To flag or not to flag at Helium: Guidelines on using the flagging tool

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The flagging tool is an important part of the rating process at Helium. The flagging tool allows you to do a number of things, from reporting plagiarism to letting the author know about a formatting or grammatical issue. The question, then, is when you should flag, and when you should not.

Here are some reasons you should flag at Helium:

* Plagiarism. If you find that someone has copied their article from another source on the Internet, you should flag the article. It is possible that the other web site where the article appears belongs to the author, but allowing Helium to follow up on it is much better than you doing all of the work in that regard.

* Formatting. If an article is so poorly formatted as to be unreadable, you should flag it. In many cases, the author may be grateful, as it provides them the information they need to fix the formatting problems.

* Grammar. If you find one or two grammatical errors in an article, you probably don’t need to flag it. If there are more than half a dozen or so, you are doing the author a favor by pointing them out.

* Off Topic. It is not uncommon to find a Helium article that just doesn’t seem to fit the topic for which it is written. Flagging these articles helps to put the writer on track, and helps Helium readers find the information they are looking for.

* Length. If an article is below the 350-word minimum length, Helium needs to know about it. Part of the way that Helium insures the quality of the site is by getting rid of these substandard articles that just don’t cover the topic sufficiently.

* Profanity. Helium has a specific policy on profanity, and you should flag these articles accordingly.

Here are some reasons not to flag at Helium:

* You don’t like the writer’s style. As long as the article is grammatically correct, it isn’t up to you to try to fix the writer’s style. If the writer has an ineffective style, she will be able to figure it out soon enough.

* You disagree with the writer’s thesis. Your opinion on the topic is irrelevant to your rating the article. Always remember that. This is why Helium won’t let you rate articles on the side of a debate you disagree with.

* Formatting problems that cannot be fixed. Because Helium does not allow HTML formatting in their articles, sometimes things just don’t look right. Unfortunately, there’s nothing that you or the writer can do about it.

When in doubt, feel free to flag. The flagging tool is part of what makes Helium great. It provides writers with reasons why their article isn’t succeeding, and thereby helps them to succeed in the long run.

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