Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Hinges for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXCIII

door hinges butt style
Every once in a while one of our staffers runs across a freelance post that, on the surface, seems to contain useful information but – once you've actually read the thing – is the usual freelancer-generated bull. That's what you'kl find today, in a HomeSteady.com post by one Kevin McDermott entitled "How to Hinge a Door." The house grammar curmudgeon wants to make certain you know that "hinge" as a transitive verb is not his doing, by the way. He'd be inclined to use the term of art, "hang" a door.

McDermott begins, as eHowians (HomeSteady is one of the many niches constructed by Leaf Group for old eHow posts) must, with an introduction, in which he informs his readers that
"Setting the hinges into a new door and hanging it in a doorway isn't the easiest home project you could pick, but it's not as hard as you might think. Mostly it's a matter of knowing where everything is supposed to go, and how to attach it. Make sure to buy reversible door hinges, which simplifies the project because you don't have to figure out whether you need right-handed or left-handed hinges."
Well, at least the EIU J-school grad agreed with our curmudgeon that "hinge" isn't a verb (though perhaps that was the other J-school grad in the content editor chair). We were amused to think that "handed" hinges are common enough that one needs to be careful to "buy reversible door hinges." None of our DIYers, who've installed many a door, has ever even seen non-reversible hinges: they're either spring-loaded or fancy asymmetric varieties. But, moving on... Kevin then informs his readers to...
"Place one of your hinges on the edge of the door about six inches from the top... The top of the hinge pin should be pointed at the top of the door."
A) the standard is 8 to 10 inches, B) measure to the top, middle, or bottom of the hinge? and C) since the hinges are reversible, what difference does it make? Kevin has more "interesting" instructions to follow, including,
"Drill pilot holes through each of the screw holes in the plate and into the wood of the door. Then sink hinge screws into each of the holes."
While there are such things as hinge screws, shouldn't you use the screws that came with the hinges you bought??? And... once you've installed all three hinges on the door, Kevin tells you to

"Hold the door in place in the doorway, in the open position, and set the hinge plates where they will go on the door jamb (the flat vertical span of wood that faces the inside of the doorway)."
First, that's not what a door jamb is and second, McDermott makes a mistake here by not telling his readers to adjust the clearance so the door will swing. That's a pretty serious mistake, Kevin... another is that, although McDermott obliquely mentions that the open end of the pin should face upward, he never bothers to mention that, when closed, the leaves of a properly installed hinge lie flat against each other. Oops – we'll bet our Dumbass of the Day didn't know that would be important.     

DDIY - DOORS

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Garage Door Springs for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXCII

garage door extension spring and cable
Move the "cable," Laura???
If you were to ask each of our researchers what trait of self-appointed freelancers drives them craziest, the answer would be pretty much the same across the board. That answer is, "Thinking that having a degree renders them smarter than the average DIY handyman." No kidding: we see this one all the time, especially among eHow's stable of J-school, English, and fine arts graduates. Take, for instance, Laura Hageman, who attempted help some poor bastard figure out "How to Adjust Garage Door Tension" at HomeSteady.com.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Welfare Checks for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXCI

police welfare check
Are you familiar with the term "dog-whistle"? It's sometimes known as a code word, something that most people will find innocuous while the intended audience "knows exactly what you're talking about." Donald Trump is often accused – correctly, we suspect – of using dog-whistles in his rally speeches. One such politically loaded phrase, dating from the Reagan era, is "welfare check"; and eHowian William McFadden (aka Artesia Peluso?) jumped right on that dog's back in the Sapling.com article "What Is a Welfare Check?"

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Footer Depth for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXC

footing depth vs frost line
We've noticed over the years that a lot of freelancers answering questions at content farms tend to be  literal in their interpretation of the question, particularly when the subject of the question is foreign to them. Take, for instance, eHowian Elle Di Jensen (L. D. Jensen) whose unsuccessful attempt to address the topic of "How to Find the Depth of House Footers" has been migrated to GardenGuides.com, for some unknown reason.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Camper Screens for Dummies, Again - The Freelance Files CMLXXXIX

We're always amused to find that two different people have seized on almost identical questions in the eHow canon and come up with the exact same (wrong) answer. We have no idea which of these two attempted to answer the question first, but one of them sure looks a lot like the other, at least when it comes to the bogus information. To Charlie Rainer Gaston's version of "How to Replace a Window Screen on a Camper Shell" at Trails.com, we now add the version posted by Tyson Simmons to a brand new Leaf Group niche site, Homesteady.com. Sadly, we can't tell whether one plagiarized the other or both are equally dumbass...

Friday, October 13, 2017

Buoyancy for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXXXVIII

Buoyancy
Freelancers: you gotta love 'em... well, no, you don't. We don't, except perhaps in view of just how amusing some of their bull-bleep turns out to be once you get past the flowery bits generated by the J-school and English Lit grads. Once in a while, however, we run across some who claims to have a BS in science instead of a BA in liberal arts, and we regard their failure to deliver on technical questions with something approaching horror. That's what happened when one of our staffers ran across John Brennan fumbling the question, "Does a Balloon with Helium Rise Higher than One With Oxygen?" which he posted to SeattlePI's education section.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Installing a Derailleur for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXXXVII

shimano altus rear derailleur
If you ride a bike – not one of the "fixies" favored by manbun-toting hipsters, though – you've probably noticed the contraption by the back wheel called a derailleur. For what it's worth, there's also a contraption near the pedals, also called a derailleur. Whether it's been trashed in a wreck or you're just upgrading the components, you might want to take on installing a new drivetrain – meaning a new derailleur. Heaven help you, however, if you think eHow's Tammie Painter managed to compile useful "Shimano Altus Derailleur Installation Instructions" in her crapalicious post (moved to Healthfully.com by Leaf Group).

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Slope of a Line for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXXXVI

Line Slope Two Points
If there's anything we here at the Antisocial Network have learned from plowing through the dross of the internet in search of dumbassery – and we're here to tell you that "needles" and "haystacks" definitely don't apply – it's that way too many people with liberal arts educations are basically clueless when it comes to STEM. Take self-described Mensa member Ryan Menezes, proud owner of a BA in Journalism. He blew "How to Find the Slope of a Line Given 2 Points" for eHow. Leaf Group then moved it to Sciencing.com, where some yutz classified it as "physics." Huh.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tractors for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXXXV

Ford Model N tractor
If you aren't old enough to remember the show yourself, ask Mom and Dad (or Grandpa) about  the '60s sitcom "Green Acres": a city gentleman decides he'd like to be a farmer, complete with a cast of tobacco-spittin' rustics and a Gabor sister. Apparently the Netflix version reached the home of WritEdge author Ellina James (real name Shreya Vishonoi, who also "wrote" at Seekyt), who shared with her readers something she claimed was "A Brief Introduction to Tractor Accessories for Better Farming." Yeah, sure...

Monday, October 9, 2017

Coin Collecting for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXXXIV

1943 S Lincoln Cent Obverse
As Leaf Group spreads more and more of the eHow canon around to niche sites, the Antisocial Network research team keeps coming across familiar names in "new" settings. The sad fact, however, is that the content doesn't change (except, sometimes, to get even worse) – it's still the same drivel written by the same unthinking crew of "contributors." Today's DotD candidate is one of those familiar names, ten-time winner of the award Larry Parr, found here expounding on "How to Buy Coins Wholesale" for some silly place Leaf calls PocketSense.com.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Shelving for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXXXIII

ladder shelves
Freelancers who wrote for Demand Media Studios in its heyday as a content farm were required to provide a biography, in about 30 words, that summarized their writing expertise and/or educational background. Since there was no fact-checking of these biographies, heaven only knows how many of them were based in reality. Take, for instance, one Ryan Menezes, who claimed to be a member of Mensa. You sure couldn't tell that by looking at his post "How to Determine the Angle for Braces of a Shelf," though...

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Acreage for the Complete Dummy - The Freelance Files CMLXXXII

Acre superimposed over football fields
acre compared to football field
We were checking past award ceremonies the other day and found that the people at Leaf Group (whom we suspect of monitoring this site for useless posts in the eHow canon) had deleted a singularly stupid post by one Mallory Malesky, about measuring an acre. The old link redirects now to a post by someone named Paul Lin at GardenGuides.com, a post entitled "How to Calculate the Outside Perimeter of an Acre." Unfortunately, the replacement is no better than the original...

Friday, October 6, 2017

Bike Cleats for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXXXI

road and mountain bicycle cleats
Note the lack of adjustment screws, Cecilia...
We're going quick and dirty today, mostly because we want to get out on the road for the team-building bike ride before it starts to rain.  Almost all the Antisocial Network staffers are cyclists, and a quick 25 miles with their office buds can get the day started just right, Some, of course, are more familiar with their equipment, but by this point most of them are smart enough to recognize the error when someone asks "How to Adjust the Tension on Bicycle Cleats." You can't say the same for Cecilia Harsch and the Demand Media content editors at Livestrong.com, however...

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Cones for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXXX

ellipse and circle cone
When it comes to writing about STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) many a self-appointed internet freelancer is hobbled by a weak educational background. You can reach a PhD in history, French, "communications," or creative writing without having taken anything beyond a token arithmetic or elementary science course in your freshman year of college. When it comes to researching and rewording technical stuff for content farms, many of these liberal arts majors fall flat. Take, for instance, Jon Zamboni¹ (not, we suspect, a real name) from eHow. He rewrote "How to Calculate the Base of a Cone" for Demand Media, and Leaf Group moved it to Sciencing.com.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Drilling Rigs for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXXIX

drilling rig on land
In case you haven't noticed, the average American thinks he's an expert on the oil business. After all, most of us buy stuff from oil companies a couple of times a week, right? The reality is that the vast majority of the self-appointed experts know next to nothing about anything that happened before they stuck the pump nozzle in their filler pipes... and people like eHow's Tonya Yirka are partially to blame. That's because they publish rubbish like "Types of Oil Drilling Rigs" at places like BizFluent.com. Well, in reality, it's Leaf Group's fault just as much...

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Moving Sprinkler Heads for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXXVIII

inground sprinkler pipe
Nope, no swing pipe here...
If you wanted to troubleshoot a 1967 Camaro, you might head to Google to look for help. If you ran across a website that went on and on about the EFI and the EGR valve, you'd recognize it immediately as utter bull. Why? because no '67 Camaro had fuel injection, electronic or otherwise, and no vehicle in the '60s needed emissions control, including the exhaust gas recirculation valve. The same thing happened all the time across the entire website called eHow, where J-school and English lit graduates scraped information from the web without understanding it and pretended to help people in need. Take, for instance, "technology sector" guy David Miller, found here explaining "How to Move Inground Sprinkler Heads" for eHow... or perhaps not.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Elliptical Machines and Distance for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXXVII

A couple of days ago we featured the lousy customer support at ICON Fitness and their NordicTrack division, which got us thinking about some of the stupid things freelancers are likely to say about those machines. Sure enough, we checked our files and found that seven-time DotD winner Greyson Ferguson had attempted to answer a question about ellipticals for eHow: "How to Calculate Distance on an Elliptical Trainer."

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Framing Garage Doors for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXXVI

rough opening garage door
Wanna build a garage? The fact of the matter is that a garage is a lot easier to build than a house, since you don't have to worry about plumbing, flooring, and nicely finished walls. Heck, you may not even have to worry about insulation or electricity. One thing you will need to consider, however, is framing the garage door. When you start researching "How to figure a rough garage door opening," we sure hope you won't accidentally click on the Hunker.com post by Alec Preble.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Garbage Disposals for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXXV

knockout plug garbage disposal
Our staffers think nothing is more hilarious than some freelancer attempting to write a how-to for a task he or she has never performed. On second thought, "hilarious" doesn't fit – perhaps we should say "annoying." In reality, if you're already pretty accomplished in the field and have dome closely related tasks, you can probably reword someone else's instructions. Knowing what you're doing helps a lot in describing the procedure and knowing what the terminology means. On the other hand, you could just reword instructions for something you've never done, and make a major booboo in the process. It sure looks like that's what eHow's Owen Pearson did for Hunker.com in "How to Remove the Knockout Plug in a Garbage Disposal."

Friday, September 29, 2017

Melted Rock for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXXIV

melted rock at surface lava
Uhhhh, no, Linda, rocks don't melt...
Every once in a while one of our researchers runs across a freelancer's post that is so downright stupid that the poor drone is left gasping for air. And today's post is precisely that: a pile of scientific ignorance that is so filled with misinformation and misstatement that it could only come from a journalism major writing at eHow... and by golly, that's exactly what our staffer turned up this time. Picture, if you will, some student stuck in Rocks for Jocks to complete that 3-semester hour science elective who needs to know "What Factors Affect the Melting Temperature of Rock?" Heaven forbid he or she should accidentally happen on the drack published by freelancer Linda Harris at eHow and moved by Leaf Group to Sciencing.com.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Customer Support by Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXXIII

Today's DotD nominee is a little different: normally, we find some greedy freelancer who makes a mess our of facts just to pick up a few pennies but today, however, we're going to talk about a company. That company is NordicTrack, a subsidiary of ICON Health & Fitness, Inc., of Logan, Utah. The following is an example of the sort of customer support that, unfortunately, has become the "standard" of our day.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Elliptical Resistance For Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXXIII

Elliptical Machine Magnet Location
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is one of the top priorities here at the Antisocial Network, so management recently upgraded the office gym by buying a NordicTrack elliptical machine for the staffers to use. For the record, it's the Elite 13.1 (model 24055.0), which they admit they bought at Sears. Besides weighing enough that the boss had to bribe a couple of weightlifters to move the box into place, the darned thing's resistance came from the factory set at "NINJA"! In hopes of getting help, we contacted NordicTrack customer support, which appears to have been farmed out to Comcast. The next step was to google the problem, which is where we found eHowian Beth Rifkin stinking up the web with "How to Adjust the Magnet on an Elliptical Machine" at AZCentral.com (content supplied by Demand Media).

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Burning Propane for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXXII

propane molecule C3H8
We aren't sure whether it's hilarious or disheartening, but some of our most fascinating DotD nominee posts are the ones written by liberal arts majors attempting to answer simple science questions. Bless their hearts, the guys and gals just don't know when they're getting it wrong, not to mention the many times their attempts to reword even slightly technical literature get... fascinating. We have one of those today, eHowian Brenda Priddy who attempted to tackle "Why Burning Propane Makes Water" at Sciencing.com.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Shift Cables for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXXI

chevrolet shift cable transmission end
When it comes to doing their own car maintenance, most people are pretty much stymied by anything more complex than an oil change (and plenty wouldn't even try that task). Still, if you have anything beyond rudimentary mechanical skills and can figure out what's broken on your car, it's not a bad idea to google the fix in hopes that it's a simple job. If you chose the wrong like, though, you may run into someone who knows even less than you pretending to be helpful – someone like Tammy Bronson, eHow type whose post "How to Replace the Shift Cable in a Chevy" now lives at ItStillRuns.com

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Hydrogen Generators for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXX

water-powered car scam
If you stop by Amazon and browse the customer reviews, you'll find that one of the most common reasons why people give 1-star ratings to a product is "not as advertised." We're with 'em: nobody likes the old bait-and-switch, whether it's an electrical circuit breaker tracer or a pair of socks. Here at the Antisocial Network, we are quite unimpressed by freelancers who pull that trick in hopes of picking up more pennies. Take, for example Matthew B. Dexter, a self-described freelancer with "expertise in outdoors [sic] living," and the bull he titled "How to Build a Hydrogen Generator" at LovetoKnow.com. Yeah: "how to build"...

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Tripping Breakers for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXIX

Circuit Breakers
Most would-be DIYers begin their home repair careers with projects like decks and, perhaps, fences. For the majority, the tasks they feel qualified to tackle rarely go beyond such rudimentary carpentry. A few, however, will try their hands at plumbing and even electrical work. In truth, a lot of home electrical repair is pretty simple; but you really need to have a qualified person telling you the safe way to do the job, That definitely rules out eHow's Whitney Houston (real name probably Whitney Devine), who — for unknown reasons — considered herself an "expert" on swimming pools. When it came to questions like "What Causes a Pool Pump to Trip a Circuit Breaker?" however, Whitney was drowning in dumbassery.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Stick Shifts for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXVIII

manual transmission gear shift
10 o'clock???
Some of the staffers here at the Antisocial Network are old enough to remember when you could get just about any new car with either an automatic or a manual transmission. That's no longer the case: many models are available only with some form of automatic tranny (including the CVT). Whether that's the reason why so few people know how to drive a stick shift or the small number off stick drivers is the reason that few cars have manuals is debatable. What's not debatable is that if you want to learn "Step-by-Step Instructions On Driving a Stick Shift," you could do a lot better than read the tripe John Mack published for ItStillRuns.com (originally at eHow -- of course).

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Ohio Spiders for Arachnophobe Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXVII

Argiope aurantia black and yellow spider
We don't usually hand out DotD awards to the same person on two consecutive days, but give us a break -- the staff retreat is today and we-re in a bit of a time crunch. So even though we just tagged her for the first time yesterday, we're calling eHow's Shanea Patterson back to the podium again for the gross scientific incompetence she displayed in the post "Types of Black & Yellow Spiders in Ohio."

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Completions for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXVI

downhole completions are designed by a completions engineer
Careers, we guess, are pretty much like any other topic: if you want to learn what a [name an occupation] does, your best bet is to ask someone who has the job. Your second best bet is to ask someone who's seen the job done. Around the Antisocial Network, we suspect that your worst bet is to ask someone at a Demand Media [now Leaf Group] site: if you do that, you're likely to end up with rubbish like eHow's Shanea Patterson threw together for "The Job Description of a Completions Engineer," now appearing at Leaf Group's niche site CareerTrend.com.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Wired Bike Computers for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXV

routing computer wire on bicycle
If you were to come into the Antisocial Network world headquarters building by way of the garage, you might notice the number of bicycles stored there on any given day. All our staffers are avid cyclists, and about half are pretty handy when it comes to routine maintenance on their bikes. That's why the collected works of DMS's Charlie Gaston so frequently... well, "piss them off" seems to fit. Unlike our staffers, Gaston seems to have only a passing familiarity with cycling and its equipment, as she demonstrates for Trails.com in "How to Install an Old Bicycle Speedometer."

Monday, September 18, 2017

Molly Bolts for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXIV

molly bolt after tightening
Molly Brown was unsinkable. Sweet Molly Malone cried "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive-oh!" Molly bolts hold all kinds of things on drwyall (or plaster) walls where it's inconvenient to hit a stud. But if you ever (for some unknown reason) want to know "How to Sink a Molly Bolt," we suggest you give a pass to the eHow instructions that Mary McNally wrote...

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Router Jigs For Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXIII

If you were to ask someone about "How to Make Router Jigs," the best possible answers would come from people who 1) know what a router jig is, 2) have experience using a router, preferably with a jig, and 3) know how to make router jigs. Anyone who can't meet all three of those criteria would be a non-optimal candidate, don't you think? Well, today's DotD nominee doesn't have any of those three qualifications! It should come as no surprise that she posted this at eHow, not should it be surprising that she's Lacy Enderson -- again.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Splitting Logs for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXII

log splitter
If you visit the kid's book section at your local independent bookstore, you'll find a series of books with titles like The Way Things Work. David Macaulay, who wrote the original of the series thirty years ago, does a pretty good job of describing the combinations of simple machines that make up everyday objects along with the scientific principles that power them. Sadly for people who google "How Does a Log Splitter Work?" they don't go to Macaulay. Instead, they go to eHow.com and Grant D. McKenzie...

Friday, September 15, 2017

Wood for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXVI

softwood vs hardwood
Although the Leaf Group family of niche sites (merely content redistributed from the mother lode of misinformation, eHow) gets much of our attention here at the Antisocial Network, there are still other websites filled with rubbish. One such is HubPages, where slaphappy freelancers posted some pretty sorry content back in the pre-Panda days. It's still there, and we are more than happy to debunk it whenever possible, which is why today's nominee is repeat visitor Hassam with a scary stupid post he called "Types of Wood."

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Volcanology for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXVI

Volcano cross-section
We here at the Antisocial Network trot our staff geologist out from time to time — the guy's retired from the oil biz, so he spends most of his time arguing with people about fracking on Facebook — to look over the self-appointed earth-science experts among our freelancers. He'd already outed Catalogs.com's Cindi Pearce last year, but that treatise on orogenesis apparently wasn't enough misinformation: Cindi also attempted to explain "How are Volcanoes Formed?" for the same site, with equally sad results.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Flushing Toilets for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXV

We can't be certain of this, but the staffers here at the Antisocial Network suspect that one of the most common first attempts at DIY by newbie homeowners (who can no longer call dorm or apartment maintenance for help) is a malfunctioning toilet. After all, if you think there's "sticker shock" at car dealerships, just check out a plumber's bill! One of the reasons we think so is the vast number of Leaf Group posts related to the topic... and sadly, most of them are answered by amateurs like today's nominee, Matt Smolsky, who tackled "What Makes a Crane Toilet Flush Poorly?" for SFGate.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Board Feet for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXIV

square feet to board feet
The tiny bios written by the "contributors" at eHow seem so amusing sometimes: these folks come off as renaissance men and women with their wide-ranging interests and education. Take, for example, today's DotD nominee, Matthew Anderson (aka Matthew Abdallah): he claims a degree in chemical engineering, a decade of "publishing," and training in music. What he doesn't have, as will be seen in a moment, is any knowledge of carpentry -- as clearly displayed in his post at Hunker.com. "How to Convert Square Foot to Board Foot."

Monday, September 11, 2017

Bicycle Storage for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXIII

bicycle hydraulic disc brake
It should come as no surprise that the biggest problem we've noticed with freelancers answering random questions (the good old eHow model) is that too many times the person answering the question knows no more about the topic than the person answering it. Our house bike guru caught one of these just recently: self-styled fitness professional Elle Di Jensen, who often writes about bikes, tried to answer the question "Is it Bad to Hang a Bicycle by Its Wheel?" for, of all places, Leaf Group's TheBump.com (bicycle "advice" on a pregnancy website???)

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Erosion for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXII

soil erosion
Cynical or not, we realize that there are people out there with some form of writing degree who are capable of rendering scientific jargon into something the "masses" can understand, just as there are scientists who are incapable of doing so. As we understand, it takes either in-depth knowledge of the science or willing interview subjects (for an example, see anything written by Mary Roach.) Sadly, many liberal arts grads — J-school, creative writing, English lit — decided they were perfectly capable of doing it all by themselves... hence, a plethora of DotD award for scientific illiteracy. Continuing in that grand tradition today, we find eHowian John Mack holding forth on "How Does Erosion Affect the Earth?" for Leaf Group's Sciencing.com.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Unstable Atoms for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLXI

Difference Between Stable and Unstable Isotopes
Around the Antisocial Network conference table, we regularly rattle the cages of  journalism (aka "communications") and English majors who think that their freelancing skills are so well-honed they can take on any subject, but can't. It's fairly rare for us to run across someone who at least claims to have a BS in some science who presents as scientifically illiterate -- but they're out there. A case in point is today's nominee, eHow contributor Mallory Malesky, who penned "What Is an Unstable Atom?" for Sciencing.com.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Physician, Heal Thyself for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLX

everything you need to know about blogging, my ass
Ever heard that admonition before? "Physician, heal thyself"? If you haven't, it pretty much means that you shouldn't criticize someone else for having the same fault as you. Say, Donald Trump shouldn't be calling Hillary Clinton a "liar" until he examines his own tenuous connection to facts. Be that as it may, we rarely see this except in people writing "grammar" suggestions, but we decided to visit a previous DotD to see what other inane crap she had to say. Libby Baez, aka CountryWine of PersonaPaper did not fail with her post, "Many Posts Are Way Too Disappointing."

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Atoms and Molecules for Dummies - The Freelance FIles CMLIX

It may seem as if we complain about it a lot here, but the reality is that scientifically illiterate J-school graduates trying to discuss science topics on content farms are a danger to your kids' education. Maybe their wording seems easier to read, but wouldn't you rather have accuracy than ease? When the posts are filled with misinformation, are the people who read them "learning"? No... and people like Leaf Group's Jess Kroll aren't helping at all when they post rubbish like "What is the Relationship Between a Molecule & an Atom?" at sciencing.com (really? "Sciencing"?)...

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Gold Minerals for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLVIII

native gold in hydrothermal quartz vein
One of our staffers spent some time as a substitute teacher specializing in science, and she will tell you that "rocks and minerals" is a subject taught in almost every elementary school -- usually in fourth or fifth grade. Which is one reason why we're confused that someone who says she graduated from one of the "Seven Sisters" doesn't know the difference between rocks and minerals. That is, sadly, the case with Claudia Newcorn, who visited "How to Identify Gold Rocks" on Leaf Group's GoneOutdoors.com.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Profitable Oil Drilling for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLVII

rig floor oil exploration
Bet these guys know more about drilling than Ashbee!
If we had a particle physicist on staff here at the Antisocial Network there might be quite a few posts here making fun of J-school grads and people with English lit degrees trying to explain charmed quarks and the significance of the Higgs boson. We don't have one, but we do have a petroleum geologist -- that's why we regularly take idiots to task for misinformation about geology, maps, and the oil  business; people like Ashbee A. Bakht, who posted "Profitable Oil Drilling Simplified" at that paragon of factuality, Ezine.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Porch Steps for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLVI

stair rise and run
One of the reasons we started this blog a couple of years ago is that we were tired of finding alleged how-to and informational articles that had been written by complete hacks. The Demand Media family of websites (now Leaf Group) is responsible for a lot of that dreck, probably because their gatekeepers -- the content editors -- were long on nit-picking format and short on fact-checking statements. We have hundreds of examples so far, and new ones come in every day -- posts like "Easy to Build Steps for a Porch," which Sienna Condy tacked on eHow.com.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Topographic Maps for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLV

USGS Topographic map example
Some of the worst maps ever created appears in advertising, be it online, on paper, or the yellow pages (remember those?). After trying to use some of those maps our friendly mapmaker is convinced that maps are the original "black box" to many folks. Good news, though: the government organization known as the United States Geological Survey (USGS) publishes inexpensive yet highly detailed and accurate maps of our entire country at many different scales. Unfortunately, amateurs like eHow's Marianne Moro have attempted to explain those maps, with... distressing results -- as in her post, "Land Features on a Topographic Map."

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Making Frames for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLIV

correct measurement for frame molding with rabbet
Over a couple of years of calling out online freelancers for faking it, we've noticed that one way to identify bogus instructions is to look at how the writer addresses the more difficult details of a procedure. Someone who's done it knows where the "gotchas" are, while someone just doing a copy-reword-paste job often leaves out the stuff they don't understand. Here's an example: eHow contributor B. T. Alo and his pretty much worthless instructions about "How to Make a Large Picture Frame."

Friday, September 1, 2017

Metamorphic Rocks for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLIII

Rock Cycle NASA
Antisocial Network staffers prefer that any awards be given to our DotD nominees in their real names, but every once in a while an anonymous contributor makes such an impression on a team member that he or she can persuasively argue that the award be presented anyway. We came across today's awardee while checking old links. During the "niche-ing" process at Sciencing.com, Leaf Group deleted an old eHow article about slate and replaced it with an anonymous contribution entitled "How to Identify Metamorphic Rocks." This is one case where "the cure is worse than the disease"...

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Per Diem for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLII

travel expense accounting
We see this situation every day here at the Antisocial Network: freelancers writing for one of the content farms who attempt to explain something they simply dosn't understand to begin with. The results are sometimes comic, sometimes puzzling, and sometimes dangerous -- however the ,ost accurate word for them is "wrong." Take, for instance, Demand Media's Charlie Gaston, usually found misinforming people about travel-related topics at Trails.com. We found her this time, though, at Chron.com, explaining to the best of her limited abilities "How to Write Off a Per Diem."