Monday, October 31, 2016

Identifying Electrical Wires, the Dummy Version

Electrical wiring
We're pretty much of the opinion that if you want reliable information about the many systems around your home, you should ask someone who's actually worked on those systems. Even then, you may need to take the information with a grain of salt: just because plumbers charge $119/hour doesn't mean they're always right. It's for darned sure, though, that just about anyone who's done electrical work more complicated than installing a ceiling fan knows more about wiring than your average college history major – but that didn't stop eHow.com contributor Michael O. Smathers from pretending enough expertise to tell readers "How to Identify Hot and Neutral Electrical Wiring" (now at Hunker.com).

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Plumbing and Beauty Again, the Dummy Version

mineral buildup in a pipe
Let's be honest: our researchers can be lazy sometimes: say, the Friday afternoon before a long weekend or mid-afternoon on New Year's Eve... and when that happens, they often revisit a DotD they haven't seen in a while. That happened recently (dreams of Halloween candy?) when a staffer turned up an article by Tammy Poague of HubPages.com. It's a sister to another article we featured at the dawn of the website, and in the new one ("Help! My Pipes Are Clogged and I Don't Know Why") Tammy reveals herself to be just as clueless as ever...

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Tractor Tires and Inflation, the Dummy Way

tractor tire with ballast fluid
If you've never heard of the television show "Green Acres," you can probably be forgiven -- it ran even before the "golden age of television" sometime in the mid sixties. A city boy decided he wanted to move to a farm but his wife was less than enthusiastic. In the introduction, you saw star Eddie Albert driving an old red Farmall tractor while wearing a business suit... 'nuff said. We suspect that Eddie knew as much or more than eHowian Kurt Schanaman when it came to the tries on those tractors. Apparently Kurt had never seen one leak before he penned an article called "How to Fill a Tractor Tire" for the mother lode of misinformation (since moved to Sciencing.com).

Friday, October 28, 2016

Frequency, Hertz and Waves - the Dummies Version

Frequency in Hertz
In the Antisocial Network's staff meeting last week one of our researchers noticed that we hadn't revisited one of our favorite DotD winners for a while (not since the beginning of the month, anyway), which is something considering that she's already a 21-time winner of the award in nine – count 'em – nine different categories! We (think we) first found her holding forth on the physics of sound, so what better topic to revisit the one and only Joan Whetzel except watching her make a fool of herself in her HubPages post, "Frequency, Hertz, and Waves" (Joan's a big fan of the Oxford comma).

Joan, as usual, powers up her well-oiled misinformation machine in the very first paragraph:

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Power Conversions the Dummy Way

Transformer coil count, 120V to 12 V
In case you haven't noticed it by now, we here at the Antisocial Network are mighty peeved by all the freelancers who know nothing about a topic and yet run out and write about it anyway. One of the more irritating types of content written by these bozos is an answer to the wrong question, written because the freelancer had no idea that there was a different interpretation. One such internet post, which we found at eHow.com (no surprise there) came from a guy named Kurt Schanaman, We found Kurt trying to explain "How to Convert 120V to 12V" at HomeSteady.com.

Schanaman's opening salvo in his alleged how-to? This:

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How A Dummy Builds an Electrical Circuit

battery bulb and switch
The internet, it's been said, is a place where nobody knows you're a dog. According to the Antisocial Network research staff, its also the place where you get to pretend you're not a dumbass -- unfortunately, you leave the evidence of your stupidity out there for anyone to see. One of our researchers came across some content not long ago that proves beyond a doubt that eHowian Megan Smith (aka Lindsay Champion), despite her BFA from NYU, is a DotD. Why would we say that? Because we read through Megan's "directions" for "How to Make Something Light Up With a Battery and a Switch."¹

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tides, the Dummy Version

Position of the Moon and Tides
In case you haven't noticed, a lot of people are concerned about the rising level of scientific illiteracy of the American public -- one of the reasons you keep haring about STEM programs in the schools. We have staffers who've been involved in STEM programs for more than 20 years, but when they see some of the dumbassery published by freelancers on the internet, they despair. Take, for instance, the "explanation" of "What Causes High and Low Tides?"¹ that journalism and creative writing graduate Ross Garner penned for eHow.com...

Monday, October 24, 2016

Doors and Locks, the Dummy Way

doorknob lock parts diagram
One of the first things most people do when they move into a new house is to change all the locks. After all, you never know when the previous owner's Cousin Junior or that weird neighbor with the eye patch is gonna drop by and use the key someone left them for watering the plants, right? You can either re-key the locks or just change them completely. The second option doesn't require a locksmith, and the truth is that changing a lock isn't all that hard. Well, it isn't all that hard if you don't make the mistake of using eHow, where we found Kelly Nuttall holding forth in a post titled "How to Remove Schlage Locks."

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Unix Aliases, the Dummy Way

It's said that "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing." Perhaps nowhere on the internet has the truth of that adage been given more clarity than in the Demand Media Studios family of websites, beginning with the oft-maligned (and deservedly so) eHow.com. That's where self-appointed freelancers like Micah McDunnigan leveraged their googling skills to "explain" all manner of technical topics in return for a small stipend. The ensuing rush to "perform" combined with the lack of knowledge of the site's fact-checkers was responsible for tens of thousands of posts full of misinformation and downright errors -- rubbish like McDunnigan's own "How to Save an Alias in UNIX."¹

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Finding Diagonals of a Rhombus the Dummy Way

shape of rhombus
If you've ever watched a political debate, you've probably realized that the best way to avoid answering a potentially embarrassing question is to answer a different question. Political types call this "pivoting to a different topic." Some content-farm freelancers are quite comfortable with the technique, merrily answering one question while pretending to answer another. Take, for example, eHow's Jack Ori: Jack (real name Stephanie Silberstein) deliberately misread one of his questions and ended up giving only a partial answer to "How to Calculate the Diagonals of Rhombuses."¹

Friday, October 21, 2016

Bathtub Stoppers, the Dummy Version

bathtub popup stopper
People ask the weirdest questions at internet search engines. We know, we've asked some of them -- like "How do you install a through-the-wall dog door?" The website eHow.com made boatloads of money by harvesting those questions and letting "contributors" answer them. Or, punctuated more nearly correctly, letting contributors "answer" them; since many of the contributors had no idea what they were talking about. A case in point is four-time DotD Alicia Bodine, whom we caught attempting to tell her readers the answer to the age-old question at Hunker.com, "How Does a Bathtub Drain-Stopper Work?"

We've found through extensive research (and a lot of migraines) that Bodine is pretty typical of eHow contributors in that she merely throws enough words on the page to 1) meet the minimum word count and 2) bamboozle a content editor who knows exactly as little as Bodine about the topic at hand. In this case, Alicia starts by explaining that

Thursday, October 20, 2016

FTP Site Permission, the Dummy Way

Access permissions
We don't know about everyone, but we rather suspect that if someone needs information, he or she would prefer to get the answer from a person who already knew it instead of having to look it up. A few of our staffers are old enough to remember calling the reference desk at the local library looking for information, but in that case 1) you were speaking to a trained researcher and 2) that researcher read you the information written by an authority. Unfortunately, neither 1 nor 2 is the case in most of content farm rubbish we expose here. Take, for instance, the case of Tiesha Whatley who told the readers of eHow.com "How to Change Permissions to an FTP Site."¹

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Visiting Black Canyon of the Gunnison with a Dummy

Black Canyon of the Gunnison
If you were to take a vote of the Antisocial Network staffers, their favorite place on earth would probably be the Colorado Plateau. This great highland that surrounds the Four Corners region is quite probably topographically unique, not to mention downright gorgeous. That may be why one of the staffers was taken aback by the misinformation spread across HubPages by Richard Francis Fleck (juneaukid) in a post he called "Our National Parks: Black Canyon of the Gunnison: A Place of Wonder."

Several of our staffers are quite familiar with the Black Canyon, although not the version Fleck describes... Richard opens his little travelogue by telling his readers,

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Sense of Sinkholes, the Dummy Way

Sinkhole, House for Scale
Once upon a time, there were dozens of so-called content farms competing for eyeballs (and ad revenue) across the 'net. Google's Panda changed all that in late 2011, although some people apparently didn't get the message. One of the folks who still kept pounding out articles peppered with keywords and other tricks inspired by self-proclaimed SEO gurus was Deborah L. Osae-Oppong of HubPages, who -- despite her background in health sciences and communications -- opted to explain "The Science of Sinkholes: How to Survive" back in 2013. Presumably,  Deborah's interest in the topic was solely financial, given a mini-rash of sinkhole incidents in Florida and Illinois about that time. But "how to survive"? Let's see what she says...

Monday, October 17, 2016

Building a Bed the Dummy Way

There is a lot of information -- and we use the word "information" loosely -- on the internet that is, at best, suspect. We know, we know: that's no surprise. What pisses us off is that people who know jack about a subject will happily spray bullshit all over the 'net in hopes of picking up a few extra pennies. We sometimes wonder: did these people even realize how wrong the shit they published is? Say, for instance, did eHow's Laura N. Stuart know she was in over her head while writing up the remarkably simple "How to Build a Double Bed"?¹ We're feeling charitable today, so we'll assume the woman with a "Bachelor of Mass Communications" degree is simply greedy and not completely stupid...

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Timing Belts, Lawyers and Dummies

Timing Belt
Long-time readers of the Antisocial Network (Hi, Mom!) may have noticed that we occasionally devote a week to a topic or a website for which there's sufficient stupidity floating around the web. We've done plumbing, tectonics, the oil business, math, and some other topics; but we've never picked out a profession. If we did so that. J-school grads and people who hold degrees in "communications" might feel sorry for themselves... Be that as it may, you'd think lawyers wouldn't have the time (according to "The Paper Chase," anyway) or the need to augment their income at sites like eHow, but apparently not: we know of more than one lawyer who wrote bull there. Well, we found yet another not long ago, She's Vanessa Padgalskas, who posted lots of content about Rolex watches and Mercedes-Benz autos. She also posted "What Are the Symptoms of a Timing Belt Going Bad?" (now at ItStillRuns.com) -- as if she'd ever heard of a timing belt before...

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Melting Points, the Dummy Version

Heat, latent heat, and melting point
It doesn't take long before any new member of the Antisocial Network research staff figures out that a lot of the misinformation floating around the internet was put there by people who were more interested in money than accuracy. Take, for instance, the entire family of Demand Media websites... take them, please! Much of the rubbish presented by eHow contributors arises from their lack of familiarity with their topic, particularly liberal arts grads faced with science topics -- liberal arts grads like PolySci type Tom Lutzenberger, attempting to explain the scientific basis of "What Forces Must Be Overcome for a Substance to Melt?"¹ Tom's skills at misinformation have already earned him six DotD awards...

Friday, October 14, 2016

What a Relief! Topography the Dummy Way

Topographic relief, topography and relief
If scientific illiteracy weren't so disturbing, the science types here at the Antisocial Network would find hilarity in the way some liberal arts majors turned freelancers flail about when faced with a technical question. Unfortunately, the dross they've published on the internet gets mixed in with more accurate information, which is at best confusing to people seeking information and at worst dangerous. Today's example, fortunately, is from the confusing end of the spectrum: English major (BA, MFA) Enrica Jang tackled the simple question, "How Are Relief and Topography Related?"¹ -- and ended up writing a truly pitiful post at eHow.com...

Thursday, October 13, 2016

All Hail the Dummy Way! - The Freelance Files DCXXXVIII

hail damage on car's hood, Tucson, Arizona
We've noticed over the years that freelance dumbassery seems to be most prevalent at sites where contributors choose from "pre-seeded" titles (e.g., eHow.com). That doesn't mean that self-proclaimed experts on everything don't spread bullshit across HubPages and similar sites, though the latter seem to feature somewhat more content from people who know that they're talking about -- at least now. Back in the bad old days, though, such bullshit artists were everywhere hoping to craft a keyword-rich post and title that would go viral. About zero did, but that never stopped anyone... and it didn't stop InfoBarrel writer Mariuski when s/he tried to explain "How Can Hail Damage a Car?"

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Flash Memory, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files DCXXXVII

USB flash Drive
Is there anything more irritating than searching the internet for real information and finding bullshit instead? Let's say, for example, that you want to know how your car's automatic transmission does it's job. You google "how does an automatic transmission work," and what do you find in your results? Some bozo telling you to "Place the gear selector in Drive to move forward and into Reverse to move backward"! That's not how it works, you dumbass! Yet Demand Media paid their "contributor" Tiesha Whatley to do the exact same thing for the topic, "How does a Memory Stick Work?"¹, which they moved to ItStillWorks.com. Ptui.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Soils and Your Foundation, the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files DCXXXVI

Soil classification chart
One of the earliest internet memes was (we suspect, at least), "If it's on the internet, it has to be true." Another early one was, "On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog." Around the Antisocial Network, we have a corollary to both. We believe it's our sacred duty to expose those dogs (as dumbasses) and, by doing so, help bring the internet up to speed. With that in mind, let's see what the mother lode of internet stupidification has in store for us today. It's a repeat visitor, three-time DotD Jorina Fontelera, who leveraged her  B. A. in English to explain (we use the term loosely) "Soil Types for Foundations."

Monday, October 10, 2016

Manual Trannies and Reverse, the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files DCXXXV

shift lever showing six-speed gear shift pattern
We don't know about anyone else, but if you were to ask the staff of the Antisocial Network which website is responsible for proliferating more bullshit on the internet than any other, a year ago we'd have said "eHow." That, however, may no longer be true because of something called "niche sites." Yep, the people at Demand Media Studios (DMS, as in "You can't spell 'dumbass' without 'DMS'!") have begun spinning off niche sites (e.g., Techwalla) and in some cases selling content outright. Today's DotD candidate was one of a bunch shipped off to subsidiary Leaf.tv, but it's still the same bull with the same structure and other inane rules. Ladies and Gentlemen, we give you Hunkar Ozyasar and "How to Drive a Stick Shift on Reverse." Do note that the bizarre preposition "on" was in the original question, and DMS rules generally prohibit changing wording of questions, stupid or not.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Funky Floor Joists, the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files DCXXXIV

Ever bought a house? A really old house? Well, they come with character, by which we mean "necessary repairs." Our founder once lived in a house that was well over a hundred years old, and he has plenty of stories to tell. One thing he learned from completely rebuilding one of his porches is the art of "sistering" a floor joist. It's something he's actually done, which makes him fairly competent to explain how to do it -- as opposed to eHow's Dakota Wright, a journalism grad who merely reworded someone else's instructions in "How to Replace Floor Joists" at HomeSteady.com.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Raising the American Flag the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files DCXXXIII

United States Flag
You can find almost anything on the internet: we know, because the internet says so. What the research staffers at the Antisocial Network have also found to be true is that no matter what the topic, you can find someone on the internet babbling about it for money and, unfortunately, what they say isn't necessarily correct. The mother lode of misinformation seems to be the Demand Media (now Leaf Group) sites like eHow. SFGate and Synonym, but there are plenty of other places as well. eHow's the former home of today's DOTD, three-time winner Jonae Fredericks, who took time out from her usual writing about cooking and disease symptoms to explain "How to Raise the Flag" (now at HomeSteady.com)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Through-the-Wall Air Conditioning, the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files DCXXXII

through the wall air conditioner
When they want to go outside, pooches who spend their days at Antisocial Network HQ are reduced to staring at the staff and telepathically transmitting the phrase, "Lemme out: I wanna pee." It seems to work... but we're pretty sure they'd rather have their own doggy door so they can leave whenever they want. The problem? No one on the staff wants to tackle installing a through-the-wall doggy door, even though some of us are pretty handy. Which makes us wonder why someone who we're pretty sure isn't very handy had the gall to publish "How to Install an AC Unit in the Wall" at eHow.com (now HomeSteady.com). Why do we suspect Debbie Lamb isn't all that handy? Besides having read her post, we doubt that the topic came up while she was getting that AA in journalism...

Thursday, October 6, 2016

pH Strips, the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files DCXXXI

pH test strips
Just when our staffers here at the Antisocial Network think they've found the dumbest rubbish ever posted to the internet in hopes of picking up a few extra pennies, along comes a new candidate. As you might expect, our research team has once again gone to that inexhaustible well of dumbassery, the intersection of STEM and eHow.com. For today's demonstration of scientific illiteracy we're calling on an English major (and wedding planner) named Tiesha Whatley, who astounded one of our team with what she had to say about "How to Use pH Strips" at Healthfully.com.

Yep: a wedding planner holding forth on chemistry... what could go wrong here? Well, plenty, starting with Tiesha's very first statement:

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Metric to English, the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files DCXXX

Millimeter to Inch comparison
We've always found it strange that we Americans are so resistant to the idea of metrification, especially given the innumeracy rampant on our side of the pond. You'd think that jumble of conversion factors in the English (Imperial) system -- 12 inches per foot, sixteen ounces per pound, 4 quarts per gallon, 5280 feet per mile, and so on -- would quickly drive all the Yanks who can't do long division into the simple decimal arms of the metric system; but nooooo... So fifth-graders across the country find themselves turning to the internet for help with conversions. Heaven help them if they turn to eHow's Harry Havemeyer, because here's a guy who's not only wrong ("How to Convert 3.5 Millimeters to Inches"¹), he isn't even consistent ("How to Convert 220 mm to Inches"): talk about a dumbass!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Gas Pressure and Weight, the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files DCXXIX

Gas molecules under pressure
Unlike so many of the content farmers who spread copious amounts of manure across the internet a few years ago, here at the Antisocial Network most of our staffers have training in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). It makes no difference whether it's formal education or on-the-job skills, they've acquired at least some scientific literacy. That's apparently not the case of many eHow.com contributors who "claimed titles" in science, though: instead, they relied on their crack journalism skills... as did historian cum sociologist cum professional journalist W. D. Adkins the day he tried to show readers "How to Figure the Weight of Gas in a Cylinder" at Sciencing.com.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Copper Wire Gauge, the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files DCXXVIII

Measure diameter and gauge of copper wire with a wire gauge
Although occasionally our researchers at the Antisocial Network run across people who should know better saying stupid stuff, most of the time we metaphorically slap around people who just pretend to know what they're talking about. We should add that, unless the content makes a significant addition to the stupidification of the internet, we don't bother with people who say dumb shit for free. Be that as it may, nothing chaps our collective hiney like people who know so little about a topic that they don't even understand the question, but write about it anyway. Journalism and "communication" graduates are particularly prone to such antics, especially the ones like eHow's Nicole Schmoll. We caught up with Nicole as she was attempting to explain "How to Find the Diameter of a Copper Wire."¹

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Pet Doors in Glass, the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files DCXXVII

A pet door installed in a glass patio door
In the days before the internet, about the only way you could spread total bull was to publish a book or some sort of yellow-journalism broadsheet (or perhaps film a political ad for TV). Take, for example, the ridiculous concept of a "hollow earth," one of many such hoaxes in the pre-internet age. In the age of the internet, ordinary (albeit greedy) folks have come out of the woodwork to explain how to perform impossible feats just because someone Googled them -- and many of these impostors picked up their paychecks from eHow.com. Here's one now: Owen E. Richason IV, who pretended to explain to some poor sap, "How to Install a Pet Door in Glass" at HomeSteady.com. Oh, the horror...

We'll admit right up front that such a thing is possible: you can, indeed, buy a doggy door (or a kitty flap) that installs through the glass of a sliding patio door and perhaps even a full-light storm door What you can't do, however, is install the damned thing yourself. For one thing, you can't cut tempered glass, which is what is in most of those doors. For another, you probably can't cut a double-pane glass door. Every manufacturer of through-glass doors specifically states that their product should be installed by a professional glazier!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Using Roget's Thesaurus the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files DCXXVI

Roget Thesaurus
In an era when lazy writers can find an online tool to "spin" a sentence, paragraph, or an entire article (you spinners know who you are, don't you!), the concept of a thesaurus seems as old-fashioned as a dial telephone or a reel lawnmower. Yet a copy of the printed version of Roget's Thesaurus very likely sits on the reference shelf of almost every serious writer. Roget's is unlike the simple alphabetical lists of words with their synonyms and antonyms you find online or within word-processing programs, though; and first-time users are often confused by its structure. Never let it be said that wannabe author (and 20-time winner of the DotD) Joan Whetzel isn't ready to help them... sort of... with the "hub" she called "How to Use Roget's Thesaurus."