Friday, March 31, 2017

Plywood and Fences, the Dummy Version

using plywood for your privacy fence
We see a lot of cockamamie claims made by internet freelancers who claim to be "helping" their readers. Some are doing nothing but shilling for a vendor or service and some are well-meaning but clueless, but we reserve our wrath (such as it is) for the people who write about topics about which they knew nothing before taking the "assignment." Most of them wrote their rubbish for the site eHow, which has begun parceling its content out to niche sites such as Techwalla.com and Sciencing.com (names that leave a sour taste in our collective mouth here at the Antisocial Network). Recently, they've begun moving content to their "home-focused" site, Hunker.com. Our first hunkery DotD, then, is one Jeff O'Kelley, who gave the internet "Plywood for Privacy Fencing."

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Magellan GPS Initialization for Dummies

GPS Initialization Screen
Among the most fascinating features of the old Demand Media website, eHow, is that you could often find almost identical topics addressed by different people. What makes it fascinating is that despite the sites' claims that the content was edited for accuracy, it is common to find that "answers" to very similar questions submitted by different "contributors" were themselves different. Ideally, two posts came at a question from different directions, but sometimes both of them were... to be blunt, bullshit. That was the case when Melissa King posted "Magellan GPS Won't Initialize," moved first to Leaf Group's niche site OurEverydyLife.com and now on ItStillWorks.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Saving Water for Dummies

types of toilet fill valves (ballcock)
We all want to save money -- or, to be more accurate, we all want to have more money (that's one reason why so many people voted for Donald Trump). So if you wander around the internet for a while like our research staffers do, you're going to find a lot of money-saving ideas. Many are get-rich schemes (where the only person who gets rich is the guy who sells it to you), but some are real. Some, however, are the product of poor thought processes, like those of Victoria Ries. She's the person responsible for "How to Use Less Water in a Toilet" for the folks at eHow, who've since moved this to HomeSteady.com.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Government Employees for Dummies

Trump Proposed Budget Cuts per CNN
Every once in a while someone says something stupid on social media. OK, stop laughing -- we know that the ratio of stupidity to common sense on Facebook is about 15:1, and on Twitter it's even worse (especially since the Real Donald Trump is still tweeting). But we did see something recently that we found just plain moronic, a statement by a FOAF (that's an initialism from Snopes.com for "Friend Of A Friend") by the name of Michael Leslie. Mike's obviously been drinking too much Kool-Aid...

Monday, March 27, 2017

Deck Footings for Dummies

Details of deck footing design
Ever asked someone a question and received an answer that sort of left you scratching your head? If you're like some of our staffers at the Antisocial Network, you start to wonder what it is that didn't make sense about some of the seemingly sensible posts they run across. Take, for instance, a little thing called "How to Calculate Deck Footings" that repeat offender James Wiley penned for eHow (now at Hunker.com): while the young Spanish-"global studies" graduate with a yen to write television scripts appeared to know what he was talking about, a little digging exposed his ignorance.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Tile Floors for Dummies

spacing of floor tiles
Sometimes even the simplest tasks seem to be beyond the mental acuity of our freelancers. Then again, the mistakes they make may be a due to a lack of experience, preparation, or both. We think that's especially true in the case of many of the college students and stay-at-home moms who penned articles for the Demand Media sites (now under the Leaf Group umbrella) in the old days: they lacked the basic knowledge to know where they'd screwed up... For example, we submit young criminal justice grad Andrew Todd, who penned "How to Calculate Tile Size to Feet" for eHow.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Carburetor Jets for Dummies

A Carburetor with the main and pilot Jets labeled
If the truth be told, no one on the Antisocial Network staff could be considered a "motorhead." Oh, sure, we have staffers who can perform basic maintenance tasks and some who've even tuned up pre-Clean Air Act engines, but most of our accumulated knowledge about internal combustion engines tends to be of the vicarious type. Still, we're pretty certain that among us we know quite a bit more than eHow's Vee Enne, who it's quite apparent was woefully unqualified to answer the question "What Is a Carburetor Jet?" for the mother lode of misinformation  (now relocated to niche site ItStillRuns).

Friday, March 24, 2017

Corner Beads for Dummies

damaged drywall corner bead
Among our least-favorite types of freelance "helpers" are the ones whose information and advice about do-it-yourself projects turn out to be essentially useless. Heck, sometimes it's worse than useless, even downright dangerous. It's usually easy to spot the self-appointed expert researchers (usually journalism and "communications" majors) who are just talking through their hats, because they trip themselves up where they lack even basic knowledge. We're talking knowledge like eHow's Ann Johnson lacked when she tried to compile the simple "About Corner Beads."

Johnson's unfamiliarity with corner beads is obvious from the get-go, mainly because the dummy never gets around to explaining the chief reason drywall installers add a corner bead: to protect the exposed edges of soft sheetrock at a corner. Instead, she explains that

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Steam Showers, the Dummy Version

prefabricated corner steam shower unit
If you've never used a steam shower, we suggest you try one out some day: they combine the therapeutic advantages of a steam room with a regular shower, all in the space of a more-or-less standard shower stall, Now that the advertising's done, though, we suggest that you don't ask eHow's Jan Goldfield for help installing one, at least based on the mess she made of her post "How to Build a Steam Shower." For one thing, you don't build a steam shower, you install one...

We suggest you avoid this rubbish and go straight to someone who's actually seen, nay, sold and installed steam showers. The answers may not all agree with each other, but at least you'll have the benefit of experience -- not from some clueless freelancer who claims that...

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Circulatory System for Dummies

muscle contractions, valves and blood circulation in veins
There weren’t many rules back when anyone who wanted to could start publishing “freelance” articles for content farms. As a matter of fact, there weren’t any at all – at least as far as “extreme vetting” of the self-appointed experts’ content was concerned. You had journalism majors publishing on rocket science, rocket scientists publishing on cell biology, and cell biologists publishing on opera. Of course come of it was bullshit – what could you expect, especially from people pumping out as many articles in as short a time as possible. That’s how you end up with rubbish like what Imani Angulo published at Sciencing.com under the title, “What Three Things Help Push Blood Through Veins?”

Monday, March 20, 2017

Measuring for Granite Countertops the Dummy Way

granite countertop measurement
Most of the college grads at the Antisocial Network have a degree in science or math, and a common question around the (metaphorical) water cooler is, "Just what do you study for a business degree, anyway?" Based on the "answer" that BBA holder Robert C. Young penned at SFGate for someone who wanted to know, "How do I Measure the Square Footage for Granite Countertop?" it sure isn't geometry... or logic, for that matter. And it definitely isn't kitchen remodeling...

Sunday, March 19, 2017

SYP Plywood, the Dummy Version

tongue and groove plywood
The daughter of one of the Antisocial Network staffers will graduate from high school this year, and is considering college majors (she's already been accepted by Indiana's Ball State University). She wants to major in English so she can continue her hobby of writing fantasy. Well, we certainly know about English majors writing fantasy -- people like self-described "personal trainer" and "skilled and experienced investigator" Ron Roberts, who clearly had no idea what he was talking about when he attempted to explain the "Characteristics of SYP Plywood."

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Sanding a Door the Dummy Way

scratches in wood resulting from sanding across the grain with a belt sander loaded with coarse grit
We just love it when people who know nothing about a task try to tell us how it's supposed to be done. Many of the self-appointed freelance "experts" at eHow fit that description perfectly, googling a question the OQ should have googled him- pr her-self in the first place, then rewording the first search result or two. We suspect that's exactly what happened this time, when Patrick Nelson tried to answer the eternal question, "What Is the Correct Way to Sand a Wood Door?"

Friday, March 17, 2017

Fractions, Decimals and Dummies

relationship of a fraction to a decimal number
There used to be -- and for all we know, still is -- a television show called "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?" The premise, obviously, is that ten-year-olds know stuff grownups have forgotten, although let's be real: a lot of the adult contestants seemed to be rather... clueless the few times we watched it. While today's DotD candidate may not be clueless, however, he certainly is verbose. By our count, it took Damarious Page 499 words to explain "How to Change Fractions into Decimals"¹ for Sciencing.com [that name: ptui1!]. We think it should have taken fewer than twenty...

Thursday, March 16, 2017

French Drains by Dummies

french drain backfill
Every once in a great while we find ourselves muttering, "Same dumbass, different day." Today's one of those days -- after some pretty crappy information about interference engines yesterday, eHow's Cayden Conor (sometimes known as Cheryl Bowman) is back again today to misinform her readers (what did you expect for the mother lode of misinformation?) about "How to Install French Drains Around a Foundation." Umm, sorry, Cayden -- you're now a repeat offender.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Interference Engines, the Dummy Version

non-interference or interference engine -- which do I have
Other than a house, many people will never own anything more expensive than a motor vehicle. Oh come on, millennials, once you start having kids you'll stop "sharing" and buy a minivan just like your parents and grandparents did... but we digress. Even before smog controls made cars impossible to work on, engines were a black box for 90% of the public; now it's even worse. That makes the topic of "List of Cars with Interference Motors" on eHow (now on ItStillRuns.com) somewhat interesting, though why Cayden Conor (aka Cheryl Bowman) thought paralegal training qualified her to address is... curious.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Wall Paneling for Dummies

installing wall paneling
What may well be the most irritating feature of the former Demand Media Studios¹ was their insistence on a minimum word count. Even questions that could have been answered with a simple "Yes, you can," or "No way, José!" had to be padded out to 300 words or so. Interestingly enough, it's usually in the padding that incompetent freelancers managed to trip themselves up on their ignorance. That's not, however, the case today: no, Melissa Lewis, writing for the Demand Media's flagship site eHow, attempted to answer the eternal question, "How Thick Is Paneling?" -- and failed. Leaf Group having moved it to Hunker.com doesn't change that.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Oil Leaks for Dummies

oh, no! an oil leak under your car
Few things are more disturbing to a car owner than that first glimpse of an oil stain under where you park overnight. Denial comes first -- "Someone else left that!" -- but, eventually, you realize that your car is "bleeding." Your first thought is to Google "What Makes a Car Leak Oil?" If you're lucky, you won't click on the post Tom Lutzenberger put together for eHow (now moved to ItStillRuns by Leaf Group). If you're not, well, here's what you'll find...

Lutzenberger (whose credentials include degrees in English, polysci, and business) spends quite a bit of time talking about the different "types of oil" in your car. Those of us who have done our own maintenance prefer to talk about the (many) different fluids, but if Tom thinks there are only two, that's on him. Lutz says that,
"A car runs with two kinds of oil: transmission fluid and engine oil"...
...to which we suggest one might add power steering fluid, brake fluid, differential oil, etc. -- all of which can leak. But hey, if just two works for you, Tom, fine: just get it right!

But he didn't: for instance Tom says of transmission fluid,
"The transmission fluid helps keep the transmission, gears, differential and clutch (if you have a manual transmission) working. It provides a lubricant for moving parts to mesh with each other without grinding and destroying each other due to friction."
There are, as people who understand cars know, a couple of things wrong with that: first, you NEVER want a lubricant on a clutch, because friction is extremely important! Second, Tom apparently didn't know (or didn't think it important) that transmission fluid is the medium by which the engine power is transmitted to the drivetrain in an automatic tranny! Lutzenberger then continues to demonstrate his unfamiliarity with vehicles, telling us that
    
"Engine oil can also leak from the hoses and lines that pump the oil into the engine and drain it out"...
...thereby demonstrating an utter failure to understand the concept of a crankcase or an oil pan. The only "hoses and lines" filled with oil in the engine compartment are related to power steering and brakes (and maybe a turbocharger). Dumbass!

     Tom, it would have been far more useful to discuss the locations of the gaskets that might fail, or even something as simple as a loose drain plug in the oil pan. Heck, maybe some basic troubleshooting -- like the factoid that transmission fluid is (usually) red while engine oil is brown-black. But no, he didn't know that and yet wrote anyway. Small wonder he's getting another Dumbass of the Day award -- his ninth.

DD - ENGINES

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Choosing Plywood the Dummy Way

hardwood plywood
If you've ever tried to buy solid wood for a finished product, you may still be suffering from sticker shock: our house woodworker once paid about $25 (on sale) for a chunk of walnut about 8 x 12 x 22 -- and those measurements are in inches! Ditto the cost of even cheap pine, if it's clear and knot-free. That's why, for many projects, everyone from DIY woodworkers to major furniture- and cabinet-makers uses plywood. If you're new to the topic, though, you might want some basic information, say, "How to Choose Plywood" -- but don't expect to get the good stuff from Jan Goldfield at eHow...

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Electrical Boxes, the Dummy Version

plastic electrical box
As our staffers roam the internet in search of candidates for the Antisocial Network's fabulous daily award, they continue to cycle back to the websites and sometimes even the same people who've received the DotD in the past. We don't think that's a sin: after all, the people who wrote this bull were paid several times, why not receive multiple awards (not everyone can be Susan Lucci). That's one reason why eHow contributor Elizabeth Knoll is back on the podium for the ninth time; the other is that she flubbed the information (what a surprise!) in "How to Remove a Plastic Electrical Box." FYI, this is the third time Knoll's been here to "explain" wiring...

Friday, March 10, 2017

Fossil Fuels, the Dummy Version

fossil fuels - gas coal oil (never mind that the "coal" is charcoal briquets)
We have to admit that we have little, if any, use for activists who use lies and half-truths to proselytize for their cause. It's worse, too, when the cause is worthy instead of something "sinful," like greed or a hunger for power. That's why our chief geologist gets his dander up when he encounters environmental activists who repeat scientifically inaccurate or unsupportable claims in screeds -- and even more so when the activists claim to be "educating" the public. He ran across one such "principled liar" recently plying his trade at Sciencing.com (just hate that name): he's journalism graduate Alex Silbajoris, who we caught shading the facts in "What Are Three Examples of Fossil Fuels."

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Citizenship, the Dummy Version

Sample Green Card
Every once in a while one of our research staffers asks special permission to point to an everyday dumbass he or she has encountered in daily life. It might be on social media, it might be on the street, it might be just about anywhere. This time, one asked us to feature an anonymous letter to the Indianapolis Star; in specific the "brief comment section" the newspaper calls Let It Out. Our sister blog, Gridlock City, occasionally mentions the same section. Today's anonymous contributor wanted to rant about immigration...

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Map Coordinates for Dummies (Again!)

comparing some basic map projections. UTM is cylindrical, but there are hundreds of other variations on these four and others.
Considering how important maps are to anyone who doesn't want to get lost, you might think that the average person with even the slightest technical knowledge would have a good handle on them. You'd be wrong, though. Take, for instance, computer scientist Riz Kahn of Leaf Group and Sciencing.com (the niche site for pseudoscience originally published at eHow): Riz was most certainly out of his depth when he penned "How to Convert Northing/Easting Coordinates to Latitude/Longitude."

Kahn, given his degree in "computer information systems," decided that the appropriate answer would be to send people to a website. For starters, Riz tells them that

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Earthquake! the Dummy Version

fake earthquake image created by Hollywood
Earthquakes as envisioned by Hollywood and English majors
We see some pretty cockamamie ideas cycling through the internet compliments of the folks at Leaf Group (formerly Demand Media, parent company of eHow, aka "the mother lode of misinformation"). The garbage that liberal arts graduates pumped out under the category of science is some of the worst, however, garbage that includes today's DotD awardee. She's Brit Hayley Ames, proud possessor of a "Bachelor of Arts in English language and literature," which curriculum apparently skipped any science -- even rocks for jocks, as she demonstrated in "What Happens Underground During Earthquakes?" for Sciencing.com (a site whose very name is a travesty).

According to Ames,

Monday, March 6, 2017

Fan Speed, the Dummy Version

Ceiling fan variable speed control wall switch wiring
Considering that the average homeowner or apartment-dweller is scared pretty much witless of electricity -- probably for good reason -- it always amazes us here at Antisocial Network HQ how some freelancers have the gall to try to tell people how to do an electrical wiring job they've only read about and never done themselves... we're thinking of people like eHow's Heather Vecchioni, who took time away from misinforming people about dogs to give a half-witted response to "How to Slow Down a Room Fan." Sheesh...

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Purple Property Lines, the Dummy Version

purple no trespassing no hunting paint
Have you ever stopped to notice that the internet isn't just a local thing? Or that because you're an American, Brit, Pakistani, Kenyan, whatever; the words you use don't necessarily mean the same thing to the next guy? Probably not, especially if -- like most of our staffers -- you're a Yank. The syndrome isn't unique to Americans, though: we caught Canadian Dawn Sutton displaying it in "Ways to Mark Property Lines" for -- who else? -- eHow (we see that Leaf Group has now moved it to Hunker).

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Obsolete Phone Tracking for Dummies

tracking your iPhone or android smartphone with an app
In addition to being stuffed with badly-written, misleading or just plain wrong information; it's not unusual for old eHow content moved to Leaf Group's niche site Techwalla to be just plain obsolete. Every once in a while, we find Techwalla content that fits into more than one of those pigeonholes, a post such as the post "How to Track iPhones on Google Maps" that Kurt Schanaman provided.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Lava for Dummies

minerals of selected lava types and their proportions
One of the hallmarks of content-farm freelancers is the ability to scoop up great quantities of information, omit anything they don't understand, and dump the remaining information into a post full of misinformation and half-correct babble. Take, for instance, Hassam from HubPages, who's already demonstrated his ignorance of things scientific three times for us. Well, we've brought him back for a return engagement; this time to take a look at something he called "Types of Lava."

Thursday, March 2, 2017

How to Square a Slab like a Dummy

staking out a foundation or slab
You might be surprised at how valuable a little education is to a "manual laborer" sometimes. Take, for instance, the old 3-4-5 right triangle trick, widely used by carpenters and other workers who have no idea whatsoever who Pythagoras was. Apparently "entrepreneur and software developer" L. P. Klages (freelancer for eHow) knows about the Pythagorean Theorem from school, but he clearly doesn't know much about building or "How to Square Forms for a Concrete Slab," for that matter.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

How to Measure for Granite, the Dummy Version

granite countertop with sink cutout
Many a do-it-yourselfer has been burned over the years by taking the advice of someone who knew as little -- or less -- about the project as he did. We can't be certain, but this peaked in the years that eHow was at the top of Google search results, before the Panda update of 2011. That makes sense: if you want to know, for instance, "How to Calculate the Amount of Granite Needed for Countertops," do you think a fresh college graduate with a degree in English Literature will be much help; someone like Soren Bagley? Nope -- as Bagley quickly proved...