Sunday, December 31, 2017

Miter Saws for Dummies - The Freelance Files MLXVI

Sliding Compound Miter Saw
Ever had a parrot? Neither has anyone here at the Antisocial Network, though one staffer had a cockatiel for a while. Anyway, everyone knows that parrots can talk, and we hope that everyone knows that the birds don't know what the words they're saying mean. We see the same thing a lot with freelancers: they parrot miscellaneous information they've picked up somewhere (usually by looking at lists of words used in search engines) and try to make a few bucks for their misinformation. Take, for instance, hubbie June Campbell: We already caught her pretending to know about hand tools, now we found her over at EzineArticles pretending to know about the "Miter Saw – An Indispensable Tool for the DIY Woodworking Enthusiast."

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Forstner Bits for Dummies - The Freelance Files MLXV

Forstner Bit in drill press
It's been a while since the Antisocial Network team has nailed someone for a fake tool review, but that doesn't mean we don't turn them up on a near daily basis. After all, the damned things are everywhere on the 'net. Some are the "I didn't use it but my hubby did" type, and some are of the "I heard you can make lots of money reviewing tools" type. Today's entry, compliments of a heretofore untapped source of dumbassery, is that latter type. It's "Forstner Bit Reviews," posted by Tested_to_Destruction at Oh, joy, another content farm to mine...

Friday, December 29, 2017

Biofuels for Dummies - The Freelance Files MLXIV

algae biofuel generation
If you stick your head in the alcove where our research staffers park their laptops, it's a safe bet that you'll soon hear a snort of derision from one of them. That usually means someone has found a clumsy job of rewording. You see, most content farms were deathly afraid of plagiarism, and quickly expelled anyone who merely copied something word for word. The "contributors" at eHow quickly learned, however, that a thesaurus is your best friend when you're trying to reword a wikipedia article... and that's pretty much what a staffer caught Max Roman Dilthey doing in "How Does Biofuel Work?" at

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Hinge Mortises for Dummies - The Freelance Files MLXIII

We understand completely when the person asking a question doesn't know the exact words to use. What we don't understand is when the person (supposedly) answering the question doesn't seem to know. Take, for example, the question "How to Make Grooves for Door Hinges": we know that the proper name for that "groove" is a mortise. Based on what he wrote at, however, eHowian John Walker doesn't know the word. Otherwise, he might have used it... but he didn't.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Screen Door Hinges the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files MLXII

installing screen door hinges
Pretty sure that's not Emily...
The nice people at Leaf Group have been laboriously moving old eHow content into niche sites, the better to suck eyeballs at search engines. Sadly, it seems to work: quite often we see decade-old garbage content filled with errors at the top of the results when we google (or bing, etc.) a how-to question. They even seem to be replacing some of the more crapalicious content, as evidenced by all the red-letter entries on our DotD by name page. Sometimes, however, the replacement is just as bogus as the original, such as post "How to Install a Spring-Loaded Hinge on a Screen Door" from the keyboard of Emily Patterson.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Ground Anchors the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files MLXI

ground anchor screw
Although most of our DIY DotD awardees win for mangling instructions, occasionally we find someone who – more or less – gets it right but manages to completely blow the lead-in to the instructions. That's how we spotted today's candidate, John Walker of it was because of the desperately doofus introduction he penned for an article entitled "DIY Ground Anchor."

Monday, December 25, 2017

Basketballs for Dummies - the Freelance Files MLX

Well, it's Christmas morning and all the Antisocial Network elves are finally resting after the lo-o-o-ong holiday buildup. It seems to start earlier and earlier: one elf swears she saw Christmas decorations in a local store the day after Labor Day! Whatever the case, in the interests of a short blog post today, we've found a DotD candidate with just one stupid mistake for us to mock. That does not, however, mean that Alexander Callos is not deserving of the award for his post, "How to Restore a Grip to a Leather Basketball."

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Amperes for Dummies - The Freelance Files MLIX

watts up
We here at the Antisocial Network often hear complaints that scientists and technologists talk too much in "jargon." Our staffers, most of whom are scientists and technologists point out that everyone talks too much in jargon: ever listened to a business type rattle off "biz-speak"? or a social worker talking about "empowerment" or "incarceration"? Scientists are (somewhat) less likely to speak in buzzwords, but that's mainly because so many of those "jargon" words have quite specific meanings.

All this is a way of introducing one humanities type, history student Michael O. Smathers, and his failure to understand the "jargon" of physics in "Capacity of a 15 Amp Circuit [sic]" at

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Cement Board Skirting for Dummies - The Freelance Files MLVIII

mobile home skirting
This is skirting, Tim...
Abraham Maslow is credited with the saying, "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." We like that, not least because we feel as though the Antisocial Network has plenty of tools that aren't hammers. We mean that in both the metaphorical and literal senses, by the way... Unfortunately, some freelancers have just a hammer... eHow's Tim Anderson is one such writer, a guy who has only one arrow in his quiver as he deftly proved in the HomeSteady post, "How to Do Cement Board Skirting."

Friday, December 22, 2017

Diamagnetism for Dummies - The Freelance Files MLVII

diamagnetic ferromagnetic paramagnetic
Opera singers aren't multilingual: even though they sing in multiple languages – French, German, Italian... – in some (or all) languages they've had to learn unfamiliar words' pronunciations phonetically. We often catch our DotD candidates trying to do the same thing in written form, but when we inspect their content we see that they've merely thrown unfamiliar words at the page in semi-coherent order so that they don't really mean much. One of our favorite examples is serial dumbass Joan Whetzel, who we found fumbling through the terminology in an old eHow post (now at titled "What Materials Do Magnets Repel?"

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Splicing Lumber for Dummies - The Freelance Files MLVI

half-lap joint
Think you could cut that joint with a jigsaw, Nathan?
Our staffers argue quite a bit about what form of dumbassery is most egregious. Is it the copy-reword-paste job in which technical terms get misinterpreted? Is it the mashup of two sources that are actually about different topics? Or is it the specific answer to a general question that nevertheless gets it wrong? The argument continues... but for today, at least, it's Type III: meet eHowian Nathan Fisher and his specific and, quality-wise crappy, answer to "How to Splice Lumber" at Leaf Group niche site

For his answer, Fisher, proud owner of a couple of psych degrees, went off-line to – get this: a log home construction book. We're pretty sure he didn't find the information he vomited up anywhere in that book, just like there's absolutely nothing about splicing lumber in his "resource"; which, by the way, is quite good for its correct purpose. No, Nathan went straight... somewhere... to describe what he thinks is,
"[O]ne of the simplest and most functional ways of splicing lumber... a half-lap joint."
OK, we'll buy that. Of course, there are several other ways to splice lumber, some of which – a strapped joint or scarf joint, for instance – are more simple. Your choice of those several methods is, of course, dependent on the situation: you don't use a strapped joint for fine furniture, and you wouldn't use a pocket-screwed butt joint for a floor joist. But never mind that, Fisher only mentioned the half-lap joint, so let's see how well he handled that.
Here are a few of the more interesting notions appearing in Nathan's instructions:
  • "Lay the two pieces of lumber to be spliced side by side. Push the boards together so the boards are making contact on their inside edges. Line the boards up so the boards are even on one end." – You really should square the ends first, Nathan...
  • "Measure the halfway point, up from the bottom, on the end of the boards with the ruler of the builder's square. If one piece of lumber is thinner than the other, measure the halfway point on the thinner piece." – Wait, what? who splices together two boards of different sizes? This may come from Nate's sole "reference," a book on building with logs.
  • "Put on safety glasses and cut along the L-shaped lines on both boards with a jigsaw." – Is he  kidding? It isn't wise to try to cut anything thicker than 1½" with a jigsaw, and he wants you to cut lumber widthwise? Idiot!
  • "For finish work, sand the cut smooth with sandpaper." – That ought to be a lot of fun! It seems Fisher's never heard of a chisel... 
     What do you get when you ask a social worker to explain carpentry and woodworking, at least in the eHow world? You get instructions that use the wrong tools, introduce bogus complications, and ignore basic techniques. In other words, you get typical Dumbass of the Day output.

NOTE: you can easily find useful instructions for cutting a rough half-lap joint online...


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Deleting History for Dummies - The Freelance Files MLV

data recovery - recover deleted files
If we've said it once, we've said it a thousand times: you can't trust the bull somebody threw at the internet just to earn a few bucks. Oh, sure, some freelancers are selective and only write about topics "in their wheelhouse," so to speak. The problem is that too many others, especially those at content farms, have merely googled a question and reworded the first half-coherent search result. A lot of them seem to have or be working on "communications" and journalism degrees, which they seem to believe makes them capable of writing about anything. They're not: witness Melissa King attempting to explain "How to Permanently Delete the Internet Browsing History on a PC" for

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Fuel Filters for Dummies - The Freelance Files MLIV

Carburetor vs Fuel Injectors
It's been a while since our staffers visited HubPages, perhaps because they've been having so much fun patrolling all those niche sites Leaf Group has been stuffing old eHow content. Be that as it may, there's still plenty of dumbassery over at the hub, it's just that the site's organization makes it harder to drill down to it. Whatever the case, we do occasionally feature a hubbie as DotD, and today's one of those days. Meet returning awardee Joanna Millar (msmillar) and another entry from her "my hubby did this, so I'll write about it" file: "Replace a Fuel Filter - Common." Don't ask us what that "- Common" is supposed to mean...

Monday, December 18, 2017

Chronometric Dating for Dummies - The Freelance Files MLIII

biostratigraphy dating
We're not certain about everyone, but we figure that when most people ask a question they expect a straightforward answer that contains facts. We do know that if you don't know the answer, we'd prefer that you admit it instead of spreading around a load of bull – that's the main reason we write this blog. Unfortunately, not everyone who "answered" questions for eHow was that honest... take, for example, Adrian Grahams, who penned the article "What Is Chronometric Dating?" that now appears at

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Formulas for Dummies - The Freelance Files MLII

sphere volume formula
Well, Minerals Week was fun and we found some new serial dumbasses to follow around the internet, but it's time to get back to other topics. Today's topic is mathematics, a subject that appears to be extremely "tough" to lots of people (not to mention a '90s-era Barbie Doll). Today's DotD nominee is a bit of a serial candidate himself, having already been featured four times in these pages. He's Mark Kennan (a.k.a. Michael Keenan), here to attempt to explain "How to Find the Volume of a Sphere in Terms of Pi¹" for

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Crystals, the Dummy Version (Minerals Week 7) The Freelance Files MLI

Quartz and Glass structure
One of the defining features of minerals is that they have an "ordered internal structure," which is a fancy way of saying that every mineral has crystalline structure at the atomic level. That's why yesterday's DotD was off base, by the way: glass is a noncrystalline solid. Believe it or not, there's a discipline of science that does nothing but study the "ordered internal structure" of crystals and how that affects their appearance and physical properties. It's s safe bet, however, that eHowian Ezmeralda Lee (sometimes known as Civita Dyer) did not study crystallography: if you want proof, consider her post "What Is a Crystal and How Does it Form?"

Friday, December 15, 2017

Pumice and Minerals for Dummies (Minerals Week 6) - The Freelance Files ML

Glassy Pumice sample
The editorial staff had some concerns about whether or not to include the post featured today in Minerals Week, since its natural home might seem more closely aligned with a "Rocks Week" (note to intern: check out the possibilities?). The word "minerals," however, is in the title of the subject post and the author did manage to contribute to the stupidification of the internet by his post, so the nominee stayed. Here, without ado, is Lee Morgan and "What Minerals Make Up Pumice?" at

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?"

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 Stothers 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 straightforward: get as many eyeballs on your content as possible through high search-engine placement. Accurate 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 here 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, 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 muffin?") 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 which is now at – utter bull 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 then pound out variations on the same answer for them all. Since the people "fact-checking" the articles (aka content editors) only checked for format, the 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 our 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 have become pretty familiar with the process of calculating and filing self-employment taxes. 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 sans 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 (aka DMS¹) precluded the use of Wikipedia articles as references; not that most of the self-appointed "freelance writers" didn't immediately go straight to the site 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 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 stench 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 when 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.