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On Medium (tbray.org)
65 points by bradly on July 1, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 57 comments

I've had two Medium articles get over 1.1k views and a 90%+ readership. I have about 6 subscribers on my WordPress blog that gets ~100 views a day.

Just putting that out there. Make of it what you will.

By the way, I once had an article get 10k views after a share on HN, then had that same article get ~120,000 after a republish on Lifehacker. The morale of all this? I don't know. Sure, it feels kind of good knowing that many people are reading your content, but the bigger picture is what are you doing with the viewership. I'm not so gung-ho on views anymore because views don't pay my rent, money does. Money is the ultimate metric.

Sure, viewership is nice, but only because of what it leads to: money and conversations. Medium is an okay place for conversations, and definitely is not a place to make money. I've yet to see an affiliate link or someone telling me to buy their book on the site. If anything, it's a place used to build your reputation -- it's like a nice outfit that makes you temporarily look good. I saw temporarily because it's a new site and has somewhat of a gated community feel to it.

I like reading. I like writing. But in the end, it comes down to making money.

yeah, I'm all over the place with this comment. It's Sunday night and I am a single guy that lives alone -- I got a lot on my mind!

Does it come down to making money? Writing is about getting a message accross, be it a "give me money" message or a different one.

I get the feeling that a lot of people on this site dislike Medium, either consciously or unconsciously. I think part of it is the fact that it separates content from its creators; I think part of it is that it sprung up the same time as Svbtle, and grew conspicuously ubiquitous whereas Svbtle has remained pretty confined to the tech sphere.

The underlying value proposition by any sort of blogging engine (Posthaven, Medium, Svbtle, et al) is limited to a network, ease of use, and a good design. For most tech people, ease of use is a non-factor (you can extol 'distractions-free design', but you can put vim or Byword in full-screen mode) -- and I think the way people are reading is shifting away from individual sites and towards external services to the extent that design isn't a huge factor (everything looks the same in NewsBlur or Instapaper.)

This leaves the network/audience, which is a much more interesting concept: Svbtle is clearly going for a more curated approach (though the value of that curation is arguable), whereas Medium's trying a bunch of stuff at once (collections, editor's feed, etc.)

I can't help thinking that the winner of this nouveau publishing spectrum isn't going to be a hosting service, but a linking service. You might never get Patrick McKenzie to blog on your platform (because why would he?) but you can always link to his material.

> I get the feeling that a lot of people on this site dislike Medium, either consciously or unconsciously.

I dislike Medium consciously, but not for the reasons you present. I dislike the site because I don't think its prominence here in HN was progressive, but rather very sudden (one month it was nothing special, and the next one it was always on the main page).

That tells me that either Medium is the website to end all websites, a site so popular that it took news sites by storm and whose news cannot be ignored, or that their marketing team is artificially pushing their content in HN to gain views. The fact that they have a main page article discussing how awesome the site is doesn't help either.

Of course, I have no evidence whatsoever of this, but that's how it feels for me. So as suggested by a fellow HN commenter, I just ignore everything from them.

I don't disagree with you whatsoever. It definitely felt more organic to me because I follow a lot of the Obvious Corp. folk on Twitter, but I think it's naive to think that any major tech-focused publication (and I'm being broad with the definition of publication here) doesn't specifically submit stuff to HN.

I have no idea how HN's ranking works, but I wish there was some sort of diminishing return bias against a given top-level URL.

I think you see a sudden surge in submissions because there was a surge in Medium handing out invites and thus more people having access to publish on Medium.

I generally avoid any submissions from Medium unless they have over 100 comments, in which case it is the meta discussion that attracts me and not the Medium post.

The problem I have with Medium is the posts typically lack depth, they are more "sound bites" than articles.

I just simply wonder why so many medium articles have made their way to the front page for an extended period of time.

Some good, some, eh, but propensity of solo-source gets old.

Just for fun, here's a chart showing who submits Medium to HN


EDIT: I should have said, this is only the last 100 posts!

EDIT: increasing the number gives a bad request error. :-/

      urllib2.HTTPError: HTTP Error 400: Bad Request
        File "C:\Python27\lib\urllib2.py", line 527, in http_error_default raise HTTPError(req.get_full_url(), code, msg, hdrs, fp)

Fixed graph here, containing the top 20 posters by number of posts, for 1000/1315 links containing the medium.com domain. (Using R; sorry about the labels)


...wow, 1,000 submissions for a less-than 1 year startup is crazy.

NB: If you want to get more than 100, you need to use the start=0,100,200... parameter which works up to a maximum of 900 with limit=100.

That's excellent, thank you!

The types of posts on Medium coincidentally and conveniently match the interests of the typical HNer. (fighting adversity, never giving up your dreams, changing flawed systems, etc.)

It just isn't innovative. It has a special font and layout, but it's still just paragraphs of text. Neocities is guilty of this as well. They did add a promise of privacy and commitment, but giving someone a textbox to write in just can't really be improved any further.

it's interesting that you say that, since I felt the same way. I never really liked how much the content and the presentation of something where tied together. personally, I built my answer to this as http://xwl.me/, a site that just makes you markdown document beautiful and readable. However, you control what that source document says and where it's hosted.

I found it makes things simple and beautiful for me.

> I think part of it is the fact that it separates content from its creators

I think it's more due to a 3 second loading delay when you are forced to stare at a blank page with no activity indicators.

I can't help thinking that the winner of this nouveau publishing spectrum isn't going to be a hosting service, but a linking service.

It's possible you're right, but I would personally guess in the other direction. I think Tumblr is the most successful example of an approach that focuses on the internal ecosystem more (posts can certainly contain links, but linking outward isn't the focus). Tumblr tends to cover smaller things (1/2-paragraph posts, photos), but that model of an internally focused platform seems like it has room to expand. Whereas the link-based model already competes with a million existing ways to organize links, with varying mixes of voting, curation, and algorithms: Reddit, HN, Twitter, Slashdot, Prismatic, BoingBoing, etc.

"For most tech people, ease of use is a non-factor"

If you're still looking for simplicity (minus the network) you might give http://postagon.com a shot.

I like your comment, and your last name. I have an Uncle named Jim. This isn't him, is it?

That would be quite the coincidence.


I think the next best blogging platform will be one that does what WordPress used to do. I have my eyes on Ghost, which claims to be a minimalistic blogging system that you have full control over.

It's interesting you mention a linking service. I am actually working somewhat of a linking/sharing/status service that will put salience on the conversation instead of the publishing.

I dropped Wordpress in favor of http://anchorcms.com earlier this year. It's a little raw, not even to 1.0 yet, but quite functional and very lightweight.

Ghost was a good idea but seems to be dead. Last post I can find is from last year. It's design inspired my own service however which was a nice silver lining.

Ghost just had a successful Kickstarter last month that raised ~200k. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/johnonolan/ghost-just-a-.... Not sure how you missed that. It's on the first page of Google results.

You may just have something different and great with the "private writing." Seriously does anyone care 1 million people read them, or a select 100, maybe even a select 10 then you can have a meaningful discussion with those. Private writing sounds more innovative to me then Medium, Sbvtle, and the likes.

Whatever publishers think, I've started using (medium.com) on HN as a negative content filter. Was quite impressed when I first saw it, but the last few times I've clicked on something on the front page of HN on medium it's been poorly thought out link bait. This isn't unique to medium of course, but I've gone from having a high-end perception of their content to a low-end one.

I've noticed that the posts tend to be well composed but on the fluff side in terms of content.

More bullshit SV circle jerking. I wonder if anyone's working on how to make public schools better, or a way to keep politicians more accountable, or a way to help close the wage gap, or...

I came here to change the world. And I feel like all I see are nerds blowing each other about The next minimalist uber for twitter.

> I came here to change the world.

Genuinely interested: what do you mean by "here"? HN, programming, life?

Silicon Valley. I grew up dreaming about Livermore Labs, Xerox PARC, Hewlett Packard (in its day), Apple. Now everything is in the city, and each start up as vapid and pointless as the last.

That kind of innovation (a) is difficult and (b) requires precisely configured conditions. Unfortunately the lesson that corporations learned from the golden age of these labs was that though they produced amazing things, they didn't provide an adequate return on the investment. Now that everybody has learned that lesson, there are not many such labs left and the ones that are thriving operate much like either product incubators (Microsoft) or agencies (PARC).

Another problem is that there are not many properly educated people to establish and run labs like this thanks to our education system falling apart. But you won't hear anybody talking about that. Things will just get worse and worse.

If you want to change the world, change yourself. You should never rely on others to change in the ways you'd like them to.

You should definitely never rely on others to change, but you can engage in a dialogue with the public through writing and speaking, which has the potential to change others.

Sometime back someone invited me to Medium and I am yet to try this out. I am still confused by to why I should try it out.

Some questions I have:

My domain (website) represents an exercise in credibility, branding and personality [1]. Why should I move to Medium?

Some people who write on Medium tell me the sheer number of views they get encourages them to write. Some have mentioned around 20K views in 3-4 hours. But this is a factor of “Editors pick” which will soon hit flooding issues and the rich gets richer issues in the front page. Can they ensure continuous coverage at this level ?

Some time from now they’ll have to make money. They’ll charge you, run ads or sell to another company. This might not be in sync with your ideology. I pay $6 on prgrmr. Cheap enough. Is this acceptable to you?

I agree maintaining a domain is more hard work than writing on medium but the feeling of “I own it” is incredible. Don’t you feel the same?

If distraction free writing were the USP, I’d recommend my co-founder’s iaWriter [2]. It does not publish directly and that’s a big negative. Isn’t this good enough?

[1]: http://www.gigpeppers.com/

[2]: http://www.iawriter.com/

>My domain (website) represents an exercise in credibility, branding and personality [1]. Why should I move to Medium?

If you care about that kind of thing and are good at it you probably shouldn't. Medium maintains its own credible brand, which is a godsend for someone who just wants to write, and not worry about design, branding or personality.

>Some people who write on Medium tell me the sheer number of views they get encourages them to write. Some have mentioned around 20K views in 3-4 hours. But this is a factor of “Editors pick” which will soon hit flooding issues and the rich gets richer issues in the front page. Can they ensure continuous coverage at this level ?

Of course they can't ensure anything. But you have xx potential readers (in a more immediate fashion than the way you have 1 million potential readers for anything you put on the web). For some people that helps.

>Some time from now they’ll have to make money. They’ll charge you, run ads or sell to another company. This might not be in sync with your ideology. I pay $6 on prgrmr. Cheap enough. Is this acceptable to you?

I have my own copies of everything I write. If medium brings in changes a year from now and I have to move somewhere different, it's no big. That it might go away at some time is no reason not to enjoy its benefits now.

>I agree maintaining a domain is more hard work than writing on medium but the feeling of “I own it” is incredible. Don’t you feel the same?

Nope. I want to write, and to be read, but I'd be happy to do so anonymously. It's not something I do to build up my personal brand or anything like that.

This is completely off topic, but where did this "I am yet" nonsense spawn from? It's completely wrong, since you don't say "I amn't seen it yet", you say "I haven't seen it yet", therefore "I have yet to see it".

Is it one of those things that people get wrong to sound more educated, like overusing "whom"?

Interesting question - having always used the expression "I'm yet to do XXX" I didn't even realise how odd it might look to those unfamiliar with it. It's pretty standard English IMO, certain nothing I'd consider affectatious the way the use of whom absolutely can be.

Some discussion here:



"I am yet to..." and "I have yet to..." express exactly the same sentiment. The use of "am" in this context is a throwback to the now obsolete use of "to be" as the auxiliary verb in the present perfect conjugation of certain verbs. Eg, I am come. Languages such as German and French continue to use both "to be" and "to have" as auxiliary verbs. "I have come" translates in German to "ich bin gekommen" and in French to "je suis venu".

Hmm, that's interesting, thanks for the link. "I am yet" looks completely foreign to me, and it doesn't help that I haven't managed to find any definitive citation on the matter. However, it does appear from a cursory search that you are right, and the two have slightly different meanings.

Initially I was very impressed with Medium: it looked good and had a high rate of good content - enough that I happily assumed that new content Medium was probably going to be good.

Now I'm very depressed with Medium. It's filling with trite, immature rants that keep polluting my otherwise quality feed of opinions. I no longer click the links and definitely won't be chancing upon the rare quality material.

The same thing happened to Quora, sadly.

I'm the co-founder of The Tech Block http://thetechblock.com and we sort of built something similar to Medium (before Medium existed) except it's focused on Technology and we pick and choose the pieces that go on our site.

Though it has similarities, the big difference is that our site is not a place where you'd actually type out your article. Instead, if it's housed on your site already, you can choose to cross publish to our audience of tech enthusiasts.

If you haven't heard of it, give it a look.

Love the look. Two things: 1) The author info gets in the way on the left, making it harder to read (remember we reading in F), 2) Those outgoing links, I would rather have you guys grab the content and reformatted nicely within the site for a unified experience.

Many articles on Medium have all external links shortened to bit.ly URLs. Is that an option in the publishing interface? I find it extremely annoying, you can track outbound links using javascript without hiding the actual url.

The last time I checked, that wasn't an option. And now that you mentioned it, I might start to do it, too (sorry).

I'm not sure how you can track links via javascript, but I do know how to make a bit.ly link.

Every software I ever programmed follows bit.ly links once and insert the original url into the database. From then on, users can always go to the url directly. Don't hold your breath for the accuracy of bit.ly link tracking.

You can theoretically set up Google Analytics to follow outbound links.


Seems too complicated.

This is something that Medium itself could set up for you.

If you want something simpler, just paste this into your page: https://gist.github.com/5899046

Bit.ly is also useful in that you can use the same link across the web and have analytics all in one place. Otherwise you'd need to check medium to track links you posted there, and some other site for links from there etc.

As the author mentions, Medium seems best for the regular casual blogger. Bloggers with large followings are probably better served keeping their following and all the comments on their own turf.

I am always surprised how quickly individuals will give up control over their own content.

Agreed. I prefer all my content at a URL and server that I control. http://www.hanselman.com/blog/YourWordsAreWasted.aspx

and the lack of identity

Each different sharing outlet provides a unique level of anxiety, ease of sharing, ego, and focus. The reason I like the concept of Medium is that it encourages non-attention-seeking people to write publicly about nearly any topic. The categories are a good structure, and the focus is on the content rather than the person posting it. It's not your blog nor your servers to maintain. It's a public feed and you're just a small fish. The barrier to entry is low, and the stats are nice to see.

I can't see any mention here, but does Medium pay their authors for the content? Or is the pertinent question, how well does it pay compared to other article sites?

Medium does not pay a majority of their authors, however, I've heard that they pay some "big names" to help them gain traffic.

So unless you are a well known blogger/journalist, don't expect a check.

So sites like Medium are effectively driving down the pay of most authors (except some stars) by competing with other sites that pay for content. Bad news for authors.

I publish on Medium and parse my author RSS feed for display on my website. See it here, at the bottom: http://grrrando.com/

I think Medium is great. As is mentioned in the article, the editor is fantastic in its minimalism.

A key difference between myself and the author of this post is that I have no interest in creating or maintaining a blog (proper) of my own; I just want to write. I've wanted to write for a while, too, but the roadblock of setting something up and getting it looking decent prevented me from moving forward. For a while I thought Tumblr had been what I was looking for but text-based posts become utterly lost in the stream of naked ladies and pixel art (or is that just me?).

Stats wise, it's interesting to hear what an "Editor's Choice" pick on Medium can result in. I've got several posts on Medium that have 100 or fewer reads and they were posted to correct "collections". Which shows that Medium is not the place to build up an audience that you don't already have. Lacking the ability to "follow" an author – on-site at least, RSS is a non-advertised option – shows that Medium is more oriented towards "real time" (news cycle) longform than being a platform for authorship (for everyone besides maybe @ev and a handful of SV folks that always get featured).

My most popular article was posted about two weeks ago and has had around 2,000 reads. This isn't due to any Medium feature, though - just good old retweets and viral spreading. It was a satire listicle - prime viral material. Probably not what Medium was made for. Getting all of those reads, though, made me wonder exactly where all the traffic was coming from. I wish Medium had more in-depth analytics for this.

My big issue with Medium is branding. With Svbtle, you could atleast use your own domain name to link to your articles. With Medium, you always see the same medium.com domain and the same black-on-beige background.

There's no sense of identity. How often do people read articles by the same author on Medium? How often do people remember who wrote an article?

Medium is for writers who don't know how to brand. Medium essentially takes all the credit, traffic and recognition. And the writers seem to like that, weirdly enough.

One thing I dislike about Medium is the fact that selecting text displays a Twitter/conversation thingy. A lot of people, myself included, have a habit of selecting portions of text when we read. Having that Twitter thing show up constantly while reading is annoying.

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