Saturday, 7 July 2007

Revising Helium

I posted about Helium a little while ago, and also posted to Helium. My evaluation is that maybe it should have been called hot air, not helium, after all.

Okay it's a great idea, to get the greatest minds (???) of our millenium together in one Olympian Institute of Learning - but then you have to provide something. I don't know what - otherwise I'd be doing it, obvy - but Helium needs a hook.

It's not the payment. I've had five articles there for about a week and have earned 6c. Glad I'm not relying on this income for a living otherwise I'd be living in the proverbial cardbox by the side of the road, eating gravel.

But, because of the focus the site seems to have on debate, there's not much that I'd go to it for if I wanted to learn anything user-contributed. I have Wikipedia for that. (Yeah yeah I know, I know - now get over it and use an ounce of commonsense, don't place your entire 1 vs 100 trust in it and you'll live...)

Debate though, is what makes Helium less of an attraction to me. You'd think that debate would eventually sift every item, provide authoritative information on each topic. But it doesn't, what it does is create a community of people bickering at each other and trying at all costs to win a debate...

Also, I like to write articles where the debate is in the comments, or on twitter, or (much pref) IRL over a coffee or a glass of fine cab merlot and a cheese platter. The articles are my understanding of the world around me, and no amount of debate is going to change that. But - and there's the rub - if you want to write then there are only two avenues open to you, write an article on a fresh topic which will eventually get picked up into a debate, or write an article in an existing debate.

If I could just read instead of having to rate, I'd probably like their methodology a lot better. But here comes the other downside - if it's a worthwhile topic then it's already become a debate. If it's a hot debate then it might have 45 or more articles, written in styles from grade school to thesis. And at the end of it all I can only trust the mob, or make up my own mind, and get to have to read through all those articles to do so... It's a bit like the old saw about "give a man a watch and he'llalways know what time it is. Give him two and he'll never be certain..." only Helium is giving me 50 watches to choose from.

That's why I think the Helium balloon is gonna bust unless they come up with a better format...

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