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If I Were Medium, Here’s What I Would Do (to Fix Everything)

You should read this

Well, Medium, I like you. But even in a functional relationship, there are ups and downs, problems that need a good fixing and maybe a breath of fresh air.

Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting an affair with some other platform. That’s not the answer. Instead, let’s work out these issues.

It never hurts to try.

1. The no-brainer fix

You’ve tried, you’ve failed, Medium.

You might have had good intentions, but it was clearly the wrong decision.

So, for the love of Godgive us writing on the go back. Full mobile app support for the Medium editor. Ideally with support for submitting to publications too. You know, better than ever.

This smartphone thing doesn’t seem to be just a phase.

2. The hard fix

Curation is broken. Seems like it, anyway. How could we fix it? Should we fix it at all?

Not sure.

If so, we need a way to automatically curate the right stories.

The sheer amount of Medium stories each day can’t be dealt with by hand. That’s unrealistic unless we accept the idea that only a very, very small percentage of stories will ever get curated.

Another option is auto-curation for both people and publications. This was already working and still is, to some extent. It would require a considerable amount of man-hours to pick possible suitors for people-curation and fitting publication for publication-curation, though.

It could work like this:

  1. Each writer who has been curated several times will get an automatic curation bonus for a while. Don’t ask me how to do this.
  2. Or people who get some sort of “right” mixture of views, read ratio, and member reading time get the cut
  3. And publications that strictly adhere to the distribution guide will be awarded automatic curation.

That, in turn, means:

If you break distribution rules, you’re out of automatic curation, both people and publications.

I don’t think there’s an easy way to fix curation. It might be easier to just do away with curation altogether.

What do you think?

3. What about recommendations

Another problem I see related to curation is recommendations. If curation was the only way to get stories distributed amongst Medium readers, it might be a better system. But it isn’t the only way.

Stories get recommended in multiple ways, for example, through topics, people you follow, stories people you follow read, hightlight, and respond to, etc.

It makes curation almost pointless.

In that sense, just remove curation and only go with recommendations. You can tweak those a bit at least.

4. The “don’t mention me” fix

One awesome feature has turned into an annoying mess lately. Mentions.

It’s great to have the option to tag Medium members in a post. It’s uncool to slap a huge bunch of mentions at the end of your stories, only to increase views and reads. I don’t like it.

Medium should penalize that way harder.

They could either flag those accounts as spam or, and I strongly prefer this option, simply restrict the number of possible mentions within a single story. Let’s say to 5 max.

Mentioning five other people in one story is plenty if you ask me.

Easy fix, right?

5. The Medium meta content dilemma

I’m so guilty. Sorry.

I write about Medium all the time. You’re reading one of those stories right now.

Meta stories rub many writers & readers the wrong way. Rightfully so. I get it.

Medium has turned into “how to make money on Medium” porn. To be fair, there are some good stories about Medium, of course, but there’s a lot of trash too. Again, I’m guilty.

Let’s fix this. Easy. Here’s how:

Stories about Medium get automatically excluded from partner program earnings. In other words, whenever you write about Medium, that story won’t make a dime. It isn’t even behind paywall.

That would have additional upsides:

  1. Way fewer people would actually write about MediumDon’t worry, I still would 😉
  2. No paywall means these remaining stories would be free advertising for Medium, because any external viewer can read them. Genius.

6. The “one day” fix

Lastly, let’s talk about ads. I’m not a fan.

That generalization isn’t helpful, though, because ads can be a great thing for writers. Just not AdSense nonsense.

Imagine ads on Medium.

Here’s how they would work:

  1. Most importantly, paying Medium members never get ads! They don’t see them. That’s step one.
  2. Secondly, ads are only shown to non-members, like external viewers and people with a free account.
  3. In turn, the limit of free stories each person can read without being a Medium member would be removed and replaced by ads.
  4. Earnings from those ads would get distributed amongst the writers whose stories get read by external readers (with a small cut going to Medium).
  5. If you don’t want to see ads, you become a member. If you don’t want to pay $5 a month to be a member, you see ads. In any case, writers get paid for reads and reading time, from members and external readers.


The bottom line

I see a bright future for us, Medium. I still love you. I’m willing to work on our relationship. We’ve had great times together. It’s not over.

Joking aside now, what do you think? Suggestions? Love, hate?

Tell me.

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