Helium is excited to announce our new partnership with R.R. Donnelley, a global provider of integrated communications.

With this relationship, Helium can leverage R.R. Donnelley’s vast business network of publishers, content providers and other partners to bring countless writing and business opportunities to our members. Likewise, R.R. Donnelley can now take advantage of the various products and stable of talented writers in Helium’s knowledge cooperative to increase its content offerings to worldwide partners.

To say that the business potential for everyone involved is huge would be quite an understatement. We can’t wait to bring more writing opportunities to our members, as well as continue to show the world what Helium writers are capable of.

Be sure to read the press release and stay tuned for future freelance assignments through the Helium Marketplace.

One feature we’ve always been excited about on Helium is flagging—the ability for members to police the website themselves and let others know about content that is not up to snuff. Flagging is also a way for members to let our team know when something is wrong with an article.

You can access article flags in two ways: A) Through the “User Tools” icon/link at the top right of every Helium page. B) The “Flag this article” button on the rating screen.

We’ve recently given our flagging structure an overhaul, adding some flags and removing a few. We did this to simplify how flags are processed on our end and to give members more constructive editorial interactivity.

Here’s an overview of what our flags are for:

Serious abuses:

  • Plagiarism: Shame, shame. Someone has copied the text of another writer and submitted it as his own work. This could be a sentence or two, a paragraph or two, or the entire article. Be sure to provide a URL of the original work.
  • Adult: Adult: Cover your eyes. The article contains adult content that is inappropriate for teens and young adults.
  • Profane: Does someone need a bar of soap? The article contains curse words and obscene language.
  • Illegal: Cuff ‘em. The article discusses illegal activities or products.

Content issues:

  • Off topic: Huh? For articles that don’t relate to the title — at all.
  • Self Promotion: A member is identifying or promoting themselves, a product or website of theirs or something with which they are affiliated.
  • Incorrect Information: That’s so not true! When you see an article that has incorrect or inaccurate information. Please provide a source URL for your information.
  • Other: An issue that is unrelated to the previously mentioned flags. (Do not use the “Other” flag for issues of spelling, grammar, limited or formatting. Please contact the member directly with the “Contact this Writer” button with feedback. We recommend using the Other flag for these issues only in cases where the writer has turned off their Contact-a-Writer tool.)

Things to keep in mind as you flag articles:

  • Be polite! Your comments will go directly to the member. How would you feel if someone told you if “your writing is horrendous”?
  • Be constructive. Let your peers know what specifically needs to be worked on and how they can fix it.
  • Be clear and succinct. You don’t have much room to leave comments, so state what you need to in as few words as possible.

Flagging for quality on Helium is important for all of us. It improves everyone’s reputation. It brings in business. It increases your earning potential. And it will make Helium the best writing website on the Internet.

We are pleased to announce our Debate Widget partnership with The Eagle-Tribune newspaper of Massachusetts.

The award-winning newspaper is now using the Helium Debate Widget to display debate titles on their website. Check out what they’ve done so far!

For Eagle-Tribune readers, members and partners, read more about how to use the widget here.

(Many of our members may be chomping at the bit to get their hands on Helium widgets. We ask for your patience—they will be available in the coming months.)

“Hyperlocal” seems to be the buzzword these days. Everyone wants information about what’s going on in their neck of the woods, and they want it to be professionally reported and crowdsourced (community provided).

And why not? Many local papers don’t provide nearly enough information that’s usable or it’s “gated” and buried on their site. Their small newsrooms can only gather and publish a finite amount of information. Larger websites that are better at providing this often have information pertaining only to big cities, which doesn’t help folks who live way out in the ‘burbs or in remote areas.

With writers from around the globe from communities big and small, Helium is happy to help where we can. Check out our Local Guide channels for information about your community, such as the best places for a first date in Boston or where to find the best burgers in Chicago. We cover a number of large American cities and are on the cusp of expanding to smaller communities as well.

If you don’t see your town, shoot us a line about where you live and suggest at least 10 titles that would interest folks in your neck of the woods. If we can get them up, you can spread the word to other people in your community and they can also write what they know. Imagine a place where the average Joe can finally share his or her expertise about what’s going on, where to find it or how to do it. And get paid for doing it!