Never ran one that I really liked that turned out to be a flop, but the opposite has happened--where one I thought was just okay turned out to be a hit.
As far as how to judge whether it's a hit, it's a combination of responses and hits, but usually never just one or the other.
For instance, an article may generate a lot of hits just because of a provocative title, or because of the track record of the author. Number of responses is usually a good barometer, but sometimes a good article doesn't elicit a lot of conroversy or a lot of questions.
Either the conclusions drawn by the author were ones that everyone agreed on, or it was written so well that it answered any questions a reader might have had.
Consequently, it doesn't get a lot of emails or responses.
I guess I just know an article's successful when it happens.
- Have I ever said, "Damn, I shouldn't have run that one"? Sometimes, and it's usually one that proposes an outlandish dietary principle. I might have run it to get some controversy and discussion going, but sometimes, a lot of readers take it to heart and start practicing the guidelines espoused in the article and Chris and I have to spend the next two years "mopping up."
Case in point: The Warrior Diet.
Do Tim and I worry about legal stuff? Sometimes I'll read something that's worrisome and ask Tim, "Think we'll get sued?" Then we'll both start laughing and run it anyhow.
What do I look for in a good article? Content, content, content. An ideal article gets the reader to try a new routine, a new movement, a new diet, or a new supplement. A good article reaches some sort of conclusion. It's easy to write what I call "book reports," where the author simply writes about a topic without coming to a conclusion.
Those kinds of articles are a dime a dozen. Those kinds of writers are a dime a dozen.
If a reader takes the time to read through an article, he expects "paydirt" at the end. In other words, he's got to take home some useful information. As such, I want our writers to make deductive leaps based on the evidence. It's their job to interpret data and give the reader a solid conclusion.
That conclusion may eventually turn out to be wrong, but it's better than lacking the courage or imagination to make and defend a stance.
And then there are the "feature" articles where the reader expects to be entertained. Those don't have to teach the reader anything at all, but they should provide a diversion.
I've always wanted the site to be a blend of hard core, unique information, blended with entertainment, i.e. "infotainment."
Hopefully, we're not too far off the mark.