Medium has a community though. Facebook sucks, but it has a community. Twitter sucks, but it has a community.
You are going to get more people to see your post if you put it on Medium. You are going to get more "friends" if you are on Facebook. You are going to interact with more people if you are on Twitter.
Creating your own blog will now result in you having to manage your own hosting and possibly even do some "development".
Using another solution may not reach the community you expect to reach.
I find the discussion of HOW to get communities onto better platforms to be a more interesting topic than why the current platform sucks, especially when that platform doesn't even seem to listen to the criticism.
If those direct links sent me to somewhere else entirely tomorrow I wouldn't care.
I just want to read an article. Medium is a worse experience than average in that regard.
It's the same reason people have one Facebook page rather than thousands of small social networks. Even people who also participate in the smaller networks with a specific focus also have a Facebook page for their generic, lowest-common-denominator activity.
You may want to do nothing more with the Medium page than read it and leave, but they're going to keep pushing you do more than that. Despite the network effect there is still room for a few very broad social networks because they suit different communication styles. That's why Instagram exists. (It's also why Twitter exists; I can't figure out the merit there but its denizens seem to like it.)
Medium is one other such niche, for longer-form content. Or at least, they'd like it to be. It's not yet so big that the network effects are obvious, and that's why I don't have an account either. I was also very late to FB, and I still don't like it. But I'm there because the network effect of having all of my other friends there made it a thing I needed.
You can stay out of it forever, but you'll continue to get pressure to join until either it dies or you do.
I'm not sure your statement is 100% accurate. I know plenty of people who share a link just because it contains content worthy of reading. Sharing that content does not mean that you want others to join the community around it.
The majority of people on earth are not part of the Medium community.
The problem is Medium still has a community of say a hundred million readers, and nothing else (which is a blogging aggregator) has a community just as large.
In my very anecdotal experience, I've found that posting on Medium only gets me distribution if I choose to publish it on a popular publication; but does mostly nothing if only published on Medium. I have a Writer role on HackerNoon, which is one of the larger pubs on Medium. I also have about ~200 followers on Medium on my own account. I've found that when I post an article and publish on HackerNoon, I get a lot of reads and claps quickly. When I post one just under my own Medium account, it hardly gets anything. I'm not sure having someone "follow" you does much at all in surfacing your post. If my post is about a topic that is frequently searched (e.g. how to set up something on some Linux distro, etc.), eventually the SEO traffic starts flowing in and I get a clap every now and then. But that can be true of a blog hosted anywhere.
> I find the discussion of HOW to get communities onto better platforms to be a more interesting topic than why the current platform sucks, especially when that platform doesn't even seem to listen to the criticism.
But you need to remember that's a very progressive position. Most friends I have are completely unaware that Medium has become a crap platform
Define barely. With all due and sincere respect, have you ever tried to build an audience or community from zero without partners, a leverage point, or an ad budget?
Even getting a quality audience of thousands is non-trivial or costs money or needs a clever strategy.
It reminds me of when people say, "I have an idea for a startup but I'm worried about people stealing it."
I try to explain, look, unless you're John Carmack or are we'll known for certain expertise, or have a track record, likely you can post your idea publicly on your blog and no one will ever copy it, even if it's a decent concept.
It's a rough analogy, but the point is people just don't care about things as much as we might think, unless they have a good reason to (like it's Carmack's new startup).
> With all due and sincere respect, have you ever tried to build an audience or community from zero without partners, a leverage point, or an ad budget?
> Even getting a quality audience of thousands is non-trivial or costs money or needs a clever strategy.
That hasn't been my experience. I started with a blog. Then I wrote a book which I published online a chapter at a time. Now I'm on a second book.
I'm at the point now where I'm lucky enough to have many more people read what I write than I ever expected. My first book has sold many many more copies in print, EPUB, and Kindle than I ever dreamed.
I don't think I had a clever strategy. I just put a ton of effort into writing things that people find valuable. I think the real problem many people suffer from is that they aren't trying to do that. They have mostly selfish goals around growing their brand or their business, and actually satisfying readers is merely a means to that end.
I certainly personally benefit much more than I ever expected from mt writing, but if I ever felt like a I wrote a thing that wasn't worth the time a reader spends reading it, I'd delete it in a heartbeat.
> I try to explain, look, unless you're John Carmack or are we'll known for certain expertise, or have a track record, likely you can post your idea publicly on your blog and no one will ever copy it, even if it's a decent concept.
You say that like it's a bad thing. I don't believe you need to be a celebrity or a world-renowned expert. (I'm neither.) But you do need to have something that's worth the reader's time if you want to have a lot of readers. Otherwise, how are you making the world better?
That being said, it's also totally fine to not have a lot of readers. Everyone starts somewhere and writing not-too-great things for a small number of readers is the first step on the path towards writing better things for more people. The Beatles did not play their first show to a sold out arena, and that's great, because they weren't that good then either.
Your audience naturally grows with your skills. That's the system working as intended.
>That hasn't been my experience...
It's kind of begging to differ with...yourself? There are some contradictions here.
You say you did it in part by writing books, yet typically writing books is considered non-trivial. If these books are trivial to write that doesn't make them bad. However, it could give the impression that on average writing a book is easy. Special cases withstanding, it is not easy.
>I just put a ton of effort into writing things
Putting in "tons of effort" is also generally not considered trivial. I guess you meant it required trivial skills, rather than a trivial amount of time. Great. However it still conflicts with your thesis because it means some part of this approach is not trivial, and these clarifications matter when the phrase tons of effort is used.
My point is, it can be very hard to build communities from scratch. Many people just can't do it, or can do it only after building the skillset over years of practice. Most pros avoid starting from scratch whenever possible, many accelerate the process through investment.
It sounds like you've managed to overcome a lot of obstacles with gumption, hard work, and some good intuition about the process. That's a nice accomplishment.
However for the purposes of those considering taking on the task, it's worth noting I can't see how it refutes anything I've said. I'm glad you were successful, and it seems you may have a knack for it. For others, I think it's useful to take care to not underestimate it.
I certainly have put a lot of effort into this, but all of that effort went into the thing itself that the audience was consuming. It's not like I wanted an audience for X and then had to put non-trivial effort into Y. By analogy, bands makes much of their money from selling T-shirts, which is effort unrelated to making the music that people want to listen to.
I didn't spend a lot of time making T-shirts. I just made the best music I could and it turned out in my case to be sufficient.
If you ever feel like sharing with a link here, or an email if you want to keep it one on one, it would be welcome.
The Internet has been building communities from its inception. Medium has nothing on the average fan forum, IRC channel or even subreddit. They grow organically and if moderated properly, can last decades on zero budget.
But it also seems like you're not talking about actual communities, but about potential sales targets (ad budget? partners?).
HTTP hasn't built any web services, people do that. Of course it true it sure does seem to have be conducive to allowing them to flourish, but having good soil, and having a skilled gardener growing something in it are distinct things.
Yes, countless communities have grown organically without someone explicitly planning, defining objectives, and thinking of these communities as important pieces of some business strategy.
Indeed, it didn't happen at all in the early days, and happens more and more now as it's become more obvious how much influence it can have on the success of certain businesses.
Your comment is a bit cynical. Thinking about a community as part of a business plan does not automatically mean exploiting people as sales targets, being at odds with respect for privacy, or other nefarious things than sometimes happen.
In fact it can be just as important to leverage the power of a strong community for a non-profit with altruistic goals. It's just a powerful new dynamic that has to be reckoned with like any other new phenomenon in tech and can be used for good or evil depending on what you stand for, just like most new innovations, or in this case an emergent social construct property of the Internet.
Regarding this, you can block these UI elements using content blockers. I have used uBlock Origin to block these on my Safari Mac and AdGuard to block them on iOS. I am sure similar equivalents exist for other browsers too which you might use.
I shared a few examples on how to do that on a reddit post before:
Here's one for Medium specifically:
Oh, wow, this is kind of a revelation to me, I can block the overlay, the bottom fixed banner and the top fixed header and suddenly even medium is a decent reading experience. Thanks for the tip, I'll be using it on other sites too!
"Web design" seems to me to be a game of "will this flashy new widget/layout/whatchamacallit draw more attention?"
Medium's tech complexity and operating costs are low (relative to web apps with similar scale).
Totally agree the real problem is not technical, its reestablishing a community of significant size and quality, never an easy thing.
For things like this, I wonder if the HN community has the characteristics to be a rallying point to build the momentum/awareness needed for initiatives with enough interest.
I have no doubt HN folks could inspire (indeed, have inspired) enough to catalyze formidable technical initiatives.
But that's a different problem, tech can be willed into existence if a handful of the right people get interested. Harder to predict when it's possible for sheer force of will to give rise to a quality community.
1. It's easy. Any self-hosted solution will more be up-front work.
2. Because other companies use it as their blog platform, it should still allow us to seem like "a real company" with minimal effort.
I haven't thought too deeply about it but this is my current "pro" list for using Medium as a person that will actually be faced with the choice soon.
- No access to google analytics tools (search console and analytics)
- emails capture is more difficult. You can still embed widget but user has to opt in.
With the switch to paywall focused incentives that went away. The value exchange for free articles is pretty minimal: easy and simple web hosting in exchange for letting them run "read next" links which are essentially ads for their subscription service. That's a huge step down from the old value exchange which had them also sending you readers and subscribers in exchange for giving them the opportunity to burn their own cash. IMO, the step down in value is severe, but also fair.
To get the readers and subscribers, you'd have to publish within their paywall. I don't think that makes sense at all for your main company blog. Easy and simple is good though, so maybe Medium still makes sense. It's just not as good of an option as it used to be.
However, I do think you could make the case that engineering blogs or other recruiting oriented efforts would benefit from focusing on distribution through cross posting or guest posting. I know the pubs that are focusing on Medium's subscribers would happily put an article from one of your engineers in front of as many subscribers as they could.
My blog had a few hundred thousand views on Medium. Almost all of them came from HN or Reddit.
Medium is NOT our community info-repository, but rather the Facebook of blogging, centralizing content further.
Until such a point that the international programming community ceases to centralize ALL INFO EVER on Medium.com we should beat this non-dead horse for all it's worth!
The product is only as good as it needs to be to serve the community -- if the community's stuck with it, then the product has no gravity pulling it to get better. That said, I happen to think Medium is just fine. The complaints in the article seem (a) to apply only to some uses, really and (b) fall into the "if you dislike it so much, make your own damn mousetrap" camp?
Blogger.com is still a thing, until Google kills it, but if you have your own domain name it’s not that much of a risk. You don’t have to manage anything.
You can still post links to all of the other popular forums.
Well, we had a pretty good platform that had one big community and it was called the internet.
All the comments are the same too
I love that you can post on your "personal" page, another publisher and not need to make a new account.
Are there any solutions out there that let you keep a consistent profile across multiple blogs?
We all know why. Everyone does. If they chose to use it, it's because they still feel its better than the alternative. I'm not really sure what else there is to be said at this point
I don't use Medium. But honestly, why do I care if anyone else does? Could someone maybe explain the negative to the world at large? There are thousands of low friction options to publish content on the web. I'm not really too scared of Medium forcing anyone into something they do not want to do.
The removal of custom domains is unfortunate.
I wish they'd put that back in.
That's the whole point of the POSSE concept pushed by the IndieWeb people. By all means syndicate your shit on Medium, Twitter, Facebook, etc -- but post it on your own website first.
If you don't have your own website, you're nothing but a digital sharecropper. Ask right-wing YouTubers how that's working out for them and you'll find their answers instructive once you get past the butthurt.
I pitched an article to an online magazine, about UBI. They said they ran one too recently, so I figured I'd self publish. I could have put it on my site, read by zero people, but I figured a medium.com URL would get farther wherever I submitted it.
I was right, but not only that, the Medium twitter account tweeted my article, and Medium asked if they could edit it and make an audio version.
Many interesting things came of this signal boosting. People started emailing me from weird places, like economics professors and government researchers, including one guy at the World Bank. I was invited into a secret slack that I'm still part of today (unfortunately most of the good internet is going the way of non-public places, but that's another topic). The net result of one article they boosted has been meeting a lot of people who are now my friends, two years on. Kind of amazing in retrospect. Medium's boosting also allowed me to gather enough Twitter followers to feel like its a useful platform, in a sense unlocking "my own" audience.
None of this would have happened if I self hosted. About these issues of canonical URL, why would I care? If I self hosted almost no one would have read it. I am more interested in reading and writing than I am in canonical URLs or a small bar on my screen. I suppose its unfortunate if it annoys 90% of my readers, but that's a lot better than no readers.
So thanks Medium.
(my only nit is that their editors changed some of my language to be more snarky, so I would not let them edit again)
Tags allow visibility to people perusing topics on Medium, or getting emails about those topics. The SEO boost is clearly greater, and Medium is unlikely to go down if a flood of traffic arrives. And the possibility of "editors pick/best of" etc is obviously greater, since it exists at all. And besides, since I am not famous, leveraging a famous domain lends enough credibility for more people at the margins to read what I wish to say.
So my particular outcome aside, I think it good advice for any internet rando, including myself, to leverage the power of such a platform while the benefits seem nonzero. Though I understand people's reservations (such as this article!), they seem overstated or else to ignore completely the clear advantages, even if they are only potential advantages.
Also worth reading:
"The idea won’t be to start a website. That will be dead. The individual website won’t matter. The Internet is not going to be about billions of people going to millions of websites. It will be about getting it from centralized websites."
I think it is lovely that Medium charges people directly, instead of:
- selling data
- spamming with adverts
What else do you expect? (I'm flabbergasted that most people prefer shady ways to get revenue... and then criticize it as well. Even here. Let's PAY for social networks and services. And let's finally acknowledge that the "free" model is more than often tricky/shady or at least - not sustainable.)
I'm still a bit amazed that so many people, many of them who aren't short on visibility, chose to host their content on that site.
Most of it i would have rather read on someone's personal site as IMO that adds a lot of character and context.
Man the internet must suck for that sentence to exist.
And there are probably LOTS of people who don't care. Feels like folks on HN miss this important point.
So people join, start publishing then realize its too much work to switch so they just continue using it.
Are you sure it's not your reading habits that have changed? For example, I wake up and check my RSS reader (feedbin) where I subscribe to hundreds of individual blogs (many powered by WordPress). Actually this article was in my feed because I subscribe to HN RSS with a "Blog" keyword filter!
I don't have numbers but my anecdotal experience is that more blog articles I read are on WP blogs than not. Ghost is probably the other major platform I see along with static site generators.
I built a syntax highlighter, Shiki, that allows you to use any theme from VS Code to color your code . It works great with Node now as a static website generator plugin, but with some effort you can run it all in client side as well. TypeScript's new handbook is using Shiki .
I can't really believe how it's 2019 and Medium and Slack still can't syntax highlight code snippets.
I just discovered that it’s possible to switch to a light theme, which is much more readable. Still would’ve preferred a nice serif font, though.
I use the readability button and "Dark Background/Light text" on Firefox when things get a bit too wild and bright for me.
But here's the thing: those hosting costs only become significant when they are centralized on a platform like Medium. If I want to go start my own blog site, I can set it up without any coding and host it for single-digit dollars a month. If most authors are blogging simply because they want to, they won't have a problem with paying that nominal fee, and suddenly huge server costs are spread out to the point that they become trivial. Medium is trying to solve a problem that didn't exist. That's why it's sinking.
What's sort of lost in all of this discussion is the point of the subscriber program. The point is to higher quality articles to people who care about quality. A programmer's hourly rate is well above three figures, why would you waste your time reading low quality articles? Because sometimes they're the best available. But it doesn't have to be that way.
Is Dev.to a developer focused medium? It looks really slick! Could it be a future Hugo and Medium replacement for developers personal websites/blogs?
I think there's a bigger point though which is just "Does Medium have articles yet that are worth $5/month?"
It would be totally reasonable to answer no. But every month they spend more money on authors. And, you don't see this, they are also ramping up spending on editors.
On programming topics, a lot of articles are finally getting a stricter editorial curation and even going through copy edit. Even though I'm involved in editing some of these programming articles, I don't think it'll be enough editorial in the end. I think programming articles should also go through a tech review where the code actually gets tested.
I'm hopeful, based on the growth of the programming publication that we'll be able to afford tech reviewers at least by the end of the year. So maybe if it's not worth $5 now, it'll be worth $5 later.
I mean, it wasn't launched that long ago, and it's not like blogging platforms were rare then. Was it the curation/discovery aspect? Or something else?
Edit: For folks who want WYSIWYG editing, even something like the tools namecheap provides or hosted WordPress are very viable options as well, since not everyone will be comfortable with a static site generator.
I assume from a content producing side it was easier to not deal with hosting, scaling, etc.
Just downrank medium.com. This is the actual problem with Medium.
The content on medium is ok but does rarely match the search ranking it has.
The web is our tool for liberation and this is a subversion of the very principles that the web was founded upon.
Nah, Medium and google's fast republishing proxy thingy are so much better.
that probably explains why I like HN, simple and brief, it might not be the most impressive UI when you started to use it, but it works well for the long term.
Other options are, Jekyll, Gatsby, Hugo and many more. Netlify will make any of those free.
I'm pretty sure that what FCC calls extortion was actually just the end of a free ride. Based on what I know of the ecosystem and the offer that was made to me as a publisher, I think the content of the Medium's approach would have been along these lines:
"For the past several years, you've been getting a free ride where we gave free hosting, free traffic, free readers and created a situation where most programming authors on our platform looked to you as the first place to publish, i.e. you got free authors. That free ride is over. We think you have these options:
A) We have pivoted to a subscription business. Do you want to pivot with us and publish within our paywall? If so, we'll continue giving you readers and authors, along with an editorial budget and a page-view based performance bonus. Also we'll start paying your authors out of our end.
B) Stay on our free platform. You'll still get the benefit of the SEO traffic from the articles you've already published and you can continue to publish as much as you want. We won't algorithmically promote your articles though and that will probably mean that fewer authors will choose you as their publisher.
C) You can leave. The problem with leaving though is that you don't own the copyright to any of the articles in your publication or your subscribers. So you can ask your current readers and authors to move with you, but on the surface it looks like this will cost you quite a bit of traffic."
I'm not sure about FCC's actual numbers, but I imagine the option A would have paid $20-50k/month in "profit" after costs of editing, authors, etc. It also would have significantly improved the quality of the articles. Not that the articles were bad, but a bigger editorial budget would have made them even better.
What it looks like FCC actually did was option D. Copy all of the articles in their pub (clear copyright infringement), taking a few million views per month in SEO traffic and then basically dare Medium to sue them. But Medium doesn't have standing because they don't own these copyrights either, so Medium's not doing anything. Instead, it's up to about 1k FCC authors who each individually are having to decide whether to take legal action (usually a DMCA complaint to FCC's hosting provider) or jump through FCC's hoops. FCC didn't even auto-create accounts for the authors, so in order to reclaim control of their article authors are having to either get on the phone with FCC or go through Twitter DM. However, if the author does that work, it does appear that FCC is willing to delete the article and/or give control back to the author.
We know how startups work. A pre-revenue company is by definition going to pivot to a business model or go bankrupt (or often both). I think it's a bad look to act entitled to that pre-revenue period lasting forever. And certainly, it's disingenuous to act surprised.
Then too, if you are an entrepreneur building a partnership with a pre-revenue company, you have to understand that that partnership is not stable. I'd consider it a first principle of business partnerships that both sides need to make money.
So, in the old days when Medium was hemorrhaging cash, that is by definition an unstable partnership. Of course it's going to change.
To me, for the first time ever, Medium is now a stable company to partner with because you basically know what their actual incentives are.
So we have to go to Medium to publish. Not even Wordpress.com. (gasps) Blogspot!
Medium embraces censorship. Medium has a content policy that's allows it to take sides. For example, Medium is very pro towards certain topics and anti against some. Eg. writing anything anti-feminism will get your account banned (even if presented with logical arguments, stats and facts). Medium will ban you for some dumb reason if you write anything pro-white people, Trump, Taiwan and sometimes Hongkong.
I know this because my friend wrote a stellar piece about a professor who openly expressed hatred towards males and who held a senior position in a university  and her account was banned the very next day.
To me, this seems like a strategy for Medium to become profitable by controlling/swaying people's opinions which is a much larger business than hosting blog content.
By removing the 'free' aspect of the content, medium effectively put itself in the same bucket as other platforms.
I also don't like medium's UX, especially the highlighting feature. It is really distracting.
It'd be cool to have a central store where users can publish content without worrying about uptime, paywalls or anything as such.
Github does a fantastic job of hosting code and keeping people happy (generally). It's generous to individuals and has a good business model. It would be great to have a place to host my content which is as friendly as github.
I think cloning Medium wouldn't be horribly difficult. It might even be a good medium (hue hue) term project for a solo dev. Perhaps I'm grossly underestimating the work; perhaps it already exists; or perhaps I've just found something to keep me busy over the summer!
I wasn't aware that the publisher got to choose if they wanted to put up a paywall or not.
So you guys are going to create your own paywalled walled garden for coding content? What's your solution even.
While I can't fault their capitalism, life is just too short. There isn't ANY lack of diversion elsewhere, for example, here.
Too much form over function surprisingly gets in the way.