THE WRITE STUFF

Helium.com is a new site that encourages writers to comment on controversial issues of the day and/or write for payment. The site has different sections: Debates, Marketplace, Contests, etc. The Marketplace section has assignments for short articles, with payments ranging from less than $10 toHelium.commore than $200. Helium takes some of that price if the article is accepted, and the writer gets the rest. Lots of travel commentary is sought. For example, one site is offering $125 for an article about Kissimmee, Fla.

It sort of creates a brokerage for freelance writing, an idea whose time perhaps has come. Other sections of the Web site raise our collective eyebrows. For instance, prize money is offered for the best articles, ranked by registered users. This lays it wide open to people getting lots of votes from their church group, schools, etc.

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