Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Victoria Strauss -- Helium

No, not the gas, the content site. Which, according to reports I've received recently, is soliciting writers for membership on the basis of their online profiles at WritersNet.

What's a content site? It's a website where people can post their work for the public to see and, often, earn money for it. (I blogged about the resurgence of content sites a few months back, with a focus on Associated Content and its unfavorable Terms of Service). There's a growing number of such sites, each with a different focus and remuneration method.

Helium ("Where Knowledge Rules") employs peer review plus a (patent pending and supposedly cheat-proof) ranking engine that decides which of its member-posted articles are the most useful. There's also a payment system. According to the What Is Helium page: "Sure, Helium is an outlet for the writer in all of us, but it is also a place where you can earn not only the adoration of your peers, but money, too! We want you to be part of the success here. Helium shares a portion of revenue with you. Every article you write is an asset which can earn you revenue---into perpetuity."

Perpetuity sounds good. Unfortunately, the Helium website is sparse on details. According to the fine print of the user agreement, "Your earnings are directly related to the number of your articles and the quality of your articles, as determined by other Helium writers, as well as the popularity of the subject and the corresponding advertising value to our sponsors." Nowhere on the site, however, could I find a clear description or breakdown of exactly how this works, or what writers might expect to earn. In fact, the clearest discussion of earnings is the FAQ page's description of a quasi-pyramid scheme whereby Helium writers who bring in new members get a "bonus" of 5% of those writers' earnings.

Apart from this, Helium looks okay--it seems easy to use and its Terms of Service aren't any worse than those of other content sites (and better than some).

So should you join? Whatever floats your boat--but don't do it for the cash. As with other content sites, I suspect that the average Helium member won't get much more than a pittance. No doubt there are exceptions--but for most writers, content sites are not the way to go if you want to earn income from your writing.

170 comments:

Anonymous said...

No comments yet, and I'm curious - has anyone ever participated in a content site and, if so, how did it work out for you?

Randall said...

It perhaps shows my geekitude (or perhaps something about how I was brought up) that I first thought not of the gas, nor the content site, nor the guy who works with me, but rather of the City on Barsoom.

Lisa Logan said...

I've participated on content sites and article ezines. The keywords here are *Free Promotion.* By including a plug for my book and link to my site at the end of each contribution, I get instant free advertising. Even better when I'm PAID a few bucks for it!

Many writers frown on "giving away" work, but it's really nothing more than the barter system. You're trading goods for marketing services. Would you rather pay for a inconsequential ezine ad, or get free FEATURED promotion in its actual content?

Another way to look at this is offering a free sample to boost sales. Many businesses do.

Granted, I limit participation where *exclusive* clauses exist. But it's still a barter deal. As one can't reuse the same cash to buy promotion, not reusing the same specific writing isn't such a horrid concept (though why not reuse it if you can?).

Barter is nothing to be ashamed of. We have a talent, and there is more than one way to capitalize on it. Especially for writers with a limited promotion budget, this kind of exchange can open the way to a wider, more varied target audience than normally possible for "free."

Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Lisa!

Victoria Strauss said...

I've participated on content sites and article ezines. The keywords here are *Free Promotion.* By including a plug for my book and link to my site at the end of each contribution, I get instant free advertising.

I'm not opposed to writing for free in exchange for a byline--as long as there's a large audience with relevant interests. The question with content sites and article ezines is--who actually sees the articles? How many people visit sites like Helium to find content, as opposed to those who visit them to contribute content? The quality of the articles on these sites is so unreliable; it doesn't take many visits to figure out that they're not especially useful as research resources. Also, if someone is searching on your subject, will search engines pull up your content site article? They seem to be pretty deeply buried.

All in all, I'm really not convinced that enough people actually see the articles at content sites to make them worthwhile as a self-promotion strategy.

James said...

I've written a few articles on Helium and the main beef I have with them is their "rating system". Once you've completed an article, you are directed to the rating queue. You're given a pair of articles to rate from the same category that you posted your own article and asked to determine which of the pair is better. I have read on their forums that the more you rate, the more your article gets rated. I don't really know how that works, but I finally gave up on the site altogether.

allsux said...

Helium is worse than terrible - they are scam artists. First, they don't pay much for content. Second, if you raise issues (such as plagiarism on the site) they ban you to keep you quiet. They even *officially* don't allow people to flag inaccurate content - they claim that bad content will sink to the 'bottom' of the pile automatically, but I have seen articles with false content as high as in first place out of 223 articles! If you want to know more, or are sure you want to use Helium and want tips to beat their systems, check out: http://allsux.com

ID: GabeGirl said...

My concern with Helium is quality. The articles are, for the most part, just awful. If the junk is supposed to sink to the bottom, I can't see that it's working. As a writer who is working hard on self-promotion, I'm not sure I want to be affiliated with a site like this. If I were to tell someone, "I have several artciles published on Helium.", what does that say about me? Not a heck of a lot, unless they go looking for them. But isn't that what my blog is for? Perhaps as Helium matures, the quality of input will increase.

Victoria Strauss said...

Adding clickability to the link provided by allsux: http://allsux.com

allsux said...

Yes, quality is a huge issue. One of the things I address in my articles/posts is why they allow poor quality articles: quite simply, it boosts their search engine ranking. If you start a Helium account I would recommend doing it for spare change and under a different name - you don't want to be associated with that site professionally.

Alex said...

Helium is worse than terrible - they are scam artists. First, they don't pay much for content. Second, if you raise issues (such as plagiarism on the site) they ban you to keep you quiet. They even *officially* don't allow people to flag inaccurate content

This statement couldn't be farther from the truth.

DaProkah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DaProkah said...

Simply brilliant Alex.

What a bold and courageous statement, so full of fact and proof to back it up.

I'm in perpetual awe and wish to commend you.

As a matter of fact, I think I'll sign up to Helium based on your testimonial alone!

Walt said...

So, where do writers go to make money on the web if not on content sites?

Victoria Strauss said...

So, where do writers go to make money on the web if not on content sites?

There are a number of good freelance job sites on the Internet, like Deborah Ng's Freelance Writing Jobs.

I think that one of the things sites like Helium sell is the dream of easy money. I don't want to say there's never such a thing as easy money...but with content sites as with everything else, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Anonymous said...

Well, you know what? I signed up and till now, I;ll earned 0,02$ so don't really count on the money...

linda franzell said...

I recently joined helium.It said you could get paid for writing articles.Although,I've never done this before.I do like to write.My first one did pretty well.Anyway.After writing several articles,it dawned on me that helium wasn't very specific about pay.I,like you, searched the site,and didn't find anything that could give me more information.If I didn't like writing so much,I'd seriously would consider leaving helium.

linda franzell said...

That's it!! I've had with helium!I just posted an article,with the title,"what it means to be an identical twin".Of the 6 articles,nearly all were to do with the medical side of things.I don't think this is what the title intended.No,I don't have any degrees in writing.I've never studied writing of any kind.I have only my thoughts.Who would know better about twins,than someone who comes from a family with 2 sets?I also believe there are people writing articles right from a book,although they have no understanding themselves of what they are writing about!My apologies,I'm rather peeved.

Anonymous said...

I have tried for months to remove my 4 articles from Helium's site. They will not budge and are quite rude about it.

A snarky Helium rep said to me, "The primary issue in your case is that we are not allowed to remove articles once they have been submitted unless it infringes on our user agreement."

Ironic, as I have seen many online references explaining in detail how helium has no troubles deleting articles which are critical of Helium or its processes, so I am sure it is easily within their power to delete articles if that is the author's wishes.

They had no trouble deleting my account after I asked it to remain so I had some semblance of editability maintaining it. Yet taking down 4 articles is an impossibility. (Note that 2 of the articles rank highly and are making them money...)

Anyone wishing to sign up with Helium or any other similar site MUST KNOW the site can, (I got this from another site) "do whatever they want with your material. If they put it into a book, for example, you get...er, nothing. Ever. World-wide."

That's food for thought in an age where intellectual property is supposed to be protected by the law and is a basic right. Thankfully the online community has seen nasty sites in the past wither up and die when word gets out they are taking advantage of their users.

Anonymous said...

Helium is awful. After 6 mos and 20 articles I've made a whopping $5.00 which I can't collect until that reaches $25.00. Its also interesting to note that I have to keep posting new articles and participate in the rating process or I will lose the little I've already earned. So despite their claims that you can earn for perpetuity, that only applies if you keep cranking out new work.
People who complain are banned or their articles stop earning any income at all.
Once you start writing for them you become trapped. Keep producing for peanuts or lose everything. Its a very one-sided arraignment.
Further, they say you still retain ownership of the work, but you can never have the articles removed. Period. In addition, although you can resell the articles to someone else, most publishers aren't interested in work already published online elsewhere.
I wasn't looking for easy money. I fully expected to have to produce decent work and I have done so, but this is a no win situation.
If you are thinking about writing for Helium, think long and hard before you do.

susannah eanes said...

i wrote an article for helium awhile back to support and try to get some positive press out there on the web for my favorite television show, Supernatural, since its own network, the CW, can't seem to be bothered with promoting this superiorly-crafted piece of collaborative art.

it was nice to see that article linked and quoted all over the web, both by other fans and people in the industry. no one had a problem with the site itself, and i got alot of kudos for writing it. it hovers between 2 and 3 in the rankings under that content. it has also been quoted in other articles, and linked to many other websites, including the boards at the CW's own website.

but i haven't seen a cent. not that i really expected to.

all this aside, i think it was a good experience for me, because i honestly was just looking for a place to post that article where it would be seen and read, to benefit the Show. i wasn't looking for money. and after reading all this, i guess it's a good thing or i'd have been disappointed.

i should say that i got what i expected - name recognition, kudos from my peers, but more importantly, exposure for an issue i felt was timely and important. so if that is what you are looking for, by all means, go for helium. but i guess i won't post much there except to get it out on the web. helium obviously does put things in popular search engines, because up to that point i just wrote articles in my own blog, and people never found them.

bottom line? publishing at helium can get the word out there about issues you are interested in promoting, much more so than in your blog. of course, you can direct people back to your blog or website, and maybe pick up an audience that way.

Anonymous said...

i want to try my luck at helium. Problem is, i can't get to their site...each time i click on the site, something different appears on the webpage

Anonymous said...

Helium is the worst site to work for. They steal your articles and will not let you remove them from the site ever. They are late when it comes to payments, which usually takes a year or more to earn. They also delete posts that shed a light on what they are doing. They have fake publishers that gy by fake user names. If you go into the Writers Market for say Time magazine, they will tell you it is Time magazine. In the Helium marketplace, there is not real magazine or other publisher. It is all fake and several of the publishers are OWNED by Helium. It is only a gimmick. Please be warned. It is a scam!

Robyn Wescombe said...

I posted one article, (yes just one) to see if Helium was a site I'd like to work with. I chose a subject that I'm very familiar with and submitted a properly spelled, grammatically correct article. With some amusement, really, I watched it drop from second place to 12 out of 15. I didn't have a problem with that, until I read the top three ranking articles. They were poorly written, and there was a misspelled word glaring at me from the first paragraph. Hmm. How did they get to be the top ranking articles?

Anonymous said...

Helium sucks. The same people seem to be contest winners which makes me wonder if they aren't employees of the company. There are many people who have won on Helium who say when they request payment, Helium finds a reason to ban you and your chances for income from their site.

Stay away from Helium.

Anonymous said...

Helium's main objective is to make BIG profit with Google ads. That is why they want as many articles as possible. Every article gets them more money, in particular if it is written in a particular way, which is like at Reader's Digest, or a local newspaper. Opinions are not welcomed, especially political ones, unless they reflect main stream opinion, and are written without much flavor and tone. That explains why some very poorly written articles are ranked very highly, and some very well-written ones sink to the bottom. If the writer refrains from expressing a politically challenging opinion and writes like a "journalist", s/he will be in the higher rankings. Helium is a bit like a cult. You must do exactly what they want from you, else you crawl around on the bottom always and get 1 Cent every 4-7 days thrown at you, if you are lucky (to insult you mainly). You can write like a retard and make more money, provided your political opinion reflects theirs.


I have written for them for almost one year to realize fully what was going on. I am very disappointed. The contests - never mind ! Not the best writers win, but their employees and favourite writers. The star system is based on these pricipals. The only way to make money there is to write like a conservative journalist who writes for dull masses on very common subjects, without "offending" anyone. Or, if you are a bad writer, you can still make money by writing a lot. Hundreds, I mean. They love quantity, as they get paid by clicks. That's why you see 4-5 stars on somebody who can't even write English correctly.

Not a place for good and creative writers, politically intelligent contributors, and talented people.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking of joining Helium. After researching the Site and especially reading yours. I'm opting not to do so. Thank you for saving my time and effort and possibly my writing efforts.

Anonymous said...

Heliums user agreement is always changing. Now they want to only give money, or rather peanuts, to writers with at least one rating star. At the beginning you are able to earn those pennies for a lifetime. Now they want to confisticate the money earned to keep in their pocket if you don't have enough rating stars. I have learned through the many trial and problems at Helium that it is a scam and unethical. It is a grade school place where they write garbish and still get rated higher. Like the one said here, stay away from the Helium website, they will gimmick you to sign up making promises but they have evil fine prints. Don't go there please.

Anonymous said...

Ditto to the comment above.

I think the people at Helium used to be honest, way back when, but then they got greedy. This week they took a steep turn downhill into Sleazeville.

Helium originally promised to pay writers a share of their articles' earnings forever. Now they are floating a proposal to break that promise and stop payments unless writers maintain a "rating star."

How does one maintain a "rating star"? No one knows, exactly, because the stars are allocated by a secret formula!

It would be funny if it weren't so infuriating.

Oh, yeah, the name of this proposal? "A new way to reward Helium writers."

George Orwell would be impressed.

Meanwhile, we're not able to delete our articles from Helium's site. So Helium will stop paying all star-less writers, but they will still keep and use and earn from those writers' articles indefinitely.

There are over 100,000 registered writers on the site. I would guess that only a small fraction of those writers have "rating stars." The articles written by all the rest, if this proposal goes through, will be confiscated.

You almost have to admire their nerve!

Victoria Strauss said...

The above two comments remind me uncannily of what happened with Themestream, a "citizen journalism" website with a content and payment concept very similar to Helium that went online in the late 1990's. When Themestream discovered that its ad revenue was not sufficient to pay writers the promised rates and still maintain a profit for the company, it reduced writers' payment rates...and then reduced them again. Within a year or so, Themestream was out of business.

(Google Themestream and you'll find a number of articles about its demise.)

My guess would be that Helium's move to reduce writer payments doesn't signal increased greed, but financial trouble. It will be interesting to see if Helium is still around a year from now.

Anonymous said...

(Hi. I'm the Anonymous from 4/12).

Victoria, that's very interesting. I hadn't thought of that before, but I believe that you're right.

Today, a Helium representative posting on the thread discussing this proposal wrote that Helium is "subsidizing" our writing, that Helium is "creating the opportunity" for us to "share our work on the web," and that it "costs no money" for us "to avail" ourselves of "this opportunity."

Also, this:

"It seems clear that writers value what they write when they submit it to Helium. I feel there is not enough value placed on what Helium is doing with that writing. It seems that many people feel that their writing contribution is generous, and Helium gets more than a bargain on that work.

I only wish you could see what it takes to create, maintain, market and attract more publishers and readers to Helium, to make it possible to showcase your work.

Given the weighty investment on Helium's end, it does not seem unreasonable to me that you would be asked to contribute some minimal effort to the smooth operation of the site."


So it does sound like they are having financial problems. It still upsets me, though, that they are trying to reframe the problem from one of their cutting back payments to one where it's the writers' fault for being egotistical, self-centered, and ungrateful.

The business model may be most like Themestream, but the attempted guilt-tripping reminds me more of Publish America.

Anonymous said...

I have been writing for Helium for just over a year. I love the site and have earned on average between 200 and 500 dollars a month writing better and better content than I thought I was capable of.

It's a great site, and I usually find those that have something wrong to say about it are those that are unwilling to put in the effort and go the mile.

It's a site that is listening to its membership and in the year I have been there, I have seen it go from strength to strength.

I post as an anonymous as I don't know how else to post on here, but many of the members, including myself, are prepared to help others achieve the same levels of success that we find on the site, and I can always be contacted by email if anyone wants help and advice about making money on the site.

Personally having been writing online for somet ten years, this is the site that pays me the most. I write for Epinions, Ciao, Dooyoo, Associated Content, and don't have an axe to grind with any of them, as most of these sites reward you for the kind of effort you put in.

For new members it is a little frustrating because income doesn't suddenly appear from nowhere. You have to wait til you have a good portfolio of articles. In the first months, I was skeptical though waited to see what happened.

Now I don't have to work constantly to make my work read or to publicize, even though some members do. I have about 1260 articles and write more and more every week.

The marketplace area is opening up tremendously and that means people can write to specific markets with specific guidelines which is really good as it teaches the discipline of writing to order, and if the aricles are unsuccessful for the markets, they go on to earn money with all your other Helium articles.

Seriously, I have read the complaints above, and one person said that they were miffed that they could not take their articles off the site, though the user agreement is clear on this, in that although to keep your copyright and can post the articles elsewhere, they stay on the site, and that's not a lot to ask.

If anyone wants help or advice about making money on the site, by all means email me and I shall be pleased to help open the doors to success on Helium. Thingywhatsit51@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Thingywhatsit works for helium as one of the stewards.

Anonymous said...

Hello,

Do you want to know what stewards are ? They are members just like anyone else, but devote time and effort to making the site better and helping other members to enjoy their experience. I am a housewife that lives in France. I am not a paid member of Helium staff but am a person who cares sufficiently to want to be part of something I enjoy.

If that disqualifies me from comment, then perhaps you should also look into the motives of people who have posted negative items about helium, rather than disqualify me. I don't see any of them offering help on the site.

Rachel

Anonymous said...

The writer's who are complaining have every right to do so. They have contributed something to the site, they have contributed content. Without all of the articles, stories and poems on Helium's site they'd be out of business. If they want to stay in business, they damn well better start listening to what the writers are saying. Their solution to solving this crisis appears to be to try and counter negative publicity by sending in the PR team. That may work in the short term, but you can't suppress the valid opinions of the writers indefinitely by doing so,
Writers have been taken advantage of too much on the web and they are sick of it.
A perfect example of how writers are rethinking their value in the new digital age can be seen in the screenwriters strike. They understood that they have worth and should be compensated for what they do. Web writers are beginning to catch on too. Any content sites out there that believe that they can continue to milk writers for pennies are in for a rude awakening. They may continues to attract hobbyists, but even they will eventually wise up.

Anonymous said...

I started on Helium.com back in May of 2007. Back then it was more of a question and answer site, with articles that ranged from one sentence awful things to the occasional good article.

Since that time Helium has been evolving from that style with no word count minimums to now having a 350 word count minimum and higher quality standards.

When I first joined in threw up probably 100 articles in a three month time span. Some of these articles are still highly ranked even against the newer standards (because I aimed for quality even back then.) One article that I submitted back in June of 2007 remains my highest earning article, just cresting $40 since it was placed on the site. This is because it is on the second page of google when the key words are typed in for the topic. Many people find my article from outside the site and read it.

I have just over 180 articles now, no I don't submit like a crazy fiend on a mission. I wait till I feel inspired to write a piece and I put my best effort into it, proofreading, mulling over if it is good enough...and so on. I don't just throw articles up there for the sake of putting up content, but to improve my article data base to use as references for future writing jobs, as well as for my own personal improvement in the craft of writing.

Since I have joined Helium I have made just over $200. That is not a ton, but that is more than what I would have had if I had not been writing on the site. I foresee continued earnings as I add more content, work on my craft, and as Helium grows.

Sites on the internet that get super popular, super fast, tend to die out just as quickly. Helium isn't like that. They haven't gone through a massive increase in popularity, but are growing slowly, and by doing that means it will maintain the site much longer than some of they fly by night sites.

People who complain about getting kicked from the site, being ripped off, and what not, all did something to violate the user agreement. I am sorry, but breaking the rules that you agreed to, means you get fired, no matter where you go. Most jobs are "at will employment" meaning the company can fire you at any time for violating their rules. Helium is no different. Violate the user agreement and you run the risk of being booted.

Most people who have found a home on Helium can't sing it's praises enough. People with sour grapes came there with different expectations and when those expectations were not met they cry "OH woe is me, I got screwed."

The sad thing is the writers who complain about Helium, really aren't all that great to begin with and the lose of them on the site is not missed by the community.

Mr.Allsux, broke the user agreement by flaming other writers in his articles...but I bet he wouldn't tell you that. He broke the user agreement thus was banned from the site. Now he does nothing but go around and tell his sad tale from his point of view, which is he didn't do anything wrong, but Helium just wanted his money.

There are plenty of people who have been banned for things like plagiarism but they won't admit to it, but are more than happy to jump on the Helium sucks band wagon. There are also plenty who violate the user agreement who get banned who are more than happy to jump on too.

If you play by the rules on Helium (which isn't hard to find out what they are) then you will succeed on the site. If you are looking to get rich quick, then you will be disappointed with Helium, because that is not what it is.

But if you want to work on the craft of writing while getting paid a little for it, there is nothing better than Helium. There are friendly people who want to help those budding writers on the site, and who appreciate the efforts of more experienced writers who come to us.

I don't work for Helium...I am just a member who loves the site. I haven't found anything better on the web where I can write when I want to, get paid for it, and chat with great friends.

Anonymous said...

So you are inferring that all of the people who are complaining about Helium are all malcontents, low lifes and poor writers? That's a great diversionary tactic, but the fact is that the points that the writers have brought up are legitimate and all the spin in the world isn't going to change that.

Anonymous said...

My, my! What began as an idea floated to the Helium membership for feedback has landed here, where it's been dissected -- quite inaccurately. So...

Helium is not for everyone. We wish it was, but that's just not reality. We're glad so many have come and tried, and we're very happy that so many have stayed and enjoyed.

Helium is not losing money or in financial trouble. That's just mean rumor-mongering. Shame on you.

What was floated before the membership was one idea about how to re-allocate earnings to our most active members from those who have abandoned us. We didn't have to open up the discussion, but we did because we value and act on our membership's feedback.

Janice
Helium

Anonymous said...

Janice, are you saying that that all this fuss is over distributing the funds of inactive members? What about withholding the writer's money if they don't rate enough, or if their ratings aren't considered to be quality by some mysterious criteria that only helium staff understands?

Daniel said...

Having written 165 articles for Helium over the past year, I can tell you with no uncertainty that you will starve to death waiting to make money there.

Out of those 165 articles, one half of them are in the number one position in their respective categories. The rest are either numbers 2,3,4, or at the very least the top 75 per centile.

My writing rating is three stars with a 76% rating at the moment, and my rating stars are four with an 80% rating. So no one can say that I'm not making money because of a lack of skills or the subject matter.

Here's what I have only recently come to understand. Helium employs what are called 'content teams'. Sounds alright until you start to realize that articles that were placed as number one in their slot for over a year are suddenly pulled and deleted, the only reason given being an email that states that the article doesn't conform to the subject matter at hand. or are 'off topic'.

When they pulled this on me three times in the space of two weeks, I wrote and demanded an explanation, pointing out the length of time the article that had just been pulled had been in it's spot, how it did in fact conform to the subject matter, and asked for a clarification and reinstatement of the article.

The reply I received said this, " The article was deleted because it did not have anything to do with the subject matter". That was it. Nothing more, and signed 'The Helium Content Team'.

The same day I received an email from a Helium writer condemning another article written by myself as too radical for her tastes. I went to the site and did a search on her name, and lo and behold, she was on the 'content team'!

So what is happening there on Helium is that the content team is knocking off articles that are well written, informative, long standing and high ranking, due to their own personal distaste for a given piece. This is anathema to what any writing site should be about.

Now, instead of the piece I had written, the number one article on that particular subject matter is one of the worst written, off topic pieces they could have bumped upwards. How could that be you ask? Oh. The person who's story ended up in the number one slot just happens to be an online buddy of the content team member.

Know how much I've made off of Helium in 18 months? $13.76

Remember the 'Reward A Thon' scam a couple of months back? Every week I would get an email exhorting me to write, write, write! Along with a running total of my projected payment thus far and how many stars I had, both writing and rating. Right up to the day that the contest ended, I had three writing stars and three rating stars. But I never received a dime, because according to Helium, they were sorry, but somehow, the day the contest ended, my rating stars dropped to two, and three were needed to get paid. How much was I supposed to be paid? $126.00

Helium is a scam and any one who says otherwise either works for them or is too stupid to know when they're being raped.

Eugene D. Gibson said...

Thanks for the headups!I noticethat poorly written articles are highly rank!And it isnt user friendly they want you to spellcheck but dont provide with tools!

Anonymous said...

As a well published and highly paid writer, it's clear that any self-respecting real writer will already know sites like Helium are for the undesirables that can't make money practicing the craft any other way.

Of course the articles on Helium are garbage, the people using the site don't know any better themselves. To boast about making $500 a month is hardly a coup. Attention writers: you should be making thousands a month if you're practicing the craft legitimately and you're good.

Do yourself a favour and go out and get a real writing job, one that pays.

Anonymous said...

Helium is a scam.

Writing and rating stars can disappear on a whim and there is no transparency about how the star system works.

Stars once accumulated should always remain, if Helium wants to be fair.

If you have a complaint contact your state attorney general's consumer division to file a complaint.

Perhaps the FTC can help as well as organizations.

Enough complaints may help shut down this site, or force them to remain honest.

Anonymous said...

I would like to throw a comment out there on this to inform people a little bit about the behind the scenes of Helium, and why no real money is made.

First off, only the people who get in good with Helium personnel and get secondary jobs doing behind the scenes editing, deleting, and stewarding make money. Yes, the Stewards make money. Though I believe they are called editors now. Those in charge of the smaller channels don't get paid and aren't told that the full channel editors and senior editors get paid, it is like a trade secret.

Unfortunately people like Rachel, who have thousands of articles on Helium, doesn't made half has much as she claims from the straight up article pennies. She may make $100 maybe $200 from the article pennies a month if she is lucky, but the majority of her income from Helium comes from the secondary services she is paid for by Helium monthly.

Many of the people involved in the hierarchy of Helium get paid for these extra services provided behind the scenes, and extra promotions are run for these people to recruit more members. The sad thing is that regular members, unless they devote 60 hours a week to writing non-stop, really aren't going to make much money.

The people doing the recruiting are basically told to give these new members false hopes of making big bucks on Helium. They are also told to come on sites like this by the promotional manager to post positive statements about Helium. And these people are all paid (secret) employees by Helium, not just regular members even though that is what they claim to be.

Sure there is some opportunity on Helium to have articles sold, I've had some sold that were just regular articles, but it doesn't happen half as often as the authorities would have members believe. And getting articles sold in the Marketplace is next to impossible. Even well written articles get passed over, because they are never read by the publishers, who often only read the top 5 or 6 articles when choosing. So if you get rated poorly due to idiot raters who don't actually read the articles in a vain hope to get rating stars, then you are out of luck in getting articles sold in the marketplace.

Opinions really count on Helium as far as being highly ranked as well. If your opinion differs on topics from the general population on Helium then you can count on well written articles being ranked poorly by fellow members, over the poorly written articles that agree with the general public. Not to mention the hate emails that you will get for having an opposing opinion.

Helium is what it is. The ad sharing is really not much money. An article that is highly ranked on the site and has a high google ranking (meaning it is on the first page or two of a google search on that subject) might yield you $5 a month for that article. If you write 500 articles, you might end up with about 10 articles that net you $5 a month.

After having my own blog with google adsense, I can see just how much money Helium is making off it's writers articles. It is quite a bit, considering that writers are getting fractions of pennies per clicks on ads on the page. One click on an ad that pages an average amount might yield .25 cents per click. The writer gets only a fraction of a penny of the .25 cents. If you have an article that ends up making $5 in a month it means you have to have a lot of clicks, which means Helium is potentially making $100's of dollars off that one article. Though some ads pay less and some pay more, and accordingly Helium adjusts the fractions of pennies per what those ads pay. The point is, if you were reaping in all the adsense change from the article you posted on Helium in another forum, like say a blog you advertise yourself, you would be making a whole hell of a lot more money off that one single article.

Helium isn't a scam, it is just a site looking to make money, like all sites are. Though, they are kind of scamming people with the ideas that they can make all this money, when it is next to impossible unless you have no life and spend all your time in front of your computer typing out articles to feed their machine. Entering contests and trying to get stars is an exercise in frustration as well.

Regular members know nothing, and only a small handful of members are in the know, but are basically sworn to secrecy. I had the pleasure of knowing someone in the know, and that is where my information came from. They convinced me to sign up, but then when I started complaining about the lack of profits, they explained to me how things really worked on Helium.

I don't write on Helium anymore when I realized that I couldn't actually make money without selling my soul and all my time.

If you want to make money with google adsense, start multiple blogs are many different subjects and advertise them around the web. Make your own money from google adsense by signing up for an account and adding it to your websites and blogs. Instead of wasting time writing on Helium, write for yourself and advertise it yourself. In the end you will make a lot more money that way then with Helium. And you retain all of your rights to what you write, which you give up by being on Helium. So why waste time writing stuff you can never sell on Helium? I'm not, nor would I recommend anyone else too.

Anonymous said...

I don't even like Rachel but heck, I'm objective. I do make money from Helium. I've been there for two months and have earned more than 300 from the marketplace and contest. I don't understand the ratings though, bit they aren't a scam.(I hate the ratings, but they pay and they're TRYING to improve.) Also I like Barbara. The rest of the stewards.. are.. nevermind!

Chavie Cyn

Anonymous said...

look at the contest results in calculation. this must be another helium employee

http://www.helium.com/users/439586/show_articles

articles in contest has the first sentence all capitalized but in the non-contest articles, they are normally structured w/out the big letters. that's how some say "hello, rate me". i am so discouraged of the cheating at helium.

wikipea

Anonymous said...

Damn! I wish I would have done my research before diving into Helium. Every constructive criticism I've read here makes it all clear to me...especially Anonymous, posted on 9/6/08 at 3:46. Thanks a bunch.

Also the poster that gave the heads up regarding how the Helium in crowd triggers the ratings. I am going to investigate that one myself. In fact, I will be collecting and correlating the necessary evidence to bring this site down if I find the rating is rigged. Thanks for the tip.

Here's my experience:

For me, the jury is still out on the "are they a fraud" question, but I'm starting to lean toward the negative. Anytime a company obfuscates its inner workings and dealings such as its real-time rating statistics and revenue generated via advertisers (which the authors are suppose to be getting a cut), then it's only natural to be skeptical of its operation.

I've just started posting articles on the Helium site, but immediately became skeptical after submitting an article for a contest. It took several days for my article to climb to 2nd place and just before the contest ended, my article fell to 10th place. After the contest was over and the winners were selected, my article made it to 1st place. This indicates that someone or some folks know how to game the rating system.

So, I told myself...self, maybe it was just a fluke, give it another shot. So I did. And to my amazement (NOT!), it happened again! But this time, it happened while I was actually watching it in real-time. My article was in 2nd place and within 5 minutes an article that was in 9th place jumped to 2nd place and my article fell to 10th place. It happened that fast, while I was clicking my mouse to refresh the screen.

An article I submitted for a Journalism award made it to 1st place and remained in first place, yet the article that was selected was in 7th place. Of course, I read the "winning" article and to my surprise (NOT!), it sucked. However, I suspect my article remained in 1st place because no money was involved.

So, like you, I set out to explore other complaints against Helium and wound up here. I believe Helium founders had honorable intentions when they launched the site, but like any venture where the possibility to earn money exist, there will always be scumbags that will find ways to game the system.

If the owners or executive management team aren't behind the fraudulent activity, then they should be working diligently to implement the appropriate security controls to prevent the fraud.

I have a couple of articles "pending" in the Marketplace, so I am going to wait to see what happens with them. I don't plan to post anymore articles to Helium or to any other website like it.

Claire said...

I am writing for Helium and I have grown suspicious lately... it is how I found your post. Now, I have a question: if I cancel my account on Helium, will my articles be automatically deleted too?
I am a writer and I am still building my writing portfolio! However, I am starting to believe that being associated with that particular site might "kill" my credibility.

Anonymous said...

Upon re-reading the ever changing TOS I am appalled at their statement about taking no responsibility for what is posted. Having writers rate articles with absolutely no background on the information given - but told to rate on presentation and how 'well written' it is - not whether the information given is actually false is akin to asking a biology student to give advice to a Dr peforming brain surgery.

The bullshit responses from Helium staff are rampant.

If there is false information - such as false life saving information (medicines, cures, etc) that is accesible by people who see that an article is ranked number 1 and follows that advice and dies - Helium is not responsible.

But they are responsible. Oh but they are not. Oh but they have stewards to help. Oh but they rely on the 'writers' to report stuff that is false. Oh but they are not responsible. Oh but they won't delete. Oh but they will.

Any entity or business in existence is not above being criticized however it appears that Helium thinks it is.

Suggestions - Do not give away your best work to this site. I wish now that I hadn't. Do not join this site unless you are prepared to give up future control of where your work will end up, linked to sites that are viruses or mysteriously disappear after further research.

Do copyright your work on your own. Maybe have a copyright lawyer look over their TOS before you join and tell you what it all means for you as a struggling writer trying to get your name out there.

In our desperation to create a writing career we are often hoodwinked into doing things because we think it will help us in the long run. The more bruises we take maybe the stronger we become in this industry.

Research these sites thoroughly before joining or resort to the old fashioned way of submitting to ordinary publications and other writing contests that have an established trustworthy history.

IzzyPanny said...

Helium.com is not a scam- but you DO have to work to get paid.

You probably won't make enough money to pay your bills but; you will get your name out there and be open to publishers interested in your work. You COULD make a lot of money though; put up enough quality articles and you'll get more hits- People share links to a good article and THAT is where you make your money.

Word of mouth makes people rich.

I am making money everyday from Helium.com; not tons but it is better than selling my articles for 50.00 and losing my copyright.


Izzy,

http://www.helium.com/users/463672

dkpoto said...

Helium is what it is, a place for writers to perfect their craft before taking the next leap into the literary world.

I read the user agreement and find it to be completely on the up and up.

I used Helium to improve my writing. They used my writing to make money off of Google ads. Now, I write content for my own Web site, with two more in construction phase.

Seems like Helium and I used each other. That is called balance.

I still get paid for articles. i will get paid more for writing on my own.

Thank you, Helium. And thank me for contributing to your wonderful site, because I got out of you what I wanted from the get go.

Brad said...

Does anyone know of a good place to go to earn money writing articles on a freelance basis? I have created a couple of blogs that incorporate adsense, but I am not getting any traffic what-so-ever. Check them out and let me know if you have any pointers.
www.flannelplanet.blogspot.com
www.isyourcupempty.blogspot.com

P.G. Alexander said...

Helium.com is where creativity goes to die. It rewards hackneyed, formulaic piss and nothing else. It's not that I'm not willing to put in the effort--I'm constantly writing in my spare time--it's more a question of principals. How can you claim to be a champion of quality, creativity, and free expression when you deny the fact that negativity has it's place in writing. You want to write satire? Great! Just be sure not to swear, offend, defame, or slander, kay ; )! It's fucking sickening.

All you people making money, earning stars, and making new friends... you are the definition of mediocrity. If writing is nothing more than a therapeutic exercise for you, then get a fucking journal and stop infecting the world with that dreck you call writing. It's like menstruation on page. Seriously. Stop. You are destroying art.

I'm sorry to be so harsh, but God knows no one on Helium is telling it like it is.

Don't bother praying for me.

-The Faint of Heartbreaker

P.G. Alexander said...

I was drunk and bitter when I posted that. It was unfair of me to be such a prick. I feel bad.

Tenebris said...

@ Anonymous 3/14/2008 1:08 AM, Anonymous 3/25/2008 11:11 PM, and Anonymous 10/22/2008 3:40 PM, re the allegations of popular people winning contests

Although I write for Helium, I rather doubt I am one of Helium's favourite writers. I am certainly not one of the popular ones. If in any doubt about this, simply do a search for this name on Helium's boards, and then read ahead to the reactions to what I write.

I have won money in contests, sometimes with as few as three articles out of a possible twenty. You can decide for yourselves the quality of my writing.

I have come in first in more than one contest, and won up to $100 for doing so.

I reliably earn enough money at Helium to cash out every month. None of these earnings come from the Marketplace. At this point in time, most of my earned money is through adshare, and is likely to remain so. I currently have just over 350 articles on Helium, spanning a year and a half of active membership. Some of them earn me over $2 a month. Some earn a penny ... maybe.

For the most part, I earn this money on my own terms. I write what I wish, knowing that some subjects are much more profitable than others, knowing also that some subjects have no long-term interest except to historians and thus will also generate very little in the way of long-term earnings.

Nor is it Helium's fault that, all quality questions aside, the number of people willing to write free on sites such as Blogger has already diluted the monetary value of writing. For example, without the assistance of government or private grants, extremely few poets are able to live by poetry alone. Outside such a poetry tenure, a poet has three options:

1. Try to get published in a journal that offers something other than recognition in return.

2. Create a personal webpage or blog, monetise it with something like Google Adsense, and then try to draw traffic to it.

3. Self-publish a chapbook, market it, and try to recoup the costs of publication.

For poets who don't already have a reputation or who may wish to step aside from that reputation for their own reasons, Helium offers a fourth option. Almost certainly it will turn out to be more money, net, than any of the preceding three options. I don't make much on my Helium-based poetry, but I have made a few dollars from that poetry alone.

What Helium expects of me in return is to maintain a rating percentage of between 71 and 75%, with a minimum 40 rates in a 90-day period. (Helium assumes each rating to take an average of three minutes.) Helium is a business which has chosen to structure itself around its rating system, and as a business it is their prerogative to set any terms for "employment" they wish.

If I were to dedicate myself to Helium even to the point of writing a single article every day, I would easily make $100 and much more a month while spending less than an hour a day. I choose not to, because I have other projects I value at least as highly.

Helium allows me to muse on my choice of subjects, and to be paid for it. In posting the article on Helium, I consider it to have been "sold", my benefit being continuing adshare and a web framework of cooperative and continuing promotion in which I can participate as much or as little as I prefer.

I could wish Helium would remove the articles of banned and inactive members (ie. those who no longer receive these benefits) and thus be secure on the ethical high ground. I could also wish that members had the ability to "opt out" of the contract whenever the ToS change significantly, as when rating at a certain percentage became a prerequisite to earning in November 2008. (Anyone wondering why their articles suddenly earned $0.00 from that month onward, now you know why.)

Yet I acknowledge that being a business, Helium has the right to set whatever terms it wishes.

As you will notice from even a cursory search/skim of my name, I regularly question many of Helium's policies, in particular the rating structure and the new rating requirement to earn income. (See "stars".) Quite likely I will continue to question some of Helium's policies in future ... although I will never question their right to set whatever policies they wish.

However, I have never even once had occasion to question Helium's reliability in paying me, not in over a year and a half of membership.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the enlightenment. I'm a professional writer looking to earn a living, and it's obvious it won't come from Helium.

Anonymous said...

The members of Helium have no guarantee of fairness or ethics from the site. Some stewards are able to claim a volunteer status while getting paid. These same stewards try to quell any dissent when new rules, disadvantageous to members, are instituted. If a member complains enough they will be banned without any chance at appeal. Their monies will then go to helium making this a plus for the site. Many untruths have been stated by Helium staff and paid stewards. Some have been admitted to while others are ignored. Do not trust anyone who works for this site as they will not tell the truth. This is a despicable writing site.

We Can't Tell You said...

I never liked Rachel or whatever ger name really is. She's the one getting all defensive all over the sites and Helium would be better trusted without her!

Anonymous said...

It looks like a few members have complained about helium to the Better Business Bureau, when clearly they have not understood how things operate here or availed themselves of help offered.

Can you take a minute to give a positive rating of Helium here. Need everyone's help!

Better Business Bureau.

Anonymous said...

I thought you would be interested in knowing just what kind of unethical business practices that Helium was up to. I was banned yesterday from the forum, because of a posting I put up in the stewards message board. Helium is keeping a whole new program hush hush from the general membership. It is yet another program that is "voluntary" and will require hours of work by those who choose to apply/test/interview, but they are still "Discussing possibly compensation concepts." So they are starting out a program, much like the steward program, on the premise that people want to get some mythical long-term benefits, and some great recognition for their work. But as of now they are going to be behind the scenes.

We Can't Tell You said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
We Can't Tell You said...

We are going to find out about it and we'll tell you guys. Can you give us all the inside info that you've heard. One of us is a cyber-space investigative journalist:)

Anonymous said...

give me email add

Anonymous said...

c.myinbox@gmail.com -- tell us about it.

Anonymous said...

Article reviewers: Do you enjoy the detail work of close editorial reading? These volunteers review new articles submitted to the site to ensure they meet Helium's Writing Standards and clean up small typos, edit out self-promotion, respond to writers who need help and those who deserve praise. Special sensitivity to new member contact is required. Editors with demonstrated expertise in niche areas can focus on channel-specific content, but most article reviewers will read content as needed. Requirements: Pass a test, interview (for some – demonstrated subject matter expertise). [Staff contact: Janice/Community leader: Rachel] Those interested should send an email to eab@helium.com

Title-seeders: These volunteers want to develop content areas and understand how to write SEO-effective titles. Familiarity with Helium's title patterns and AP style is needed. Requirements: Pass a test, training period, subject matter expertise an added benefit. [Staff contact: Jon/Community leader: Trenna Sue Hiler] Those interested should send an email to eab@helium.com

1. Title-admin reviewers: Title-seeders extraordinaire, these volunteers review titles suggested by members, approve those that meet our standards and exhibit good SEO techniques, correct for Helium style needs, assign to appropriate channels and share advice with members to teach good title-writing techniques. Requirements: Served first as a Title-seeder, training period, staff interview, ongoing review. (There are limited seats for this role.)[Staff contact: Paul/Community leader: Rachel or Kat currently] Those interested should email eab@helium.com after serving as a title seeder for at least 2 months.

Fact-checkers: Do inaccuracies drive you nuts? Fact-checkers enjoy digging into the meat of articles. They're willing to do the detail work of checking factual information, working with members to direct fixes and follow up with staff when members do not fix their articles.. Special sensitivity to member contact is required as not all writers take constructive criticism well. Requirements: Test, staff interview, subject matter expertise (preferred). [Staff contact: Paul/Community leader: Cyn Bagley] Those interested should email eab@helium.com.

Homepage editors: These volunteers enjoy designing homepage themes and can select high-quality articles to feature for one homepage per week. Requirements: Test, staff interview. (There are limited seats for this role.) [Staff contact: Paul/Community leader: Kat] Those interested should email eab@helium.com.

Anonymous said...

It is to Helium's benefit to ban members for anything they can. They get to keep any money which should go to the writer of the articles. A conflict of interest? Of course, why pay money to the writers when they can just take them for nothing. They do not have to prove a member has violated any part of the user agreement to ban them. The whole site is just a "trust us" scam. Helium's paid cheerleaders, or stewards, if you will, are just as guilty for misleading the members. Not one person on the site can define what a quality rate is. However, a certain number of quality rates are required before a member can collect any earned money. Read the forums, they are filled with complaints about this suspicious new requirement. Thieves they are.

Anonymous said...

Been there, done that. If you're thinking of earning good money, here's my two cents' worth. Don't even get anywhere near them.

Barbara Whitlock said...

The nature of the Internet is that anyone can say anything. The fact that people slander Helium here as "anonymous" is telling.

Helium.com is a site which provides opportunities to writers--expansive opportunities. We have members adding good money to their monthly income while supplementing or building good freelance writing careers.

We have a very supportive community, committed to helping our writers maximize their opportunities at Helium.

Not everyone can compete, just as not everyone writes well. Helium gives equal opportunity to all.

Also, Helium asks members to come to Helium to write. We have a few members who would rather chat. When tensions arise in the forums we often ask members to take a one week break to cool off.

It's folks like that who come here to squeal. Writer beware of the motives of others posting here.

If you want straight up information from Helium my inbox is open to anyone: bwhitlock@helium.com.

Barbara Whitlock
Community Development Manager
www.helium.com/users/13060

Anonymous said...

My experience on Helium was wholly negative. Users create content that cannot be deleted, and there are limited opportunities to edit articles. Users could increase their earnings by editing good articles and deleting bad ones, but editing requires jumping through hoops and deleting is not even an option.

Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.

Anonymous said...

Gosh Barbara, I have emailed you many times in the past. Sometimes a half a dozen times to get a vague answer to a question asked in the first email. A completely untrue answer as it turned out.

How embarrassing it must have been to have to admit your "volunteer" stewards were being compensated with cash. At least some of them. Those who push your agenda for you.

Straight up information from you? Ha Ha Ha to infinity. This is true too of your silly little "yes people" stewards.

By the way, it isn't hard to gain success on your site. But you also have to swallow a lot of untrue statements from the staff. And this is from top to bottom.

I do not think my identity is any secret to you or anyone familiar to Helium's forums. At least before you banned me for blowing the whistle on your deceptions.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, I am not a very friendly person. I like Helium because it does pay much as I like Blogsvertise and AC also because it pays. I also do NOT like some stewards, like I am not so crazy about Rachel okie? Now, I think that whoever you are who is mad at Barbara needs some Prozac. She is the sanest person at Helium and she does reply to emails. Okie?

http://bugsey.multiply.com
Chavie Cyn (Helium)

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah Mr or Ms Anionymous-- how about identifying yourself before you beat one of my friends up? Isn't it fair that we know you at least since you claim to be a Helium insider?

Bugsey/Chavie Cyn

Randy Godwin said...

Barbabra, just to expose your statement about former members abilities as untrue, I will give my real name. My concerns have never been about my capabilities but were about the untruthfulness of statements given by you or your pet stewards, Rex, Grace, Dave, and others. I have no doubt there are other stewards with honest intentions as has been shown in the past.

Your pet stews, known by many members as "Bab's Brownies" are well suited for their roles as new rules pushers.

The latest insult to the members is the appointment of the "peace piper" as global moderator. Have you ever tried laughing and throwing up at the same time? With only 15 articles written and no writing stars at the time of appointment, she is now heading the writer's critique section on Helium. What a joke! Many of us wonder if she is just Rex in drag showing his gentler, but still silly side.

Only yesterday a member asked why she couldn't rate articles in other channels other than the ones she had written to. A steward suggested merely clicking rate at the top of the screen and then choose the channel you wish to rate in. Needless to say, I got a huge laugh out of this.

You see, only the sub stewards and stewards have this ability. The ordinary member cannot do this and have to rate what is given without any choice in the matter. This allows much room for abuse by the stews although Barbara and her cronies attempt to dispel this obvious perk.

Sure enough, the helpful tip given by the steward was gone. She wasn't aware ordinary members did not have this same ability. Rex is the censor king here. He and others also will delete anything they do not want known or do not agree with.

I suggest anyone who has had trouble with Helium or it's staff contact the Better Business Bureau about your dealing with this site. It is really easy to do and I guarantee it will make you feel great to help put an end to the unethical dealings of this site.

Feel free to email me about your problems on this site.

randygodwin@planttel.net

Barbara Whitlock said...

The Internet provides an open door for anyone to complain and say anything they want.

Helium is the largest writing community in the world, so there is much to discover there.

Readers and writers, beware of people who keep you from opportunities where you could supplement your freelance earnings, have a wide open publishing platform, and have a blast doing what you love best.

Investigate fully before deciding. For the few nay-sayers you'll find those outweighed by the over $150,000 members writing and earning at Helium.

Barbara Whitlock said...

Actually Helium has closer to 200,000 members.

Randy Godwin said...

Barbara, perhaps you will list the number of those who have been banned from the site and the forums. You know, those whose articles you have kept and the money those articles are still earning money for the site.

Your TOS agreement guarantees the user nothing. The member has to uphold anything new to the agreement or is told to just leave and forfeit their articles. Helium, as you told me in a personal email, is not required to guarantee fairness. I think this says it all.

When one has to take the word of these people about how the page views are divided and also how the screwed up rating system works well it simply isn't worth it. Perhaps you would like me to post our private emails and let others decide on your truthfulness and integrity. Or the thread in the private stewards forum about me personally. You know, the one where you called me the devil and bragged on your "Babs Brownies" for unknowingly lying to me. Be glad to.

Anyone even considering writing here beware. They can simply ban you and keep your articles with no true reason for doing so. I will be glad to save you some grief.

Randy Godwin

Anonymous said...

will email you randy. i have a question i wish to ask in private.

Randy Godwin said...

As you can see, direct questions to Helium staff are ignored for the most part. This is common on the site and many are deleted quickly before other members can read them on the forums.

Ask all of the questions you want, just don't expect a concise answer or even a truthful one. Ask how page views are divided and see where you get with this bunch. want to get their dander up? Ask them to explain what a quality rate is. A certain number of quality rates are required now before your daily page views are credited to your account.

In other words, you have to achieve something no one on Helium can define. Read the forums, people lose their rating stars a day or two before the end of the month and get paid no money on all of the work they did that month.

Even if you get the rating stars back you still do not get paid for the page views your articles earned. According to staff, other better rating writers get your share instead. You worked for nothing writing and rating all month. Everything here is blind faith oriented and trust is required for this to work. "Trust us" she says. Ha!

Anonymous said...

Barb,
I think your doing a good job. Sometimes it's not good to waste too much effort on people like Randy, who only want to criticize.

Being critical is easy, being someone who looks for solutions is hard. Randy look for the positives, then try to accentuate those please.

Again, Good Job Barbara.

Cheers

Anonymous said...

I suspect another one of "Bab's Brownies" left the last post but even if not it shows the amount of ignorance some of the members have.

Many of the members, including myself, have suggested solutions to obvious problems on the Helium site. Like the other questions and solutions offered, they are ignored or called down by the Helium staffers.

If you go to the site at this moment you will find a thread in the content forum where John Rozen threatens to take action against a member who has just proven how rating randomly will achieve a higher percentage than rating carefully using high writing standards. This is common here. If you catch them lying or prove how something is not on the up-and-up you get banned.

This is why Barbara won't answer any questions about the banned members. Again, once they ban you, even if they have to lie about the reason, they get your articles and the money the articles bring to the site. A conflict of interest? Of course.

So, Mr. or Mrs. helper, put your real name on here and let's see who you are if you have the nerve. If not, you must be a "Brownie," short for brown noser of course.

You are right about looking for the positives. But this doesn't mean the negatives do not exist and shouldn't be brought to attention. If Barbara is so great, why doesn't she answer questions.

Randy Godwin

Randy Godwin said...

As promised, this is in response to the questions asked of me on the other thread.

Can I back up statements made about the site being unethical? I will do my best to explain my assertions. They make money by using banned member's articles. Go to the site, enter my name and it will take you to a list of my articles. I make nothing on these articles even though some are displayed prominently on the front pages of some channels. If I google my name, articles leading back to the helium website appear in the search. Again, money for my work going to Helium.

They closed my account so now I have no idea which articles are making money nor how much. I do not want my name associated with the site but have no way to remove it. So you see, a writer not only loses the money their articles accrue, but also the control over the use of their name.

I was also asked about the frequent rules changes. This is no secret to the members as anyone can access the former TOS agreements on the site.

A member cannot close their account by choice other than not participating on the site for six months. A member can change their pen name, but only if they have access to the site, something banned members do not possess.

"Why do I worry about the risk of getting booted if the site is so bad?" I do not worry about this possibility because I have already been booted. But do I want my name associated with a site which runs roughshod over the members? Of course not, and neither would anyone with a sense of fair play and ethichs.

This is not about the money and I have better things to do with my time, but I refuse to simply lie down while others, who have hundreds or thousands of articles at risk, cannot speak out against obvious wrongs.

I played helium's little game. I achieved writing and rating stars, sold articles on the marketplace, and won money in the stupid contests. Do I think because of these successes on Helium I am proven to write well? No way, as others with terrible articles holding the top spot in ranking proves the system is bad.

Why should Helium profit by banning members? Why do they refuse to even respond to the Better Business Bureau about complaints from banned members? Can anyone answer my questions? Helium can't.

My email address is listed in a comment above. Anyone can ask questions of me about anything I have stated. Especially those who criticize me as they seem to be the most naive about the inner workings of this site.

I do feel bad about some aspects of my protests against Helium. Innocent members are being harassed because they defended my actions on the site. For this I am truly sorry. It makes me sad to see others punished for their convictions.

Randy Godwin

Anonymous said...

Helium is now closed to India and Pakistan, Malaysia and this is unfair for people who left their articles there. How do they get their money?

Silver E. Moon said...

I wish I had found this long ago I have just severed ties with Helium and am quite disappointed with the way they handled my articles, as well as received nothing for holding first place for over a year in one category. When an article of little humor replaced it and no content (I think a child could have done better) I started to question the process and wanted to withdraw my articles. Fat chance of that happening after several email exchanges with 3 different people I at my request was removed from membership, but my articles have remained. There seems to be enough of us, is there nothing we can do to sully their name and call attention to their practices?
Leo

Randy Godwin said...

Helium's name is already sullied as far as many are concerned. Filing a Better Business Bureau complaint will not get any response from them, in my experience. The BBB strongly suggested I contact the Attorney General of Massachusetts and file a complaint against them. I am in the process of doing so.

A class action law suit will probably be the only way to get their attention as they ignore anything else. I'm sure this will eventually take place as many others are starting to find out about the way they do business.

These types of content sites hurt freelance writers more than anything else. They allow so much garbage on the site it contaminates the work of others. It also gives false hopes to those without the necessary talent to succeed elsewhere.

I am attempting to gather more evidence of their past dubious behavior from former members so feel free to post here or to my email. Do not just take it lying down. Payback is hell!

Randy Godwin

Randy Godwin

Anonymous said...

Randy, I wrote for Helium for about six months. In fact, I still have an account with them lying dormant. I don't get paid of course, because I don't have a rating star ; )

I joined the site when I first decided to try freelance writing and really wish I'd done a bit more research. It is flawed on so many levels. The rating system is laughable, the revenue sharing pitiful and the overall quality of writing dreadful.

My biggest regret is that I used my real name on the site. Since then I have landed a job with a well respected writing site, but cringe whenever I see a link to one of my Helium articles in a Google search. If I can help you out gathering information about them I would be happy to. I thought I may be of some use to you as I still have an account there.

Anonymous said...

Hi guys! I don't have a rating star and I get paid by Helium. You can check me out. In fact, I still get paid when i win contests and sell stuff at the Marketplace.

My name is Chavie Cyn - yeah I'm also Bugsey at Multiply. It isn't that I am totally in love with Helium, but there are good people there and to say it doesn't pay is an injustice. They do pay.

I'm not one of the stewards okie? I can't even get a crummy star. One thing though, is that I feel that saying Helium doesn't pay is completely untrue. In three months I was paid about 500 bucks. I did sell 6 Marketplace articles and joined some contests.

I respect your right to free expression. I'm crazy about free speech.. but justice also means that we stand for the truth here. Helium does pay . Peace.

Randy Godwin said...

Thanks for the input Chavie, I did not state Helium wouldn't pay a writer anything. I think they still pay for contests winnings and marketplace purchases but page views are not paid without one. I never said they wouldn't pay for anything. You could have a thousand articles posted with great page views on Helium but without a rating star the money goes to someone else.

I wrote over a hundred articles with the understanding of receiving page views as long as they were bring them in. Keeping a rating star is easy if you just rate randomly as proven by several Helium members including myself.

There are people on the site with professional writing experience who can't achieve a rating star. The majority of members cannot distinguish between well written and poorly composed articles.

I'm sorry, but the rating system is based on the majority choices and it's hard for me to believe the majority knows good from bad when most can't spell or string a decent sentence together. But even this isn't why I detest the site so much.

It is because of my personal dealing with the bigwigs about the misrepresentation of certain facets of the site. Take a good look at the accusations in this thread. Read Barbara's and Rachel's posts. You would think they would deny or try to counter the claims of former members who posted, but like on the site itself, or in personal emails, they ignore the questions and claims.

There are some very good people on Helium, one of my best friends in fact. But those people also think it is wrong for Helium to keep the money my articles bring in to the site. They also have my name, not much I admit, but it is mine. I am banned, my account is closed, I get no money for my work.

It is not about the money, but I don't want those good people to lose their hard work or be bullied. Do you think I would spend this much time over this just for the heck of it?

And by the way Chavie, they can change the rules anytime and probably will.

Randy Godwin

Silver E Moon said...

Good to see this post is still alive and well. I can stand not getting paid for my stuff the thing that burns me is even after asking nicely they will not take my articles off their site.
I have used my pen name and while I have nothing to be ashamed of by what I wrote, the fact that my stuff (even though they say I still have controlling rights to it) will not be taken off their site that is what makes me angry. But I did sign a contract and it was a good lesson, I check them all out very carefully and as well as I can tell they all can change them whenever they want, and once we have signed up we are stuck with what ever they want to dish out. Seems one way to me, they get to do whatever they want and we get to do nothing, I don’t think I want to play anymore, at least by their rules. L

Barbara Whitlock said...

I'd like to clarify factual information on earnings at Helium.

Writers can earn in two ways: (1) They can focus exclusively on submitting ariticles to Helium's Freelance Marketplace (http://www.helium.com/marketplace). They can earn from selected articles without ever participating further at Helium. Many professional writers choose this option.

(2) Most members participate further. Helium accepts previously published non-exclusive articles as well as new content. We offer upfront payments for most channels plus ad revenue share. There are other earning opportunities as well.

Outside of Marketplace writers must maintain one rating star. This takes as little as 10 minutes once or twice a week to maintain. Rating is how Helium articles get sorted for quality. We need all members participating minimally to ensure that all writers help sort the quality.

Helium is a writing community. When you join and submit your content outside of Marketplace we ask you to spend a small amount of time ensuring high quality rises to the top of our shared title groups and low quality falls and moves off the site. At one time Helium did not require this minimal rating participation, but we found that title groups have better quality sorting if all writers lend their insights.

Again, non of this is required form someone only participating in Marketplace gigs from our 100s of magazine, website and -- increasingly -- newspaper partners.

Helium's structure is competitive, and not all writers succeed. We also require members treat each other with respect. Quality writers who can get along with others enjoy Helium considerably. Some do not.

Feel free to email me with questions any time: bwhitlock@helium.com.

Barbara Whitlock
Community Development Manager
Helium.com
http://www.helium.com/users/13060

Anonymous said...

contrary to what helium tells you, speed rating is the way to go as far as maintaining a 'star'. I have not read an article while rating since the star system was put into place. i maintain 2 to 4 stars at all times, and can rate 100 articles in a few minutes. I know im not alone either, but this is the consequence of forcing people to rate, and the reason good articles stay beneath the junk

Randy Godwin said...

You are correct anonymous. Speed rating (choosing between two articles at random) is the reason for terribly written articles being rated on the top of the list.

Those who rate correctly by choosing correct grammar, spelling, content, relevance, etc., are in the minority so they are afraid to rate any articles unless they are obviously flawed.

Another problem with the system is everyone rates like hell at the end of the month because they are afraid of losing their rating star and therefore all the page view money their articles have accrued.

This is one of the reasons people lose their rating stars right before payday. Too bad for them, lucky for the site. What is so sad is the minions, Barbara, Rex, and the brownies all tout the rating system as something all of the other writing sites are dying to copy.

I guess crappy writing must be in demand. This is the reason given for not explaining exactly what a required quality rate is. It's a secret. Convenient huh? In other words, "we can't tell you what a quality rate is but you must do them to get your page view money."

True, a member can still get money by selling marketplace articles, but if Helium has 200,000 members writing, then most aren't going to be getting a big check.

The contests have been a joke for a long time. Writers write to specific titles in a subject. The more titles a entrant scores high in, the better the chance to earn a measly few bucks. An entrant can wait until several articles have been written on a title, take the best information from each and post an articles at the last minute and win. What is even more irritating to the losers is after the contest is over their articles may be in first place in a few days. The contest is not about having the best article, it's about timing and using other's ideas. Sounds honorable doesn't it?

Ms. Whitlock said "quality writers who can get along with others enjoy Helium." She should have added "as long as they keep their opinions to themselves and believe everything we tell them, and oh yeah, it helps to bury your head in the sand."

I am more than glad to be banned from the site. Now, if they would remove my name from their site I would not have to suffer the humiliation of my articles being posted on Helium. I cannot stress this enough, do not participate on this unethical site, and please do not read any of my articles there, Helium gets all of the money for them.

Randy Godwin

Anonymous said...

Helium.com is every bit the theiving ripoff that many comments here portray. I take responsibility only for not having read columns like this one before signing up and agreeing to let them steal my writing while maintaining no control over its content once Helium.com decides to lock you out, banish you, or you get angry and tell them you want your account closed. They will do this quite readily while not telling you they keep your material and your money. Say anything critical, negative or constructive about Helium.com practices and you run this risk. I should have been immediately suspicious when I realized there were no user options for an account other that to ADD information, not delete it. The same goes for articles except when Helium.com wants to do that. You have no control, no choice. They keep the materials and your money and you are sent packing.

Randy Godwin said...

It isn't just the gamble of losing one's articles on the site, it's having some of the simpleton stewards try to convince members the rule changes are for their own good. These guys are so adamant in their attempts they lose it sometimes. Ms. Whitlock will slap them on the wrists and in a few days they are back sucking up again.

Are these the best people Helium can find? If so, this should be enough to deter most writers from joining. Just read the threads about the rating system, they are always going on. This system not only affects the rating stars needed to cash out on page views, but the amount of writing stars an author possesses.

Do not overlook the fact of some members not having writing stars but easily getting rating stars and vice verso. This seems to show the best writers having trouble rating articles and the best raters having trouble writing well. They swear by their system though, no matter how bad it is.

All in all, it's a pretty sad business it seems. I almost feel bad for the protagonists of this company and they can't feel too good about it themselves. If you are still a member, get out while you can, if you are thinking about joining, read the above comments from people with experience.

Randy Godwin

Anonymous said...

I have been with Helium since about 2006, and was a "steady" contributor for about eight months of that time.

Last year I cleared about $1000 from doing about 8-10 hours/week for the first four or five months of the year. Right now, doing just enough rating to keep my "rating stars" up, which is a new requirement of Helium, allows me to get about $25-50 per month for a total of about 1-2 hours work.

This isn't outrageously stupendous pay, but, I've had several articles purchased from Helium, won several of their contests, and it made me enough money last year to buy a new computer.

Alan Fernald

Anonymous said...

I see there are several very vocal people here who want to make Helium seem like a company hell-bent on stealing everybodies money.

They talk about being banned for seemingly no good reason, or having their articles "stolen", etc...

To Randy:

I'm sorry, but as far as I'm concerned, tough. It's called a contract. You "agreed" when you signed up that Helium had rights to any and all articles that you wrote on the site, and also, you agreed to the fact that THEY could arbitrarily change their terms of service at any time.

Legally, it is called a contract of adhesion.

Personally, I think you are wasting too much of your time trying to make a point because YOU think they were unethical! I remember YOU raising a large "fuss" on the Helium forums, and I remember Helium (up to and including their CEO) being EXTREMELY tolerant of your flames and accusations (though many of the other members were not) for a period of several weeks (maybe even over a month?)

You now complain that you cannot get back into Helium to change your Pen Name, and thus your name is "attached" to Helium? But during all that time you were bickering and whining and insulting others on their forums WITHOUT getting banned, could you not have changed your pen name? It takes about 30 seconds!

Please accept responsibility for YOUR inability to read the agreement. They have to make money to stay in business, and though you MAY have a case about their statement about "in perpetuity", you can claim that you were mislead, and they can claim that you simply misinterpreted it.

Anyways, we went over all this many months ago on the Helium forums. So guess we shouldn't fight it again.

Alan Fernald

Anonymous said...

What's really amazing to me is that any legitimate website would feel the need to defend itself on a blog!!

Apparently you morons don't understand that these things die when you stop trying to defend yourselves against what amounts to differing opinions. Case in point, the last entry by Mr. Godwin was 3/22, and the thing had died until Mr Fernald decided to bring it back to life!

Of course, anyone who would sing the praises of Helium is not the sharpest knife in the drawer anyway.

Rant on moron defenders!!

Randy Godwin said...

Hello Alan,
I am truly surprised you are commenting on this thread especially without Rex to hold your hand and remove the posts which make you look foolish. Have you noticed the archives in which our confrontations took place have been deleted? What a coincidence. You say you aren't a steward, Rex says you are. Both of you can't be telling the truth can you?

But I'm glad you feel you had to get involved because perhaps you can tell me how far the TOS agreement would have to go before you didn't agree with it. Is there a limit on what they can hold a person to? If they decided to take your first born child would you just say "well, I did check the box on the Users agreement." I don't think even you would go for it.

Seriously, give me your cut off point. How far would you let them go. Could they change it to say "from now on Helium is the literary agent for anyone who has signed the agreement."

I do resent you saying I insulted people on the forums. I was polite to people until I was insulted by them. I have been called many different names on the forums and in the secret stewards forum. I have been lied to and banned for exposing what liars Helium has running things.

Helium denied paying the volunteer stewards. I called them on it and they finally admitted I was right. The reason I was banned was also a lie. I now find my articles for sale on the internet without my permission.

And as far as me wasting my time is concerned, who the heck are you to be deciding how I spend my time? This is the attitude of many Helium minions, they know what everyone else should do. Ye Gods!

Helium's CEO? He didn't have the nerve to answer my phone call after banning me, confiscating my articles and my account money. Sounds like an upstanding individual doesn't he?

Anyway, I'll be waiting for your answer about the TOS.

Have a nice day.

Randy Godwin

Anonymous said...

Randy,

Tis funny...

I have not done anything "official" with the Helium website since about September of 2007, so... when I say I am not a steward, it is because I am not. Before then, I was taking care of some of the things that are currently handled by stewards, but as Helium grew, I could no longer spare enough time to keep it up. For about four months before that time, I was very limited in what I did or was able to do because of time constraints.

As far as our confrontations, I remember on many occassions being personally insulted by you.

In regards to having to have someone hold my hand... I guess you can have your own opinion, but... you are wrong.

As far as your question about the TOS: If Helium made that change, I would realize that they have that right under the terms of the contract I agreed to, and would walk away and not write anything else for them. I agreed that they could have non-exclusive rights in perpetuity, and that also allows me to publish those same articles elsewhere where exclusive rights are not required. Those articles I have that I want exclusive rights to, I do not post on web sites.

Cheers,

Alan

P.S. Sr. Anonymous, if it is not clear to you, I do not represent Helium in any way, shape or form. However, as I prefer to make sure the truth is known, and as there have been many things in this thread that are completely incorrect or misleading in the way they are stated, I decided to make the post.

Of course, I am grateful for your extreme eloquence.

Anonymous said...

Of course, the defenders choose to gloss over things like Helium staff directing stewards to spam the Better Business Bureau;

Barbara Whitlock
Administrator
Board status

Writing:
Posts: 11692

Need everyone's help here - take a minute to reverse a wrong!
« on: November 08, 2008, 13:19:14 PM »

It looks like a few members have complained about helium to the Better Business Bureau, when clearly they have not understood how things operate here or availed themselves of help offered.

Can you take a minute to give a positive rating of Helium here. Need everyone's help!

Better Business Bureau

They also gloss over how Helium hides things like special rating privelages for stewards from the regular users;

Barbara Whitlock
Administrator
Board status

Writing:
Posts: 11727

Please be more cautious about steward info and privleges-not on main forums!
« on: November 08, 2008, 13:32:37 PM »


Stewards have directed rating capability, but other members do not. Please do not mention this in the main forums.

Stewards can let us know of title groups that need rerating. Other members should not know about this, because we will be flooded. Anyone not in the number 1 slot will want a rerate.

Please folks, be careful about what you say in the main forums!

Thanks

If it's worth $50.00 a month for you to lower yourself into the pits, then by all means, go right ahead. If you think for one minute that they won't step on you, then you are probably in for a rude awakening.

Randy Godwin said...

Thanks for your reply Alan. Obviously you and I have had different experiences on Helium. I am puzzled by your loyalty to a site you claim you have little to do with anymore.

I really wish one could still access the archived threads. I am curious in what way I insulted you other than disproving some of the statements you made on the forums.

I assume you didn't read the thread concerning me in the private stewards forum since you say you weren't a steward. This was when I revealed that "some" of the stews were getting paid. I had no problem with people getting paid for the extra work they did but calling them "volunteers" was simply a lie.

Giving them special rating privileges also allows them to rate in any channel they desire. This taints the rating system despite what the staff says. Why does a steward need to rate outside of their own channel?

But you know all of this. I don't think you've had the same experience dealing with the staff as I have or perhaps don't have the same idea about ethics and honesty. Perhaps I am naive to expect others to keep their word where money is concerned.

This is one reason our country is in the shape it is. These types of agreements allow companies to go beyond the extent of ethics and law because they are allowed to do so by our justice system. Oh sure, you can take them to court but this entails a large expenditure of money on the complainants part. I do not feel this is how our forefathers intended our justice system to work.

I guess the most amazing thing to me is why Helium would choose the people it did to run things. The lack of abilities exhibited by main staffers and many stewards should be a warning to those thinking about joining the site. It is not uncommon for them to have to censor their own words on a thread.

I do appreciate your comments Alan. It shows how many are completely taken in by them despite the obvious corruption exhibited there. And if nothing else, you've made a few "brownie" points by defending them.

Randy Godwin

Anonymous said...

Randy,

You are right, I do not have access to any "private" boards, so anything that may have been discussed on them is secret to me.

As far as being "taken in", all the allegations you make, true or not, make absolutely no difference to me. For example:

1. Helium paid their "volunteer" stewards. I know of many companies who compensate volunteer workers in some fashion or other. This neither makes the stewards emp employees nor does it take away their volunteer status.

2. Stewards have "directed" rating ability. I know this was one of the features that I personally would have loved to have. The principle reason is that as I have written to so many different categories, I was forced to rate seemingly everything. However, I would have included a clause to that in that anyone who could perform "directed" rating could not participate in any contests.

3. Helium has "secrets". Good, every business has them, and they have neither a requirement nor a responsibility to reveal any information about their programs to their own employees. They have even less of a responsibility to reveal their internal policies or procedures to non-employees. This is true of any business, but moreso for internet companies such as Helium that have folks investigating every little nuance of every word they put out looking for holes they can rip into. I think even you will admit that this is similar to what you have done :)

In regards to why I posted here, as I stated earlier, I simply posted my own experiences. I saw many people posting their negative experiences, so I replied with my positive experience.

Of course, you want to believe that there is no way possible that others could have a positive experience at Helium, and that those who claim it have been "taken in" by "them". Fortunately for Helium, it seems that there are enough people that have had the positive experience at Helium that it looks like they may be staying in business for a while.

Anyways, you have your personal vendetta against Helium, so... I wish you well in your quest.

Alan

Randy Godwin said...

Alan, since you admit to not knowing what goes on behind the scenes on the stews forums I can understand why you are uninformed as to how things really work on Helium. It makes me wonder where exactly you do get your info. I suppose you are going on your personal experience there but I doubt you've personally wrangled with as many of the minions as I have.

Perhaps if they ban you for an untrue reason you might understand my motives better. But then again, you may be a person who just takes things sitting down. I personally hope you don't encounter the same treatment I and many others have experienced on Helium as this is what I am trying to prevent.

I think the words "unpaid volunteers" are clear enough to get the meaning across. You mention compensation "in some fashion or another." I have no problem with this as long as this is clear. Don't make it sound as though people are doing this out of the goodness of their heart.

You didn't mention how you felt about some of the stews getting paid while others were completely unaware of any "compensation." Do you remember the deleted backlot thread where a steward was heartbroken when she found out others were getting paid while she was working her butt off and getting nothing. This is slimy and there's no getting around it.

The directed rating enjoyed by the stewards is mentioned very little on the forums. Recently when a member asked about rating in other channels a new steward said " it's simple, just choose the channel you want to rate in and begin rating. I began laughing out loud and wondered how long it would be before this comment would be deleted. It disappeared very quickly.

As you pointed out, this plays a large part in the rating of contests and any other submissions on the site. This allows repeated rating of certain articles by the stewards further skewing the results. But besides all this, it is not fair to the members who may work all month only to lose their rating star and therefore any money they should have received. This is being discussed daily it seems.

You are right that companies always have secrets. I have no problem with this as long as the secrets are ethical and the members aren't being lied to as in these other cases. But perhaps you think lying is okay too. I really do not think this is the case though.

You have posted on the Helium forums in the last few days despite your claim of not participating on the site lately. This is my own "vendetta" as you put it and I will continue it as long as this type of unethical conduct is condoned on the site. And, I am not alone in this quest.

Randy Godwin

Anonymous said...

Randy,

Actually, if you scroll up, you will see that I did not say that I no longer participate at Helium, I said that I very rarely had time to do much there because I do hot have much "extra" time.

I am actually relaxed now, because this will be the first week (out of about the last six months) that my total hours worked is below 60, and my own person classes (I am also a full-time student) do not start up again until May 1. Combine this with having a wife and two children to take care of, and you can see that I generally do not have time to do anything. The only other break I have had was taking my kids to Branson, MO for three days during Spring break.

All that I have basically done over the last few months is rating (to keep my stars and thus my "income" going), posting infrequently on the forums, and editing articles to improve them. In fact, I just checked and the last article that I wrote was on 11/23/08.

So if you really want to check it out, review my posting history on the forums (which is where I seem to spend most of my time nowadays) and you can pretty much narrow down my level of activity.

Cheers to you,

Alan

Randy Godwin said...

Alan, I do think you are sincere in your posts, but again, you've obviously had a different experience on Helium than others. Some people do not question changes in policy on this site and simply go along. If they do not, they are banned and their articles and work on the site go for naught.

We differ in our outlook towards this type of behavior and there's nothing wrong with having a differing opinion. At his time on the site there are members, with writing stars, who cannot relax and enjoy writing because they constantly worry about losing their rating stars at the last minute.

This means the page view money earned by the authors articles will go to someone else. It doesn't matter how many rates a member does, if the percentage doesn't reach 75% no money will be forthcoming. Before the change a member received this money no matter what.

Many complaining about losing their stars on the last day have writing stars. In other words, they can write a good article but don't have the ability to choose the better of two articles while rating.

The rating system is screwed up and everyone knows it. Helium staff cannot admit to this and get angry when someone mentions it. The first thing mentioned by the stews and staff is "sour grapes." Then it is, "if you don't like it,leave."

You know yourself there are terrible writers who have writing stars on the site. Sometimes the #1 ranked articles is filled with grammatical errors and run on sentences. There is no way rating and writing stars mean anything on Helium. It is funny how much stock starred writers put into this system. If a writer gets writing stars they get a false impression they can write well. This does more harm than good.

Again, I do appreciate your input as it gives me an idea how Helium has lasted as long as it has. I suspect it will only get worse as members are getting fed up with the new controversial requirements.

Enjoy your time off.

Randy

Anonymous said...

Wait for me to lose my temper.. I still like Barbara, but I have something ((grins))
Hey guys you can write me at bugsey@heliumasia.com... hahahhaha! I was so pissed with this.. http://www.helium.com/smf/index.php?topic=45688.msg700815#new

if I can't use the word PENIS because it may offend a Muslim doctor, I think something is definitely wrong.
Oh but they do pay. Will tell you in ANOTHER SITE (Ohhhh.. la lah!) when they don't anymore :)

Anonymous said...

I was a steward who got paid, and was told to keep it hush. I did, because they were paying me every month. I have nearly 600 articles on there, but the money has dwindled to nothing, so I have basically abandoned the place.

HWL (Helium Was Lame)

Marisa Wright said...

It's interesting how Helium excites such passion in people! Those who are Helium fans seem blind to its faults - almost like a cult - and those who've been banned or mistreated are vitriolic.

I wrote over 200 articles on Helium before I realised what a poor earner it was. I was a major contributor on the forums at one time, even after I stopped writing (Barbara called me the "gadfly"), because I felt it was important that someone didn't let them get away with vague and inaccurate statements.

Helium is not a con. They don't promise anything they don't deliver. They only promise to pay, after all, not to pay well - and the fact that you can't delete your articles is there in black and white.

What is wrong, in my view, is the way they change the rules so often. People who wrote short articles in the belief they would be paid "in perpetuity" are now finding they're being deleted, and they have to maintain a rating star to get paid (so it's no longer truly passive). Who knows what the next change will be?

The other sad thing is the way the forums have been shut down. I have to defend Barbara - I found her to be helpful and responsive when I was on the forums. Now they are presided over by Rex Trulove - whom I used to think was a great guy - like some kind of forum Nazi. Threads are closed or deleted if anyone dares say anything too negative. I've even heard Rex say his job is to "defend" the forums - what does that say about the chances of open discussion? He even made a veiled threat to ban me just because I challenged him to justify an outrageous statement, and he couldn't.

Note to Lisa Logan - Helium is no use for free promotion, because although you can include hyperlinks in your articles, they are all no follow.

We Can't Tell You said...

Marisa- Yes, I agree with you completely. As I have said, Helium pays.
Hahahahahahah... I also agree with you that Helium is like a cult. Rex Truelove gives you the first impression that he's a nice guy then he jumps on you when you say something he doesn't like on the boards. There's also Grace Alexander who recently wrote that those without writing stars have "crummy writing" hahahahahhahah!!!
Their publishers must love crummy writing because I sell my articles at their Marketplace.
My advise, NEVER to put ALL your articles in one place. Be pragmatic, AC and Constant Content is THERE. Also, remember that you can re-sell your articles in Helium at Constant Content ( I do that) or BETTER, come up with your own domain and put ALL your articles there.

Any comments? bwahahahah email me at bugsey@heliumasia.com

PS: Be brilliant when you choose your domain name!

David Arthur Walters said...

Has anyone noticed the last sentence of the Helium Writer's Agreement below in reference to deletion, or has this sentence been recently added?

"Helium Writers Agreement
By checking this box I agree to:

This article is my own creation and not copied from anyone else's work nor is it a duplicate of another article of mine on Helium. I certify that I own all rights to this material and grant Helium™ a license to publish it according to the terms of the Helium User Agreement. I understand that my account will be deleted if I copy another member's article or if I am found guilty of plagiarizing any content. I also understand that I will not be able to delete the article after it is posted."

please contact me: helgalian@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

"I have to defend Barbara - I found her to be helpful and responsive when I was on the forums. Now they are presided over by Rex Trulove - whom I used to think was a great guy - like some kind of forum Nazi. Threads are closed or deleted if anyone dares say anything too negative. I've even heard Rex say his job is to "defend" the forums - what does that say about the chances of open discussion? He even made a veiled threat to ban me just because I challenged him to justify an outrageous statement, and he couldn't."

Marissa, I have to agree wit you about Barbara. Barbara isn't the Nazi type at the boards-- Rex is "plastic" (good guy in disguise) and is an asshole.(OK?) Grace Alexander is the Prozac Lady. In fact, even Janice seems to be alright.
Oooops.. Rachelle is someone who needs some sense of importance lest you "fall in the stars".But still, that's okie, she's not as obnoxious as Grace Alexander and Rex Trulove (heck!!!! whatta name!!!)

David Arthur Walters said...

Barbara Whitlock is in fact a great person, but she is apparently a paid employee of Helium and one who is not about to disagree with its policies.

Indeed, I hurt her feelings when I asked her how as a writer she could tolerate the abusive policies at Helium - I was thereafter ordered by Helium management never to email her again.

I notice that someone mentioned that John Rozen threatened a Helium Head for exposing its gaseous nature. Mr. Rozen also threatened me, saying criminal action would be brought against me in the Federal court for signing up and publishing (without any attempt to hide my real name, and without any notice that I was barred from the site) dialogue between myself and Ms. Whitlock and Mr. Ranalli. But I don't blame him, as I had pointed out an fatal, self-defeating contradiction in his Helium rhetoric, and had also stated that Helium MAY be in violation of the computer crimes statues.

I am gradually (as a former Helium Head and so-called Citizen Journalist) reporting on my relationship with Helium, and shall soon provide the "content" of my interview with Mr. Rozen, at my Google-hosted blog site:

www.heliumsagas.blogspot.com.

Anonymous said...

I purchased heliumasia dot com but I frankly feel that to give another website that much importance would make my site boring.. dunno.. maybe I'm wrong.

I have pestered Barbara a LOT, and there wasn't an instance that she seemed less than straightforward. I (and so many believe me) annot say the same of Grace Alexander whom her "fans" (bwahahaha) call MIss PMS. Neither do I trust Rex Trulove not because of his name which is none of my business BUT because anyone who comes across "too goody goody" is not real. I dunno, I may be wrong.. let's see. But I shall visit your website!

chavie

The Old Man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Arthur Walters said...

Why was the following post removed? Because of threats from Helium staff?

The Old Man has left a new comment on the post "Victoria Strauss -- Helium":

So, Barbie Whitlock stops by to defend the scammers! I'll reveal myself, I won't hide behind anonymous. They can't hide what they did to ME!

I had spent 18 months, over 100 articles. I watched poorly written, poorly punctuated articles move up and overtake good articles. In fact, I had a professional editor check the site. She was stunned that such people could get rating stars while the good writers would receive nothing.

I asked the professional editor and writer to submit something to see how it would do, but she declined. It was smart of her.

What bugs me the most (Aside that they robbed me of the funds I should have had by changing the rules, without notifying us of the changes, or allowing us to get our funds and leave) was the obvious stupidity of some of the writers. They'd use "Effect" rather than "Affect," or "Then" instead of "Than," or "Of" instead of "Have." While I am not perfect in my own grammatical usage, the mistakes in verb/subject agreement were also common. And yet, those articles would hit #1. Excuse me?!

When I left, I posted one final thing about that problem, and said that I was considering having a lawyer look at it. I DID have a lawyer look at it, and they deleted the post, claiming it was a threat. Of course, my lawyer said otherwise.

Helium: Where you are scammed. STAY AWAY!

Charles B (Ex-helium member, and still angry after a year)

Post a comment.

Unsubscribe to comments on this post.

Posted by The Old Man to Writer Beware Blogs! at 6/20/2009 5:08 PM

Anonymous said...

Mr. Trulove and all the other Helium cronies! They make you laugh with some of the idiotic stuff they say at times. The advice from Rex is truly vomit inducing at times and has anyone read his 'fantasy' novel online? This man calls himself a writer? It is without a doubt one of the most awful pieces of fiction I have ever come across. I could not get past the first couple of pages. He is one of the 'heads' at Helium which shows the the caliber of people they attract.

David Arthur Walters said...

Marissa, You're correct about the continuous changing of the rules. You will notice that the adhesion "agreement" provides for changes of terms without notice. In effect, there is no valid contract at Helium, just top-down dictation. David

David Arthur Walters said...

Take this change for example:

“As you may be aware, Helium recently changed its policy about accepting contributions from every country around the world. Helium.com instituted this policy as a result of careful consideration of its members and its publishing partners.”

(Every Helium.com participant was not aware of this new policy until frustrated members posted it in blogs. The email was originally sent to participants in foreign countries where English is not the native language, although English speakers in those countries may speak English better than many Brits, Americans, Canadians, et cetera. We suppose they will have to move to English speaking countries if they want to contribute to the enterprise, or at least set up virtual addresses in those countries. However that might be, Helium.com did not ask its members to consider whether or not English speakers from foreign countries where English is not the native language should be discriminated against. Its policies are simply “instituted” i.e. dictated or imperiously handed down. Helium.com is not a writers’ community, cooperative, or “open” WEB2.0 social network as its administrators occasionally imply. Quite to the contrary: even constructive criticism is routinely deleted from its site. There was even less consideration of the will of its members in reaching this dictatorial decision on linguistics than there is consideration paid for content pursuant to Helium’s perpetually changing, non-negotiable, “take it or leave it”, invalid adhesion contract. The great majority of writers receive no consideration whatsoever for their “contributions” because, regardless of the quality of their work, they never reach the $25 payout threshold. The fact of the matter is that Helium Exchange Inc is a Delaware corporation, registered to do business in the State of Massachusetts, whose sole interest is produce a profit for its owners. Its ability to do so is naturally based on its financial resources, its business plan and organization structure, and the abilities of its officers, directors and employees. It is obviously wasting its financial resources on a business plan quite similar to the plans of many other Internet publishing companies that have dismally failed their investors and the writing community because of their closed, hierarchical structure and lack of consideration for and underutilization of the intellectual capital they believe they can inconsiderately exploit for content.)

Anonymous said...

To start, I want to thank Mr. Godwin for his commentary. His numerous blogs (and others) have helped raise awareness and expose contractual nuances when "writing for Helium". The vigor and sheer mass of criticism against this site merit initial skepticism and for me, much more. The lack of transparency and integrity described here are deplorable, and I am happy to report that Helium.com will not squander nor benefit from my work. Thanks again,
-JK
To other writers: regardless of your expertise, if you are passionate for the craft, monetary reward and/or fame should hardly supplement your motivation.

David Arthur Walters said...

I see that Helium has managed to get Eddy Saloman, a blog moderator at:

http://www.workathomenoscams.com/2007/08/29/is-heliumcom-helium-a-scam

to delete excellent criticism. I have seen several good posts disappear right after Helium's representative Barbara Whitlock posts on the blog.

CVRajan said...

I have been writing in Helium from India for more than one and a half years. I have earned more than $800 from this site and I am currently a 5-star writer there.

I can vouch Helium is not a scam. I have won twice in Helium contests. I have earned mostly from upfront payments (earlier, rewardathons). I have sold a stock content.

I am one of Helium's strong critics at Helium discussion boards. I too have critcized about their "changing rules mid way".

I also know that Indians are currently barred from entering into Helium and some existing members were chucked out too. I have strongly expressed my opinion about this discrimination in Helium discussion boards. I am for quality in Helium. But it should not be in the form of banning a whole country, without looking into individual merits.

But I can vouch that Helium is very highly democratic in their functioning. When accusations mount beyond a level on any new policy or payment issues at Helium, I have seen Helium taking corrective action.

I write in more than one site. My earnings are maximum only from Helium. Every one finds a niche site ultimately. For some, it may be AC. For some it may be suite101. And for some, it is Helium.

Whether you are rewarded in proportion to your efforts is a totally different question. Those who have tried to make a living by writing in Internet will definitely know that it is not practicable. There are simply too many freelance writers in the web.

Not every one can succeed commercially through their own blogs.

In this particular discussion, what disturbs me is some statements about helium volunteers getting secretly paid. If it is true, I am flabbergasted.

David Arthur Walters said...

CV, Have you or have you not been banned because you are in India?And is not India virtually an "English-speaking" country? Most Indians I know, including the ones who do not like to be called Indians, speak and write good English. And if you have been excluded from the Helium site and your work removed as promised by Helium and as reported by other writers, how can you say that you are a five-star writer there? And are you aware that if your work does remain yet you are inactive, the TOS provides that you will no longer be entitled to earnings? By the way, congratulations on the $800 over 1 1/2 years of work. The main complaint is not about the money however, but because of behavior reported by scores of writers that contradicts your statement about Helium's "democratic" policies - your use of this term makes me wonder at what sort of democracy you have in India. Have you served Helium as one of its channels or guides or in any other capacity?

Thanks!

David Arthur Walters said...

CV, to add to this discourse, here is another email statement by Helium, in reference to its exclusion of foreigners, and HeliumSagas response:

“Because you cannot access Helium, or will soon be blocked from access, we feel it is only fair to remove your content from the site. Full rights to the work revert to you. We recognize that the version of your work that exists on Helium may be your only copy, so we will not begin removing content for four weeks (in mid-July). (For an easy way to copy multi-page articles, click “Print article” in the Article Tools tab on your article page, then copy and paste that version to your computer.) If you have earned over the $25 minimum payout, we will be crediting your Paypal account.”

[Helium censors routinely delete articles posted by writers because they feel those articles are not on the salable topics preconceived by staff, or because the article is considered too short or long, or politically incorrect if not otherwise offensive, and so on. The arbitrary and often ridiculous character of its censorship behavior is a cause of some amusement, annoyance, and discouragement among its writers. The writer will discover that, although his article is deleted from public view, it still remains on the server as a Helium “property” file. But if the writer wants to delete her own article, she discovers she cannot do so, nor can she have her account closed down and her articles removed from public view, although she has not actually received a red cent for her work. If she feels that she has associated with a bad company, she cannot withdraw her work and disassociate from the site. She is referred to an adhesion agreement, which can be changed any time, at the will of the corporation, a clickable “agreement” that supposedly commits her posted work to the site forever, by way of a perpetual license. And if she does not maintain activity at the site, she may never be paid anything for the work she has posted. When she claims that she thought the staff had discretion to delete postings for her, or claims that she did not read the User Agreement every time she posted to make sure she understood and recorded every change in that “agreement”, and when she points out that she is able to remove her work at the half-dozen other sites where she posts articles, she is informed that no exceptions are made, that no work may be deleted at the author’s request, and that this policy is a norm for the industry. In other words, Helium can delete work for any reason whatsoever, but the providers of that work can never do so. Helium’s arbitrary deletion policy and its unconscionable adhesion contract has alienated many writers, who are spreading the word: “Stay away from Helium. It is a mediocre company run by mean people.” If you wish to be a Helium Head and believe that your work has value worth enduring, be sure to back up copies of your articles somewhere else in the “computing cloud” as well as on CDs. Also print out a copy with good ink on good paper for long term preservation. Many Internet publishing sites have failed; Helium.com will probably fail in a year or two unless it changes its way; the Internet itself is not an entirely safe place to store material; CDs will become obsolete and may be unreadable in the distant future.]

“Readers from around the globe are welcome to enjoy Helium's articles. In the future, we hope to be able to offer a full experience of Helium that works well for everyone. Thank you for your understanding, Team Helium.”

[The conclusion penned by Helium’s PR writer is utterly absurd and hypocritical in the context of what Helium has previously stated.]

CVRajan said...

Arthur,

To my knowledge, Helium had a 3-stage action in banning Indian authors. At first round they barred writers whose writes are too poor in quality.

Then they deleted those who were of reasonable quality.

Then they banned entry of any fresh Indians outright.

I escaped the ban perhaps because my quality was acceptable in Helium's "standards" and I simply had too many articles, which may fetch some good money for Helium too.

If you have access to Helium discussion boards, you will come to know that I am one of their strongest critics whenever there happens to be a policy change that turns out to be detrimental to members or that looks unethical.

Despite my very strong criticisms and some very sarcastic posts in the discussion boards, I am still surviving in Helium. I have also seen some of my (and fellow Helium Critics') suggestions, criticisms have been taken due note of and corrective action have been taken in the past.

That's why I say helium is quite democratic.

You see, all said and done, Helium is a commercial organization being run by very shrewd businessmen. They are not running a charity. If some volunteers and stewards opted to offer free service to Helium, it is their own sweet will. Helium as a business organization would not complain!

I have never volunteered any free service to Helium nor was I interested in any stewardship there! Actually there is a very interesting discussion thread going on on this very subject. Only from there, I ended up here, based on a posting from Marisa Wright there!

So, when I, as one of the strongest critics of Helium at Helium boards am stating something positive about Helium, I think you have to give some weightage to it.

Another strong critic of Helium at Helium boards is Tenebris, who too has written something positive about Helium in this discussion.

Please don't think that if we write something positive about Helium, then it must be that "these people have been bought".

Regarding Indian English and English quality. Yes. There are very talented writers with good command over English in India. But such people perhaps may not have been aware of Helium or any such site.

But those who came to know, who found some opportunity to make money may be youngsters, who use Internet a lot, but not too good in writing "correct English"

Anonymous said...

http://www.heliumasia.com/2009/07/dishonesty-and-disrespect-for-writers.html

Helium is NOT a partner of the REAL Pulitzer. See letter I got from the REAL Pulitzer.

David Arthur Walters said...

C.V. I certainly did not intend to imply that you had prostituted yourself to Helium, or that I do not approve of people who enjoy contributing to the site. As for Helium being a "shrewd" business, but I do not think the management or the investors are very shrewd at present but they might wise up even to the point of survival and prosperity. I congratulate you for the favorable discrimination you have received - as a matter of fact, I recommended to Mr. Rozen that he favor talented people. Again, on the subject of censorship, I am glad to hear that yours has not been deleted along with hundreds of comments that might cast policies in a bad light. Unless the policy has changed, I would certainly not brag about not having my crticism deleted. Best Regards,

David Arthur Walters said...

C.V.

Take a look at this critic's take on Helium's censorship policy:

http://blogcritics.org/scitech/article/heliumcom-censors-content-deletes-accurate-articles/

I've noticed similar practices at Helium and by Helium writers on their external blogs, especially the ones distinguished by Ms. Whitlock's posts lol

CVRajan said...

David,

Thanks for your balanced reply.

My own son's (aged 19) account in Helium got deleted. He had good writing percentile (above 85%) and had also earned some amount in Helium over about 1 year period.

His writing was of "passable" quality (and he himself says he is not a great writer) but Helium administrators felt it was not a quality acceptable to predominantly US readers. Though he got quite some sympathetic response from several Helium members in the discussion boards (who said they had come across much poorer English from native US writers!), his account got deleted anyway.

But I would definitely accept selective screening and deletion of accounts on case to case basis for the sake of site's quality norms which are definitely improving day by day.

But what is wrong in principle is blocking India as a whole. Hope Helium starts implementing input level screening for new authors soon irrespective of the country of origin. With my experience in Helium, I do believe this will happen over a period of time.

Helium as a business has to have an eye on profits and naturally they will always look for smart ways of getting it. Some of them may even border on extreme selfishness. But, tell me, who is not selfish? How many businesses are altruistic and outright honest?

Take the minimum payout of $25 at Helium. When AC is giving at 1.5$ as minimum, Helium is firmly sticking to their $25 min. They stand to gain by that stand, because there may be many writers who drop off before reaching that
level of earnings.

But from another angle, think of this. Only Helium pays upfront for non-exclusive articles. ANy writer across the globe is eligible for getting it. In AC, non US (+ Canada ??) members cannot get upfront payments. They can only claim their performance payment.

Thus for non US writers, HElium is quite attractive.

It is like this. You see a couple of girls; Some of them do not appeal to you at all for a marriage proposal. You get married to one good looking girl and live happily. Rest of the girls who were not appealing to you at all are found attractive to other guys and they too get married!

David Arthur Walters said...

CV, The going rate for an article of about 750 words before the Internet was about $300 if you were not a premium writer, so you could pick up $900 for three articles. Sometimes you could sell an article for quite a bit more. The average earnings of a writer about 20 years ago was around $25,000 per annum. Are you aware that Helium's TOS provide that some writers are paid entirely outside of the rating system? That is a standard practice, even for some popular blogs. The money however never was of great concern to me for several reasons, not the least of which was being prejudiced by Hindu sages at an early age. What concerned me most of all about Helium was the dishonesty of several of its staff members including executives, and the overall deceptive practices of the firm - by no means unique to Helium. That is why I did not want to have my name associated with Helium, so I asked them to remove the few articles I had posted. Best Regards,

Anonymous said...

You can get all your laughs at my name or whatever that you want. I've lived with that for 53 years, and it really doesn't bother me. Dish it up, and I'll just ignore it. I'm not that much of a child anymore (though I do wish I was a lot younger).

For the record, I never said that my job was to "defend" the boards. My job is to keep them civil. Nobody is banned without receiving warnings. Even then, they are generally banned from the boards, which doesn't stop them from earning.

In the first few months of the steward program, all stewards (about a dozen, give or take) were paid $25 a month. That token payment was for the dozens of hours working on the site, instead of writing and rating.

I personally spend about 60 hours a week online at Helium, and have worked the last two months, every day. I'm not alone. Other stewards work their rears off helping people.

A statement was made a ways back that was basically, 'don't make a claim if you don't know what you are talking about'. That is what is being done in this thread. Many people are claiming things that are either untrue or ancient history (web speaking).

I'm also not Barbara's flunky, and never have been. I've always told her what I thought, even when I was at odds with her. She was always gracious enough to listen to what I said, but in the end, she made up her own mind.

In the same way, I make up my own mind now. I answer to Helium. I've made mistakes like anyone, and will admit them. But I will say that threads are seldom deleted, and only when they get out of hand. Usually a warning to keep it civil takes care of the problem. Only when people want to be childish is this not the case.

Also remember that while I run the boards, Helium staff also does read them, and if something is going south quickly, many of them have the power to close a thread too. Complaints and suggestions are one thing, but something that is nothing but attacking and bellyaching is quite another.

Helium is a great place to write, and it is getting stronger all the time. It is the biggest writing site on the web, and has gotten notice from major publishers. The income opportunities continue to grow.

Is that cheerleading? In a way, I suppose it is, but it is because I've seen the changes over the last 2 years, and because I've spent so much time on the site.

Say what you will of me, (and I've heard a couple really unfounded and uncomplimentary statements), but Helium works for the best interests of the writers.

Bottom line: If you want to make money, write at Helium. If you don't, go elsewhere. Nobody holds a gun to anyone's head, forcing them to write for the site.

In the future, I'd appreciate it if you'd leave me out of the discussion. I run the boards, won't let them be disrupted, and spend most of the rest of my time doing senior steward duties. I've not hurt anyone, and don't intend to start, so I really have no place in petty bickering.

Thanks.

Rex Trulove

(Note: Trulove, not Truelove)

CVRajan said...

Hi Rex,

Welcome!

Of course, as we know each other pretty well in Helium boards, I am quite familiar with your justifiable stand on this issue.

One thing new and heartening here is about your revelation that you (and a dozen other stewards) are getting some "honorary" payment from Helium for your services, though it might be too paltry for the time, effort and the missionary zeal with which you work for Helium.

I am glad that this revelation has come at last. Perhaps such a revelation at Helium boards could have created lots of stirring and bad taste amidst several other stewards who "volunteer", but don't get anything.

That has precisely landed me back to my intellectual hairsplitting about volunteering per se.

I wonder if any Helium volunteer is proposed to be paid a "small token amount" as a way of appreciation, whether the volunteer will refuse saying, "no, no! I don't want it! I am just only volunteering without expecting anything in return! By paying me, you are really undermining the very concept of volunteering!"

CVR

scam mamma said...

Hi, folks. Scam Mamma here. I've just been booted out of Helium with a $25.00 payment for the month due, for supposed plagerism. When I challenged the accusation, they stopped returning e-mails. The only excuse is that the information was somewhere else on the Helium website.

I've read everything anywhere close and the charge is totally false.

So, they have my earnings, they have my work (119 articles) that they'll be paid for and I'm up the creek.

Started my own blog site which will hopefully get the word out.

Please report any new scams there.

Anonymous said...

I was so happy to read that someone had enough guts to tell Rex direct to his face on Facebook that he's an asshole.

David Arthur Walters said...

CVRajan

The last time I examined the TOS, it provided for the payment of writers outside of the rating system. The payment of premier writers is resorted to by well funded 'Web2.0' publishers, and they are sometimes paid handsomely.

David

Anonymous said...

@scammama - I am linking your site with mine. How about someone start a networked blog and i'd be happy to join you guys? We all have our own blogs. Mine isn't ONLY about Helium because there are mire important subjects. Nevetheless, I agree that taking away 300 articles is a "scam".If someone starts a networked blogs, I'll join that "network".

Chavie Cyn

David Arthur Walters said...

In re Networked Blogs, you are welcome to link to my blog at www.heliumsagas.blogspot.com, which I plan on updating soon in respect to Helium's threat to bring criminal charges against me, in the light of the decision recently handed down on the notorius MySpace case. Although any such complaint against me would be abusive of the statute, I was warned threateningly that my defense would be very costly to me - see my interview with Helium's Mr. Rozen. Anyone interested can see my take on the future of journalism, a widely circulated article brought to the attention of two congressmen, which includes comments on Helium.

Anonymous said...

David
I have your link on my site heliumasia.com. I am going to network with you and everyone who wishes to come up w/the network blog can go to David. David, my email is bugsey@heliumasia.com.

Anonymous said...

Hi, folks. It's me Scam Mamma, the latest to be booted out of Helium. They accused me of plagerism on 2 of my recent articles - totally unwarranted (and owing me about $25 for the month.
Although Helium owns the copyright for every article they paid you for, they have no legal right to publish any articles they have not paid you for. I'm going after them on that.
I'll keep you posted on any success I have. If enough of us can get what is owed to us - at least in part - they may just have to shut down their operation.
www.askscammamma@blogger.com

Anonymous said...

I’ve written on Helium about 2 years, and I like it. The pay is reliable; I’ve cashed out every month since I got going, via paypal.

The writing standards aren’t as high as yours, but we don’t argue via name-calling and personal attacks such as I see in this thread.

I have no buddies who are stews, yet I’ve sold 6 Marketplace articles, and seconded and thirded in contests. Nor do I cheat. (Actually, I have exchanged cordial emails with one science steward, and if she gets $25 monthly for her work, good.)

I don’t care about office politics or spouting, so I don’t use the boards much, I just want to quietly write. On Helium, I can write virtually whatever I want, whenever I can, and I get paid for it. If you look at my articles, you’ll see I’m no Tolstoy, but I’m having fun.

Janet Grischy

David Arthur Walters said...

Janet, Have fun! I certainly have no objections to that, not at all. As for name-calling, "citizen journalists" are naturally concerned with the right application of names, and some of the names that you apparently object to suit the subject quite well.

Anonymous said...

I made more than 100 this week on Odesk. I get paid right after I finish and I am happy that I do NOT have to wait forever to GET my payment. I also do not get cents for one artile that's only 400 words and I get a dollar for 300.

If you wanna joinmy team and get paid email me at bugsey@heliumasia.com. Helium was a mistake. That's it!

Anonymous said...

Helium has been a complete delusion.
They delete high ranking and well written articles, if their author has rightful complaints about wrongdoing of some people from the staff at the help desk (actually, I'd should say 'un-help desk'. Beware of Jim L)

Press, News, the Attorney General of Massachussets and other Institutions should make serious investigations on Helium Website. Watch out Guys! Keep far away from it

CVRajan said...

It is highly amusing to see some disgruntled elements with hugely bloated egos who, on account of perhaps some petty ego clashes with individuals in the Helium site, have become unhappy with the site and start mudslinging about the site here!

And that too pointing fingers at individuals in a very cheap and undiplomatic style.

I too have had differences of opinions with persons like Rex Trulove at Helium. But person to person, I know how nice he is and how level-headedly and diploamatically he handles complaints there. His loyalty to Helium is phenomenal. But that should not be a reason for us to do mudslinging on such a nice person.

And now I find people start finding more and more individuals at Helium and start pouring venom on them here purely on account of their 1-to-1 ego clashes!

Come on, people. Grow up from school boyish tendencies!

Anonymous said...

I just wish I had read this blog before I signed up for Helium - after questioning why I cannot delete my articles I find myself locked out of the site - my name taken off my articles which are still posted and still accrueing money - (if mere cents) I now find Helium has infringed my copyright by basically stealing what I have penned - I find this deplorable! If you like vanity press, a grade school star system and perhaps enough money to purchase some candy - then Helium could be for you - if you are a serious writer don't touch it!

Anonymous said...

on one comment posted by CV Rajan,
Dear Sir, Don't You think it is unfair to judge 'boyish' people and attributing them a 'petty Ego' without even considering what happenned to them on Helium website?
How about, finding one fine day, your account deleted, your earning stealed at Helium, no Justification given???!!! Uhm? May be just for right and very truthful observations made to the 'un-help desk' there? How Woould You feel?
I wish You won't find yourself in this situation. But be considerate, please, for others who had to go through it. Certainly, this will inevitably lead to serious Federal investigations into Helium website. Make a search and You will find how many people had been scammed, banned, stealed of money and work and unjustly accused of plagiarism or other lies, without any proof or evidences. Just to eliminate inconvenient witnesses of wrongdoing from some 'inflated ego' among the staff, who clearly works against, certainly not in favour of the site and its contributing writers. I'm sorry, Sir to read these words from You.
Really think, another time, if it were You to go through such injustices there. Will Your comments here, be different by those you judge 'boyish and with petty-Egos'?
Thanks for Your Kind consideration, Sir

CVRajan said...

To the First Anonymous posting above this:

Every website will have its terms and conditions which we are supposed to read, understand and then only join. But, mostly, out of initial enthusiasm, we ignore them and join, only to wake up later and complain!

In AC, your original articles for which you are paid upfront cannot be deleted by you. In Suite101, your original article cannot be posted elsewhere (in websites) for 1 year. You can't delete them unless under special circumstances.

If you have google adsense account in your own blog and if Google finds (or suspects) fraudulent clicks, they will ban you and eat away all your accumulated earnings upto $100 (min payout). No explanation or proof will be given. No arguments. You will be given just 1 chance to appeal and if you are too lucky, your account may escape.

You go to any website that pays for your work, however petty the pay may be, it will have some strings attached to it.

Every business organization has a profit motive. If no profits, no business. Each will have its own sets of rules and a couple of them will be intentionally there, one-sided, to suit their selfish business interests. You can't expect 100% democracy there. As individual, you cannot legally fight with the organization that easily, by spending money and time. At the end, you won't clearly know who the winner is, even if you legally win the battle.

If you are a business owner, I am sure you too will behave in the same way -- keeping some conditions intentionally to protect your selfish interests!

CVRajan said...

To the second anonymous posting just above my previous reply:

I am sorry if I had put my words too strongly in my post above your post. I really appreciate the highly dignified way in which you have replied to my post.

But, frankly, as I said in my previous post, individuals cannot fight with organizations and get justice easily. The person who wronged you may be an individual, but, you see, he is part of the organization that backs him up.

But when you are caught in an issue with the organization and you feel highly wronged, your sentiments only form half of the story. As third persons, we won't really know what's that you did that has been taken to be so serious an issue to call for account deletion. Only an emotionless analysis of facts can throw light.

Think of this. Helium has 100,000 writing members. Even assuming that only 15% of them are active members, it is 15,000 people. If 15 members feel wronged by the site, it is a meager 0.1% of the contented, active members!!

Obviously that does not make the site a scam or fraud.

As I had mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I have had my good share of differences of opinion with the site and stewards. My own son's account got deleted. My discussion board posts have been deleted a couple of times. I have had a couple of deletion of my articles on account of my slip in overlooking the sites' terms and conditions. I have had a one-to-one correspondence with the Chief Executive of Helium on some issues on which I was very critical of Helium.

With all that, I am very much there; I believe that many Helium staff and stewards are still not averse to having a decent interaction with me.

The worst case scenario: Even if my account is deleted, there are umpteen sites in the web which can accept my writing. No one site is vastly too different from another. We only find a niche site somewhere where we are most comfortable and earn our best.

For some it's Helium. Fort some its AC. For some, its S101. For some its Hubpages. For some it's brighthub. The list goes on.

If you are a good writer and write both in quantity and quality, subject to the terms and conditions of the site, you can see success in any site. Helium or no Helium.

But just because our equation went wrong with one site, let's not call it a scam. Who knows, if you start in another site, there will be 10 people there complaining that site to be a scam!

Lisa said...

Helium is a joke. I guess if you're writing for fun then it might be OK, but if you're looking for income, keep looking. Just read the forums there to see what people are making. there's a reason S101 and eHow have better reputations among freelancers, and it's because people ACTUALLY MAKE MONEY there.

C.V.Rajan said...

Lisa,

I have some 20+ articles there at S101 too. But I have (considering the subject I write, my laziness to do any research on key words etc) not made anything much there.

It's key word research, SEO optimization, most popular subject groups that Internet readers seek, and concentrating one one site more than others to put in your maximum articles there - these four are the deciding factors in earning at your best.

As I had repeatedly said in my earlier posts, it's AC for some, Helium for some, S101 for some....

Anonymous said...

I can't help NOT making money and I have no stars to think about at Odesk. Heck, I should thank Helium for deleting my account. Imagine getting ACTUALLY paid?????

Anonymous said...

People.... if you want to earn writing by the hour, try Odesk.com. It's a legit site where professional freelance writers and other service providers work. Right now, I get paid $15 per hour writing a 500-word article that's SEO friendly. Imagine doing this for 40 hours a week and getting paid weekly. Helium.com just cannot match the pay I'm receiving right now... so I dropped out of it - FOR GOOD!

xxx said...

I seem to have been banned from Helium today with no apparent reason, since it was my first month I had already 100 articles 3 witting stars and 25$ in page views I was going to earn over 100$ this month
and was expecting that money until this morning I could not log in and noticed how my articles started to be deleted.
I'm dtill not sure what happened already sent three messages to help@helium.com and even some to Helium members and editors but no answer. So I got scared and Googled for "is helium scam?" this was were I got and I dislike what I have read so far, but 99% of that is far from true... Despite I have been baned from them probably because I went agains't the rules self-promoting 1 article they do pay very well up to 3.5$ per 400 words articles plus the pennys money! If you reach the 5 stars and you can get some help at their web forum, I guess I need to waith to see what happened... Wish me luck! :D

countingsheep said...

http://www.heliumasia.com/2009/11/to-all-heliumnites-or-membersex-members.html

Okay, for all Heliumnites.. Dang, why can't a huge corporation like Helium afford a domain name to identify its followers... Yes, I bought heliumnites.com. OK?

Anonymous said...

I bought Heliumnites.com and I just found out that another friend of mine bought heliumnites.net... so this is called taking over helium by those that Helium have NOT paid... hey Barbara, can I have my articles back?

heliumasia.com

Chris Pearce said...

I think Helium is fine. I joined in February 2008 and have earned over $1400 part-time, mainly from about 25 contest prizes in two stints of several months each. At one stage earlier this year, I was winning a prize or two nearly every week. I'm not a steward by the way. I think the stewards do an excellent job and should all be paid, not just the senior stewards, who seem to be on the site all the time, helping many people every day. When do they sleep?

I've put in my two bob's worth on Helium's forums when I think something is adrift. In mid 2008, I had a post removed (not by Rex) for comparing competitors and suggesting reasons Helium was losing market share. I was sent an email asking me not to go down that path. Had I pursued the issue, I guess I may have eventually been banned.

In mid 2009, I was almost accused of cheating with late leapfrogs in a contest, even though it was about a day before close. Apparently, leapfrogging an article in the lower half puts it back in the middle, which I didn't know at the time. Also, there often seems to be policy changes without announcements, but I guess that's their prerogative; they're not obliged to announce them. Nearly every company makes changes without first running things past customers or members.

Sometimes I think Helium can be a bit quick to jump. But it's a hard business. I think tolerance levels have increased at Helium over time, judging by some of the things people say on its forums these days. There are some pretty robust discussions going on at any one time and I think that's great. My 2008 comments on competitors and how Helium was going would probably not raise a ripple now.

According to Alexa.com, Helium has gone ahead in leaps and bounds. After a flat first half of 2008, its traffic tank has risen from about 6000 to better than 2000, daily reach has increased from around 0.02% to 0.07%, and daily page views have gone from less than 0.001% to about 0.003% of the net. The year 2009 has been a bumper year for writing sites and Helium's rise is typical of them, perhaps due to the economic downturn and people trying to earn a few extra dollars.

The quality of articles on Helium is getting better all the time and there are all sorts of checks and balances in place. It's easy to edit and improve one's articles too. There are many good writers on the site, including English teachers, journalists, other professionals, as well as many older folk who went through the school system in the days when grammar was taught. Many of the articles, although certainly not all of them, are on a par with what you see in newspapers and magazines.

There are lots of complaints about the rating system. It isn't perfect and the exact method of how your rating score is determined is shrouded in mystery. But if everyone rated properly and honestly, it would work quite well. Poor articles would sink to the bottom and good ones would rise to the top. Quality can be subjective though and this is especially true of fiction; what's rubbish to one person is a gem to another.

Luckily, enough people do the right thing when rating and, overall, there does seem to be a correlation between quality and ranking. If there wasn't, no one would have writing stars. I have over 200 articles on Helium and have writing scores over 85% for both creative and non-creative articles, and most of the latter are contest articles. My rating score is also above 85%. I'm certainly not the only one on Helium to achieve these sort of scores. I don't think this would be possible if ratings and thus rankings were random.

(to be continued)

Chris Pearce said...

... Penny earnings can be a mystery too. They're not calculated on a set number of view pages over time, like some sites. Earnings can fluctuate greatly and I tend to think the total amount available for these payments is based on a bucket of money that can vary from time to time depending on how much funding is available after the company's other expenses.

In mid 2008, earnings fell to almost nothing and I have since read that Helium might have been having a spot of bother with Google at the time. I think earnings are comparable with similar sites most of the time and have been good lately. They should rise further if Helium's ongoing surge in business levels (see above) is any indication. There will always be stories of how particular writers find one site pays better than another site.

I don't know how many members have been thrown out of Helium. Judging by the number of complaints, I'd be surprised if it's more than a few dozen, and there are 40,000 active members at Helium according to a recent post on their forum. They claim to be the world's largest writing community. I found a few complaints at the Complaints Board site, the Rip Off Report site, and some other places such as here.

The Better Business Bureau has had five complaints about Helium in three years, the same number as Associated Content by the way. I wonder how many people 'Anonymous' comprises here; it's probably far fewer than the number of postings. At any rate, many improvements have been made at Helium since some of the complaints made on this page.

I've just read a big long sob story by someone banned from Helium for plagiarism who felt it was Helium who had the problem. The person seems to think that if you copy something that is out of copyright, it isn't plagiarism. Maybe Helium should add a note to its site explaining that this is plagiarism too. Actually, Helium's Terms of Service don't mention plagiarism, although there are several mentions elsewhere. There are many types of plagiarism and maybe Helium needs to explain them so that members know exactly what is included.

Looking at the user agreements / terms of service of a number of writing sites, they all seem quite long and complex, and similar. Several have higher payout thresholds than at Helium. Non-return of articles is in Helium's user agreement and I think it has always been there. The Helium model doesn't really allow it. People come and go at writing sites and if Helium agreed to return articles, it could easily lose a lot of them and risk going out of business.

Instead of keeping the earnings, maybe a better policy would be for Helium to donate to charity earnings from articles by people thrown off the site, if it is not already doing so. Perhaps banned writers should be allowed to change their pen name used on the articles.

Helium could put all new articles through a plagiarism checker. Maybe it already does this, or maybe it's impractical, given the number of articles. If plagiarism (or some other contravention) is found, maybe Helium could ask the member for a please explain. If unsatisfactory, the article would be thrown out and the member banned for, say, 90 days. With a second infringement, Helium could again ask for an explanation. An unsatisfactory response would then mean expulsion.

Would this be a fairer system than people logging in one morning to find (rightly or wrongly) that they've been banned (if indeed this is what happened in some cases)? Helium, and other writing sites, may feel this is too lenient. Universities are very serious about plagiarism but I don't believe life bans for offenders are the norm.

(to be continued)

Chris Pearce said...

... From what I've read, I can't see that those banned from writing sites would have much of a case in court. The user agreements are there. Helium and other sites will have reason/s each person was tossed out. Legal fees are very expensive, far more than any lost penny earnings or other income a writer may have earned on articles still on Helium. I can't imagine the police, the courts, or good lawyers would be all that interested.

I've been chasing a guy who runs dodgy schemes on the net and have reported him for fraud, slander, stalking, spamming with malicious intent, scamming, threatening behaviour, false representation, giving a false address, deceptive practices, trademark infringement, and illegal use of a company name. This is surely more than anyone can bring against a writing site or the site can bring against any individual. But the police don't seem interested.

BBB is a good service but they're not in the business of bringing actions against anyone. IC3 and FTC seem to concentrate more on the big-time fraudsters. Often I think the best way to deal with problems (real or perceived) on the web is to post on forums; the parties can have their say and others can make their minds up about who is genuine and who's talking rubbish. People banned from a writing site may not think they get justice this way but it's a whole lot quicker, easier, and cheaper than legal action, which they would probably lose anyway.

People join writing sites for different reasons. Those that join to become rich or even to try and make a living will almost always be disappointed. Nevertheless, with the ongoing penny earnings at Helium, I estimate I could earn in the vicinity of $10,000 over the next 30 years, even if I never post another article. I could do this by spending about half an hour a month rating, but I choose to do more than the minimum. Someone with 5-10 times the number of articles I have, and who keeps posting, and who also writes to contests and marketplace, will receive a handy amount over coming decades.

But it's a lot of work. I think you have to like/love writing, and you can tell from the Helium forums that this is the case for many members. I joined Helium mainly to test the waters for my fiction (in the form of novel excerpts) and non-fiction writing in the American market and could do this with their rating system. I then got into contests and marketplace. I research, write and edit for a living. When I come home, I'm still doing these things, because I enjoy them.

There's been a proliferation of writing sites in recent years. As with just about any industry that is growing rapidly, especially on the net, there are bound to be some shady operators. But I'm sure that Helium and other legitimate sites are here to stay.

C.V.Rajan said...

Christ,

I read through all your postings and I am glad you have made a balanced presentation.

Chris Pearce said...

Thanks CV.

Folks, my three posts above are in reverse order and can't be changed on Blogger, unless I delete them and repost them (perhaps a day or two apart). Note the times on each one. The third one should be read first, then the second one, then the first one. It's in three parts due to length restrictions (4,096? characters per post).

Please also note that 'traffic tank' in the fifth paragraph of what should be the first post (immediately above) should be 'traffic rank'.

Ruth Belena said...

I have no problem with people earning money from writing sites or by writing freelance. My advice to people who do not like Helium is not to write there. It is up to you to find out where you prosper most from your writing and how you develop your own sources of income.

Nobody is forced to write at Helium. If you join because you think it is easy money you will be disappointed.

I choose where I want to write and I have a longterm plan for earning at Helium. I am now at a stage where I earn an average of $10 a day, just from upfront payments, empty title bonuses and daily ad revenue.

It has taken me nearly 2 years to write 500 Helium articles but the experience alone was worth it, and I get a good payout every month.

bugsey said...

hehe.. and I am thankful Helium deleted my account. I get more than 50 real bucks a day at Odesk! Of course, you initially have to accept 2 dollar articles, but what the heck? After that when you get a LOT of feedback, you get to choose your own job and rate!!!!!!

Jennifer said...

If you write for Helium.com, you're taking a huge risk. Helium has taken to closing people's accounts and banning them from the site forever for ridiculous reasons. You can build up a library of content, sure, but if you lose it tomorrow over something that wasn't your fault, it was a waste of time.

countingsheep said...

I write for Odesk and Elance and I get more than a thousand per month. I am thankful Helium deleted my account.Sure< I invested about 30 bucks at Elance and 0 bucks at Odesk but they're both great!

Anonymous said...

Helium is total crap. The only way to use it is to spin a couple of paragraphs from an article posted to a better site. I do this all the time. The articles earn no less than those I spent hours crafting in my first naive weeks at Helium. Placement according to Helium ratings does not matter either. Outside visitors can easily see that most of the Helium no. 1 articles are worthless, and they tend to trawl through until they find some worthwhile matter.

Anonymous said...

Victoria: where were you when I needed you? I have written 22 articles for Helium. 14 of the articles were rated #1. Yet they sent an Email relating that if I did not improve, Helium would delete my account. I deleted it anyway. I was also close to a $25 stipend, had a STAR and was eligble to write for their heralded Marketplace. I recommend thatyou heed Victoria's advice and stay away from Helium.

Anonymous said...

Victoria, you should be commended for your accurate description of Helium.com. It is a complete scam, a mental sweatshop if you will. I'll keep my story short and sweet. I was accused of plagiarism, a totally false claim brought on by other members of the "Helium" community. The reason they did this was, I was a newcomer who wrote over 80 articles in a little over a month and was poised to win 2 contests for $50 each. I had numerous articles written for the Marketplace, I even sold one. With close to $46 in my account, I get an email with this outrageous accusation. When I defended myself, the powers that be at Helium decide to delete 5 more articles within less than 15 minutes. My account was terminated, yet they kept my profile picture up, my bio page, and my stories with my name on them. I couldn't log onto the site to delete anything. I emailed them, told them that since they terminated the account, they needed to remove my image and name from their site. I let them know that while they "own" the articles I was stupid enough to write for their worthless site, they don't own my name or image. Needless to say, after I told them they were breaking the law by keeping my profile active, 24 hours later there are no traces of me left on the site. I'm hoping the fact I can't find any of my articles means they can't make any more money off of me. I would tell anyone who is serious about writing to STAY AWAY FROM HELIUM.COM. The only people who make money are the stewards who work for the company. I learned a harsh lesson, lost almost 100 articles, and will never see the money they owe me.

Anonymous said...

This is to let everyone know, if you feel that Helium.com has taken advantage of you by terminating your account or refusing to pay you the money they owe you, there is something you can do. Report them for internet fraud. Contact the office of the Attorney General for the commonwealth of Massachusetts, they have an online form you can fill out. They also have an Internet Crime Complaint Center, www.IC3.gov. If they get enough complaints about this site they will have to investigate and hopefully shut them down one day

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why so many people are having problems with Helium. I've been writing there for about 2 months. I've made over $200 there without putting in a lot of effort, and I have been paid the money. It is sitting in my paypal account without me having had any problems. I'm pretty sure if I dedicated more time to it I would make more money, but I am at an effort level with it that is comfortable.

There are many people that use the site that make significantly more than me, with several making close to a thousand a month. This is certainly not enough to make a living, but it also isn't chump change.

Occasionally you see crap articles at the top of the heap, but it usually filters itself out over time. Unfortunately, some people don't put much though into rating articles, but I think their rating score probably reflects this over time, which will ultimately lead them to not make money and likely leave the site.

I would recommend Helium to someone who is interested in doing some writing and making a little money on the side. I'm sure if I did this full time I could probably make over a thousand a month, but still definitely not enough to quit the day job. As a way to allow me to write and make a little money from it, though, I think Helium is great.

Anonymous said...

With the recent changes to Helium what was once a reasonable place to make some extra money has become far less. You now must write to specific subjects and as often as not will have your articles deleted because of vague 'standards' even though they are rated high before deletion.

Anonymous said...

Before contributing to Helium, be warned. I posted some articles on there, then decided that I would like to delete them. This is not allowed. So I asked them to delete my name from them, at the very least. They told they would do so, but that it takes a while for the changes to appear. I waited and waited and finally reminded them. Eventually my name disappeared and was replaced with "author name withheld." However, when I go into Google, Bing, Ask, or other search engines and type in my name, I am still directed to these articles. It may say "author name withheld" but anyone who knows me can decipher that I wrote the articles. When I brought this to the attention of helum's "helpers" they told me that this is an error with Google and that I should contact Google directly. Dumbest thing I have ever heard. I wish I had never gotten involved with helium. Take it from me: What you post there will haunt you permanently, so if you take part in writing an idiotic essay on winter crafts or shoe trends, it will follow you to your grave.

Anonymous said...

Probably a little off topic. I was recently banned from Hellium discussion forums. They don't like complaints.

More worrying they are so concerned about negative comment, they put some malware into my computer to prevent me from making further complaints.

I found the file because it appeared on my desktop. I deleted it and I still connot use the forums even when changing my IP address.

I don't think there is anything in their privacy police that allows them to interfere with my computer.

Shame on Helium which is looking more corrupt by the day.