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“HackerNoon is leaving Medium, but also trying to take rights for people's work” (twitter.com)
147 points by waffle_ss 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 119 comments

I posted this thing on Twitter, but just to be clear about what's going on here: they've replied and said their terms of service were not really intended to be harsh, they don't want your content, and that they'll revise them (https://twitter.com/ow/status/1105462220517969920). One day when Twitter actually implements tweet editing, these types of threads can start with a bit more clarity.

That said: Medium, as an independent writer, has supported me more than any news organization ever has. They currently pay top-of-market rates, on time, and pitch me stories/opportunities regularly. I haven't had a positive relationship with a media company like this in a long while, and it really seems like the work they're doing is making positive moves in the community/content you see as well.

It's hard to know who to side with here, because betting on a platform as a business is a really bad idea, and Medium has pivoted _a lot_ in the past, but at least they're trying to build a better model for both the reader _and_ the writer of the content.

I don't know what Medium is like for writers but it certainly doesn't feel like a better model for me as a reader. I'm reluctant to click on links to Medium on HN at this point because of their incessant nagging and popups for me to register.

Whereas I'm reluctant to click Medium.com links because I have no idea if the article is from a publication with paid writers, or from the armies of self-styled "thought leaders" and "life-hackers" dumping their blogspam on Medium just as they do with Inc.com, Forbes.com and the like.

I've been working to help Medium with this. They get journalism and have an excellent internal team run by the former EIC at Time. But they don't get expert publications, i.e. pubs run by subject matter experts.

I'd put together a self-improvement publication, Better Humans, based on what I'd learned working at O'Reilly during the heyday of O'Reilly books. Those were books for programmers written by programmers and edited by programmers. As a result, you could really trust what you were reading.

In our pub, there's a prohibition around publishing any summaries. The author has to have 1st hand experience. And then there's a serious editing pass from someone else who's pretty experienced.

All of that is economically feasible because of Medium's paywall. But so far, nobody has done the equivalent Programmer version of this.

I got to talk to Medium about why and my theory was that it's twofold. Publishers don't trust that this is the final pivot and also they don't really know how to run an editorial pipeline. We were fast to figure it out because we'd spent so much time working in publishing (the other Better Humans editor is also former O'Reilly and Make).

But I know it's possible and I'm trying to help Medium get more publications like this off the ground. When I looked at the existing ecosystem, I pushed away from even looking at HackerNoon and looking more at FreeCodeCamp. What would their articles look like with tighter editing at the acquisition, article, and copy stages? I think it would be a pretty great experience.

Don't those publications still have the problem that people (e.g. here on HN, where it's the only thing visible) just see a "medium.com" domain, and not an identity that can stand out? Or are those publications getting exceptions from the "we don't do custom domains anymore" crap medium pulled a while ago?

The domain you publish on is a strong signal. Not having your own both means your beholden to the platform your on (i.e. it'd be a lot more painful for Hackernoon to move somewhere else if they'd kill all their links etc in the process), and that you share the reputation with everyone else on that domain - which for medium.com is between mixed and fairly bad by now.

Isn't a big part of the reputation of the medium.com domain here on HN the fault of the HN community? Why are we posting and upvoting so many crummy articles?

I'm pretty sure custom domains aren't coming back. We're on a custom domain and I'm dying to get rid of it because I think it makes it look like Better Humans is a content marketing initiative for Coach.me (domain is betterhumans.coach.me).

However, I would like if Medium moved faster to kick off pubs that were pushing high volumes of articles without a corresponding level of quality. It probably looks like I'm bickering with the Hacker Noon publisher in other parts of these comments--and that's because I am. I think the way he publishes is across the board bad: it's a waste of his reader's time, it's a waste of his own time (he has the initiative to do so much more with his life), and it drains eyeballs and reputation from other Medium articles, which then has an effect on both my own interest of trying to deliver great articles to people and of making money.

There's an addition by subtraction opportunity for Medium where they push off the low-quality high-traffic pubs and then the .medium.com domain starts to look like a signal of quality in places like HN and Reddit.

What do you know about the way we publish? David from Hacker Noon here --- Most stories on Hacker Noon are not published by me, they are published by one of these four other editors https://hackernoon.com/meet-the-new-hacker-noon-editors-b375...

Every Hacker Noon story is reviewed by editor. On sites where anyone can publish, I'd guess less than 10% of stories are reviewed by an editor... but who knows?

I heard 7 of the 50 most clapped stories in 2018 are on hackernoon.com https://twitter.com/search?q=most%20clapped%20hackernoon&src... but I don't trust claps these days b/c of the evidence I've seen showing how clap counts display differently for different site visitors. If I go to hackernoon.com right now, "Blockchain Empowering Women Around the World" displays as zero claps on the hackernoon.com homepage, but I am following the author and when I click on the story many people have clapped it... https://hackernoon.com/blockchain-empowering-women-around-th... But if claps are to be trusted as a measure of quality, Hacker Noon outperforms the vast majority Medium posts: https://schleiss.io/2018/07/28/average-hackernoon-claps/

BTW, greatly appreciate the kind words about doing more initiative with my life! I thought a top 5k site in the world was cool, but it is small potatoes when you're neighbors are making twice baked. As the kids say, "CHEEEEEEESE"

I'd note that from the links that have trended on HN, Hacker Noon is, for me, now categorised basically under "assume shallow clickbait, don't bother".

And, honestly, "Blockchain Empowering Women Around the World" as the article you chose to mention here isn't doing anything to change that categorisation - the title is clickbait, and the content shallow to the point where it reminded me of the output of SEO content mills more than anything else. I read the article hoping to provide a more nuanced critique, but there really wasn't any there there to critique, and that's precisely what makes me default to skipping any hacker noon link based on the repeatedly validated expectation it'll be a waste of my time.

I'd also note that the passive-aggressive-smugness of your comment does you and your brand no favours either, but on the other hand if somebody'd just attacked my baby I could easily see myself making an even worse mess of it ... but perhaps you might want to consider that, given it's personal for you, your public comments could possibly also do with some active editing.

You my friend have some truth. The thing I made was attacked, and I made the comment they wanted me to make.

That Schleiss article makes exactly the point I'm trying to make to you. For a publication of your size 375 claps is a dud (that article is using data from when Medium's algorithm's would have been working in your favor). 75% of your articles are completely failing to get traction.

The job your editors should be doing is quality control. They should be filtering what you publish way down. And your job as the publisher should be to set guidelines for quality. None of that is happening and as a result, you're putting a constant stream of low quality in front of people. What's so great about being a top 5K site if you the impact is wasting people's time?

As comparison, I looked at the last 50 articles we published and only found 2 that didn't get 375 claps. Those were duds and we tried to learn lessons from them.

We do need to improve quality control. Having software designed for multiple editors instead of one un-filterable feed of many submissions for so multiple editors will help tremendously.

But claps aren't an accurate measure of quality or traffic. Sometimes they display and sometimes they don't. Is 375 from 8 people or 375 people? It's designed to blur the line.

What you're suggesting sounds like a good idea. FreeCodeCamp has a number of talented contributors, but maintaining a consistently high quality of content is hard when there's no real "brand/editorial voice".

Good to hear that there's a requirement to demonstrate real subject matter experience. Hopefully that cuts down on the volume of articles that are merely commentary on someone else's original researched work.

Step 2 would be to outright ban "link-bait" titles like "6 things that.." "Ultimate", "Start to finish guide" "2019", etc. I know for a fact that I used to read much, much more online when writers didn't editorialize the title to fit what they think would obtain the highest numbers of clicks and shares.

The gist is just that editing is expensive. I think FCC is not going to move inside the paywall (maybe because they are limited by their name), but that there are going to be good programmer-focused pubs that spend heavily on editorial.

My reference for this is outdated, O'Reilly and then the old Railscast site. But I'm sure there is an appropriate middle ground that makes use of the new economics to do something valuable and high quality.

No, Medium, let's not make it official.

When someone wants to make it official, I expect them to want to marry, sue, hire, or fuck me. None of these is what I expect to be offered when reading a blog.

I don't know why the wording of that message irritates me so much, but I can't imagine many people would appreciate it.

Way OT, but there's also a referee who does MMA who after giving the fighters their formal instructions, always says, "Now touch gloves and let's make it official."

Gold :D

> their incessant nagging and popups for me to register.

This says more about the somewhat sad state of the web at this point, but I at least prefer that Medium is a known quantity. I get one popup from Medium, asking me to login. On other sites, I might have to click through a couple of ads and a cookie notice.

I finally black listed (blocksite'd) medium because of their UI. Black listing helps me remember not to click on attractive/interesting links to medium hosted articles.

David from Hackernoon. We won't be doing a pop up ad to force login or a paywall on Hacker Noon 2.0. Hope you can consider us as an exemption from your blacklist!

That's interesting to hear. Out of curiosity, how much writing do you do on Medium vs other places (eg a personal, non-medium blog)?

I'm in the process of resurrecting my own blog, and I've been wondering about how much I should blog on other platforms for readership/exposure as opposed to my own self-hosted blog.

I wrote several software development articles for Hacker Noon on Medium and I was able to accumulate a decent number of followers. I feel that Hacker Noon contributed the most value in terms of reaching the right users. Medium just capitalizes preexisting network effects and adds no real value.

I see the same dynamic but credit the exact reverse. Hacker Noon accumulated followers by aggregating articles that were already published on Medium. They were publishing 30 articles a day without adding any editorial value. That got the flywheel going where since they were a big publication, authors would submit directly to them.

But all they did was aggregate Medium users and authors without adding any additional value.

FYI - Tony is medium advisor. Unsure why he is making it his job to make uninformed comments like this. This is David from Hackernoon, letting you know that without the use of Medium at my last job, I recruited, edited and published 400+ contributing writers with the use of Wordpress. When I started there, the company started with no brand, 5 employees and barely any seed money. When I left, it had 120 employees, $60M+ in Venture capital, a brand everyone in the recruiting space knew, and I couldn't publish contributors fast enough. Medium helped grow Hacker Noon, but if what Tony is saying were true, there would be thousands of publications just as big as Hacker Noon building with Medium's content management system. Also, most stories published with us are not already on Medium, we have to painstakingly onboard them to be a Medium writer while Medium does little to distribute any of our stories anymore. We've spent thousands of work hours educating people on ppl on how to use this content management system.

I'm speaking as a publisher on medium. You know that David.

It's true that initally, Hacker Noon was just picking articles that were already published. My point still stands though that this added a lot of value for me as a content producer because those same articles didn't get much attention before they were included in Hacker Noon.

Then I started publishing straight to Hacker Noon because I knew that my article would for sure at least get a couple of thousand reads no matter what; and the most useful articles ended up getting almost 100K reads (highly trageted too; almost all software developers). I don't think it could have happened without Hacker Noon.

As an open source developer who spent thousands of hours working on a project without making profit from it, I can attest that in the current system, it does not matter who does the actual work. It's who can capitalize on that work who takes the profit. I'm pretty sure that Medium has profited from hundreds of open source projects as well. There is no point to try to moralize this.

If that's the case, why didn't they just start off with hackernoon.com? They chose to host on Medium because that's where they thought they'd reach the biggest audience.

ah looking back on what could have been... when medium started it did have much simpler experience than wordpress for managing the day to day of the site and its contributors.

>betting on a platform as a business is a really bad idea

I can't really think of any business that isn't built or at least highly reliant on someone else's platform right now.

Uber/Lyft are hopelessly dependent on iOS and Android. And that goes for any business that is heavily reliant on their mobile app.

Then everyone else is reliant at leadt on the credit card networks to process their payments. They would go out of business overnight if the processors decided to cut them off.

Hey David from Hackernoon here. The technology industry is very consolidated. It's easier to get a small business started, but when it grows, it's easier for another technology you depend on to change its terms. In my case, I was content running a bootstapped business that barely made enough to fund two jobs (hacker noon in 2017 & 2018), but my revenue stream was cut off by pivots from my content management system. With an enormous cost of switching, we turned to our readers to fund the movement into our own infrastructure: https://www.startengine.com/hackernoon Now, I have a small team, and win/lose/or-draw, I'm thrilled to have the future of my business not tied to the fate of medium.

>Uber/Lyft are hopelessly dependent on iOS and Android

At least uber isn't, and maybe more recently lyft also moved out. You can use the uber mobile website to hail cabs. I don't have google play services or the uber app.

I have used Uber from a browser from my laptop. It works but not quite as well. I couldnt tip, and it refused a valid credit card once with some weird error message. So I wouldnt recommend the non-app versions if you're pressed for time etc.

I guess I just don't read enough clickbait swill. I had never even heard of "HackerNoon" until 30 seconds ago, and the fact that people refer to it as "HN" (just like Hacker News) is a bit confusing and annoying.

At any rate, there doesn't appear to be anything too scandalous here. Some "brand entity" was curating content submissions, hosted on Medium. The curator decides to start hosting their own CMS site, and asks submitters for permission to re-publish submissions at the new place. Submitters obviously don't have to grant this opt-in if they don't want to. The end. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The only noteworthy item here is the sillyness of "brand entities" trying to use someone else's "platform" to bootstrap themselves. If you start off as a Facebook page, or YouTube channel, or whatever... it could be bumpy when you reach the scale of wanting to self-host your own site instead. That's the trade-off for having used that original host for its "foot traffic" benefits at the outset.

However, while Facebook/Reddit/etc makes sense for bootstrapping meme content, and YouTube makes sense for bootstrapping video content... for the life of me I cannot understand why anyone NEEDS Medium to get a print blog off the ground. It's PRINT, for goodness sake! The easiest and cheapest thing in the world to self-host. Does being on Medium really give you that much in the way of foot traffic or networking effect? I always find Medium posts by way of links from Hackers News or Reddit. I don't think I've ever gone to Medium simply to browse around and stumble across things.

> Does being on Medium really give you that much in the way of foot traffic or networking effect?

Don't disagree with your points but as someone who publishes on Medium I think the answer to the above question is yes.

yeah, there was nothing about a rights grab in that letter from Hacker Noon at all, wtf.

I've seen links to HNoon semi-regularly here on HNews for the past couple years, fwiw.

The devil's in the details, here.

Here's Medium's relevant terms of service: You own the rights to the content you create and post on Medium. By posting content to Medium, you give us a nonexclusive license to publish it on Medium Services, including anything reasonably related to publishing it (like storing, displaying, reformatting, and distributing it). In consideration for Medium granting you access to and use of the Services, you agree that Medium may enable advertising on the Services, including in connection with the display of your content or other information. We may also use your content to promote Medium, including its products and content. We will never sell your content to third parties without your explicit permission. https://medium.com/policy/medium-terms-of-service-9db0094a1e...

Contrast that with https://terms.hackernoon.com/ : We may use Your Content in a number of different ways, including by publicly displaying it, reformatting it, incorporating it into advertisements and other works, creating derivative works from it, promoting it, distributing it, and. As such, you confirm and warrant that you own or control all rights to Your Content and hereby irrevocably grant us world-wide, perpetual, non-exclusive, royalty-free, assignable, sub-licensable, transferable rights to use Your Content for any purpose. Please note that you also irrevocably grant the Users of the Site the right to access Your Content in connection with their use of the Site. Finally, you irrevocably waive, and cause to be waived, against Company and its Users any claims and assertions of moral right or attribution with respect to Your Content.

Typos aside, HNoon is asserting far more rights than just "we're getting the same terms that Medium got when you first posted there." Particularly, I believe (IANAL), the waiver of attribution claims against other users of HNoon means you are effectively releasing your work into the public domain, to be used without attribution by anyone who finds it through HNoon.

To the extent that HNoon was trying to "sneak this through" with their friendly message to authors, it's a scumbag move. It's good that they're updating their language, and hopefully they change enough.

Hey Btown, David from Hacker Noon here. Thank you for feedback on our terms of service. We are trying to make a simple non-exclusive license, and don't have as large of a legal budget as maybe we should. There are mistakes in these terms. We will be updating our terms to make it more clear that contributors can remove their content at any time and contributors will always be accredited (and fix the typos). We are not trying to sneak anything through, just want a medium-free nonexclusive license to keep content where it is on hackernoon.com

Honestly I thought Hacker Noon was a first party Medium product, especially when it constituted approximately all paywalled medium articles I saw.

Please let us know which paywalled articles you have seen? We want all our content to be free for all. Medium did a design switch recently where authors have to uncheck a box as so a story is not paywalled. Hacker Noon 2.0 won't put a paywall in front of any writer's story.

> That's the trade-off for having used that original host for its "foot traffic" benefits at the outset.

This is a pretty good case for steering clear of Facebook and Discord if you're trying to create a community (rather than just post memes or whatever.)

Medium will be a better place without Hackernoon's clickbaity & shallow articles.

That being said, Medium has broken its platform with the aggressive roll out of premium. I guess it depends on which categories you are interested in but for knowledgeable and in-depth tech articles the best articles are not written by authors looking to earn a couple of dollars as a side gig.

They are written by people that wants to create a profile for themselves and/or as content marketing for a company. A star marker is rarely an indication of a very in depth article and is never written by a true expert in the subject. These authors just don't write with the incentive to make money from the content itself.

Medium.com used to be a create recommendation engine for quality & related content. Now the recommendations are garbage full of clickbaity & shallow articles with a star marker. And their search is terrible and lacking in basic features like time filtering/sorting. When you search now you get many 2-3 year old articles in fast changing tech subjects which are completely uninteresting. A great search and ability to build some feeds/channels is actually a feature I would pay for.

Maybe other niches creates different experiences but for tech it is not a platform worth exploring beyond the article you came for via a twitter link.

I really wish I noticed this before I dished out for premium. Was sadly disappointed when my inbox was just flooded with terrible, unsophisticated articles I don’t care much for.

Hey Danols, David from Hacker Noon here. Publishing is a hard business. While I don't agree with everything you said, I do like you believe that the best stuff to read is from the expert themselves. Sometimes the articles we publish are too shallow (we will work to improve quality), and other times we're able to achieve a better place to read (by publishing top tech professionals https://hackernoon.com/archive/).

Hi David,

The link you posted, when sorted by 'Latest', becomes a pretty damning indictment of what HackerNoon today appears to be, which is a low-grade content mill masked by a few really great, impactful articles. Most of the content however wouldn't be out of place at Huffington Post or Forbes.com.

* "3 Programming Languages to learn in 2019"

* "12 JS Concepts that will Level up Your skills"

* "6 things to know when self-studying Machine Learning"

This is the worst kind of SEO keyword stuffing you expect to see from bloggers on LinkedIn, not a reputable publication. Just my 2 cents. I hope you are able to clean up the shallow content, but it doesn't seem like a very deep pool to begin with.

As a site gets larger, quality control is tough, and the irony is, having SEO content makes it easier for the best content on your site to have better distribution. With more control of collections, tag pages and topic pages in hacker noon 2.0, I think we find strong SEO in other areas.

I will say if you pick the 3 best of today, the experience is a bit better:

"Why are we (still) sending so much web traffic unencrypted over the Internet?" https://hackernoon.com/why-are-we-still-sending-so-much-web-...

"Going Global (or Globally Local)? How Netflix Produces Amazing Global Content"https://hackernoon.com/going-global-or-globally-local-how-ne...

"The Future of Robotics Development with Eva Li of Vincross" https://hackernoon.com/the-future-of-robotics-development-wi...

And as a site who's rooting for every day tech story (as opposed to professional writing), there will be some bar to raise. Thank you for your 2 cents. Creating a better version of LinkedIn Publisher for the technology community would be a better site than we are today.

For anyone thinking about publishing anything on Medium, here's a little story:

Since day 1 I self hosted my blog, starting about 3.5 years ago.

About a year ago I read about how much of an SEO boost and new eyes I would get by re-publishing my articles on Medium (with canonical URLs pointing back to my site) and it sounded good on paper. Medium is essentially a marketplace for blogs and can act as a way to promote your articles...

...but the reality is, Medium won't really do anything at all to drive traffic to your Medium articles. The only articles you ever see trending on the front page or in the Medium newsletter is when a Medium article happens to gain a ton of external traction. That traction usually happens when YOU (as the content creator) are either famous and drive your own traffic to it, or you wrote something good and other people are linking your Medium article around the internet.

In both cases, Medium does nothing here to help you. You could have posted the same article on your site instead.

About a year ago I republished about 20 of my most popular blog posts on Medium and got around 200 hits over 6 months on all of the articles combined. I never sent any traffic to those pages and never linked to them from anywhere. I just let Medium do its thing. Meanwhile just 1 of those articles alone gets 5x that traffic in 1 day on my own site. I've long pulled all of my republished posts off Medium and will never (re)publish anything again on that platform.

Do yourself a favor and just self host your own blog.

This comes up every-time YouTube tweaks their algorithm and some YouTubers lose some number of views. It always seems like creators expect the platform to drive traffic to their blog/channel/creative work/etc. when in reality the creator is ultimately responsible for doing the legwork of marketing.

I think what the platform offers isn't so much advertising as the veneer of legitimacy you get from users seeing a familiar layout.

HackerNoon is a bit of a scam. They started by requesting hundreds of people post on their publication through a Medium feature that has since been removed.

They would take sponsorships, and have made some significant cash built on the back of people publishing their content on HackerNoon for mediocre exposure.

HackerNoon broke a lot of stuff laid out in the TOS. There is a big battle going on with the whole Medium + Publication sphere which I have some inside knowledge of.

Overall Medium is a whatever platform, and HackerNoon just is just making money off other peoples content.

IMO, Hacker Noon's scam went completely over the top when they tried to raise investment money from their readers. A huge headline in their prospectus was getting 8M page views per month. But there was no discussion of this obvious risk, which is that they don't own the copy right to most of their work. So the new site is going to be getting much less than 8M views.

Hey Tony from Medium, David from Hacker Noon here. We are proudly funded by 1.2k readers, what's wrong with that? Instead of raising money from VCs, we want to be accountable to the people who actually value Hacker Noon. Obviously you don't and won't.

IMO, you've opened yourself up to lawsuits from all of your investors by hiding material information about your risks. If you launch a new site with fewer than 8M page views, your investors should ask why. And if the answer is that you weren't able to port your back catalog to your new site because you don't have rights to those articles, your investors should ask if you knew this ahead of time. And if you did, they should consider suing you.

I know this "Tony from Medium" is your attempt to say that I'm speaking for Medium. I'm not. I have a bag of potential biases here including a small amount of Medium stock, shared investors with Medium, Medium's CEO was my boss in 2005, my cofounder and one of my former employees both now work at Medium, etc. But my main bias is posted elsewhere in these threads. I own and operate Better Humans and have a publishing partnership with Medium. I labeled that somewhere else as Medium dumping a pile of money on us. If I was speaking as a representative of Medium, I'd say that. I'm speaking as myself and as someone who has a lot of publishing experience.

Plus, none of those potential biases have anything to do with the facts of your prospectus. If you raised that money dishonestly, you're taking on a lot of risk to yourself for no good reason.

Hey Tony for the equity crowdfunding campaign we were vetted by 3rd party accountants and 3rd party lawyers. We published hundreds of pages of information will full financials and risks. You can find it here: https://www.startengine.com/hackernoon

Interesting that you think I raise money dishonestly, while Equity Crowdfunding is the only form of funding that publicly discloses all kinds of information for EVERYONE, not just the wealthy. For private raise, these kinds of info would typically be, well, private.

A short overview of the misinformation here:

$ I've been very upfront with my investors about what Medium is saying to me. Just a month ago Medium wrote that they wanted to cooperate on archiving past hacker noon on a hacker noon subdomain. Would you like me to forward you the email? But I've come to learn that when working with Medium, its best to hedge your bets. Well over half of our library have already explicitly opt-ed into Medium free terms with us. And I think its the better half. We also have been recruiting great content that we haven't published yet. Either way, our long term success will not be determined by content from the past; it'll be about how good or bad of a site we have going forward. And as Ev says "publishers and writers are free to move from Medium at any time" so there shouldn't be any problem here, but there is: https://twitter.com/DavidSmooke/status/1105522935349952512

$ Pageviews is not our metric. We don't need 8M pageviews to make far more $$$ than we are making now b/c Medium blocked our ability to run sponsors on our site (while running their own pop up ads). And we can open up new revenue streams. already this year we have podcast and events revenue.

Anyways, you think you're right and are willing to spend your time shouting about it. In a different time, I think we would have really liked building media together. You've made some cool things and have worked with some remarkable ppl - but I am just going to see you as another guy writing for his own vested interest. All the best. - David

I gotta say this entire HN thread leaves me with a negative impression of both 'David from Hacker Noon' and 'Tony from Medium'. More the latter than the former, but honestly I can't tell.

Mostly I'm left thinking the 'drama' in here is entirely befitting the general quality of both properties. I generally find Medium and Hacker Noon links to be somewhat underwhelming whenever they're posted to this here HN.

Thanks for the honesty Mercer, looking forward to moving past this and just focusing on making my site better.


For anyone else trying to move off Medium - it's more complicated than it sounds (there is no single chronological index of your content, for example) - we wrote up some tips and tools we used recently: https://www.reifyworks.com/writing/2019-02-27-some-tips-on-m...

Seems like a good idea to check for and try any export tools before adding content to a system. Furthermore if the site provides the export tool there's no guarantee they wont take it away or modify it.

The best approach is to keep your source of truth out of the Medium platform from the start. You can use the "import post" functionality to tag your original off-Medium post as the canonical one, which gives you the best of both worlds: Medium discoverability plus full control over your content. https://help.medium.com/hc/en-us/articles/214550207-Import-a...

I think we can be sure they won't do it because of GDPR.

Buried in the settings somewhere is a zipball of all of your content you can download. I wrote a tool you can feed it to which generates a Jekyll blog for you:


Note: don't do what briandoll did and skip the Google Analytics, please.

I don't know why they wouldn't have done their own Website to start with. It's not hard, at all. This arrangement put way, way too much power into a partner's hand. Also not clarifying rights before you publish something is just a seriously rookie move. Rule of thumb is that nothing gets published until you have the author rights agreement signed.

The reason why is because Medium used to have a messaging feature for publications. You could request a story be apart of your publication.

Many publications would promise they'll promote your stuff, etc. So after messaging hundreds of people you start getting free content and bigger reach, etc.

So existing platform + ease of poaching content for views is the real reason.

Medium's pitch was that they would drive traffic from other sites/publications/etc. in their network to yours. So by being in the network, you would get a free promotional boost you wouldn't get by setting up a standalone web site.

(Of course it eventually turned out that the size of this boost was not as big as many anticipated it would be, which dampened the appeal of being in the network somewhat.)

“We’re just not all that good with webserver config, or coding, or tinkering, or...”

‘Aren’t y’all hackers?’

Reminds me of Bojack Horseman:

“Sorry, I’m just not suited for these therapy sessions. I’m not good at using words to express conditions or emotions.”

‘Aren’t you a professional writer?’


Wanted to clarify why Hacker Noon had to move off Medium. Here’s why:

1. Medium decided it no longer wanted to support independent publications of curators and writers like us, The Awl (RIP), The Ringer, and others. 2. Medium at one point allowed publications to monetize using promotions, but arbitrarily decided to cut those off earlier last year, which cut off many independent curators and publications from their sole revenue stream. 3. At the same time, Medium put ads on every page of our site, including pop up ads.

Hacker Noon 2.0 sent an email to contributors asking if they wanted to join our new community, and in exchange Hacker Noon asks for a non-exclusive license to the content, just like Medium. Contributors can remove the content at any time.

In the move to our new infrastructure, we will work hard to make sure links don’t break (which is what will happen now for Hacker Noon content still on Medium), never put any story behind a paywall, and be the best and most up-front amplify button for all people writing great tech content.

We’ve taken your feedback on the existing ToS for Hacker Noon and will be updating that soon. We are independent writers and curators ourselves, so we have no interest in owning your content.

We’re here to build a great community, and we hope you’ll join us. Thanks for your help and support.

Back to the Internet!

-David Smooke

> Medium decided it no longer wanted to support independent publications of curators and writers like us.

This is so misleading.

I run an independent publication, Better Humans, that is a little smaller than Hacker Noon. Our experience has been the exact opposite, which is that Medium came to us and dumped a pile of money on us to ramp up what we were doing.

The reality is that Medium has been directly making a move toward higher quality for two years. Publications that can make the switch are getting supported and publications that can't are getting pushed off.

There was a hugely successful group of aggregator-style publications that focused on aggregating articles without paying particular attention to quality. When you think of a publication off of Medium you often have editors reading each article, asking for revisions, making revisions themselves, doing copy edits. The aggregators, often just 1 or 2 people, were publishing 30 articles a day without doing any of that quality control.

It was an effective growth hack for how Medium was put together. And once these publications got popular enough, they became the go to place for authors to submit articles.

HackerNoon and the other pubs who followed this hack have had two years to adjust to Medium's pivot into a premium pay wall. Everything Medium's been talking about is about quality.

So the publications who are getting pushed out are the ones who wouldn't make the shift from quantity to quality. I wasn't a HackerNoon reader, but the reviews in this HackerNews thread about shallow clickbait are damning. That type of article is just wasting your reader's time and all readers should be excited about Medium withdrawing support for that type of publishing.

On the flip side, the economics of a publication that Medium does want to support are amazing. We get paid per page view and make more than most of our peers in traditional online media even though our costs don't include an ad-sales team, building distribution, or hosting. That leaves a lot of economic margin to do a deep story edit (often a couple of hours) and a copy edit.

> I run an independent publication, Better Humans, that is a little smaller than Hacker Noon. Our experience has been the exact opposite, which is that Medium came to us and dumped a pile of money on us to ramp up what we were doing.

I was under the impression that there were two types of pubs on Medium: One like HackerNoon which only aggregates/reposts content, and another which was subsidized by Medium to produce original, quality content. (the lack of success of the latter causing a business model pivot, which also breaks the former)

Latter being subsidized? I think the confusion is just that Medium pivoted so many times.

So they subsidized pubs like Matter and then walked away from that. That happened before they had a paywall.

And now they're paying pubs like Better Humans. It sort of feels like being subsidized because they're willing to pay up front based on what they think you'll grow to. But it's really ends up being a partnership where they are cutting you in on their revenue (the expectation is that both sides will make a profit).

They're just not very far along on understanding this partner pubs model.

But I think you'll be seeing a lot more of it. And part of making the switch is not having low quality publications stealing eyeballs from their higher quality pubs.

It's great to hear that Medium deemed some publications worth dumping money into - more funded media outlets is awesome! This isn't a zero sum game. But any publication with one paying customer is taking on TREMENDOUS risk. The reality is the community and not the wealthy should determine what media exists. Medium killed the ability for publications to have their readers pay to subscribe to them https://www.cjr.org/business_of_news/medium-publication.php and killed the ability for publications to run sponsorship (while continuing to run pop up ads on content they didn't own). It was an interesting tradeoff but I am done with it.

For those without full context, this comment is by Hacker Noon's CEO ^^

Oh how I miss the days of simple self-publishing from your WYSIWYG html editor direct to a cheap VPS.

Why's everything gotta be so complicated?

You can still do that if that's what you want? Putting a website online isn't any harder today than in the past.

I think the OP is referring to the social conditioning we've had to prefer content platforms like Medium. Plus, most people starting out don't want to deal with the stateful hell that is configuring a DO/Linode box for WP. Regardless, Hackernoon should have left Medium as soon as they found traction.

Re configuring servers: Shared hosting is still a thing, as are dozens of companies that will run your wordpress/... for you. There's degrees of complexity vs flexibility you can choose from.

But I think you are right, Hackernoon immensely benefited from being on Medium and how easy they could "take over" articles - I remember quite often seeing an article making the rounds under the author's account, and then a few hours later being blasted out everywhere under hackernoon.com. That wouldn't have happened without the integrated nature of medium (but as a consumer also didn't add anything for me). And medium provided all that for free.

There's a lot of legwork to do (relatively speaking) to get a simple FTP server up and running. The UI/UX of domain registrar sites are horrible and filled with dark patterns to upsell you to email hosting, Whois protection, cloud storage, etc. A non-technical person without any webmaster experience might give up here, understandably.

Even if they soldier on, they'll find themselves needing to maintain separate logins for your registrar account, your Wordpress account, your MySQL account (if you decided to install Wordpress) and at no point does the registar site make any of this clear. At least it's not too much work to point the domain towards your server's IP address.

On DigitalOcean, I had to do all of the above, plus rewrite my .htaccess files for prettified URLs since whatever worked on localhost did not work when the files were sitting on a droplet.

Finally, at the end of the day, people are loath to pay $10/mo for web hosting because that's as much as a Netflix subscription, and they had to do all the heavy lifting themselves.

Or they go to someone like Dreamhost where you can get a hosting package with domain and Wordpress already installed from one company. As much as I enjoy fuzzing about with my server, if you need "a website", a VPS should not be your first target.

I use GitHub Pages + Jekyll to host my blog, and it works pretty well. It's free and I don't have to do any administration work or worry about load. It's also trivial to port to another platform (e.g. VPS).

https://github.com/kerrickstaley/kerrickstaley.github.io https://www.kerrickstaley.com/

In order to make things look simpler, we have to make them more complicated

HackerNoon has consistently published bad-faith clickbait garbage and slander. Assume that their description here is similarly misleading.

I agree. Just last week on HN(ews) someone asked what the most popular Medium blog was and I was about to say HackerNoon just from seeing it everywhere, but when I went to their site it was all low-quality articles about putting your Tesla on the blockchain.

Hey PascLeRasc, we're doing some work to improve quality, but it is a tough nut to crack. It starts with more editors. We onboarded 4 so far this year https://hackernoon.com/meet-the-new-hacker-noon-editors-b375... We're working on an activity feed of some form in 2.0, showing you when an editor has opened, edited, then published your story, and we’ll continue to build on that with feedback from the community. We've also been curating our favorites here https://hackernoon.com/editors-top-tech-stories/home

Interesting. I’m hoping that most contributors will accept licensing their content to the new website, because decentralization is good. The Medium email seemed a little disingenuous in how it called HackerNoon a “container”.

Technically that is all publications are. A container of posts. HackerNoon invited people to their publication to "grow a community" when in fact it's pretty much been profiting off free content with 0 hosting costs and a $70 one-time DNS hookup to medium.

David from Hackernoon here. We've actually been using Medium as our content management system for so long there was no fee at all. They wanted to cover the fee to recruit more publications. While we haven't paid for hosting, it has come at a tremendous cost (to name a few: medium has our reader data, our subscribers email addresses, and runs many pop up create an account ads that very much hurt our bounce rate). Tradeoff was our own little version of this https://twitter.com/JulienVallini/status/1060177021953806342 Although we also wont be paying for hosting for the next year or so b/c we got a grant from GCP https://hackernoon.com/google-cloud-platform-hacker-noon-2ba... But ultimately, high traffic sites need to be smart about hosting fees, and I think our upcoming setup will be a good balance between calling the app and surfacing content from CDN. Personally, I don't think domains and people can be classified as containers, but word choice is an art and I certainly feel dehumanized by that one.

This whole debacle is really about whether submitting to a publication on Medium counts as giving the publication rights to your work (at least to display/post it), or whether they merely curate work elsewhere.

Personally I'd say HackerNoon probably shouldn't even need to ask here, since by submitting their work to the publication users have indicated they want HackerNoon to have the right to feature it on their domain. After all, if Hacker News moved to 'hackernews.com', they wouldn't need to mass mail the entire userbase asking for permission to carry over comments, and the same would go for many other sites. Wikis don't ask every time they move hosting/domain name, nor do most forums, social networks, multi author blogs, etc.

The way Medium has responded reminds me a bit of Proboards and their attitude towards migrations away; that users have agreed to sign up with the service rather than the individual forum and that the forum owner doesn't have rights to the content itself.

I'd disagree with and so would a lot of people, but there are technically arguments both ways.

Either way, it all really comes down to A: who you think the users are dealing with when it comes to publications on third party platforms, and B: whether a publication or sub site on such a service gets a license to take its content elsewhere later on.

I actually don't understand the big fuss. Hackernoon was a publication on Medium. They asked writers for opt-in to republish content. Some writers were confused. Medium sent an email clarifying writers right. Writers can decide whether to give consent or not - all good.

The only problem I have is with the language Medium used: "moving content." If Medium is indeed the platform, publications should NOT have the ability to "move" content. They can delete their publication, but articles should remain on Medium and all existing links should redirect to the article. I believe this is the case, which means the language is deceptive.

If this is NOT the case, then the product has a big problem.

It's about keeping content on the URL it is currently on.

Apart from the infrastructure and application, what benefits does Medium provide? Is it the discovery of your content via the links at the bottom? Is that considered the killer feature?

Is there some kind of solution that exists where self-hosted bloggers can send traffic to each other, like the link sharing networks of the old days?

> Apart from the infrastructure and application, what benefits does Medium provide?

The ability to spin up your own "digital media company" as Hackernoon has done, with close to no setup costs.

David from Hackernoon here. I am thankful Medium (as it used to be) existed. I wish they didn't give up on empowering people to build their own sites. But their new business model is interesting and I wish them the best, it just has nothing to do with empowering people to build their own sites.

In our own small way, this is how I see the relationship: https://twitter.com/JulienVallini/status/1060

I think that some subset of users just won't engage with any content that isn't on a platform they already know, or appears to be on a shiny new platform of some kind.

We're about to see if that's true in Hacker Noon 2.0 :-)

Some of that hurdle may have already been overcome by the Hacker Noon branding on the medium site. But do write up your findings!

I'm missing a connection here.

Were people writing for Hackernoon on Medium... but they weren't part of Hackernoon and now Hackernoon wants to use that content elsewhere?

HackerNoon allows open contributors[0], but they have licensed their content to appear in accordance with Medium's terms of use. Since HackerNoon wishes to move off Medium's platform, HackerNoon must get content creators to accept their own terms of use instead of Medium's.

[0]: https://contribute.hackernoon.com/

Ah that makes sense thank you.

Also seems like, yeah that's not a good way to actually own any content.

The issue is that there is no “part of Hackernoon”. There’s just Medium. Hackernoon used Medium as a publishing platform, but really they’re just a grouping of Medium content with no special ownership or rights over the content. An unfortunate position for a publisher to be in.

The key here is that hacker noon publishes exclusively on hackernoon.com, and the majority of our contributors have agreed to continuing doing so.

“Hackernoon.com” is a domain. Nothing is published on a domain. It’s published on a server or platform the domain points to. In the case of Hackernoon, that platform was Medium. Medium is the publisher, the hackernoon editors were doing unpaid work for Medium.

What exactly is the unique selling proposition of medium?

Got the email from Medium and was confused cause I also thought they were talking about Hacker News, at a glance.

For those going to miss HackerNoon on Medium, meet SlackerNoon!


David from Hackernoon here - to admit that I have been bested! Brilliant stuff!!!

So HackerNoon is like those YouTube partnership networks.

The opposite: the YouTube MCNs of yore made you sign a contract for redistribution rights with explicit statements of ownership, which is not the case here.

anyone tell me is it free of Hacknoon 2.0 or behind a paywall?

I'm in the minority, but I like Medium. But HN is just buzzword bingo and any good content they had (2 years ago) is gone.

Hey David from Hackernoon here. I liked Medium too. I just wish they hadn't given up on empowering others to build great sites. The good content from 2 years ago is still there https://hackernoon.com/archive , and I think top stories still has some good reads today https://hackernoon.com/editors-top-tech-stories/home

I will note that I favorited the tweet, and within seconds David Smooke followed me.

That timing seems just a little... odd.

Maybe he happened to be on Twitter?

Most likely explanation. Someone wanting a bot to be less obvious would use a delay.

lol i was on twitter

The timing of this comment is a bit suspicious.

Precisely what a HackerNews bot would say...

I AM ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE FROM THE FUTURE https://giphy.com/gifs/friend-stay-cSBOKwfGbKmg8

Pats david on the head sure you are buddy.

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