Full of hot air? Check out Helium

A more civilized discourse for the Internet.

Wanna talk about the Iraq war on the Internet without igniting a flame war? Helium Debate could be a good choice.

A new feature of user-generated information site Helium, it tries to construct a forum for more civilized discourse on the Web. First launched in October 2006, the site has contributed articles on topics that range from the benign ("Bananas and Their Benefits") and banal (weight-loss tips) to highly inflammatory stuff like "Was the war in Iraq beneficial to U.S. interests in any way?" The Debate feature allows articles to be categorized by the writer's position on the issue.


Helium readers can share the articles they like, invite others to join and, perhaps most importantly, rank the content. It's not just a simple click to vote, a la Digg. Instead, readers who want to rate content are given two randomly generated articles on the same random topic and asked to say which is most helpful. Contributors to Helium get a five-percent cut of the ad revenue from their articles, which is a nice incentive to say informative, rational stuff, or at least yell really loud.

About the author

Erica Ogg is a CNET News reporter who covers Apple, HP, Dell, and other PC makers, as well as the consumer electronics industry. She's also one of the hosts of CNET News' Daily Podcast. In her non-work life, she's a history geek, a loyal Dodgers fan, and a mac-and-cheese connoisseur.


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