||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (December 2009)|
|Type||Privately held corporation|
|Industry||Internet information providers|
|Headquarters||Andover, Massachusetts, USA|
|Products||Citizen journalism, User generated content|
Helium.com, Inc. was founded in 2006 as a Yahoo! Answers-style website created from user generated content paid on a revenue sharing model. Over time the site evolved from short answers to stand-alone articles, and began to offer writers the opportunity to earn from selling articles as well as passive income. The sale of articles to businesses and publishers is now its primary business, and the revenue share arm has closed to new members, effective May 21, 2014. The sites which display revenue share articles will be closed down on December 15,2014.
It is now owned and operated by RR Donnelley.
Beginning life as HeliumKnowledge.com, Helium.com was launched in October 2006. Its original format was similar to Yahoo! Answers, with contributors answering questions with short, informative answers (the minimum word count was 100 words). The key difference to Yahoo! Answers was that the answers were ranked ('rated') by fellow members according to the value and quality of the information.
Over time, the length of articles increased and they became stand-alone articles instead of answers to questions.
Helium originally pitched itself as an alternative to Wikipedia. For writers, Helium's marketing focused on the opportunity to earn passive income in perpetuity. Then Helium began to enter partnerships with publishers, enabling writers to compete to sell articles to those publishers.
Helium entered into partnerships with a number of non-profit organizations, including the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and National Press Club (USA). The National Press Club allowed the best citizen journalists among Helium's writers to apply for membership. Reportedly, it was the first time in the National Press Club's 100-year history that it made outreach to a non-traditional news outlet.
The site underwent a major redesign in late 2013 when it split into separate websites in an attempt to improve traffic and revenue:
- Helium Content Source - a custom content provider for businesses and publishers
- Helium Network - a publishing portal for writers, enabling them to submit articles for sale to Helium Content Source or for revenue share on the 360º websites (below)
- a suite of 26 theme-based websites branded as "360º" (e.g. http://FineArts360.com)
On May 14th 2014, Helium.com members received notice that Helium Network would be closed down. The sites will continue in existence until December 15, 2014 so that articles can continue to earn revenue share, but no new articles may be added and no editing or revising can be done. Members can now delete their articles at any time. All accounts will be closed on December 15, 2014.
- Wingfield, Brian. "The Pundit Economy. Helium Seeks Hot Air" 
- "Sunlight Foundation and Helium Partner to Promote Transparency in Politics" - Business Wire, July 26, 2006
RR Donnelly buys Helium.com http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9O0GCR81.htm