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Ending our Medium integration (write.as)
936 points by thebaer on Jan 30, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 367 comments

Quora also started out as an awesome service just like Medium. Eventually though, the VC's need the promises they've heard during fundraising to be fulfilled. That's when the platforms start with the dark patterns.

Non-VC companies are a longer and less glamorous slog to get off the ground but also don't come under pressure to compromise on their morals.

I work for one of those fully bootstrapped successful companies now and it really is fantastic how we can have real business conversations around ecosystem improvement that don’t revolve around money.

Money is good, but not having everything dictated by it is good for the mission.

EDIT: Sure there's still a financial incentive there but it's framed more in the "we need to turn a profit so that we can afford to continue doing these things". We still have salespeople who still have commissions and we still have salaries to pay.

I have the same experience at transloadit. 10 years of slow growth, but likely we can enjoy another 10 of those optimizing for fun/honest work instead of getting someone their 5x roi already.

As a fellow bootstrapper, I loved being a transloadit customer back in the day (old product we ran). Amazing video encoding product and awesome customer support over Skype. Thanks for slogging through the grind!

Is there still a concern about the profit? I'm assuming you're working for a for-profit company, where one of the goals – if not the goal, ultimately – is to make cash. (I don't mean to insinuate any sharply-materialistic outlook on your company: I sincerely don't know how a company thinks about money.)

That will always be a concern, even for a nonprofit. You need to keep the lights on, and people need to be paid. However, the trouble with VC funding is the expectation of scale. A VC won't be happy with a small organization that makes enough to pay its employees and sustain a small amount of growth. Unfortunately, that business requires large successes. So the founders and the investors can easily have very different goals.

VC funding is required if you want to build something massive, but isn't a great idea if the founders just want to build a sustainable but small business.

I disagree with this view completely.

Companies like MailChimp and Atlassian are great examples of bootstrapped companies that became very successful. There are more.

Money is great to have at any stage of a company, and bootstrapped companies prefer to trade stability and time for the freedom of not having money (and those who only focus on it) control decisions.

You can build a great company with and without investment, but you can fail with either just as well.

And with VCs you have someone breathing down your neck to either grow fast or die fast. With bootstrap, you don’t have that pressure (and instead have the fuck we don’t have money to fund faster growth problem)

Not GP, but in a similar position. No, no concern whatsoever. The owners are not greedy which makes all the difference in the world. Not that the profit is low - it is probably much higher this way, when the whole company pulls toward the goals. I have never worked in an environment with so low amount of office politics.

With the way things look right now for high-tech (or any software development) companies the margins are quite high. But of course, if you are a VC who invests in hundreds of businesses, and expect only a few of them to fly, then those few must fly pretty high to make it worth your while. Which means that being just very profitable is not enough - you need to be extremely profitable. And that comes with compromises (mostly for the workers at such startups).

Platform quality is long term money, platform monetization is short term money.

With VCs who only care that the growth curve is exponential, they go for short term money every time, because yeah you might crash the company, but you've got a 5% chance of becoming a big evil corp.

Yes, exactly this. You have to choose the hand that feeds.

If you start a platform around paying customers you make it one way, if you start it around getting as many users as you can and then monetize the popularity, then you are selling your users, and that's another way entirely.


And stock investors often aren't much better.

Focusing on the 5% chance of massive success is the opposite of short term thinking.

It's about having a massive exit, the sooner the better. It's absolutely short-term thinking, with an upper bound around 10 years. Less for smaller investors. Nobody cares what happens after the exit.

It's not just "morals", it is "brand equity."

If people believe in your brand, you have something. If they don't believe in your brand, you have nothing.

Price or features trump brand value most of the time. Just ask Spirit Airlines, Facebook, or Uber.

I feel like those examples don't explain your point.

Uber is

Quora is extremely awful now. I'd say its worse than Yahoo Answers of old. At least YA could be unintentionally funny.

Quora is nothing but spammers self marketing. There is no moderation whatsoever.

"Thanks for the A2A"

Agree. I see lots of spammers posting stuff from wiki. Seems like it has become a resume builder to get points.

All the extra features interfering with my reading experience didn’t help, either. I just don’t read articles on Medium.

Indeed, when your reading experienced is interrupted immediately on page load by asking you to sign up I think you can argue its not a good experience at all. I stopped reading articles on Medium as well.

My solution was to use an extension – Make Medium Readable Again – that, as of its features, removes the intro fullscreen ad. It's available for Chrome and Firefox, as far as I'm aware.

I understand there are browser plugins available but when reading text content requires installing extra software to improve the experience my solution is just to go read content somewhere else.

That's fair. My experience with Medium has so far ranged from neutral to highly-positive, with a lot of articles on cutting-edge web design technology or methodology.

If you don't wanna read it, that's fine. I'm just saying that if you do, there's a way.

Could also use your browsers reader mode which does an amazing job at making websites usable.

I’ve been using reader mode for months and love it. I set it to auto open all links in reader mode and now hardly ever look at the styles version. It’s amazing how much more readable websites become with the extension. I’m also a UX designer, hows that for irony.

It is available for both indeed. It makes it usable by removing all those horrible "features" and design choices.

I don't understand the level of complaints on HN about that sign up overlay. Are they testing multiple nag screens and I got lucky and always get the minimally intrusive one, and the rest of you getting the terrible ones?

Yes, it is slightly annoying, but it is extremely easy to dismiss. Unlike the nag screens at many sites you don't have to find and click an 'x' in some weird location. It goes away if you click anywhere on the page outside the nag screen.

It also goes away if you hit ESC on the keyboard. (I don't know if other keys also dismiss it too. I've only tried ESC).

Furthermore, also unlike many other sites, it comes up right away rather than waiting for you to get into the article and then interrupting you. So it is click on a Medium link, get shown the nag screen immediately if it is going to be shown at all, and then hit ESC or click somewhere and it goes away.

The "pardon the interruption" modal is the only one that I have ever seen.

And it's not immediate, there's time enough for your eyes to adjust to the content of interest before that modal pops up. It's as if it's designed for maximum obtrusiveness.

The experience is further degraded by a header and footer that not only take up significant screen real estate but also only seem to exist to also prompt me to sign up.

So that's three obtrusive prompts asking me to sign up - the modal, the header and the footer. This is unique in that the annoyance has a depth of redundancy.

Not quite unique - Reddit’s mobile experience is similarly full of misleading and redundant prompts to sign up.

Try old.reddit.com - it was originally created for users who want to revert to the old desktop layout but it has an additional, unintended feature: even on mobile, it maintains the desktop layout without switching to the mobile site (note: it is not responsive so you will have to zoom - but personally I prefer zooming compared to the nagware "features" of the mobile site).

You can use i.reddit.com on mobile, it's even better.

Thank you! I didn’t know that!

I really don't want to live in a dystopia where basic text content from random companies, startups, blogs, etc can't be read without being subjected to a startup's conversion flow.

I can't believe that I could get free cPanel/PHP/wordpress hosting when I was a teenager, and people will live with a fullscreen nag ad for their company blog 17 years later.

As always, silent downvotes for pointing out illogical group-think behavior. Never change. Heh, maybe it's startup hustler types that think intentionally-delayed, fullscreen ads are the pinnacle of innovation and hacker culture. Anything to make a buck.

Just because it's easy to get rid of, doesn't mean it should be there in the first place.

There's a lot more to say about such practices, but that's the gist of it.

I can’t highlight/select text without it getting all hyperactive on me. I just want to read an article.

Can you describe what Quora did? I've heard a few reports that it's not like it used to be, but I've found it useful, and am curious as to what makes it worse than before.

Many dark patterns including forcing people to login to read content.

Now it's a "modern" ExpertSexChange where "online marketing specialists" ask questions with one account and answer their own questions with another account.

"Disclaimer haha I work for Bullshit.ly as a growth ninja but here's my response..."

"In conclusion I'm not saying you should totally checkout our stuff ... but you totally should. just my 2 cents."

And they are getting more sophisticated so it's not always so easy to spot.

The real question is why does Google still put them on the first page? They've dispatched other nuisance sites but Quora still seems to get special treatment. Quora can't possibly have many inbound links to their content so why the high page rank?

Look at how long pinterest results have ranked highly in image search, even though they're completely useless. I just don't think Google cares to remove them, since surely they have known that pinterest should be excluded from image search results.

Google has some strange preferences. Forbes still dominates SERPs despite one of the worst user-experiences of any mainstream site. It's downright unusable without ad block

Forbes probably has an article for eeeeverything. It’s the e-how of news.

That is precisely the reason why.

IRL social networks. The guy who wrote the Quora algos probably has friends that work at Google who can influence the pagerank. I've seen these kinds of interactions first hand at various events in Seattle-Bellevue around 2014-2016. Only recently has it died down (mainly because the meetup groups either fizzled out or stopped offering free beer).

They stopped the free beer? No wonder they fizzled out.

You forgot “I don't know why you ask for an open-source app, but here are a couple of free ones laden with cancer-inducing ads.”

Dead on, though I can't remember when experts-exchange wasn't garbage, even before they added the hyphen (haha).

Long ago I was a consultant for a large church. One of their IT guys got a call from the pastor, who was worried about being hacked... The IT guy had been working on the desktop and had left up a browser window. The pastor read the URL as ExpertSexChange...

Around 1997 or so, I got called into a meeting with my boss, director, and head of IT security. I worked night shift in a wafer fab, and someone was accessing the computers in the office, and visiting inappropriate sites at night (that their new sophisticated monitor found). I was young, and into computers, I guess they assumed it was me. I pointed out that I didn't have a keycard that gave me access to the office area, so it couldn't be me, asked if they checked it. While they were quickly apologizing, I asked what site they accessed.


The look on their faces when I suggested they actually verify the site before firing whoever it was.....

I remember seeing a news story back in 1995 about how content for the current Super Bowl (Super Bowl XXX) was being blocked by parental filters because it assumed 'XXX' was adult content.

What kind of content could there have been then for the superbowl: Blinking tags and daily updated grey-background text? Are you sure parental filters really were a thing in 1995. I remember 1995. I was using mosaic.

I had a similar experience during school. One real life troll told a substitute teacher I was accessing porn sites. Teaching sub only looked at the website url before kicking me off the computer. Unfortunately there was no follow-up for me to call them out on being lazy/ignorant. Funny thing was the "troll" did get banned later for accessing porn sites on the school network.

How dare someone be excited!

I used to have an excite.com email.

You used to be able to discretely order high quality low cost ink writing implements from a piece of land surrounded by water at "PenIsland".

Edit: I'm glad to see they're still up and working hard to service customers at: http://www.penisland.net (totally safe for work, trust me)

Q: Can I provide my own wood?

A: In most cases we can handle your wood.

That’s either impressive levels of deadpan, utter inability to notice the double entendre, or and impressive job of “leaning into the joke”.

The whole site's a joke, it doesn't actually sell pens.

If it's "clean [and] free of parasites".

I mean, if I was going to have that kind of surgery I'd definitely be looking for an expert. You put a regular cosmetic surgeon in there and you risk having no wrinkles on things that should have wrinkles and other such catastrophes. All this to say maybe they missed an opportunity when they ditched that domain. ;)

> Many dark patterns including forcing people to login to read content.

I remember I used to have to log in to read content back in 2013ish, but I don't have to do so right now.

Only if you come from Google.

bullshit.ly - Libya - Domain Available

OK just give me a second..

Knowledge services make for horrible VC businesses.

The exception to that rule is Stack Exchange, because they have a business model that is unique to the space and impossible to replicate for a site like Quora (Genius, Answers.com, wikiHow, et al.).

Quora has to allow low quality content on their service in order to keep the volume up, to drive traffic & clicks, to drive ad potential, to avoid the dreaded down rounds and eventual drift toward forced sale. There's only so much legitimate high quality content for a site like Quora and it's nowhere near enough to validate a $2 billion valuation (much less higher).

Consider for a moment that Yelp - which is a real business in a highly monetizable segment, that is also profitable and will hit an annual billion dollars in sales soon - is worth $3 billion. So if you get a $2 billion valuation as Quora, where are you going from there? It's obvious.

Genius is facing the same exact fundamental problem that Quora is. Take a lot of money from VCs, get a big valuation, find it impossible to live up to it. Turns out normal people don't want to annotate everything and could mostly care less unless it's a more narrow passion segment (music).

There are only two paths for knowledge services. Stay small and very lean, aggressively limit costs, and use an ad model - that's wikiHow. Or go the Wikipedia route. Anything involving VCs will end in disaster and or forced sales. Knowledge services properly have to think very, very long-term (if they're actually trying to fulfill a knowledge mission and aren't just traffic fronts), they need a decade outlook or more. VCs think short-term, they look at ~5-10 year type exit outcomes. High quality, long-lived knowledge services are fundamentally opposed to a focus on exits in any manner, as they have a higher calling than looking for an exit for a VC - and any deviation from that must inherently destroy the community.

Freebase sold to Google for $100M+(?).

There's definitely value to be created, but the catch is focusing. Someone will pay for the best data on their problem. Very few people are interested in buying 100 dumpsters full of random text: I can't see general services like Quora ever being worth much.

Metaweb is an example of the forced liquidation problem with knowledge services that take serious VC.

Freebase had no business model and Metaweb took $57 million in VC. Then Google took the public service, which had been built up by a large community, and effectively buried it.

As with most of the other cases, their only possible path that involved sustainability and long-term knowledge value, was to not take VC, stay lean, and either API their system for a fee (not a huge business), or run an ad model. Either way, their business case was small, and they took a lot of VC. The end result, another dead, formerly promising, knowledge service in an increasingly long list.

I got the impression they may have had a somewhat cavalier or insufficient approach to security as well.


> Quora has to allow low quality content on their service in order to keep the volume up, to drive traffic & clicks, to drive ad potential

How does flooding my feed with dozens of questions about what the probabilities of different subsets of the faces are when rolling a die (e.g. what's the probability of getting an even number or greater than 5 when rolling a die?) help drive traffic, clicks, and ad potential?

Because each of those is probably a homework problem in Stats 101, and every college kid is going to be googling for the answer to the variation from their edition of the textbook.

College kids have to search for the answer to what the probability of getting a 5 or higher in a die roll is?

Liberal arts kids doing the mandatory math classes? Sure.

CS major in first year who has been interested in math and science as a kid? Probably not.

First year college in the USA is very broad. It’s not like university in Europe / UK where you specialize in one subject only for your bachelors.

I went to college in the USA, and I understand that undergrads are often put into classes far outside of their expertise. Still, I expect college students to be able to count to 6 and understand fractions. Even the remedial algebra students I helped in high school weren't that bad.

There are still people that think that buying multiple lottery tickets actually lowers your chances of winning.

I tried to argue against someone with this. I even tried scaling the problem down to being two balls drawn from a pool of four, and showing how if you buy multiple tickets, your chances of winning greatly increased. And they accepted what I was saying, but just insisted that the math "doesn't scale" and it doesn't work the same when it's 5 balls drawn from a pool of 69.

Even worse, she tried to say something like "You're really good at math. You should know this!"

> There are still people that think that buying multiple lottery tickets actually lowers your chances of winning.

This blows my mind, but at least it means they aren't wasting even more money on the lottery.

That's really bizarre. I wonder where they got that idea. Why do you say "still"?

You’d be surprised.

We couldn't agree more: worldbrain.io/manifesto

They also changed their answer ranking algorithm. It started giving much higher weight to answers from users who answered many other questions on the site.

I guess the goal was to incentivize users to answer more questions.

But Quora was nice because you would find for almost each question an answer from a real expert in that specific question. And that's pretty unique by definition.

Result was that the best answers were often not the top 1 despite having way more upvotes -> bad user experience. True experts almost stopped answering because what was the point if it was going to be hard for users to find their answer, and certainly they wouldn't bother to start answering a bunch of questions on the site just to increase their ranking.

Low level/high volume content took over Quora.

Once upon a time one didn't need to login to read Quora stuff.

Can you imagine if Stackoverflow did this? The tech world would grind to a halt.

So you're saying you're not upvoting useful answers on StackOverflow?

Upvoting alone is enough to make me sign in to SO when I'm mysteriously logged out. SO saves me enough hours to justify that small curtesy.

I actually am signed in, but I know a lot of their traffic is anonymous users.

Which is better for caching, so it has advantages

I don't know, in the case of StackOverflow I think it's worth the registration vs going back to pounding your head against the desk.

Don't give them any ideas!

Naw. Not signing up for Quora means you won't get to essentially entertain yourself.

People would immediately sign up for SO if it were tied to their productivity.

That is, unless answer providers have no interest in using the site for anything else. That's true in some cases.

User-generated content.

It's basically a crapshoot as to whether the person is a blowhard or knows what they're talking about.

My 16-year old son has a classmate who has made about $50 or so writing spam questions for Quora. Some of these questions were astonishingly stupid, the kind of writing that I would have fired a spam writer back in the day that I hired spam writers.

It wasn't clear if he was working for Quora or working for somebody who wanted to spam Quora, but the damage is done.

Honestly, if you 'incentivise' someone to post on a community site (whether via money, exchanges or free stuff in general), the quality of their work will usually be terrible. What do you expect when you ask non experts to post reams of topics about things they haven't got the slightest clue about?

I always wonder who's doing that and why. Quora does pay people to write questions, but the pay is supposed to be tied somehow to the quality of the answers. Maybe it's more a quantity thing, as dozens of people jump in to give answers to the basic arithmetic questions in my feed.

Im curious, can you give an example?

Yeah, I really wonder if there is a “non-evil” example for:

Don’t worry how this will monetize. We’ll figure this out later once we have the scale.

Trello, perhaps?


Easy to say that right now, but Microsoft hasn't owned it long enough to have any negative impact on the service. For all we know 5 years from now they'll pull a Sourceforge and start bundling malware into your downloads.

I know there's an awful lot of legacy hatred for Microsoft around HN, and I'm not claiming they'll never be a bad actor in any regard ever again -- but I'd expect if that happens for it to be a lot more subtle than "hey, let's make desperate deals with sleazy third-party companies to stuff shady crap in your downloads until we're inevitably caught at it."

Sure, it was just a convenient comparison to something that's already happened with what was effectively the previous github.

Github made it through the "We need to deliver 1000x gains for our investors" phase of their history, but all that means is they've moved into "We paid $7,500,000,000 for this, are we getting as much value as possible?"

I am cautiously optimistic about this one. Partly because of promising recent decisions from them, and partly because if there's one thing Microsoft knows how to do well, it's business software.

I know: they won’t.

A few years ago I'd have told you "Surely Microsoft won't start automatically installing Candy Crush games on my licensed copy of Windows Professional" but here we are.

A few years from now, some brilliant manager realizes they can "add value for customers" by helpfully including third party software offers with github release downloads, just like Sourceforge did. Who knows?

Is there an easy way to find out these non-VC companies when looking for a new job? That’s quite specific but could be an interesting criteria

Not really. Even being bootstrapped, they'll still act like a startup (long hours, missing paychecks, etc) if they don't have their stuff together.

> Quora also started out as an awesome service just like Medium. Eventually though...

That's the pure growth first strategy. At first it's all roses. Completely free, even ad-free. So there's none of the friction that comes with monetization. But eventually it comes into the picture.

Either a service is monetized from the start or it comes later.

If I have to read a medium article the first thing I do is hide/block the elements for the annoying bottom bar (with ublock)

I don't recall Quora ever being good. What decade was this?

It was fantastic before 2012 when it had a small focused audience (similar to HN) and simple site before all the spam started.

There is nothing wrong in making money, if you want to attract good content writers and curate content, provide additional services like digital magazine, you have to make money to pay your writers, curators and staff.

I don't write for Medium, but I think rather than trashing Medium, maybe we should help make it as a better platform for publishers. There is enough garbage out in the internet, maybe Medium can help clean it up.

I'm sure there's other like me here, but I don't even click on articles published in Medium anymore because I don't want to deal with their gigantic popup that interferes with me getting to the content.

I think we're eventually going to see a resurgence in open platforms where content creators better control their content. I don't think the discoverability of these content hubs is worth it, I personally do more discovery other ways and usually only end up on the site after a recommendation, etc...

I miss the days when people had their own websites, blogs, whatever, and then there were forums. Facebook has killed forums and I hate them for it.

Not just Facebook. Any site without attention paid to on-site SEO is basically impossible to find since Google gave up fighting the spammers and (effectively) stopped trying to provide access to a bunch of the web. That was back in, like, '08 or '09.

The other day I was trying to find a Russian world-traveller photo blog I used to read but lost track of, and it was plain from the results that Google's 1) heavily penalizing low-traffic sites to the point of giving me top results that contain almost none of my keywords when there 100% for sure had to be sites that contained all of them, and 2) barely paying attention to text linking to a site anymore. I'm not even upset I couldn't find the site I wanted using my search terms so much as that part of their surrender to the spammers meant that most of the top results were "legitimate" content-mill spammers-by-another-name. I don't think I could have found anything like what I was looking for. Any similarly-obscure sites are just invisible now.

DDG wasn't much better. The spammers won and "web search" doesn't really search the whole web anymore, or even close to it.

Oh, that's what's going on. If I search, for example, "proton transfer balalaika" I get search results where the first few results are "Missing: balalaika | Must include: balalaika" but a result after these has all three search terms.

I've been wondering what Google now thinks the word "must" means and why they're putting pages that don't include words that I've used above pages that do.

That's frustrating. Low-volume sites represent a significant portion of the web results I need.

The "must include" is a hyperlink. Click it and you'll get results that do include that word.

You know, it's obvious it's a link, and I'm pretty sure I clicked on it and noted it adds the quotes then immediately forgot.

I'm sitting here looking at it now and I still can't believe that's the function. It looks like a link to a search of just that term.

Of course, even when I click on it, I get ads for hotels that are missing "proton" and "transfer" first, then random word dictionaries, both well above perfectly valid results talking about chemists who played the balalaika or research done in the city of Balalaika.

Which means that it's a link to getting a different wrong set of results and it's there as a kind of fig leaf on the sin of distorting searches so heavily.

>and noted it adds the quotes then immediately forgot.

I quoted search terms yesterday, but still had to specify by clicking the link "must include" .. first result still didn't include one of the terms.

Come on Google, what is this?

I suppose that top hit earned them money; can't think why else they'd be deceptive about it.

There are whole topics I can no longer search for on any engine because the results are so bad. The example I can think of is product reviews for just about anything - the results are almost always shitty "top ten" Amazon affiliate sites. If I want to find a legitimate opinion about certain kinds of products, it's nearly impossible to find via Google.

Car repair is another. I drive a 20+ year old vehicle. You'd think that there would be tons of articles about repair since the world has had 20+ years to reverse engineer it, right? The first two pages of Google results are almost always SEO spamfests. It was almost impossible to find out how to change the burnt out lights in my car's gauge cluster since every link took me to a bad copy of Quora with each answer recommending the automotive equivalent of essential oils.

Quora is another gross offender.

Yeah, and the EU is basically taking legal action against Google right now to force them to do an even worse job of removing that kind of spam, under the pretense that it hurts competition.

Facebook+Reddit+stack exchange I think is a more comprehensive group to blame. I think a lot of people who use facebook for hobby groups maybe never would have discovered forums but Reddit definitely could have. And stack exchange kind of absorbed basically all technical forums

That's true, I forgot about Reddit. I check some sub-reddits that I'm interested but in general the format and quality of discussion is much lower than that of the now-dead forums that I used to check for similar content. The internet is like a barren wasteland to me now.

You know, I'd completely forgotten about forums? I used to be active on two. Doing a quick search now: one seems to have disappeared, but I managed to log in to the other one for the first time in nine years! (Those were the days before I used a password manager.) And it's actually still semi-active...

Spam killed forums. Facebook took since it wasn't plagued with spam.

Facebook content is now such low-quality that it might as well be spam (my opinion). Also, pointless, toxic conversations. It seems to bring out the worst in people. I know some people like it for keeping in touch. I refuse to use it anymore, not worth it for me.

When I looked at facebook it was virtually all memes. I'm sure someone is about to tell me that I need better friends but these people are fine to talk to and interact with on other platforms but it seems facebook has become a meme graveyard.

No one posts actual quality content because stuff I want to read doesn't have a general appeal, its specialized to the things I am interested in. Facebook only allows for general appeal stuff so you end up with memes that everyone can understand.

I find Facebook to be quite useful, and the content to be of moderately high quality for the type of content it is intended for: social updates from friends and family.

The conversations on FB range from informative to toxic, and depend, like the internet forums of old, on the moderators. As FB does not actively moderate discussions, toxic conversations are the fault of the participants and the moderators, not on FB.

I legitimately want to read the articles--they have a lot of interesting ones.

The curious thing is that often enough you can't even click through--they insist that it's "Medium Exclusive" content and you can only view 3 a month. (Browser Private mode helps, but is not a panacea) But... If I search the 'net for the title of the supposed Exclusive article, I can frequently find it elsewhere with no nagging or paywall.

I don't really believe Medium has the exclusive content that gives it an advantage over anything else, but it's useful as curated, indexed content that you can find elsewhere. This is probably not what they are going for, though.

Serious question: Why don't you sign up?

>>I think we're eventually going to see a resurgence in open platforms where content creators better control their content.

Sure, but as those platforms grow, they will run into the same problem: having to pay for infrastructure. That shit ain’t cheap once you get past a certain size.

> maybe we should help make it as a better platform for publishers

This affinity both for caping up for corporate entities who'd sell you for your component atoms were it feasible to do so, and then for doing free work for them, is so weird. They're the ones making the money. Why isn't it incumbent upon them to do so?

Nobody said there is anything wrong with making money, that’s a straw man. The reality is that taking venture funding has forced these companies to compromise what made them useful in order to chase revenue for investors.

The venture funding doesn't really have anything to do with it, does it? Even if they were entirely self funded, they still need to generate enough revenue to cover their costs.

It feels like Medium is circling the drain.

Sure it does, venture funding comes with investors seeking to make a large return in a specific timeframe. If they were entirely self-funded, they could slowly ramp revenue streams and build on a sustainable base.

Getting a large influx of funding forces a company to search for faster growth to justify the valuation and deliver projected future growth. In 2017, Medium laid-off 1/3 of their workforce because their advertising model wasn't working [1]. The implication is that they hired a bunch of people to sell something that nobody wanted. A self-funded company, would have likely never hired those people in the first place. That company would be on firmer footing now, but would have gotten less HN/TechCrunch coverage in the process.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/mattdrange/2017/01/04/medium-la...

So the venture funding is just giving them more rope to hang themselves with? It's letting them make bigger, more costly mistakes?

I would bet many of the investors were making a bet on Ev Williams as much as they were on Medium. Medium's business model has always felt a bit exploitative. If they truly are focusing on quality rather than quantity, maybe that will change.

> So the venture funding is just giving them more rope to hang themselves with? It's letting them make bigger, more costly mistakes?

Think of it more as forcing them to make a high variance bet.

The VC business model assumes that about 1/3 of the companies invested in will go to zero, and another 1/3 will make a below market return on investment. They need the Googles and Microsofts to pay for everyone else, so they just push all of their portfolio into trying to become billion dollar businesses.

To clarify, my point was specific to businesses like Quora and Medium that rely on high-quality content and engagement. These companies would have likely been better off as niche businesses with $10m-$50m annual revenue. Taking a large VC investment basically closes off that avenue.

Not every idea is a take-over-the-world multi billion dollar business. Something might be completely sustainable as a medium sized business but it will never have a large enough target audience to be able to scale (as the product was originally envisioned) to a multi billion dollar company.

The problem is this is what VC needs, and if your idea isn't one you're still stuck chasing that goalpost. So rather than be happy with your product you start making distortions to increase your mass appeal to help reach the unreasonably high (for your idea) goalposts set by VC funding.

> maybe we should help make it as a better platform for publishers

Or maybe that's their mission and they should do that? I'm not sure why any of us as writer or readers should or could do this.

I don't understand this mindset. In my worldview people deserve investment. VC funded corporations don't deserve any of my time to "make it as a better platform".

Companies should live or die by the market and if they piss customers off and lose marketshare, that's the market working for once.

There's nothing wrong with making money, but I also don't owe them money. Or attention, or to say nice things.

Personally, I was excited by Medium all those years ago. Now I think twice before clicking a medium.com link. I really hate the obnoxious UI and usually close the tab before reading the article. Anyone else feel this way?

While some interesting and insightful articles still exist on the site, the majority feels like someone trying to explain me what they read on Wikipedia this morning.

Or to sell themselves. Or worse, writing a subpar programming tutorial to have "online presence".

I run a publication on Medium, Better Humans. My understanding is that the pivot to be a place where most writing is paid for was specifically to crowd out content marketing. The content marketing is, as the two of you say, basically Wikipedia summaries and people selling themselves. It's part of the style guide for their Membership program that writers can't have calls to action (with a few exceptions, like if it's an excerpt from your book).

It's been a great program for us. We write in the area of personal development and it's allowed us to pour a lot of money into getting authors who've actually tested their advice and then working with them to write very thorough tutorials that other people could follow.

In my biased opinion, what we used to compete with was trash simply because it didn't work. Content marketers were writing great headlines for productivity advice they'd never tested, the advice had huge gaps or mistakes, and then it would stop short of telling you what to do so that it could make some call-to-action sales pitch.

We've been getting much less competition for page views from these trash articles based on recent Medium changes. The biggest change was that they manually review all articles before allowing an article to get promoted by their algorithm.

As an example, I have an article I wrote that's just creeping up on 1M page views. That just wasn't possible before.

Why stay on Medium? Why not take total ownership and move to your own space?

It's a good partnership for us.

- they handle distribution and are better at it than us.

- they pay more than we'd make in ad rates or conversion to our own services.

- it lets us focus on what we love doing, which is the writing and editing, without managing the other side of a publishing business.

We have license to the copyright for most things we've done in the last 18 months, so it's not a full lock-in either.

I'd make sure you have good backups. Medium doesn't feel like it's going to be around for a long time.

One question though - what do you mean by distribution?

Re: sticking around.

They used to have zero revenue and deep investor pockets. Now they have growing revenue and still have deep investor pockets. There's ways for them to disappear, but fewer than there used to be.

Re: distribution. On a typical article, 80% of page views comes from within the Medium network through promotion by the Medium algorithm. Those page views (and even the followers of our publication) are readers that Medium sourced by publishing lots of other articles than ours. Their algorithm is much more reliable at driving 10k's or 100k's of readers than my other choices: mailing list, reddit, hackernews, SEO.

I’m not a fan of Medium (mainly because of the UI both on mobile and desktop) but it doesn’t seem like you have anything to back up what you are saying.

Well they laid off a bunch of people, changed their business model, and are trying to raise another round.

They aren't some scrappy startup anymore, they are the big dog in the space and doing those kinds of things doesn't exactly signal that all is well.

I’m curious as to what you mean by distribution. I can’t work out what that mean in the context of the web.

Re: distribution.

I answered this above too. Medium finds me readers, both a lot of readers and high quality readers.

They break out their stats by how many readers came directly from promotion throughout the Medium network. For a typical article, that can be in the 10k's of readers.

I didn't mention this above though, which is that Medium readers seem to be very high quality. They share posts out on social media, so they're good for helping get the word out, and a lot of them are people I end up meeting in other contexts.

I have one post from October that's creeping up on 1M readers. I never would have been able to get that many people to read it on my own.

> The biggest change was that they manually review all articles before allowing an article to get promoted by their algorithm.

I wasn't aware of that. Maybe I'll start clicking on Medium links again (on purpose). "Trash articles" is a good description of the most recent content I read on there before giving up on Medium.

Medium pays? I just found out about that. And how exactly does it pay you? Because they have never paid me a cent. On the other hand. Medium. It is a specific platform for the English language. It would be impossible to make a blog in Spanish inside of Medium, And earn some money, really? I think I'm right.. Mmmm

> they manually review all articles before allowing an article to get promoted by their algorithm.

This is amazing - this is the thing that people demand of Youtube, in order that the algorithm stops promoting anti-vaxxers and Holocaust deniers.

Dilemas are, who gatekeeps the gatekeepers, and how much do they want to act like a publisher vs a town square. If too much, maybe they'd become liable for the content they publish.

>maybe they'd become liable for the content they publish

And therein you have found the crux.

Take away the massive human resource cost of moderating this they still run the risk of implying approval/endorsement of things they do not manually kill that the algo throws up.

Personally I think you could just consider that training for the AI.

They will have to so something eventually, I can’t see the EU whose member nations do have hate speech laws letting this rabbit hole continue for much longer.

This is so toxic and tiring. It's worth paying for tutorials these days because not only are there thousands out there who want to promote themselves, they want to do so by pretending to be experts. Some are very convincing. If you're a junior or unfamiliar with a technology, you can find yourself reading some of the worst trash out there.

I'm fortunate to have enough experience to tell the wheat from the chaff usually, but holy hell there's a lot of sifting to do. I'm currently studying Python for the first time and the amount of garbage writing on the language I find is frustrating.

The other trouble is, once you have some experience there just aren't very many good tutorials. I was looking through tutorials for node, and most of the ones I found started off with how to open the developer console, and what a for loop is. I'd very much prefer if tutorial authors would just link to one of the many basic CS fundamentals tutorials, and then skip much of the basics. If I'm learning Javascript, I just want to know what the for loop syntax is, without needing an explanation of the concept.

A bit off topic, but in case you were still looking, may I suggest https://learnxinyminutes.com/docs/javascript/? That site is my first port of call whenever I need to get a quick overview of a new language.

That is good. For books, I like Kyle Simpson's You Don't Know JS series.

Is it really that bad? I’ve been reading some of the deep learning stuff and there are some pretty detailed ,lengthy explanations. One time I did notice that An author copied/pasted most of their content from an obscure blog (90%) and I was going to call them out but they did list the blog in their reference.

However I am still a beginner in programming as well as deep learning so maybe I lack the the ability to distinguish between real and fake experts.

This is me and Angular. I tried to study it via YouTube tutorials. There were so many holes in the teaching patterns that I gave up on it.

>a subpar programming tutorial to have "online presence"

As someone learning programming this hurts so much. I've read so many medium articles that are sort of correct .... but also not and imply things that are straight wrong.

They clearly aren't that many steps beyond my ability and their writing implies they are ... but their work way not.

Really frustrating when you see an obvious template or pattern that is just a bit "off" used in medium post after after post and the code works, but is way not handy to use as you can't really build much off of it / alter it with ease.

I don't know how many websites like Medium it will take for people to realize that for quality content a website needs:

1. Well-defined subject.

2. Some standard for quality.

3. Editors with a stake in the website who filter out things that do not fit 1 and 2 and deliberately cultivate the reader base and frequent writers. (I.e. not Wikipedia-style "editors".)

It doesn't have to involve money. It doesn't have to be closed for the public to submit content. It doesn't have to mimic old media in any fashion.

Websites like that used to exist in late 90s early 00s. Web 2.0 movement waged a war against all 3 bullet points above for the benefits of technocrats at the expense of everyone else. Now we're enjoying the consequences.

I've noticed this myself. Also, of late it increasingly feels like I'm reading the Op-ed section of the NYT or the Guardian.

I'm all for opinions on current affairs (I have loads!) but it's not what I came here to read, nor is it what your title suggested.

Yeah, TEDx Talks in text format

TEDx Talks have more words in them and better visuals too.

Still the same theme, though. Leads you through a story then either issues a call to action or tries to sell you something. The whole thing is built to affect you enough emotionally to perform whatever action the author wants.

Wow this is the perfect analogy.

I feel like 95% of the Medium posts I find are some vague attempt to sell. Usually some company trashing a competitor for pages, and then the last paragraph is their call to action to try their new replacement to said competitor.

> trying to explain me what they read on Wikipedia this morning.

Often feel like resume padding is the underlying motivator too.

This is true. There's a certain subtle pressure in the dev and IT community to be like those prolific open source contributors, stackoverflow gurus, and insightful bloggers with thousands of twitter followers.

I imagine that there's a whole slew of different causes and neuroses mixed in with feeling that pressure, including the ever-present and insidious imposter syndrome. It's very difficult to feel "good enough" when you're comparing yourself to those hugely popular open source developers. It's probably tied up in the same bundle as people with an Instagram account trying to compare themselves to the models with tens of millions of followers.

Every time I click through to a post I want to read on Medium it gives me that damn full page popup about not being logged in (I know, I'm just reading a post, why would I want or need an account for that?) and then I generally just close the page and don't read whatever it was.

Not to mention that they don't advertise RSS feeds so you have to jump through hoops to use it for a feed reader.

Most big media sites now have "you read X free articles this month, you need a subscription to continue" popups. Medium doesn't require you to sign up to continue, but it acts and reads just like those in its cutesy way, hoping the user infers the requirement to sign up.

That popup is a UX dark pattern, and for me puts them in the same category as LinkedIn with its various means of lulling you into actions you wouldn't consciously take.

The feeds that are there don't work well. For most blogs/pages/people, there's no way to get a feed but one that includes not only the stories by that account, but any comment they left anywhere on the site too, as well as all the comments on their stories.

That's probably because I'm blocking some script, but I get a top menu that covers the top 20% of my screen, and an advertise (visual one) for their RSS feeds that covers the bottom 30% of my screen. None of them can be closed without some extension or the developer tools.

Has medium not yet changed their domain to "pardontheinterrupt.com" ?

To me it looked like a scam right away.

Medium tried to act as if it were something a little bit better than the rest of the web and it quickly became something just a little bit worse.


If you are running a tiny service you can get together a community of people who are two or three standard deviations better than the mean.

If that service grows, it is going to tap a wider pool of lesser talent and the quality of the discussion will decay.

Hacker News has fought this, but Hacker News is not funded the same way as the firms that Y Co invests in.

Be suspect of any centralized, closed service attempting to replace an open, working, eco-system of decentralized platforms.

To be honest that's the biggest reason I have never really rooted for Signal. Even though it's like really beta, I would rather invest my hope and efforts in Matrix/Riot kind of setup.

Same here. It's ironic that Medium was supposed to be a nice, clean reading experience — an alternative to all the crappy popup-ridden content mills.

I feel similarly about Medium: waning enthusiasm.

I only recently got engaged in HackerNews. The UI isn't beautiful. There are minimal features. It's my favorite content aggregator right now. Obviously, HN isn't a blogging platform, but it accomplishes many of the things medium is trying to.

I wonder if many more partners will give up on medium? Hackernoon is moving away because of a change to medium's advertising policy.

> The UI isn't beautiful.

I disagree. HN's UI is perfect.

Hard disagree. It's barely acceptable on desktop, but on a mobile device it's awful. All the links and buttons are tiny, and they're all so crowded together I frequently end up doing dumb things like tapping "flag" when I meant to tap "discuss."

With just a little bit of work HN's UI could be so much better.

Seriously I get that they want the 'shit plain look to scare off normal people' schtick but it's also terrible for accessibility.

For being a company that beats the inclusive and equality drum they seem to go out of their way to make it impossible for people who don't have incredible dexterity or eyesight to use this site.

I love the simple layout but make it accessible to everyone.

I was going to disagree with you on the sites accessibility but after taking a closer look it is pretty bad, though for different reasons. Tables everywhere, missing alt tags, doc language missing, no form labels..

As far as aesthetics I actually like the current site. It serves its purpose well IMO. The real accessibility issues should be addressed per WCAG.

I've been using hn.premii.com for years now ... also available as apps across iOS, Android and Windows UWP. Gives me an optimal reading experience on all my devices, but I'm mostly a lurker so YMMV.

try opera mobile browser. it has a nice zoom feature where the text will always word wrap to fit on the screen!

On mobile, try using https://hackerweb.app/

A much nicer mobile interface for consuming HN, but you'll have to go direct to the site to interact with it.

Still just okay imo.

Sure it looks new and mobiley but all I really want (not OP btw) is the same site but with bigger buttons on mobile.

I have it set up on iOS to auto zoom and to raise the font size a couple clicks but the action buttons are still hard to click on and at least once a day I flag or downvote something I have to then undo.

Unless you have perfect eyesight and dexterity it’s a chore.

I might make what i seek actually. At least then I’ve scratched my own itch.

Maybe an extension?

Can that even be done with the current apis?

The proliferation of third-party mobile apps for HN just proves the point. If HN's UI were decent on mobile, these apps would have no reason to exist.

Oh nice, thank you!

I use the Materialistic app on Android. Works great.

Totally agree.

Perfect and beautiful are two different things.

100% agree that HN's UI is great, but I'm not sure anyone would look at it and say, "oh that's gorgeous." Or at least I wouldn't

After all, the purpose of UI is not to be beautiful, but too many people still think it is

Tiny buttons that are hard to click on mobile.

Markdown that drives people to use block quotes when it isn't needed and make reading quotes a nightmare on mobile.

Clicking the back button after replying doesn't show your post.

Low contrast difference between background and thread title.

The list goes on.

Agreed, it's quite good.

Most complaints seem to be focused on mobile. Eh, on mobile I only consume content, so I don't really care if it's hard to post a comment or vote on mobile. Desktop computing is my jam.

And any complaints about its appearance on desktop are easy to tune to user preferences using a userscript. I have a simple userscript that changes the color scheme to a dark theme I quickly concocted. (Part of why I don't even bother to contribute on mobile is because mobile platforms are so constrained that a quick and dirty userscript isn't particularly easy to use.)

They could have fixed the overflowing fixed-width blocks on mobile, to be honest :) But I agree with you in every sense.

It was worse in the past. The last batch of changes improved a lot already.

I thought I am viewing different website from yours.

I am totally not satisfied hackernews website design and UI.

I'm with medium, but I didn't start there until they allowed for you to use your own domain.

If I want to leave I can re-house my content somewhere else and write a script to have the URLs match medium's article identifiers so I don't lose (much) Google-juice.

Not ideal, and not a perfect escape plan, but better than leaving all my eggs in one pretentious basket.

> f I want to leave I can re-house my content somewhere else and write a script to have the URLs match medium's article identifiers so I don't lose

Didn't they block it? I read a post here about it some time back. I doubt medium would make you leave it easy.

+1 - if I am reading hackernews and see a link that is from medium I will skip it. 99% if the time it will be some thinly-vieled marketing. I am sure there is a lot of perfectly good content on there, but the bullshit marketing crap has turned me off of the whole domain. It is basically as bad as seeing a wordpress link, except you can guarantee that 99 times out of 100 it will be someone peddling their startup (at least wordpress had some slightly out-of-left-field stuff on it)

There is nothing wrong with self-hosted blogs. If you still want to "blog" then go for it on your own domain, please don't feel like you have to publish through some random third party that exists to monetise your content.

Oh I still remember the dawn of Medium: What a revelation this thing was! A wonderful platform, made for the reader! Nice typography, good layout, easy but pleasant on the eyes.

Oh what does Medium have become... Meanwhile it became the villain in the game. (The Batman quote would really place itself nicely here)

Totally. The UI is positively atrocious -- especially for posting stuff, but also for viewing -- and the overall quality of content has taken a serious nosedive. Most of the Medium links I've clicked in the past six months have ended up being been regurgitated swill, or else simply claptrap.

I was a paid Medium member for a good while, but discontinued my membership late last year for those reasons.

I feel that way about most bloggish sites, until I hit the readability button.

If they block that then I give up.

Funny how these things go in circles. I remember the time where many webpages were unstyled, letting you freely choose the font, size, colors, etc. in browser preferences. But that was considered ugly and non-user friendly. Now with various readability buttons we're just moving back to that.

Without custom CSS, you couldn't, however, fix the single most important readability issue about unstyled HTML: add reasonable margins and keep body width at the recommended 60–70em or so. Readability modes finally get that right.

Right. I forgot to mention that we also used to be able to resize the browser to the width we personally found comfortable for reading. I guess that's something reader modes still have to rediscover.

Sure. But lines running from window border to window border are still hard to read. The margins have to be clean negative space.

Every single time I see a medium link, I prime my cursor to hit Reader Mode as fast as possible, it's a godsend.

You can open links directly in reader view with the Open In Reader View addon for Firefox/Chrome/Opera:


It's great for these situations.

No need for an extension.

Reader view doesn't always work though (at least in Firefox.) You can use the icon in the URL bar or CTRL + ALT + R to open reader view.

Firefox does some detective work to choose whether to show the reader view icon but using the keyboard shortcut used to work regardless. Recently it seems even the keyboard shortcut doesn't work unless the icon is visible - I think becausethe heuristic for showing the icon is more accurate these days.

Nah, you're not the only one. The various modals and 'log in' prompts are obnoxious, and it's only made worse by how 90% of promoted Medium.com articles are paid now (so there's a good chance you'll see a 'pay to continue reading' warning instead of any content).

And that's before you even get into the content, which is usually either:

1. Pointless bullshit from some 'influencer' no one cares about filled with silly buzzwords

2. Political panicking about Trump

3. Or generally uninteresting articles in general. Medium's long since gone through its Eternal September phase, so there's no real quality difference between the stuff there and the stuff anywhere else.

I have to block js from medium in order to get scrolling to work, so yeah. All the fucking popups and cutesy nags are a bit rich too.

I stopped reading Medium after hearing that a guy I know was never paid for the articles he wrote for them back in 2014. I took a look again in 2017 after being out of college for a few months and it looked like a bunch of college sophomores trying to one up each other on how long they've been programming, going to hackathons, contributing to OSS, etc. So toxic.

Shameless plug for warisboring.com. Go support my friend's work. If anyone at Medium sees this, just pay him already.

Same. When they first started, I was excited. Now they just seem scummy. If there's an article that I really really want to read, I put the url into outline.

Same. The header and footer give me visual claustrophobia. If the article is something I really want to read, I right-click on each and do Inspect > Delete.

It's still the nicest, simplest web design I know that has any level of popularity for blogging. I'd still rather read on Medium than on Wordpress or Discourse or Blogger or Ghost or really any popular blog layout I've seen.

I don't want to trivialize how annoying the login popups are, but ultimately I put up with them for the sake of a more readable article on the other side.

What blog styles do you like reading?

The UI/UX for medium comments is so utterly horrible it makes me angry just thinking about it.

I was reading some interesting articles the other idea, and it was a painful, torturous struggle to read all of the comments and their nested responses.

The entire text of a comment should not be a clickable link! And you shouldn't have to go to a new page to read comment replies...

Sorry, just venting, not directed at you.

Deeply nested discussions get harder, much like on StackOverflow. I think it's a deliberate design decision and I'm not convinced it's a bad one; you do miss out on some deeper discussion, but it encourages people to work-up their responses into full-sized posts (and making a new post is very easy).

Fair enough, I get that it is non-trivial to design UI for nested discussions.

I'm most annoyed by the entire comment being a clickable link that takes you off of the page (and the scroll position being lost when you click "back").

I've accidentally clicked on a comment numerous times. I then have to click the back button, scroll down to the comments section, click "show all comments", and then search for the comment I was reading, just to simply to get back to where I was. It is a quite bad user experience when it happens.

It's especially bad on mobile. On my iPhone SE, the top is a banner promoting their native app, then a top navigation bar and their logo. The bottom is an ad for the paid membership, a dialog for Do Not Track info. The tiny space that's visible behind all these craps is.... the irrelevant hero image. I can't even read the title!

No, i read most articles through Pocket. Just save the link to pocket, and read it popup and adfree in the pocket app.

I use Pocket also, but: For most web sites, Pocket makes a text-only copy that you can read offline without hitting the website again. But Pocket doesn't do that for Medium articles; it will only take you to medium.com to see the original (or offer to view it with the Medium app), so either way you have the login requirement, 3-article limit, etc.

I suspect that Pocket and Medium have some kind of agreement; Medium may have stepped in to say "you can't make that text-only offline copy; that's our content" and Pocket, not wanting to get sued, went with the linked strategy instead.

That probably means i haven't read anything from medium recently. Wasn't aware of it.

> Personally, I was excited by Medium all those years ago.

Keep in mind that Medium is just YouTube, except with text-based content.

I have always liked blogs hosted on their own. Different fonts, different background, font size/colours, different layouts et cetera. It feels very personal. Medium felt like an assembly line. It's very bland.

The first thing I do when I load a Medium hosted page on my phone is to use uBlock origin to hide the app button and the fixed top bar. If I couldn't do it anymore, I'll stop reading those pages.

The popup asking you to sign in everytime I'm logged out is do incredibly annoying that I just send the page to Pocket or Outline if I think I might read it later.

I've never had a Medium account and don't want one. I stopped reading Medium articles because of the annoying popup begging me to "make this relationship more serious" or whatever and get an account.

Exactly the same feeling. Few year back, really like what they built and had fun using their tool.

Since ˜1 year, I have no pleasure to use it and I tend to get away from it.

Agreed. I quarantine Medium links inside a Firefox multi-account container like the entertaining contagion it's become.

Same, I just saved it to instapaper and read it there.

totally, I love most of the articles I‘ve read. But all the garbage medium needs to run. Really heavy pageload for a simple thing like blogging

I don't have a Medium account so I'm not sure if this is still true, but there was once a button in the settings to export your content as a zipball. If you'd like to migrate to a self-hosted blog, I wrote a tool which will convert this zipball into a Jekyll blog:


If you want, shoot me an email for free hosting, and I'll rig up builds.sr.ht to automate deployment for you, too: sir@cmpwn.com

That's pretty nice. For people looking for an alternative with the same convenience as Medium, converting the archive of Medium posts to a GitHub Pages site could be a decent solution.

My favorite part:

    # Remove the stupid footer
    footer = soup.find("footer").extract()

They still should have a feature like that due to GDPR compliance, even if the dark patterns / investors would like the feature removed for retention.

I exported it last year to move to Hugo. I will check your tool out since I still haven't migrated images from medium.


Jesus christ, dude. Lots of people have praised the design, too. Not everything suits everyone.


Looks like they edited their comment. They were railing on git.sr.ht's design.

Somewhat related - I think write.as has a huge opportunity here to sell to businesses. When I've done content marketing my core problems were:

1. I want to write a draft, solicit comments to improve, edit, spell check, and run through tools like Hemingway

2. I want to publish to different platforms like LinkedIn, a blog (static site using markdown or Wordpress), an email tool like Drip, and Medium. Maybe missing some others.

3. Formatting the posts for each service is a PITA. Need images in different sizes and need to place them in the posts.

Ideally I'd like to be able to do all three using a single tool, connect my publishing platforms, click publish (maybe schedule them) and would have drafts in LinkedIn, Medium, Drip, etc.

This would save me so much time that I'd easily pay $50/m for this (and we're bootstrapped and cheap/"capital efficient"). Looks like write.as is heading somewhat in this direction but sadly doesn't hit the major platforms (yet?) Huge market, painful problem, selling to businesses, can build a great tool around content marketing workflow. Got the hallmarks of a great business.

That's definitely good to know -- I appreciate the insight! We were indeed headed down this route in the early days with these integrations. In another life, I might do this. Particularly, having a simple format (like plain text / Markdown) that could then be interpreted in its own ways by all these platforms was the original dream.

But the consumer space is our sweet spot. I can genuinely talk about why I care about building a $6 / month blogging platform for consumers -- I wouldn't have that same passion building something I don't have much personal interest in (even if there was more money involved).

From a business perspective, this space is very under-served, as far as platforms that writers can rely on still being here in 10 years. And we have plenty of avenues to business customers, from support [0], to more API access, to larger community hosting [1]. Mostly, I personally want everyday people to have a service they can depend on, where they aren't being mined for data, they get their digital freedom back, etc. That's not something many others can say or even have interest in.

[0] https://write.as/pricing

[1] https://writefreely.host

Thanks for the response. TBH I was a little confused about whether you were trying to serve personal customers or business customers. From your response above it's still not clear =) It sounds like you don't care much about the business customers (great! focus is good!) But then you say:

> And we have plenty of avenues to business customers, from support [0], to more API access, to larger community hosting [1]

I think the fact that you mention both groups on your pricing page had my hopes up. In general if you're going to focus on consumers that's great, but you might not be doing yourself a favour from a marketing or resource-allocation perspective by talking about business customers.

Just my 2c!

That's great feedback. I've always felt the way it's presented was sub-optimal, so it's good to at least confirm that :)

Consumers are our focus, but we do need those few business customers to help get us to profitability quicker. That, and the fact that we solve some niche business needs, is why I still want to target them in some way. I have a few ideas in mind to do this (particularly around marketing) that I want to implement soon. Would you mind if I picked your brain on some of the changes I've been thinking of?

Email away! It's in my profile.

This isn't what you're looking for, more an indication that there is a real need for these types of services. Checkout: https://www.wordable.io/ - which focuses solely on Google Docs to Wordpress.

It's kind of nuts to think that these somewhat "edge" cases are so large as to be able to build a business around.

It is not an edge case - the PR tool market is huge and there is a lot of business that serve it. Perhaps not super many that serve the micro/small sized segments (which this would be), but there are several alternatives to chose from.

Wordpress is a massive market and text drives the web. I think these can be great businesses. Hadn't seen Wordable - thanks.

Realize this does not solve your problem, but for the writing and drafting part. I personally use Blot ( https://blot.im ). It's been really great, especially for actually getting content written. You just tie it to a dropbox or git repo and write markdown and it does the rest. You can self host or use the hosted service.

Can't recommend it enough. The developer is also super responsive on email which is great when figuring it out. Only thing to nitpick about is documentation could be a bit more clear. You can see the result here https://blog.jonasbengtson.se/

I think they're in this not only for the money. Their goal is to provide a user-centric blogging platform, not a corporate-centric one.

Shameless plug: write your post from the comfort of your Emacs and automatically upload it to write.as or any other writefreely instance:


Looking at your requirements, what you need seems more to be a PR & communications tool. One example of that is the company I work for, Mynewsdesk (www.mynewsdesk.com), where the stripped down version include more or less what you ask for (more or less, we have our own email integration against sendgrid, and no integration against Medium). But we handle other stuff you list.

Our cheapest nonfree alternative cost $120 a month though, but perhaps that is close enough to be interesting? If not, there are many other companies in the PR tool market - perhaps one fit your needs.

Interesting, thanks. Looks like I may need a couple of the feature MND has. But I'd much rather use a purpose-built tool that's made for my specific scenarios. As an example, I don't need monitoring or contacts.

Monitoring and contacts are mostly stuff built after everything else for upsell opportunities. But there is a lot of companies in the space so no doubt that you can find one that cater to your subset of demands.

The post shows the risk in such a move. The 3rd party integrations can be turned off without warning (such as this case). What do you tell your paying customers?

Your paying customers are still going to have to post their articles to different sites regardless of whether you support it or not. But you could make it easier for them. I would tell them:

"Medium cut off access so you have to go there directly to post. We've formatted your post for Medium - cut this and paste it to Medium here: [link_to_create_new_post_on_medium]."

Publishing to multiple platforms via a single click is nice, but the most painful part about publishing to multiple platforms is formatting the posts so they look good everywhere you post.

Sounds like the hard bit is in the reformatting, otherwise you can just use zapier?

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