Monday, July 31, 2017

Porch Posts for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXXII

Installing concrete anchors
When it comes to DIY projects, almost nothing is intuitive to a beginner -- and compared to a professional builder, almost everyone is a rank beginner! That's one reason why there are hundreds, if not thousands, of resources for people tacking a project of the "it's new to me" variety. Unfortunately, one company -- Demand Media (now Leaf Group) -- decided to make money off DIYers by having "contributors" explain these new procedures. The result, which is why we're here, wasn't always... helpful -- like the time Pamela Gardapee attempted to explain to the readers of Hunker.com "How to Attach a Wooden Railing to a Concrete Porch."

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Self-Employment Tax for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXXI

paying-estimated-quarterly-taxes
Just about everyone on staff at the Antisocial Network has been self-employed at one time or another, from augmenting their income by writing content for companies like Demand Media or selling stuff on eBay to consulting at three figures per hour rates. The first time we had to pay taxes on self-employment income we were all faced with the same question: "How do I Pay Social Security Self-Employment Taxes?"¹ Thankfully, we had better advice than what eHowian Etch Tabor offered up...

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Sun and Moon for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXIX

sun, moon, eclipse
It may seem that we like to make fun of liberal arts graduates here, especially the ones who attempt to describe technical subjects. Well, if they hadn't done such a lousy job solely in search of a few bucks, they would not have incurred the wrath of our research team (who, by the way, aren't doing this in search of money). When they say things as scientifically ignorant as Gwendolen Akard did for eHow (now Sciencing.com) in her piece "The Similarities and Differences Between the Sun and Moon," we just can't help ourselves...

Friday, July 28, 2017

Loose Slot Machines for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXVIII

slot machine
Staffers here at the Antisocial Network aren't particularly big on casino gambling, mostly because with all these geeky types in the place, we're pretty well aware of the probabilities involved. Sure, there's card counting in blackjack and the difference between skill and luck in poker, but when it comes to slot machines? They're not even pure chance -- the one-armed bandits are programmable, and you can be pretty certain that they're programmed in the house's favor. Except maybe "loose" slots... but when it comes to "How to Calculate a Loose Slot Machine," we don't think eHow's Melissa King is much help (now located at OurPastimes.com).

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Shear Rate for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXVII

shear rate and viscosity
If we had to pick a college major whose graduates are responsible for some of the worst offenses against scientific literacy at content farms, it would be difficult choosing between communications / journalism and English. Only a few of these self-appointed "experts on everything" have the background to write about anything more complicated than a lever -- and eHow's Soren Bagley is definitely not one of them. The English Lit major proved our point with his uninformed answer for "How to Calculate Shear Rate," which Leaf Group moved from eHow to Sciencing.com.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Latitude and Longitude for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXVI

latitude-longitude grid  lat-long
According to the old saying, half a loaf is better than none. We agree that, if you're hungry, half a loaf is indeed better than none – unless you're hungry for knowledge or information, because in that case half an answer just leaves you with more questions. At least we think so... which makes us wonder whether "veteran home-school educator" Kathryn Hatter would feel that her students were well-served with the half-answer she offered in her Sciencing post, "How to Understand Latitude and Longitude."

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

1099-MISC Forms for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXV

1099-MISC form
You'd think that someone who regularly raked in a pile of cash for freelance work would be somewhat familiar with the ins and outs of the IRS forms for self-employment income and, especially, the infamous IRS form 1099-MISC. After all, that's the official record of a freelancer's pay, as many of our staffers know. Given that eHowian Rebecca Mecomber claims to be a "professional blogger and writer," she should probably be more familiar with 1099s and "How to Print a 1099 Miscellaneous Form" than her post seems to suggest... (see the post at BizFluent.com)

Monday, July 24, 2017

Patio Pavers for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXIV

patio pavers arent six inches thick
We find it amusing sometimes – well, a little amusing and a little infuriating, to be honest – when we find "advice" on how to carry out a simple DIY project that was written by someone who had never carried out that same project. To be honest, we can't be sure that Janet Beal had never built a patio out of pavers before she wrote "How to Level Out the Ground for Patio Pavers" for eHow (and Leaf Group moved it to Hunker.com), but if she did, she sure didn't follow her own directions...

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Electric Generation for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXIII

Faraday law of induction
We all know the saying, "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime" -- right? Well, around the Antisocial Network we're really big on teaching people to fish, at least in the metaphorical sense. That's why, if the topic "How to Convert Mechanical Energy Into Electric Energy" were to come across our desk, we're pretty certain we'd have a discussion about magnetic fields, coils of wire, and induced currents. That is not, whoever, what eHow's Kurt Schanaman decided was the answer. No, Kurt handed this particular OQ a fish (and Leaf Group thinks that fish belongs at Sciencing.com)...

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Cherry Wood for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXII

cherry wood
One of our founders worked at a custom cabinet factory in summers while in high school. It may have been more years ago than he'd like to admit, but he learned a lot about wood and the craft of cabinetry. As a result of a couple of large custom orders, he's probably seen more cherry wood than most people – especially people like Tonya Kirkpatrick, a freelancer who attempted to share some "Helpful Facts about Cherry Wood Lumber" for readers of HubPages.com.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Bike Chains for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXI

It's been quite a while since we bothered to look at the website Snapguide.com. In fact, we've only been there once before, for some dude's rather lame "instructions" on sharpening lawnmower blades. That doesn't mean their catalog doesn't include rubbish, it just means that it's hard to find anything there... but one of our team members (the staff cycling enthusiast) stopped by with a list of terms, and sure enough -- she found Skylar Woodward and his... somewhat lacking version of "How to Change Your Bike Chain."

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Moen Showers for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMX

Moen Shower Parts
There's a joke about a lawyer and a plumber who meet at a block party. The lawyer's amazed at how much the plumber charges per hour, and says that he doesn't charge that much. The punch line goes something like, "Neither did I when I was a lawyer!" If you've ever done your own plumbing, you probably understand why plumbers charge so much (who else spends all that time up to his or her elbows in sewage?). Some people, though, think plumbers just play with Tinker Toys® -- people like eHow's Dianne Christensen-Herman (Christensen-Hermance at some sites or sometimes just Hermance), who made her own little joke out of "How to Install Moen Shower Faucet" at HomeSteady.com.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Barn Floors for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMIX

salvaged barnwood used for flooring
If the morning staff meeting runs long and the research staffers don't have time for an extensive web-surfing session to find a DotD candidate, they all keep a few names in their metaphorical pockets for just such an emergency. One such name is Lacy Enderson, who's already taken home fourteen awards from this website. Well, today makes fifteen (yesterday was hectic...), thanks to Lacy's typically useless instructions for "How to Build Wood Barn Floors,"¹ which she posted to good old eHow.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Natural Force for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMVII

normal force diagram
Back in the bad old days when anyone with a pulse could rake in the bucks at a content farm, the most prolific contributors would pick some random topic and vomit out half a dozen articles at a time (many did this on two or more sites!). The hard work of writing, unfortunately, left precious little time for research and fact-checking -- but accuracy and usefulness were never the point. Those days are gone, but some people still think they can make a go of it as a "freelancer," people like Grace Sanchez. Grace visited "The Magic of Natural Force" upon Ezine, and then apparently decided she wasn't making cash fast enough and disappeared...

Monday, July 17, 2017

Battery Compatibility for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMVI

Black and Decker vs Dewalt 18v batteries
We don't think they're interchangeable. You?
As our researchers wander the net looking for utterly ridiculous claims, instructions, and misinformation; the same names seem to crop up again and again. If you took a look at our "Dumbasses Sorted by Name" page you'd find some winners have been back almost twenty times! Others are only in that list once, but that might be because they are new discoveries -- new discoveries like Breann Kanobi (no relation to Obi-Wan, we are sure), only discovered last week. Breann's back, however, to explain -- in her uninformed way -- "How to Use Dewalt Batteries in Black & Decker Power Tools" for that mother lode of misinformation, eHow – now niched at HomeSteady.com, but still uninformed...

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Soundproofing for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMV

Noise Canceling Wall
Time and time again our research staff have run across self-appointed freelance writers; many counting on an English, "communications," or journalism degree to carry them through; who attempt to explain something outside their comfort zone and jut plain screw it up. Around the Antisocial Network office, we call this phenomenon "The eHow effect." Today's DotD nominee is a perfect example: Jean Asta researched "How Do Noise Canceling Walls Work?"¹ and found reasonably good resources. Her problem was that she didn't understand them...

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Bicycle Locks for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMIIV

stupid job of locking a bicycle to a post
Everyone here at Antisocial Network world HQ rides a bicycle from time to time -- it's pretty much a requirement to work here (and we pay so little most of the staff can't afford a car...). At one time or another, most of us have been the victim of a bicycle thief, which is probably why we were so unimpressed with the sadly lacking advice we found in "The Best Ways to Lock a Bike," which "communications major," fluent Spanish-speaker and experienced traveler Charlie Gaston posted on Trails.com. Based on her post, we suspect her last bicycle had a banana seat and pompoms on the handlebars...

Friday, July 14, 2017

Window Screens for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMIII

Removing screen molding
Perhaps the surest sign that one of our candidates for DotD is unfamiliar with his or her topic is utter and complete failure to understand the process or the problem. For example, if ask someone how to throw a curve ball and he starts talking about quarterbacks and spirals, you know you've asked the wrong person! Freelancers who get it completely wrong while trying to pick up extra cash are a pox on the internet, and eHow's Emily Patterson proved our point when she posted "How to Rescreen a Wooden Screen Door" at HomeSteady.com.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Cookies for Dummies... Again - The Freelance Files CMII

Browser Cookies
In case you haven't noticed, Americans have a weight problem. Maybe it's because they don't know what to do with cookies.Wait, not that kind of cookies: a surprising number of Americans don't seem to be able to figure out what to do with the cookies that web browsers (well, actually, websites you visit with your browser) leave all on your computer. That's probably why people type searches like "How to Remove Cookies With Windows 7" into their favorite search engine. Sadly, one of the first "answers" they'll get is an eHow article (now filed under ItStillWorks by the folks at Leaf) that Keith Patrick scribbled down late one night...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What Causes Earthquakes, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files CMI

earthquake, focus, hypocenter, epicenter
Our research staff all seem to be convinced that scientific illiteracy is on the upswing. It amazes them -- or at least some of them -- that so many people have attended at least some college, but so many of them seem to have skipped any classes considered remotely scientific. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, almost 60% of U. S. citizens have attended some college, but our staffers maintain that you can't tell it from the freelancers out there... Whatever the case, today's DotD nominee isn't American (he's Thai), but he does claim to be "an online leading expert in education." We beg to differ, however, based on what Kum Martin posted in "What Causes an Earthquake?" for Ezine.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Plantation Shutters, Useless Information, and Dummies - The Freelance Files CM

plantation shutters
Our DotD candidates fall into two rough categories. Most of them are people we've caught giving incorrect information or instructions, but there are some who just provide, for lack of a better term, useless information. Most of the latter seem to inhabit Seekyt.com, where all they do is shill for some company. A few, however, can be found on the more traditional sites, HubPages and the Leaf Group family (formerly eHow). Today's nominee is diving instructor and cable guy, Ed English, who we found holding forth on "Do-It-Yourself Plantation Shutters."¹

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Lowdown on Oil for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCXCIX

drilling rig on the hunt for oil
It's been a while since the staff geologist came out of hiding to chastise people for their stupidity about the oil business. Perhaps that's because, with gasoline prices at ten-year lows, no one's grumbling much about Big Oil. That doesn't mean, however, that there isn't plenty of stupidity to be had at internet content farms. For example, take a gander at the rubbish eHowian Frederick S. Blackmon published at the mother site in a post called "Interesting Facts on Oil."¹

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Contour Intervals for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCXCVIII

contour interval on map legend
The staff here at the Antisocial Network long ago realized a simple truth: if you don't know anything about a topic, it's pretty likely that you not only don't know how to answer a question, you don't even understand what the person is asking. In case you haven't noticed, a lot of "answers" written by the contributors to the mother lode of misinformation, eHow, have precisely that problem -- and today's DotD nominee is no different. Returning awardee Soren Bagley was obviously confused by the question "How to Calculate Contour Intervals," and his post (now at Sciencing.com) makes that pretty clear.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Broken Glass Cooktops for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCXCVII

built-in-electric-cooktop
According to the research staff, most of the DotD candidates they find seem to have started out wanting to be useful, and then gotten greedy. That's probably why so many of them start writing in their field of expertise (assuming they have one) and then branch out into topics about which they know darned near nothing. take, for instance, eHowian Melanie Fleury, who penned the pretty useless post "How to Fix a Cracked Glass Cook Top" (now available at Hunker.com, thanks to Leaf Group's nichemania).

Friday, July 7, 2017

New Window Screens for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCXCVI

truck topper window screen
Our founder used to have a boss, we'll call him "Rich" (because that was his name), with whom you could never have a simple conversation. Rich's conversational style was basically stream of consciousness: halfway through a sentence he'd become distracted, and by the end of that same sentence he's veered 90 degrees from the original subject. That being said, he was a heckuva nice guy, if a little tough to follow. Today's DotD nominee, Charlie Rainer Gaston, seems to suffer from a similar conversational malady: Demand Media asked her to explain "How to Replace a Window Screen on a Camper Shell," and by the end of her post at Trails.com she had changed the topic entirely.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Bike Racks for Minivans, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files DCCCXCV

hitch-mounted bike rack on minivan
Antisocial Network HQ is in a fairly good location vis-a-vis road cycling and, for that matter, getting in a little off-road work as well. Not everyone is so lucky, and not everyone is comfortable with even a short stretch of busy streets -- especially if kids are involved. Many minivan owners prefer to truck their bikes to a park or trail where the little ones can stop crosswise in the trail and not be hit by a car (other trail users, not so much). New minivan? You might ask "How to Install a Bike Rack on a Minivan," but trust us: you don't want to "learn how" from eHowian Breann Kanobi and her article at ItStillRuns.com.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Engine Hours to Miles, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files DCCCXCIV

engine hour meter
Our research staffers occasionally come across questions that seem perfectly reasonable, but can't be answered without a lot of qualifications and some mumbo-jumbo. If they happen to find someone who pretends to have the absolute answer, however, they toss the URL in the candidates bin and wait for the nomination committee to pick it out. Well, today's the day for Thomas King and the eHow post "How to Convert Hours on an Engine to Miles" (now living on ItStillRuns.com).

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Stupid Questions and Answers for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCXCII

cover a brick fireplace
We're frequently amazed by the sorts of DIY questions people ask on the internet... but that's only until we look at the kinds of answers come of our self-appointed "expert" freelancers concoct. A case in point would be the quite ridiculous question, "How Do I Drywall Over a Brick Fireplace?" snagged out of the ether by eHow's title-grabbers, and the even more ridiculous answer on Hunker.com that sprang from the keyboard of one Josie Myers. It's a pretty safe bet that the OQ just wanted to dress up a boring brick fireplace surround, not "cover" the whole thing -- but you go with your gut at eHow, even when your gut knows squat!

Myers claimed to have gotten her information from an offline book, where we're pretty sure the writer (who claims to own an MA in English) didn't find this information. Oh, sure, there was probably something about installing drywall over a brick wall, but over a fireplace? Bushwa.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Pony Walls for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCXCII

pony wall with cap
It's been a while since our staffers looked over the oeuvre of one of the most prolific of our DotDs. so just out of curiosity we sent an intern in search of internet dumbassery from the keyboard of homeschooling mama Naima Manal. It never takes take much searching to find something the woman had written that would make her eligible for yet another award; this time the rather oddly titled "How to Turn a Full Wall Into a Half Wall," originally posted at eHow and more recently moved to Hunker during Leaf Group's niche-apalooza.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Education and the Internet, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files DCCCXCI

Internet in the Classroom
We don't spend much time around WritEdge or its sister site, DailyTwoCents, mostly because the overwhelming amount of advertising makes them almost impossible to read. We do get by every once in a while, though, and on a recent trip one of our researchers came across a marvelous case of dumbassery. It's written by someone who calls herself LivelyAurora, and it's entitled "Internet vs. School." We'll be honest: it's pretty much the quality you'd expect from someone who brags, "Im [sic] just a random nomad writer. I can write an 700-word article in 15 minutes!"

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Front Doors for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCCXC

entry door
Back in the bad old days of content farms, we met a woman who was riding that particular wave. She explained that she increased her income by writing a series of "linked" articles on the same topic, sometimes breaking a simple subject into three or more posts. No, that woman wasn't Ezine's Britney Kalo, but she might as well have been -- Kalo milked said execrable site for a series of articles on doors, including today's DotD winner: "Replacing a Door." She also wrote, naturally, advice on choosing a front door; all, it's a safe bet, after watching a local handyman replace the door to her abode.

By way of explanation and introduction, Britney explained,