Sunday, July 31, 2016

Prisms, Refraction and Dummies - The Freelance Files DLXV

A Prism Separating Different Colors of Light
Many greedy self-appointed freelance writers flocked to eHow in the early days, driven by a desire for quick cash without much work. The worst of them gleefully reworded or otherwise mangled primary sources as they "answered" -- and we use that word loosely -- a variety of questions harvested from the internet. Some claimed stronger qualifications than others, so it's most disheartening when we happen upon utter bullshit published on the site by someone with training in the field (it has happened, though). Today's DotD candidate is just that: J. T. Barett (aka John Papiewski?) says he has a B. S. in physics on his eHow profile, but there was precious little evidence of such training in the content he posted called "How do Prisms Work?"

Barett started off with an unforgivably stupid statement:

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Replacing an Accord Water Pump for Dummies - The Freelance Files DLXIV

Honda Water Pump Location
Yup, it's simple to get to, Heather...
Some of the staff at the Antisocial Network remember the days before emission controls on cars, back when an average guy could drive a car under a shade tree and give it a tuneup or even perform minor maintenance, like replacing a water pump. That's not gonna happen any more, not unless you own a classic car, anyway. That's why most people don't even  to their own basic maintenance, much less the "hard stuff." Of course, most of us will google the problem in hopes that it's so easy we can solve it with a butter knife and a pair of pliers -- and when that happens, the drones at eHow are there to "help." Help, like Heather Heinzer did in an article that was supposed to tell people "How to Replace the Water Pump on a 1992 Honda Accord."¹

Friday, July 29, 2016

Bicycle Tires for The Average Dummy - The Freelance Files DLXIII

bent bicycle rim and wheel
The world is full of earnest strivers, people who work hard for their money and want it to go as far as it can. So we can understand the quandary of the newbie cyclist who's just discovered how much replacing a road bike tire costs. Unlike Discount Tire, your local bike shop doesn't sell road hazard insurance and no manufacturer anywhere offers a mileage guarantee. So we understand why that newbie who just shelled out $90 for a pair of Gator DuraSkins (ignoring a name that sounds like a condom) would want to know "Expected Mileage on Road Bike Tires"¹ -- we get that. What we don't get is expecting a good answer from the likes of Elle Di Jensen (or asking at a place like ModernMom.com).

Jensen... Di Jensen? claims to be a "fitness professional." We know what that means, though: an aerobics or yoga instructor, perhaps one of those "personal trainers" at LA Fitness who misinform people about diet while trying to make everyone look like The Rock. Whether Elle has ridden a bicycle since she turned sixteen (or more likely thirteen) is, however, pretty questionable. We say that based on some of the crap in her introductory paragraph:

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Got Speedometer Problems, Dummy? - The Freelance Files DLXII

Speedometer, tachometer, instrument panel
Speedometer (center) and tachometer (left)
During our weekly Antisocial Network staff meeting (via GoToMeeting, of course) the research team like to share the most recent content they've read from the department of "so stupid I can't believe it!" Some of their finds really are unbelievable, though a great deal of the dumbassery arises from the deliberate use of poor-quality content spinning software (what our founder used to call "amokking in a thesaurus"). Some of it, however, is just plain stupidity -- greedy freelancers writing about anything they can Google, and getting it wrong. Wrong, we tell you, like the bullshit seven-time DotD winner Andrea Stein barfed out of her keyboard and onto the pages of eHow.com in a little ditty entitled "GMC Envoy Speedometer Problems" (now at ItStillRuns.com).

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wire Up that Chandelier, Dummies! - The Freelance Files DLXI

swag chandelier
One of our staff here at the Antisocial Network was once a contributor to eHow.com, which is how we know the secrets of what goes on within the cloistered halls of the web's most undependable source of advice and how-to articles. He... or is it she? explains that some of the more unscrupulous writers would grab a bunch of similar "titles" and then write all of them from the same set of references. Of course, if the contributor had no idea what he or she was talking about, it shouldn't be a surprise that the content is all worthless. Take, for instance, articles about electrical wiring written by history major Nichole Liandi. Take them, please! including "How to Install a Plug in a Chandelier" (note: Nichole also cobbled together "How to Hard Wire a Chandelier", with almost exactly the same instructions).

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Build Your Own Bicycle, Dummy! - The Freelance Files DLX

Parts needed to build a bicycle
We love finding idiotic internet DIY posts here at the Antisocial Network. In fact, we've collected links to a lot of the more moronic sets of "instructions" -- and we use that word loosely -- at a Pinterest page we call "Don't Do It Yourself." Most of the stupidity enshrined there falls under carpentry projects and home or car repair, but every once in a while we find something from another field that's stupid enough to add. That's the case today, as we feature the one and only David Bicycle (not a person's real name, we're almost certain -- though it might be subliminal advertising for a LBS in Taipei) who condensed the manufacture and assembly of the modern bicycle into a mere 500 words or so to post "Great Step By Step Instructions To Build a Bicycle" for the wise and wonderful HubPages.com.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Let's Make a Keyhole with a Router, Dummies! - The Freelance Files DLIX

Keyhole bit, keyhole, t-slot
Keyhole and T-slot cut with router
Most people seem to comprehend the use of the most common power tool; i.e., the cordless drill/driver -- at least the research crew at the Antisocial Network have caught only a few freelancers botching instructions for using one. As you move up the complexity scale in power tools, however -- to jig saw, circular saw, etc. -- you run into fewer and fewer of the journalism and political science majors familiar enough with the tool to write about it. Routers, it seems, are unfamiliar enough to most money-grubbing freelancers that they have to look them up -- aren't they something to do with the internet? Today's DotD award goes to one Victor Fonseca, a PolySci major who was way out of his depth when he tried to tell readers "How to Use a Keyhole Bit in a Router." Fonseca isn't the first eHowian confused by the concept of a keyhole bit, and probably won't be the last...

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Superscripts in Microsoft Word for Dummies - The Freelance Files DLVIII

The internet is just jam-packed with people who think they're experts, are we right? Sure we are: whether the subject is politics, celebrities, autism, finance, what have you; you can certainly find a self-proclaimed "expert" somewhere with a WWW address to answer just about any question. But can you trust them to get it right? No, you can't -- especially if they're only permitted fifty words to 'splain their credentials. Credentials like those of Filonia LeChat (a nom de plume if we've ever seen one; real name Heather Brautman) of eHow, whose bio claims she's "a technical writer whose major skill sets include the MS Office Suite" and holds not one but two masters degrees. With all that training, however, she still couldn't get it right when she had to explain "How to Get the Squared Symbol in Word."

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Batteries, Sparks, and Dummies - The Freelance Files DLVII

Do not connect jumper cables like this
Don't connect jumper cables like this!
It is said that is it better to keep your mouth shut and be thought an idiot than to open it and remove all doubt. At least that's what they used to say before the internet; now they say, "On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog." That anonymity, combined with good old-fashioned greed, led a lot of people to write utter bullshit in the guise of "answers" to burning questions. Yep, we're talking about eHow contributors and their output... contributors like journalism graduate (of the Ernie Pyle School of Journalism? what a tragedy!) Kristine Brite, who it appears skipped every science class along the way to her degree. We know this because of what she said in "Why Does the Battery Cable Spark When Placed on the Post?" for ItStillRuns.com.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Write that C Program, Dummies! - The Freelance Files DLVI

programming in the C language not C++ not C#
Back in olden days, when knights and knaves ruled the land and personal disputes were settled with broadswords instead of Glock 9s, only a few learned folk knew how to code -- or, as they called it in those days, "program a computer." Now everyone (thinks he or she) knows how to code, although being able to move colored boxes around isn't actually coding... but we digress. Some of the early eHowians liked to pretend this skill as well, including first-timer Victor Fonseca. We know Fonseca was a coding dumbass because we've read the content he wrote for "How to Delete a File in C"¹... let's just  say, it was pretty obvious...

...obvious from the very first sentence in the post:

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Colored Lights for Dummies - The Freelance Files DLV

In the nasty old days of internet content farms, almost anyone who could write a coherent sentence -- strike that: anyone who could reword a coherent sentence or even pretend to write a coherent sentence -- could pick up spare cash writing at sites like Helium and eHow. The former disappeared (although a site calling itself ActForLibraries is randomly reposting all its content), while the latter lives on, spinning its bullshit into "niche sites" like scienceing.com Unfortunately, this means the utter bullshit English and journalism majors visited on the website under a pretense of "information" lives on, too. We've already pointed out one such writer, Jorina Fontelera, twice; she's back again in a new category, misinforming the world about physics in "How do Light Filters Work?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Mixing Oil with Water for Dummies - The Freelance Files DLIV

Oil and Water in an Emulsion
Like just about everyone else on Earth, our staff here at the Antisocial Network are familiar with the phrase "like oil and water." The phrase denotes two people, concepts, etc. that (supposedly) simply don't mix. Of course, having taken an elementary chemistry course or two (required of our researchers, English or Journalism degree or not), our researchers are familiar with the concept of an emulsion -- a mixture of oil and water (or any two immiscible liquids, for that matter). While attempting to teach about emulsions without not actually using the word, eHow's Kelly Sundstrom (BA in Music...) got herself into trouble with the post "How to Mix Water With Oil."

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Newton's Laws for Dummies, By a Dummy - The Freelance Files DLIII

Impact of a  bullet, Newton's second law
There are lots of reasons why the television show "The Big Bang Theory" is wildly popular. It could be because Penny is hot (though not as hot as she was when the show premiered). It could be because it's amusing to make fun of Sheldon's obvious OCD + Aspergers + other tics and twitches. Here at the Antisocial Network, however, we think it's because it's supposedly funny to mock things we don't understand, and the four guys are all scientists -- three of them different flavors of physicist -- and most people don't "get" physics. No, they don't get it at all, and eHow's Neal Litherland is the perfect example. Just look at how this dumbass screwed up "Newton's Laws of Motion Made Easy" at Sciencing.com.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Time for Thunderstorms, Dummies! - The Freelance Files DLII

not raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens
When we got to Antisocial Network's headquarters this morning it was raining cats and dogs outside -- we know this is true because one of us stepped in a poodle (rimshot!). So we thought this would be a fine opportunity to find out what our research staff had unearthed on the web along the lines of freelance stupidity about the weather. As luck would have it, we found this bit of scientific illiteracy penned by eHow's Lee Morgan, who had already unimpressed us with his grasp of science in a biology post at the same site. Morgan's course of study for his a "mass communications" degree apparently didn't include that favorite of the non-scientifically inclined, Weather 101, as he made pretty obvious in the piece he wrote for the title "Why Does it Rain When the Pressure Is Low?"

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Drill, Baby, Drill! for Dummies - The Freelance Files DLI

oil well drilling
There seem to be few topics about which the average American is more ill-informed than how "exploration for gasoline" works; among them are string theory, neurosurgery, and rocket science. We suspect that, if our staff petroleum geologist could survive the inevitable migraines, we could mine the internet for misinformation about the oil industry for months (there are, admittedly, some places that seem to get it right). We've had today's candidate on the back burner for a while, mainly because the author is anonymous -- we understand, we wouldn't want to admit we're that stupid, either -- but here's what the eHow Careers and Work Editor had to tell us about "How to Strike Oil." Strike oil, indeed...

When an eHow post starts out with inane garbage like

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Change Them Spark Plugs, Dummies! - The Freelance Files DL

Spark Plugs
Around here we love it when a money-hungry freelancer attempts to get people to leave the comfort of the couch and try a new skill -- because about half the time, the writer doesn't have the skill him- or her-self to begin with. We especially like it when someone tries to get a woman to do "a man's job"; mainly because we like to give our DotD award to someone for insulting women. So without further ado, let's meet the freelancer -- a woman herself -- who raised our collective ire here at the Antisocial Network  today: she's Joanna Millar (Msmillar at HubPages.com) whose condescending little article is entitled "Change Your Spark Plugs" -- though we noticed by looking at the URL that the content was originally titled "Ladies, Change Your Spark Plugs"...

Friday, July 15, 2016

Calculate that R-Value, Dummies! - The Freelance Files DXLIX

Insulation and R-Values
As our research staff here at the Antisocial Network ply the currents of the internet in search of people more interested in cash than accuracy, time and again they return to eHow. It's just so easy to find bullshit there, they tell us at the annual reviews... Well, they're back again, with another "how-to" article written by someone who not only gets the answer wrong, she also gets the question wrong! and this from a librarian, one of the people who used to be the best places to get information. Our hearts are saddened... whatever: she's Heather Lindsay, a first-timer here at the DotD awards, who took a break from an ongoing obsession with potassium (what's that about, Heather?) to pen an eHow called "How to Calculate R-Value." And boy, did she get things wrong!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Got a Flat on Your Bicycle, Dummy? - The Freelance Files DXLVIII

Bicycle with a Flat Tire
It's been a while since we looked into some of the stupidity about bicycles that has made it onto the internet. To be sure, there is good information in forums and at places like the website of the late, lamented Sheldon Brown. The cycling enthusiasts here at the Antisocial Network only look at supposed how-to cycling articles on eHow and HubPages to see just how dumb some of those asses are... and boy, did we find a winner for today! As you probably expected, our winning entry comes from eHow.com, where it's been online since 2007. The freelancer who sprayed this bull all over the internet called himself Zundy, and good ol' Zund was allegedly trying to explain "How to Change a Flat Bike Tire." We say "allegedly" because, well, the article reads  more like a prank than a how-to.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Draw an Oval, Dummy! - The Freelance Files DXLVII

Oval or Ellipse
Ellipse (L), one of many oval shapes (R)
In their daily headbanging sessions, the Antisocial Network research team often run into the same misconceptions repeated by multiple freelancers. You could search our blog for the tag "origin of oil and gas" to see how many people think a petroleum reservoir is a "pocket" or a "pool." Science is hard, after all, but apparently so is math. To be more specific, so is geometry. We've already seen at least one money-hungry freelancer who doesn't know the definition of an oval, and lo and behold, we just found another one! This one's eHow.com contributor Mark Morris, a first-timer here at the DotD awards. Mark's assignment? "How to Cut an Oval Shape From Wood Board." In spite of  his "fifteen years of professional carpentry experience," Mark blew this one...

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Renewable Fuels, the Dummies Version - The Freelance Files DXLVI

Electrolysis of Water
We hear a lot about a "polarized society" these days ("No duh!" as the kids used to say). Perhaps one of the reasons for this polarization is intellectual laziness, the tendency to let others do our thinking for us... so we can do more important things like sending pictures of our latest meal to our Instagram feed or sexting with our BFF in Snapchat. Really, people, if you devoted as much time to learning as you do to social media... Anyway, speaking of a lack of intellectual rigor, that's the topic of today's mini-rant. You see, we recently turned up a bit of rubbish on DailyTwoCents.com, a small chunk of content published by one Athena Goodlight that she titled "More Water Powered Cars, Please."

Monday, July 11, 2016

Arizona, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files DXLV

 Map of Arizona
One of our founders used to write for a well-known but now-defunct site that published product reviews from "everyday people." After the site implemented member forums, it was common to find an ongoing discussion, often flame-filled, of the notion that everyone can write well. He was in the "That's bullshit!" camp, arguing that it's just as unlikely as everyone being able to sing well or everyone being a better-that-average golfer: the bell curve is just not in favor of the notion. That doesn't stop some folks from trying desperately to get better through practice -- and, they seem to think, "If you have to practice, you might as well get paid for it!" That's apparently the mantra of Isabelle Esteves, who flogs her keyboard for WritEdge.com (and a few other places); specializing in semifactual and poorly-written travel advice, among other topics. Today, Iz is going to tell everyone "How Arizona Became a State."

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Build that Hexagon, Dummy! - The Freelance Files DXLIV

jig for making complementary angles on miter saw
One sign of a dumbass in action that the Antisocial Network researchers watch for is the habit of over-wording explanations. Instead of laying out information in simple words with linear flow, the freelancer who is faking it may use jargon or overly complex construction in an effort to conceal unfamiliarity with the topic at hand. One of our researchers -- a near-suicidal guy who spends way too much time reading rubbish at eHow -- turned up a mess written by Michael Logan for the mother lode of dumbassery, an article called "How to Cut Wood Angles for Hexagons" (now located at niche site Hunker.com). To say "overly complex" is... an understatement.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Install that New Thermostat, Dummy! - The Freelance Files DXLIII

Thermostat wiring for hookup
As we have noticed on many occasions here at the Antisocial Network, one of the most obvious tip-offs that a freelancer is bullshitting is that he or she pulls a bait-and-switch. We try to identify those posts that contain serious errors, but sometimes the post is just plain "off." It's not unusual to find posts written by clueless freelancers that have one title while their content addresses a different topic, which is bad enough, or in which the author's just trying to sell you something. Today's awardee is an example of the former: eHowian and "creative writing" graduate Chasity Goddard left her favorite topic, gutters, behind for once while attempting to tell her readers "How to Hook Up a Thermostat." Unfortunately, Chasity got a bit confused and the Content Editor was no help...

Friday, July 8, 2016

Calculate that Markup, Dummy! - The Freelance Files DXLII

Many an intrepid entrepreneur is convinced he or she can make a killing in our service economy by selling things. Might as well, folks, now that well-paying manufacturing jobs are going the way of the dodo and the passenger pigeon! Of course, a lot of those would-bes come to the sales floor unprepared (the result of journalism and English Lit degrees, perhaps). Some are even so... benighted that they need help on the absolute basics of retail sales, asking the internet community to help them figure out "How to Markup from Cost." If they're lucky, they won't be getting that help from the likes of Alicia Bodine at eHow.com -- that wouldn't be helpful at all.

Alicia appears to understand the basic concept of a markup, or at least she managed to find some sort of reference (perhaps written at a fifth-grade level?) that could explain to her that

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Miter Saws for Dummies - The Freelance Files DXLI

Hitachi C8FSE Sliding Power Miter Saw
In a world where hyperbole apparently rules, overstatement and exaggeration are acceptable and only bald-faced lies are not allowed (NOTE: this was written pre-Trump). Of course, politics is the exception to even that lack of rules -- but we digress. As far as the money-grubbers among freelancers are concerned, anything you want to say that might pull in eyeballs is fair game, even if the statement is demonstrably stupid or untrue. That's why we've singled out today's DotD, a gent who chose the name PowerToolExpert (real name Dustin Fredrickson) at InfoBarrel.com and dashed off bucketloads of nearly identical "reviews" of tools for a few weeks back in 2009 (not content with the bucks he was making there, Dustin bought his own domain where he publishes his half-assed content to this day). As for the reviews (and Dustin's claimed "expertise"), we took a look at an example he called "Hitachi Miter Saw" -- not a very... SEO-y title, eh?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Can You Read Your Barometer, Dummy? - The Freelance Files DXL

storm glass barometer
Ever shopped a garage sale?  a rummage sale at a local church? Of course you have! and while you were there, you probably picked up some gewgaw that caught your eye, getting it for a song. Of course, when you got it home, you realized that it didn't come with instructions... but wait! there's the internet! And so you type your question into Google (or Bing, or maybe even Yahoo -- if you're a little paranoid, DuckDuckGo) and voila! an answer! The problem, of course, is that the person who answered your question may have known exactly as much as you -- someone like Racheal Ambrose of eHow, who tripped herself up with the simple question "How to Read a Glass Weather Barometer."¹

The young journalism graduate quickly made it obvious that she had no idea what she was talking about, introducing the "glass barometer" like so:

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Got Rolling Diameter, Dummy? - The Freelance Files DXXXIX

new tires
We don't know about you, but the staff of the Antisocial Network would greatly prefer that someone who can tell his or her ass from a hole in the ground be the one to answer our questions. As a middle-school teacher once told one of us, the truly smart person isn't the one who knows the answer, it's the one who knows who to ask. In the age of the internet, though, we find that the truly dumb person is the one who pretends to know, asks someone who does know, and then garbles the answer. You know, people like some-time music critic and PolySci graduate Madison Velding-VanDam of eHow, who stepped way outside his comfort zone to bullshit his way through an explanation, of sorts, of "How to Calculate Rolling Diameter."¹

Of course, to answer that question, one needs to know what "rolling diameter" is -- but Madison doesn't seem to know:

Monday, July 4, 2016

Learn Technology, Dummy! - The Freelance Files DXXXVIII

Modern technology spans the world
Our research staff here at the Antisocial Network are lazy sometimes; though not as lazy as the copy, reword and paste freelancers they uncover. Their laziness takes the form of following serial dumbasses around the internet with google, just looking for their latest stupidities. Once in a while we let them -- and today's one of those days. After her fairly lengthy absence from our little corner of the 'net, one of them spotted a blog authored by the site's undisputed champion, eighteen-time winner of our Dumbass award, Joan Whetzel. One of Joan's blog posts more or less explains why she continues to appear in this column: take a look at "Technologically Challenged -- Chapter 2" and see if you agree.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Read a Barometer, Dummy! - The Freelance Files DXXXVII

Aneroid barometer used as altimeter
As a wise old sage (probably our founder...) once said, "Even a blind pig finds the occasional acorn." Heck, there's a plaque in the break room at Antisocial Network HQ (on the wall above our Gaggia espresso maker) with that saying: it means, more or less, that even idiots get things right once in a while. That's definitely the case with eHow contributors, self-appointed freelancers like "communications graduate" Alexis Writing, whom our researchers found declaiming about "The Uses of Barometers," now (for no known reason) on Leaf Group's Hunker.com. In Alexis' case, the blind pig was able to produce a list of uses -- but their presentation left it obvious that she had no earthly idea what she was saying...

Take, for instance, her DMS-mandated introduction (75-100 words). This masterpiece of information blithely tells her readers that

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Build a Birdhouse, Dummy! - The Freelance Files DXXXVI

bluebird nesting box
The research staff here at the Antisocial Network often watch the many birds who visit the feeders mounted on the break room deck. It's such a favorite pastime that there's a shelf of bird identification books and binoculars by the window with the best view. On a good day, you can spot dozens of different species, from house finches to a pileated woodpecker, at the feeders; not to mention the occasional red-shouldered hawk patrolling the yard for unwary diners. There are also a scattering of birdhouses on the grounds, but none of them were built following the instructions Mandi Rogier supplied to eHow visitors in "Plans to Build a Birdhouse." We suspect no bird would bother...

If one were to follow Mandi's plans, one would construct a diamond-shaped birdhouse about 6½ inches on a side with a one-inch hole for, as Rogier puts it, "the entrance and exit of the birdhouse" -- we had to admit this gave us pause: we know of no birdhouses that have separate entrance and exit holes...

Friday, July 1, 2016

Check that Network Connection, Dummy! - The Freelance Files DXXXV

network connection problems
Ever had problems with your internet service? Ever wondered just why, when you call the customer support line (ptui!), the interminable message that greets you suggests that you visit support on the web? Yeah, we've wondered, too: you're calling on a phone because you can't contact them via the web! Well, it appears that one of the folks who wrote that script (and, we suspect, provides customer support from someplace like the Seychelles, the Philippines, or central India) is here to help you with the post someone claiming to be Arthurart on HubPages.com called "Tips On How To Fix The Network Connection." We won't say "Arthur" wrote it, because it's painfully obvious (much as in his travel articles) that he found an article somewhere and ran it through a content spinner -- maybe even found two and combined them. In other words, "Yuck."