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Can we all stop using Medium now? (webdistortion.com)
925 points by squiggy22 40 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 327 comments

I was writing on Medium because it ranks well in Google. I wrote nearly a dozen really great articles on primarily health and dietary supplement topics. After 2 months they started to rank well and were getting daily readers, as the content was really great. Then I wrote an article on a 'research chemical' and they banned my account overnight. I lost the final edited versions of all content. They did not send me a zip with the content. They could have simply deleted the offending article(s) but instead they deleted all of them.

The thing is, the thing I wrote about isn't illegal. When you write articles on Medium keep in mind you're writing on someone else's website and they don't give a damn about you. You are subject to their opinions about what is appropriate and what isn't. I have no doubt if an alt-right voice wrote on Medium and were controversial enough in their views they'd be deplatformed.

But also the way they handle it is just rude. Fuck them.

>When you write articles on Medium keep in mind you're writing on someone else's website and they don't give a damn about you. You are subject to their opinions about what is appropriate and what isn't.

Same can be said about other platforms like YouTube etc. When you produce content for all these mega-platforms, you're nothing more than a sharecropper... a digital one. [0]

You really have no rights and you're at the whim of the 'feudal lord' who doesn't care about you and can take all your work away in an instant. Since there's thousand others that will take your place, they really don't care about what your losses are. They hold all the power and you have absolutely no chance of remedy.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharecropping

The problem with YouTube specifically, is that while blog posts are easy to host on pretty much anything that has a CPU, self-hosting videos at scale is essentially impossible. So while Medium only added a marginal amount of convenience for your average blogger, YouTube straight up enabled the kind of content it hosts.

This. And even if you manage to somehow self-host your videos, YouTube is also a discovery service for these videos. Think about how many times you looked for a video on a certain topic in YouTube's search bar itself, the recommendations and the Trending tab.

>if you manager to somehow self-host your videos...

Wait, we've been self-hosting our own videos for years. It's not exactly rocket science. YouTube is convenient, but what it is doing from a technical standpoint isn't that difficult to do on your own server.

>It's not exactly rocket science. YouTube is convenient, but what it is doing from a technical standpoint isn't that difficult to do on your own server.

You've left several comments in this thread talking down to people as if they're ignorant about how to write an HTML5 <video> tag on their own web server.

I wasn't the one that downvoted your comment but for some reason, a lot of technical folks like you misunderstand Youtube and how it enables video uploaders. (A previous commenter misunderstands Youtube the same way and my previous reply to it.[0])

There is no self-hosting web server stack to serve videos that charges $0 to the content creator whether it gets zero or 1 billion views. Therefore, repeatedly recommending "self-host your videos" -- completely misses the point.

Consider a corporate giant like Microsoft. Several years ago, they used to self-host their tech videos on channel9.msdn.com.[1] Now they're hosted on Youtube.[2] Obviously, MS is not so technically inept that they don't know how to stream their own videos! They also have billions in cash to prevent "server bandwidth exceeded" errors so cost isn't the issue.

Stop and think about why Microsoft switched to Youtube instead of using their own MS Azure infrastructure. As for the other metaphor of "sharecropper" for Youtube that seems popular... is Microsoft a "sharecropper"? Why or why not?

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18488275

[1] clicking any of the new videos on Microsoft's front page will play embedded Youtube videos: https://channel9.msdn.com/

[2] https://www.youtube.com/user/Microsoft/search?query=build

I think you and the other poster may be talking passed each other.

He seems to be trying to emphasize the relative triviality of the technical problem from building the MVP absent leveraging "someone else's computers" perspective.

You're talking about the delta and impact created by the fact we've become so dependent on someone else's computer to point us in the right direction to create the visibility and discoverability we want.

The point I think both of you are dancing around, but not hauling out into the light, is these platforms enable the abstraction of the techie work, and allow creators to just publish. Creators are so dependent on not having to do the techie work, that unfortunately, they are left at the mercy of the techie+business platform provider, and as a result, are vulnerable to censorship based on that platform's visibility to the world at large.

Large integrated platforms are cool and all, but at some point, we need to sit down and look at the federatability of these types of communication platforms.

We can't rely on implicit Gatekeepers not being manipulated into acting as amplifiers/dampers as circumstances warrant from their side.

At least that's the vibe I'm getting.

>The point I think both of you are dancing around, but not hauling out into the light, is these platforms enable the abstraction of the techie work,

No, not the techie work. In both of my previous comments, I de-emphasized the technical reasons.

Instead, I've tried to emphasize that the killer feature of Youtube for the content creator is the simplifying of finances down to $0 costs for distributing video. Others may argue that "audience & discoverability" is equal to (or more important than) the $0 costs to distribute. That's valid as well.

Since a technical solution of self-hosted video web stack does not solve $0 distribution costs and audience reach, it is irrelevant to the discussion. (Context of discussion was parent comments by fiala__ & ralphstodomingo talking about "scale" and "discoverability".[0])

To add some counterbalance, it does not mean Youtube's "value proposition" of $0 payment for audience reach is always a good deal. An example of this is Netflix. They don't need nor want Youtube's servers to host videos.

>Creators are so dependent on not having to do the techie work,

Again, this type of statement is evidence of techies misunderstanding Youtube.

Even if the content creator hired a techie such as a webmaster to set up a self-hosted video site, it still does not solve the problem that Youtube solves.

Even if you gave a set-&-forget "video hosting web appliance" to a content creator, it still doesn't solve the same problems that Youtube solves.

In both cases of those technical solutions, you've created new problems that the content creator doesn't want to deal with!

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19937280

Do you have a trustworthy source for MS "switching" to Youtube? Their self hosted videos of Build 2019 [0] is what they directed me to when i was searching for sessions. I later found Youtube versions through some other source as well (probably a link on HN), but this seems more of a PR move ("we don't do evil walled garden anymore") to me than a technical necessity.

I do agree with your core message, that video is hard and not something a small player should build their own solution for. But saying video is to hard even for Microsoft seems a bit of a stretch...

[0] https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/build eg https://mybuild.techcommunity.microsoft.com/sessions/77571

>But saying video is to hard even for Microsoft seems a bit of a stretch.

I actually said the opposite of that. I emphasized that MS had both the technical skill and money to host their own videos and yet they still moved channel9 videos to Youtube. I wanted readers to pause and think about why they did that.

By using Microsoft as an example, I was hoping to break the mental loop of always referring back to "technical issues" as the reason creators choosing Youtube. It's not technical.

https://www.YouTube.com/MicrosoftDeveloper has all the Build 2019 videos (and 2018 as well.

We still self-host for countries where YouTube isn’t available (or if something goes down), but for Channel 9 anyway[1], we’ve moved to YouTube because that’s where the audience is and it makes sense to be where our users expect us to be.

This isn’t about video being hard; our internal player is pretty good and works everywhere (which is not true for YouTube). This was a conscientious decision to go to where our audience is. We still have a self-hosted backup for each video, complete with captions in a variety of languages. But we’d heard repeatedly that our users preferred using YouTube to discover content and not being there didn’t make sense. This isn’t true for all Microsoft content, but for our developer focused videos, we want to be where the community is.

[1]: https://channel9.msdn.com

(I was directly involved in the decision to move our developer content to YouTube.)

If it was a PR move, is "we don't do evil walled garden anymore" more important than "Azure rocks and we do a lot of shit with it, look at this case study"?

Okay, you're clearly missing the point here. Sure, you can upload them videos and put them in a page somewhere, hosted by a web server somewhere. But why would you do that?

The cost of keeping your videos accessible are higher than keeping a typical blog accessible. Storage and bandwidth are obvious ones. How do you get ad networks to monetize your videos, if you want to? How'd you get people to discover your videos, as they are not first-class citizens of a search result page? Where do people even watch videos these days? Everything is on Facebook or YouTube.

You can somehow self-host your videos, but even if you manage to do so, your original purpose for doing it in the first place won't be met, it simply isn't worth it.

Contrast this with Medium, where there are not as many benefits for letting them benefit from your content. Hosting plaintext or markup is trivial, easier to maintain a blog with stuff like Wordpress than to learn how to manage your own server directly to optimize for video. There are a lot of aggregators like HN and Reddit that are populated mostly by blog content, and even if you don't resort to these, your pages are first-class eligible citizens in search results.

Heck, even the policy regarding discussions not being actively shown may hurt your specific type of content. Moderation is tolerable with Disqus, for example.

Yeah, it’s almost trivial as long as none of those videos get popular...

How do you do this? I’ve looked at Digital Ocean and their super cheap bandwidth, but storing a serious amount of data would get expensive.

Well, so is Medium. I can self host a blog but how will people find me? As the OP said, Medium ranks well.

It ranks well, but you rarely go on Medium's search bar or feed. I'd usually be here in HN, or Reddit, or some aggregator, where your self-hosted content can be found.

Is it really Impossible to selfhost videos? My 5€ webhosting has 250GB storage and unlimited traffic and every decent CMS has video capabilities.

I think the hosting is not the problem. But the social features that YouTube provides are not easily replaced...

Self-hosting some very niche videos? Sure. Trying to make a generally popular channel? Forget it.

It's the transfer and bandwidth that are the problem. There isn't really such a thing as "unlimited transfer" (there's a hidden limit past which they'll rate-limit you, and kindly ask to stop or pay more). Moreover, once your video gets somewhat popular, you'll hit bandwidth issues. Given how popularity on the Internet seems to happen in spikes, this will likely severely limit the reach of your video.

People are also spoiled by big video services with unlimited budgets and CDNs all around the world.

That's an issue Peertube [0] is trying to solve by having viewers contribute back some bandwidth via webtorrent.

[0]: https://joinpeertube.org/

If you want your media to be readily available despite your limited bandwidth the answer is torrent. If you still want to have control on who does what, then you're out of luck.

True. Unfortunately, there's another problem with p2p: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19937861.

It is quite unlikely that the "unlimited" traffic you are paying for is truly unlimited. There is always a catch with such "unlimited" offers.

Also consider their automatic video encoding / re-encoding / resizing; I think there's services (e.g. Amazon Elastic Transcoder) that can do that for you, but that would require some development time of your own.

Is there a single video format supported by all browsers yet?

Those things are easily done with tools like ffmpeg and mbox. This stuff isn't rocket science. These are all solved problems and the tools are free and open-source. And yes, there are video format that are supported by all browsers.

The number of naysayers that are implying that working with videos is so hard in these comments is shocking to me for such a supposedly technical group of people.

It's better to keep in mind that promises of unlimited traffic usually countered by fine text provisions, which your hosting company will invoke once your website starts to be a nuisance for them. Various companies have different levels of tolerance, and actually it's a sort of problem with these "unlimited" offers that you won't know when it hits.

I asked them and for up to 40TB/month it's okay. This is 80000 views of 10 minutes full hd video. The chance that someone gets this popular is quite small.

If you are really really popular investing in a cdn is likely the only solution and for this you need some money, be it from advertising, donations or memberships. But this is the same on Youtube too, only that Youtube does the advertising for you and takes a cut.

Try it. Also there is Cloudflare doing a video CDN. I don't think they have a free plan with that, but it would be interesting to see what the costs actually are. There should not be a need for a CDN though if you are only showing a few videos to a few people. Video does the buffering thing so it should be possible to serve video half way across the world.

I would give it a go myself but I only have audio!

No, it's not difficult to do at all. Another commenter said "if you manage to somehow self-host your videos..." Somehow manage to self-host videos? They make it sound as difficult as managing to somehow write my own web browser from scratch. Self-hosting videos is relatively easy. The benefit of youtube isn't that it can somehow host my videos.

We now have peertube, which uses p2p to decrease the load on your server.

Unfortunately everyone (including GDPR laws) is scared of p2p

Care to elaborate? I find this rather a sweeping statement and quite inconsistent with the level of activity and progress being made in the p2p sphere.

Fair comment. Unfortunately (for me!) I'm going to have to look like a bit of a wally. I can't elaborate on it and my stance has changed in the time since I posted (while looking up my former 'facts').

1) Based on the GDPR comment. If you're really careful with how you do things the IP address could be argued to not be personal information (never let a user associate IP with any other PI - e.g. if a user can ban another from their channel something, don't let them see the underlying IP ban in place. Not sure how IPs are handled across ActivityPub).

2) People scared of p2p.. I'm still on the fence a little. For instance the opt out issue at Peertube[1] displays a snippet of p2p-fear however it should be noted that a feature to opt out of the p2p part is implemented in Peertube specifically now so may just be a non-issue. p2p fear needs to be determined with a simple "do users use this opt-out" before I can sway one way or the other

[1]: https://github.com/Chocobozzz/PeerTube/issues/685

Thanks for calling it out, I might not have found out that what I knew was outdated otherwise :)

> If you're really careful with how you do things the IP address could be argued to not be personal information

Current guidance (from the legal profession, not the HN peanut gallery) is that IPs are standalone personal data.

You got a source on that if you're going to be referring to the rest of us as a peanut gallery?

Everything I know and have found says IPs are classed as personal data only if combined with other data. I've yet to find anything that supports your claim, which is why I changed my mind on this.

> You got a source on that if you're going to be referring to the rest of us as a peanut gallery?

Nothing that isn't privileged information, unfortunately.

> Everything I know and have found says IPs are classed as personal data only if combined with other data. I've yet to find anything that supports your claim, which is why I changed my mind on this.

Recital 30 (https://gdpr-info.eu/recitals/no-30/) says "in particular" when combined with other information, but the addition of that phrase indicates this is not the only case. The accuracy of your statement depends on how you interpret that recital. Based on this case (https://www.alstonprivacy.com/ecj-declares-ip-addresses-pers...) I suspect the broader interpretation is the one that would win over regulators.

Additionally, the information about that case states there is clear agreement that static IPs are personal data, which alone contradicts your belief.

In which jurisdiction? i.e. That's a hell of a generalisation.

p2p is widely useful technology, but in the minds of regular people, it's primarily associated with movie and videogame piracy. I don't know how common this is world-wide, but at least in my country it's widely known among people who use computers that downloading or streaming a copyright-protected video from a random site is legally in the clean, but p2p may land you in jail or have you paying fines - because it's unlawful distribution, not consumption, of copyrighted material that's punished.

> Same can be said about other platforms like YouTube etc.

One big difference with Youtube is you don't create your work on their platform directly. You would record a video offline and then upload it to Youtube so you have a copy of your work by default.

With Medium, chances are you wrote the article directly on their platform so now if it gets removed from their site you probably don't have a local copy of it so it's gone forever unless it got scraped somewhere.

In either case I think Medium is really bad and I wouldn't use it.

> You would record a video offline and then upload it to Youtube

I can't speak to how popular this feature actually is, but the YouTube app includes video recording, so not everyone is going have a local copy of their work, by default. Conversely, who uses the Medium editor, rather than, say, Google Docs?

I thought some about this, and I am a bit afraid about "feudal lords" of some other kind:

I'm starting to self-host my content and services as I am starting to have some income (beginning of my career). However, I have to pay for a domain name, internet access, etc. I can afford to pay all of this right now, but I have no guarantees that the content will remain available in the future. The biggest unknown for me is the domain name, as it sounds much like a single point of failure: what if my registrar closes, or refuses to do business with me, or if I can't afford it anymore? Medium provides some relief against this, but not enough that I would care to use it.

How could this be "solved"?

Ideally, I could write a static page, sign it with a private key (maybe associated to a human-compatible string), and then host it in multiple places. A search engine could pick the right mirror, and interested people could choose to mirror the content. This sounds a bit similar to IPFS, but with the possibility of picking your hosting place and the content you mirror.

And to write something more about paid apps vs. add-based ones (which cropped up later in the discussion thread), when I was younder (kid/student), I was unfortunately in no position to buy paid apps (no income), nor to self host myself (I tried multiple times, but it was a pain to host even static content at the time). It seems to be getting better (github education pack, github/lab pages, etc), but I think that we as a society should think more about what is made available to kids. A free dynamic DNS and hosting service should probably be a minimal offer if you want to make them interested in tech. It could be also a good plan (though long-term) for a hosting platform to gain their trust/mindshare. Also making nice apps freely available to them.

Unfortunately, I had no e-mail address provided by my high school at the time or earlier, so I wouldn't have been able to get a github student pack (if it existed). I think that's something that should be solved at he state level.

There are specific measures in place to protect you from your registrar closing or refusing to do business with you.

If you can't afford a few dollars a year for your domain name, you likely have bigger problems. If ICANN disappears, we all have bigger problems.

Your solution is interesting, however hosting other people's content is fraught with danger. If I ran such a host, I'd assume within minutes I'd be hosting potentially illegal content. How would your system prevent that?

The stuff about kids just reminds me of geocities, TBH. There might be an appetite for something like that once again...

I agree with your answers, but I would like to point out that a few dollars per year isn't necessarily a trivial amount depending on who you ask. And top-level domain fees are more or less flat across countries, besides a few exceptions.

I had never heard about geocities, that's interesting, thank you for sharing this.

Now, to elaborate a bit more about what I said, I don't think there is a lack of technical solutions for this, but rather a fully integrated solution is missing. I would like to be able to "seed"/mirror specific content, like articles that I find interesting. Of course, that wouldn't help with content I (or others) haven't read already, but you would be responsible for the content you host, as you pick it (unlike ipfs or freenet, AFAIK). Integrated in a web browser, I suppose it could also "mirror by default", though I would be concerned about leaking user-specific content (so maybe a spec/protocol extension would be necessary for html/http to tell what could be mirrored?).

It occured to me that this was a bit like "boosting" a post in mastodon. Indeed ActivityPub could be an interesting transport mechanism for this, and could be a way to propagate update notifications back. Though I am not sure the content itself is mirrored with the current mastodon "boost" implementation. A mirror index could also be ran over DHT, while a "search engine" could provide the post hashes, and let clients fetch the content from the DHT.

The whole idea is still quite a bit rough, but it surprises me that in 2019, hosting plain text content (more or less a few images) in a future-proof way isn't a solved problem, and we still have to rely on the Web archive. Applying trusted timestamping (by a few trusted third-parties) to the web archive content would be a good start, to trust mirrored content.

> what if my registrar closes, or refuses to do business with me, or if I can't afford it anymore

If your register closes, most likely someone will buy them out with the customers. I can't imagine a registrar going bankrupt - that would require serious skills in mismanagement.

If they refuse to do business, there's a good chance you can file a dispute with someone (depending on a country) to recover the domain. (Not 100% certain, but possible)

For affordability... just choose something cheap. If you can't afford $12 / year, you likely have bigger problems then your online services being unavailable.

But regarding better solutions - ipfs is definitely good. There's also i2p/onion if you're ok with much smaller/dedicated reach. Or use the free credits on some large provider like AWS / gcp. You can host a lot as static content on S3 for ~free.

> I thought some about this, and I am a bit afraid about "feudal lords" of some other kind

I'm currently working on a platform aimed at reducing internet feudalism and would love to hear more of your concerns and what can be done to improve on the status quo.

If you're interested in talking about it and learning more about what I'm building, shoot me an email at yaniv@mynexus.io

Hi, wanted to offer a little help! You can still use The Internet Archive (or the WayBack Machine, as it is popularly called) [https://archive.org/web/web.php] to find and download your articles.

It is very helpful and I once used it download some articles/pages for my friend from her blogging website. The website had got blocked as it was a paid domain, which she purchased from GoDaddy and her 1 year subscription got over.

> I was writing on Medium because it ranks well in Google.

This highlights one of the ways Google has gone off-piste. The host or platform shouldn't affect your ranking/SEO this much. The same article on two platforms show rank side-by-side when searching by content. There's no reason to trust Medium above other platforms.

> The host or platform shouldn't affect your ranking/SEO this much.

This is true for medium, but not universally true. It's pretty reasonable to rank an article in a well known credible publication than a random blog, as there is likely some editorial quality checks in the publication. However, with medium, there is no editorial check, they just know how to game the system better than a casual blogger.

Yes. Of course, now all we're getting at the top of google search results are bland and uninformative "ads" pushed out by copywriters.

>> I have no doubt if an alt-right voice wrote on Medium and were controversial enough in their views they'd be deplatformed. But also the way they handle it is just rude. Fuck them.

Well fuck alt right too! They can get their own website after all. Why should Medium or any other company have to host their shit? People act like they have some kind of right to have their crap hosted by someone else. Companies are not public services after all.

What if they host their own shit on a VPS but the hosting provider bans them. What if their domain name gets revoked by the registrar?

You can either make things a public service, try to codify into law what content a business must and must not engage in faster than content changes, or have some content businesses are not going to host.

And it doesn't have to be universal. E.g. you could decide DNS and internet access need to be a public service but since those two are always available you don't need to try to regulate the content on VPS since self hosting is an option.

> I was writing on Medium because it ranks well in Google

Is this the main/only reason people blog on Medium, or are there others? It seems like something that would be easy enough to develop an open source, self hostable version of, but with Google now deranking small, independent sites, Medium would be hard to beat from an SEO standpoint.


It even federates with ActivityPub.

It's better to create your own blog, and get traffic overtime. Why they earn money on your content?

If I use Medium, they might earn money with my content. My blog, on the other hand, costs me money.

I do have a personal blog instead of Medium. But it's definitely not about the money.

Personally, depending on my mood, if I have the obnoxious "sign in" prompt that medium and others give I'll maybe just not read the blog at all 1 time in 4. I am sure I am not the only one that gets put off by that crap.

If they had a simple sign in/sign up/dismiss prompt I wouldn't avoid it as readily.

Instead they have "pardon the interruption" and "Let's make this official". The "pardon me" politeness doesn't fly, because they recognize it as an interruption. If they are aware, then the polite thing would be to not interrupt.

And let's not make this official.

I don't want to sign up to read an article. I don't want the clap. I don't want to vote. I don't want to share my data. I just want to view the article. Maybe half way through I might even decide that the author has nothing interesting to say. 50% chance I don't want to read the full article.

Yeah, why should I log in with google just to read a random blog? There's not even an explanation for it, just a login prompt.

There's a shifting demographic of medium readers that occurred with the recent introduction of more and more nagging on their site and plenty of blogs that moved away from medium mention it. You might still get your deserved readers if you target social medium experts and marketing managers, so good luck to those who's willing to circleyank with this.

Sure, there's a lot of reasons to prefer your own blog over Medium, if only for the sake of your readers. Earning money for many is not one of them, though.

Jekyll + Github Pages / Netlify / Surge is free with subdomain. Or you could buy .dev (or anything else) for minimal price. Personally i bought 1$ .xyz domain. Its not that “costy”.

It doesn't cost me a lot of money, indeed, and I'm happy to pay the couple of Euro's that it does. GGP suggested that you shouldn't let Medium earn money over your content, though; even if that's something you care about, it's still a better deal than paying for your blog yourself.

Perhaps you should write a blog post how to do it?

Well, I would be delighted to make post but this is already at front page today :)


I understand your POV, at the same time it was free to sign up, no time investment, no yearly costs for you etc. I know how it is to be banned overnight for something that you didn't expect (and without being malevolent).

I myself write my articles on my blog and then copy them over to Medium. A bit more work but might pay off in an event like this one

In google search cache or in web archive cache can be your content.

just out of curiosity, which chemical did you write about?

asking for a friend?

nope, asking for myself. i see no reason to hide behind a constructed other just to save face.

Haha you now know how they maintain their SEO -- by purging the politically incorrect stuff.

BTW only druggies say "research chemicals", academic researchers just use "drugs"/"compounds" or maybe "fine organics" or the actual name of whatever it is. "Research chemicals" is basically "SWIM" in terms of being a "druggie heuristic"

RCs are a pretty common name, even among academics, at least in neurobiology (though it’s for sure recognized as “speaking in dialect/slang” as some would say... e.g., not everyone would immediately know what you’re saying).

I do agree that “compounds” or 5-HT agonists, or whatever are far more neutral (if overly broad) terms and those should be used if you’re being careful (perhaps with some added description).

> 5-HT agonists, or whatever are far more neutral (if overly broad) terms and those should be used if you’re being careful

Google ranking doesn't care how technical you are. If you do a google search about anything somewhat nutritional or health related, you get a slew of low credibility websites with dubious information. Getting to any scientifically rigorous papers is a real research project.

> If you do a google search about anything somewhat nutritional or health related, you get a slew of low credibility websites with dubious information. Getting to any scientifically rigorous papers is a real research project

It's a much easier project (though still requires some review and judgement) if you use Google scholar instead of the general search engine.

But that's true or any domain; if you are specifically looking for scientific papers, the general search engine is like going to the grocery store for lab glassware.

How would people look for that article on Google if it was named "compounds"?

> Haha you now know how they maintain their SEO -- by purging the politically incorrect stuff.

Curious, how do you know this as a fact?

Also, curious about your nickname - any story behind it?

What is SWIM?

For some while (maybe still), there was a common belief that talking about your drug experiences online couldn't be used against you in court if you pretended it was someone else. This could be done semi-convincingly if you talked about, say, your "roommate" using drugs, but pretty quickly people started saying shit like "my cat" or "someone who isn't me" and, finally, abbreviated that to "SWIM." Like, "SWIM wants to know where to buy LSD in Seattle." Yeah.

At least some forums are discouraging that now because it obviously won't hold up in court and provides a false sense of security, but I imagine some people are still attached to it.

That is similar to the stupid IANAL preface people insist on including. Quite frankly you can literally make a post stating you are a lawyer and the following is legal advice and there would not be a single repercussion.

I always assumed that preface to mean "I'm not a lawyer, please check with one before _you_ get into trouble", more so than "I'm not a lawyer, here's my opinion and don't sue _me_ over it".

Having talked to lawyers about this -- what they end up saying is "I am a lawyer, but I am not your lawyer and me giving you this informal bit of information does not constitute the formation of a privileged relationship. I'm not working for you. Also, I haven't done any particular research for you and this is just based on my general experience."

And then they typically shorten the whole thing to "I think you should talk to a lawyer."

I think pretending to be a lawyer (or a doctor) could actually land you in a world of legal hurt - that's one of the features of licensed professions.

(IANAL though, check with your local laws and all.)

There's fraudently practicing as a doctor, and there's posting bullshit on a website about bullshit. And I'd know, I'm a lawyer and a doctor.

That's not why people say "I am not a lawyer."

why do they?

Usually, it means "I believe this is accurate, but you should check with an expert before doing anything that might have consequences."

It's not about covering your ass, it's about trying to be a decent guy and not accidentally mislead people.

This sounds like legal advice - are you a lawyer :)

It's the same as those who believe that if you ask the person selling you weed if they are police, they are under obligation by law to tell you so.

They are not.

Eh, not really the same.

Cops are demonstrably not required to tell you they are cops. The idea that they need to was always ridiculous misinformation.

Meanwhile, as far as I'm aware, SWIM has not been the lynchpin in a court case yet, so it's hard to say one way or the other if using it as legal cover is actually a gross misconception.

It's a lot like the freemen-on-the-land folks. People think, against all evidence, that the law is a mindless machine, a slave to its inputs, unaffected by the human beings who actually administer it. They think you can hack the law by saying the right magic words, like Captain Kirk crashing an evil computer by saying "this sentence is false."

It doesn't work that way. If you try to buy 50 grams of coke off an undercover cop, no jury on earth is going to believe that you thought you were buying Coca-Cola. You're not going to get away with using a slang term universally understood to mean "me" and claiming it meant "someone else," either.

How about "I will sell it to you only if your life depends on it"?

What would that accomplish?

“Someone who isn’t me”, a term used when discussing something (usually illegal) the poster did or has experience with, but is using this term to hide that fact.

An annoying term that has no meaning and is completely pointless and would have no bearing in a court of law at all and everyone knows what you are saying is "I"

"Someone Who Isn't Me"

I wonder if anything has changed since GDPR passed as I am pretty sure you are suppose to be able to download your content but I'm not sure how that works when accounts are deleted and/or banned.

Regarding your situation and concerns of other comments...

Many people in this thread point out that marketing and creating an audience is difficult work. But I think obvious-in-hindsight solution is to always keep a backup of your own content no matter what platform you publish it on. I'm not sure how Medium interprets their rules exactly but I would be suprised if you couldn't at least link every post back to a mirror on your own blog which would let you both generate an audience and prevents you from loosing everything is medium goes nuclear on you.

As always, back up any content that you care about. Don't just backup your own content but also that of others - ever relize a youtube video you like has been taken down by a bogus DMCA claim?. Online services may have their own redundency but that doesn't matter if they decide to delete (your) content.

> pretty sure you are suppose to be able to download your content

I'm not sure that such content would count, though I'd have to review the wording of the GDPR to be sure. Its intent is to cover information about you that companies/people have collected or derived - which may not include things you have written about other things.

Even if the GDPRs "right to know what is stored about you" provisions does cover this sort of content, if they have truly deleted the it then they don't have to provide it as they don't have it to provide, and they are not compelled to keep it so that they can provide it on request. I have no idea whether they do truly delete the content in these cases or not, but they might if they've taken it offline due to a generic "inappropriate content" rule: if I deemed something posted to my site inappropriate I would want it properly gone so it couldn't be accidentally made available on my platform again due to some future cock-up on my part. Their ToS and other documentation my offer some clarity on what their policy is here.

As a side note (with somewhat insincere apologies for how snarky I am about to sound): regulations & laws aside, I tend to have little sympathy for people who keep data in an external system with no local (or otherwise independent) backup!

> I'm not sure that such content would count, though I'd have to review the wording of the GDPR to be sure. Its intent is to cover information about you that companies/people have collected or derived - which may not include things you have written about other things.

All the actual legal guidance I have seen says it does count, because the content can be cross-references with third parties to identify the author and the fact that they once posted this text on this service. This, if they close their account or delete the specific article the content must be purged.

If the content has been deleted then they don't have to give it to them. Backups aren't covered by GDPR.

> So, what are the alternatives? According to France’s GDPR supervisory authority, CNIL, organisations don’t have to delete backups when complying with the right to erasure. Nonetheless, they must clearly explain to the data subject that backups will be kept for a specified length of time (outlined in your retention policy).

It's talking about right to erasure, but it would apply for requests for personal information. They don't have to crawl through their backups for you, only the current data.

GDPR covers personal data -- not content.

Hm hm, are you sure? And what is the difference between personal data and content? My pictures are pd or content? And if I publish them?

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Data_Protection_Regula...

Now, obvliously, the content may contain personal data, or possibly be personal data (if it's pictures of people) and in that case I assume it would be covered.

I'm not convinced your interpretation is correct. GDPR Article 4[1] states that "personal data" means "any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’)", so it covers anything you produce that's somehow related to you.

[1] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CEL...

In theory even the personal writing style might be considered "personal" as it could be used to identify individuals, but I don't think that lawmakers thought that far.

Well, as said, if the content itself can be considered personal data then sure.

My entire point was that "personal data" as defined in Article 4 is any data related to you, not just names, photos and so on

I could be wrong (i'm no expert) but i remember part of the GDPR is about "data portability" and is exactly that: you should easily be able to export all the data you've provided. https://gdpr-info.eu/art-20-gdpr/ I would assume this includes articles you've written.

Personal data can be used to identify you. Email, Full Name, Address, Nationality, Spoken Languages etc.

Some of these are very direct like your name and address. But since other personal data can be combined to create an identifying fingerprint of you it may or may not be covered.

There's a gray area in between of course were you really need to check the legal situation, but public content on a public forum is definitely not covered.

I'd say that while a single comment on a forum might not be enough to identify you, the sum of your comments can easily do (because of pieces of personal information you let slip in this or that comment); then everything you write must be considered personal data, unless there is a way to tell apart or remove the personal information from your comments.

Think about pictures: the picture of a landscape you took on a holiday doesn't identify you, but other pictures in your library might do (they contain faces, places, etc.). All together, the pictures can tell who you are and where you've been and when and with whom.

T&Cs may say otherwise but if they keep copies then it seems copyright law is probably better here than GDPR (which really covers PII). I'm not sure you could get them to hand over copies though (eg in their backup archives) but you could make them destroy those copies, in theory.

>When did reading stuff on the web become pay to play?

At the moment authors wanted to get paid. When did somebody else's writing became a free for all?

If, as you say, that [Medium] is where "all your favourite content lives" (which means you appreciate the content), then it's troubling that you don't want to pay for it.

>Just so we are clear. Medium takes your content, rolls it up into a pretty SEO friendly package for themselves and sells it. Oh, and turns us all into seals waiting for someone to throw us a fish in the process. If you are lucky, you might even get a cut. You know. Like the sort of cut artists get on Spotify. Profit share I think the cool kids call it. So why is everyone still publishing on it? For what? More eyeballs? More attention? More reach?

All of the above. More eyeballs. More reach. More attention. A primed audience looking to read something. And also some authors make decent-ish money (far more than Spotify) on Medium. So there's that.

>Please. It’s 2019. Learn to market yourself and your content. Quit being lazy waiting for Medium to do it for you. OWN YOUR PLATFORM.

Yeah, and how does that work for you? We've only read your blog because it was picked by an aggregator (HN).

> We've only read your blog because it was picked by an aggregator (HN)

But then I only read articles on Medium because they're picked up by an aggregator (HN). After I've read the article I rarely find any of the suggested/related articles of any interest. I never head over to Medium to find stuff to read because I find quite a lot of the content is just puff, fluff and bad writing. It's kinda like Quora, mostly uninteresting, annoying to use but has a rare gem now and again that got linked to in a news aggregator.

>But then I only read articles on Medium because they're picked up by an aggregator (HN) (...) I never head over to Medium to find stuff to read(...)

You don't, but millions do -- and that's people post their stuff there.

I agree. Publishing things online is easy, if you have the knowhow. If you don't know how to set up your website or blog it is hard. And gaining an audience and eventually getting paid for all your work is very hard.

Medium makes these things easier. At an expense, I agree. And there might be better ways for them to do that. And there might be better alternatives, but the reason Medium exists is because they fill a need.

Except the problem is that 99% of authors on medium dont get paid. So it's not really about authors wanting to be paid.

The rest still get viewers in the free tier.

> If you enjoy reading on the web chances are you’ve been forced to login to Medium at some point in the last week.

I've never once logged into Medium. I see a "Pardon the Interruption" notice every time I want to read something, but I just hit Escape and move on with my day. If I had to pick a side, I'd probably say avoid Medium. But I don't know under what circumstances it forces you to log in just to read something.

> I see a "Pardon the Interruption" notice every time I want to read something


I stopped minding medium (as a reader) since installing that.

I'm glad this exists, and very impressed with how front-and-center their source code is, but I decided a while ago that I'm not installing random add-ons unless I have a very high level of trust in their integrity.

This looks mostly like CSS hack (even the little bit of JS there seems to mainly query the DOM and apply styles). Such things should IMO be packaged as userstyle files. I think people need to be reminded of the concept of userstyles, and how useful they are to remove the garbage web designers produce.

Stylus is a godsend: https://github.com/openstyles/stylus. Sad thing is, this used to be a built-in browser feature.

As a counterpoint, I find userstyles far less convenient than extensions. In my experience, they are more difficult to install, they work less often and break more easily (because of the "put this thing I hacked together on the internet and forget about it" mindset), don't auto update, are more difficult to find or discover, and the UI for managing/customizing them is horrible.

Sure, there's advantages too, and I like the idea of user styles/scripts, but after wasting some time on trying (and failing) to use them to customize my browsing experience on a few sites, I settled on a Dark Reader + Auto Reader Mode + uBlock combo that makes all of the internet nice and readable with almost no extra hassle.

It requires "all websites", so I pulled the code, read through it, packed it up and installed it manually in firefox ;)

Love this addon. It gives me the freedom to browse Medium again.

I've been doing this too. I'm also doing this with NYT, WSJ, FT -- all publications behind higher and higher paywalls, all publications I tried, but ended up leaving because they still serve you ads on their mobile apps.

Now the question is this: if I didn't care or it wasn't worth reading, why did I click on it in the first place?

Perhaps I don't care about this content as much as I thought anymore. Maybe we've been addicted to reading content, rather than actually making use of most of the content anyway.

PS: I'm trying out The Guardian now. No ads for premium users on mobile.

I do this too. Hate paywalls. But not against the idea of paying. The problem is, it’s too fractured. It feels like if I had to pay for each channel on cable TV, it adds up to way too much when you think about the wide scope of sites I could stumble upon on any given month. And like TV, I’m not really a reader of any news site, I’m a reader of interesting pieces of content that surfaces through places like HN/reddit. Then, you also have the fact that usually the title was enough info I realize I don’t even really need to read the text.

The author has complete control over it.

Sort of. If you opt out of their paywall nagware stuff your posts don’t appear anywhere on the site other than your own feed.

Technically you can opt out. Realistically if you do then you lose all of the benefits of being on medium

The biggest benefit of being on medium is that I can just write some words and push the button and I get a nice-looking web page I can share with my friends. I don't care about google rank or more eyeballs or whatever. But I'd rather focus on writing better words than worrying about the words -> website process. Give me something that's as easy to work with (log in, type stuff in the in-browser editor, push publish - no renting a server or installing ruby or whatever) and looks as good at the end, and I'll happily use that.

That's been around for ages:

http://blogger.com http://wordpress.com

Or self-host wordpress

Yet another reason to disable Javascript - no awful login popups.

I'm writing on Medium because its rank well on Google. I have several articles about the product I'm selling that rank 1-5 on Google and it gives me a lot of customers.

It'll take me a lot of time to build my own website and content that gives me the same result. So, there's that.

Sorry, not a native speaker.

Your English is great, and it’s great that you prioritize shipping over worrying about which blogging platform to use. Shipping is very important.

That being said, I do think a small investment into moving onto your own platform may be worth it, and that might kick in much earlier than you’d think. I use Hugo and a fork of hugo-minimo-theme for my technical and personal writing, and it took maybe three days to set up (granted I have some technical experience). If you paid a contractor to spend a week setting up a statically compiled site with a CMS, you may get competitive SEO without having to worry about content licensing or platform updates. I think statically generated content is generally friendly to search engines. I don’t update my blog infra at all really, and there’s very few steps involved if I needed to relearn how to do it. It is possible to use free open source software and have it get out of your way in terms of making money.

> If you paid a contractor to spend a week setting up a statically compiled site with a CMS, you may get competitive SEO

Sorry, but that's just not how it works. The technical part is easy and certainly once piece of the puzzle, but without a certain website age and tons of good backlinks you will never be able to compete with medium.

Domain authority has some importance, but my understanding is that backlinks work per page, not per domain. Your newly published Medium article has the same back link profile as a newly published page on an owned blog.

Doesn't Medium suggest articles, thus passing links to new pages? You wouldn't get this benefit on your own blog.

That is an important feature. Not having to convince Google that your domain isn’t a spam cesspool is a major advantage of most any centralized blog/CMS platform (but especially one as major as Medium). Write.as doesn’t seem to work as well for this purpose yet, unfortunately.

And your English is plenty easy to understand, no need to apologize about that.

No need to be sorry. Your English is fine and what you said makes perfect sense. As someone who doesn't post on Medium this is great in helping understand why people use it. So thank you for sharing.

Not sure if this is due to medium or not. Back in the day I used to write articles on business consulting focused on high value keywords. After 7+ years some of them still rank 3-10 on Google for the target keywords.

Medium is just easier to spin up than a domain + WordPress. I don't see any other advantages

Any tips on replicating the same results? Would love to hear more

Not everyone has the time to create their own platform and curation network. That's the reason why people will keep using Medium.

We need to stop acting like it's easy to build these types of platforms.

The struggle for me in understanding why people use Medium is that I am a reader of Medium articles, but I only find them when posted on Reddit, HackerNews, or when they come up on a Google Search. So as far as I can tell it wouldn't matter if it was posted on Medium or a personal blog on their own site.

Medium has a built-in audience so the number of people who will see a particular post and share it on Reddit, HackerNews, etc., is higher than if you just host it on Wordpress and do all the marketing yourself.

Have you ever met someone who navigaed to medium.com to fin articles, or is this a matter of faith?

If one ever makes the mistake of giving Medium a valid email address, one's inbox will be 78% Medium article recommendations until one gets quite aggressive with the spam flags.

It's quite easy to disable the daily or weekly digests if you don't want them. Not saying I think medium is perfect, but there are better ways to approach the problem then training a spam filter.

If I've tried to turn if off once, and either it hasn't worked or it later reverted, I'm not wasting any more time on it. I can press the spam button without even leaving my mail client. I don't work for these spammers, and I don't owe them anything.

Of course, the majority of said articles the site recommends seem to be those by someone with an existing audience/fanbase, or which already got a ton of likes and shares.

As far as someone without an audience posting an article is concerned, the chances of Medium suggesting your work this way is pretty slim.

I've typed in medium.com

I've also clicked on articles while on the website for a different article

> So as far as I can tell it wouldn't matter if it was posted on Medium or a personal blog on their own site.

Indeed it doesn't matter. Medium is just the quickest/easiest/nicest way to write something and get a nice webpage out. Compared to wordpress/blogger/... the UX is just that little bit nicer, and the resulting web page is nicer on the reader (at least, the reader who doesn't mind pushing the login button once at some point) too.

I don't buy the curation argument. I see a lot of Medium articles published on Hacker Noon/Free Code Camp and then posted to Hacker News which remind me of the PHP tutorials that we always complain about.

WordPress, Blogspot, even Xanga and LiveJournal predate Medium and didn't have to resort to subscription services.

Pretty sure all of them had subscriptions. Hell, I was a paid user of LJ until they got sold to the Russians and everyone left.

I think they had subscriptions but they were certainly far less in your face than Medium's paid content ads. I think tiered services are fine if they don't spam you about them.

better than ads

I'll take ads, I block them anyway.

I don't think Blogspot/Blogger had ads.

I think the point is to reject the concept of "platforms" and "curation networks" completely, not to recommend that people try to create their own Medium equivalent. Just let your blog be a blog; you weren't going to win the social media lottery anyway.

Yes. Remember that in the earlies a lot of sites had web ring links at the bottom of the page? Wondering why this has not made a comeback yet. Maybe instead of static linking web ring 2.0 could utilize activity pub to highlight relevant fresh content from other sites in the ring.

I feel I could make a sufficient replica with free open source tools in a matter of days, maybe hours.

Use Ghost. It's free, given you have a server set up.

And you have just identified the reason that most people won't use it

Use DigitalOcean One-click instances, and it essentially makes it for you with all the necessary steps. It's super simple.

I used that a while back and now run it on Docker on GCP since DO was a bit expensive.

Right, I’ll also teach my mom some DevOps and Kubernetes along the way since she has to use Digital Ocean and Docker for her knitting blog.

if your mum actually wants to own/monetise her knitting blog SOMEONE will have to do this anyways. Stop putting effort into things that only benefit someone else(Medium). I'm not advocating monetising your hobby but instead that no one else should own content you create and do awkward things with it that you don't sanction or condone

Which costs money, and medium does not.

It sort of does when they take and or restrict your content which took time and effort to create. Time and effort creating content is certainly money.

I almost always end up posting in the comments when I see Medium on the front page of HN, basically the same thing every time.

I've found the Medium experience to be quite good, and even world positive.

I'd been running a self-improvement group blog as an ancillary initiative to the rest of my business. The blogging was kind of cool, but not successful enough to think much about.

Then Medium asked if we'd be interested in professionalizing what we do. Medium's CEO and I both worked for the tech publisher O'Reilly early in our careers, so I think that's why he thought we could pull it off.

And so I've gotten to really experience the before and the after of Medium's paywall. Before professionalizing, publishing seemed barely worthwhile. And it only was worthwhile if I could make the posts viral enough and the call to action catchy enough. That's not really my MO, which is why we struggled.

Medium's CEO has made the case that free content has been deeply corrupted by these marketing needs. Maybe some people can opt out, but I wasn't able to. I absolutely was cutting short my effort as a writer and then manipulating the start and end of articles to serve my marketing goals (otherwise, I couldn't justify the time).

In the new system, we just write differently. We know the article is the product people pay for and we don't need to corrupt it with any secondary marketing goals.

I see this as a world positive, where Medium has been able to create an ecosystem that allows for deeper and more authoritative articles. If you're reading self-improvement articles on Medium, a simple judge is to ask yourself if the author has any 1st hand experience. The vast majority of the free side of that topic on Medium is written by content marketers who are experts in virality but are basically just making up or cargo culting the advice. (Literally, much of it is farmed out to Upwork)

Part of what drew in our subject matter experts was enough money to be worth their time. We're going to send more than $100k to authors this year (probably a lot more).

I'm trying not to jump in here to market my own stuff. What I'm talking about above is our self-improvement publication. We're also testing two more pubs on different topics, which I think says something about how lucrative we're finding the editing. But it's too early for me to say how those are going. I have a number of other biases here (small amount of Medium stock, Medium's CEO was on my board for a long time and was my boss in 2005), but I'm hoping people see my actions, which are to double down on Medium over and over again, to be an indication that I'm a true fan.

There's quite a lot of mileage in what this guy says, and the "content behind walled garden" thing pisses us all off (I'm a non-Facebooker for All The Usual Reasons and have the same response whenever I see stuff "published" there).

But: noone seems to have mentioned the fact that you can publish on WordPress and use the Medium plugin to copublish to Medium. It deals with the whole canonical content / SEO thing, you get to keep your original content, and you get the potential benefits of a Medium audience / stats / etc.

Best of all worlds.

If someone can find your work on medium, why would the bother to find your site and read it there instead?

The canonical handles the indexation. Your content on your own site gets the credit, rather than the corresponding content on Medium. In theory, you're getting a bit of domain authority passed over from the Medium article. Here's an example:


Has a canonical tag pointing here: https://johnvantine.com/2018-burning-man-50k-my-first-ultram...

When I search for a snippet of text from the article, the one on johnvantine.com ranks.

And you're leveraging the community on Medium, too, so there's some discovery that can happen on that end. Best of both worlds IMO.

Your content is backed up. In addition to Medium, your own blog can also attract users. Your website is much more customizable. With some luck and work, your website may perform better in google search.

That's what archive.is is for(as a reader). if i share an article i usually back it up on archive.is first just in case. your hosted website can go down at any time as well sadly(i see this a lot for ms hosted content)

What makes impossible for archive.is to go down? Last time i checked it was developed and funded by a single guy (who even seems to have some sort of agenda against cloudflare for some reason).

An archive, you own it, etc...

Also you can choose on a post by post basis to publish to Medium or not, and to different publications there, so you could have your site as a hub holding all your stuff and niche audiences on your Medium pubs. Stuff like that.

The someone in question is a search engine. Telling them where your content originated from helps you when your content matches future searches

At any time, Medium can decide to require login to view articles, if they think it is in their best interests.

Anything you post on Medium is subject to their whims.

That’s interesting - does the canonical tag identify the Medium article or the WordPress article as canonical?

IIRC you can choose..

Seems like not many commenters are giving a perspective on why people might like Medium more than going to a personal blog. Here’s mine.

As a reader, I usually don’t care who wrote the post I’m reading. I also don’t care about seeing more content from the same person, which is all I would get on a personal blog; in fact, I would prefer to see related content but different viewpoints from other people, which is what Medium shows me. I want to read them all in the same format, not hop between different blog layouts. I want them all to have consistent like/comment mechanics. As a reader, sorry, I just don’t care about your personal brand or platform. I want to easily read a lot of stuff by different people on a topic.

Never used it as a writer, but why should individuals have to set up their own SEO, comment system, blog system, etc just to post an article? Because they think that they’re so important or controversial that they need a personal space/brand? For most writers I think you get a lot for free with Medium.

> I want them all to have consistent like/comment mechanics. As a reader, sorry, I just don’t care about your personal brand or platform.

This is an important point. There is a small mental burden users face every time they see a new website and have to understand how it has been laid out and where things are and what they mean. Medium gives users "just the content" in the same familiar layout to streamline the process.

Not to mention the sites that have silly disorienting scrolling effects, with things moving around while they slowly load, or are barely even functional on mobile. Although these tend not to be problems for the average blog.

> Medium gives users "just the content" in the same familiar layout to streamline the process.

minus the login prompts, the persistent top and bottom dickbars and the full-screen interstitial blocking the page if you've dared to open more than 5 links in a month.

Agreed, given the choice between Medium and a custom blog if I am a publisher, Medium is much faster to get up and running with a blog and has a larger reach than me setting it all up myself.

Many people who aren't technical don't want to have to manage rolling their own comments system, custom SEO, analytics and all of that stuff.

This can also be done either with a free WordPress.com account or with a simple shared hosting that supports WP (if you are willing to pay). Medium has no exclusivity on this.

I know this doesn't justify all the issues but I'm at least a little excited that someone is trying to create a media/news service that isn't ad based. Seems like we have a way to go but at least this is a start.

I'm a little surprised that there are so many complaints here - I bet a lot of the same people complaining also complain about ad based services and now they create news / journalism / articles designed for clicks and not quality content.

The internet suffers from massive cognitive dissonance. Forums like HN/Reddit just amplify it. People complain about ads, People complain about subs. Fortunately, people who want to pay for content will pay for it as long as you express the value clearly. And people who complain about both are probably a minority.

Ever since we switched our app from ads to ad-free soft paywall with daily limited content, we get a lot of hate and negative reviews on the App Store from our users. Some even said quite directly "bring back the ads".

This is so strange. What this kind of people don't understand is, we all buy products whose prices include advertisement costs. Eventually we pay for everything anyway, there is no charity (unless something is explicitly charity). Let alone cases where ads make us buy things we don't need. And not to mention the rabbit hole behind the seemingly free services like Google Search/Maps.

I don't get all the hate here. Paywalls are at least honest, clear and upfront about how the business makes money. We should support this type of businesses. It's usually the switch that triggers a lot of hate: businesses should probably be cautious about it.

> It's usually the switch that triggers a lot of hate: businesses should probably be cautious about it.

I agree. The switch is the noisy period. When you are free, you attract people who are looking for free and would probably never pay for it directly. When you are paid and ad-free from the start, you attract a customer base who understands the value intrinsically and will probably run away if you switch to an ad-based model.

Please re-enable the `-webkit-overflow-scrolling: touch;` CSS style for your content. The article is a pain to read on Mobile Safari because bouncy/rubber-band scrolling is disabled.

Goes without saying, the consistent Medium experience is a good reason why we keep using it. Self made blogs like this that do annoying things that take away from content are foot guns.

The OP's blog still does less annoying stuff than medium does

On iOS I find the lack of inertial scrolling on this site an order of magnitude more annoying than anything Medium currently does by far. To the point where I closed the article after I first tried to scroll.

The majority of non-Medium blogs are using Wordpress/Squarespsace themes of some kind and those usually are of the "responsive boilerplate" style that wouldn't have basic CSS issues like the site above.

Did the author change the site? You're not the only person in the comments complaining, so I presume y'all aren't making this up, but the website doesn't appear to mess with that style. (Chrome doesn't report it on either <html> or <body>.) (and it seems normal to me in iOS, but I'm normally an Android user.)

That feature has serious bugs on iOS, and that's probably why it's not the default as Apple can't get it to be stable.

Don't ask him to add it, ask Apple, it's their fault. It's not a production feature.

And since it's Apple, you can't just use another browser as it's all the same crap on iOS.

You're stuck with something worse than the 2019 equivalent of IE6. iOS is a joke when it comes to web browsing.

It's probably not the the default because it disables the scrolling behavior used everywhere else on iOS. The "Safari is IE6" meme was briefly valid a couple years ago, but they've done a much better job more recently. (Check out the release notes for the technical previews.)

The default isn't touch(which is momentum scrolling), so it's by default NOT like it's most places in iOS.

Technical previews is for Safari on Mac OS, and that browser works quite well. It's safari on iOS that is a huge shitshow.

Its more unstable than ever before and far behind everyone else on features, and it's freakishly unconsistent. Heck, Apple can't make up their mind if they are having a click delay or not, so now they have it only for standalone.

Mind posting a source on the serious bugs? A Google search didn’t bring up any major issue for me.

Same flag is required for Chrome.

No, it's not, it's the default in Chrome.

Mobile Safari is the new IE6.

Hopefully that class-action against Apple for the app store monopoly bears fruit (pun fully intended) so some alternative browsers can be installed on iOS (via Amazon app store or something similar to f-droid).

Note for those new to the party "Chrome" and "Firefox" on iOS are just skins on top of Safari, iOS rules require you to just use Safari if your app browses web. See 2.5.6 here if you don't believe me - https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/#sof...

I use Chrome on iOS because I find Mobile Safari’s UI to be total poop.

There was some funky scrolling on this article I noticed on my phone which is not present on most websites/websites viewed through Safari backed mobile browsers.

Large.com is available for $850k if there's a VC thinking they can disrupt.

Would you like fries.com with that? It's for sale too.

I'd like a literacola.com please.

I don't want alargefarvaIwantagoddamnliteracola.com, but perhaps you might be interested?

- So what's your USP?

- We'll use bigger font size... and feature more clickbait headlines.

There's a deeper thing going on here that should be mentioned because it applies in so many places: the platform is the enemy.

That is, once you create a platform to do X, the purpose of the platform becomes "get people to use the platform to do X", not X. They sound like the same thing but they are not.

An example: Facebook, I guess, is all about sharing things with your friends. But over time it quickly morphed into an engine that was only concerned about how many people would spend their time on their site sharing and consuming things, not about sharing. So people "shared" by posting memes from other places. They shared by copying crap and fake articles. They "shared" by playing dumb and addictive games for hours at a time, asking anybody they could find to help them milk a fake cow or something.

If you cared about sharing, you might think about a wise investment in time, both for the sharer and the folks consuming what was being shared. But if you think about whatever you could pass off as sharing, then you might think about virality, demographics, psychology, and so forth. Worse yet, you'd probably do whatever you could to prevent people from talking about real sharing. After all, that would be a huge hit to your site's metrics. It might even involve an existential crisis.

Likewise Medium cared about blogging and publishing, but only in terms they had predefined and could control. As they started looking at their numbers, they started refining their definitions.

The same thing is happening everywhere, for instance YouTube. YT couldn't care less about average folks making creative content to share, even though that's the schtick. What they really care about is reliable non-offensive video content being regularly produced and consumed by the most numbers of people that they can sell ads to.

I'm not saying that any of these platforms are evil or ran by bad people. My point is that by defining a platform and business model that's widely-adopted, you end up preventing any sort of change, quality improvement, or re-imagining what the important drivers are for that platform. I can change what I consider to be high-quality video to create, share and consume ten times a day. YouTube cannot. Same goes for Medium and text content. The platform, the idea of fixing quality attributes for complex things into code, is the natural enemy of serious consideration and evaluation of the thing the platform supposedly supports.

It’s halfway through the month and I’m blocked by Medium. It is a bit frustrating.

I’m not sure about this comment though:

“Learn to market yourself and your content. Quit being lazy waiting for Medium to do it for you.”

Maybe I am lazy but there really isn’t an easy and inexpensive way to market your blogs or apps.

> Maybe I am lazy but there really isn’t an easy and inexpensive way to market your blogs or apps.

HN, Reddit, and other social networks?

I've had blog posts do well on Medium but sink like a stone on those platforms. It's a very different proposition submitting to medium and having it shown to people who are likely to be interested over a day, vs self-submitting to a site like HN or Reddit and watching it sink like a stone because the few people who are likely to be interested aren't looking at that particular moment.

Not to mention the fact that if you self-submit anything to those sites people tend to take it as an invitation to eviscerate you.

Well, for Reddit, I know that tech subreddits really don't like it if you drop a link and don't provide any additional commentary in the post. This is doubly true if the link happens to be "medium.com" because Reddit is already full of downvoted posts submitted by content marketers.

If you aren't a regular poster on the sub that you're placing the link on, why would posters bother opening said link? You have to participate in the community as well, and that includes providing content in the form of Reddit posts as well, because Reddit users don't like clicking outbound links with no context.

You could buy advertisements... what you're looking for is basically a way to get ads for your product in front of eyeballs, even if you don't call them "ads". I don't see any reason why that ought to be cheap.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding what the goal of "marketing" is in this context, however.

Just find a link to any article you want to read by searching Twitter (or even tweet it yourself). t.co links always bypass the paywall.

I wrote one article on Medium. I ended up writing my own little version using open source markdown rendering to see how hard it would be to roll my own, https://jott.live

From what I found, there is a lot of stuff Medium does well that is hard to recreate by one's self. Super simple features, like

- rich text editing that isn't ugly

- caching what you're currently working on

- tracking views and who has viewed your article

aren't easy to build and generally aren't worth it unless you write many many articles.

Although I don't like the aggressive account on-boarding and payment models for reading articles, Medium certainly makes life easy for writing articles.

They use Quill.js - rich editing (you can use this in your project easily)

Caching/saving work just simple AJAX calls to a localized database or filesystem which can store the JSON data that Quill.JS creates.

Google Analytics is free and offers more customer insight and analysis opportunities and it's as simple as a script tag inclusion in the html.

I plan to show how to replicate this website in a matter of minutes on my YouTube channel.

You don't necessarily have to build it yourself to have control over it though. I mean, WP isn't the dream you've always looked for, but it (+ a plugin or five) can do that and is pretty much set up in an hour. With wordpress.com, you'll get that without running it yourself.

Wordpress has an app store for plugins. I installed a popular statistics plugin and it seems to be doing well. I think it is pretty amazing, actually (the app store). https://wordpress.org/plugins/

Hosting my blog costs me 5€/month, though. Not sure if I have the cheapest option. On the upside, it also supports multiple email accounts, so I am in the process of moving all emails (also family) over there, saving on extra costs for email.

I think attracting viewers is the only real issue. That's why social media, Tumblr and Medium took over from blogs. Because they have the recommendation and sharing features that bring viewers to people's postings.

g-d forbid writers find a way to be compensated, eh? I despise medium, it sucks as a platform, it sucks to read, and 99 times out of a hundred if I'm on an aggregator or twitter and I see a medium link to a piece that sounds interesting I skip it, because medium sucks. But christ does that post reek of entitlement. On top of that, maybe learn to put words together a bit better if you want people to read your blog over another platform

The main argument in this article doesn't apply unless the Medium writer enabled the partner program on the post. That's what enables the pay wall.

A huge percentage of the authors behind the paywall don’t realize that they are. It seems like Medium might have made this option less clear than it needs to be be (like by describing the benefits but not the drawbacks) or made it on by default.

Nah man, I considered turning it on for no reason in particular.

Asked me for bank account routing info.

Wasn't interested about it that much.

Definitely not on by default.

The partner program isn't on by default, the paywall is. You do not need to be part of the partner program for the paywall.

Source: https://help.medium.com/hc/en-us/articles/360018834314-Stori...

What on earth are you talking about? From the link you posted:

> Stories become eligible to be part of the metered paywall if the writer selects that option in each story’s distribution setting. Medium will never meter a story without the writer’s permission.

> During the publish flow, you have the opportunity to check the box to be eligible for curation review and distribution across Medium. Checking this box means that your story is also eligible to be part of Medium’s metered paywall, and can earn money if you are in the Medium Partner Program.

Your second quote implies that the paywall and the partner program are separate.

Partner Program is a prerequisite for having paywalled articles.


I don't see why, that link still implies that you can have paywalled articles without being part of the partner program.

Follow the chart from the top:

> Are you enrolled in the partner program? NO

> Would you like to be eligible for curator review? YES

> Was the story curated? YES

> Story is distributed by Medium, is part of the paywall, and does not earn money.

You're right actually: curation is paywalled even without payment. Still, it's not enabled by default: https://imgur.com/lFY0hzp

Do you have a source for this "huge percentage"?

I wish I had stats, but I only have anecdotes, though a fair number of them. I’ve mentioned to 5 or 6 bloggers that their posts were behind a metered paywall and 0 of them knew or intended it.

This person’s screenshot of the UX (as of Dec 2018) seems like it could be easy to misinterpret. It certainly doesn’t say anything like “Medium visitors are only able to read X free Medium articles. If your readers exceed X, they may be shown a paywall and be unable to read your post”: https://twitter.com/SachaGreif/status/1069842296844120064

It's clearer now: https://imgur.com/lFY0hzp

I don't publish anything ever really so I don't understand the appeal of using Medium. Can anyone explain it to me? Is it just the ease of use? Write some text, click button, it's available online?

I used to write on medium. The editor is the best. Nothing I've used is as good. The stats are also incredibly well done.

Some people are saying authors use it for the built-in audience. I can't say that was an appeal for me—or that I got very many readers from within medium anyways.

I started my own blog with hugo/netlify (though notably I don't post things very often). The main reason I switched is because so many people enable the pay wall on medium I feel the medium brand is hurting my own now, even though I've never enabled the pay wall myself.

I definitely miss that editor—and not having to update the site's dependencies.

I’ve found the editor to not be as great when it comes to including code blocks, widgets, or other javascript I want to execute. Hugo is a lot more flexible in that sense. You can include graphviz and charts.js no problem, and keep your network request below 1mb.

On the other hand, Hugo’s quality is verrrry dependent on the theme you pick. Configs change from theme to theme. Hand rolling a theme from scratch is also a severe pain. I don’t think there are any paid themes for Hugo, and if there are I’m not sure it’s as good of an ecosystem as say Wordpress.

> I used to write on medium. The editor is the best. Nothing I've used is as good.

What about a local code editor with live reloading on a local copy of your site running in a browser?

This is what I do in Jekyll. I write everything in the same code editor I wrote code in, and on save, I see a 100% replicated live view of my site in about 1 second (even with 200+ posts). Both windows sit side by side. To me this beats any alternative set up.

It’s good, still not as good as medium. Especially being able to copy and paste YouTube/gist/etc links in and have them auto-embed.

I can still embed with Hugo, but not as quickly and this does impact my writing flow.

I can't speak for Hugo but with Jekyll, I solved this by writing a few line plugin. It still involves putting in a short custom tag (which I have as an editor snippet) and paste in the video ID.

It's not as pleasant as pasting a URL in but it takes about 3 seconds to get it all set up when I want to embed a video. Very minimal impact IMO.

If I had to embed hundreds of videos all the time I would probably just write a custom plugin that scans the file and converts Youtube URLs to embed snippets.

Lot of these can be done with simple open source blogging tools like Hugo combined with analytics. The main value of Medium in my mind is the amount of default “trust” that Google places on the content hosted on Medium. Your article on arcane topic on Medium will typically out rank other web sites who might have existed forever.

That’s not at all why I used it. And the analytics medium has (even though it’s basic) are better than any third-party tools I’ve used.

Built-in audience of readers

I would be really curious how much of an effect that has. I have only ever gone to Medium because I followed a link to a post. Never because I was browsing Medium and found another article to read.

I would be really curious if anyone who does post on Medium was able to offer some insights into where most their readers come from. Is it from people already on Medium or external. Don't know if they even have access to metrics like that.

A friend has a blog -- about the history of labor & work -- that he often cross-posts to Medium.

He wrote an article on his blog. A few dozen people read it over the next week -- basically all friends of his. He cross-posted it to Medium and he had 30,000 reads within the first 24 hours.

Looking at the stats on my own Medium posts how much comes via Medium and how much is external varies. On a story with 3,000 readers (which is the most I've ever had), about 10% come from Medium. Most of what I post ends up having 20-30 readers and about 50% come via Medium.

Could these 30,000 reads be from bots/crawlers? Medium has all the incentives to boost up the number of reads, don't they? I'd wanna measure engagement metrics outside their domain instead.

Yeah, I'd be interested in knowing this too. Seems unlikely that a niche topic would generate so many human views in a short period of time. I do CMS management for a national nonprofit website with a few million hits each month, and 30k views for a single article with no promotion strategy seems...unlikely.

Our Google Analytics filters out bots and crawlers, which do significantly inflate pageview stats.

That particular article wasn't a niche though, it was about the so-called Millennial work ethic, Hannah Arendt's notion of labor vs work, "bullshit jobs", and so on.

I post on Medium. I don't really promote anything I write. I get around 50-100 views per thing I write. Why do I do it? Well honestly I have no where else in mind. I don't have any one looking for my blog, I'm not really going to spam Hacker News or Reddit, or Discord rooms with links to get organic outreach.

I just want somewhere nice I can post simple factual articles I enjoy writing. My articles aren't ones that show up behind the Medium paywall, I'm under no illusion there's money in it for me.

Medium can tell you where your readers come from.

Here's a Medium stat screen: https://imgur.com/a/8VhJEhJ

Originally it was their easy editor. Now I just don’t know, since every other blog copied the editor.

I wish I could upvote this 10 times.

Medium is the pinterest of thoughts.

Funny how from "All to Medium, ditch WordPress and personal blogs" now people want to go the way around because of metered views and other limitations imposed by Medium popularity.

I say it since ever: own your own content.

But you don't really own your WordPress. No way to get around using their services if you want to have proper spam filtering.

Sure you can. There are multiple anti-spam plugins out there, and unless you're running a super large high value target, most spam won't be custom made, so very simple things like hiding the "URL" field with CSS and marking as Spam when something has been entered will get rid of 95% of it.

This works well enough for comment spam filtering: https://wordpress.org/plugins/antispam-bee/

(or just disable comments)

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