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."

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Conductivity and Brine for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMLI

graph salinity conductivity example
We know it seems as if we harp on the topic a lot at the Antisocial Network -- about a quarter of our DotD nominees are flagged for scientific illiteracy -- but we think it's important that people who know nothing about science learn about it before writing about it. Too many content farmers display their ignorance of even basic principles, and we're here to point it out... point out writers like Micah McDunnigan of Sciencing.com (shouldn't that be ignorance.com?), who tried to explain "Brine Vs. Conductivity" back in the eHow days... and failed

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

RV Brakes for Dummies - The Freelance Files CML

drum brake vs disc brake
Look, Charlie: Drum brakes vs disc brakes
When it comes to moving vehicles, few systems are more important to maintain properly than the brakes: if your engine fails while traveling, you are probably inconvenienced; if your brakes fail you may end up dead. This is true whether your conveyance is a motorcycle, a passenger car, or an RV. One should, indeed, maintain the brakes on an RV. On the other hand, one should probably not take maintenance advice from Charlie Gaston, who published "How to Repair the Brakes on an RV" for Trails.com.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Desert Ecosystems for Dummies – The Freelance Files CMXLIX

cold desert antarctica
Antarctica: the cold, not sandy, desert
We here at the Antisocial Network have yet to figure out just what it is that makes journalism and creative writing graduates think that they can answer any question about anything. Apparently someone teaches them that in Journalism 101… Well, they’re wrong: without either a basic understanding of the subject or a willing “interpreter,” these characters publish some of the most uninformative and uninformed twaddle on the web. Want an example? Let's see what creative writer Jess Kroll did with the question, “What Are Four Nonliving Things in a Desert Ecosystem?” at Sciencing.com…

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Moon Phase and Tides, the Dummies Version - The Freelance Files CMXLVIII

tides and moon position
If you haven't been to our index of Dumbasses by Day lately, you may not have realized that we keep track of our older posts and regularly check the links to the original material. Either Leaf Group has noticed that some of their eHow posts are, shall we say, "deficient," or they've been watching us to see what we identify as crap. Either way, they're replacing at least some of the dross (we mark the deleted ones with red in our index). Unfortunately, the replacements are sometimes fodder for a DotD award themselves -- like Susan King and her Sciencing.com post "Relationship Between Moon Phases & Tides."

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Dimmer Switches for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXLVII

dimmer switch wiring
In the pantheon of freelancing morons, we here at the Antisocial Network are firmly convinced that there are few more irritating (and sometimes dangerous) contributors than the ones who complete a DIY project and then run out and write a how-to article based on their "broad expertise." Take, for example, an EzineArticles posted by some guy named Gary Jackson, which he called "The Right Way to Install a Dimmer Switch." We had a couple of quibbles with what Jackson seems to think is the "right" way...

Friday, August 25, 2017

Grandfather Clocks for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXLVI

clock escapement
Telling people that we have a favorite type of DotD nominee is pretty much the same as telling people that you have a favorite flavor of Beanboozled Jelly Bellys -- how can something so nasty be your "favorite?" So instead we're going to say that ignorant freelancing of the "how does it work" flavor gives us the most joy  to expose. Would that be considered schadenfreude? Whatever... that's the type of award we're giving today: it goes to eHow's Jessica Reed, who attempted to explain "How Does a Grandfather Clock Work?" to the masses... and she managed to produce an utter failure, let us tell you!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Stripping Paint for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXLV

heat gun for removing paint
Whether you grew up watching "Perry Mason," "The Paper Chase," or "Law and Order," chances are that you've gotten the impression that lawyers are the smartest people in the room. All it takes, however, is serving on one jury to realize that's a mistaken impression. Maybe lawyers know about legal jargon, but get 'em in a room with a plumber or an electrician and they're sunk. That's why we were amazed that eHowian George Lawrence J.D. (yes, he includes the "J.D.") stepped away from the thousands of semi-legal queries at the mother site and took on "Non Toxic Ways to Remove Paint from Woodwork." He should've kept dancing with the one what brung him...

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

401Ks for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXLIV

Back in your grandpa's day, people worked for the same company all their lives and retired with something called a "pension." You millennials may have never heard of a pension, and it's pretty likely you won't ever see one (unless you work for a governmental agency). Beginning in the 1980s or so, employees have been much more likely to save cash for retirement in a self-directed plan like a 401K. But what happens to that money whey someone reaches retirement age? You can be pretty sure that Alibaster Smith (fake name, no?) doesn't know, based on his answer to "How Is a 401K Paid After Retirement?" for Leaf Group's Sapling.com.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dropping Acids for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXLIII

sodium hypochlorite molecule (household bleach)Latelt, some of our research staffers have been found performing the old "smash forehead on desktop" move when browsing the pages of Leaf Group's website Sciencing.com, the niche website where the former Demand Media Studios is stashing "scientific" posts. Some are fine... too many, however, were written by scientifically illiterate liberal arts graduates -- people like "BFA in writing" star Megan Smith and her rather oddly-researched "List of Acidic Liquids."

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Paint Estimates for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXLII

interior paint estimation doors windows
Just height times width, Kathryn?
Although plenty of people are convinced that half a loaf is better than none, settling for half a loaf works a lot better when the topic is bread than then it's answers. All of which is a roundabout way to say that half an answer may be no better than none -- if you know what we mean. If you don't know what we mean, then consider the half answer that eHowian Kathryn Hatter provided in her Hunker.com post "How to Calculate Square Feet for Painting."

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Grohe Faucets for the Complete Dummy - The Freelance Files CMXLII

grohe kitchen faucet with sprayer
Our research staffers have often noticed that some of the self-appointed "contributors" to the world of DMS¹ demonstrate a slight problem with interpreting the questions they're supposed to answer. We assume that happens when someone has no earthly idea what the question means... A case in point might be Christine Lebednick, who collected a juicy stipend for pretending to answer a plumbing question, "Problems with the Grohe Kitchen Faucet Spray."

Friday, August 18, 2017

Troubleshooting the Acura RL for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXLI

You'd like to think that most people don't attempt to use modern technology without at least a rudimentary understanding of how it works. OK, you can stop laughing now: we all know that the vast majority of people have no idea how simple technology works, much less complex products like smartphones, computers, and the internal combustion engine. So riddle us this: why would eHowian Melanie Fleury, who obviously knew jack about automotive engines, attempt to explain why "My Acura RL Won't Start"? Because she wanted the fifteen bucks, of course...

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Lawnmowers for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXL

push-type gasoline-powered lawn mower
Uhhh, what lever, Greyson?
For some reason, most children of the so-called "digital age" never had the pleasure of pushing a lawn mower around Mommy and Daddy's yard. There are undocumented immigrants for that kind of work, to the tune of $35 per week... That being said, someone somewhere once asked "How to Adjust Lawnmower Blades" and Greyson Ferguson, a digital kid who had probably never even used a mower, happily answered the question for eHow... or he at least tried to.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Trigonometry for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXXXIX

triangle types
The newest intern at Antisocial Network HQ thought she'd recognized a pattern: freelancers with liberal arts backgrounds demonstrating ignorance of the so-called STEM subjects. We thanked her for her effort, even though everyone here already knew that most of the contributors to the old Demand Media sites was a journalism graduate who'd studiously avoided the sciences... well, not all of them: Brooke Ashley has a "creative writing" BA, but she's still mathematically illiterate. She proved that with her post, "Types of Trigonometry," at Sciencing.com...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Geology of Africa for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXXXVIII

African Plate
As they patrol the internet in search of dumbassery published solely in the interests of income, our research staffers return time and time again to well-trodden paths. In other words, they plug certain words, names, or websites into their search engines and punch the button. Happily, it's remarkably easy to find some of this rubbish; sadly, many of the people who read it don't know it's rubbish. We have to wonder if the authors, people like Sciencing.com's Chris Burke, even realize that stuff like "Facts About the African Plate" is rubbish (we know it...).

Monday, August 14, 2017

Northern Arizona for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXXXVII

Monument Valley Mittens
For our money (which ain't much, let us tell you!), some of the most... troubling? freelancers on the 'net are the armchair travelers. We're talking about the people who posted hundreds of reviews of hotels, restaurants, museums, and other destinations on sites like epinions.com and the many content farms out there. For some, it was obvious that the reams of information they posted were merely distilled from guidebooks and online sources. And then there were the "helpful" types, such as Helium travel channel manager Isabelle Esteves, who didn't actually claim to have been there -- they just gave "suggestions"... suggestions like "Places to Visit in Northern Arizona," which Iz reposted to WritEdge.com after Helium died.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

MAF Sensors for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXXXVI

MAF Mass Air Flow Sensor
Unlike today's DotD candidate (we're almost certain...), staffers at the Antisocial Network own and/or have owned Toyota Tacoma pickups. One -- it just happens to be our founder -- has even had MAF (Mass Air Flow) Sensor problems because some halfwit parking lot attendant crushed the air cleaner compartment on his Tacoma -- to the tune of $960... Steven Symes, however, quite probably has never had either a Tacoma or a MAF sensor problem, so why did he pen "Symptoms of a Bad Mass Air Flow Sensor on a Tacoma" for ItStillRuns.com (well, actually, for eHow -- but Leaf Group moved it)? Simple: he wanted the cash...

That four-time winner Symes is ignorant of the function of a mas air flow sensor (as is his content editor) is obvious from the first line:

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Concrete Slabs for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXXXV

floating concrete slab
We spent a week not long ago making fun of some idiotic content editor at eHow.com. In case you're unfamiliar with the position, a DMS¹ content editor "tweaked" the work of the website's contributors to make certain that it followed the site's multitude of rules. They were also supposed to edit for accuracy, but since most CEs were college journalism (aka "communications") or English majors, they typically knew jack about the topics. That's how the piece of rubbish written by Denise Brown slipped through -- and why we had to laugh at "How to Make a 10X10 Concrete Slab" on the website Hunker.com.

Friday, August 11, 2017

TurboTax for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXXXIV

1040 form
The year is right there, Damarious!
Back in late 2011, the freelancing universe was rocked by an update to Google's search algorithm known as the Panda update (not for the cute, cuddly "bears," for a Google engineer named Panda). The stated reason for the update was to reduce the search rank of so-called content farms in favor of "fresh" content, mostly on social media (see where that got us...). In articles about the change, frequent reference was made to low-quality information from eHow -- and today's DotD is a classic example of that substandard fare: the question, "Can Turbo Tax Be Used Every Year?" as answered by Damarious Page.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Bicycle Wheels for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXXXIII

fork blades
Where's the bolt, Charlie?
Back when people were just slightly smart-aleck with their co-workers instead of full-on obnoxious, you'd occasionally see a poster in someone's cubicle saying something like "Those of you who think you know everything are annoying to those of us who do." Yeah, sure: cute. You have to admit, though, that the freelancers who think they can come off knowing everything about everything tend to be annoying to people who actually do know a lot about something. Take, for instance, Charlie Gaston: she wrote a slew of articles for Trails.com about bicycles, even though she quite clearly didn't know much about them -- maybe hadn't ridden one since she got her driver's license. Take, for instance, "How to Attach a Bicycle Wheel"...

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Insulation and Light Fixtures for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXXXII

recessed lighting, can light
It's quite common for the Antisocial Network's staffers to mutter under their breath as they surf the 'net in search of freelance dumbassery (a commodity of which there seems to be an endless supply). Many of the blog and content farm posts they turn up are of the same variety: some greedy character tried to research a question and ended up attempting to reword what they think is the most useful answer. Unfortunately, knowing jack about the question in the first place means that 1) they don't know what's a good answer and 2) they don't know what the terminology of the answer means. Heck, in some cases, they don't even know what the question means! Brenda Priddy, crafting consultant and prolific eHow freelancer, is a classic example of that type: witness her post "Light Fixture Insulation" for proof.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

ATM Cards for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXXXI

atm vs debit vs credit card
Most of the Antisocial Network's DotD nominees receive their awards because they try to answer questions on topics about which they know no useful information. A surprising number -- though perhaps we shouldn't be surprised -- arrive on this blog because of a combination of ignorance and greed; a combination that's especially true of people trying to answer questions on the Leaf Group of websites, formerly eHow. Take today's nominee, six-time winner and professional freelancer Alicia Bodine, who knew nothing about "How Do ATM Cards Work?" before taking this "assignment" at eHow -- and also knew nothing after completing it; the same as her readers.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Shimano 105 Derailleurs for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXXX

shimano 105 derailleur body with barrel adjuster and limit screws
Barrel adjuster (yellow) and limit screws (red), Shimano 105
If you've ever put in more than a few miles on a "10-speed" bicycle (not that any bicycle still has only ten "speeds"), you already know that having a badly adjusted rear derailleur (aka derailer) can take a lot of the fun out of a ride. Consequently, knowing how to fine-tune the little buggers can make your ride more efficient, and that will make it more fun. Derailleurs don't usually get out of adjustment, by the way: instead, shift cables stretch, and the drivetrain must be "tweaked" to allow for that stretch. Just how to do it seems to escape many people, including eHow's Matthew Ferguson, as he amply demonstrated in "How to Adjust a Shimano 105 Rear Derailleur."

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Backflow Preventers for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXXIX

backflow preventer sprinkler
Here at the Antisocial Network, we think there are some common, everyday repair tasks of which every homeowner should be aware, and -- if at all possible -- capable of performing. We're talking tasks on the order of changing a furnace filter or replacing the battery in a smoke detector, which we think even your grandmother should be able to perform. There are others that require a little more knowledge, but are -- in reality -- still pretty easy. Or they would be pretty easy if some PolySci major and MBA-holder didn't get ahold of the instructions. Yes, we're talking about Tom Lutzenberger (again) and, this time, eHow post "How to Fix a Water Backflow Preventer."

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Digital Television for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXXVII

TV Digital television
About a million years ago -- 2009, if you're really interested -- the U. S. television broadcasting system went digital. Plenty of people found themselves confused by the switch, not least because the FCC kept talking about "digital," while people making money off the switch talked about "high-definition." Consequently, plenty of people had questions, and plenty had answers. Not all of those answers were good, though: some were like the post called "Can You Receive Digital Broadcasts on a Digital TV Without Box?" [sic] penned by George N. Root III and appearing at ItStillWorks.com.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Swapping Bicycle Tires for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXXVI

Suitable Tire width vs. Rim Width for Bicycle Wheels
We still remember the first mountain bike we ever saw, 'way back in the early '80s -- a Specialized Stumpjumper. In the 30-odd years since, mountain bikes have become wildly popular, especially with people who ride very little and often live hundreds or thousands of miles from a mountain. The knobby tires that are one hallmark of the style are, unfortunately, ill-suited to road use, since they're heavy and slow; so many owners who can't afford a second bike try to improve on them with touring or road tires ("slicks"). We just hope they don't find Matthew Ferguson, Trails.com freelancer, when they ask themselves, "How Do I Change from Mountain to Smooth Bicycle Tires?"

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Door Handles for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXXV

Remove door rosette
One of our Antisocial Network staffers recently finished a home remodeling job -- he gutted the master bath to the studs and replaced almost everything, including the doors and their hardware. Like most of our staffers, he did a little pre- and post-project surfing looking for hints and tips. That's where he ran across an Ezine article penned by Karen Hughes (not Bush II's advisor, we don't think) that asked the eternal question, "Changing Door Hardware - Can You Handle it?" Well our staffer could, but we don't think Hughes had the chops...

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Catwalks for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXXIV

attic catwalk
As the Antisocial Network research staffers wander the 'net in search of candidates for our daily award, they often run across posts that -- at first glance -- seem to be written by someone who knows what he or she is talking about. Often, however, closer reading reveals that the writer has merely copied verbiage from somewhere else and, in the process, reveals a glaring hole in his or her knowledge. Such is the case of today's DotD nominee, eHow's Marilla Mulwane who did little more than reword an "online tip" for her post, "How to Make a Catwalk in the Attic."

Fortunately for Mulwane, the instructions she cribbed were OK -- not great, just OK -- but in her copy-reword-paste job, she ran into some problems. Her lack of familiarity with framing of roofs and ceilings is pretty clear when she says crap like,
"Rest the board so that it crosses perpendicular over the horizontal boards on the attic floor."
and digs herself an ever-deepening hole by "tipping" her readers off with the suggestion that
"If the attic does not have visible horizontal boards, make some by screwing boards between the trusses."
We'd prefer that our instructions for projects like this be written by people who know what "joists" and "rafters" are instead of talking about "trusses" -- but that's the only word some unknown person (probably a freelancer!) used at online tips dot org, so that -- and "horizontal boards" -- are all that Mulwane seems to know about framing.

In reality, the "online tip" suggested using additional 2-by lumber to build up above the insulation, but Marilla didn't understand that. She also didn't have the foggiest clue about the spacing of joists, nor did she have any idea how to lay a path parallel to the joists (or get through something as complicated as a queen truss).
    


So what do we end up with by reading Mulwane? We figured out pretty quickly that this is someone who's only been in an attic a few times, and that one already had a floor -- in other words, she was talking through her metaphorical hat. We give people like that Dumbass of the Day awards, even if they do have degrees in creative writing.

DDIY - FLOORS

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Wood Filler for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXXIII

     Among the Antisocial Network staffers we have many a DIY woodworker and home repair type; people who've pulled off projects anywhere from hanging a picture to replacing a porch to building a garage. It tends to be hard to get fake experience past people who've actually done a project, which is why one of them flagged eHowian Darla Ferrara and her bogus "Minwax Wood Filler Directions."