Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Mortise Locks for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCLIX

Mortise Lock
If they weren't so undeniably sad, we would probably find many of the posts we nominate for DotD to be hilarious -- but then we remember that some moron assembled a bunch of meaningless (or worse, dangerous) words with the sole purpose of lining his or her pockets. And that makes us mad... so, without further ado, here's today's candidate: three-time dumbass Soren Bagley, spreading more incompetence with a post eHow titled "How to Install a Mortise Lock." Duh...

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Fracking for Dumb Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCLVIII

fracking process in a nutshell
Several months ago -- actually more like two years ago, but we just ran across it again earlier this week -- we mentioned the website EzineArticles.com in one of our exposés about plumbing: we made the crack that Ezine shouldn't exactly be considered "a paragon of quality"* when talking about plumbing. Oddly, we've never followed up on that potential source of freelance dumbassery... until today. Let us present to you the first-ever DotD candidate from Ezine.com, Paul Mike John (think that's his real name? we doubt it...) and "Understanding The Process of Natural Gas Fracking."

Monday, May 29, 2017

Indoor Bike Trainers for Dummies - The Freeelance Files DCCCLVII

bicycle wheel mounted in trainer
No, Elle, the "rods" do not go "in the cogs"!
Every English speaker (and, or at least we hear, speakers of other languages) has words they use when they don't know the correct word -- like "doohickey" or "thingumabob." Obviously, when one's pretending expertise, we can't use those inexact terms, so what can we do? Well, if you're like Elle Di Jensen of the Leaf Group site TheNest.com, you just make it up -- just like Elle did when she posted "How to Hook Up Bike Tires to Exercise Indoors."

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Flooded Carburetors for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCLVI

carburetor and float
Let us be perfectly frank about something: our staffers have learned (the hard way, perhaps) to pretty much assume that any freelance article dealing with internal combustion engines written by a J-school or English graduate is gonna be rubbish. That's for a couple of reasons, but mostly because they don't teach automotive mechanics in liberal arts courses. Sorry, folks: it is what it is. So when we saw "What are the Causes of Carburetor Flooding," posted by eHow's Angus Koolbreeze III (yeah, sure), we figured it would be bushwa... and we were right.

Koolbreeze (yeah, sure, that's his name) opens by telling his readers what a carburetor is -- or what he thinks a carburetor is:
"The carburetor is one of the main parts of a vehicle. Its job is to regulate the speed of the engine. It does this by measuring the amount of air necessary for the speed at which you wish to travel: it pulls a small amount of air and fuel for low speeds, increasing that amount as you speed up."
     Right away we knew Angus was in over his (her?) head: "main parts of a vehicle"??? then why are almost all cars today fuel-injected? and is the carb more "main" than the brakes? the tranny? the camshaft? Of course not -- what "Koolbreeze" apparently didn't know is that carburetors are pretty much restricted to small engines these days, like lawnmowers and string trimmers.

Let's move on, though, to see how "Angus" defines flooding: no, wait, he never does! so here goes: flooding occurs when the air-fuel mixture passing through the carburetor is too rich for the engine speed; meaning that there is more fuel than necessary to maintain combustion. Too bad "Angus" never said that...  By the way, here are some common reasons for flooding...

When it comes to the causes of flooding, Mr or Ms Koolbreeze did little more than reword information found at a couple of websites. Even that is a little too much for Angus, however, as it is painfully obvious that he doesn't know what a carburetor float is -- which is probably why he tells his readers that the cause of a float problem is probably
"...the defective float problem develops when the tang (the metal adjustment on the float) is too long and catches on the webbing part that supports the stanchions on the float pin. To solve the problem, shorten the tang, then readjust the float drop..."
...which Koolbreeze reworded from a Porsche enthusiast website: in the real world, carburetor floats are fabricated just fine and are much more likely to develop a pinhole than to have a tang-stanchion mismatch. Dumbass.

By now it should be obvious that Angus (whatever his/her real name is) has no idea what flooding is and probably couldn't spell "carburetor" before claiming this title at eHow. We hope that realization means that it's also obvious why Koolbreeze is the Dumbass of the Day for today.     

DD - ENGINES

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Finger Joints for Dummies (2-by-4 Week 7) - The Freelance Files DCCCLV

box joints
Well, the last day of 2-by-4 week is here. We still had more than twenty DotD candidates to choose from, so we picked one at random -- and boy! did we pick a winner! well, more of a loser: this particular idiot turned out to be stupid enough that she didn't need a content editor to mess up her post -- she'd have qualified even if the lumber dimensions hadn't been hosed. Meet Alexis Rohlin and feast your eyes on her eHow post, "How to Make Finger Joints in Woodworking." Thank the lord for that "in Woodworking," or Alexis might have tried to explain orthopedic surgery...

Friday, May 26, 2017

Moving Sheds for Dummies (2-by-4 Week 6) - The Freelance Files DCCCLIV

moving a shed with rollers
As the Antisocial Network's 2-by-4 week -- during which we take freelancers to task for apparently thinking that 2-by-4 means "2 foot by 4 foot" -- winds down, we bring you the case of someone who clearly had a lapse in common sense, This time it's returning DotD Ann Johnson, whose "How to Move a Storage Shed" brought tears of laughter to a staffer's eye.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Pig Roasting Box for Dummies (2-by-4 Week 5) - The Freelance Files DCCCLIII

commercial caja china - pig roasing box - cajun microwave
Ever wanted to roast a whole pig? Well, apparently enough people asked about this one that eHow's title crew scraped it up -- twice, once under "pig roasting box" and once under "caja china." Contributor Fred Decker, who published (by our unofficial count) about eleven thousand cooking posts for eHow, grabbed "How to Build a Pig Roasting Box" and went whole hog. Fred's problem? a content editor got hold of this post (now seen at Leaf.tv)...

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Pergolas for Dummies (2 by 4 Week 4) - The Freelance Files DCCCLII

pergola roof
We're spending this looking at a distressingly common error at eHow, an error we suspect lies at the feet (or, more accurately, the fingers) of one of their "expert" content editors. We suspect this because one of our staffers had the exact same problem with a DMS editor. Whoever is responsible, the result is the monumentally stupid misstatement of the sizes of dimensional lumber, as demonstrated in "How to Build a Simple Pergola," written for eHow by returning DotD Rebecca Mecomber.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Building a Kiosk for Dummies (2-by-4 Week 3) - The Freelance Files DCCCLI

NPS park kiosk
We didn't exactly perform an exhaustive search of the DMS¹ websites while finding candidates for 2-by-4 week; still we came up with enough posts for almost a month. Heaven only knows what would have happened had we performed the search a couple of years ago before they (well, actually Leaf Group) started the half-baked cleanup that's accompanied moving much of their content into niche sites. Whatever, we did manage to come up with quite a few new names of people too dumb to argue with a content editor who thought a 2-by-4 is a "2 foot by 4 foot board," which included self-appointed journalist Joanne Robitaille and her post "Plans for a Wooden Kiosk." Sad...

Monday, May 22, 2017

Adding On for Dummies (2-by-4 Week 2) - The Freelance Files DCCCL

typical-wall-framing
It's only Monday, day two of our 2-by-4 week* and already we're finding that some self-appointed eHow freelancers gave their content editors so little to work with that it's impossible to determine which is the dumbass. Since we don't know who at eHow "edited" "The Materials Needed for a 12x12 Room Addition," which is now niched at Hunker.com, we are stuck with the author's byline: written by Meg Jernigan. In this case, even getting the lumber dimensions right wouldn't have helped.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Archery Targets for Dummies (2-by-4 Week 1) - The Freelance Files DCCCXLIX

archery targets
Just a few days ago we ran across an eHow post that reminded us of a recurring problem at the site. In one of our DotD posts we saw  that either the "contributor," the content editor, or both seemed confused about dimensional lumber. The materials list for a project included "2-foot-by-4-foot lumber, 2-feet long" -- we kid you not. In case you were curious, that 16 cubic feet chunk of SYP (southern yellow pine) would weigh in the neighborhood of 600 pounds! One of our staffers related that he'd had to correct a content editor who changed all of his dimensional lumber to "2-foot by..." So this week, we're featuring that idiot's work. We'll start with Axl J. Amistaadt (also known as Debra Turner) and "How to Make a 3D Archery Target."

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Cassette Tapes for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCXLVIII

cassette tape
One hoary old adage says we should never send a boy to do a man's work. Yes, we know, sexist: the hoary old adage-makers were pretty bad that way. Whatever the case, we have a different adage here at the Antisocial Network: we say, "Never send someone who's never used something to explain how it works." Sadly, that still wouldn't have prevented the hoary old Ralph Heibutzki from making a complete mess out of "How Do Cassette Tapes Work?" for good old eHow...

Friday, May 19, 2017

Access Panels the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files DCCCLXVII

access panel
Several of our Antisocial Network staffers have had the same surprise over the years: plumbing is buried in the walls, meaning a plumber has to cut through the drywall to fix a leaky valve or rearrange the plumbing for a remodel. DIYers often find themselves in the same position, especially those with jetted whirlpool tubs (Jacuzzi®), because those tubs also have electrical parts that can fail. Sadly, eHow's Emily Patterson decided she could help those poor DIY types when they wondered "How to Make an Access Panel for a Jacuzzi Bathtub."

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Crown Molding for Cabinets, the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files DCCCXLVI

crown molding on cabinets
The Antisocial Network DIY staffers have a sort of general rule: the more "elegant" a DIY project iw supposed to look, the harder it is to complete. Rustic planters? easy. Wainscoting? medium. Crown molding? a royal pain. That's why we look carefully every time we find some self-appointed freelancer with a j-school degree (or the equivalent) trying to explain how to install crown molding. You know, like the time we found Jennifer Elbin telling eHow readers "How to Install Crown Molding on Thomasville Cabinets." Or so she said...

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Analog Clocks for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCXLV

clock gears
Except for the short-lived fad a couple of years ago that found millennial males wearing (and even collecting) oversized wrist watches, many youngsters have rarely seen a clock with moving hands -- what's known in the trade as an analog clock -- as opposed to a digital display. That could be because they so infrequently look up from their phones... However, someone once wondered to Google, "How do Analog Clocks Work?" That's a good question... unfortunately, eHow freelancer Victor Fonseca tried to answer it for Sciencing.com, and failed. Miserably.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Map Distances for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCXLIV

measuring distances with gmap-pedometer
distance measurement with gmap-pedometer.com
If there's one thing our research team has learned over the past couple of years, it's that many of the self-appointed freelance writers in the Demand Media¹ family are quite willing to say truly stupid things to get their payout. One symptom is the amount of padding many contributors found necessary to meet the company's minimum word count for topics that could be addressed in a single sentence. Take Trails.com writer David Chandler and his opus "How to Calculate Travel Distances Between Cities."

Monday, May 15, 2017

Sloping Ceilings for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCLXIII

sloping ceiling, level floor
Some of the dreck our researchers uncover as they search the internet for freelancing foolishness is enough to make us want to throttle the writers. Of course, that would be time-consuming and difficult, not to mention illegal (though there are probably some courts that would consider doing so justifiable)... but anyway, today's DotD awardee, David Robinson (not the one-time Spurs center) would be a prime candidate for such treatment given the rubbish he said when he posted the eHow article "How to Calculate the Degrees of Slope on the Ceiling," which Leaf Group has now moved to Hunker.com.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Aspect Ratio and Image Resizing for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCXLII

The one on the right is distorted, Joshua...
We've met an astonishing number of people over the years who claim to be "computer literate." Most of them meant, in reality, that they could run Microsoft Office programs and find information with Google -- Duh. As for everything else, many found themselves up information creek without a clue. Sadly, a lot of the clueless types somehow managed to convince themselves they could make beaucoup bucks freelancing, offering their services to the likes of eHow: that's how Joshua Laud managed to pick up a few £ by writing tripe like "How to Resize Images Without Distortion," which Leaf Group has proudly moved to Techwalla. Oops...

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Calf Pain for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCLXI

anatomy of the calf
When it comes to medical questions, we prefer to get our information from a professional. 'Nuff said? Apparently not everyone agrees, however, that if you have an ache or pain, you should talk to your doctor or another person who is educated in the field (as opposed to some "personal trainer" who took "kinesiology"). So why would we want medical advice from someone who, like Livestrong's Michelle Wishhart, is a gardener with an English lit degree? especially if we want to know about "Calf & Walking Pain"?

Friday, May 12, 2017

Volume, Mass, Density, Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCXL

As our researchers wander the internet in search of knowledge-deficient posts by freelancers, they often run across what seem to be well- researched and -written material that, on closer inspection, makes precious little sense. Take, for instance, David Chandler and his Sciencing.com (a niche site Leaf Group is populating with old eHow material) article called "Volume vs. Mass Density." It looks right, but...

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Glaciers for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCXXXIX

alpine glacier with medial and lateral moraines
We are sure that there are plenty of homeschoolers out there who do an excellent job of preparing their children for the real world, though we rather suspect the excellent scores come of their students get on standardized tests are more the result of extreme "teaching to the test" than excellence in education. Face statistics: just like medical doctors, half of all homeschoolers are in the bottom half of their avocation... which brings us to today's candidate, Joannie Ham, and the little ditty she published at InfoBarrel called "5 Questions About Glaciers."

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Flat Roofs for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCXXXVIII

Flat Roof Drain
Insatiable curiosity is a good thing (unless, perhaps, you happen to be a cat). It's one of the reasons people grow up to be problem-solvers like scientists, doctors, architects, and the like. The usefulness of curiosity for self-styled "professional writers" like eHow's Jessica Reed is a little more murky... especially when they're attempting to answer questions posed by curious people... questions like "How Does Water Run Off a Flat Roof," which Jessica attacked for the mother lode of misinformation.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Torque Calculation for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCXXXVII

motor torque vs speed RPM
Want a good question? Well, here you go: what kind of answer do you expect from an English Literature student if you ask him "How to Calculate the Torque of a Motor"? Odds are -- especially if the BA type answering the question is an "eHow contributor" -- that you're going to get one that's pretty much nonsense. That's almost exactly what some poor schmuck would get if he or she depended on an answer out of the likes of Soren Bagley at ItStillRuns.com.

After some hemming and hawing about torque, rubbish like

Monday, May 8, 2017

Doll House Lighting for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCXXXVI

dollhouse lighting
As we looked over the past few days of the Antisocial Network posts, we notice that there's sort of a theme developing. Perhaps it's been there all along... anyway, what we've noticed is that most of the recent DotD awardees have been eHow contributors who didn't answer the question, either because they didn't understand it or because giving the right answer would be too hard (or maybe both). With that in mind, here's repeat offender Nichole Liandi, writing to the topic "How to Build an Electrical Circuit in a Model House," which has been slipped into Leaf Group's OurPastimes niche site.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Bicycle Chains for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCXXXV

a dirty road bike chain
A dirty road bike chain -- but there's no mud...
Dumping things into categories, unfortunately, can sometimes get you into unforeseen trouble. Take, for instance, the limited number of categories at the former eHow, where "beauty" had its own category but science somehow ended up as a subcategory in "toys and hobbies." Yeah, sure... anyway, when someone wanted to know "How to Clean a Bicycle Chain," it ended up in their "sports" category where it was claimed by a sports "expert" -- a fly fisherman by the name of Zach Lazzari. Lazzari may know a lot about fly fishing, but he clearly knew little about bicycle maintenance...

Why would we say that? Well, because in his he made this erroneous claim:

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Basement Bathtubs for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCXXXIV

bathtub drain with trap
I want to install one of these systems, Steve...
One of our researchers reads mystery novels the way some people eat potato chips, which is to say "one after another." As a consequence, he's been exposed to a lot of pop psychology about interrogation and recognizing lies and the lying liars who tell them (like Bill O'Reilly). One supposed tell about lying is when the suspect deflects and answers a different question. Oddly, we see that all the time among freelancers; especially those who have no idea what they're talking about. Take, for instance, eHow's Steven Symes, who deflected all over the place on the question, "How to Install a Bathtub Drain in the Basement."

Friday, May 5, 2017

Thermocouples for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCXXXIII

Termocouple diagram
Yes, we make a lot of fun of eHow here: why shouldn't we? Consider the business model of the now-defunct Demand Media Studios (they're now Leaf Group) and their flagship site: pay people to scrape internet searches and call them "titles," which those same people categorize. Pay self-appointed freelancers to "research" and write to those titles, and pay "content editors" to ensure that the copy meets the site's standards (mostly format, as opposed to accuracy). That's how you end up with a topic like "How to Calculate Thermocouple Sensitivity" slotted into -- are you kidding us? -- BUSINESS! and a serial dumbass like Jennifer Fleming covering it, with help from an unnamed editor. Small wonder it's rife with ignorance.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Natural Gas Prices for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCXXXII

historical natural gas prices
This week, (probably) purely by accident, we've been seeing a lot of freelance posts written by people who simply did not understand the question. As a result, the answers they've provided have been off-topic, simplistic, half-right, or completely wrong. Today's no exception: we're visiting the Leaf Group niche site Hunker.com, where we caught familiar eHow contributor Rebecca Mecomber attempting to explain "How to Calculate Natural Gas Prices." We're pretty sure she failed the assignment, not that anyone at Demand Media noticed...

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Toilet Repairs, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files DCCCXXXI

what's in your toilet tank? the Toilet Flush Kit
As our research team members patrol the internet in search of freelance stupidity, time and time again they return to websites in the former Demand Media (now Leaf Group) family such as eHow, Sciencing, Techwalla, Cuteness... Why? Mostly because the sites are a target-rich environment at which serial dumbasses published reams of poorly researched content, that's why. Today, we'll let eHow contributor Nathan McGinty prove our point with a post called "How to Replace a Toilet Flush Kit" at the eHow mother site.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Miters for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCXXX

Dewalt sliding compound miter saw
You gotta love self-appointed freelance writers who are willing to tackle any subject (as long as they get paid). Well, actually, you don't... mainly because some of the utter bullpuckey these people have published is a stain on the internet about equal to so-called "fake news." Yet these people still consider themselves professionals! Take history graduate and "lifestyle" writer Tracie Harris, who we caught mangling the use of power tools in an eHow post, "How to: 45-Degree Cuts Using a Miter Saw." Pity the fool who thinks he or she will get useful information there...

Monday, May 1, 2017

Ice for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCXXIX

Instant Ice Pack chemicals
We seem to be on some sort of roll... two days ago, the DotD qualified because his answer met only a specific instance of a broad question; while yesterday she answered the wrong question (and probably got the answer wrong). That leads us to today's candidate, Shelly Schumacher: writing at Leaf.tv in, of all places, "cocktails," Shelly gave the world her take on "How to Make Ice Without a Refrigerator." Since the topic's already in the wrong place, it comes as no surprise that the journalism grad's answer is equally inappropriate...