I get what you all are saying, but I disagree about eHow. To be fair, take this with a grain of salt, because I've written for Demand Media Studios in the past.
But talking as a user, for me Demand/eHow's quality varies in exactly the same way as that of other large websites. Some pages are helpful; others aren't. I'll often hit the site as a starting point when researching topics about which I know nothing - those "shallow articles" get to the core concepts of a topic without making you wade through scads of details. E.g., to find out basically what's involved in soap making.
And I've followed the Resources links when I actually want to, say, make the soap. It does really suck that they're nofollow. I think that could be a legacy of when they accepted community-generated content - people were using Resources for self-serving links. Now all their content is produced via Demand Media Studios, sources are checked (eliminating low-quality sites), and I can't see any SEO advantage to them to make the links nofollow - quite the contrary. Or am I wrong about this?
As for copied content, my experience is from the other end - because eHow is so high-profile, its content gets copied without permission a lot. I'm not sure of their procedure for DMCA complaints, but from the "back end," there doesn't seem to be any shortage of quality control procedures. What might confuse some folks is that rewritten content IS a copyright violation. Demand Media Studios doesn't allow it (if they know about it) and if your content has been rewritten, it's a valid reason to file a DMCA.