Amber Hilton, a Helium writer since Sept. 2006, has been writing and editing for Helium Content Source assignments extensively and nearly exclusively for a year.

Like many of you, I started writing for Helium as a way to earn a little extra cash. I was a graphic design student looking for ways to earn extra money from home when I read a blog post about Helium and decided to give it a try. At first I wrote sporadically, and when my initial earnings weren’t very impressive, I pretty much gave up on the site. However, after a boost in passive earnings many months later, I decided to give it another shot, and since then Helium has been a steady presence in my life. Helium kept coming up with new ways to keep me coming back, including writing contests and more recently the Helium Marketplace.

About a year and half ago, I moved from Minnesota to Texas, leaving my full-time graphic design job and piles of snow behind for unemployment and palm trees. With almost four years of experience writing for Helium, I decided to give freelance writing and editing a try while I looked for graphic design work in the Lone Star state. I started competing in Marketplace in hopes of increasing my monthly earnings, and was quickly invited to participate in Helium Content Source projects, working with private publishers on ongoing assignments. To my surprise, the projects kept coming in! I got another pay-per-hour freelance writing gig to supplement my Helium income and have yet to send out a resume for a new graphic design job. I now rely on Helium Content Source assignments for the majority of my income.

My writing has improved a great deal in the four+ years that I’ve been with Helium, but the improvements over the past year have been the most significant. Working directly with editors and project managers on Content Source projects has provided me with valuable feedback that has allowed me to start to think about this as a permanent career change. I’m only 27, and I’m already living my dream of working from home in my pj’s, and I owe much of this to Helium.

Why Content Source

For me, Helium Content Source is the Helium experience. I still write articles for the site and participate in the Marketplace and How-To community occasionally, but most of my time is spent working on regular projects for Helium’s publishing partners. It’s crazy to think that a little over a year ago I didn’t even know that these projects existed, and there are still Helium writers who know nothing about this part of the site. Thanks to the hard work of Helium writers and editors, publishers are eager to work with Helium Content Source on ongoing projects.

I’ve worked on many different Content Source projects for a variety of online and print publishers. Currently, my days are mostly spent writing up short neighborhood profiles for cities across the U.S. for a real estate website. I have also written longer articles on topics that range from pet care, to beauty, to popular culture, to health. I’ve also written various “best of” titles about my city for a leading U.S. news provider. I even wrote some pet articles for a book published in print. Some of the online publishers include an author byline, which in turn has the potential to draw traffic to your Helium About Me page.

How Content Source projects work

Every publisher has different expectations and guidelines, but there are some commonalities. If you’ve excelled in the Helium Marketplace, you’re likely a good candidate for Content Source. The process is much the same, with one big difference: once you’ve been selected to work on a project, you’ll regularly be assigned projects rather than having to compete for payments with other writers like you do in Marketplace. Once you’ve been selected and agree to work on a particular project, you’ll either be assigned titles directly or given a pool of titles to choose from. You’ll know the deadlines and guidelines up front and can plan your work accordingly. Some projects have several “batches” of articles with different deadlines that go on for weeks or months, while others are a single batch with a single deadline. Oftentimes, you won’t know up front whether a project will be on-going, because the initial batch of titles is often a “test phase” that will help the publishers decide if they want to continue working with Helium.

Skills you need

The guidelines for Content Source projects are typically a bit more involved than those in the Marketplace, but the idea is the same. Publishers will give you general guidelines in regard to word count, tone, style, acceptable sources and source citing. I’ve worked on projects with guidelines that are a few paragraphs long, while other publishers might get really specific, providing several pages of guidelines and instructions. If you want to do well, it’s essential that you can follow these instructions to the letter. If anything is unclear, the project manager can address your questions. In my experience, it’s better to ask a lot of questions up front rather than to have to rewrite an article that you may have already put several hours of work into.

If you want to do well, you also need to be able to meet deadlines, even when things come up in your personal life. Although I’m fortunate enough not to have experienced this personally, the quickest way to get kicked off a project is by failing to meet deadlines. Several project managers have expressed to me that one of the reasons I continue to get work is because they know they can count on me to get my articles and revisions in on time. I may not be the best writer on the site, but I consider Helium Content Source my career and treat it with the same amount of professionalism. Some deadlines are pretty short (5-7 days), while others give you several weeks to perfect your articles (all depend on the publisher).

Once you submit an article for a Content Source project, it typically goes through a pretty rigorous fact checking, editing and review process. If at any point in this process someone has a question for you or finds an error, they will send your work back to you with a note and you’ll have the opportunity to address the issue. If you’re the type of writer who likes to be done with an article after you’ve submitted your final draft, you may struggle with this aspect of professional freelance writing (I did a bit at first), but it’s essential that you see your work through to the finish if you want to get paid and continue to get more assignments.

Payments & quality content

How strict or picky a publisher is often seems to correlate with the size of the project and the pay per article, although this isn’t always the case. For example, a lower-paying publisher that is trying to quickly populate their blog or website with a lot of content (such as the current neighborhood project), may not have the time to rigorously review every single article that comes through. Don’t get me wrong, they still expect quality content, but you are generally less likely to have to revise short articles that don’t pay more than $20 (given that you follow the guidelines carefully the first time around). However, if you’re working on a project for a health/wellness publisher that pays $100-$200 per piece, expect every single fact to be checked and double-checked. At the very minimum, everything submitted for Content Source projects should be a final draft that you have carefully checked for typos and other errors, regardless of how much the project pays.

Payments for these projects will appear under the “Adjustments” column of your “Earnings & Payments” page once your work has gone through the fact checking and editing process and has been reviewed and accepted by the publisher. Sometimes this process is rather brief, but other publishers take a while to review your work. Generally, you receive payments for your work within a month’s time, and you request payment the same way that you would any other type of Helium revenue.

If you’re looking for ways to expand your Helium experience or “move up” in the ranks, I eagerly invite you to apply for Helium Content Source work. If you can follow directions, meet deadlines and create quality, original content, this is the place to earn a substantial second income, improve your work and potentially transform a fun hobby into a well-paying career.

With Google handling more than 88 billion searches each month, it is important that you’re putting your best work in front of those who are searching for it. You may have your own blog which has its own following, but how do you obtain more followers?

One way to do that is to write a guest blog post. Network with other writers in your niche area and offer to write a post on their blog about something you’re knowledgeable about. Is a current topic trending? Share your view. Provide your insights. That blog post will also link back to your blog or website, giving you more exposure.

You can gain a lot more traffic if you guest post on a blog that is a high traffic site. It’s an easy way to build backlinks, build your readership, gain subscribers and to get other bloggers to guest on your blog.

Major websites and companies do this all the time. Do you really think they write all their posts? Of course not! They reach out to other experts in their field to share their news and expertise.

Just doing a quick search on Twitter for “guest blog post” comes up with a host of options for writers, like this one, “Looking for any lawyers, law students or law-nerds for an upcoming guest blog post @Digg.” We’ve even seen people reach out to fellow writers on Twitter, posing invitations like, “We’d love for you to write a guest blog post!”

Blogger Frank Dickinson talks about his fear the first time he approached a fellow writer to guest blog. “What happens if they say no? How do I approach them? Should I have a set of guidelines for them? What’s the best way to get a hold of them?” Dickinson writes in his post, “3 Tricks For Getting People To Guest Post On Your Blog.”

Interact, engage with, and get to know another writer before asking them to guest blog for you. Twitter, LinkedIn and the individual’s own blog are great places to do this. Dickinson also suggests breaking the ice by featuring the potential guest blogger in a write up on your own blog. You can do this by interviewing the person, reviewing their work and writing a post about what you’ve learned, and retweeting their blogs posts.

If they say yes, provide some structure. Give them a length and a deadline. Talk about topics.

Here at Helium we love to feature guest bloggers. Just this week writer M. J. Joachim shared her story. Interested in being a guest blogger for Helium? Let us know!

M. J. Joachim is a long-standing Helium writer who has found new excitement and opportunities with professional recognition through Helium Content Source assignments.

Writing for Helium has been an incredible journey for me. Like many of you, Helium has been my nemesis, my joy and my rescuer. It has frazzled my nerves, frustrated my impatience and captured my heart. Along the way, I’ve made a few new friends, admired more peers than you can count, and turned my dream of writing into a full-blown career.

Writing on Helium.com started out as a hobby for me. It was therapeutic, and a way to express my ideas, opinions and test my abilities as a writer. At first, I wrote whenever I felt like it. Over time, I made a regular, albeit flexible, schedule. Today, most of my writing for Helium is assignment-oriented, deadline-based work through Helium Content Source. My schedule is still fairly flexible, mind you, but it’s also goal oriented. One of my main goals is to earn a predetermined income each month. So far, I’ve not only met that goal, but on a few occasions, I’ve even exceeded it.

Project and assignment managers found me and asked me to be a participant in a Helium Content Source project, explaining that they were pleased with the high quality articles I consistently posted on Helium.com. I now write dozens of neighborhood descriptions a month for a real estate website covering city neighborhoods throughout the U.S. This amazing program not only pays well, but guarantees that my claimed assignments are mine alone, and once they pass through the editorial process, I will be paid for my work in a timely manner.

Another benefit of working on Content Source projects is the professional environment, which includes interaction with editors and project managers. I’ve worked on some other sites that have editors, and for those of you with similar (negative) experiences, let me assure you that Helium’s program is nothing like them. It is a positive environment where writers, editors and managers work together to meet the needs of clients. Helium Content Source freelance editors are not always right, and writers are able to present their questions and concerns in a civil environment. That’s not to say justifiable rewrites don’t happen, but when they do, writers usually learn a lot from them.

Admittedly, my first few Content Source assignments had me a little bit on edge. It was clear that I had two paths in front of me, one where I could continue writing casually, and another where I needed to challenge myself to meet deadlines, perform in-depth research and address client guidelines and requirements. My choice was easy. The economy was changing, and even though my husband survived every company lay-off, my income was important to the well-being of our family. I chose to climb the writer’s ladder, developing my skills as a true freelance writer. This has resulted in my ability to earn a generous income through Helium Content Source projects, and also enabled me to gain a few outside writing clients who noticed my Helium.com articles as well.

Today’s guest blog is by a, at the time of this writing, 5 star rater and writer I reached out to named Mona Gallagher.  Her list of Helium accomplishments is noteworthy – 5 star rater/writer (as previously mentioned), just shy of 1000 articles (making the previous accomplishment even more noteworthy), has invited almost a dozen writers, sold 4 marketplace articles, has a creative writing badge, and has won a Nobel prize.  Ok, I’m kidding about the last one but her list of accomplishments here is pretty impressive.

If you enjoy Mona’s work make sure to check out her blog and the rest of her articles on Helium.  I read her one on “How to find out if your personal information is available on the Internet” and it was pretty good.  Thanks again Mona.


Writing for public consumption can be a pleasure, savored and rolled about one’s tongue providing the sensation of a fine exotic dessert…but reality says: that’s not what many of us experience as we pound out our articles for Helium or paid assignments for those willing to pay for our written words. Frankly, sometimes the words just won’t appear on the page as we envision them.

We need motivation and we need to find our stride.

When I joined Helium two years ago, I had no problem writing tons of articles because my first choice was to make money through writing for contests. It worked well and I was publishing three to four articles a day to qualify for a cash prize. I made money and that was my primary motivation to stay with Helium.

At the end of my first year, I had written about 700 articles and earned a decent amount of cash, but money was no longer the primary motivation for staying with Helium. The bar was raised on the quality and length of articles and I accepted the challenge by raising my own bar. As I read and rated the writing of others, I sampled the many styles of writing and saw the opportunities for improving my own.

What’s your motivation for writing? It might be the desire to express your ideas and feelings and Helium provides the platform for polishing your writing. Maybe you want to write a novel and Helium is your perfect springboard. Many of us are looking for paid assignments or a steady gig with a publisher, but should you accept any offer that comes your way?

Saying no to a paying assignment is not easy. Why would you turn down such an opportunity? The assignments to pass on are subjects that are interesting but not inspiring. Writer motivation is crucial when writing for publishers that demand specific information and expertise. Research and narrow perspective won’t always cut it for publishers who want a good overall view on the subject matter.

Know yourself and the subjects that draw on your knowledge, experience and passion. These elements may have nothing to do with the work you’ve performed over the years, or they may be intimately linked with your writing. You’re the only one that can make a wise choice of what to accept and what to turn down.

Negotiating with a publisher should be fairly straightforward. Know what the market allows and don’t sell yourself short. If you’re confident in your ability to provide satisfactory services, the publisher should be willing to pay you a satisfactory rate. Anything less makes for a strained writer/publisher relationship.

Become an expert:

For many writers, niche writing is the way to go because you already have the knowledge needed to write a comprehensive article that will attract publishers willing to pay for your services. Several writers on the Helium website are highly successful in Marketplace submissions because of their level of knowledge and ability to communicate that expertise successfully. They deserve success and we’re glad they represent Helium.

If you prefer to sample the smorgasbord of channels and topics, you gain knowledge that helps you mature as a writer and simultaneously sharpen your ability to research and write on a number of different topics. Your knowledge won’t be wasted. You can still sell to Marketplace and you may receive job offers, but you won’t necessarily choose paid assignments that do not reflect your passion.

I once received an offer to write financial articles dealing with insurance and retirement. The offer was not of great interest, not my area of expertise, or my passion. The decision to pass on that offer was easy. (except for the money part)

Helium is a great platform for all motivated writers. The key (I believe) is to know yourself, your passions, abilities, and limitations. That said, have confidence in your writing at the level you have achieved and know that the majority of us are still looking for ways to improve and meet the challenges that beset all writers.

Today’s Guest Blog is by David Elder, who came highly recommended by Kat Apf.  David is our sub-channel steward for Short Stories in the Creative Writing channel.  At the time of this writing he is a 2 star writer and a 4 star rater – a pretty impressive feat when you consider that only 48 of his current articles are not in Creative Writing – which means he must have a 85% plus writing score.  Also, he has a Silver Creative Writing badge – meaning he has at least a 75% writing score there – and considering how subjective Creative Writing is, that’s pretty impressive.

If you like David’s post, be sure to check out the rest of his articles including his Creative Writing ones.  You can also check out his blog.  If you would like to write a guest blog(s), please feel free to contact me via the contact writer feature.


My name is David Elder, and I’m the sub-channel steward for short stories on Helium.com. I would like to encourage new writers as well as seasoned veterans to publish their stories on the site. We search our minds and cast our nets to draw readers to our tales of mystery, intrigue, romance, science fiction, and horror. You will find mainstream writing as well, with all varieties represented, and an impressive body of work that is constantly improving while it grows.

There is great opportunity for any who come to Helium to hone their skills at creative writing, and especially in the category of short story composition. Here you will find a welcoming community, and other writers who are willing to give you their honest opinion on your writing.

In the short story critique area of the Helium main forums, authors of all levels offer their stories for critical comment, and almost always come away with a clear understanding of how to improve their work. Volunteers answer all questions and give advice when asked, helping anyone who is willing to have their writing looked at from a different and fresh perspective. Occasionally there is a flash of brilliance that stuns us all, and reminds us of what is possible in the world of original creative writing.

Sometimes as writers we become too focused on our own work, and we lose the ability to look at it objectively. In some cases, the first instance of true valid objectivity is experienced by those who ask for opinions on their writing on this site. After all, it’s not the same as asking a friend or relative what they think of your writing. While loved ones will tell you what they think you want to hear, other writers will most often provide the best opportunity for improvement.

Another valuable opportunity to have your stories read and commented on are the short story contests, which are offered on a monthly basis in the Tantalizing Tales zone of the Betaville section of Helium. Entered stories are listed and linked on the zone, along with the authors name and the title of their story. The contest awards three winners with featured spots on the zone, with the first place winner given the most honored spot.

Exploring the possibilities of expression is a seemingly endless task at Helium. Writing original short stories has been a fantastic experience for me, and for many others who have finally found their outlet within a circle of like-minded friends.

Today’s guest blog is another by the affable Kat Apf, our Creative Writing channel Steward.  If you would like to read more by Kat check out her articles on Helium.

Titles & The Creative Writing Channel

New members are often confused by the titles in the Creative Writing channel on Helium. Here’s help!

The titles are largely broad. And that’s for a reason. The nature of Helium is for pieces we post to compete with other people’s work. So, if the titles are narrow, others’ can’t add to them and then, there isn’t any competition. Narrow titles in this channel would lead to a lot of single articles in a title.

For example, Poetry: Missing a loved one works. Anyone can add a poem to that title. But, Poetry: Great Aunt Annie’s death, doesn’t work. Not all of us have a great Aunt Annie who died, so we can’t add a poem to that title. Poetry: Death of an aunt would work, though.

Before you suggest a title, use the Title Finder. There might already be a title that you can post your work to.

Here’s how to use the Title Finder:

  1. Go to My Helium.
  2. On the left-hand side there’s a column of red words.
  3. Click on Title Finder.
  4. Three prompt boxes come up: “with all these words”, “exact phrase” and “with one of these words”.
    1. The first box, With all these words, is best to use when you don’t have an exact title and are browsing to find something that might work. So, for your nature poem, you’d type in poetry nature. When I did this search, I came up with 22 titles that had the word nature, nature’s, natural or naturally in them. And I found another 24 that related to nature. That’s a total of 46 titles that could potentially work for you.
    2. If you have an exact title you want to look for, use the second prompt box on that page. When I typed in poetry nature, I came up with nine titles that had the word nature in them.
    3. The third prompt box works best when you don’t have a certain subchannel in mind, but a subject.

It’s best to do a thorough search before you suggest a new title. If after searching, you still can’t find something that works, then, use the Suggest a Title button.

Also, a good thing to note is the way Helium titles are set up in terms of capital letters and lowercase. Helium uses AP (Associated Press) style. So, instead of this:

Short Stories: End of The World

Helium uses AP style like this:

Short stories: End of the world

Note the caps on Short and End and the lowercase on the rest. It takes some getting used to for those of us who were taught how to title work in high school.

If you type your titles out using this formatting style, it’s much easier for the title editors on Helium to process your titles.

A good thing to do, too, is to browse the channel you are want to suggest a title to and make note of how the titles are set up.

Titles seem sort of mysterious when you first join Helium but it’s not all that complicated. Just remember to search before you suggest and to use the proper formatting. That will make it easier for everyone!

Today’s guest blog is by Diane Quinn.  Diane has been a mentor for Helium, is currently a steward, and as of this writing has 4 stars for both writing and rating with over 100 contributed articles among other accomplishments.  If you enjoyed her post, be sure to check out her articles on Helium.  If you would like to be a guest blogger or would like to recommend someone, please feel free to contact me via my “contact writer” link on my bio.


As a new Helium member I already know that you love to write.  However, perhaps it has been a very long time since you fell asleep during an English grammar class. Before I found Helium most of my writing centered around emails which didn’t require a lot of organized thought; and certainly not much editing besides a quick spell check.

Self-editing is challenging because it is difficult to remove yourself from the emotional attachment you have formed to your writing.  The sooner you can evaluate your writing from a purely technical standpoint, the quicker your articles will rise in the ratings.

Following are some self-editing tips that helped me as a new Helium member. I hope that they will help you too.

  • Quickly evaluate your weaknesses.  What mistakes do you keep repeating?
  • Find good resources explaining the basic rules of grammar and punctuation.
  • Choose your words carefully.  Pick dynamic verbs and interesting adjectives.
  • Avoid overly long sentences.  They can work just as well as a sleeping pill.
  • Organize your thoughts and present them in a logical order.
  • Understand what it means to write a topic sentence.
  • Vary sentence structure.  Overuse of “See Spot run.” will only impress a 2nd grader.
  • Avoid repetition of words.  Use the ‘find’ tool in your Word program.
  • Important: read your article out loud prior to submission for awkward sentences and clumsy words. If you find yourself stumbling, do a rewrite.

You don’t have to memorize the rules, but you do need to know that they exist and which ones are your weaknesses.   Books on self-editing are legion and easily obtained, as are websites devoted to self-editing.  Here are a few great internet resources to add to your ‘bookmark.’

  1. http://oregonstate.edu/dept/eli/buswrite/capitalization.html
  2. http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/marks/marks.htm
  3. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/gcomma.html

Today’s guest blog is by Kat Apf who came highly recommended to me for creative writing topics, which is good since she is the steward for the channel.  If you would like to read more by Kat check out her articles on Helium.

Most people who write poetry and short stories want feedback. And there are lots of places on Helium where you can get exactly what you’re looking for. There are many talented creative writers on Helium who are more than willing to give your work a read and give you their thoughts.

If you’re a poet, the Poetry Coffee House is probably where you are going to want to hang around when you aren’t writing. This is good place to post poems and get thoughts/feedback. To be fair, remember to read other people’s work and comment after you post a thread with your own work in it.

Here’s a link-

http://www.helium.com/smf/index.php?board=35.0

If your write short stories there’s an active forum for critiques. Again, many talented writers are there to give you critiques and comments on your work. And there as well, don’t just post your own work, comment on other people’s work, too!

Here’s a link-

http://www.helium.com/smf/index.php?board=225.0

There are many people to learn from who write on Helium. The creative writers are a very welcoming group, too.  Drop by and introduce yourself. You’ll get a warm welcome!

Today we continue our Guest Blogging series with a piece by Jim Bessey.  In case you don’t know Jim he is one of our senior stewards here at Helium and a very active member of the community.  If you like Jim’s writing you can find more of it here at Helium or on his blog.

Thanks Jim.  And now, his thoughts:

Why did my article sink like a rock??

Or: How come that worthless piece of %@#$ is rated #1 and mine is #6?

A group of us were chatting recently about our articles and ratings, laughing a bit about our inexplicable failures in the face of our amazing writing talents. I speak tongue in cheek, of course.

We see this question posted on the Community Boards fairly often, sometimes worded tactfully and sometimes not. “My article is much better than the #1 rated article. Why don’t the raters get it right?” Maybe I’m being harsh here, but that’s the gist of several threads I’ve read in recent weeks.

“The rating system is broken,” was a recent assertion. Same argument, as the post author elaborated: “I know my article is better…”

It’s very easy to understand why some submissions fare poorly in Ratings. Lack of white space. No subheadings used. Poor grammar or spelling. Lack of solid content. Use of sentence fragments – like these! And sure, sometimes articles that exhibit any or all of these shortcomings still somehow manage to rise to the top. It happens because raters are human and no system is perfect.

On the other hand, sometimes we simply cannot explain why an article we’ve written fails to perform well. I have a couple of my own that befuddle me this way. I’ve sought Peer Critique, Leapfrogged using great member suggestions, and re-formatted extensively. I Leap, I wait, I look – and sigh with frustration. “STILL #12 of 12??” I lament.

We write, we listen, we learn, we revise. Our writing is improved through steady practice and by application of good advice. And yet…and yet, sometimes our beloved articles continue to emit a stream of bubbles as they descend to the briny depths.

“But I have 27 Number One articles in competitive titles!” we proclaim, flustered and flummoxed. (What the heck does that word mean, anyway?)

The fact that we have proven our ability to author a well-rated article doesn’t guarantee that we will always win the Ratings battle. “Past performance does not guarantee future results” is the common tag-line on TV ads from contingency lawyers. They say it because they have to, but they don’t believe that statement any more than most of us do. But it’s true!

I’ve got half a dozen real clunkers. They rest on the bottom with the shellfish fossils, even after Leaps and critiques. I went so far as to ask an outside site editor for her opinion on one of those. She replied, “it’s a great article, Jim. Don’t sweat it!” It’s a good thing that the lowest 10% of our eligible articles don’t count toward our blue stars. That gives me some breathing room.

If you’re still reading, you might be wondering: “when is he going to answer the question posed in the title?” I already did. Sometimes there just isn’t any good answer. Some will assert that it’s possible to elevate every piece we’ve penned for Helium to a 90th-percentile spot. I respectfully disagree. Somebody has to ride the caboose, even when all the articles in a title group are well written. Sometimes it’s just your turn.

“That’s not an answer,” you reply.

Isn’t it? Can you write a great article every single time? Are you equally adept, regardless of the subject at hand? Let’s face it: there’s no one magic formula for crafting a top-rated article. Read all the Helium writing guidelines you like, and follow all the best advice consistently. You may be able to get perfect results 9 times out of 10. If so, well done! But still not perfect, is it?

We’ve seen discussions about the shortcomings of Raters here and there. “They should have to take a test,” some say. Wait, who is THEY? “They” are all of us, of course. We each have our own strengths and our own subjective viewpoints. Not one of us is a perfect Rater, any more than we are perfect writers.

Sometimes you just have to walk away. It’s true for bar fights, and true for some of our sunken articles. There’s always another title to write to.

Today begins the first in what I hope to be a semi-regular series of “guest blogs.”  I asked several higher profile and/or personal favorites of the Helium community if they wouldn’t mind contributing.  The contributor is none other than Piper Wilson.  Piper is one of our more… quirky helpers in the community and, from what I’ve seen, very well liked as a result by the community as a whole.  If you like her contribution, you should check out her articles on Helium.

And now, for the main event:

Many of you know me from the Helium Discussion Boards here at Helium.  I am a volunteer moderator for them, and I also run the Writer’s Critique Forum.  I answer questions, provide suggestions and help folks find the answers they need.  What that really means is that I spend an inordinate amount of time running around the Helium Discussion Boards sticking my nose in here and there.

We interrupt this blog to bring you the following announcement.

Come one, come all to the Featured Daily Peer Critique forum and post urls to the Feature My Article for Critique thread! And now a word from the Writing Critiques Forum:

I invite you to come over to the Featured Daily Peer Critiques in the Writing Critiques Forum.  You can submit the url of any article for suggestions to help you improve your articles.  Specifically, I need folks willing to submit to the Featured Daily Peer Critiques if you’d be willing to do that.  If you don’t feel comfortable submitting any of your articles, please come by anyway and throw your two cents in to help out other members.

We now return you to your blog already in progress.

So sorry for that rude interruption, folks!  Where was I?  Oh, yes.

This afternoon, I received the following email from a new member.

“I am new here.  I see your name often in the community.  I know I am supposed to know this, but what exactly does a post mean?”

I remember what it was like when I couldn’t figure my way around the boards.  It feels remarkably similar to what I feel like when I go to Betaville, but that is a topic for another blog entry.

I came up with a visual analogy to illustrate my answer to her.  I became enamored of the analogy, and asked Eric to let me blog it.  First, I’ll explain the overall “geography” of the Helium Discussion Boards with my analogy.  In a later blog, I’ll describe the tools that I use to navigate around them.

Geography – The Helium Discussion Board has the following “places” in it.

  • Index
  • Sections
    • All Things Helium
    • All Things Not Helium
    • Channel Forums
    • Helium Archives
    • Helium Discussion Board Info Center
  • Boards
  • Child Boards
  • Walls
    • Sticky Threads
    • Threads
      • Posts

Now the analogy.

Imagine that the Helium Discussion Forum is a building.  When you walk inside, the first thing you see is the Index; directions that tells you how to get where you want to go. This is like the foyer or entryway.  There are five hallways leading away from the foyer/Index.  These are the sections.  As you proceed down each hallway, you find smaller corridors branching out from the hallway.  These are the Boards.  Some of the corridors have sets of stairs you can follow. These are the Child Boards.  Lining the corridors (Boards) or the stairs (Child Boards) are walls that have threads hanging from them.  The threads closest to the top are more prominent than the threads a bit farther along.  The prominent threads are “Sticky” and the rest are regular threads.

This is where the posts that our new member asked me about come in.  Posts are the messages that appear in threads.

Imagine that someone hangs a piece of thread on the Wall, and posts a piece of paper with whatever they want to say on it.  Then someone else comes along, reads the original post and wants to answer the first.  They post a piece of paper with their statement on it under the original post.   When you click on the thread, it will open and you will see the posts that people have made.

Review

The foyer (Index) looks like this.

foyer_index

The first hallway (Section) looks like this.

first-hallway

The first corridor (Board) and sets of stairs (Child Boards) look like this.

corridor-and-stairs

The first Wall (Sticky threads and regular threads) look like this.

walls

TO BE CONTINUED…                 (no, that’s not a threat)