Become a subject-matter expert, show off your expertise, and get rewarded! As part of our release this week, Helium laid the foundation for new Writer Quality Groups.

Every night we run an algorithm that determines the writing quality of your articles. We then calculate which writers fall into the top 10 percent based on those quality ratings and place them in a Senior Writer group for that leaf channel. So, say you know a ton about cameras and love to write about them. If your camera articles show expertise and quality writing skills, you could end up in the 10 percent of writers in the camera channel — you are now a part of the “Consumer Electronics – Cameras Senior Writer” group.

Some Helium writers will notice they were added to Senior Writer groups today. Others will see it happening over the course of time — we run the process nightly to determine who has qualified for the groups.

What if I wasn’t added to the Senior Writer groups in my favorite channels?

Don’t worry! You can:

1. Working on improving your writing (we have lots of helpful posts here in the Helium blog!)

2. Write some new articles to those channels

3. Take advantage of leapfrogging

Every time you write a new article or leapfrog an old one it goes back into the pool to be rated, giving you more chances to advance to a Senior Writer group.

Why Senior Writer groups?

By creating Senior Writer groups, we can now target titles to those writers. These assignments will show up in the “restricted” assignments tab. We’re posting the first batch of targeted titles tonight. If you don’t get one, keep checking back because we’ll be targeting different groups every day.

Or, better yet, use our new Notifications feature to sign up for text alerts for the groups you really care about! Just go to your Account Settings and go to the Notifications tab.

If you do happen to drop out of the 10 percent of writers to a channel through rating cycles, don’t worry, we won’t remove you from the Senior Writer group.

Why am I part of the Baking Senior Writer group?

You may see some you’ve been added to some groups where you did not write much to the channel, but you wrote well. This process is not interested in quantity — it’s interested in quality. We can’t go into depth about how the ranking works, but I can assure you that if you got assigned to the group, you were in the top 10 percent in our quality ranking. So even if you wrote hundreds of articles to a leaf and half of them rated well, if you were in the top 12 percent but not the top 10 percent, you wouldn’t be in the group.

The Creative Writing channel has not been included. Creative Writing is a slightly different beast. It’s not that we don’t love it, but it’s more esoteric than knowledge writing. We are not trying to downplay Creative Writing; rather, we’re trying to recognize the difference between it and everything else.

How can I find out what Senior Writer groups I’ve been added to?

Go to your Notifications tab on your Account Settings page. It’s after Contact Info, Pen Name, Charity, etc. Not only can you sign up here to get text messages to your cell phone, but you can also see which writing groups you are a part of.

You don’t need to have a smartphone. Any cell phone that allows you to receive text messages works! If you do have a smartphone, you can go to HeliumNetwork Mobile on your smartphone browser, click on the Restricted button and accept your assignment right from your phone.

Start getting targeted assignments today by writing high-quality articles to any leaf channel. Need more motivation? Take advantage of our 10 Squared promotion!

Repost from the boards.

Rating is one of a community member’s responsibilities here at Helium.  In order to begin earning on articles, any member must have one rating star (which represents a combination of number of rates and percentages of consistency in rating).  Once a rater has reached five stars, a little bonus thrown in by Helium as a special “thank you” for their efforts.

Each member who rates will do so in their own way. Though it would seem a perfect world if every member rated in the same fashion, this would actually be contrary to the development of the site. Not every web-surfer has the same ideas when searching for information on the WWW, thus it is necessary for there to also be some kind of representation of this variety when evaluating articles at Helium.

If, for example, everyone rated based exclusively on content but overlooked grammar and spelling, there might be a lot of grammatically sub-standard information pieces ranked high and quickly found by outsiders looking for information. On the other hand, if grammar were placed above all other considerations, information could suffer. The community, through rating in diverse ways, contributes to a more thorough rating of any article.

Remembering that an article will pass through a cycle of 9 to 12 ratings by 9 to 12 different readers (read: raters), that article is being seen by 9 to 12 different sets of eyes with 9 to 12 different brains behind them. Rater number one may be a stickler for grammar. Number two may be obsessed with sentence structure. Three would rate down for sloppy spelling. Four would contribute by observing the overall structure of the article. Five might know a lot about the topic and catch some information that is either sketchy or even totally untrue. Six could find the use of FPS (first person singular) inappropriate as a voice for the article in question. Seven sees the formatting as a problem (very long paragraphs, lack of headers). Eight might note a lack of SEO value. Nine might evaluate based on if the article maintained interest to the last word. Together, these nine raters have represented nine general aspects of the edition of an article. Others will contribute with their own, diverse style of rating.

Each of us is totally free to choose how we will rate. I’ve decided to participate by checking on three basic aspects: the introductory paragraph, the use of concise sentence and article structure and the overall formatting of the article. I do not read through both of the articles and try to compare them; I rate one slightly more over the other if it includes these three aspects to my satisfaction while the other does not. I personally find these three aspects to be “important” in content writing (mostly because they are usually “requirements” laid out by the other services I write to….).

Though I don’t emphasize SEO in my own rating or writing,  it is one of the ways we earn our pennies here. There are people who are “good at” checking for SEO and will rate accordingly. I am good at grammar so I quickly catch those grammar problems that might lead to misunderstanding. I am not good at poetry so I skip over those rates. I am good at sentence and composition structure, so I can easily identify when one article presents itself better than the other in this aspect. Any pair of articles that does not offer me the opportunity to check on my three basic aspects is skipped. In this way, I become the cog in the “machine” that always checks for structure, introduction and formatting. Others will check for facts, interest, spelling (though a spelling error in the first five words will get rated down in my book, or skipped at the least!) and so on.

My rating of a pair of articles will not have a great or immediate impact on the overall ranking of any article. 8 to 11 other people, with other criteria, will have looked at that article compared to others in the title before a ranking begins to settle in. At different times of day, on different days of the week, that small group of 9 to 12 people will change. The article will settle into its ranking. I might be unhappy with a particular ranking I’ve received, thus having the opportunity to ask for comments in the critique forum, ask for help from a steward, ask for evaluation from an outside source, leapfrog because I see a trend based on those articles that rose above mine. Writing is not math, all of these aspects must be taken into account.

Finally, a ranking is not a grade. Grading papers as an English teacher, I would never compare one student’s work with another student’s work on the first reading. I would read each essay and grade it according to what that student should be applying to his/her writing according to what had been taught before the assignment was made. However, often when reading several essays, I have had to go back to the first essays read and see if I had been fair. I might have been hard on the first two or three essays for lack of this or that, then discover that almost everyone lacked this or that. This is why the “grade” is not inked in until all of the essays have been read. Each essay represents the individual work of the student, but as a whole they represent the work of the teacher with the class. We are not grading individual essays at Helium but rather trying to create a whole of work. Each of us contributes in our own little way. None of us need be totally thorough in rating, just consistent with our criteria and regular with the actual work of rating.

For those who want to read both articles from beginning to end and compare them point by point, more power to them. For those who only read introductory paragraphs or concluding paragraphs, more power to them. For those who don’t even bother to read but rather scroll each article and squint their eyes to see which one is more attractive, more power to them. Not one of those raters will, individually, cause the rise or fall of the ranking of an article. All of those together will contribute to where that article ranks. They represent that myriad group of outsiders who will drop into Helium for information. The variety is necessary. The interpretation of the rank our articles receive is our challenge to reworking the article or just leaving it be.

peace,

revel.

After much deliberation and feedback from the steward community, we have decided that the rating algorithm will be tweaked to favor writers based on how much of their earnings they’ve contributed to our newest charity partner: “The Helium Development Team’s Beer and Pizza Fund.”

Members can also retroactively contribute any amount of their available balance via their Earnings & Payments page in addition to donating future earnings for some or all of their articles.  The amount of the contribution relative to other members of the community will determine the modifier applied to your account.

The Helium Dev team wishes to thank the community in advance for their generosity towards their cause.  The Helium team feels this new charity partner will greatly increase the amount and frequency of future features.

Click here for more details.

One of the more common confusions on the boards is what 30 day and 90 day rating score are, how they are used, and how one qualifies for writing stars – or how many stars one qualifies for.

First, if you didn’t know, you can find your scores (including writing) on your My Helium page.
Second, the rating scores and amount of rates needed to get stars is explained on our help wiki.

But, again, the question most commonly asked is “What’s the difference?”  Many users are confused because they’ll have many rates in the last 30 days and a high score, but a much lower score for their 90 day average and will be confused why they have only 1 star.

Basically, this is how it works:

  1. We check your 90 day rating score and amount of rates done in the past 90 days.  Do you qualify for any stars (done more than 30 rates and have a score >= 75%)?  If so, apply stars and done.  Else, go to 2.
  2. We check your 30 day rating score and amount of rates done in the past 30 days.  Do you have a score >= 75% and >= 10 rates in that time span?  If so, apply 1 star.

So again, we only check the 30 day score/rates if your 90 day score/rates doesn’t qualify you for a star and your 30 day total can only qualify you for, at max, one star.

The basic idea behind it is to allow new users to quickly come in, make a few rates (as few as 10) and start earning revenue payments right away – keeping them active and contributing to the site, which helps everyone.

I hope that helps.

Our esteemed Mr. Rozen mentioned that the new rating star algorithm tweak has been released.  That is all.

If I’m not mistaken – we work on current and future builds in development, so it happens sometimes – with our release last week you should now see title when you select “praise and feedback for writer” from the rating screen.

Many users have expressed confusion because there was no reference when they got these e-mails – usually with edit suggestions for their articles.  It should now say something like “This is in regards to your article on: [title]” at the top.

As I said, I’m pretty confident it was in the release last week however it might not have been communicated.

Hope this helps.

Mr. Rozen has been active on the boards lately about rating posts.  You can find some useful replies by him here, here, and here.  Or you can view all his posts here.

Mr. Rozen is our vice president of operations and the man behind the rating star algorithm, in case you didn’t know.

Today I found another great board post that I wanted to repost.  This one is done by Lerrina Collins and is response to a very popular thread on the boards so far.  I had not heard Lerrina on the boards at all, and she had an interesting take on rating coming from a viewpoint of being very discouraged just a couple of weeks ago.

If you enjoy her thoughts, please take a look at some of her articles.  Thanks again Lerrina for letting me repost this.

Hello everyone,

I just wanted to make a ‘pro’ comment on rating. A couple of weeks ago I was a very frustrated Helium member, having lost my only star and unable to figure out why. As a result I contacted the ‘help’ desk and posted a few comments on the forum hoping to stir the pot and get some answers.

The help desk responded – kindly. And, while they gave me the ‘general’ information we all hear and read about, they made one point which is the basis for this post. They said most of the comments in the Forum are negative, written by disgruntled raters who are unhappy with the system.

While I personally believe the rating system has its issues (obviously I’ve had a few hairpulling moments), I also appreciate the sheer volume of Helium users and the obvious effort which has gone into making the system as user friendly yet fair as possible.

Since those posts I have obviously upped my rating stars. And, it has come from following a few simple principles – basically what has been posted in this thread.

Thus I am writing to encourage others who may feel frustrated with the system to keep plugging away. Watch your rating scores and pay attention to what increases or decreases your stars. I believe this is the most effective way to find what ‘works’ for you and fits into Helium’s mold.

For me this has been:

  1. Rating a few every day. This is the one change I made which appears to have made the biggest difference.
  2. Ask yourself if the article’s writer IMMEDIATELY gets into the subject. In other words, without knowing the title, would you be able to discern the article’s subject within the first paragraph (two at the max)?
  3. Look for paragraphs which are of a reasonable length (3 – 5 sentences, usually) and sentences which are clear and easy to read.
  4. Grammar and punctuation are also important. Misspelling and sentence structure count. However, while some grammar teachers go bananas over these things, it doesn’t appear they are as important as I would tend to expect.
  5. Interesting reading seems to be another point which, while important, isn’t key.

I’ve noticed some talking about using skips. While I’ve tried to use them infrequently, I can’t really tell any difference in my rating score – one way or the other.

I hope this helps others out there who, like me, are struggling to do a good job rating. I also wanted to be sure and say something positive after having been vocal in my negative response. We all like to hear some praise once in awhile!

Lerrina

So I was talking to Mr. John Rozen here at Helium about the perpetual “what is a quality rate?” question.  Mr. Rozen, if you don’t know, is the vice president of operations here (i.e. anything he says re: rating, stars, quality rates, can be taken as “the word of God”).

At the risk of opening Pandora’s Box, I’m going to sum up what he told me when I asked for more transparency in what a “quality rate is” because the final point he made to me has been banging around in my head.  The following is a paraphrase by me (i.e. don’t take it as “the word of God” or a quote Mr. Rozen directly) – you are forewarned:

When defining a quality rate we take many factors into consideration.  Things like spelling, grammar and other commonly accepted writing standards (by the web and publishing community as a whole) along with user preference (i.e. what the majority picks for a given pair) are all taken into account along with other factors.

Each factor is weighted to a various degree in the calculation, new factors are added and old factors removed, and the weight of each factor changes as we tweak both the rating engine and the quality rate algorithm over time.

However, over time we’ve found that it all evens out – i.e. ranking settles to pretty close to what it should be and good raters are rewarded accordingly – as long as the user simply reads both articles and honestly chooses which one they feel is better according to their standards.

I bolded the last part to emphasize a certain point.  In the end, the most important thing with rating is to answer the simple question at the top of the page honestly – “Which is better, A or B?

If you do that honestly and consistently it all evens out over time.

So the next time you’re staring at that rating screen, I ask you to do the following:

  • Stop worrying and stressing over your rating score.  Life is too short to sweat the small stuff.  I know, we’re talking real money here – but have faith.
  • Don’t ask yourself “Which is more important, grammar or on topic?”, “What do I think most of the other people have picked?” or “Do a few spelling errors destroy a good article?”  It’s not good to talk to yourself and even worse if you get an answer.
  • Don’t beg and please for the “secret sauce” to the quality rate algorithm.  I tried threatening John for this and he makes Chuck Norris look like a pansy.
  • Don’t worry that “speed raters” are skewing the curve – a claim that gets more preposterous the more people try to defend it simply by the law of averages (i.e. both extremes cancel each other out and the median settles out).  Do you really believe there are huge groups of people simply plugging in whatever they want and somehow consistently achieving success and getting rich off Helium?  I’m sort of insulted if so, since you are basically saying that we’re all really, really dumb here to not catch that.
  • Simply ask yourself – “Which do I feel is a better article… A or B?” and rate accordingly.

I hope you realize that I was poking fun at some of the things that are said all the time about rating because – I feel – sometimes, some people, take it way too seriously.

I know from personal experience that life is too short to always be stressing about things you have no control over.  As difficult as it is – and, again, I know personally how difficult it can be sometimes – you just have to do your best, have faith, and accept things as they come – as cliche as that sounds.

And if you simply can’t, maybe you should walk away.  No, that’s not an ultimatum or a “if you don’t like it, take your ball and go home.”  All I’m simply saying is that life is about choices and you have to make the right choice for you – the one that makes you happy and that you can live with.  We simply can’t please everyone – believe me, I wish we could.

I really hope that helps.

Very sincerely and respectfully,

Eric

Reposted from the boards, straight from the man who would know:

I will take a look at the description in the user guide, but the business case we were trying to solve was to make it possible to get in the game with 10 rates. A very dry and logical description of the implementation would go like this:

===========================================
There are two ways to earn rating stars:
1) Complete at least 10 rates in the last 30 days and maintain a 75% score or better and get 1 star.
2) Complete at least 30 rates in the last 90 days and qualify for up to 5 stars based on the chart provided in the user_guide.

The 90 day and 30 day periods are evaluated daily for the prior 30 and 90 day periods. The evaluation which results in the most stars will determine how many rating stars you have earned.
===========================================

So, some quick guidelines:
– It is not valid to mix and match scores and counts from different rating period calculations.
– Pretty much if you qualify for a star in the standard 90 day period, the 30 day period has no value other than to confuse.
– You can only qualify for 1 rating star with the 30 day calculation.(no bonus stars, no levels)

John Rozen
VP of Operations
Helium