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Completely unrelated to the contents:

Please, publishers, I beg you: walk away from medium. It's terrible for us, your readers. Set up a static blog, with a domain, go WordPress, Grav, Typo3, anything, but without stupidly large sticky header/footer and without heavy javascript.

EDIT: apparently 121KB javascript is not heavy. I still believe it's an overkill for 30KB content.

I barely see the problem. Sure, the header and footer aren't perfect, but stupidly large? I also don't feel any "cpu melting javascripts" and my PC is barely usable when I compile anything.

For me, Medium provides a very readable experience that is much better than the average static blog. And I don't have to fear a malware ridden page like an old Wordpress installation.

This is how the article looks like on 1280x800: https://i.imgur.com/L07L4ce.png

Sticky header/footer, cookie consent covering the menu, not a single line of the content visible. You consider this design good?

I might be wrong with this specific site on the JS - it only loaded 121KB Javascript. The actual HTML of the entry is 30.

WordPress nowadays upgrades itself to minor version - security patches - without touching it, and they release security patches for ancient versions as well. I'm aware there are unpatched sites out there, but they are either ancient - 5+ years - and untouched since, or deliberately crippled.

Average static blog has a very decent default theme.

But hey, different people, different opinions.

It looks even worse on mobile https://i.imgur.com/EOm3D4Y.png

I also don't think the JS is that bad here, the site loaded pretty fast for me even when I tested with a slow 3G network. But yeah that UI doesn't give a good reading experience.

Having the blog post outside Medium doesn't guarantee them all looking better. On the other side, it is easier to fix one site using custom CSS than it is to fix a bunch.

An on the other other side Firefox's reading mode makes this whole discussion irrelevant.

> An on the other other side Firefox's reading mode makes this whole discussion irrelevant.

It really doesn't. It doesn't fix it for non-firefox and non-power users.

I was starting to think I was the only one with this opinion.

The "Shitty design is fine because I personally know a way to get around it" school of thought never made sense to me.

Chrome is the only mainstream browser without a decent reading mode these days — because doesn’t want people hiding advertisements. One of the reasons I prefer not to use it.

And enabling reader mode doesn’t need any power user skills, does it?

> Chrome is the only mainstream browser

It "only" has 70%+ of the browser market share, and growing.

Safari also has a reading mode. I would be shocked if Chrome and Edge didn't as well.

Edge does, Chrome doesn't.

Funnily enough, Chrome has a reader mode on Android but not in the desktop version. At the same time Chrome Desktop has add-ons, Chrome Android doesn't.

You can get high mileage from a fairly small set of stylesheets, though yes, you do have a point.


1280x800 means you can have ad blocker at least (or tampermonkey). Block bottom bar and make header scrollable for this site once. Phones lack this, sadly.

Why should people be expected to install an ad blocker and add a load of custom rules just to make a specific website usable? In what world is that reasonable?

IRL you can choose worlds only by denying possibilities, afaict. In a world where adblock is not an option you have to make a big change or tolerate.

Firefox on Android can install uBlock.

And uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger.

I just block Javascript for Medium on my phone, which helps (though there's still an obnoxiously large top bar). The availability of a workaround doesn't excuse Medium's poor design, though.

Regarding the size of the header, in Safari on an iPhone 6, in landscape mode, the header is taking 25% of the screen real estate, and "open in app" is hovering over the text at the bottom.

On the other hand, reader view, which removes all that, works well on the page.

> I barely see the problem.

I barely see anything at all. I managed to take a peek at the title between two large bars of some other stuff I don't care about.

its a problem whenever I visit my rural family.

Why is it that I only ever hear those complaints on HN and never elsewhere... Are you all still using Pentium 3 PCs and 56k modems?

Maybe it’s the same reason why you hear professional designers complain when they see Comic Sans used for body text, but laypersons rarely will mention it.

A pro will notice things about implementation that interfere with the content, while the layperson often can’t articulate it even if they sense it’s not quite right.

A lot of people don't even realize that better is possible.

I've had plenty of friends and acquaintances observe that browsing the web on my computer is very zippy compared to doing it on theirs, and ask what I do. I hate to then have to explain to them that it's because of a fairly hard-won set of JavaScript-blocking rules and suchlike.

I especially hate it because the best alternative I can suggest to someone who doesn't understand tech well enough to manage such a thing is to just keep on trying to keep up with whatever fancy kit Web developers are working with these days. Which invariably means sending ever more money to Comcast. And regularly giving money to Best Buy to replace a computer that isn't really broken; it just can't keep up with the latest fashions among ad networks and reactjs developers.

> I've had plenty of friends and acquaintances observe that browsing the web on my computer is very zippy

Wait, how often are people peering over your shoulder to even notice? Have been a programmer for 30+ years and no one has ever made an observation either way about my screen responsiveness...

sometimes people in a social context will share my laptop to change the spotify song or settle a google-able debate.

You can suggest uBlock Origin and they'll be halfway there just with that.

Parent comment is why I tell everyone to read Pragmatic Programmer, especially the "broken-window theory" section.

For those unaware, an empty house can go untouched for decades in NYC, but once it develops a broken window, it is ransacked and squatted within hours. Small failures invite large failures.

"Javascript bloat isn't too bad, just another 10KB" turns into (VERY quickly) slow + terrible code that is trash. Small amounts of apathy about code invites other developers to sink to lower (more sh*tty) standards until there is nothing good left.

I'm not saying we should all code in assembly and c and make sure our arrays are memory aligned and pointers efficiently used, etc. etc., but we should also not just stop caring about code quality for "productivity" sake.

Try using a "modern" site on a spotty 2g connection.

Then realize that level of a connection is more common than you think. You never hear it elsewhere because those users just don't use your site, because they can't.

A lot of sites are even bad on a 3 or 4 megabit connection, if it's prime time and the Internet is being clogged by Netflix.

That's not a particularly uncommon speed, either. If you pay too much attention to statistics about "average" home internet speed, you're likely to be optimizing for only the top quartile, because the distribution of home Internet speeds is highly skewed.

Yep, that's been my life for a couple weeks when I went over my "unlimited data" cap and have been stuck in 2g land.

The modern interwebs is a bloated mess...1 minute plus loading times is more common than not.

It's the engineering sloppiness that is annoying, as much as the on-screen end-result.

Super Mario for NES, a full commercial video-game, weighs in at 32KB.

The JavaScript on a Medium page takes almost quadruple that space to achieve.... nothing at all, roughly speaking.

> Are you all still using Pentium 3 PCs and 56k modems?

Half of humanity has intermittent and very slow Internet access and old hardware.

No some of us use smartphones and travel to places where 3G connections are the only thing available.

In rural Scotland, supposedly a developed country, even 2G is dropping regularly.

I think people are going to Medium because they say it pays from subscribed users. Not an easy thing to do with a static blog.

>I think people are going to Medium because they say it pays from subscribed users.

That doesn't concern non-monetized posts/blogs like the above.

I'm pretty sure even a publicly accessible post can be monetised if subscribed users are 'clapping' on it. Feel free to correct me if I've misunderstood.

Who said that? Because I doubt there's any money in it, more likely they're doing it for "more exposure".

> they say it pays from subscribed users

What's the actual money flow from that, less, or more, than 1cent/reader? Does it actually worth it?

I don't post often to Medium. (Though I don't post heavily to my own site these days either.) What Medium's good for is that I sometime need to provide links to articles for various newsletters and so forth. In the general population, Medium seems to be seen (however erroneously) as a more "serious" platform than a personal blog. In any case, the people I'm providing the links to seem to prefer I use it for those purposes.

For deeper, general purpose pieces, I also just cross-post to Medium from my own blog as that seems to drive some incremental traffic.

I get the impression that Medium is pretty low effort, brings in readers, and is fairly popular (mindshare is a thing). I considered it before doing github sites (now does ssl easily), which I’d recommend except that managing a simple blog with git isn’t for everyone.

I simply don't like it because it's blocked by the Chinese firewall. There's never any problems with self-hosted personal blogs in this regard.

But beyond that I don't think it's an unreasonable publishing medium. It's convenient for authors and scales to most platforms.

> 121KB javascript is not heavy

Part of the problem is that HTML and CSS alone are horribly outdated in terms of being able to provide a modern-looking UI outside the box.

Want a slider? Unfortunately the gods at W3C/Google/etc. don't believe in a <input type="slider"> tag. Want a toggle switch? No <input type="toggle">. Want a tabbed interface? No <tabs><tab></tab></tabs> infrastructure. Want a login button that doesn't look like it came out of an 80's discotheque? You're probably going to need Angular, Polymer, MDL or one of those frameworks, and then jQuery to deal with the framework itself. You're already looking at 70-80kb for most of this stuff alone.

Want your website to be mobile-friendly? Swipe gestures? Pull to refresh? Add another 30-40kb.

Commenting? 20kb.

Commenting with "reactive design" just to make your users feel like their comments went through before they actually went through? 50kb.

Want to gather basic statistics about your users? Add another 10kb of analytics code.

What are you talking about? This is a static, column-like entry.

Why would a static content need pull-to-refresh? Or comments? Or a slider?

Mobile-friendly is perfectly fine with CSS resolution rules. Or with sticking to the basics and letting content flow within boundaries.

Basic analytics can be done on server side, or, by sending a single request with resolution, etc. as POST or GET params, or even by parsing web server logs. It won't give you that much, but it will give you basics for certain. (See awstats and webalizer from the old days.)

Don't overcomplicate things, none of what you're talking about is needed for an article.

> Part of the problem is that HTML and CSS alone are horribly outdated in terms of being able to provide a modern-looking UI outside the box.

I took such a sharp intake of breath in readiness to fire back a flappy-jowled response that I almost sucked my computer screen onto my face.

However, some of your following points are valid and it would be nice if things were a little simpler without resorting to lots of JS.

You want a slider? In pure standard HTML/CSS?

There are a few available as Web Components.

They don't work in all browsers, hence, piles of JS. Also if you want your buttons to match the OS you need piles of JS as well. <button>s in Android Chrome look like Android 3.0 buttons.

I also loved that era of blogs, but unless the distribution problem is solved, we're probably never going back. Self-hosted personal blogs end up mostly being ghost towns these days unless you get somewhat famous. Medium on the other hand gets your foot in the door and draws your niche crowd and conversations for you with much less effort.

> but unless the distribution problem is solved

Not sure what you mean. The distribution problem is solved by the internet. Discoverability (probably what you meant) is solved redundantly by Medium, since it is already solved by Google, and by social news websites such as HN and Reddit, etc.

Medium = YouTube for textual content. The only way we "need" it is if we want a feed of algorithmically chosen content based on previous/popular preferences, but that obviously comes with a bunch of problems of its own.

Unfortunate that the Internet community (writers and readers) are sacrificing so much to the false god of “discoverability.” For a few glorious years, self-hosted decentralized blogs, services and games were a thing. Now everyone is off re-implementing everything that sucked about centralized broadcast media.

Because they recognized that there was some value in the centralization, namely that it makes it far easier for users to find content. Putting your own blog out there into the ether is far, far, far more difficult to drive users to it. And then, if you want to have comments, now you have to invest time and effort into moderation and anti-spam, whereas here Medium takes care of most of that.

>Medium = YouTube for textual content. The only way we "need" it is if we want a feed of algorithmically chosen content based on previous/popular preference

Are you saying this is a bad thing in and of itself? Ok, sometimes I binge on videos needlessly, but to say the distribution/discoverability is already solved by the internet and Google is probably not how most people see it. Being recommended new content to consume based on previous preferences is a huge plus imo.

This is exactly my point. Saying google solves the discoverability problem in this manner is obtuse - it's not the same thing as looking for a specific thing. If you want to make discovering new content that you might like in a decentralized manner easy, then great! I'm sure people will be excited about that. Currently though, medium does that to the first approximation.

Also, social news websites require effort to post on, and often the content that gets upvoted is the lowest common denominator of the interests of the people who currently happen to be staring at the site, rather than each person getting their own set of new content.

I think the whole Medium discoverability thing used to be a lot better in the olden days than now. Then, Medium had some sort of standards for who could join and what they could post about, and it tended to bring up decent content for people visiting. Nowadays?

Medium literally does feel like YouTube, in that unless you've got an established audience already finding readers is kind of tricky. Read the Daily Digest they have and note down how many people there are 'average joes' without a large following compared to internet 'influencers' and 'social media celebrities'.

And now they've got the paid content thing, it's only gotten even worse from there. Now it feels like the site's trying to force paid content down everyone's throat, and completely ignores the free stuff when deciding what to feature or promote. Hell, sometimes I've had them said emails almost entirely consisting of links to paid articles from publications I don't read.

It's definitely like YouTube, but it's less like the YouTube of yore and more like the YouTube of today, a wannabe broadcast TV esque network that pushes celebrities front and centre and does very little to promote lesser known creators.

Plumes is actually quite interesting as a medium alternative. Not production ready, but with integration in the fediverse

Self-hosted personal blogs were always ghost towns. Always.

In this case though, this is a branded tech blog, posted to HN (and maybe to Reddit?). It doesn't make a difference, if the endpoint is medium, or a self hosted blog, or a hand written HTML on an FTP server.

I don't mind the size of the JS payload, the headers, any of that.

What I can't believe is how poor the experience is reading comments.

I hate the way Medium articles load images. They always stop loading with these ugly, blurry placeholder images everywhere. I bet the JavaScript bloat even undoes the savings in loading time.

Danr4 wrote a javascript bookmarklet that gets rid those stupid fixed elements [1]. He posted it on here before. It certainly makes those sites more bearable.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16616682

For power users, this is an option, but the truth is: this supposed to be and should be fixed on the publisher side.

Agreed. It's a workaround, not a fix.

Interesting solution, but the number of sites using fixed menus (or ones that fix once you've scrolled a certain amount) may make it risky to use for your average user. And quite a few sites with fixed menus are also probably the ones the user will most likely want to use this script on due to the annoying fixed ads and nagbars...

FWIW, Firefox's "Reader" mode is an absolute godsend for Medium articles. Works great on mobile too.

(not disagreeing with your statement at all, just pointing out something that may increase your QoL in the interim if you haven't yet given it a try)

Have a look at "make medium readable again", a plugin for firefox and chrome. Source is on github, could not paste the link because i am on mobile.

Why do users have to do something to fix something that needs to be fixed by publishers?

Fortunately, you can use user stylesheets to fix some of this crap. Holding your breath waiting for somebody else, particularly publishers, to fix it for you is a good recipe for asphyxiation.

You could start by not reading anything on Medium. That works, too.

Imagine if you start having extensions for every third site out there. It's a never ending problem.

Most users don't see this as something that needs to be "fixed". They're fine with it. This is only for those that don't like the stylistic choices made.

> They're fine with it

This statements needs data. "Fine" with it and "accepted defeat" or "isn't aware it could be different" are not synonyms.

For the scripts i'd recommend uMatrix

This. I never encountered any problem with Medium posts.

EDIT: ...and you can use reader mode in FF to get rid of the header.

30KB for content? I count around 8000 characters.

What exactly makes it terrible "for us, their readers"?

Aside from their bs paywall (which is not a case with HN submissions, those are specific siloed posts) I like Medium -- and surely more than the accessional Blogger relic or badly done personal blogs.

> What exactly makes it terrible "for us, their readers"?

Adding to GPs list ("stupidly large sticky header/footer and without cpu melting javascripts"): also the modal box saying "Pardon the interruption" every time I go to a medium based blog.

This is quite the diversion on the submission, and I apologize, but to add to your point Medium seems to be getting worse over time. Which of course it is -- as always it started as a minimalist tool "about the content". Then the whole "how do we monetize this" thing happened. Now there are fixed headers, footers, various interrupting popups, and the real question should be "what's next"? Clearly they won't stop at this.

Hiri at least used a custom domain. It's incredible how many authors just hang off the medium domain, committing the sharecropping mistake that has happened so many times before.

For one they don't respect GDPR (in other words, they don't respect their users).

> What exactly makes it terrible "for us, their readers"?

cpu melting javascripts

Does not seem to happen here.

Doesn't happen to me, so?

I don't think 121 kb is a lot, as people nowadays demand rich media content, and even a lookup on the native Yelp app can be thus expensive.

121KB Javascript. I wasn't counting the images - the actual, rich media -, or the content itself.

Once, it's fine, but this is a singe page with 121KB. Forget the in-browser cache myth: it may have been true the jquery got included directly from a cdn, but in the era of compiled JS apps, it's long gone, meaning it's 121KB JS for every medium page you visit. It climbs quickly, especially on capped smartphone data plans.

Even if the site is using a "popular" CDN, which does it use? Google? JSDeliver? Cloudflare? Unpkg? Which specific library and which of its versions? There are too many CDNs and library versions to carry the advantage of caching across different sites.

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