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Ask HN: Should I blog on Medium for my open-source project, or self-host?
73 points by cocktailpeanuts on Jan 5, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 67 comments
I see a lot of open source projects keep a blog to make announcements about their milestones and updates.

Some have their self-hosted blogs, but I also see a lot of open source projects (including very popular ones) using Medium.com.

I thought it was a nice timing to ask this question considering today's news about medium. Is it worth it to use medium as your project's main blog? Appreciate any ideas.

If you don't mind all "" in your code blocks getting turned into unicode open/close quotes, and the lack of a markdown editor, then sure. Tab also doesn't indent. You can't use `code tags` for variables. Pre tags (code blocks) create a new paragraph instead of a line break (<br>). So basically not a programming blog. You can create a gist and paste the link, but that's a terrible workaround.

I think you can copy and paste code and it keeps the double quotes intact.

Huh, that's new. You can now type ` and ``` first to start code/pre tags. https://i.imgur.com/brsG4BO.png

Shit, they added that back in November. I probably should have checked first before writing my review.


You still have to start the code block (```) first before pasting I think.

I recommend a static generator such as Jekyll [1]. If you want a boilerplate to get up and running quickly, i've put the source of my blog [2] on Github: https://github.com/metachris/jekyll-boilerplate

[1] https://jekyllrb.com

[2] https://www.metachris.com

Yup, static page generator + github pages is the best way to do what you're wanting to do.

Don't forget that you can also host jekyll blogs on github pages!

If you want more hackable one and like Python, go with Pelican. Amazing software.

Another one (and my favorite) is http://gohugo.io/

I really like the setup of your blog! It would be a very good start for me to get back into blogging.

Does it automatically create an rss feed link also?

Easy to disable as well (same with the comment engine provided.

One point that people seem not to be mentioning here: Medium offers some discoverability. Self-hosting doesn't.

That's only a concern if you care about how many people read your blog, but if you do, it's a concern.

Medium's also very readable. If you choose your own theme for your blog, the chances are you'll hit a theme that's "less readable". Often, programming blogs are a LOT less readable. So that's worth considering too.

(All other points made elsewhere about control of your content, compatibility with FOSS philosophy, etc, are good ones too and I won't repeat them here.)

Cross-posting to both a self-hosted blog and Medium isn't a bad solution. Or use a custom domain, as suggested.

This is the only important point. The question is 1% technology and 99% audience.

I agree with this, BUT.

I think when we say "audience", it can mean different things.

For example, Medium has potential to bring a huge "instant" audience, but there's a difference between instant audience and long term audience.

I just went and took a look at all the large open source projects, and they all have their own blog on their own domain. AND, what comes next is important. They have:

1. RSS feed button

2. Link to subscribe to the blog via email

I think these are important in the long term if you are thinking about looking at your open source project from a long term point of view. Medium may give you instant traffic, but most of them don't really care about what you have to say.

Whereas having your own custom domain with a way for people to subscribe via RSS or email will give you a long term audience who are actually genuinely interested in your project. And with those formats it is very likely that your message will reach them, compared to medium where it may just flow away from their timeline without them ever noticing.

Going back to the original point, we're actually talking about slightly different things: you're talking about audience retention (making sure that someone comes back), not discoverability (making sure they find you in the first place).

Neither an RSS feed nor a subscribe link enable people to find you in the first place. They do, however, make it more likely that they'll come back after finding you.

You should absolutely also build retention techniques into your Medium posts. And your custom blog. And anywhere else where you care about people reading your content, and keeping on reading it.

Medium has RSS support [0]. Although it has no place in the UI (as far as I know).

You could add a link to your RSS feed to the bottom of each post as a workaround, but this is far from ideal.

I agree that self-hosting + custom domain is better in this aspect.

[0] https://help.medium.com/hc/en-us/articles/214874118-RSS-Feed...

Use WordPress.com's hosted WordPress with a custom domain if maintenance is a concern. If you ever decide to go selfhosted, migration is seemless.

All the other hosted platforms frankly could stop working a year or two from now. Medium doesn't have a viable business model and probably won't get one, it's only a matter of time when it closes shop, like many other platforms before it.

It will eventually end up on Archive.org. Self hosting is not an antidote to this I think, and sometimes the free services like Wordpress/Blogger last longer.

In the end, there is no escape from bit rot, yet things like IPFS[1] are trying to solve this.

[1]: https://github.com/ipfs/ipfs

I would self host. Maybe crosspost to Medium as others have suggested here. Alternatively I do think github pages like has been mentioned is good if you do not want to set up your own blog (even though it really is not that hard).

The reason I would not just post on Medium is simply because you are depend on them. What if Medium at some point shuts down, you lose all your content.

It would be helpful to read Medium's Terms of Service before you make your decision.

Most websites have these conditions, but I've copied the most jarring ones below for what it's worth [0]:

> We can remove any content you post for any reason.

> We may change, terminate, or restrict access to any aspect of the service, at any time, without notice.

[0] https://medium.com/policy/medium-terms-of-service-9db0094a1e...

I believe that self hosting is more inline with open source software principles. Even if it weren't, self hosting gives you control over your content—remember, nothing is really "free." Self hosting takes a bit more time and effort but if you use a static site generator like Hugo or Pelican then the process is more simple.

Another advantage is that you can allow interested readers a full RSS feed. Medium's is just the title and a link, which puts me off subscribing to blogs there.

I think I usually get full articles, but also _all_ comment replies by that author. That gets old quickly as well.

I'd use github pages with jekyll. Easy, superfast and free.

Agree. Specifically as the original question concerns an open source project I think GitHub pages makes perfect sense. Otherwise you can likewise deploy Jekyll-generated site on own host (or move from GitHub pages later).

I've found Medium incredibly useful for my open source blogging. First and foremost, it saves me from a ton of hassle picking a platform and theme for something like Wordpress, since it looks great on pretty much every device out of the box. It also has some great features that let people from the community submit posts to our publication.

Also, Medium is a great way for people to follow a variety of blogs - so not only do we still get all of the reads we get from normal sources like Twitter, sharing, etc, but you get a lot of people reading your posts from their Medium feed. In fact, for a lot of posts most of the views come from our Medium subscribers.

I agree with other commenters that setting up a custom domain is a good idea if you think you might want to move to some other platform in the future, especially if Medium is not around forever.

If you like hacking things yourself (with React), I'd recommend to host your blog on Github Pages. Take a look at my (in progress) blog [1] and its code[2]. It uses 'Single Page Apps for GitHub Pages' [3] and renders markdown (needs some tweaking).

1. https://jumasheff.github.io/ 2. https://github.com/jumasheff/jumasheff.github.io 3. https://github.com/rafrex/spa-github-pages/

Hugo static site generator (free) + Gitlab CI (free) + custom domain (not too expensive) works great! Just commit posts in Markdown and your site gets updated. Example: http://scripter.co

bump on the github recommendation - Wordpress etc likely too much work for what you need. Also Medium's announcement on staffing doesn't inspire confidence in the mid-term and difficult to export posts from there.

Write the posts on a self-hosted site, then syndicate them to Medium and share those links on social media.

Another option is to use a custom domain with Medium[0]. That way, if Medium goes out of business, you could just set up a self-hosted replacement blog with redirects for the URLs for the posts you made on Medium.

0: https://help.medium.com/hc/en-us/articles/213474588

Highly recommend buying a domain. You can always point it to a new hosting provider.

You can also buy managed Ghost, WordPress, etc for not that much. I think both pro accounts allow custom domains and exporting.

If you're a developer, or comfortable with code, static web site generation (Hugo, Jekyll, middleman, etc) might be an option too.

Use both. While medium.com gets a lot more traffic than your personal blog will, it also has a reputation for low quality posts from self-professed "experts"

I would prefer to keep a blog, probably using github project pages. It is more customisable (it's true medium offers a clean UI without any effort), and GitHub has given more proofs to stay alive for a long time. On GitHub pages, you own the content, and it's fairly easy to adapt to new platforms if you wish to change. If you wish to change from medium, is it easy?

You might want to consider GitLab pages with your own domain/subdomain. This is the route I'd take if I was in your shoes.

I prefer generator like Jekyll and host it on github. When you want a little discovery, Medium can help

Medium looks great, is easy to work with, and blog posts are easy to migrate when you need to. I would start there at least until you get your project off the ground. If you reach the point that it's worth putting more time into your blogging you can look at alternatives.

I certainly wouldn't use Github pages - it's just as centralized/non-FOSS/etc., but more work and tends to look less good. Wordpress gives you self-hostability but means you're running on PHP. In the long term I'd hope for a sandstorm-based self-hostable blog that's as easy to use (and looks as good) as Medium, but I'm not aware of such a thing existing yet.

ReStructuredText with Sphinx is wonderful. The syntax isn't the most intuitive, however once you have overcome this small hurdle, it can boost your productivity enormously.

In terms of deployment, using Sphinx enables you to easily deploy to readthedocs.io, or github pages.

Since it is a static site generate, it also enables you to use bootstrap, any javascript front-end library you wish to use, so nothing stops you from having web-application type behaviour and interactions in your posts. It also integrates nicely with extensions, such as mermaid, to make graphs inline with your posts. It can include code snippets from code, offers syntax highlighting and a lot more.

One thing to consider is if you're a good fit for Medium. The strength of Medium is that it's a platform with an audience, and your articles will get seen by people right away. I find Medium to be a bit of an echo chamber. You can see this in which articles get "liked" the most - lots of "edgy" articles and top ten lists. There are exceptions and there is some good content on Medium, but I found that I didn't really fit in with the average Medium user - and rightly so, I'm barely a Millennial, I'm becoming a cranky old guy and I'm probably not within their target market.

Medium.com is blocked in Malaysia. So you won't have any audience from Malaysia.

I think it vastly depends on your users. Generally, I would recommend self-hosting on the same domain as the project landing page or similar. It's unlikely in my opinion that users would bother to read your posts on medium.

If its truly for just announcements, then evaluate several options and pick the simplest for you. Always remember that chances are very high that over time your goals for the blog will change and will outgrow your choice anyway.

If you are considering blogging for more than announcements and are new to authoring blogs, then I recommend "256 Bloghacks" by Yegor256 as a good starting point to know what to expect, and good ideas to consider. http://amzn.to/2i07fs2

As many said before I think going for a custom domain and using Github Pages with it would be great idea and to get proper audience for the same you can post the link on different relative forums.

I was blogging on Posterous and had some articles ranking nicely on Google, until one day Posterous just shut down. From then on I decided I want to be in control of the domain where my posts live.

I realize Medium gives you discoverability, but so do some other places (posting to LinkedIn, text posts to relevant subreddits etc.) so I would suggest cross-posting to those after posting the link to your own site and adding it to webmaster tools so it will get indexed first.

I maintain both https://medium.com/microhq and https://blog.micro.mu for my OSS project Micro. Hosting on medium is a great way to increase readership, discovery and sharing. My recommendation is to definitely host on medium.

Talking about self-hosting blog, I am surprise nobody mentioned Bludit. I left Wordpress for Bludit a while ago and I am really happy.

I even wrote an article about it : http://softwarebythomas.com/blog/post/Why-I-left-wordpress-f...!

That link seems to lead to a 404.

It is because it didn't included the !

Link :



Hehe; no worries. You do make a compelling case in the post.

I see a lot of answers saying "use both". Do you guys mean "Write the posts on a self-hosted site, then syndicate them to Medium and share those links on social media", as w1ntermute said?

I'm curious how you can use both. if you have two sites and share both links, what links would people share? Doesn't this make it more confusing for sharers?

https://github.com/aarongustafson/jekyll-crosspost-to-medium is a fair option if you have a Jekyll blog. Many static site generators include an idea of "publishing targets", and often include an easy way of making plugins.

Thank you, but I was more asking about how you would manage cross posting in terms of sharing, not in terms of technicality.

They'd share whatever link they have -- people who found it on Medium would share the the Medium link, people who found it on LinkedIn would share the LinkedIn link, etc. There's going to be fragmentation, but the actual consequences won't be so bad as long as you keep everything synced.


Maybe this article of today, will help you decide

Use medium for discoverability and readability Use GitHub pages /Jekyll to keep inline with FOSS Ideal solution Host on GitHub pages with cross linking to custom domain medium post

GitHub pages is a good choice. It's free, you can bind your own domain.

Crosspost with custom excerpts for each platform:

1. Quora

2. Medium

3. PostHaven

4. LinkedIn

5. Tumblr

6. BlogSpot

how about blogging such things in dev.to? They seem a bit Mord focused in development :)


Use both medium absorbs a lot of SEO that Google would otherwise send straight to you

When I first started I installed SharePoint 2016 and had that running on a local server as my blog. Was all good until I noticed someone was pinging my local machines somehow. luckily I had Kaspersky Business Solutions installed as trial. I Shut everything down and went with blogger.

Wow that's masochistic


I mean, it wasn't all sunshine and daises... But, I was interested in learning how hosting my own blog, Windows Server 2016, and SharePoint worked.

What's a sharepoint and how does kaspersky av relate to the question asked?

Typed it up on my phone, so yea.

I have SharePoint Online through Office 365. I like SharePoint's blogging layout, but the only problem that I found eventually was that you can't share your blog publicly without have users create login.

My solution, install it on my home server running Windows 2016 and Kasperky Endpoint Security. So, I created a VM with Windows 2016 installed ShapePoint. Had everything setup and went a couple days, all good. I checked the Kasperky log and notice a high alert item that said (forgot name of attack, but they were scanning folders on parallel systems). I looked at IP location, was somewhere in South America, and I said to myself, "Screw this, I don't know enough about Internet Security" and I shut down the studio... and went with blogger.

Moral of story, if you self-host, make sure you know what you are doing.

Sharepoint is an online team collaboration tool that provides many features a team might need to run a company or project.

I think in this case it's overkill for what the OP wants.

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