon") is especially likely to be the victim of so-called rogeting as a freelancer without the slightest clue attempts to spin an authoritative definition. Today's example comes from eHow.com (no surprise there) where Jean Asta took a stab at "How to Calculate Overpressure"¹ and missed -- pretty badly.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Multimeters for Dummies

If you were to ask anyone here at the Antisocial Network how to build a blast furnace or manufacture a golf ball, chances are pretty good that the answer would be "I don't know, but I can probably find someone who does." If you were to ask the enormous pool of Dumbass of the Day candidates around the eHow.com water cooler, the answer would be... well, chances are it would be wrong, incomplete, or both. We aren't sure which is less useful, but today's candidate comes from the school of "any information is better than none." We respectfully (not really) disagree with Kendra Dahlstrom, who pretended to have "Simple Instructions for Using an Electrical Multimeter." 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Car Wheels for Dummies

You gotta love people who take on freelance assignments when they have abso-friggin-lutely no idea what the topic's about. You have to love them if they do in-depth research, work their freelancing butts off and put out quality work that knowledgeable people can rely on to be accurate -- freelancers, say, like Mary Roach. At the opposite end of the freelance spectrum (where we at the Antisocial Network find our awardees) is the freelancer who scribbles down something butt-stupid and then pretends to have researched the topic. A case in point? eHow.com's Khalidah Tunkara, who produces content of the quality of "Vehicles That Fit 26-Inch Rims."¹

You think Khalidah knows enough about cars to write content on the subject? We didn't, and for the evidence just check out her introduction:

Friday, February 12, 2016

Spanish for Dummies

One of staff at the Antisocial Network says that he's qualified to be a world traveler because, or so he claims, he can say "beer" in ten different languages. He admits that he's at a slight disadvantage in some countries, however, because he can only say "bathroom" in nine of them (rim shot!). We can't confirm his count, but we do know that he can say "Una cerveza, por favor," and after quatro o cinco cervezas, he can ask "¿Donde esta el baño?" with the best of them. It makes no difference that, or so we've been told, he speaks Spanish with a French accent. Even if that's true, it's a safe bet he's more fluent than Louie Doverspike, who totally screwed the pooch by pretending to share his expertise in "Common Spanish Words" for USAToday TravelTips (another Demand Media website). God help anyone who needed that advice...

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Acreage for Dummies

Time and again, the Antisocial Network's research teams run across one particular phenomenon when on the hunt for dumbass freelancers -- and it's especially true when they start poking around at eHow.com. The phenomenon? Ehow's algorithm captures a search phrase and hands it off to their contributors without the benefit of a reality check; which results in a stupid question. Back in the site's halcyon days (pre-Panda) any query, no matter how boneheaded, was fair game for their stable of equally boneheaded contributors. That's probably how Mallory Malesky ended up writing instructions for "How to Measure an Acre Wide and Long"¹; a question that, when you come right down to it, makes little or no sense in the real world.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Iron Smelting for Dummies

Home smelter or bloomery
In the bad old pre-Panda days (before Google jiggered their search results to downgrade content farms), freelance-driven websites had low standards for the factual quality of their content. The king of content farms, eHow.com, allegedly had standards, but those were by and large intended to format their content for maximum SEO. In other words, they considered format more important than quality: why else would we find so much utter bullshit at eHow? Consider, then, just how awful content must have been to be refused by eHow's vaunted content editors. It happened, though -- and our researchers found this example at the (now-defunct) Suite.io -- it's from sometime eHow contributor: Dianne Christensen-Hermance with her clumsy rendition of "Refining Iron Ore Processes."

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Stationary Bikes for Dummies

As freelancers flit about the internet looking for something to assault... err, address, apparently it's common for them to run across topics that are somehow related to something they've already covered (if by "covered" you mean copied-reworded-pasted from a more honest source). Once in a while they even find a subject on which they believe themselves qualified to write (though that doesn't seem to happen often). The problem, of course, is that they expose their limited knowledge as their posts progress. Take, for instance, Demand Media's Meg Campbell: she believes herself a fitness expert (why else would DMS let her write for Livestrong?) but reveals her limitations in "What Shoes are Compatible with Stationary Bikes?"

Monday, February 8, 2016

Mapping for Dummies

We see all manner of dumbassery as our research team sifts through the internet looking for the junk vomited out by penny-hungry freelancers. We have admit that sometimes it feels as if we're the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike, but even though it's a dirty job someone has to do it. That and we occasionally earn a few pennies for our efforts (not to mention lots of CAPS-rich comments from some Filipino by the name of "Deeshu" who seems to have lots of pen names). Whatever. But search we do, and we're never at a loss for another chance to skewer a dumbass. Is that a good think? No, but we do it anyway - and today, we're gonna do it to Suite's Angela Schnaubelt, who somehow managed to mess up the super-simple concept of "What are the Different Types of Geography Maps?"

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Custom Doors for Dummies

If you've ever looked for project plans and advice online, you're pretty likely to have run across freelancers pretending to have done it themselves. Many times, however, the writer simply went to a site like This Old House or The Family Handyman and recorded instructions they found there. You know how to tell? Well, whoever wrote the original has absorbed background knowledge the freelancer doesn't know -- and it shows. A case in point? eHow.com's Ruth de Jauregui as she gave it up for "How to Make an Angled Wood Door for Under the Stairs" (now living at Leaf Group's Hunker.com niche site).

Let's give Ruth some props: she got the basic outline of the process pretty much right, as befits "royalty" among the contributors to that site (she was for years the in-house forum moderator). It was the little things, however, that gave de Jauregui away as having little or no idea what she was talking about in this post (guess they don't teach woodworking in art school). To begin with, we're not sure why she found it necessary (other than that DMS requires an introduction) to "inform us" that

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Plywood for Dummies

Here at the Antisocial Network, we take seriously our chosen task: exposing the folks who spray worthless content all over the internet in the hopes of collecting a few pennies in residual income. We prefer to call them out by their real name (or chosen nom de plume) whenever possible, but every once in a while we find something truly stupid that's been posted anonymously to a content farm. Take, for instance, "Working With Plywood" at Seekyt.com, attributed to General Contributor. Presumably, the party that posted this dreck still reaps megacents from ads and referrals, but he or she remains anonymous. That doesn't mean the General isn't still an idiot...

Friday, February 5, 2016

Graphing Equations for Dummies

Doesn't look linear, Linda!
You might think that the phrase "begs the question" means "begs that the question be asked," but you'd be wrong. To beg the question, although commonly used to mean "raises the question," really refers to circular reasoning: the speaker simply answers a question by restating it. Along with dodging a question and answering a different question, begging the question is a favorite rhetorical technique in politics. It's also commonly used by freelancers who are out of their depth or simply lousy writers looking to pad out an answer to meet some word count. Take, for example, eHow.com's Linda Donahue, whom we came upon attempting to explain "How to Find the Intercepts of the Graph of the Equation."¹

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Home Wiring for Dummies

Yikes!
If you've ever performed a DIY project that involved potential danger -- repairing you car's brakes yourself, perhaps, or installing a natural gas appliance -- you know that moment of dread that comes as you make that critical test. Did I do everything right (hint: leftover parts probably mean, "No!")? Is this thing going to kill me? If the latter is a possibility, you were smart if you consulted 1) the instructions and 2) an authoritative source while looking for help. By "authoritative source," we definitely do not mean the likes of eHow.com's Cleveland van Cecil, who we caught endangering the DIY public in the post "How to Test the Wiring in a House."

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Metalworking for Dummies

More than a drill press...
The biggest danger of searching for "how-to" advice on the internet is running into advice from people who only googled the topic and transcribed what they found. If they already know something about the topic, they probably don't do much damage. If they'd never heard of the topic before typing it into the search box, well, the chances are pretty good they don't know enough to recognize when they've made mistakes. People in the know have long derided the self-described go-to howto website, eHow, for publishing wa-a-a-a-y too many articles written by people ignorant of the topic in question; people like journalism major and beauty expert Dawn Quinn, who somehow decided she was qualified to explain "How to Machine Hardened Steel." Hint: she wasn't.

If by "machine" the original questioner just meant "drill," Dawn managed to spit out some more or less on-topic copy, though we suspect that was merely reworded from far more authoritative websites (and perhaps an instruction manual). However, it's apparent from the get-go that she is talking through her hat, given that she says rubbish like

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Drum Brakes for Dummies

One of the adages we live by here at the Antisocial Network is that "If you ask a stupid question, you'll get a stupid answer." That situation's bad enough, we suppose, but it would be even worse to ask a sensible question and still get a stupid answer. If, however, it's a stupid answer you want, we usually suggest that you head on over to eHow.com where totally unqualified journalism, English lit and psychology graduates (and the occasional major) stand ready to answer all of your questions on topics in science and technology. Yeah, that's right: you might well end up with the likes of JanetB, with whom we caught up as she attempted to explain "Why do Front Drum Brakes Pull to the Side?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Water Heaters for Dummies

As research staffers at the Antisocial Network comb the internet looking for idiotic statements and misinformation from the keyboards of self-appointed freelancers, from time to time the cube farm echoes with howls of laughter. You gotta know, some of these people say the stupidest things -- but the best are the ones who pretend expertise by writing multiple, related articles. Take, for instance, meggie over at InfoBarrel.com: we nailed her... err, "singled her out" several months go for pretending she knew something about water heaters. It seems she decided to spin her (lack of) expertise into a second article on the topic: we suspect her home's water heater went tits-up, so she decided to write about what the Meggie household did wrong with the old one and what they bought to replace it. Sadly, she did a lousy job both times, including the latest piece she titled "Water Heater Maintenance."