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[flagged] Ask HN: Why does anyone still use Medium?
87 points by oblib 35 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 67 comments
There were a couple links here today in the "New" section with headlines that peaked my interests enough to click on them but they went to "Medium.com" which requires I "sign in" with Google or Facebook.

I won't do that. I'm not a hardcore "do not track" surfer but I have my limits and that's just a line I won't cross.

I don't think it's a leap to say this probably happens more than authors think.




For the future you should say "piqued my interest".

As for Medium, it has a lot of people using it because it was popular, fashionable, and free for a long time. These days as a reader it is terrible - I don't bother clicking medium links, and as an author I'd want to host my own content, not get it mixed in with the other noise hosted nearby.


> For the future you should say "piqued my interest".

Classic example of a common eggcorn. More details at https://eggcorns.lascribe.net/english/86/peak/


What I find quite annoying is that Medium has clearly spent a lot of effort on SEO. Whenever I Google a technical topic, the top results always include poorly written Medium articles.


If someone built a search engine with a blacklist feature I’d switch to it and Medium would be on the blacklist. Annoying default behavior and it does something to make images look like hell in reader view.

I have no idea why it gets bumped up in SEO, content on Medium is very hit or miss.


+1 for search engine with blacklist feature. There are some annoying sites (like GeeksForGeeks) with substandard content that come in top results of Google when I search for programming topics, for instance some language's specific API or method signature.


There’s actually a Chrome plugin you can use to blacklist certain domains from search results!

It’s called “Google Search Filter” (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-search-filt...)


I agree. I'd also love to block Pinterest from the image search results.


Oh god yes. Really any site that paywalls or limits content viewing to their app should be Auto-excluded from search results.


Google used to have that feature around 2011


I want to do a "web ring" like those in the old times. A manually curated ring of web pages with content for the sake of content. No ads. No SEO and not all of that crap . Imagine recipes without the SEO crap, news without the pushy videos. ..


That's right, I almost never find any dev.to articles.


As a writer on Medium I didn’t know it requires sign in for free content. I plan to move my content to a personally hosted blog but haven’t got to it yet. I also get a lot of views (10k+ mon) with no real effort on my part.


I don't think it requires sign-in for content that's not behind the paywall. I think it occasionally prompts the user to sign up or sign in, but you can click outside the box to move past it. It's hostile that they don't exclude an explicit "dismiss" button, though.


They have gotten more aggressive (and will continue to do so). I have been recently told I've run out of free articles, and if I switch to private browsing mode, it will tell me I've only got one left.


I don't think clicking outside of the box works anymore. You really have to reopen the page in incognito mode in order to read it, if you don't want to register & sign in.


That appears to be untrue, given I read the post today by clicking on the link and never got so much as asked to sign it


https://nomedium.dev/ is a new site, where the author describes what he doesn’t like about Medium including “ When sharing a Medium article, there is a high degree of uncertainty that the person opening the link will be asked to pay money to read the content.”

I learned about it at https://mobile.twitter.com/ChrisShort/status/121849195514918...


"...there is a high degree of uncertainty that the person opening the link will be asked to pay money to read the content.”

I feel the same way about clicking links on hacker news.


I have used Medium and would consider using them in the future.

Basically, Medium is at a sweet spot of pleasant presentation and zero maintenance. I don't write things to make money and don't particularly care that Medium can make money off my "work." I am also not at a place where I want to actively maintain a self-hosted solution (which is totally possible, I just don't want to keep it up).

All the downsides of the service are real, but they're in line with other services that people use (facebook, etc) and I've generally been skeptical that they're worse. That said, they recently started having much more aggressive "log in" popups and I'm once again interested in alternatives.


If you dont care about discoverability, and the social network side of Medium, https://telegra.ph/ is a great alternative.


Yah, that actually looks great. Thank you for the suggestion!


Wow... love the simplicity of telegra.ph.

That's just sweet.


how do you use it? Just type and publish, that's it, though?


More or less. Theres a way to use a Telegram account to log in and save your articles, allowing you to edit them later from other machines.


I found some good articles by real people about real life things that I don’t think I would ever have read in another publication. I paid and bought a subscription to Medium after that. I like the idea of paying writers for their work and if I ever get around to writing myself I would use Medium for the same reason.


Please don't. Medium is a very annoying platform and pushes away a significant portion of readers just because of the hosting. I only click through to a medium article as a last resort.

That being said, I also believe authors should be paid for their work. I pay for news subscriptions for precisely this reason, and I'm considering using scroll[1], which seems to be a simpler way to subscribe to a large number of information sources without having to have a subscription for each one.

I'm not going to support a product that I find annoying.

- [1] https://scroll.com/


Interesting opinion.


For authors the access barrier is pretty high, IMHO. It seems like there are millions of authors and posts fighting for the top home page position. I once wrote a post because I thought Medium is a great platform to reach a lot of readers. It isn't. It took around two weeeks until I got the notice that my post is eventually being ignored because there are to many posts to be reviewed. What I understand. But this also means, Medium is not the platform that gives you millions of impressions in the blink of an eye.

Publishing on Medium on one side takes away the pain of hosting your stuff on your own premises. That's all. But - as far as I understand it - you need to put a lot of effort into writing dozens of posts before you are actually being considered from the "post-review-team". I would rather spend time and effort into SEO to push my self hosted content. Seems easier and more sustainable.


What was the attraction to Medium in the first place? As someone who doesn't write article I wouldn't have noticed if all the Medium articles I'd read had been on Wordpress.


I never wrote on Medium, but having been a reader on Medium back before the rebrand and business model pivot, my impression is that it provided the entire platform at a time when it otherwise would take a lot of work to build, host, and maintain proprietary solutions to achieve the same thing. I saw a lot of companies moving their blogs to Medium, and they got to keep their domain name and branding, but you could tell it was hosted on Medium, because of the feature set. I think that the name 'Medium' really illustrates that. Medium was supposed to be the medium of choice to publish content on the web. It was everything you needed to get your message onto the web - serving the needs of content creators and consumers. Apparently that wasn't making any money. Now they are just predatory.

Edit: and I agree with what some others are saying. By hosting content from multiple publishers, they were able to provide some unique features for both publishes and consumers. Publishers benefitted from discoverability because Medium would surface related content around the platform to consumers, and they also benefitted from readers having platform-wide accounts where they could interact frictionlessly with blog content and kind of give content upvotes. On the consumer side, it kind of made Medium a good feed to watch for personalized blog content as well as the frictionless interactivity.


One thing Medium isnt getting credit for, that at its time was a breath of fresh air, was limiting formatting options. Similar to Facebook vs Livejournal/xanga/myspace, Medium took away almost all your formatting options, except the basics, and made it easy to insert media. Articles always looked good, and consistent, and you had simple metrics to gauge performance.

IMHO, the product pretty much when downhill as soon as they started nagging readers. The entire benefit to a reader was simplicity, cleanness, and a lack of distractions. Now it pushes the app and login so aggressively, people feel like giving up and pressing back. Wordpress could do what medium did, but Wordpress was focused on freedom of design, not a standardized reading mode. Also the medium editor is basically the same interface as reading mode.

If you want a rough equivalent of the early medium experience, minus the metrics, see https://telegra.ph/


I think the attraction for writers were network effects. It's kind of like YouTube for text content. Recently, I watched a video about the game Crokinole on YouTube. Afterwards I got a bunch of suggested videos: other videos about Crokinole, videos about other board games, videos about making your own Crokinole board ...etc. Medium does (or was supposed to) do something similar for articles, which in turn should lead to more views on your content.


I started writing in Medium because it was easy. Unlike WP it requires no maintenance and it looks good.

After what happened with FreeCodeCamp I decided to not write there anymore.

> “freeCodeCamp is the biggest publication on Medium. Our open source community sends Medium about 5% of their total traffic. But over the past year, Medium has become more aggressive toward us. They have pressured us to put our articles behind paywalls. We refused. So they tried to buy us. (Which makes no sense. We are a public charity.) We refused. Then they started threatening us with a lawyer.”

https://reclaimthenet.org/freecodecamp-leaves-medium/


It's all about exposure and discoverability, as Medium does as good job of effectively giving your blog 'free advertising' by recommending your posts to other users. It would be great if there was a decentralized way of doing this somehow.


These are the stats of my most read article: https://imgur.com/BAICxnm

As you can see only 8% came from inside Medium.


We should link to each other's sites and form a sort of web ring.


As a technical matter, the interface is posh.

But with the departure of https://hackernoon.com there just isn't much geeky content to motivate visiting, and I never cared to subscribe.


Exposure is one reason. Two of my articles have over 3k views. On medium you can make good content and get a decent amount of views much easier than hosting own blog and growth hacking.


It's super easy to get 10k views on an article. My most read article has over 100k views. Probably less than 10% of the views come from Medium itself or Google so there is really no benefit in using Medium. You could use a static host and give your readers a better experience.


It's definitely not hard to get eyes on an article, but you're probably underestimating the amount of views that Medium brings. It has excellent discovery, and based on anecdata from friends who have tried A/B testing this stuff, 90%+ easily come from Medium, especially in the 100,000+ view-range, unless you're intentionally going out of your way to spam the link to your personal site everywhere.

Also, a substantial amount of views come from search engine traffic with almost every bit of content on the internet, unless you're doing it wrong. Your most recent post is full of frequently-searched terms. It seems unlikely that little of it is coming from search engines, and almost impossible that most of that viewership is coming from something other than Medium's discovery.

Maybe try A/B testing with your next article? I think we'd all be interested in that.


You can easily see where the traffic comes from in the stats for each article.

I just checked it and my most read article has about 170k views. About 50% of that came from HN and direct URL. Only 8% from Medium.

See for yourself: https://imgur.com/BAICxnm


I'm guessing Medium is burning money fast and hasn't found a way to generate revenue which is why they have become so aggressive now. I'm guessing they still have a couple of years before they run out of cash but I doubt they will be able to raise another series of funding.

The subscription thing will not work because 1) there is no guarantee you will get good content from Medium and 2) people want to support content creators not faceless platforms (with questionable practices).

Of course content creators should be able to monetize their content but Medium is certainly not the way to achieve that.


If you have a user, after reading a few posts you are denied from reading if you don't get a subscription.

The Practical Dev (dev.to) has been consistently growing, while adding incredible features and offering everything for free (and open source).

My guess is that dev.to should create a similar amount of traffic as Medium and maybe outgrow it, since many writers/readers have migrated over there.

My advice is to move to dev.to, it doesn't make sense to write on Medium anymore.


Medium does NOT require you to sign in. It asks you to, but you don't have to be signed in to read the posts. You can just close the prompt or click outside of it.

Source: I have never signed up for Medium and. I have been able to read in full any article I click on up until today.

As much as you may dislike it, I don't think you should spread misinformation when you could simply have investigated this first.


I went back to those articles and you're right, you can click through.

But I did not "spread misinformation". The fact that I didn't know you can just click outside that login screen to read their content isn't because I was misinformed. It was because I was intentionally not informed.

And I won't be patting myself on the back now that I know it's easy to get around either. I'd rather just avoid sites that play silly tricks like this in order to collect more data on me.


If you walk up to a bar, see a cash box at the door (maybe for a cover, maybe for donations) but no one asks you to pay and you choose not to enter and walk away because of the bucket, then you go around asking people why they would go to said club when it has a cover charge, I believe that counts as misinformation.

If you tell people a site has a paywall when it doesn't, that is misinformation. If you tell people that a site requires login when it doesn't, that is also misinformation.


>>If you tell people a site has a paywall when it doesn't, that is misinformation

I did not tell people here there was a "paywall". I told them Medium requires I ""sign in" with Google or Facebook". The truth is they don't, but they make it look like they do.

So, are you deliberately trying to misinform others here now by claiming I said they have a "paywall"?

That seems a lot closer to that line you've accused me of crossing than what I wrote here.


Somehow, I do not have that problem. I do not have an account with Google, Facebook, or Medium, but the article is readable for me anyways, if cookies are disabled.

However, they use too big font and too narrow width; this can be avoided by disabling CSS as well.


Because the vast majority of internet readers have no such ludicrous lines they won't cross for arbitrary reasons.


I have always been able to just close the (anoying) Sign In popup and read the article without loging in.

Probably one of the main reasons people use it is because it's convenient and easy to use. Not everyone wants, or has the required skils, to configure/manage/monitor a custom blog.


And you can always clear your Medium cookies to get more free articles.


Medium doesn't actually require you to sign in (for free content, at least). It just asks you to, but you can dismiss the dialog.

That said, I think you're right that people get confused about this more than authors think and close the site without reading the page.


I mostly get there by search results. I don’t specifically go to medium and search it.


I think people don't realize that Medium doesn't require articles to be behind the paywall. There are two ways an article gets paywalled:

1. You opt-in to getting paid for views.

2. If you put your article up for curation AND it gets picked. If it gets picked to be shown in curated feeds, it goes behind the paywall, but if it doesn't get picked by a curator, it's openly accessible.

If you don't select getting paid for views or put it up for curation, it's always openly accessible.

I use Medium because hosting my own blog would be too much of a hassle. I never put my articles behind the paywall; my aim in writing is not to get paid, and I don't put them up for curation because I don't have an explicit goal of increasing my readership.

I'm also a Medium member, because I do think we need ways of paying for content, and paying for good content (the curation part). Maybe Medium's model is not the best way to do that, but I'd rather support a company that's trying to find the right balance than declare that all content should be free.


The alternative to Medium isn't necessarily "hosting your own", they are not the only blog hosting service around.

I personally would suggest at least going for your own domain, so you can switch providers if they turn worse, if you're ok with spending some money on it.


Almost all Medium articles can still be viewed in incognito Firefox (you get "1 free article" in each new incognito session).

The gradual paywalling of the web continues apace, however. Medium is just the latest in a long trend of content moving onto walled platforms (first social media, then news sites, now blogging)...


You can always clear your Medium cookies to get more free articles in your normal tab.


Medium provides a lot of value to both readers and writers.

I think people don't like signing up or paying because they're not used to having to do that, so it feels unfair.

But if you look at the trade-off objectively, it's very worth it.

Medium adds much more than $10/month of value to my life, just in terms of the articles I read there. That's perhaps two coffees.

Just another perspective.

I think we often have unreasonably high standards for what we're owed by software companies, that we don't have when those companies make hardware and physical goods.


I find it interesting you say that Medium provides +10€ value to you every month.

I'd say the writers that choose to be on Medium and would otherwise use another platform, provide that value to you. Be realistic, how many of the writers you enjoy actually benefit from the affiliate program? I would guess not many. (I could be wrong of course)

For the "high expectations" argument I'd say there are other options that match those expectations. Of course we should be able to say Medium is worse than them.


I'm not arguing Medium doesn't have value. That's not what stopped me there. Personally, I love the design of the site and have found some great content there.

It's been quite awhile since I've been to Medium and I was disappointed by the intrusion to access the content I was interested in but more put off with being asked to share data with Google and Facebook on what I read there.

Had Medium asked me to pay for a subscription I would make my choice to pay or not, but being asked to let them tell Google and FB what I'm reading there just feels yucky.

Thinking about my own reaction got me to wondering how others react to it and motivated to let others, and especially authors, know how I reacted and why.

Startup school is big on user feedback. This post generated quite a bit, and most of it was pretty good.


Press 'esc' and the popup disappears


Why did medium become popular in the first place? What sets it aside from any other blogging platform?


They don't require it. At least I have an "X" Button.


bane voice: "No one cared who I was until I put [it] on the Medium."

It looks nice enough, people read the things I write. When the editors like the things I write they send it to lots of people. For people who don't already have any kind of following, these are big plusses.


Ask HN: why does HN allow moans disguised as questions?

Nothing productive will come of this topic.


>>Ask HN: why does HN allow moans disguised as questions?

That's a perfect oxymoron.

But, to answer your question, learning more about this subject is exactly why I posted the question here, and it wasn't moaning. I have nothing personally against people that publish or read stuff on Medium, or Medium as a company. I'm truly curious about why people use it.

I learned quite a bit from the responses in fact. Several people wrote about why they still use it, several others offered alternatives to Medium. Others pointed out their own experiences publishing on Medium and several why they stopped. Most the responses were very informative and insightful.


It is also still a question, which could be answered.




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