The Waffle House Indicator is a litmus test that Craig Fuguate with FEMA uses to determine the severity of a natural disaster:
"The Waffle House," according to the Journal, "spends almost nothing on advertising, [and] has built a marketing strategy around the goodwill gained from being open when customers are most desperate."
"Green means the restaurant is serving a full menu, a signal that damage in an area is limited and the lights are on. Yellow means a limited menu, indicating power from a generator, at best, and low food supplies. Red means the restaurant is closed, a sign of severe damage in the area or unsafe conditions."
Brilliant and simple. I love it.
Which neatly brings me to one indicator of my own: when I see the same topic, presented in a similar way, from the very-right-leaning SurivalistBoards.com and the very-left-leaning buzzfeed.com I know I should take note. Doesn't happen frequently, but when it does, you better as heck watch out.