Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Measuring Elevation, the Dummy Version

surveyors without a GPS
When it comes to lousy answers to simple questions, we here at the Antisocial Network always turn to our friends at the mother lode of misinformation, eHow.com. You can almost always find an answer that's wrong for one reason or another by visiting a Demand Media niche site, and today's no exception. Returning DotD Nicole Schmoll is here to both under- and over-explain an interesting topic, "How Is Land Elevation Measured?" for CareerTrend.com.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Echoes: the Dummy Version

human echolocation
Whether you're a student doing homework or a curious grown-up, the internet has long since replaced the shelf of encyclopedias in the library as the go-to source of information. We think the obvious problem is that the people who wrote those encyclopedias either knew what they were talking about or ran their words past someone who did. Content-farm freelancers on the internet? Not so much... that's why there's so much ignorant prose at places like eHow.com. That's where we found Sophia Sola (sometimes known as Sophie Strosberg) attempting to explain "How Are Echoes Made?"¹

Sola / Strosberg opened by telling her readers what sound is:

Monday, November 28, 2016

Derivatives, the Dummy Version

dy/dx is the instantaneous slope of f(x) at a given point
Popular culture likes to depict mathematically-inclined folks as being weird -- Sylvester in "Scorpion," Charlie in "Numb3rs," John Nash in "A Beautiful Mind" -- which we think only goes to show that the people who "control" popular culture are scared of mathematics. Well, except perhaps Natalie Portman or Danica McKellar, who both have math degrees... Whatever the case, many people avoid math classes like the plague while getting a higher degree. Take Michael O. Smathers of eHow, a college history major when he wrote for the site. For Smathers, "How much is 2016-1776?" was about the extent of his mathematical needs; which is why we found it curious that he attempted to explain "How to Calculate Dy/Dx"¹ (please note: the capitalization of "dy/dx" is eHow's).

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Antidepressants, the Dummy Version

prescription trazodone, generic of Desryel, Oleptra and Effexor
After almost two years of looking at the abject dumbassery posted to pay-for-writing sites, we thought we'd reached a level of jadedness such that we could no longer be surprised by someone's stupidity. We were wrong... while poking through that mother lode of misinformation, eHow.com, we ran across a graphic designer (with a BFA, cum laude!) using the name of Leonor Crossley. Although not a medical professional -- not even a medical amateur, as far as the Antisocial Network staffers can tell -- Crossley decided to answer the question, "What is Trazodone?" Her answer does not paint a pretty picture...

According to Crossley,

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Getting Location from GPS, the Dummy Version

How GPS receivers use triangulation
Ask a kid a difficult question sometime -- we mean a real kid, maybe six or seven instead of an eye-rolling adolescent -- and you'll either get a hilariously unreal answer or a simple "I don't know." Ask some of eHow's freelancers the same question and, even if the real answer should be "I don't know," you just might get that hilariously unreal answer. Take, for instance, the question "How Is a Person's Precise Location Determined by GPS?"¹ eHowian accountant Aaron Charles took that one on, but instead of admitting he didn't know, he published a typical DotD answer.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Salinity and Salt Solution, the Dummy Version

Salt Dissolved in Water
One of our researchers claims that the quickest way to find an eHow freelancer spreading dumbassery is simply to google variations on the words "communications major" for the site. She might well be right, although substituting the word "journalism" for "communications" may be just as effective. Whatever the case, the example she provided is a Texan named Natalie Andrews, who unwisely left her travel and decorating safe zones while attempting to explain to the world "How Much Water Is Needed to Dissolve Salt," currently decorating Leaf Group's niche site Sciencing.com...

As is typical of eHow drones trapped by the site's minimum word count, Andrews answered the question... sort of... in the first hundred words or so, then got herself in trouble with some of the factoids she used for padding. Natalie's original answer?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Router Tables the Dummy Way

A router table you can make in your own shopOne of our researcher staff here at the Antisocial Network claims that his greatest joy is finding posts by someone about whom one can say, to quote Bob Dylan, "...It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe."¹ One repeat DotD that he thinks fits that lyric perfectly is eHow's favorite Christian therapist, Lacy Enderson. Lacy's contributions to the stupidification of the internet are manifest, particularly in the realms of woodworking and construction where she's picked up seven awards. Here for her fourth visit in the Power Tools category are Lacy's instructions on "How to Build a Router Table."

Enderson, as usual, demonstrates total ignorance of her topic in the DMS-required² introduction, when she claims that

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Fossil Types, the Dummy Version

We were noticing at the staff meeting not long ago that we haven't visited some of the more "interesting" denizens of HubPages for a while. Unfortunately, the output of drones like Naima Manal seems to be slowly disappearing as people who actually know something vote it down (rather than "friends" voting it up). While it's still there, we thought we'd take a look at some of the rubbish created by our friend Hassam, he of the half-copied and half-spun misinformation. Today's overly broad (and underly-researched) topic is something the guy dashed off five years ago: "Types of Fossils."

You can go to wikipedia or to just about any reasonably complete educational website (such as the one from Oxford University) and find the information in question. Those sites, however, are not going to give you such remarkable insights as this, on something Hassam thinks are chemo fossils:

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Two-Cycle Carburetors, the Dummy Version

two-cycle Walbro carburetor (two-stroke)
Two-stroke carburetor
If you, like our founder, got your first driver's license sometime before about 1980, you have almost certainly driven a car with a carburetor. If you car was really "hot," you might have had a two- or even four-barrel "carb." Nowadays, fuel injection rules for motor vehicles, and most carburetors now are found on gasoline-powered tools like lawn equipment, generators or compressors. Lawn equipment tends to have two-stroke (aka two-cycle) engines; engines that mix lubricating oil with gasoline instead of having a separate oil reservoir. Sadly, eHowian Alibaster Smith (there's that fake name again!) seems to be completely unaware of the difference between two- and four-cycle engines, which is made obvious in his post "How a 2-Stroke Carburetor Works" at ItStillRuns.com. But, then, we already knew that...

Monday, November 21, 2016

Coaxial Cable Installation, the Dummy Version

coaxial cable bushing for through the wall installation
We may be biased, but we're pretty much convinced that the stupidest "celebrity" ever on American television is Larry the Cable Guy -- then again, none of us watches reality TV, so what do we know? All that's by way of introduction for today's DotD nominee, an eHowian type who makes Larry look... well, average or so. This time our honoree's one Sue Stepp, a self-proclaimed "artist, teacher, writer and farmer." After reading through her instructions for "How to Run a Coax Cable Through a Wall,"¹ we knew pretty well why this freelancer never claimed to be a cable guy (or gal)...

Saturday, November 19, 2016

All about Routers, the Dummy Version

Shaping edges with a fixed-base wood router
Pundits often call Millennials the "first fully digital generation." If that's so, then more's the pity -- because so many of them seem to know nothing about anything that isn't digital; not to mention that a lot of them don't seem to know much about what "digital" is... but enough of that. Today's DotD attempted to answer what appears to be a millennial-type question, "What Does a Wood Router Do?" at OurPastimes.com (that's as, apparently, opposed to the routers made by Cisco). Philosophy student turned freelancer Evan Kubitschek bravely accepted the assignment, even though he had clearly never seen one of these things... and it shows.

Says Kubitschek of the weird tool-thingies he's assigned to write about,

Friday, November 18, 2016

Propane and Natural Gas, the Dummy Version

chemical formula of propane
It seems like forever... was it just a week ago that we caught some scientifically ignorant type lecturing us about the difference between methane and natural gas? Yes, it was! Well, the internet is apparently infested with scientific illiterates prepared to mis- and under-inform the public about every topic under the sun. That includes philosopher-turned-freelancer Eric Dontigney, who leveraged his  psychology minor (not really) to tell eHow readers just "What Is the Difference Between Propane and Natural Gas?" Do we see a trend developing here?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Walbro Carburetors, the Dummy Version

A typical Walbro 2-cycle engine carburetor, thumbnail for scale
When it comes to freelancing on the internet, we figure people use pen names for one of two reasons: 1) so their employers don't know they're writing for a website instead of working, and 2) to protect the guilty. The eHow contributor who chose the nom de plume Alibaster Smith ("Alibaster"? really?) may have used a fake name for reason number one, but we think he definitely needed to hide from the fact police when it came to some of the bullshit and dumbassery he published. If you need proof, you need look no further than his post "How to Troubleshoot Walbro Carburetors" at ItStillRuns.com

Smith opens by explaining what a carburetor is and where you might find it:

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Speed Limits: the Dummy Version

Changing Speed Limit Signs in the 1970s
Although our researchers spend most of their time combing the mother lode of misinformation (aka eHow) for dumbassery, a few of them do rummage around at other sites from time to time. Take, for instance, Hubages.com -- that's the second most prolific source of stupidity in our files. The problem with it (and most other remaining content farms) is that the indexing is crap. You gotta hand it to Demand Media / Leaf Group for making it easy to find bullshit. Whatever the case, today we're going to visit a repeat offender from HubPages, one Melvin Porter. This time Melvin's facts are (mostly) correct, it's his presentation and the conclusions he draws from those facts that out staff found lacking. Feast your eyes on "Speeding on the Road Does Not Save that Much Time: A Mathematical Analysis."

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Topography and Elevation, the Dummy Version

GPS showing elevation on screen
One of the hallmarks of the self-appointed freelance journalists on the internet is an inability to see the direct route from question to answer; an inability that pretty much permeates eHow.com (yes, them again). The reason may be that in the DMS¹ world, the writer must pad simple answers out to meet the minimum word count. It may also be that the writer him- or her-self simply has no idea what the answer should be. We think the latter is the case for Kurt Schanaman in his post "How to Find Land Elevation" (now moved to the website ItStillWorks, even though it never did) though the minimum word count thing probably didn't help.

Why someone might want to know elevation is unknowable, but Schanaman gives it a go:

Monday, November 14, 2016

Meandering Rivers, the Dummy Version

Meandering river covered with ice and snow
Ever heard of starving artists? Sure you have: some company rents a hotel meeting room, where a rep sells hundreds of large paintings (some on black velvet, we think) that were supposedly pained by "starving artists." In reality, they're poor-quality reproductions of the work of mildly-talented amateurs churned out in a factory setting somewhere. We guarantee you will not find something by the next Wyeth or Picasso in the room. That's just like we (almost) guarantee that freelance rubbish written for eHow by "starving college students" will be poor-quality reproductions. Take, for example, Michael O. Smathers: the history student already demonstrated incompetence in electrical work, now he's back to suggest that he failed Rocks for Jocks with his version of  "Features of a Floodplain" at Sciencing.com.

We're picking on Smathers today for two reasons: first, his obvious unfamiliarity with the topic and second, his lousy writing. We don't normally single out poor writing, but what the heck: we're in a bad mood today. Here's what Mike had to say in his introduction:

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Lag Screws for The Complete Dummy

Lag screw used to repair bone fracture
It may seem sexist and ageist, but there are some times when the adage "Never send a boy to do a man's job" seems particularly apt. We here at the Antisocial Network, however, believe that the internet equivalent of that adage is along the line of "Never send a dumbass freelancer to do a knowledgeable person's job." Yeah, it's clumsy... we need to work on it. In the meantime, though, here's a classic case of a dumbass freelancer, a guy named Tyler Lacoma (of eHow), expounding on a topic that he had to look up himself: "Lag Screw Information."

We know he had to look it up because, based on his introduction, he clearly knew nothing about lag screws or their use (most of his information is reworded from the rather weird Lag Screws: What They Are and How to Use Them):

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Citizenship Tests the Dummy Way

obtaining U S citizenship through naturalization
If there's any place on the Internet where dumbassery is more common than in the Demand Media family, it will almost certainly be somewhere in that cesspool commonly known as "social media." With that in mind, a couple of our peeps dipped their collective toe in the murky water post-election to see what some of the more... erudite? among their acquaintances and their friends had to say. We found plenty... but decided to share this one with you. Someone from the Indianapolis, Indiana, area told his friends that,

Friday, November 11, 2016

Learning Houston the Dummy Way

Houston Area Map
Brandenberg's "Houston" in black box
Among some of the most hilarious -- some might call them "annoying" freelance articles our research staff uncover are travel articles written by people who've never even visited the destination. Some freelancers specialize in this content, spreading the same second- or third-hand information across multiple websites (see an example). We don't know where today's DotD candidate lives, since it's not in her profile, but one of our staffers knows the city of Houston, Texas, quite well -- and he's not all that convinced that Denise Brandenberg did a good job with "Ideas for a Scavenger Hunt in Houston."

As Brandenberg relates in her introduction,

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Methane and Natural Gas, the Dummy Way

The typical composition natural gas is mostly methane
There's a saying about greatness: Some people are born great and others have greatness thrust upon them." Yay, them! At the other end of the spectrum, however, is dumbassery: some people are dumbasses, while others chose to have dumbassery thrust upon them; usually for money. One such person is two-time DotD Frederick S. Blackmon, who for unknown reasons insisted on displaying his ignorance of the oil business for eHow.com multiple times. Take number three for Blackmon? "Methane Gas Vs. Natural Gas"...

Like many of the "questions" posed by unknown internet searches and glommed by eHow, this topic makes little or no sense: that's because methane is natural gas, and the natural gas that heats yoru house and cooks your food is largely methane. If Freddy wanted his fifteen bucks, though, he had to differentiate them... and so he started by explaining that

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What Kind is Your Oil Well, Dummy?

well symbols common to the oil industry
In the golden era of internet freelancing, i.e., before google smashed most of the content farms flat with its Panda update, self-appointed "freelancers" could publish darned near anything, no matter how ridiculous. In order to protect the guilty, however, many of them adopted a nom de plume. Some were derivative of their real names, e.g., someone named Jane Charles pretending her name's "Jane Cee"; others were more obvious fakes; even creatively so. Today's DotD is the latter, and -- given the quality of his output -- probably for good reason: eHow's Angus Koolbreeze certainly showed his mettle in "Oil Well Types."

From the very first sentence, it's clear Koolbreeze (probably not his name -- it's probably the brand of his fan...) has zero idea what he's talking about:

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Belt Noise the Dummy Way

Ever been passed by a vehicle that seems to be screaming its little head off as it goes by? Sure you have: not only does this give you a great demonstration of the Doppler effect, it also allows the more experienced among us to say, "He needs a new fan belt!" That last, even though most cars have electric fans these days and have a gigantic mess called a serpentine belt instead. If you hear belt noise like that around eHow freelancer Leslie Renico, though, she will have no idea what causes it --nevertheless, she "explained" it for someone asking about "Belt Noise in a Toyota Highlander" at ItStillRuns.com. In fact, Renico went straight to the belt that doesn't make noise -- at least none that most people can hear:

Monday, November 7, 2016

Chicago Hotels, the Dummies Version

Chicago skyline at night
It's been a while since 1) we put a clothespin on our collective nose and visited Seekyt.com and 2) we awarded a DotD for fake travel advice. No more... today, we address both deficiencies -- and boy, did that our head hurt! It hurts because Seekyt is home to some of the most outrageously spun content on the internet, and today's candidate post is a classic case of the genre. The dumbass responsible for this mess is Lokesh Saini, who posts at several pay-per-view sites under the handle nonyss. This time, he's telling everyone that "The Hotels in Chicago Provide Utmost Comfort!!" [those are his exclamation points, not ours...]

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Weather Maps Explained, the Dummy Way

It seems that these days, most people get weather forecasts as pictures on a smartphone app, but if you're a true weather junkie -- the sort who watches The Weather Channel for hours on end -- you still pore over weather maps. The dinosaurs who still read newspapers see them every day. The app generation, however, tends to have no idea how to interpret those maps, so it comes as no surprise that someone at eHow tried to address the question, "How Is a Weather Map Used?"¹ Unfortunately for those who read that answer, business and creative writing major Tyler Lacoma had no friggin' idea what he was talking about in his "answer."

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Battery Chargers, the Dummy Way

battery charging unit plugs into power port cigarette lighter
Ever noticed how two people can be talking about the same thing and not realize it? This happens a lot, especially if one of the two people doesn't know the "proper" name of something. Take, for instance, those battery chargers that plug into the power port (what used to be called the "cigarette lighter") of your car. The person in the know would call it something like a "battery charger"; the person who's only just learned such a thing exists might call it a "car charger." Heaven help person number two if he or she is looking for instructions on how to use this device, because about the only answer out on the internet is on eHow.com, and it comes from Kallie Johnson in her post "How to Use a Plug-In Car Charger" (now appearing at ItStillRuns.com).

Friday, November 4, 2016

Carets the Dummy Way

letters with circumflex
After yesterday's revelation that some freelancers are too stupid to know the difference between "carat" and "karat," we went on a hunt for others who have problems with the words and their homophones. So far the teams uncovered no "carrot" posts, but it didn't take long to find a dumbass who mangled information about the caret symbol (all we did was google caret site:ehow.com). Meet Chad Buleen of eHow, whose post "How to Type a Caret Symbol" popped up in the eHow niche site Techwalla.com – even though it's not tech and Chad's definitely not a wallah...

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Gold Jewelry the Dummy Way

karat marking on gold ring jewelry
We suspect that Bugs Bunny is only interested in one spelling of the word that sounds like "carrot," but there are at least three additional homophones for that spelling. We'll leave aside the diacritical mark known as a "caret" ( ^ ) for now to concentrate on the other two, "carat" and "karat." The fact that the two words are both used by the jewelry industry confuses many people, and that apparently includes both the person who originally asked "How to Identify the Carat of a Gold Ring" and the Demand Media drone who "answered" the question for DMS¹ site Leaf.tv, someone named Rae Casto.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Understanding Earthquakes, the Dummy Version

formation of an escarpment as the strike face of a cuesta
If we had to pick a motto for the Antisocial Network, one of the candidates would most surely be the adage "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing." It's especially dangerous in the hands of someone who is eager to make a few bucks off that (very) little knowledge! That's probably because getting more knowledge is time-consuming and, face it, sometimes a little boring. So the greediest of freelancers will be happy to expound on any topic by sharing their knowledge mixed in with their misconceptions and their misinterpretations of any basic research they happen to perform. Take, for instance, the geophysical rubbish that William J. Prest (syzygyastro on HubPages.com) laid out in his post "What We Know About Earthquakes."

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Framing Nailer Repair the Dummy Way

Porter-Cable Framing Nailer or Nail Gun
We'll be honest... it drives our staff nuts to come across some of the bull out there online, especially the sort of rubbish published by incompetents at eHow.com. In olden days, those idiots could simply attempt to reword some authoritative source and collect fifteen bucks or more for a few minutes' work. The only check on their posts was to make certain they met the site's style guidelines, and to heck with accuracy! Small wonder eHow became the laughingstock of informed people everywhere, even as "contributors" like Kelly Nuttall raked in thousands of dollars for misinformation such as "How to Repair a Porter Cable Framing Nail Gun."