A while back I read a post on Giant Cypress discussing how online content farms were spitting out useless articles that contained little to no usable information. I have seen quite a few such articles on some of the larger “how-to” sites, where freelance writers – often those with arts and journalism backgrounds – write about tools and methods they obviously never used before.
These sites are often wrought with advertisements. As long as they’re making tons of money, they will continue producing keyword-rich pages penned by people who will write about anything.
There are of course exceptions, but from what I have seen, many of these articles are assembled from information found on Wikipedia and other such sources.
It was an “article” on bending sheet metal that prompted this post. I had been double-checking that form was the correct word for the wooden blocks used when bending sheet metal manually without a brake.
How to Bend Sheet Metal
Step 1: Obtain all the required materials to complete the job.
P.S. BIG ad here, c’mon and click, click, click it.
Step 2: Use a tape measure or ruler to measure the thickness of the sheet metal.
Step 3: Calculate the bend allowance…
Here’s a complicated formula we ripped off the web and won’t explain at all.
Some more vague steps.
Tips: an online bend calculator is easier than using a traditional calculator…
Is it Just Me?
Is it just me who finds these “articles” infuriating? When I’m looking for something online, I expect for the top search engine results to be informative or at least helpful. I don’t see how the page I adapted the above from would be of any use to anyone looking to learn how to bend sheet metal.
Part of why this bugs me is because I try my darnedest to make each ToolGuyd post informative and helpful. Not that this post is going to really teach you anything, but you know walking in that it’s an editorial and not a review, new tool preview, or how-to.
While I might rarely make Captain Obvious remakes like “gather your tools and materials,” I can understand the need for such a comment. What really got me fired up was where the authors tell readers to go ahead and measure the thickness of their sheet metal with a ruler or measuring tape.
Bear in mind that the article discusses sheet metal, not plates, with further instruction telling readers to use mallets and wood forms to coax the metal into shape.
I don’t have any measuring tapes that will tell me how thick sheet metal is, and although some of my machinist rulers might have fine enough markings, using them to measure sheet metal thickness would be challenging. This just shows me that the author of the article probably never bent sheet metal before in their life.
Other gems I found on another content farm site after searching for “machinist ruler” on Google – How to Read a Centimeter Ruler, How to Read a Machinist Ruler, How to Read a Ruler Measurement in 3 Easy Steps, How to Read a Ruler in Sixteenths, How to Read a Ruler Marked in 16ths, How to Measure Sixteenths on a Ruler, How to Read a CM Ruler, How to Use a Ruler, How to Measure in Eights on a Ruler, and the list of redundancy goes on.
It’s not just because of my efforts to build ToolGuyd that I’m sensitive to this. I don’t mind clicking on a few links when looking something up, but it is extremely displeasing when after clicking on one, two, five links leaves me no better off than I started.