Medium feels worse than blogging

​I’m finding it harder and harder to write on Medium.

First of all, apparently I currently write only for a few members of, which I could name by heart if I wanted to, and that’s actually a problem because I shouldn’t know their names, because I have over 2000 followers.

Yet, the more followers I have the less feedback I get, the less answers, the less my articles get noticed and published. I guess this is a normal effect of the network growing and of me being buried alongside thousands and thousands of people a zillion times better than me.

However, there is more to this than me whining.

I think it’s a problem with the fact that Medium wants a long form content network to work like Twitter.

And it doesn’t, because when you scroll through so many long form pieces you have no idea what’s inside. If you read 144 characters, I bet that with a decent IQ you get an instant clue what that’s all about.

We’re all lost in a random roulette of articles all appearing at the top of handpicked content. How can you compete with that? Do I want to compete in a competition of randomness? I don’t know.

I’m not whining because there are all these big bad wolves who churn out content like there is no tomorrow. I’m not whining that I’m not famous and that people just don’t blindly recommend anything that I blurt out.

I am whining about the fact that the platform doesn’t give me the tools to be an amateur writer.

For example, some writers, the “special” ones, have a “special” style of grouping articles, in a kind of series. Even though I am a member, I do not have access to that feature. And that simply annoys me.

Why do only publications get letters? If I have 2000 people who clicked that follow button, then doesn’t that actually mean anything? Of course it does, but it doesn’t appear to mean anything for the people at Medium.

The circle of people who interact with me is getting so small that I actually think of them as my friends. And I like that, but if I want to tell them something I must reach out to them personally outside of the platform and that makes me look like a stalker.

I mean, does anybody at Medium believe that it’s OK for me as a writer to just visit someone’s Facebook profile and contact them there?

Of course it’s not OK.

I think the platform should offer more guidelines.

For example, publications either have no way, or they do not use the feature, if it exists, to notify people what exactly makes their articles not being published.

Everybody takes a last defence position by telling writers to forget about being published if they don’t hear back in 48 hours. That is just rude.

Not even the initial benefit of having recommends bubble up in your network doesn’t seem to apply anymore.

I have had articles being recommended by people with thousands of followers and there was absolutely no kind of effect.

All the changes that Medium did in feed presentation and in how the articles get streamed to readers, they all affect the little guys, the people who don’t even have the time to edit their articles and they don’t want much more than conversation.

It looks more and more as if this platform was simply set up as a honeypot for big name journalists and big name publications. But it backfired.

Now that the advertising business has rejected this kind of industry take over, which they wanted to make Netflix style, they are currently prepared to just slice and dice the community, to create another version of a content farm, by promoting people, who are otherwise great and talented, and I have no doubts that they see it as an opportunity, in such a way that they are creating another Long Tail Community.

But the Internet is chock-full of long tail communities. Who in god’s name needs another one?

A long tail community is nothing but yet another reflection of poor resource management: few winners grab just about everything worth grabbing.

It feels as if I am paying this small amount of five dollars to support the people who are simply luckier than I am, and it feels a bit weird to do that. Altruism, like so many other things, requires consent.

Who am I? Just a user. A paying user. Not a writer, not a member, not a founding member, not a talented person wishing to express himself. I’m just one random byte in a table row. And if I identify with this persona then it’s definitely not the place to publish anything.

Why am I complaining? Because this used to be someplace where you could express yourself with the high hope that people would hear you, and it became another echoless void.

“An editor can publish a story, but if nobody shares it, it might as well never have been written.”

In case you wonder about those stats:

“readers are the new publishers”

A Medium user can publish a story, a medium publication can publish a story, but if nobody shares it, it might as well never have been written.

This is how it works folks. Because we rely on humans.

Can’t we make machines do the sharing and percolation here on Medium? With all this hype on AI and open sourced AI systems, why do we, the Medium community, still depend on that heart icon being pressed? Why do most stories required outbound sharing for inbound traffic, and why so many of them got popular outside of Medium first?

The power of this platform is that readers and writers can transcend their state at any time. That new story link is there, luring you with fame and rage and venting warm fuzzies and tear sharing and love making with words and so many other sweets writing has in store.

The problem is most of the time you speak to a void.

Medium can fix this. I don’t know if it is a business solution, but it definitely is an issue worth investing in, because part of what makes the advertising model suck is the over dependence on sharing.

Do you remember print? They had ads too. But those ads had guaranteed and measurable reach and exposure. No one had to “share” a good piece of work, it was there and all that was shared was the newspaper itself. That was auto percolation and it worked with HI (human intelligence). At Medium we require AI to build auto percolating content in lack of a physical medium.

Did Facebook hypnotise everybody with that “Like” thing?

Start rant …

This is different, why do I have to like something to propel it once I’ve clicked on the thing with the intent to read? Medium is no Facebook feed. I don’t see lolcats. There is no quick mindless “Like”.

And this:

… is an abomination for those who steal time from their brief existence to squeeze out words from their soul. Why would one be encouraged to recommend things they didn’t click on yet, on a platform aiming to help voices be heard?

Also, why can I recommend my own stuff? I asked, and the reply:

What is this about … what does it mean? Is Twitter the online go to for good UX ideas? What is the actual answer to having a million followers and recommending my own story :)? Is it OK?

End rant …

If we’re ever to fix the advertising driven online publishing we need to lower the importance of sharing by automating the process.

Just my 2 cents.

Medium changes course again

In May 2015 Ev explained to us what Medium is not:

to which I’ve written a rather large piece as a response:

Now Ev explains in a nice PR-ish language how the media and advertising marriage made in hell didn’t let the shiny new young platform join the party.

You gotta wonder about the whole vision speech. It would have been a better service to the world to explain where exactly did the idea get stuck: not enough volume, wasn’t the platform big enough, is it a technology issue (ad management, the CMS), was is the corrupt budget managers of various brands … idk.

This whole blah blah “our vision is to be the saint content liberators” is a both funny and completely useless.

It is not to say that Ev has no inner drive or that Medium is a company that doesn’t stick to their mission or vision, but it is just that they communicate:

– hey we tried to do better — they didn’t let us — we’re leaving

Why? Who cares? Do investors really believe this? Do users really believe this? This is a money making device, this whole thing, and like all Silicon Valley companies it is a medium term bet, possibly, considering Ev’s and his board friends’ personal asset dedication, long term. It is not a non profit community service.

As much as it is a good thing that profit generates innovation, it is also a bad thing that profit loves inoculation, aka educating the market. Therefore the benefit you get from someone else’s profit is not about the real need, but about the imaginary one their innovation solves. Very little product innovation is rising from true social problems, intimate needs, hardships of life. Almost all those who serve these are NGOs.

This is what happens when you try to solve something solved.

The online advertising industry, technology, methodologies, are ripe for big updates, but the way companies pay for their advertising is a long solved problem. Brands fight for awareness, products await conversions. The end.

Now ideas are is up for grabs. Everyone knows how Medium could do better and what it should do next. My idea remains the same as it was explained in the article from 2015:

The network is the scales. When the platform leans to society the individual looses, when it leans to individual the society looses. The network can make the concession for the greater good or not.

Paid Membership Is Tricky

Dear Your Friends @ Medium,

Your beautiful membership icon is pretty much invisible and that made me open three consecutive articles in my feed, all asking for five bucks.

I love the fact that I can pay folks for their work but my experience should be a bit better than finding locked posts behind three consecutive clicks.

Can you:

  • make the lock icon a bit more visible
  • allow me to filter for paid content


Random Joe of the Internets

On finding an audience

This nudging speed is driving me nuts

I do internet stuff for sixteen years. Like crafting I mean. With a lot of lucky stumbles I got to be involved in really big online enterprises. I know the marketing and the content management, I know the reach and the workflow building, I know a lot of things, and none seem to help in my striving for an audience 🙂

I am currently unsure if the aim is finding or building an audience. Finding one appears to be harder. Do you know which of my Medium stories is queen of stats? The meaning of life!

Sure, it makes sense, I mean, it’s the meaning of life written in there. But then again the real reason for these stats is, well, Reddit. Some people there thought it was a good read. After that nothing I posted in r/philosophy ever got beyond the moderators, it wasn’t philosophical enough.

My second trending post is about putting a price on work.

Again, another sub Reddit at work. My self promotion was tolerated for a while, but then my posts got the shaft ’cause rules about self promotion.

The bronze medal of my stats goes to:

A funny little thing. This is the only one which actually got read and viewed b/c of Medium’s recommends. But it is also a 50 second read.

All the things I’ve posted before following got to triple digits are under water. Things just don’t percolate. Anything which is longer than 4 minutes has reading engagement fall sharply, -70% sharp in my case.

Self promotion sucks. All communities are focused on participation. But I have a weak network. I am not in highly sharing circles and worse I am in a weirdly diverse social conectome. I tried at some point to buy self promotion on Facebook and Reddit. It is a sad thing to do 🙂 as a “writer” and “thinker”, so I couldn’t say it didn’t work, it was just too painful to do it, so I quit that.

But if you don’t pay, you must balance participation with self promotion. On Hacker News at a certain point their algorithm sunk me. There was a nice honeymoon of about three self promotional links which drove traffic inbound and then I fell off the chart.

So building an audience becomes a full time job. I have a full time job. I have a life centered on the perks of, you know, the worst addiction of them all: a paycheck. Even when I didn’t have a full time job, somehow making things was higher on my time allocation than thought tinkering.

Finding an audience is so far a matter of luck. There is no good platform or system for content distribution and discovery . Good things don’t percolate because freshness is a good predictor of relevance. Stories are hard to promote because we don’t analyze nuance and meaning but similar keywords. Shit content is trending because we like to like what our friends like so that they know we like them.

Sure, there is always the possibility that I am shit and ya know I just don’t stick. Nevertheless, I’ll focus on assuming that is not the case. I make this assumption b/c I got emails from random people with a nice thank you or an encouragement to go on, I got compliments on stories and writing from people who had no advantage in making them (I don’t trade in followings or recommends or likes or shares, b/c I also read my feed and going tit for tat kills off any relevance of what I get on any platform), and in general I seem to make good points.

The question is complex. As Facebook is phasing out human fiddling with their editorial effort and it is leaving more and more to the trained software to decide what stories are worthy of attention, as all platforms kill the time based feeds and move to recommendation systems, as Google has basically became the library of Alexandria merged with the oracle of Delphi, why did I have to block Jon and Benjamin? I think entropy in output would do a great metric in recommendation algorithms, one can only like so much distilled life advice.

Do we still have a place for “organic” or “amateur” or “enthusiast” in the dictionaries of the Internet?

Sure, there is that constant pleasure of muse engagement, her soft but urgent voice energizing every protein bind in your body, her radiance electrifying each dendrite and your submission to her whims and moods giving that contentment which makes the anguish warm and fuzzy. No audience required for all this. But this is individual, this is egocentric, sometimes egoist, no one shares these pleasures and this happiness.

The audience is for joy. For the shared experience, for the ego of the writer feeding on validation and the ego of the reader feeding on confirmation. No shame in that. Shared experience fosters the idea exchange, the participation, the call to arms for constructive change, the whispers that turn into paradigm shifts, the vision that inspires someone else’s action. If one can’t find it nor can one build it, it remains then to be cast in a gypsum of opinions, lacking debate, hoping you’re strong enough to stand the flattening of the Earth.

Of course, my plea remains, love me,


Social media hurts

Is Medium a social media platform? I guess. I mean, sure we’re not called friends but hey, we spill our guts here and there are faceless but kind folk to spill back their guts, and we encourage each other and we hate each other, we sometimes call out on one another, we shoot praise and frowns with our busy keyboards and so many other things, which friends do. We then get back to better feelings and so on and so forth, not friends, followers and followers of followers who maybe recommend and comment but don’t follow, never mind, I still call some friendship here after all is said and done.

But then the blocking part. This is where Medium is different. You see, other social platforms don’t make it painful nor obvious that you are scapegoated or thrown out with the rest of the garbage or simply discarded as not interesting anymore. Yet on Medium you are hit in the belly by:

The attack of orphan posts

All these nice discussions all these clever replies all the passion poured in words and all the rage and sentiment all the color of the human expression disconnected, and the Persian fabric of emotional connection pulled by a thread and dismantled with the click of a simple looking button.

And you, the one that has been blocked, you see it. You see your punishment shouted back at you. You are shunned, not only by the person that blocked you but from threads of discussion, from following certain people because of simply not discovering them, from ever getting the chance to, you know, defend yourself.

I swear to god if in the 20 years of daily Internet use, from ancient forums and email lists, to today’s intricate machine learning guided networks, have I ever seen such a steep rise in online shunning in communities.

I get it. Trolls hurt. Their actions hurt. Their words hurt. We all hate trolls. I hate trolls even when I am trolling. But what makes a troll worth of a block?

Aren’t we all trolling at some point? Are we starting to troll by the means of the block?

Anyway, excuse my rant. Maybe I am butt hurt for no reason. It is just that blocking on medium is so nonsensical. I mean … blocking discussion, crippling communication, OK I get it, but removing all kinds of connections and links between articles like a real life attempt at enacting the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind is just crazy, and it inspires many fears in me.

It makes sense on Facebook, where content is secondary, where there is a like and heart currency that many times is counted in real life, but here where it is all about a white background on which I strip my mind for all to see, hoping for some bucks and a good show, it is painful to be shunned. It is like, instead of keeping your five bucks for the next show you feel the urge and act on the impulse to shout: you’re ugly, get off the stage. Why would you do that? Did anyone force you in the strip club of the mind?

It might be simply a technical fix or something, but the way things currently work one surely needs a rugged heart in Internet exposure land, and my fear is that the cynics and emotionally disconnected will eventually prevail.

Medium updated publications with common sense features, touts them as powerful upgrades

It’s so funny: a navigation bar! Links to stories! Use stories as static pages, wow! Writer profiles 🙂 And wow, check this out:

Starting today, you’ll be able to customize the URL slug of your publication’s stories on Medium. Slugs serve as a strong signal in SEO, so you’ll be able to control what you optimize for.

Did you know the slug is important for SEO!?

I don’t know, maybe its stupid of me to think like this but I couldn’t help it notice how magic works, as in wrap age old things into PR and community management speak and present them as new great “features”.

I mean is a navigation bar a powerful feature for a CMS in 2016?

Are writer profiles a powerful feature for a commercial, enterprise grade CMS in 2016?

Of course they’re not. But no one cares because the rush of recommends and viral distribution will cram hordes of publishers and writers to use sub par systems and hack them out. And it’s OK! I am here doing the same thing.

But it does point out to a huge flaw in the Silicon Valley system of MVP and fast time to market:

Everyone reinvents everything.

The good part is that, just like SpaceX’s rockets, the new Medium CMS resulting from reinventing decades of knowledge should land vertically.

The annoying part is that they don’t moderate their announcements and yell in our inboxes about innovative, powerful features. A navigation bar that hides itself on scroll. Imagine my wow!

So Holly Wood banned me. Does interactivity have such a high cost in 2016?

When you get banned by the people you agree with you start thinking about your faith in humanity …

I am reading her articles for as long as I am on Medium. There was a time when I was checking Medium, despite my anger on listicles, before users could be blocked, before the feed could be tweaked, exclusively checking my feed to see if @girlziplocked wrote anything new. I think, that is what one does when one likes some music, written think pieces, videos on Youtube or whatever: you follow up and check it out for new stuff. Right? Am I bad at Internet?

But then I took the invitation of Medium and started answering to people. I did my best to answer with things that make sense as standalone articles, enjoying the bumps in my stats that answers to popular stories brought in. There were some answers I really, really cared about, such as this one:

or this one:

or this one:

These are some things that inspired me to reply. I know, if you look I rarely reply with “yes”, “kudos”, “amazing stuff”, “THIS”, “great stuff”. It hurts me to hit publish to such things. I do sometimes, when I find I can develop an idea from a positive thing I reply with congratulations, like this:

So, then following up on @girlziplocked for so long, I found myself wanting to write back. Yes, despite my admiration, no kudos were sent. It must have been this? I had some articles as replies to her:

and this:

Then, today, trying to respond to Conor Kosidowski I noticed my original reply was an orphan. And I thought, well that must be a bug. Then I feared, for one minute, that something happened to Holly Wood. Something of the horrible sorts that swiped out Kel Campbell a while ago. And again, I was too late to understand what happened. No! I felt sorry. I searched for Holly Wood and I found this: Holly Wood. Where is the other account? What happened?

I rushed to twitter, to ask a question and behold:

… thank you kind Twitter software, I don’t want to follow those people. I want to understand, its my bug.

I just don’t get it … I know I am a rushed up type, maybe I should wait out to understand, but then again, patience still isn’t my thing.

I am an amateur writer who jumps for joy when Todd Hannula 🤓 or Tim Barrus or Leah Stella Stephens 🐀 highlighted or twitted something I wrote. Maybe I bored Holly to death. … OK, sorry for the ironic victimization, I couldn’t help it, I am anything but modest, but I do jump for joy. I jump for joy for any of you people who out of the blue stumbled upon my thoughts, as tinkered with as they are, and decided to follow or to recommend, or, the best part, to talk to me. Do I sound like an obnoxious person who stalks people and should be blocked?

The only thing I really, really hope for is that this ban/block is not a form of shielding, a way to turn off any sound that distracts from a “message”, from a staged play with people’s ideas and minds. This would be a disaster, to find that one I watched as a leader in clarity for so long turns out to only care for effectiveness and efficiency, not for debate and truth. Oh, that, that would be terribly sad.

I still hope it’s a bug on Medium.

Medium for the “reader” personna

I don’t know about you, but one of the things I like best about Medium is not the writing, it is the reading.

I mean, lets be honest, my most successful written stuff are random replies to posts and a drawing that Ev Williams recommended. Seriously, that was a laugh, because I have written a long post just for him just before and instead got a recommendation for a Google drawings joke.

Anyway, as I said it’s not the writing, it’s the reading.

I read a lot ever since hooking up with this writing platform. I am still being a wanderer in the desert of anonymous, and the network and the interaction doesn’t really come in either. I read a lot though. The discovery is not the best, it is actually pretty bad. I mean, really, chronological? These stories here are not status updates, these are not “blog posts” or answers to “what is happening?”, they are articles. They live outside time.

But damn, I read a lot more than I used to read online, since I got the Medium bug.

However, Medium is building features for everything else but for reading. So i was wondering if a neat little browser extension could provide us the readers with these simple tools detailed below, or, who knows, maybe, just maybe, the Medium Engineering team has some of this incoming already.

Saved reading progress

Once, Medium was for the long form. We’re not sure what it is for today, but apparently the long form is here to stay. The long form has one attribute though which you cannot get around, no matter how much you try: it is long.

A tracker of read versus unread would be very helpful in assesing how far I am untill i’ll get out of the story’s grip. This tracker should be vertical, no idea why everyone implemented it horizontally. It is like a scroll indicator but it works overall, like some text editors have this minimap, like a zoomed out document.

A small ticker appears on hover telling the reader how much time is needed to finish the reading. Below the time ticker, there is a save button that allows me to save the position in time of my current reading, locally via a cookie, and maybe in some “unfinished reads” menu item below my avatar.

Table of contents

A toc is a simple overview of what’s in the box. The reader wants to get a clear look at what’s inside before getting 10 minutes in the piece and realizing it has no structure. The TOC, the visible toc, helps the writer too.

This toc could be optional, or shown for certain story lengths, but in all cases it is a super helper for navigating things that you’ve already read and want to refresh in your memory.

Quotable, searchable highlights library

Please, I beg of you, use highlights for more than notifying me who else has clicked on green text! That notification would mean something if the users didn’t see the highlights, if by magic the exact same words and letters are highlighted by a reader and another reader. Now it’s just the bandwagon.

Nevertheless, the feature is great. The highlights are snippets of wisdom embeded in the Medium. The reader highlights to share, but the reader of a digital platform should have 21st century tools, right? Like a way to search through his favorite words in the universe?

Then, in an epistolary network, where comments are not comments but responses, wouldn’t quoting someone allow multiple quotes and cross referencing for stories? That’d be great for the amateur writer who is normally a reader, to build up a network of read ideas!

More emotions

Sometimes you don’t want to recommend, because that ripples throughout your entire network. Sometimes you want to send a hug to someone who wrote the best poem you’ve read in years. But you end up sending a “private note”. Its … OK, I guess, Medium, but we’re humans. Private notes are also secret. And unfindable, man, I cannot in any way find the private kudos i’ve sent in the past year.

Emotions could be a Path style menu, with a more complete palette of reactions at a one click distance. Allowing readers to tweak how excited they are would be an invaluable gradient factor for your machine learning which despite all protest WILL at some point (I hope) replace the chronological modest feed we’re served today!

Trending discussions

The reader, being a human which is a genetic gossiper, wants to know HOT topics. Maybe I am old fashioned, but I know there is a difference between posts with many recommends and posts that spark discussion.

Hot discussions are stories that not only get two worded replies, but those who get fully composed replies, replies who get many recommends themselves and stories that have responses that have responses.

Some of this is done already below each post. But the reader would use, I believe, a place to explore and discover the threads themselves.

Profile for readers

I am probably the 1.000.000 th Medium user whining about the profile, but damn is that profile useless. When I want to decide wether to follow someone, God, there is!

The reader would use a profile that tells about the author, not about the stories. What does that author usually writes about, where does the author write, what does the author think are the best of their work, and show if the author has any notable successes.

Most of the people writing on medium are not known. Please Medium, you must give something to the horde of users, in return for their constant pounding at the keyboard generating so much inbound traffic, it’s only fair!

And one other thing:

Optimized long posts

Especially on mobile devices. My really long Evolving essay, kills my iPad and my mid range Samsung phone. IDK, buffer some of the post, show only some of the post, remove from the screen the post that I am not reading. Be more ebook like on mobile, so the stuff won’t jitter at every scroll, and the scroll won’t jump like crazy. I know it can be done.

Thank you for your time and consideration, yours,

Random Joe of the Internets

Medium to WordPress in quirks mode

I love Medium. I am afraid though that it is still a product in its infancy and that after all it is prone to the same issues haunting all social platforms: pollution and dilution of authority. Some people are “influencers” and some are “followers” and that’s that.

Therefore i strongly believe that someone who really enjoys writing should have their own home on the internet. Sadly some of us ignored that home and put everything in here, enchanted by the freshness and good spirit of two years ago. Today we can barely see through so many listicles and the biggest problem of them all showed its ugly head:

Medium is a walled garden! With tall walls.

Seriously Medium girls and guys, that RSS feed in my profile is an unreadable joke and your export is like meant to be useless:

  • heavy nested html with useless tags like canvas or figure which don’t work outside your viewer
  • medium branding everywhere, in the title and tailing the content
  • images default to uber tiny size
  • bloated classes
  • bloated element attributes
  • has all your one liner drafts in the same place

In the beginning there was this amazing feature, the extraordinary feature nobody ever implemented before of exporting to WordPress XML. But being such an exotic and unused thing the team decided to cut it short and built this far better and cooler

WTF graded html zip export email check weird link thing

which should count as “look, its your content, we’re just making sure no way in hell will you ever want to use it somewhere else”. Unless, you’re going to copy and paste text which, mother of god, sometimes cannot be copied because of the freaky way the editor behaves.


I am thinking about building this new WordPress plugin for importing the medium zip as posts or pages depending on your preference.

While you were waiting the following happened:

  • extract zip to temp folder
  • list files in the temp folder
  • open each file
  • scrape the following
<title>{YOUR TITLE IS HERE} - exported from Medium</title>
  • remove “- exported from Medium” because CPU time is cheap
  • scrape more with regexp or DOM from here
<section data-field="subtitle">{YOUR SUBTITLE IS HERE}</section>
<section data-field="body">>{YOUR BODY IS HERE}</section>
  • find all images by regexp or DOM
  • replace 30 with 300 and q=20 with q=100
  • download all images in wp-uploads/ keeping the shitty name they gave it
  • replace the SRC with your blog’s URI + /wp-uploads/medium prefix
  • bang!

OK, that about covers it. Or not. No idea, this is a flimsy spec.

Anybody else wanna chime in and try that? How about you Medium make this a fun side project and prove you are not an evil jail of ideas? Just sayin’

Look, i even made an empty Git repo 🙂

Excuse the huge face, that’s the default aggrandizing effect of Medium.