Phenomenal analysis by Andrew Phelps looking at Gawker’s approach to low-level content (i.e. the weird goats, the funny videos, the celebrity scandals, etc).
“A different staff writer will be forced to break their usual routine and offer up posts they feel would garner the most traffic. While that writer struggles to find dancing cat videos and Burger King bathroom fights or any other post they feel will add those precious, precious new eyeballs, the rest of the staff will spend time on more substantive stories they may have neglected due to the rigors of scouring the internet each day to hit some imaginary quota.”
And it appears to be working:
On their assigned pageview-duty days, Gawker writers produced a cumulative 72 posts — about 14 posts per writer per day. On their off-duty days — and remember, each had four off days for every “on” day — the same writers cumulatively produced 34, or about 1.3 posts per writer per day …
… Those 72 pageview-duty posts produced a combined 3,956,977 pageviews (as of the days I captured data, Friday 3/9 and Monday 3/12), a mean of 54,958 pageviews per post. The 34 off-duty posts produced 2,037,263 pageviews, a mean of 59,920 pageviews per post.
Most important: Gawker’s editors have found a way to take the soul sucking out of the soul-sucking content. I could see how a one-day-per-week approach to page view duty could actually become fun/competitive. It’s a great idea.
The same “shift-based” approach would work for any repetitive editorial task — copy editing, headline writing, overseeing a Twitter account, updating Facebook, etc. This adds new voices and fresh creativity to activities that can easily become boring if any one person is forced to do them day after day. That’s good for the staff and good for the audience.