Thursday, December 14, 2017

Beryl, the Dummy Version (Minerals Week 5) - The Freelance Files MXLIX

not all beryl crystals are gems
Not all beryl crystals are gems
It's Thursday, and the Antisocial Network researchers still find themselves awash in bogus information about rocks, minerals, and crystals. The editorial board, however, remains convinced that it wouldn't be wise to expand Minerals Week to Minerals Year, even if it seems quite possible. Instead, we'll finish up our last three entries and move on to other subjects in which freelancers contribute to the stupidification of the internet. Speaking of which, here's today's nominee: Tiffany Garden and her post, "What Is the Mineral Beryl Used For?"

OK, Tiff, short answer: beryl is the chief ore of beryllium and, when found in gem form, is known as emerald and aquamarine. Unfortunately, that's only nineteen words, and DMS¹ only paid for answers meeting a minimum word count of 300 words. That's why "Garden" padded her answer to 400-plus words. The problems with those 400 words include, among others...
"Beryl is a well known mineral, although you most likely know it as one of the many gemstones that is formed from this beryllium aluminium cyclosilicate. Aquamarine and emeralds are two of the most popular forms of beryl, although there are several other varieties depending on the chemical inclusions in the stones. Modern uses for beryl tend to focus on jewelry and art applications. The varieties are very beautiful, and there are six in total."
Ummm, sure: Garden's bio says that she runs a "handcrafted jewelry business," and apparently her only exposure to beryl is in gem form. On the other hand, we use a hunk of a large hexagonal beryl crystal weighing about fifteen pounds as a doorstop at AN HQ, and we're quite sure it isn't gem quality. Oh, and Tiffany? It isn't the "chemical inclusions in the stones" that result in different colors of beryl, it's the presence of impurities in the crystal lattice; metals besides beryllium and aluminum.
We spotted a few other misstatements and misconceptions, such as
  • "Beryl contains a very rare [sic] element called beryllium, which is only found in about 100 minerals." – We wouldn't say, "called beryllium," ourselves, and it's not very rare. Beryllium abundance in Earth's crust ranks 48th out of the naturally occurring elements, making it more common than tin, molybdenum, and iodine (among others).
  • "That makes it very significant to the scientific community, although they have also used beryl in a few other applications." – WTF does this mean?
  • "Like many gemstones, the varieties of beryl have various holistic and magical properties associated with them." – Greetings from woo-woo land...
  • "There are three different types of rock that beryl is commonly formed in. The first and most prevalent is granitic pegmatites. You can also find it in mica schists as well as limestone. This type of rock can be found in Colombia, home of the most famous emerald mines, as well as South Africa, Brazil, and the central and western United States." – Limestone? Uhhh, no!
     Apparently this is the kind of "science" you get when you let jewelry designers post information about minerals. Perhaps Garden garnered this expertise while getting her certification as a computer technician – or while gaming. It's for sure she never read a mineralogy book, because if she had she wouldn't be our Dumbass of the Day. Probably.

¹ DMS, or Demand Media Studios, is the former name of Leaf Group. They owned, among other properties, eHow (the original home of Tiffany's content).


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Minerals for Dummies (Minerals Week 4) - The Freelance Files MXLVIII

kidney stone composition
If the reader has more than a passing familiarity with the topic, it can be quite easy to spot a freelancer spreading around the bull. That's one reason why we're running Minerals Week: we have a couple of rockhounds on staff and it's easy for them to spot fakery from the misstatements and misinterpretations our candidates have published. We're talking misstatements such as those made by Gwen Nicodemus in her EzineArticles post, "What's the Difference Between Rocks, Crystals, and Minerals?"

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Quartz and Calcite for Dummies (Minerals Week 3) - The Freelance Files MXLVII

conchoidal fracture in quartz
Just like mineral grains are (usually) "little things," our research team members are finding that it's often the little things that trip up the freelancing fools to whom we award the DotD. Whereas real freelancing journalists (e.g., Mary Roach) investigate their topics in depth, our candidates often merely skim a wikipedia article or two and reword realistic-sounding phrases¹. It's those details that caught our staffer's eye while perusing "Physical Properties of Calcite & Quartz" at, the article that earned Patrick Strothers Kwak a nomination.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Clay for Dummies (Minerals Week 2) - The Freelance Files MXLVI

structure of clay mineral illite
Oops, Elizabeth: I see iron...
It doesn't matter what the subject of a content-farm post is, there will eventually be someone who reads it and reacts. The reaction depends on both the stimulus and the person who reacts, but it can range from mild amusement to inchoate rage. Today's DotD candidate, an eHowian claiming the name Elizabeth Jennings, managed to stir a fairly mild reaction – "Whaaaaa?????" – in the Antisocial Network staffer who ran across the content she wrote at under the title, "What Is Primary Clay?"

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Arizona Gems for Dummies (Minerals Week 1) - The Freelance Files MXLV

gemstone prospecting
Some people prospect for gems, Bob!
A surprising number of posts about minerals have come across our desk in recent weeks, enough that the staffers decided that it was time for another "theme week." This time, it's Minerals Week, Here to show that some freelancers will say anything just to collect a few pennies, even if they can't tell a mineral from a hole in the ground, is eHowian Robert Adams. Robert's post "How to Find Gems in Southern Arizona" ( was of particular interest to our staff geologist, a graduate of the U of A: Bear Down, Wildcats!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Divergent Margins for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXLIV

Rift cross-section with sedimentation
Your grandmother may remember the long-ago quiz show called "Name that Tune," where contestants tried to identify a popular song from just the opening notes. Well, every once in a while one of the Antisocial Network staffers who patrol the internet can spot a DotD candidates in just one word. That's the case today, compliments of eHowian Rebecca C. Jernigan and her post "Type of Rock Found in Divergent Boundaries." As always, any grammatical and logical errors in the title belong to the OQ: eHow only changed (some) spelling errors...

Friday, December 8, 2017

Dueling TV Antennas for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXLIII

Two antennas one output
The eHow business model was simple: pluck search terms including the word "how" from the internet (later, they also included "what" and other interrogative words) and let a contributing writer answer the question. The problem was that, too often, that contributor knew nothing about the answer and merely found what appeared to be a good answer somewhere on line, then reworded that text. In other words, a sort of online version of the game "telephone," in which the answer came out garbled - just like the answer Alexander Callos gave at niche site to "How to Hook two Antennas to One Coaxial Input" (any violations of AP guidebook rules for capitalization are eHow's).

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Roof Plans for Dummies - The Freelance Files MLXII

new roof sheathing (decking)
We're still confused about how anyone ever expected some random college student (even if he is one of those fantastically gifted J-school grads) to be able to write intelligently about roofing even though he's never done any construction... but that was the eHow model. That, in fact, was why the mother lode of stupidification of the internet allowed some guy named Alexander Callos to publish rubbish under the title, "How to Calculate Roof Plans" (it now lives at niche site

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Cooling Fans for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXLI

12-volt cooling fan
Where's that wall plug, Kurt?
One of our staffers here at the Antisocial Network regularly checks our entries to make certain they're up to date. He;s the one responsible for the blue "Leaf Group has deleted..." footnotes and the red entries in the Dumbasses by Name page. He also reminds us when it's been a while since we featured a serial dumbass, which is why – five months since his last appearance – eight-time DotD Kurt Schanaman is back. This time, it's for his article "How to Make a 12 Volt Cooling Fan Run Backwards."

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Polenta for the Complete Dummy - The Freelance Files MXL

Polenta in some of its many forms
One of our staffers ran across an early eHow contributor not long ago and was, to be honest, gobsmacked by her work. At first, she thought the problem was the author's choice of topics (geometry), but a bit of research turned up a topic supposedly in her wheelhouse. It was just as bad... So, meet today's DotD nominee, Julie Richards, and her answer to the eternal question,"What Is Polenta?" at the mother site.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Planers for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXXXIX

planer in action
The business model of Demand Media Studios (DMS¹, now known as Leaf Group), parent company of eHow, was simple: get as many eyeballs on your content as possible through high search-engine placement. Quality information, as most now know, was never the object. That's why so much of the technical content was cobbled together by liberal arts majors (English and journalism, mostly) in as short a time as possible. The result? Too often, it was rubbish like the article "Types of Planers," contributed by Charles Pearson.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Diagonal of a Square for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXXXVIII

measuring a diagonal
The question said "measure"...
Over the years, we've found that reading the short biographies of contributors to what used to be Demand Media Studios (former parent of eHow, SFGate, Livestrong, etc., now known as Leaf Group) can be very revealing. Take today's DotD, Jana Sosnowski: her bio mentions (of course) a degree in journalism, along with a stint as a "curriculum writer for a math remediation program." Based, however, on "How to Measure the Length of the Diagonal Line of a Square" at, however, it appears that she might need some remediation herself.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Power Saws for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXXXVII

table saw miter gauge
Using a miter gauge on a table saw
Our woodworkers and carpenters are always on the lookout for interesting posts about their crafts, whether the topics are how-tos or tool advice. We don't visit EzineArticles all that often, but the staffer who turned up today's DotD suggested that it might be fertile ground based on the quality of several articles she perused. Without further ado, then, here's "Circular Saw Vs Table Saw – Pros and Cons," barfed up onto EA by one Ted Oliver.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Re-hanging Upper Cabinets for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXXXVI

install upper cabinets cabinet jack
We're big fans of DIY here at the Antisocial Network, and our staffers have tackled a wide variety of jobs over the years. In "olden days," we'd research new tasks in our DIY library, but in the online age there's a huge variety of help out there. We've learned, however, that a lot of that help is worth exactly what we paid for it: nothing. That's because the people who wrote the advice, freelancers like Jill Leviticus of HomeSteady, have no idea what they're talking about – as Jill amply demonstrated in "How to Raise Kitchen Cabinets."

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Acids and pH for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXXXV

acetic acid, found in vinegar
Another day, another scientifically illiterate liberal arts graduate... or, perhaps in this case, someone who just didn't quite get what toe OQ was asking. Today, we'll visit Leaf Group's, where longtime eHowian Janet Beal will address the topic of "How to Adjust the pH of Water with Vinegar." What the reader ends up with is a half-baked answer that definitely doesn't rise to the level of "sciencing" (whatever that is...).

 Unfortunately, in transferring the post from its original home at eHow, Leaf Group lopped off Beal's references, so we can't see where she came up with the moronic definition of ph within her introduction:

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Trapezoids for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXXXIV

a pile of hexagonal prisms
Ummm, Audrey? these are hexagons, not trapezoids...
In case you haven't noticed, we tend to be rather dismissive of the Demand Media Studios (DMS¹) family of websites... well, they're the Leaf Group family now, but six of one, half-dozen of the other. That's because they so often allowed scientifically illiterate and innumerate liberal arts types to write about science and math in articles fact-checked by other scientifically illiterate and innumerate liberal arts graduates. Sigh. Well, today we have another example: BA and MA English graduate Audrey Farley, attempting to explain "How to Find Angles in a Trapezoid" at

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

LDPE for Dummies - The Freelance Files MMMXXXIII

There's a logical fallacy known as "to beg the question." Contrary to popular usage, it doesn't mean "raise the question"; instead it's a form of circular reasoning. Today's DotD doesn't exactly beg the question when she attempts to tell her readers "What Is LDPE Plastic?" for, but it's pretty clear that Amanda Hermes didn't know enough about the topic to actually answer the question.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Charging Batteries for Dummies - The Freelance Files MMXXXII

charging a car battery
We often notice that our DotD candidates manage to get a few kernels of  accuracy in their posts, but whenever they stray more than a couple of "degrees" from their areas of expertise, they tend to botch the details. Such is the case of today's candidate, Cameron Holmes (like Madonna, Cher, and Rihanna; known only by her first name to eHow). Observe her attempt to explain "How to Charge a Car Battery Indoors," which Leaf has moved to

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Wells, Septic Systems, and Pressure for Dummies - The Freelance Files MMXXI

well and septic system
At staff meetings the most common question (besides "Who ate the last bear claw?") goes something along the lines of "Would you let this person do the job he described?" Sure, no one would voluntarily let their plumber pull a tooth or ask your dentist to lay a brick wall. Still, hundreds of "communications," journalism, and English lit graduates appointed themselves "freelancers" for Demand Media and pumped out utter bullshit about home repair for eHow, much of shich is now at – utter bullshit like the post "Water Pressure in a Well & Septic System," cobbled together by Charles Pearson.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Curves and Angles for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXXX

Road curvature angle
We may have mentioned this before, but what the heck: you probably didn't read it. We're aware from both first-hand experience and observation that many a Demand Media Studios (DMS) writer would grab several "titles" that appeared related and simply pound out variations on the same answer for them all. Since the people "fact-checking" the articles (content editors) only looked at format, the natural result is something we call "compound ignorance" – and today's DotD is a prime example. Ryan Menezes dipped his pen into the algebra well (at least) three too many times, one of which is "How to Find the Angle of a Curve" at

Friday, November 24, 2017

Latitude and Longitude for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXXIX

Latitude Longitude DMS DD
Although we don't have a cartographer or a geographer on the Antisocial Network team, we do have staffers who've done extensive work with mapping software and all that entails. As a result, they've absorbed more than a little knowledge of map projections and their use. We suspect that experience is much more on point than the life experience of Alan Li, who posted "How to Read Longitude and Latitude" to eHow (which Leaf Group moved to

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Trex Deck Repair for Dummies - The Freelance Files MMXXVIII

composite decking
Sometimes or research staffers have to read through online articles a second time to come to the realization that they're being fed a line of bull. Sometimes it's obvious right up front – if the staffer has the requisite experience or background. Today's DotD candidate has already distinguished himself five times for pretending to know what he's talking about when he doesn't, so welcome back Owen E. Richason IV and his post, "How to Repair Trex Decking."

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Self-Employment Taxes, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files MXXVII

schedule SE
You would think that someone who picks up few bucks here and there as a freelancer would be pretty familiar with the process of calculating and filing the self-employment tax. You'd think that someone who claims to be a "a writer... specializing in personal finance and business topics" would have an especially good handle on the topic. That's why we were taken aback by the sloppy job Michael Keenan (aka Mark Kennan) did in his PocketSense article "How to Figure Self-Employment Tax."

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Octagons for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXXVII

octagon birdhouse construction
Several Antisocial Network staffers make little wood craft projects for around the house, and one of them is also an armchair birdwatcher. That means she sits in her chair and watches the birds at the feeders on her deck... When it comes to building birdhouses, they've learned that the critters have fairly exacting standards, so they typically research the plans at a site like It's for darned sure, though, that eHowian Patrick Williamson didn't do much research, however, when creating the plans he barfed up for "How to Build an Eight-Sided Birdhouse" (now at without his byline).

Monday, November 20, 2017

Homemade Gold Sluice Box for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXXVI

wooden sluice box
The original sluice box as botched by Gomez (and Fleury)
We're told that the "rules" of Demand Media Studios (DMS¹) precluded the use of Wikipedia articles as references; not that most of the self-appointed "freelance writers" didn't go straight to first when "researching" a topic. It's interesting that, somewhere about 2012, DMS prohibited using its own content as a reference. That message apparently didn't get to eHowian Vivian Gomez, however, since Gomez seems to have merely reworded an older eHow article for her post titled "How to Build a Wooden Sluice Box," now firmly ensconced at

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Heating Oil for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXXV

When we looked this morning, the thermometer at Antisocial Network HQ had dipped below freezing again and the furnace was running full bore. We use natural gas here, but several of us have lived at one time or another in homes heated with oil furnaces. That's why, when one of our research team spotted Brenda Priddy holding forth in a HomeSteady post about "Oil Used to Heat Homes," we took a closer look in hopes of learning something. Unfortunately, though, our two-time DotD winner dropped the ball... just as we expected.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Least Squares Linear Fit for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXXIV

line of best fit
A staffer who, for a while, wrote for Demand Media Studios (DMS¹) says that it was common for a freelancer to "claim" many similar topics and rewrite the same post several times. Of course, if – like eHowian Ryan Menezes – the freelancer didn't know the answer in the first place, subsequent answers were likely to drift ever farther from factual. Such seems to be the case with our J-school graduate when he attempted to explain "How to Calculate the Slope of a Line of Best Fit."

Friday, November 17, 2017

Propeller Pitch for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXXIII

propeller pitch diagram
No one of our staffers knows everything (none of them is a J-school grad, after all), but all of them are smart enough to know what they don't know. That's why we don't mess much here with questions about medicine, law, and high finance. None of us has ever owned a boat, either, but even total landlubbers like us could recognize that Cecelia Owens was full of hooey when she attempted to explain "How to Calculate Prop Pitch" for

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dredging Gold for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXXII

homemade dredge on water
This is a dredge, Melanie...
One of our staffers noticed that as the Leaf Group migrates old eHow content into new niches, they usually keep the images submitted by the original author. In this case, that was the forst thing that tipped our staffer off that she'd spotted a good candidate. That's because for an article titled "How to Build a Gold Dredge" at, eHowian Melanie Fleury submitted a picture of pyrite. Yep, the aptly named "fool's gold."

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Shimano Flight Deck for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXXI

Shimano Flight Deck Computer
Sometimes you have to read all the way through a freelance post before your dumbassery detector sounds the alarm, and sometimes the condition is pretty much in your face. Today's DotD candidate was closer to the "read all the way through" end of the spectrum for the staffer who turned it up, but the Antisocial Network's chief bicycle mechanic recognized the thread of bull immediately. The awardee? returning candidate Matthew Ferguson (tapped twice already for misinformation about bicycles). The topic? Healthfully post "How to Shift Gears With a Shimano Flight Deck Shifter"...

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Radial Arm Saws Redux - The Freelance Files MXX

Dewalt Radial Arm Saw
Unlike some online sites, we make a habit of checking our content for broken links. That's how we find out that a website (especially in the Leaf domains) has deleted the original content and redirected the link to something that – at least in their eyes – corrects its "errors" (hence the red entries in our index of DotD winners). The problem, of course, is that the same people are vetting the new stuff, which may or may not be (and often isn't) any better. That's where we are today, with a little piece at called "How to Use a Radial Arm Saw," which was penned by eHowian Michael Straessle.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Booting from a Flash Drive, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files MXIX

bootable usb drive
A long time ago, we figured out that the minimum word count (MWC) at Demand Media Studios1,2,3  provided "cover" for a lot of people who, to be blunt, had no idea what they were talking about. The most common symptoms of a freelancer faking it are often answering the wrong question, throwing all sorts of factoids at the page to meet the MWC, or a combination of both. Today's DotD nominee, Blair Williams (not the hunky actor from "LA Law") tried both methods in pretending to answer the question "What Files are Needed to Boot From a USB?" at We said "pretending to answer" because... well, because he didn't.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Downspouts for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXVIII

residential gutter and downspout
After one of our staffers lived for several years in desert climates, he moved to the Gulf Coast. The first time he cleaned out his gutters, he was a bit surprised to find big, fat downspouts. He'd been used to the 2" x 3" downspouts common in low-rainfall areas, so the 4" x 6" downspouts on that house near Houston seemed yuuuuge! But at least he understood why: rainfall during tropical storms can exceed ten inches per hour. Unfortunately, Nicole Schmoll, journalism grad and eHow contributor, was completely bamboozled by the question, "How to Measure Your Downspouts."

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Cutting Agate for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXVII

lapidary grinder oscillating
Let's get this out of the way right up font: we usually don't know whether our DotD candidates are dirt-stupid or they're just too greedy to do a good job of researching a subject they've chosen to write about. We suspect that, in the case of the Demand Media Studio sites (DMS¹ was renamed Leaf Group in 2016), it's been mostly greed... we do, however, suspect at least some stupidity accompanies their cupidity. Take, for instance, crunchy-granola eHowian Brian Connolly (sometimes known as Brian Sneeden) and "How to Cut Agates," which Leaf has moved to

Friday, November 10, 2017

Alaskan Oil for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXVI

alaska winter oil rig
Our research staffers often find "bias" in the answers concocted by contributors to the failing website #SAD. All kidding aside, people who know next to nothing about a subject seem far more likely to insert their personal opinions into their freelance assignments than those with first-hand knowledge (think not? just read anything about fracking...). That seems to be the case with today's DotD nominee, Erik Devaney, and his article "The Disadvantages of Oil Drilling in Alaska."

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Structural Geology for the Complete Dummy - The Freelance Files MXV

angular unconformity
An angular unconformity does not cause tilting, Audrey!
We'll be honest: we often rail on the scientific illiteracy of liberal arts graduates, especially when it comes to elementary topics in the sciences. We get it that a J-school graduate doesn't understand string theory or that someone who majored in English literature isn't conversant in organic chemistry. On the other hand, if these people were actually as smart as they think, wouldn't they be able to synthesize information from an authoritative website and regurgitate it back reworded? Not so Audrey Farley, at least based on reading her article "What Causes Geologic Tilting?"

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

License Plate Screws for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXIV

rusted license plate screw head
When it comes to the phrase "do it yourself," we here at the Antisocial Network are sometimes confused by the difference between our definition and the definition of the folks who freelance online – especially the ones with "writing" degrees. Freelancers, that is, like eHow's Laura Paquette, who applied her BA in English Lit and MA in writing to the topic of "Do-It-Yourself Screws for License Plates that Don't Corrode or Rust" for eHow, now appearing at

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Acidity and Wetlands for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXIII

The Antisocial Network staffers who wander the web in search of DotD candidates often find that the less knowledgeable a self-appointed freelancer is about a subject, the more likely he or she is to misinterpret a question about that topic. A case in point is eHow contributor Nicole Papagiorgio (six-time winner of the DotD), who we found attempting to explain the "Factors that Affect the pH of Water in Wetlands" at

Monday, November 6, 2017

Cheap Dog Pens for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXII

puppy playpen made of PVC pipe
A temporary solution: no posts set in concrete!
Our staffers have been watching with interest as the renamed Demand Media Studios – now "Leaf Group" – has frantically shoved its eHow content into various niches. It makes sense that articles about home improvements have moved to HomeSteady and Hunker (the latter's apparently a riff on  "hunker down"), but some of the choices are a little puzzling. Take "How to Make a Cheap Dog Pen," a post by Laurie Rappeport at Sapling? about "growing your money"? it must be because of the word "cheap" in the title.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Insulating Your House for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXI

spray foam insulation
Sometimes our research staffers read the first sentence or two of a freelance post and know right away that the writer was way out of his or her comfort zone. Perhaps the rest of the post is a reasonably good copy-reword-paste job, but the die has been cast by a glaring early error made by the yutz in question. That's what we have today: an SFGate post penned by first-time DotD nominee (but long-time eHowian) Fred Howe, something called "How to Achieve R-21 in a 2x4 Wall."

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Joinery for Dummies - The Freelance Files MX

common wood joints
Today, students, we're going to examine a sort of stupid question and the uninformed answer provided the seeker of knowledge, courtesy of a self-appointed freelancer who knew just as little about the subject as the person asking the question. Sadly, that was pretty common in the days before Google's Panda update killed off content farms... but some of their content still remains, like the piece Lauren Vork wrote for eHow (now on, which was supposed to address the question "How Many Different Ways Can Wood Be Joined Together?"

Friday, November 3, 2017

Elliptical Orbits for Dummies - The Freelance Files MIX

We can't be certain, of course, but we suspect that students majoring in humanities and liberal arts – the few still required to take a science elective, that is – usually head for one of a few so-called "gut" science courses: Geology 101¹, Meteorology 101, or Astronomy 101. Again, there's no proof, but we don't think eHowian Soren Bagley, already a six-time DotD, didn't choose astronomy. Our evidence? it's in his post "How to Calculate Perihelion," which is currently on display at

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Replacing Garbage Disposals for Dummies - The Freelance Files MVIII

garbage disposal hookups
Replacing a disposal unit is a simple plumbing task that, believe it or not, is within the reach of most homeowners. That's assuming, of course, the would-be DIYer has or can borrow a simple toolkit, has sufficient upper body strength, and doesn't mind lying on his or her back in the cabinet underneath the sink for a while. Oh, and you'll probably want some sort of instructions from a competent person – "competent" being the key word which, we submit, leaves out Artesia Peluso. Just read her post "Tools Needed to Replace a Garbage Disposer" at if you doubt us...

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Geometry and Proofreading for Dummies - The Freelance Files MVII

radius, diameter, circumference, and area of a circle
Our research staffers turn up some of the strangest stuff as they search the internet for DotD candidates. Some of it's exactly what you expect, such as vendors who don't speak a word of English using Google Translate to try to describe their wares (we imagine it works just as badly in the opposite direction) and scientifically illiterate J-school grads trying to describe particle physics... and then there are the lawyers... like Carter McBride, JD, who apparently had lots of time on his hands – enough time to write "How to Calculate the Perimeter of a Shape" for, though not enough to proofread it...

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Log Barstools for Dummies - The Freelance Files MVI

rustic log bar stool
Our research team members run across some pretty doofus posts as they do their daily searches for DotD candidates. Most of them fall into two categories: one is generic posts of "keyword-rich" topics written for general sites like HubPages, InfoBarrel, or Ezine; the other is "on-demand" topics written for the Demand Media Studios (DMS¹) sites. The second group can be especially irritating when some total n00b tries to answer a specific question... sort of like Lisa Wampler attempting to explain "How to Make Log Bar Stools and Preserve the Bark" for eHow, now niched at

Monday, October 30, 2017

Hexagon Diagonals, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files MV

nine hexagon diagonals
The research team runs across a lot of semi-authoritative posts while seeking candidates for the DotD award, many of which involve only small inaccuracies that aren't easily spotted (though we do spot them). We often notice that when writing about mathematics and science, our freelancers fail to get the whole story. They may address a general question with a specific, even unique, answer, for instance. Today's candidate is repeat offender Jess Kroll, who we found attempting to explain "How to Find the Diagonal of a Hexagon" for He didn't quite succeed...

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Colorado Rocks for Dummies - The Freelance Files MIV

geologic map of Colorado
We live by a simple creed here at the Antisocial Network, a creed based on the adage "ask a stupid question and you'll get a stupid answer." We have two additions to that saying: "ask a freelancer a stupid question and you'll get a stupid answer even though you don't deserve one." Well, somce poor schmuck asked the internet "How to Identify Rocks in Colorado" – a demonstrably thoughtless question, if not exactly stupid – and for his troubles, got an answer from Laura Hageman that ranks right there in the bottom ten for stupidity. Hageman's original was on eHow, it's now at (if you care...)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Bird Houses for Dummies, Redux - The Freelance Files MIII

An open nesting box of the type preferred by blackbirds
We regularly check the source posts of our DotD awardees to see if they've been updated, deleted, or moved (a bold red entry in our index pages indicates the original has been deleted, though we provide a link for your enjoyment at We recently ran across one that had been "cleaned up" by Leaf Group, but weirdly enough the old link redirected to a similar article written by the same author. Lo and behold, "How to Build a Birdhouse for a Blackbird" (at turned out to be every bit as qualified for the award as the original post by Bailey Shoemaker Richards -- as Joan Osborne might say, the "cure" is worse than the "disease"! #SAD

Friday, October 27, 2017

Decks and Trees for Dummies - The Freelance Files MII

building deck around tree
A couple of moths ago we had a week in which we made fun of a group of Demand Media writers who seemed to think that a 2-by-4 measures two feet by four feet (see a sample...). In reality, we suspect those dimensions are the work of a content editor, but anyone who let the CE get away with that is a valid DotD candidate. Speaking of which, that's why we're here: to reward another eHowian, Daria Kelly Uhlig, for blowing it in a post titled "How to Build a Floating Deck Around a Tree" for