Sunday, October 16, 2011

Big changes at Helium and Demand Studios

Photo by Jonas B
I've been a critic of Helium since the disastrous retooling of the site in December 2010, but I have to give credit where credit is due: Helium took a huge step forward this week by announcing plans to publish page views and pay rates. Moving towards greater transparency sets a whole new positive tone for this formerly secretive company.

More after the jump

Helium is also changing the way it calculates revenue share. The company's blog post revealed the old payment formula, for the first time, and it turns out the formula relied heavily on the site's rating system, giving more income to articles with higher ratings. The new revenue share system will pay strictly by page views, which I believe is a lot more fair, considering how flawed the rating system is. In a way, it's an admission that the rating system, the site's original claim to distinction (even the site's name, Helium, referred to the way the rating system was supposed to lift quality to the top), no longer carries much weight.

Pay rates were posted on the forum. They vary by category (topic), and the current range is $1.25 to $2.00 per thousand page views.

Demand Studios seems to be moving in the opposite direction, away from transparency. It soon became clear that the vaguely-worded memo sent out on Oct. 5 meant there would be little work left for writers and editors who weren't assigned to special projects -- and this was after months of the company claiming that the slowdown was only temporary and/or was a technical glitch. Confusion still reigns because after the "buh-bye" announcement, DS then announced a program to help writers new to the site. There are no titles, but they are hiring new writers?  No one seems to know what is going on, but suspicions are running high.

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