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All Medium paywalled stories now free, unmetered when you’re coming from Twitter (twitter.com)
74 points by yarapavan 21 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 55 comments

Medium always confuses me on how hundreds of millions are spent on making such a poor product. It's a very basic blog, something that's an "intro to programming" youtube video at this point, yet it's slow and annoying to use and has never made any serious money for anyone.

It's starting to get to Juicero levels of absurdity.

If your only consumers are developers, then yes, it’s really straightforward.

I made a small CMS at work that started to gain steam. 2 years of me using it and no issues, but then I turned it over to the marketing team and they crashed the VM it ran on in 2 days. I have no idea how, it’s just a bunch of text boxes and a SQL DB.

That’s what medium is trying to build. A text box that marketing people can’t fuck up. It’s just sad that technical skills are so low in society that it takes $130mil to do that.

Considering that there are hundreds of blog engines from Wordpress to Squarespace that work fine with even more control and advanced layouts, I think this is a solved problem.

Do you have any idea what it takes to run a Wordpress service at scale in a way that doesn’t get the host rooted every ten seconds?

You have little idea what you are talking about for somebody so dismissive.

Honestly, yes I do. I've single-handedly built global applications serving billions of requests daily for several startups. I understand hidden complexities but a blogging site like Medium is as simple as it gets. It's $132M to build a blog that's not even as advanced as 15 year old software like Wordpress.

If you need another example, look at https://dev.to/ for a fantastic blog UX, and it's open-source so Medium can just copy it for free and end up with a better product.

Isn't comparing the scale of the two like comparing apples to oranges? I think most wordpress sites are self hosted. There's wordpress.com hosting, but I'd guess that most of their sites are self hosted for the explicit purpose of customization.

While WordPress still dominates large areas of the web, they have a decentralized model vs medium. It's like comparing scaling web forums to reddit ("why do they have so many outages? All they do is store text!"), but reddit obviously has a way higher load than any single forum. I'd wager the same is true for medium.

To continue on with the metaphor, medium, like reddit, is solving a different problem than the wordpress/squarespace model: you don't have to roll your own. You get a built in audience due to centralization and the cache of the site (For some reason I associate a medium link as being more legit than seeing a WordPress hosting site. Strange, but better branding I guess.)

The discussion has gotten muddy. The point was that this custom-built expensive site is just a blog and still offers less than Wordpress in terms of features.

Scale is differently, but again there are plenty of sites with far more complex usage and data that took much less to create and run. Stackoverflow being that example.

Software is usually more complex than meets the eye, I’m sure they have unique challenges from scale, SEO, performance, etc

Sure, but you can still compare relative functionality of the end product. This is a blog. And it's slow. Meanwhile Stackoverflow can load pages in milliseconds with far more interactivity and dynamic data.

Have they raised hundreds of millions?

$132 million so far. About $130 million too much.


Are there Medium publications that are consistently of a high quality? I recall Backchannel being one (written and edited by tech journalists) but the issue is it's hard to know which publications are contributor-driven and which aren't.

Contributor-driven content is why Forbes.com, Inc.com, etc are unreadable. It's all puff pieces for some startup, unoriginal life-hacking advice and entreporn.

As was once said of a computer magazine, but is really an evergreen observation about all business media:

“The publication is packed full of advertisements, some of which are clearly labeled as such.”

What a great insight. Thank you for sharing.

It's a great place to follow high quality individual writers instead of publications. For example one of my favorite finance writers: https://medium.com/@byrnehobart/

Terry Crowley's posts on Windows/Office (where he ran engineering) are well worth reading: https://medium.com/@terrycrowley

The quality of the content is definitely hit and miss, with more seeming to be the latter. The problem with mediums (no pun intended) is that at some point the source becomes popular, which does gain the benefit of reaching a wider audience. The downside is that with that popularity comes noise. The noise is often comprised of a clickbait title with poor quality content. I would say that it suffers from the same issue that StackOverflow has, which is that it loses its effectiveness as the user base grows.

I'd say the problem is more that at some point, every site/service/platform becomes attractive for SEO/marketing purposes, bringing in tons of shysters looking for a quick buck. It's the same reason virtually every tech and webmaster forum on the internet is absolutely terrible; because all the spammers join and post crap en masse to try and build up a few backlinks/getting themselves seen as 'authorities'.

Just look at Sitepoint, Digitalpoint, virtually every web development and marketing subreddit, Warrior Forum, etc.

That's what killed Medium. Everyone started promoting it as a get rich quick scheme/easy way to market your work, so the spammers, marketers and morons came in.

The only way to avoid this issue is to heavily moderate the platform with a zero fluff/spam tolerance rule, and to boot out anyone trying to game the system.

Publications, no not really. Pretty much all of them are the worst kind of 'life hack' stuff you can think of, with their barrier to entry often being non existent.

It's pretty much why I stopped posting my work to said publications, since I realised their quality was falling so much that sites like Hacker News and Reddit had banned the publication's domain.

That said, there are decent writers there. You just have to really know where to look, since the front page/newsletters/archives are a bloody smorgsaboard of reprinted mass media articles and pointless puff pieces from social media influencers.

I definitely saw some interesting pieces of UX design and usability there, and obviously the latest Silicon Valley controversy will probably first come to light there too. So meaningful stuff exists, it's just heavily buried under tides of crap.

I used to like Medium as a discovery tool for interesting articles & ideas for authors to follow (on Medium or Twitter). But since the introduction of the premium model it is completely broken for this purpose. Now all you see (at least 80% of their recommendations) is premium articles on the Medium website.

For the topics that I am interested in (Data science, ML, Cloud, Programming etc) very close to 0% of the quality authors write to make a few pennies of the articles. They do it to enhance their own personal brand or as content marketing for the companies they work for. For this reason the premium article star marker works as a filter for things I am not willing click and invest time in reading since they are rarely written by experts with actual experience in the topics that I am interested in.

So when they skew their recommendation algorithm so hard towards the premium content it is just not worth it anymore and I never click around on the Medium.com website anymore. 90%+ of my clicks to articles comes from Twitter. I wish they built their business model to charge for features and not content since the path they are on is not going to work out. It is reducing the incentive for quality authors to publish on Medium since the exposure they will get through the recommendation algorithm is being smaller and smaller. Most people don't publish on Medium because it is difficult or expensive to run a wordpress blog. They do it because of it is a good way to find new readers of your content.

I don't get it, who looks at Twitter and thinks "Yes, I want more of that type of audience."

Who looks at Medium and says "Sure, I'd love it if you own my content forever?"

Who looks at Medium and says, "yes, that is a good UI for reading that article -- I'm not nagged or tracked enough, and don't lose enough real estate to sticky headers"?

"I don't think my content has enough Facebook integration. I want to be sure as much data as possible about my readers is being captured and fed to The Algorithm."

Writers with no established base of readers or method of distribution.

Like Jeff Bezos?


His use was to avoid tainting the Amazon or WaPo brands with his personal drama. Medium seems like a neutral, "throwaway" place to publish that letter.

I wonder what happens if a Medium user copies someone else's original content onto Medium and the post is uncontested by a DMCA request. If Medium or a subsidiary profit from reproducing that content, could the original creator sue, and for how much?

Copyright is something I haven't taken the time to fully understand.

This is an important legal question that's currently being debated by many legislators around the world. In the U.S. there's a law frequently called "Section 230"[1] that protects online content publishers from being held legally responsible for user-created content published on their platform. It's the reason why Tinder isn't on the hook for fraud every time someone uses their service to catfish and why Backpage & Craigslist (until recently at least) weren't accessories to prostitution every time someone sold sexual services on their sites.

Likewise, Section 230 acts as a "shield" to protect the platforms from copyright liability for content posted by their users.

This is good. It allows platforms like Facebook, Reddit, Medium, and even Hacker News to exist without needing to constantly police everything being said on their platform. It allows users of those platforms to have free and open discussion.

You've probably heard about "Article 13" and the "upload filter" in the European Union. Article 13 takes away the European equivalent of Section 230's "shield" that protects online platforms from copyright liability.

And the United States has been slowly chipping away at Section 230's protections as well. Last year Trump signed "FOSTA" (sometimes called "SESTA") which "creates liability for third-party content on websites “that unlawfully promote or facilitate prostitution." I would encourage you to read why this legislation is a problem for anyone who enjoys the open internet as we currently know it.[2][3]

[1] https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/47/230 [2] https://www.eff.org/cases/woodhull-freedom-foundation-et-al-... [3] https://stopsesta.org/

Do you lose your rights to your content when you post it on Medium?

Well, from my experiences Twitter is way more than the racist people and stupid politicians stuff you usually hear from media. The developer community is active, helpful and shares a lot of interesting stuff.

Most of the programming accounts I used to follow were ruined by politics.

That's sad to hear. Luckily most developers keep their heads out out political stuff. If some account starts being political I almost instantly unfollow him/her.

Twitter has long had a symbiotic relationship with Medium as the place where long-form stuff is promoted, and things too long for Twitter go on Medium. Not sure why it's the default blog platform for this and not Wordpress.

I'm also not sure who's paying who for this. Do the writers get paid for Medium? How? Is Twitter paying for this or does it come out of Medium's promotion budget?

Medium and Twitter were both founded by the same person, Evan Williams, who remains a major shareholder of both companies.

He also makes some damn fine bourbon whiskey.

If it were the same Evan, I'd be really impressed. The single barrel is quite nice, and even the bottom-shelf stuff still tastes better (and is cheaper) than plain ol' Jack.

I mainly follow Dota2 and Hearthstone pros and orgs on twitter and they all seem to provide relevant information. My feed is nice, though checking it a daily/weekly rate is a good use of my time.

Someone who can collect and then sell the data of the readers + audience. It's not the authors who are selling.

There is no "free." Someone is paying for this.

From farther down in the thread[1]:

> It doesn't affect compensation—assuming you mean for Partner Program. That's determined by readership from paying members, which will still be counted (assuming they're logged in).

Ev also said that they'll watch to see if this change negatively impacts paid subscriptions.

[1]: https://twitter.com/ev/status/1100905414089031680

One of the tweets suggests Twitter is going to buy Medium. That's ... interesting.

It's not too farfetched given that Evan Williams founded the company.

So this is just a /sweetheart/friend/i own both/ kind of deal? It's great to have the ability to bail out of a failed unicorn and still make money I guess. Should I short twitter?

He also stepped down from the board 6 days ago, which will take effect today:

> On February 22, 2019, Twitter, Inc. (“Twitter”) announced that Evan Williams has decided to step down as a member of its board of directors (the “Board”), effective at the end of the month. Mr. Williams said in a statement, “It’s been an incredible 13 years, and I’m proud of what Twitter has accomplished during my time with the company. I will continue rooting for the team as I focus my time on other projects.”

(from the SEC filing: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1418091/000119312519...)

Serious question: does he also own the Bourbon company in the same name?


founded Blogger, Twitter, odeo (vine before vine) and Medium.

That would make sense. It's a pretty common practice for acquisitions to start out with a business partnership to see how well the two companies work together. This could simply be Twitter and Medium testing the waters.

Or, more accurately, if you go to the Medium article via a t.co redirect (Twitter's outgoing link redirector). So if you want to share a paywalled article outside of Twitter (on HN, say) then submit the t.co link and there you go.

Example (this is usually paywalled): https://t.co/EkfcBtSUdo

I don't get a paywall when opening the destination URL of that directly in Chrome's incognito mode.

Yeah, I think you get up to 5 paywalled articles a month anyway if you're not logged in and incognito basically resets that over and over. But if I'm linking people to stuff, they're not usually going to go through that process and it'd be easier for me to make the t.co link for them.

It looks like it's time for an "Un-paywall Medium" Chrome extension. https://twitter.com/sephr/status/1101176562274037760

I imagine that most causal desktop users would rather install an extension in seconds than take the time to enter their payment information for an easily-bypassed paywall.

unfortunately, it's still Medium. If they improved their accessibility it wouldn't be as bad, but they're more pro design than pro accessible design.

Does this mean they’re tightening the paywall in general? I have run into annoying meaaafws but never been blocked from reading an article, and I’m always logged in.

My understanding is that if you do hit the paywall you can just open the article in an incognito window. Is this not the case, such that a twitter workaround would now be necessary?

Too late to edit, but that gibberish word was a crazy autocorrect from “messages”

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